"What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor."Esther 6:6.
HE SCHEMES OF Haman were overruled to the honor of Mordecai, to the safety of the Jewish people, and to the glory of God; and so will the devices of evil always be turned by the Most High to the promotion of good. God may suffer his enemies to dig pits, but they shall themselves fall therein; they shall cast stones into the air, but their missiles shall descend upon their own heads. Satan hath a great scheme in hand for the dethroning of King Jesus, but as yet, he has only made him to be the more exalted among men. All the stratagems and subterfuges of the enemy have been rendered subservient to the greater glory of the Mighty One, and to the fulfillment of the divine decrees. So will it be to the end of the chapter, and we shall see, in looking back from the starry heights of heaven, how all the cruel malice and crafty subtlety of the serpent have been frustrated by infinite wisdom, and overruled by divine love. Lucifer shall fall; and in his fall he shall bear witness to the glory of "the Seed of the woman" through whom he fell.
Then chose our souls in Christ our Head."
"According," says the apostle, "as he hath chosen us in him from before the foundation of the world." Every after-manifestation of grace has also been through the man Christ Jesus. When did Isaiah speak most evangelically? When did Ezekiel most sweetly comfort the people of God? When did others of the prophets dart bright flashes of light through the thick darkness of their times? Surely it was only when they spake of him who bore our transgressions, and by whose stripes we are healed. In the great work of redemption, God has honored Christ, by laying our help upon him alone, as upon "one that is mighty." He hath "exalted one chosen out of the people." In Bozrah's battle no champion must fight but Jesus, and, covered with the blood of his foes, no hero must return in stately triumph from Edom but the lonely one who speaks in righteousness, "mighty to save." He trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him. In redemption there is but one price, found in one hand, paid by one Redeemer, that price the precious blood, found in the veins of the Savior, and paid down by him upon the accursed tree. In every other act of grace the design of the King is to honor the Lord Jesus. You cannot taste the sweetness of any doctrine till you have remembered Christ's connection with it. You are washed from every sin, but how? Ye have "washed your robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." You are sumptuously arrayed from head to foot; ye are appareled as the King's sons and daughters, but who is this that hath clothed you? Are you not robed in the righteousness of your Lord Jesus Christ? Up to this moment you have been preserved, but now? "Preserved in Christ Jesus." The Holy Spirit is the author of your sanctification, but what has been the instrument by which he has purified you? He has cleansed you by the water which flowed with the blood from the wounds of the expiring Savior. Our eternal life is sure; because he lives, we shall live also. We shall behold the face of God with transport and delight, because he has gone up to prepare a place for us, that where he is, we may be also. The Father has studiously linked every gospel privilege and every boon of the new covenant with the person of Jesus Christ, that in blessing you he might at the same time honor his own dear Son? "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor;" he shall be the king's almoner to the poor and needy; he shall be the golden pipe through which streams of mercy shall flow to all his saints; his head shall be anointed with the holy oil which shall afterwards bedew the very skirts of his garments with the richest drops of perfume.
The king, Jehovah, has honored the Redeemer by the many offices which he has conferred upon him. Time would fail us to mention all these, but the three chief will suffice. He is the prophet of his people. The Lord has given him "the tongue of the learned;" grace is poured into his lips; upon him the Spirit resteth without measure, so that "never man spake like this man." He is "a prophet mighty in word and in deed." Isaiah and Jeremy, and Hosea, were ye ever honored as this man? Stand up, ye seers of old, and can ye claim such dignity as his? No, with bowed heads the goodly fellowship of the prophets declare that he is peerless among them. He is also a priest. God has been pleased to gird him with the Urim and Thummim, and to put the ephod of his pure mortality upon him. At the altar he stands to offer up his spotless and acceptable sacrifice. At this moment he intercedes for us, being "a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Why is he a priest, but that he may be honored in his sacrifice and intercession. He is king by right divine: as man he is "King of the Jews;" his kingdom shall stretch from shore to shore, and of his dominion there shall be no end.
And crown him Lord of all."
Angels, prostrate yourselves before him! He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, but now is he crowned with glory and honor. "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." All things are put under him. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell," and he is the head over all things to the Church, which is his body.
As the subject is boundless, we may illustrate it for a moment by the honors of Mordecai. Is not Jesus apparelled with the King's raiment? What splendor hath God which Christ hath not? Doth the Lord sit upon his throne? Christ says, "I have overcome, and have sat down with my Father upon his throne." Is heaven the Court of the Great King? Where else doth Jesus dwell? Are angels the King's messengers? Was not Christ seen of angels even in his shame, and is he not adored by angels now? What can ye conceive of splendor blazing around the throne of the Most High, which will not also be seen gleaming with equal refulgence from the seat of him who is "God over all, blessed for ever?" It is with no trembling lip that we sing his praise.
Honor and power divine,
And blessings more than we can give,
Be Lord, for ever three."
He is the express image of his Father's glory, and in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
The chosen man was honored to ride upon the king's horse, and this is true of Christ our Lord. Do you not see him as he rides forth in the gospel, conquering and to conquer? It is the power of the Eternal King whereon Jesus rides to victory. "Thou shalt send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." The preaching of the gospel is not mere man's talk; it is Christ riding on his white horse, going forth conquering and to conquer. Think not because we stammer that Christ falters. Dream not because we go to our beds lamenting that few have "believed our report," that Christ is therefore defeated, or shall lose the travail of his soul. Ah! set yourselves together, ye kings and princes, and say as your sires of old, "Let us break his bonds asunder, and cast away his cords from us!" "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have you in derision!" Wiser were ye if ye would "kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little." All the power with which God went forth in creation and in providence is given to Christ; yea, all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth, that he may do as he wills, and may fulfill his own good pleasure.
The honored man was to be crowned with the crown-royal. Jesus Christ is proclaimed "King of kings, and Lord of Lords."
Is crowned with glory now;
A royal diadem adorns
The mighty victor's brow."
Before this honored man, proclamation was commanded to be made"Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor." See ye not the Lord Jesus riding through the streets of this world this very day? Albeit that his servants have been persecuted and hunted about like partridges upon the mountains; albeit, that the catacombs of Rome, the stakes of Smithfield, the dungeons of the Lollard's Tower, and the snows of Switzerland's Alps, all bear witness to the martyr-host; yet, we see Christ riding on, despite his enemies, in brave tranquillity, from the day of his ascension even until now. He has journeyed on in the august pomp of triumph, while chosen heralds have cried before him, "Bow the knee and kiss the Son," and now in this year of grace, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, in triumph he is riding among the crowds of men, and we, though unworthy of the post, are holding his horse's bridle, and crying aloud, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor." Bow ye, then, before him, for unto him "every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
True hearts have occupied the station of the false-hearted Haman, but inasmuch as Haman once stood there, here is a lesson of self-examination lest the preacher of the gospel should think himself secure; for though Judas preached, he was damned, and so may we be. Let us bow before this "man whom the King delighteth to honor," for nothing else can save us in the day of his wrath. "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet."
Our heart is now making the practical enquiry, WHAT SHALL WE DO UNTO THE MAN WHOM THE KING DELIGHTETH TO HONOR?
I address myself now to all my fellow-helpers, but especially to the members of my own Church. As a Church, we are peculiarly indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly Haman plotted against us, and was permitted very terribly to achieve his purpose for the time. It was imagined on the mournful night of the Surrey Gardens catastrophe, that the cause of God was put to dishonor, and a total defeat was given to the young evangelist. But what has been the result? These long years the willing crowds have waited on the Word! God has made bare his arm, and taught his adversaries what he can do by the simple preaching of the cross. The multitudes who have crowded our house of prayer, have been a proof that the simple gospel has still as much power in it as ever; and throughout England and the world this protest has been sounded, that it is not by learning, nor by novel theologies, that men are to be brought from darkness to light. We have been gratified when brethren have said, "We came to hear you this morning, and there was nothing whatever in the sermon to account either for the numbers listening to it, or for their attention, except that it was the gospel." This is just the point, and God has in this place made the world see that the gospel which was preached by Rowland Hill, Whitfield, Calvin, Augustine, Paul, and our great Lord, is still mighty to win the ear, and to change the heart.
Almighty grace has done more than this. If crowds had heard the truth, but had remained hearers only, it were a source of sorrow rather than joy. But the Lord has given converts. Like doves to their windows, sinners have fled to Christ, and still they come in unabated numbers. Shall not we do something for King Jesus? Has he filled our house with hearers, and increased our Church with converts, and shall we not do something in gratitude to him?
Nor is this all. Here is the delightful fact which shall be put as the climax to the whole. Out of the vast numbers who have been added to this Church, how few, happily, how few has God permitted to fall into gross sin or outward backsliding! We have not built a wall which the foxes have broken down. Our ministry has not nourished gourds, which come up in a night and perish in a night, but in the midst of temptations sore, and trials many, all the defections which we have had to mourn over have been but as the small dust of the balance compared with the many who have been kept by the power of divine grace. If the Lord has done all this for us, shall we not delight to honor him? The pastor can say it is his heart's desire to honor his Master, and the elders and the deacons can say the same. Many of you are already engaged in earnest and faithful labors, but there are some of you who have need to ask yourselves the question"What shall I do for that glorious Savior whom the King delighteth to honor? What shall be my tribute of gratitude to the Son of God for all that he has done for me?"
We want, especially at the beginning of this year, when we are seeking a revival of religion in our midstwe want now to answer this questionWhat do we intend to do as a Church for Christ Jesus, "whom the king delighteth to honor?" Let me answer briefly.
Believe him. Christ is always very pleased with his people's faith. Beloved, confide in him. Tell him your troubles Pour out your hearts before him. Trust the merit of his blood, the power of his arm, the love of his heart. There is no box of precious ointment whose smell will more delight him than your simple, unwavering faith.
He is a God of love: if you would give him something choice, show him your love. Let your heart go after him, and with the arms of your love embrace him. Say in your soul's silent language, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is better than wine;" and be this your joyful song, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." Give him, then, the choice jewel of your heart.
Next to this, love the brethren. He loves the saints; show your love to them. Forgive any who have offended you; help those who need your aid; comfort those who are bowed down; lift up the fallen; strengthen the fainthearted; do good unto all men, but specially to such as are of the household of faith. You give to Christ when you give to his poor and needy people.
Christ has a hunger after souls. He yearns for the souls of men; labor, therefore, to bring souls to him. You cannot save sinners, but you may be the instrument of leading them to him. There are no better brilliants which you can give my Master as a New-Year's present than your own children brought in the hands of prayer and faith, to be consecrated to his service. Nor let love end at home, but seek the good of all among whom you dwell.
Let us make this matter a practical one. London needs to have its spiritual destitution supplied. We must all give a stone towards erecting new places of worship. By the united help of friends far and near, could we not build four new places in the year 1865? The country needs help; let us aid in forming Churches where there are none. The field of work is boundless; there is no need to pause for spheres of labor. But a voice says, "Begin at home." I agree with the suggestion, and will proceed to carry it out. The penny post is a great tax on our time, but now and then we get a letter worth the reading; here is one addressed to us by one of the elders of our Church; it will do all pastors good to read it, and will be of no small service to Church members also.
"December 1st, 1864.
MY DEAR PASTOR,
The fact that God has pleased of late more than ever to lay on your mind the necessity for a larger outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our Church and congregation, should be, and is, I believe, a matter of very solemn interest. There is, I know, a very general sympathy with you in the minds of the members of our Church; and to give a practical expression of this sympathy, I beg to lay before you for your consideration, the following suggestions:
1st. That you should call a meeting of the Deacons and Elders of the Church for special prayer for their own families.
2nd. That you should fix an evening when you would meet the elder children of the Members of the Church, to urge them to immediate attention to the salvation of their souls.
3rd. That you should call a Church meeting for special prayer for a still larger blessing on the ministry, the College, the Sunday School, the Tract Visitors, the Classes, and the other efforts to extend the knowledge of the Saviour now in operation among us.
4th. That a general meeting of the Church should be held also for thanksgiving for the blessings we have enjoyed in the past.
5th. That you should invite from the pulpit ALL the Members of our Church to set apart, in their own homes, one particular day (which you should name) for special prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
6th. That you should invite the Deacons and Elders, and from fifty to one hundred of the Members of the Church to open their houses from seven to nine on some particular evening, for special prayer for the same object. The subjects to be attended to at these meetings, and the list of the houses, to be laid before us by yourself in a printed leaflet which should be placed in every pew in the Tabernacle.
7th. That you should set apart an evening in which yourself, with the Elders, should meet all those in your congregation who are as yet undecided, but seekers after salvation. The object of this meeting would be for special exhortation and prayer with these friends, urging them to immediate decision for Christ.
8th. That yourself with the Elders of the Church, should meet the Students, the Sunday School Teachers, the Tract Visitors, and the several Classes, for special prayer and conference, that their labors may be made more effectual in the salvation of sinners.
9th. That you would draw up for our consideration as a Church, and have printed a selection of promises out of the Bible which we might plead before God on this matter, and so lead us to attend to this object with understanding, having the mind of the Holy Spirit made clear to us all.
10th. That with a view of gathering in the fruit which I believe such a course of proceedings as is now suggested would certainly produce, the Elders should be appointed to see enquirers after every one of the services, both on Lord's-days and week-days.
I submit, my dear Sir, these suggestions to you with considerable reluctance, as I feel if they are carried out, they will involve considerable labor on you personally, and take up much of your valuable time; but the importance of the object, and the deep-seated feeling which I know you have in this matter, induce me to lay them before you; and I pray that God may guide you in reference to the acceptance or rejection of any or all of them.
If there is one of more interest than another, I believe it is the one having reference to our families. There has not been as yet so large a blessing on many of our families as we could desire, nor so great an ingathering as the Word of God would lead us to expect, and therefore I feel that this matter will commend itself to the minds of all our Church members. Excuse reference to one other subject; it is this, that whilst we have abundant reason to bless God for the constant tokens of his presence and approving smile, we have not as yet realized the fullness of the blessing, and I think it is very desirable that our Monday Evening Prayer-meeting should be even better attended than it is. Many of our brethren who are standard bearers among us, men of worth and influence, both in the Church and the world, either do not come at all, or are seldom there. If they could be induced to attend, I feel certain the results to themselves and the Church would be very gratifying.
Leaving these suggestions in your hands, and praying that the blessing we desire may come down first and chiefly on yourself, so that you may be still more greatly honored in the conversion of sinners, and that the largest and best desires of your heart for a revival of pure and undefiled religion amongst us, and in the Christian Church generally, may be more than realized,
I remain, my dear Pastor,
AN ELDER OF THE CHURCH."
All these suggestions we will endeavor to follow, and shall be glad to receive others as good and practical from the same or any other hand. We have twenty other projects to propose, but time and space forbid. In the other portions of the Magazine the reader will light upon them; for the present, let us close by repeating the question, "What will you render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards you."