Revelation 3:19
Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent.
The Loved Ones ChastenedCharles Haddon Spurgeon Revelation 3:19
The Epistle to the Church At LaodiceaS. Conway Revelation 3:14-21
AmenDean Farrar.Revelation 3:14-22
An Earnest Warning Against LukewarmnessC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:14-22
Christ's NamesJ. Culross, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
IndifferenceH. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
LaodiceaD. C. Hughes, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
LaodiceaA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
Laodicea -- the Self-Complacent ChurchA. Mackennal, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
LukewarmnessW. Mitchell, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
LukewarmnessC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:14-22
LukewarmnessJ. N. Norton, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
Lukewarmness in ReligionJohn Erskine, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
Lukewarmness Injurious to OthersG. Bowes.Revelation 3:14-22
The AmenC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:14-22
The Church Abhorrent to Christ Because of the Lukewarm Temperature of its Spiritual LifeJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Condition of the LaodiceansJ. Culross, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
The Creation of GodW. Milligan, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
The Danger of LukewarmnessCanon Girdlestone.Revelation 3:14-22
The Danger of Lukewarmness in ReligionS. Davies, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Destiny of a Lukewarm ChurchS. Martin.Revelation 3:14-22
The Epistle to the Church in LaodiceaR. Green Revelation 3:14-22
The First Stages of Spiritual DeclineJ. B. Marsden, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Three Stages of Religious EmotionJohn F. Ewing, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Word of Christ to the Congregation At LaodiceaD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
The Words of Christ to the Church At LaodiceaD. Thomas Revelation 3:14-22
A Coal from the AltarA. Wood.Revelation 3:19-22
Christ Disclosing His LoveJ. Culross, D. D.Revelation 3:19-22
Christian ZealR. Culbertson.Revelation 3:19-22
Christian ZealG. Jordan, M. A.Revelation 3:19-22
Divine ChastisementH. E. Windle, M. A.Revelation 3:19-22
God Afflicts for Our Good; and What that Good IsJ. Mede, B. D.Revelation 3:19-22
Religious ZealA. Thompson, D. D.Revelation 3:19-22
Religious ZealA. Thomson, D. D.Revelation 3:19-22
The Love and the DisciplineH. Bonar, D. D.Revelation 3:19-22
The Nature, Importance, and Right Exercise of Christian ZealT. Fleming, D. D.Revelation 3:19-22
ZealRevelation 3:19-22
It was a wealthy city in which this Church had her home, and it was large and beautiful also. It stood on one of the great Roman roads which led away to Damascus and Arabia. Hence there was a large stream of traffic continually flowing through it, and its inhabitants became very rich. At the time when this letter was sent them they were building for themselves one of those huge amphitheatres which the Greeks and Romans of the day were wont to build in all their chief cities, and where those too often barbarous and degrading sports, in which they so much delighted, might be carried on. As a further evidence of their wealth, it is recorded how, when their city was almost destroyed by one of those earthquakes by which the whole region was so often disturbed, they rebuilt it entirely at their own cost. A Church was early formed there, and was one of considerable importance. It was probably founded by one or other of those earnest-minded brethren, who, like Epaphras, whom Paul names in his letter to the neighbouring Church at Colossae, and who were commissioned by St. Paul for such work, probably during his sojourn at Ephesus. We know that Epaphras was a near neighbour, Colossae being only some six or eight miles distant from Laodicea; and hence it is likely that he - "faithful minister of Christ, and beloved fellow servant," as St. Paul calls him (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12) - had something to do with the planting of the Church there. And we can have no doubt but that the Church was once in a very flourishing condition. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians was intended, it is all but certain, as much for the Laodiceans as the Ephesians, if not more so. The high praise which we find in that letter is therefore to be regarded as given to Laodicea, which now, when St. John writes to it, is so sadly fallen. And in Colossians 2:1, 5, St. Paul speaks of them and of the "steadfastness" of their "faith in Christ" (cf. also Colossians 4:13-16). But a sad change had come over them, and the result is this letter before us now. Note -

I. THEIR CHARACTER AND CONDITION. They are charged with being "neither cold nor hot," but lukewarm. That is to say, that whilst there was not absolute denial of the faith and disregard of all Christ's claims, there yet was neither the fervent zeal, the devout spirit, nor the all-sacrificing love, springing from a vigorous faith, which would make a Church glow with holy fervour and sacred heat. And this half and half, neither one thing nor the other, condition is all too common amongst not a few who profess and call themselves Christians. How many Churches, and how many churchgoing people, may, and probably have, seen their portraitures in this sad letter to the Church at Laodicea! They cannot be said to be cold and so utterly disregardful of religion, or of Christian faith and custom; but as certainly they are not "hot," not filled with love and zeal and desire towards Christ, willing to do all, bear all, be all or anything or nothing, so only as the honour of his Name may be increased, and the boundaries of his kingdom enlarged. Christians are to be known by their ardour, and so tongues of fire came and rested upon their heads on the great Pentecostal day. But Laodicea and the like of her show nothing of this kind, nor will nor can they whilst they remain as they are. And the common run of men like to have it thus. Cold makes them shiver; heat scorches them, - they like neither; but to be moderately warm, tepid, or but little more; that is pleasant, is safe, is best every way, so men think. The cynic statesman's parting charge to one of his agents, "Surtout, point de zele," is, in fact, what the ordinary Christian vastly prefers for himself and for others. They confound zeal with eccentricity, fervour with wild and ill-considered schemes, earnestness with rant, enthusiasm with mere delirium and extravagance; and, under pretence of discountenancing these undesirable things, they desire neither for themselves nor for others that glow of Divine love in their souls which is desirable above all things else. They congratulate themselves upon being moderate, sober-minded people, and they pity the poor deluded enthusiasts, to whom it is a dreadful thing that sin and sorrow should prevail as they do, and who, therefore, are in the very forefront of the battle against them, Laodiceans think well and speak well of themselves, and other people credit them with what they say, and hence they are self-complacent and well satisfied, and wonder why anybody should doubt or differ from them. They do not hear the world's sneer or see its mocking look when their names are mentioned; still less do they hear the sighing of the sorrowful heart which yearns to see the Church of Christ rise up to her Lord's ideal and intent. But they go on saying and thinking that they are well to do, and have need of nothing. But their condition is abhorrent to the Lord; he cannot abide it, nauseates it, would rather far that they were either cold or hot; either extreme would be better than the sickening lukewarmness which now characterizes them. To such it was that the Lord said, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." Whilst of the irreligious multitudes he only said, as he looked on them with compassion, "They are as sheep having no shepherd." Elijah said, "If Baal be God, serve him;" "better be hearty in his service than serving neither God nor Baal, as you now are." And experience confirms this seemingly strange preference which the Lord declares. We could understand that he would men were "hot" rather than "lukewarm;" but that he would rather that they were "cold" without religion altogether - than as they are, that seems a strange preference. But, as St. Paul says, "If a man think himself to be wise, let him become a fool that he may be wise;" by which he meant that a man who thinks himself wise when he is not, there is more hope of a fool becoming wise than he, for his self-conceit stands in his way. And so in the matter of a man's real conversion to God, he who knows he has no religion is more likely to be won than he who thinks he is religious and has need of "more" nothing. There is hope, therefore, for the cold than for the "lukewarm," and hence our Lord's preference. And this condition is one which drives the Lord away, chases him forth from his Church. Christ is represented, not as in the Church, but as outside, standing at the door, and knocking for admission. He has been driven out. He cannot stay either in that Church or in that heart which loves him with but half or less than half a love. We do not care to stay where we are not really welcome: we get away as soon as we can. And our Lord will not stay where the love which should welcome and cherish his presence is no longer there.


1. He reveals to them their true condition. And to make them more readily receive his revelation, he declares himself by a name which ensured that his testimony was and must be infallibly true. He tells of himself as "the Amen, the faithful and true Witness." Therefore they may be sure that he could not err and would not misstate what he, as the Son of God, "the Beginning of the creation of God," saw and knew, and now declared to them to be true. And so he tells them how it is with them, though they knew it not and kept saying the very reverse. Hence he tells the Church, "Thou art the wretched one and the pitiable one, and beggarly and blind and naked." Ah! what a revelation this! how it would startle and shock them! no doubt the Lord intended that it should. Their condition justified these words. They thought that they were certain of their Lord's approval. He tells them that no shivering criminal waiting in terror the judge's sentence was ever more really wretched than they. And that they thought as they did proved them "blind." And as those whom it was designed to degrade were stripped "naked" so as "shameful" were they in the sight of the Lord and of his angels.

2. And by thus revealing their true state, he rebukes and chastens them. What humiliation and distress and alarm must this revelation have caused! But next:

3. He counsels them what to do. He will not leave them thus, but points out the way of amendment. He bids them "buy of me." But if they were so poor, how could they buy? "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." This is the money wherewith they must buy. And when they have laid out this money, and have become possessors of what it will surely purchase, they will tell you, if you ask them, that even this money he gave them from whom they went to buy. And what is it they will get in exchange?

(1) "Gold tried in," etc. This is faith (cf. 1 Peter 1:7). "The trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold and silver." Oh, to be "rich in faith"! They are rich who have it.

(2) "White raiment that," etc. True righteousness of character, the holiness which becometh saints.

(3) "Eyesalve that," etc. The illuminating grace of the Holy Spirit. Such is the way of amendment: coming thus poor to the Lord, gaining faith, holiness, wisdom - so shall we rise up from the condition which the Lord cannot abide to that which he loves and will ever bless. Shall we not follow this counsel? He does not compel, but counsels. Let us also thus buy of him.

4. He waits for their repentance. "Behold, I stand at the door," etc. How true it is he desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live! What a picture this well-known and ever-to-be-loved verse presents! Our Lord, who died for us, standing there outside, seeking to enter in.

5. He encourages them to repent. See his promises.

(1) "I will sup with him, and he with me." Communion with himself. A piece of clay gave forth a sweet fragrance. It was asked whence it had such fragrance. It replied that it had long lain by the side of a sweet-smelling rose, and so it had become filled with its sweetness. So our claylike souls, if we be in communion with Christ, shall come to be as he. Ah, then, "open the door," and let your Lord in.

(2) He holds out to those who "overcome" the same reward as he had when he overcame - "to sit with me in my throne, even as I," etc. (ver. 21). It tells of the highest, holiest joys, of the everlasting kingdom of God. So would he lure them to himself. Shall he not succeed? "Behold, he stands at the door and knocks." - S.C.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.

I. IN REFERENCE TO THE SINNER, WHAT IS THE OBJECT OF DIVINE CHASTISEMENT? The merciful design is the conviction and conversion of the sinner, his restoration to the image of God. And what are the means employed by the Holy Spirit for this end? Sickness, poverty, bereavements, the ministry of the Word, the faithful admonition of a loving friend, or even a tract offered by the wayside.


1. To prevent sin in them, He sees the beginning of mischief in the heart, and He nips the sin in the bud.

2. To wean them from this present world.

3. To lead them nearer to Himself.


(H. E. Windle, M. A.)

The Lord next declares His love to Laodicea. It has really been love all through; but now He speaks the word out — "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." What He has already said, severe and even terrible, has been said in love; and indeed love is the root of His whole dealing with them, love that would get quit of their sin. Now this is a thing that helps to cure lukewarmness. Love is the key that opens the barred door of the sinful heart. And the Saviour discloses His love to the Laodiceans that He may thereby touch them, melt them, restore them. I think there is a lesson here that we need to learn. We come into the presence of Laodicean lukewarmness. We are grieved by it. We are angered even more than we are grieved. We are tempted to denounce it. Ah, but here is a nobler way — to be ourselves loving! Out of Christ's love there spring "rebuke" and "chastening." Rebuke is not mere fault-finding, or "coming down upon" a man, or "giving it hot"; that is easy enough; commonly it is the outcome of the wrath of man, which worketh not the righteousness of God; and not seldom it is directed against those who do not deserve it. One of the sad things among us, indeed, is this cruel misdirection of censure. To rebuke means to bring sin home convincingly to the judgment and the conscience. To rebuke is a very different thing from fault-finding, and as high above it as heaven is above the earth. Nothing but love can do it — high-purposed, firm, holy love. It means the setting of sin so clearly and fully and convincingly before the mind and conscience, that you carry the person with you, and he is convinced. That is what love tries, and what only love can accomplish. And that is what Christ is doing with the Laodiceans now. He is setting the truth of their condition before their consciences, in holiest and tenderest mercy, that shrinks not from giving pain in order that it may heal. But this were not enough, unless something is done to help the sinner out of his evil estate. For the Lord to have reproved or convinced the Laodiceans would not have been enough. Without "conviction" there is and can be no "conversion"; but He could not have stopped short with it, any more than the physician may stop short with telling us our disease. Therefore He adds "chastening" to rebuke. We must dismiss the ides, of punishment. That does not lie in the word. Punishment is the deed of a judge; chastening is the work of a father. We must start from the realised fact of our sonship in the Divine family. The word "chastening" brings into view, under the new covenant, the whole process of earthly training for heavenly issues, which God in His wisdom ordains and conducts, and of which suffering forms so large an element. And this is the issue to which the rebuke and chastening of love should lead: "Be zealous, and repent." Let the zeal show itself in this line. It is a man taking God's side against his own sin, and looking to God to deliver him from it. It results, not from the will of the flesh or the will of man, but from God's work in the conscience. It has its birth in a true apprehension by faith of the mercy of God in Christ.

(J. Culross, D. D.)


1. That God chastises His children out of love, and for their good.(1) Afflictions to them whom God loves are medicinal, and thereby they recover their health by repentance from some spiritual disease.(2) Afflictions are preservatives to keep them whom God loveth from sin (2 Corinthians 12:7).(3) Afflictions make the fruitless bring forth fruit, beget many virtues, and make God's graces in us to bloom and bring forth works pleasing unto out Heavenly Father.(4) Afflictions draw men nearer unto God. The main use of all is for comfort in all our sufferings and crosses whensoever God sends them: for they are signs of our sonship and tokens of His love.

2. That if God spares not those whom He loveth, much less shall His enemies escape punishment.

3. That God rebukes before He chastens.(1) If this then be God's manner of dealing, it should behove us not lightly to pass by His warnings.(2) If God so powerfully warns His creature before He strikes him, how dare we strike our brother before we warn him?

II. OUR DUTY. We must be zealous, and repent.

1. Concerning zeal.(1) Zeal is the intention and vehemency of all our affections in matters of God and His service. It hath its name of Zew, which is, to burn and boil as water over the fire, and thence may be styled the fervency of our affections. Such a one was Apollos (Acts 18:25); and such St. Paul exhorts the Romans to be (Romans 12:11). For as burning is the excess or highest pitch of heat, so is zeal of our affections. But as in our bodies we find aguish burnings as well as the healthful vigour of natural heat; and as Nadab and Abihu offered fire unto God, but not the right and holy fire (Leviticus 10:1), so are there some counterfeits of zeal, as it were false fires, abominable unto God and odious unto men. The kinds, then, of false zeal may be reduced unto three heads.

(a)Hypocritical zeal, which wants sincerity.

(b)Blind zeal, which wants knowledge.

(c)Turbulent zeal, which wants love and moderation. Thus I have briefly described these false fires, that by the law of contraries we may know who is the true zealot.(2) But why should this zeal be so needful? Let us therefore now see the reasons.(a) First, therefore, I will seek no farther than my text, where the want of zeal is reckoned for a sin, a sin to be repented of, "Be zealous, and repent": is not that needful, without which all our works are sinful?(b) It is the ground rule of the whole law of God, and of all the precepts concerning His worship, that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. What else is this but to love Him zealously, to worship Him with the highest pitch of our affections? For He is the sovereign and chiefest good; what love then can suit to Him but the very top and sovereignty of love?(c) Zeal is that which carries our devotions up to heaven. As wings to a fowl, wheels to a chariot, sails to a ship; so is zeal to the soul of man. Without zeal our devotions can no more ascend than vapours from a still without fire put under it.

2. Repentance is the changing of our course from the old way of sin unto the new way of righteousness: or more briefly, a changing of the course of sin for the course of righteousness. It is called also conversion, turning and returning unto God. I will describe it briefly in five degrees, which are as five steps in a ladder, by which we ascend up to heaven.(1) The first step is the sight of sin and the punishment due unto it. For how can the soul be possessed with fear and sorrow, except the understanding do first apprehend the danger? — for that which the eye sees not, the heart rues not. The serious penitent must be like the wary factor, he must retire himself, look into his books, and turn over the leaves of his life; he must consider the expense of his time, the employment of his talent, the debt of his sin, and the strictness of his account.(2) And so he shall ascend unto the next step, which is sorrow for sin. For he that seriously considers how he hath grieved the Spirit of God and endangered his own soul by his sins, cannot but have his spirit grieved with remorse.(3) The third step up this ladder is the loathing of sin. A surfeit of meats, how dainty and delicate soever, will afterwards make them loathsome.(4) The fourth step is the leaving off sin. To what purpose doth the physician evacuate ill humours, if the patient still distempers himself with ill diet? What shall it avail a man to endure the lancing, searching, and tending of a wound, if he stay not for the cure?(5) The fifth and last step is the cleaving unto God with full purpose of heart to walk before Him in newness of life. All the former degrees of repentance were for the putting off of the old man; this is for the putting on of the new.

III. THE CONNECTION AND DEPENDENCE of these latter words ("Be zealous therefore, and repent") upon the former ("As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.") Many things might be here observed, but I will name but one, which is this, that repentance is the means to avoid and prevent God's judgments. For (as observes) He that hath decreed to publish by justice, hath promised to grant pardon by repentance. And so Jeremiah 18:7.

(J. Mede, B. D.)

How soon a Church goes down! How quickly its love and holiness and zeal fade away! One generation often sees its rise, decline, and fall. The soul withers; the eye that looked upward now looks downward; and the once "religious man," who "did run well," takes the downward path into lukewarmness or death. Yet Jesus leaves him not.

I. THE LOVE. The "I" here is emphatic, and by its prominence Christ presents Himself specially as the lover, the rebuker, the chastener. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor our ways His ways. He loves where others would hate. He shows His love by chastening where others would show theirs by indulging.

II. THE DISCIPLINE OF LOVE. Mark the way in which this love deals with Laodicea. It deals in tenderness, and yet in solemn severity. Instead of letting Laodicea escape, it takes hold of her, as a wise father of his disobedient child, and makes her sensible how much it hates the sin.

1. He reproves by word and deed.

2. What the chastening was we know not: it would be something specially suited to the self-sufficiency and worldliness of the Laodiceans. Perhaps they were stripped of their riches; perhaps visited by sickness and death; laid desolate by grievous sorrow; some long-continued trial, stroke upon stroke, crushing and emptying them. Whatever it may cost, they must be made to feel the evil of their ways.

III. THE EXHORTATION OF LOVE. Be zealous, therefore, and repent. The word "zealous" contrasts with lukewarmness, and implies true warmth and fervour.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Be zealous
It is evident that the zeal which is here recommended has religion for its object. Now there are some who are mightily afraid of zeal as connected with religion. A zealous friend — a zealous teacher — a zealous patriot — are characters referred to with expressions of applause. But the moment that zeal mingles with religion, then there is distrust and disapproval. It is curious to observe how differently zeal in matters of religion is spoken of by these persons, and by the Word of God. Christ is hero introduced as rebuking the Church of Laodicea for the want of it, and as commanding them to get that want supplied. But His will, as thus expressed, is not arbitrary. It is founded in the nature and reason of the case. Why, let me ask you, are you zealous for anything whatever? Is it not because that thing, in your opinion, is important to be attained, and because the attainment of it requires energy and effort? Now, can you explain how it is that the same mode of judging and acting should not be adopted in religion? In the first place, is religion destitute of importance, or is it less important than anything else which attracts your notice and interests your attention? Then, in the second place, do you consider religion to be of such easy acquirement that a man may be invested with all its character, and animated by all its spirit, and come to the enjoyment of all its blessings, though he gives himself no great concern about it, and treats it with coldness and indifference? And then, in the third place, if for the reasons now stated, we ought to be zealous in acquiring for ourselves an interest in the grace and blessings of the gospel, the same raisons should constrain us to be zealous also in communicating these to our fellow-men throughout the world. Religion is as important to them as it is to us. Moreover, if you are actuated by zeal in other cases, and feel it to be at once becoming and necessary, we may well require you to vindicate, if you can, a want of zeal or a condemnation of it, in that vocation wherewith you are called as the disciples of Christ. If it be right to cherish and display zeal in the study of literature and philosophy, in promoting the prosperity of your country, in advancing the welfare of your friends, upon what; principle can it be wrong to cherish and display zeal in procuring for religion that ascendancy which it is entitled to hold over the minds and destinies of those for whose everlasting happiness it is intended? If religion be, as it is described in the Bible, and as you yourselves profess to regard it, then not only ought you to be zealous for it, but your zeal for it cannot be too great. Now what is the degree of importance that belongs to religion? Why, it is infinitely important. What! can you be too zealous in seeking after deliverance from "the worm that never dies, and from the fire that shall not be quenched"? Can you be too zealous in aspiring to that "inheritance which is incorruptible, and that crown of glory which fadeth not away"? Can you be too zealous in the pursuit of what was purchased at such a costly price as the blood of the incarnate Son of God?

(A. Thompson, D. D.)

The true zealot, whose fervency is in the spirit, not in show; in substance, not in circumstance; for God, not himself; guided by the Word, not with humours; tempered with charity, not with bitterness: such a man's praise is of God though not of men, such a man's worth cannot be set forth with the tongues of men and of angels.

1. It is good to be zealous in good things, and is it not best in the best? Or is there any better than God, or the kingdom of heaven? Is mean and mediocrity in all excellent arts excluded, and only to be admitted in religion?

2. Consider and reason thus with thyself, canst thou brook a sluggard in thy work, if thou be of any spirit thyself? Do men choose the forwardest deer in the herd, the liveliest colt in the drove? and is the backwardest man fittest for God? Is not all His delight in the quickest and cheerfulest givers and servitors?

3. This zeal is so gracious a favourite with God, that it graces with Him all the rest of His graces. Prayer, if it be frequent, prevaileth much; the zealous witnesses had power to shut and open heaven (chap. Revelation 12.).

4. Zeal is the richest evidence of faith, and the clearest demonstration of the Spirit. Yea, but by what means shall a Christian attain this fire, and maintain it when he hath gotten it? Say not in thine heart, What Prometheus shall ascend into heaven and fetch it thence? Thou mayest fetch it thence by thine own prayer. Sermons are bellows ordained for this purpose. But here methinks I hear the lukewarm worldling of our times fume and chafe, and ask what needs all this ado for zeal, as if all God's people were not zealous enough. Such as think they are, or can be zealous enough, need no other conviction to be poor, blind, naked, wretched, and pitiful Laodiceans. Fire is ever climbing and aspiring higher; zeal is ever aiming at that which is before; carried toward perfection; thinking meanly of that which is past, and already attained. What would you have us to do? We profess, keep our church, hear sermons, as Christians ought to do. Affectionate friendship and service is not only for public show upon festival days, but for domestical, ordinary, and private use; to such holiday and church retainers, God may well say, Let us have some of this zeal at home and apart.

(A. Wood.)

I. OUR ZEAL FOR RELIGION SHOULD BE REAL AND CONSCIENTIOUS. There is a zeal of sympathy, which is awakened and kept alive by the zeal of others with whom we happen to come in contact. Be "renewed in the spirit of your minds," that religion may appear to you in all its genuine excellence, and that it may hold that place in your regard to which it is justly entitled. Meditate seriously on the interest which you personally have in all that it requires you to believe, and in all that it commands you to do. Think of its necessity to the redemption and well-being of every one of the human race.


III. THERE MUST BE PRUDENCE IN THE EXERCISE AND MANIFESTATION OF OUR RELIGIOUS ZEAL. Prudence does not damp nor discourage our zeal. It only prevents us from giving those expressions to it which, on the one hand, would be attended with no benefit, and, on the other, might involve us in difficulties and embarrassments.

IV. OUR ZEAL FOR RELIGION MUST ALWAYS CONSIST WITH MORAL INTEGRITY. It never can be allowable for us to do what is morally wrong, whatever be the advantageous consequences that are to follow it. And least of all, one should suppose, can such a proceeding be allowable, when we are striving to advance the interests of religion.

V. OUR RELIGIOUS ZEAL MUST BE UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF CHARITY. Our zeal being awakened to care for men, charity comes in to soften that aspect of sternness and severity, which it might otherwise assume, and to mould it into a form more consonant to the nature and circumstances of those for whom it is to labour, as well as to the spirit and precepts of that religion which it is desirous to propagate.

VI. OUR ZEAL MUST BE IN PROPORTION TO THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE OBJECTS WHICH EXCITE IT, AND TO THE EXIGENCIES IN WHICH THESE MAY HAPPEN TO BE PLACED. Every system has certain leading principles and properties of which it cannot be divested, while there are other subordinate principles and properties, which appear, neither in themselves nor in their relations, to be necessary to its existence, and to its ultimate purpose. And so is it with Christianity. Being a plan of Divine contrivance, all that is to be found in it, must be considered as important and useful; but it is evident that there are some things more important and useful than others. And this being the case, it follows, of course, that whether we be cherishing Christianity in ourselves, or pressing it on the attention of others, our zeal must not operate with equal ardour upon every subject, but bear some sort of proportion to the real or the relative importance which they possess — the most important receiving its highest, and the less important its lower measure of warmth and energy

(A. Thomson, D. D.)


II. ITS IMPORTANCE. Zeal is an appropriate quality of the spiritual life — the genial heat of the new nature, immediately subservient to its continuance and support, and operating to maintain its powers in their proper capacity for action. In nature, heat is the most active of all the elements. It is the prime agent which the Author of nature employs for promoting the subsistence and well-being of the universe. Animal and vegetable life have an immediate dependence on it; nor could nature itself, according to its apparent constitution and laws, subsist without it. To the effects of heat in nature, those of zeal in religion are directly analagous. How incapable of exertion, how indisposed to motion, how listless and insensible are men found, when their spirits are benumbed with cold affection! But under the influence of that kindly warmth which the Spirit of God imparts, how quickly do they revive, and become pliant and active! While zeal is thus necessary to the effectual performance of the Christian's work, it contributes also, as an effectual qualification, to render his service acceptable.


1. On right objects — objects which are intrinsically good, and which are of suitable importance, Should the furnace be heated seven times more than usual for no worthier purpose than the burning of a straw?

2. Zeal must also be exercised with a right mind.(1) Zeal must be exercised with knowledge. Perhaps there is nothing that is either more unseemly in itself or more mischievous in its consequences than zeal without knowledge. Such a zeal, considered in its exercise, may be compared to a ship, driving with full sail before the wind, without either compass or pilot — threatening the safety of everything that comes in her way, and in danger of driving at last upon some rock or shoal that shall cause her destruction.(2) Zeal must be exercised with sincerity. The concern which is expressed for religion must be real — the genuine result of principle and feeling — not affected, merely to cover sinister designs, to second views of worldly interest, to minister to secret pride — to the selfish vain-glorious desire of applause and estimation.(3) Genuine zeal must be exercised with impartiality — with an equal regard to the attainment of its object — whether it has respect to ourselves or to others. The zeal of too many is chiefly occupied abroad, in detecting and exposing the sins of others.(4) Zeal must be exercised with kind affection.

(T. Fleming, D. D.)

1. True Christian zeal includes knowledge. It is not a blind impulse of feeling, an ignorant and infuriated passion, but a holy intelligent principle.

2. True Christian zeal includes indignation. The simple effusions of the heart in the way of grief on account of sin do not come up to the idea of zeal. It is grief and indignation at sin roused to the very utmost.

3. True Christian zeal includes ardent desire. The immediate object of this zeal is the declarative glory of God. It is a holy indignation at sin, because this evil throws a dark shade over God's glory. It is an ardent and passionate concern that God may be glorified.

4. Christian fortitude and magnanimity are also branches of this temper. The person that is truly zealous is not easily intimidated.

5. True Christian zeal is an active and useful principle. It grasps with the greatest eagerness every means which may be subservient to the attainment of its object.

(R. Culbertson.)


II. THE SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN ZEAL. Christian zeal is zeal for Christ; it has Him for its ultimate source, as well as its ultimate end. Christian "enthusiasm" is really "the state of inspiration by God."

III. THE SPHERE OF CHRISTIAN ZEAL. True zeal is of course "zeal for God" and for good.


1. True Christian zeal is intelligent. There is light in it as well as heat.

2. It is prudent. Plans warily, and works calmly.

3. It is loving and sympathetic.

4. It is patient and persevering. Not a fitful impulse, but a steady flame. Based on principle, it is the habit of the Christian's life.


1. Love to the Redeemer.

2. The salvation of the world.

3. The prosperity of our own souls.What a protection zeal is against the coldness of the world — what a defence against temptation — what a preservative against moral deterioration — what a suitable preparation for the holy activities of heaven!

(G. Jordan, M. A.)

When a man dies in England, his friends often say of him, in praise of his diligence, energy, and concentration: "Well, he lived simply to carry through that important line of railway"; or — "His only object was to extort from the Government a more scientific education for the people"; or — "He devoted himself to the cause of Free Trade"; or — "He was a martyr to his exertions in behalf of Protection." It was his one idea; it grew with his growth; he could think of nothing else; he spared neither time nor expense to advance ever so little his favourite cause, and the interest he had wedded; it was his monomania. He did his work in his day, and he did it well, because he was heart and soul in it; and the world is in debt to him for it. Now, why should it not be said of us: "Well, he is gone. He was a man of one idea: he cared for nothing but that God's kingdom should come, and His will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. He was eaten up with this; waking or sleeping it was always upon him; nothing daunted him; he spared neither time nor expense for his hobby, and when neither time nor money were at his disposal, he besieged heaven with prayers. He took no interest in anything else; it was meat and drink to him, and it quite mastered him; and now he is gone." Yes! he is gone; but whereas the other man left behind him his railway and his cheap bread, our friend has taken all his love and pains and prayers away with him to the judgment-seat of Jesus; and what they have done for him there, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor man's heart conceived.

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