Thy Redeemer

By / Oct 4

Thy Redeemer

 

"And thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."—Isaiah 41:14

 

     And why does it say, "and thy Redeemer?" What was the use of appending the Redeemers name to this precious exhortation? By God's help it shall be the business of this evening to show why there is a peculiar blessedness in the fact that God hath not only said, "I will help thee, saith the Lord," but has added, "and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."

     You will please to notice that it looks as if this were a repetition by three different persons. Israel was cast down, and Jehovah, for that is the first word—(you will notice that the word "Lord" is in capitals, and should be translated "Jehovah")—says to his poor, tried, desponding servant, "I will help thee." No sooner is that uttered than we think we shall not be straining the text if we surmise that God the Holy Spirit, the Holy One of Israel, adds his solemn affidavit also; and declares by oath and covenant, "I will help thee." Does not this, we say, look somewhat like repetition? Was it not sufficient that Jehovah the Father should declare that he would help his people! Why did the other persons of the divine Trinity unite in this solemn declaration? We think we shall be able, if God shall help us, to show great usefulness therein, especially dwelling to-night upon that word, "thy Redeemer," and marking how the repetition of the word by our Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, adds a peculiar blessedness to the exhortation—"Fear not, thou worm Jacob."

     First, methinks this was added for amplification; secondly for sweetness; thirdly, for confirmation.

     I. First, when it says, "and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel," it was added FOR AMPLIFICATION. There are some preachers from whom you will never learn anything; not be cause they do not say much which is instructive, but because they just mention the instructive thought once, and immediately pass on to another thought, never expanding upon the second thought, but immediately passing on, almost without connection, to a third—just casting forth, as it were, bare thoughts, without opening them up, and explaining them to the people. Such preachers are generally complained of as being very unprofitable to the hearers. "Why," said the hearer, "it made no impression upon me; it was good, but there was so much of it that I could not recollect it. I had nothing to bring away." Other preachers, on the other hand, follow a better method. Having given one idea, they endeavor to amplify it, so that their hearers, if they are not able to receive the idea in the abstract, at least are able to lay hold upon some of its points, when they come to the amplification of it. Now, God, the great Author of the great book, God, the preacher of the truth by his prophets, when he would preach it, and when he would write it, so amplifies a fact, so extends a truth, and enlarges upon a doctrine, says, "I will help thee, saith Jehovah." That means Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. "Ah! but," said God, "my people will forget that, unless I amplify the thought; so I will even break it up; I will remind them of my Trinity. They understand my Unity; I will bid them recollect that there are Three in One, though these Three be One;" and he adds, "thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Jehovah—Redeemer—Holy One of Israel—three persons, all included, indeed, in the word Jehovah, but very likely to be forgotten unless they had been distinctly enumerated.

     Now, brethren, suffer your thoughts for a moment to enlarge upon the fact, that the promise contained in this verse, "Fear not, I will help thee" (I will help thee), is a promise from Three Divine Persons. Hear Jehovah, the everlasting Father, saying, "I will help them." "Mine are the ages: before the ages began, when there were no worlds, when nought had been created, from everlasting I am thy God. I am the God of election, the God of the decree, the God of the covenant; by my strength I did set fast the mountains, by my skill I laid the pillars of the earth; and the beams of the firmament of heaven; I spread out the skies as a curtain, and as a tent for man to dwell in; I the Lord made all these things. 'I will help thee.'" Then comes Jehovah the Son. "And I, also, am thy Redeemer, I am eternal; my name is wisdom. I was with God, when there were no depths, before he had digged the rivers, I was there as one brought up with him. I am Jesus, the God of ages; I am Jesus, the man of sorrows; ' I am he that liveth and was dead, I am alive for evermore.' I am the High Priest of your profession, the Intercessor before the throne, the Representative of my people. I have power with God. 'I will help thee.'" Poor worm, thy Redeemer vows to help thee; by his bleeding hands he covenants to give thee aid. And then in comes the Holy Spirit. "And I," saith the Spirit, "am also God—not an influence, but a person —I, eternal and everlasting, co-existent with the Father and the Son—I, who did brood over chaos, when as yet the world was not brought into form and fashion, and did sow the earth with the seeds of life when I did brood over it,—I, that brought again from the dead your Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of the sheep, who am the Eternal Spirit, by whose power the Lord Jesus did arise from the thraldom of his tomb —I, by whom souls are quickened, by whom the elect are called out of darkness into light—I, who have the power to maintain my children and preserve them to the end—'I will help thee.'" Now, soul, gather up these three, and dost thou want more help than they can afford? What! dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, and more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Sure this well will fill it. Haste! gather up thy wants, and bring them here—thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply. What canst thou want beside? Stand up, Christian, in this thy might Jehovah Father, Jehovah Jesus, Jehovah Spirit,—these are with thee to help thee. This is the first thing. It is an amplification.

     II. And now, secondly, concerning that word, "thy Redeemer," it is a SWEETENING OF THE PROMISE. Did you never notice that a promise always seems all the sweeter for having Jesus in it? All the promises are yea and amen in him; but when a promise mentions the name of the Redeemer, it imparts a peculiar blessedness to it. Brethren, it is something like, if I may represent it by such a figure, the beautiful effect of certain decorations of stained glass. There are some persons whose eyes are so weak that the light seems to be injurious to them, especially the red rays of the sun, and a glass has been invented, which rejects the rays that are injurious, and allows only those to pass which are softened and modified to the weakness of the eye. It seems as if the Lord Jesus were some such a glass as this. The grace of God the Trinity, shining through the man Christ Jesus, becomes a mellow, soft light, so that mortal eye can bear it. My God, I could not drink from thy well, if thou hadst not put there the earthen pitcher of my Saviour; but with him living waters from thy sacred well I draw. Heaven! thou art too bright; I could not bear thine insufferable light, if I had not this shade with which I cover thee; but through it, as through a mist, I do behold the halo of thy glory, undiminished in its effulgence, but somewhat diminished in their potency which would be my destruction. The Saviour seems to calm his glory, to tone it down to our poor feeble frame. His name put into this wine of heaven, does not diminish in the least degree its sparkling and its exhilirating power; but it takes out of it that deep strength which might upset an angel's brain, if he could drink to his full. It takes away the profundity of mystery, which would make the deep old wine of the kingdom intoxicating rather than cheering. Christ Jesus cast into the river of God, makes all the streams more sweet; and when the believer sees God in the person of the Saviour, he then sees the God whom he can love, and to whom with boldness he can approach. Surely I love this promise all the better, because I think I see my Saviour, with his hand all bleeding, stamping his hand upon it, and saying, "And thy Redeemer," and there is the blood mark left upon the promise. It does seem to me as if when God uttered that promise to the poor worm Jacob, Jesus Christ could not be still. He heard his Father say, "Fear not, worm Jacob;" and he saw the poor worm, with his head on one side, with his eyes all flowing with tears, with his heart palpitating with terror, and his arms folded in dismay; and when his Father had said, "Fear not," he stepped from behind, and whispered in a voice more soft than the voice of his Father, "Fear not, worm Jacob, it is God that speaks;" and then the soft voice says, "And it is thy Redeemer that speaks too." He says, "Fear not." He who loves thee, who knows thee, who has felt what thou feelest, who has passed through the woes which thou art now enduring—he who is thy Kinsman and thy Brother, he also says "Fear not, worm Jacob." Oh, it is sweet, it is precious to look upon that word, as spoken by our Redeemer.

     III. And now we come to the other point. I think this is put in by way of CONFIRMATION. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses surely the whole shall be established."

 

"Blind unbelief is sure to err."

 

It needs many witnesses to make such unbelieving souls as we are, believe the promises. "Now," says God, "I will help thee. Unbelief! wilt thou doubt Jehovah? Can the "I Am that I Am" lie? Can the God of faithfulness and truth deceive thee? O unbelief! infamous traitor! wilt thou dare to doubt him? Yes, and Christ knew it would; and so he comes in and he says, "and thy Redeemer," as a second witness; whilst the Spirit is the third. "Thy Redeemer," volunteers to be the second guarantee, the other security to the faithfulness of this promise. The Father will lose his honor if he breaks his word; and I too do give as the security for the fulfillment of this promise, my troth and honor also. "Thy Redeemer" engages that he will help thee, O thou worm!

     And now, I want you to read the promise, recollecting that it says, "Thy Redeemer;" and then, as you read it through, you will see how the word "Redeemer" seems to confirm it all. Now begin. "I will help thee;" lay a stress on that word. If you read it so, there is one blow at your unbelief. "I will help thee," saith the Redeemer. "Others may not, but I have loved thee with an everlasting love, and by the bands of my lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 'I will help thee, though the earth forsake thee; though thy father and thy mother forsake thee, I will take thee up. Wilt thou doubt me? I have proved my love to thee. Behold this gash, this spear thrust in my side. Look hither at my hands: wilt thou but believe me? ' 'Tis I.' I said that on the waters, and I said to my people, 'Be not afraid; it is I.' I say to thee, now thou art on the waters, ' Be not afraid; I will help thee.' Sure thou needst not fear that I shall ever forget thee. 'Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.' 'I have graven thee on my hands; thy walls are ever before me.' 'I will help thee.'" Now, you must just suppose the Saviour standing here—that Man whose garments are red with blood; you must suppose him standing where I stand to-night, and saying to you, personally, "Fear not, I will help you." O my Lord, I have ungratefully doubted thy promise many a time; but methinks, if I could see thee in all thy woe and sorrow for me, if I could hear thee say, "I will help thee," I should cast myself at thy feet, and say, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." But though he is not here to speak it, though the lips that utter it are but the lips of man, remember that he speaks through me to-night, and through his word, as truly as if he spoke himself. If some great man should by a servant, or by a letter send to you this message, "I will keep you," though you had not heard his own lips declare it, yet if you saw his own hand writing, you would say, "It is enough, I believe it; there is the master's hand writing; it is his own autograph, it is written by himself; behold the bloody signature! It is stamped with his cross, and I his messenger am sent to-night to myself and to you, and I say to my own heart and to you, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him; for the Redeemer says, I will help thee," and if he saith, "I will help thee," who can doubt him? who dare distrust him?

     And now let us read the promise again, and lay the stress on the "will." Oh, the "wills" and the "shalls:" they are the sweetest words in the Bible. "I will help thee." W hen God says "I will," there is something in it, brethren. The will of God started worlds into existence; the will of God made nature leap from chaos; the will of God sustains all worlds, "bears the earth's huge pillars up," and establishes creation. It is God's "I will." He lets the world live; they live on the "will" of God; and if he willed that they should die, they must sink as the bubble into the breaker, when its moment has arrived. And if the "will" of God is so strong as that, may we not lay a great stress upon it here—"I will help thee?" There is no doubt about it. I do not say I may help thee peradventure. No; I will. I do not say, that possibly I may be persuaded to help thee. No; I voluntarily will to help thee. "I will help thee." I do not say that, in all probability, ninety-nine chances out of a hundred, it is likely I may help thee. No; but without allowing any peradventure, or so much as a jot or tittle of hap or hazard, I will. Now, is there not strength in that? Indeed, my brethren, this is enough to cheer any man's spirit, however much he may be cast down, if God the Holy Spirit does but breathe upon the text, and let its spices flow abroad into our poor souls, "Fear not, I will help thee."

     And now we lay stress on another word: "I will help thee." That is very little for me to do, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee, my beloved! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee. I have done more, and I will do more. Before the day-star first began to shine I chose thee. "I will help thee." I made the covenant for thee, and exercised all the wisdom of my eternal mind in the scheming of the plan of salvation. "I will help thee." I became a man for thee; I doffed my diadem, and laid aside my robe; I laid the purple of the universe aside to become a man for thee. If I did this, I will help thee. I gave my life, my soul, for thee; I slumbered in the grave, I descended into Hades, all for thee; I will help thee. It will cost me nothing. Redeeming thee cost me much, but I have all and abound. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. It is no new thing. I can do it easily. "Help thee?" Thou needst never fear that. If thou needest a thousand times as much help as thou dost need, I would give it thee; but it is little that thou dost require compared with what I have to give. 'Tis great for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. "Help thee?" Fear not. If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. All that thou couldst ever eat, all that thou couldst ever take, if thou wert to take on to all eternity, would no more diminish my all-sufficiency, than the drinking of the fish would diminish the sea. No; "I will help thee." If I have died for thee, I will not leave thee.

     And now, just take the last word—"I will help thee." Lay the stress there. "Fear not, thou worm Jacob; I will help thee." If I let the stars fall, I will help thee; if I let all nature run to rack and ruin, I will help thee. If I permit the teeth of time to devour the solid pillars upon which the earth doth stand, yet I will help thee. I have made a covenant with the earth, "that seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, shall never cease;" but that covenant, though true, is not so great as the covenant that I have made concerning thee. And if I keep my covenant with the earth, I will certainly keep my covenant with my Son. "Fear not; I will help thee." Yes, thee! Thou sayest, "I am too little for help;" but I will help thee, to magnify my power; thou sayest, "I am too vile to be helped," but I will help thee to manifest my grace. Thou sayest, "I have been ungrateful for former help;" but I will help thee to manifest my faithfulness. Thou sayest, "But I shall still rebel, I shall still turn aside." "I will help thee," to show forth my long suffering: let it be known, "I will help thee."

     And now just conceive my Master on his gross bleeding there, looking down on you and on me. Picture him, whilst his voice falters with love and misery conjoined; and hear him. He has just now spoken to the thief, and he has said to him, "To-day, shalt thou be with me in Paradise." And after he has said that, he catches a sight of you and of me, poor and depressed, and he says, "Fear not, worm Jacob; I will help thee; I helped the thief—I will help thee. I promised him that he should be with me in paradise; I may well promise thee that thou shalt be helped. I will help thee. O Master! may thy love that prompts thee thus to speak, prompt us to believe thee.

     And now hear Him again. He is exalted on high; he hath "led captivity captive and received gifts for men;"—now hear him, as in the midst of the solemn pomp of heaven he is not unmindful of his poor relations. He looks down, and he sees us in this world still struggling with sin and care and woe; he hears us claiming kingship with himself; and he says, "Worm Jacob! though I now do reign exalted high, my love is still as great. I will help thee." I pray the Lord apply the sweetness of that pronoun to your hearts, my brethren, and to mine. "I will help thee." O surely when the husband speaks to the wife in the hour of darkness and sorrow, and comforts her, you can easily understand what arguments he uses, when he says, "Wife of my youth! my joy, my delight, I will help thee!" You can easily conceive how he enumerates times of love, seasons when he stood by her in the hour of trouble; you can easily think how he reminds her of the days of their espousals, and tells her of their struggles, and of their joys; and he says, "Wife, canst thou doubt me? No; as I am a husband I will help thee! And now you hear the Saviour speaking of his church. "Betrothed to me ere time began, I have taken thee into union with my adorable person; and O my bride, though my palace stand in ruins, and heaven itself should shake, I will help thee. Forget thee? Forget my bride? Be false to my troth? Forsake my covenant? No; never. I will help thee." Hear the mother speaking to her little child in great danger; "Child," she says, "I will help thee;" and then she reminds that child that she is its mother, that from her breast the child drew its needed nourishment in the days of weakness; she reminds it how she has nursed it, and dandled it upon her knee, and how in every way she has been its solace and support. "Child!" says she, and her heart runs over—"I will help thee!" Why, the child never doubts it, it says, "Yes, mother, I know you will; I am sure of that, I do not need to be told it, I was certain you would, for I have had such proofs of your love." And now ought not we who love the Saviour just to let our eyes run with tears, and say, "O thou blest Redeemer! thou needst not tell us thou wilt help us, for we know thou wilt. Oh do not suppose that we doubt thee so much as to want to be told of it again; we know thou will help us; we are sure of it; thy former love, thine ancient love, the love of thine espousals, thy deeds of kindness, thine everlasting drawings, all these declare that thou never canst forsake us." No, no; "I will help thee."

     And now, brethren, we are coming down stairs to eat the body of Christ and drink his blood in a spiritual manner; and I hope whilst we are partaking of that bread and wine, the emblems of the Saviour, we shall think we hear every mouthful of bread and every sip of wine saying out in the Master's behalf, "I will help thee, I will help thee." And then let us just frighten Satan, by cheering up our spirits through the power of the Holy Ghost, and buckling on our armor, let us go forth into the world to-morrow, to show what the Redeemer can do, when his promise is applied by the Spirit. "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee." Come, bring your fears out to-night, and serve them in the worst way you can. Hang them here upon the scaffold this night. Come now, and blow them away at the great guns of the promises, let them be destroyed forever. They are renegade mutineers; let them be cut off, let them be utterly destroyed, and let us go and sing, "Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." "I will help thee," saith the Redeemer.

     O sinners, I pity you, that this is not your promise. If this were all that you did lose by being out of Christ, it were enough to lose indeed. May God call you, and help you to trust in the Redeemer's blood. Amen.



The Mysteries of the Brazen Serpent

By / Sep 27

The Mysteries of the Brazen Serpent

 

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."—John 3:14

 

     We are told by wise men that all languages are based upon figures, that the speech of men who are uncivilized is mainly composed of figures; and that indeed the language of the most civilized, when cleaved so as to bring it to its natural foundation, is based upon a set of metaphors perceived by the mind, and then used in language. This much I know, that when we would teach children to speak, we are accustomed to call things, not exactly by the names by which they are known to us, but by some name which represents, for instance, the kind of noise which is uttered by some animal; but which in some way or other, by a species of figure, is easily understood by the child to represent the things. But certain it is that among savage nations, the speech is almost entirely composed of metaphors. Hear an Indian warrior addressing the chiefs, and inflaming them for war; he gathers together all the metaphors of heaven and earth to make his speech. And you will note the same thing is true even in the names which the Indian warriors bear. Those of you who are acquainted with their nomenclature will remember, that the strangest names are given to their great men, by way of figure and metaphor to set forth the qualities of their mind.

     Now, beloved, it is the same in spiritual language as it is in natural speech Nicodemus was but a child in grace: when Jesus Christ would teach him to speak concerning things of the kingdom, he did not talk to him in abstract words, but he gave him metaphorical words whereby he might understand the essence of the thing better than by giving him a mere abstract term. When he talked to Nicodemus, he did not say anything about sanctification; but he said, "Except a man be born of water." He did not talk anything to him about the great change of the heart; but he said, "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." He would not tell him much about the Spirit when he began, but he said, "The wind bloweth where it listeth." And when he wanted to teach him faith he did not begin by saying, "By faith we are allied to Christ, and derive salvation from our living head;" but he said— "Like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness." And so the first religious talk of converted men must always be in figures. Not the epistles of Paul, which are pure didactic teaching, but the words of Jesus, must first be applied to the sinner, before he is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and understands the mysteries of the kingdom. And I believe I have hit upon the reason why our Master used this figure, and talked to Nicodemus with metaphor after metaphor, and figure after figure, because the root of all language must be in figures.

     And now, to-day, I am about to address the mass of my congregation concerning that simple subject of faith in the Lord Jesus, whereby men are saved. And instead of addressing them in a didactic and doctrinal manner, I shall adopt the parable of my text, and endeavour to imitate the example of my Lord, in trying to make faith plain to those who are but children in grace.

     Allow me, then, dear friends, to describe first, the people in the wilderness—the representatives of men who are sinners. Let me describe next, the brazen serpent—the type of Jesus Christ crucified. Let me then note what was to be done with the brazen serpent—it was to be lifted up; and so was Christ to be lifted up. And then let us notice what was to be done by the people who were bitten—they were to look at the serpent; and so sinners must believe in Christ.

     I. Our first figure represents MEN IN THE ESTATE OF SIN; and the figure is borrowed from the children of Israel in the wilderness, when they were invaded by the fiery serpents. Can you imagine the horror and dismay depicted upon the countenances of the Israelites, when, for the first time, they saw themselves invaded by an army of fiery flying serpents? They had stood valiantly in fight against Amalek; but these were things that trembled not at the sword. Moses had taught them the use of the bow, as it is written in the book of Jasher, but these were thing, against which the arrow could not prevail. They had endured weariness, and thirst and hunger; the sun had sometimes smitten them by day, and the frost by night, and but for God's preservation, the hardships of the wilderness would have cut them off. All these they had endured and were inured to them; but these fiery serpents were novelties; and all new terrors are terrible from their very novelty. Can you imagine how they began to tell one another of the awful visitants which they had beheld! and can you imagine how their terror spread like wildfire through the camp, and ere the rumour had spread the serpents were devouring them?

     And now, dear friends, if we could all of us see our position in this world, we should this day feel as Israel did when they saw the serpents coming upon them. When our children are born into this world, we believe there is sin in them; but it is a terrible thing for us to reflect that even if the serpent had not bitten them in the birth, yet they are surrounded everywhere by innumerable evils! Can a father send his son into this wicked world with a consciousness of all the evils that will surround him, without a sense of terror? And can a Christian man trust himself to walk in the midst of this ungodly and libidinous generation, without feeling that he is surrounded with temptations, which, if he were left to himself, would be a thousand times more dangerous to him than the most destroying of serpents?

     But the picture blackens; we must have deeper shades to paint it. Behold the people after they were bitten! Can you picture their writhings and contortions when the poison of the serpent had infected their veins? We are told by the old writers that these serpents when they bit caused vehement heat, so that there was a pain throughout the body, as if a hot iron had been sent along the veins. Those who had been bitten had a great thirst; they drank incessantly, and still cried for water to quench the burnings within. It was a hot fire which was lit in the fountain, and which ran through every nerve and every sinew of the man; they were racked in pain, and died in most fearful convulsions. Now my brethren, we cannot say that sin instantly produces such an effect as this upon the men who are the subjects of it; but we do affirm, that, let sin alone, and it will develop itself in miseries far more extreme than ever the bite of the serpent could have caused. It is true the young man who quaffs the poisoned cup of intoxication, wots not that there is a serpent there; for there is no serpent except in the dregs thereof. It is sure that the woman who boasts herself of her riches, and arrays herself right gaudily in her pride, wots not that a serpent binds the zone of her waist; for there is no serpent there as she knoweth, but she shall know it when the days of her frivolity are ended. It is true he that curseth God knows not that a viper hath infused the poison which he speaks out against his Maker; but he shall know it in days to come. Look ye at a bloated drunkard; see him after years of intoxication have defaced all that was manlike in him, as he totters to his grave a poor feeble creature; the pillars of his house are shaken, his strength has failed him, and that which God had meant to be his own image hath become the image of misery incarnate! See the lascivious debauchee after his brief day of pleasure has closed!—No, it is too loathsome for me to paint; my lips refuse to depict the miseries which our hospitals see every day; the awful loathsomeness, the accursed disease which eats up the very bones of those who indulge in sin. Fiery serpents, ye are nothing when compared with fiery lusts! ye may infuse poison into the blood; but lusts do that, and do something more, for they infuse damnation into the soul! When sin has had its perfect work; when its last fair conception has been brought forth, and hath developed itself in the dire crime and the loathsome iniquity—then we have a picture which serpent-bitten Israel would not set forth to us in all its horrors!

     And the shades thicken yet again; the darkness lowers, and the clouds are heavier! How awful must have been the death of those who died by the serpents! There are some deaths which are sweet to think upon. The death of the late eminent preacher, Dr. Beaumont, who died in his pulpit, was a death which all of us might envy; whose released spirit, whilst the singing of God's praise was ascending up to heaven, left his body, and was forthwith raised to the throne of God. The death of him, who having served his Master, sinks like a shock of corn fully ripe, or like a sun that hath run its race, is something to be noted and remembered with delight. But the death of the sinner, who hath been bitten by his lusts, and hath not been saved by faith in Christ—oh, how terrible! It is not in the power of mortal language to depict the horrors of the death-bed of a man who has lived without God and without Christ. I challenge all the orators that have ever lived, to draw forth from their vocabulary, words full enough of horror and of terror to depict the departing scene of the man who has lived at enmity with God, and who dies with his con science quickened then. Some men it is true live in sin, and take the last dregs of their infatuation before they die, and sink into the pit blindfolded, without the slightest pang of horror; but other men who have had their consciences awakened, die not so. Oh, the shrieks, the yells, the screams! oh, the face of anguish, the contortions, the misery. Have you never heard how men do bend their fists and swear they will not die; and how they start forth, and declare—" I cannot, and I must not die; I am unprepared!" Starting back from the fiery gulph, they clutch the physician, and desire him, if possible, to lengthen out the thread of their existence! Ay, many a nurse has vowed that she would never nurse such a man again, for the horrors would be with her till she died.

     And now, my dear hearers, you are not dying now; but you will be dying soon. None of you have taken a lease of your lives; it is impossible for you to guarantee to yourselves existence for another hour. And if you are Godless and Christless, ye have all in your veins the venom of that death unutterable which will make your departure doleful beyond expression! I would to God I could cut the cords of my stammering tongue so as to address you with vehemence and passion upon this subject. Men are dying every day around us; at this very hour there are thousands departing into the world of spirits. In upper chambers, where mourning relatives are pouring floods of tears upon their burning brows; far away on the wild sea, where the sea-gull utters the only scream over the shipwrecked mariner; down, deep, deep, deep, in the lowest valley, and high upon the loftiest hills, men are dying now, and dying in all the agonies I have sought to describe, but have failed to do. Ah, and ye must die also! and will ye march on heedlessly; will ye go on step after step, singing merrily all the way, and dreaming not of that which is to come! Oh, will ye be like the silly bullock that goeth easily to the slaughter, or will ye be like the lamb that licks the butcher's knife! Mad, mad O man, that thou shouldst go to eternal wrath and to the chambers of fell destruction, and yet no sigh comes from thy heart; no groan is uttered by thy lips! Thou diest every day, but groanest never, till the last day of thy death, which is the beginning of thy misery. Yes, the condition of the mass of men is just like the condition of the children of Israel when they were bitten by the serpents.

     II. And now comes THE REMEDY. The remedy of the bitten Israelites was a brazen serpent; and the remedy for sinners is Christ crucified. "Stuff, nonsense," said some of the children of Israel, when they heard that a brazen serpent lifted up on a pole was to be the means of their cure. Many of them laughed in the jollity of unbelief—absurd, ridiculous; who ever heard of such a thing, how can it be? A serpent of brass lifted up upon a pole, to cure us of these wounds, by being looked upon! why all the skill of the physicians cannot do it; will a glance at a brazen Serpent do it? It is impossible!" This much I know, if they did not despise the brazen serpent, there be many that despise Christ crucified. Shall I tell you what they say of him? They say of him as they did of the brazen serpent. Some wise one said—" Why it was a serpent that did the mischief; how can a serpent undo it?" Yes, and men will say, "It was by man that sin and death came into the World, and can a man be the means of our salvation?" "Ah," says another, having the prejudice of a Jew about him, "and what a man he was! No king, no prince, no mighty conqueror; he was but a poor peasant, and he died upon a cross." Ah, so said some in the camp; they said it was only a brazen serpent, not a golden one, and how could a brazen serpent be of any use to them? It would not sell for much if it were broken up. What was the use of it? And so men say of Christ. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and they hide their faces from him because they cannot see how he is adapted for their cure.

     But some will have it that the preaching of the cross not only cannot save, but will increase the evil. Old physicians tell us that brass was the most likely thing in the world to make people die the quicker; the sight of anything that is bright would have the effect of making the poison yet more strong in its effects, so that it would be death at once to look upon brass. And yet strange to say, to look at the brazen serpent saved them. "Now," says the infidel, "I cannot see how men are to be saved from sin by the preaching of Christ." "Truly, sir," he says, "you go and tell men that though they have sinned never so much, if they do but believe, their sins shall all be washed away! Why they will take advantage of that, and they will be more wicked than ever they were. You tell men that their good works are of no avail whatever, that they must rest on Christ alone!" "Why," says the sceptic, "my dear fellow, it will be the destruction of all morality; instead of a cure, it will be a death. Why preach it?" Ah, the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. I cannot, myself, but admit, that at first sight the brazen serpent seems to be the most absurd invention, in itself, for curing those who were bitten, that ever mind of man could have invented; and yet I see in the brazen serpent, when I come to study it, the highest wisdom that even God himself could develop. I grant you that the cross of Christ also does in its outward appearance seem to be the simplicity of simplicities; something which any one might have thought of, but which would have been beneath their thought. But when you come to study and understand the marvellous scheme of God's justice vindicated, and man pardoned through the atoning blood of the cross, I say, that not even the mighty intellect of God could have conceived a wiser plan, than the wisdom of God displayed in Christ Jesus crucified.

     But remember, that much as those who heard of the brazen serpent might have despised it, yet there was no other means of cure. And, now hear me for one moment, while I tell the whole story of salvation. Men, brethren, and fathers, we are born of a sinful generation, and we have ourselves increased our guilt, for us there is no hope; do what we may, we cannot save ourselves.

 

"Could our zeal no respite know,

Could our tears for ever flow,

All for sin could not atone."

 

     But brethren, Christ Jesus, God's eternal Son, came into this world, and was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a doleful life of misery, and at last he died a death accompanied by unutterable pangs—that was the punishment of the sins of those who, as penitents, come to Christ. If you this day so repent, and put your trust in Jesus, you have in your trust and repentance a sure proof that Christ was punished for you.

     III. And now WHAT WAS TO BE DONE WITH THE BRAZEN SERPENT? The text says, "Moses lifted it up;" and we read he was to lift it up upon a pole. Ah, dear friends, and Christ Jesus must be lifted up. He has been lifted up; wicked men lifted him up, when, with nails on an accursed tree, they crucified him! God the Father hath lifted him up; for he hath highly exalted him, far above principalities and powers. But the minister's business is to lift him up. There are some ministers who forget that their errand in the world is to lift up Christ. Suppose Moses, when God told him to lift up the brazen serpent, had said in himself, "It is becoming in me, before I lift it up, that I should give some explanatory remarks. And instead of lifting it up before the vulgar crowd, I will initiate a proved few, so that they may understand about it. I will arrange around this serpent a few golden cloths, I will garnish it with silver tapestry, so that it may not be looked upon by vulgar eyes, and I will endeavour to explain it to them." Now this is what many priestly persons in this age and in ages past have tried to do. The gospel! oh, that must not be preached to the poor! "The Bible," says the Church of Rome, "must not be read by the vulgar crowd! How can they understand it? It is a thing too sacred for the common people to see! No, wrap up the brazen serpent; wrap it up in a cloth, do not let it be exhibited." "No," say our Protestant ministers, many of them, "the Bible must he given, but we must never alter the translation of it!" There are some passages in the present translation that are so dark, that no man can understand them without an explanation. "But no," say the divines of this age, "we will not have the Bible translated properly, the people must always put up with a faulty translation. The brazen serpent must be wrapped up, because it would a little unsettle matters, if we were to have a new translation!" "No," say others, "we will have a new translation, if need be; but there are some parts of the truth that ought not to be preached!" I am not now misrepresenting some of my brethren in the ministry. I know they hold that some doctrines of God's Word ought not to be preached—every day at least. They say Election is true; but they never mention it. They say Predestination is no doubt a godly doctrine, but it ought to be kept from the people. It must be in their creed, or else they would not be sound; but in the pulpit it must not be mentioned at all. "No," says the Church of Rome, "if we have a brazen serpent, we will put it in the sanctum, where it cannot be seen, and we will have the smoke of incense before it, so that it shall not be plainly discerned; the pomp, and ceremony, and trappings of formality, shall shield it from the vulgar gaze of the people; we will have it girt all round with a thousand ceremonies, which will abstract the gospel, and leave the people to be content with the ceremonies!" Now in these days there are great tendencies to that. The Puseyites are trying, instead of preaching the simplicity of the gospel, to give us figures. "Oh," they say, "what an elevating thing is a Gothic church; how it lifts the soul to heaven to sit in a place where there is a forest of Gothic pillars! oh, what a sweet influence a well played organ has on the mind!" They tell us there is a kind of heavenly influence poured forth from vestments when well worn; and that to see the priest discharge his functions in a holy and reverent manner, is a most excellent way of impressing souls. They will have us believe that holly at Christmas time is a most heavenly and spiritual thing. They teach us that our passions will be carried to heaven by these little sprigs of green; that putting flowers now and then where the gas lamps should be, has a most extraordinary influence in carrying away our souls to paradise; that burning candles in the daylight is just the most splendid way in all the world of showing forth the sun of righteousness! Now, we do not exactly fall in with their views. We believe that these places are good for children; they are not so liable to cry there, for there are more things to amuse them. But we never could see how a man—who was a man—could ever sit down to a thing so infamously namby-pamby as the religion of a Puseyite. There is nothing in it but pure nonsense, and all that the gospel may not be seen. It is as if Aaron had filled his censer full of incense and waved it before the brazen serpent, and made a great smoke, so that the people could not see; and then poor Moses tarried behind and tried to look, but none of the poor souls could see because there was the smoke before them. No, the only thing we have to do with Christ Jesus crucified is, just to lift him up and preach him. There is many a man who could only speak in a ploughman's dialect, who will wear a bright and starry crown in heaven, because he lifted Christ up, and sinners saw and lived. And there is many a learned doctor, who spoke with the brogue of the Egyptian, and, with dark and mysterious language, he talked he knew not what, 'who, after having ended his course, shall enter heaven without a solitary star in his crown, never having lifted up Christ, nor won crowns for his Master. Let each of us who are called to the solemn work of the ministry remember, that we are not called to lift up doctrine, or church governments, or particular denominations; our business is to lift up Christ Jesus and to preach him fully. There may he times when church government is to be discussed, and peculiar doctrines are to be vindicated. God forbid that we should silence any part of truth: but the main work of the ministry—its every day work—is just exhibiting Christ. and crying out to sinners, "Believe, believe, believe on him who is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."

     And let it be remembered, that if the minister doth but preach Christ plainly, that is all he has to do; if with affection and prayer he preaches Christ fully, if there were never a soul saved—which I believe would be impossible—he would have done his work, and his Master would say, "Well done." I have gone away from this hall, after preaching upon divers doctrines, and though many have complimented me, foolishly, I have said to myself, "I can but groan that I had such a subject at all." And at another time, when I have been faltering in my delivery, and committed a thousand blunders in my speech, I have gone away as happy as a prince, because I have said, "I did preach Christ." There was enough for sinners to be saved by; and if all the papers in the world should abuse me, and all the men in the world should say 'cry him down;' he will still live and still breathe as long as he feels in himself, "I have preached to sinners, and Christ has been preached to them, so as they could understand and lay hold on him and be saved."

     IV. And now, dear friends, I have almost concluded; but I have come to that part of the discourse which needs most of power. WHAT WERE ISRAEL TO DO? What are convinced sinners to do? The Israelites were to look; the convinced sinner must believe. Do you picture Moses with his reverend head standing erect, and boldly crying out with all his might—" Look, look, look!" Do you see him, as with his right hand he grasps the pole, and lifts it up, and marches with it through the camp like a great standard-bearer, pointing with his finger, and speaking with hand, and eye, and lip, and foot, and every part of the body, as he passionately bids poor bitten Israel to look? You can, perhaps, conceive the scene as men roll over one another, and the dying and almost dead behold the brazen serpent. and begin to live. Now note, there may be some in the camp who would not look; they obstinately shut their eyes, and when the pole was brought near them they would not look. Perhaps it was through unbelief; they said, "What was the use of it? it could do them no good!" There is the wretch, the pole is before him, and yet he will not look. Well what will become of him? Oh, the death-pangs are upon him; see how death is twitching him! How his flesh seems to writhe in agony! He has shut his eyes with all the force and passion he can command, lest they should be opened on that brazen serpent, and he should live I Ah! my hearer, and I have such an one here to-day. I have many here who will not come to Christ that they may be saved—men, who when the gospel is preached to them resist it, despise it, and reject it. Though the reception of the gospel be all of grace, yet the rejection of it is all of man. And I have some here who have often been touched in their con science; they have often been moved to believe, but they have been desperately set on mischief, and they would not come to Christ. Ah, sinner, thou little knowest how direful thy doom shall be. Thou mayest this day tell me thou dost not believe on the Saviour; thou mayest turn away thine ear from the warning, and say, "What need to make so great a noise about it? I would rather die than believe; for I do not think that Christ can save! What good is there in it?" Ah, sir, you may reject me; but remember there is a greater preacher than I am coming to you soon. He with a skeleton arm, and bony finger, and cold speech, he will freeze, and yet convince! It is one called Death! Look me in the face to-day; and tell me I preach you a lie—you can do that easily! Look death in the face to-morrow, and tell him that, and you will find it harder work. Ay, and if you have the fool-hardiness to do that, you will not look at the face of the Great Judge, when he shall sit upon the throne, and tell him that his gospel was not true; for affrighted and alarmed, you shall rush hither and thither to hide yourselves from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne. Perhaps there were some in the camp who said they would look by-and-by. "Oh," said they, "there is no need to look now; the venom has not yet worked its effects: we are not yet dead; a little longer!" And ere they uttered the last word they were stiff and clay-cold! How many do the same? They will not be religious yet; another day, another hour. They believe they can be pious when they like, which is a fallacy; and therefore they will postpone the matter as long as they may. How many have postponed the day of salvation, until the day of damnation has come, before they had repented! Oh, how' many have said, "A little sleep, a little folding of the hands!" and they have been like men on shipboard, when the ship was foundering, who would not escape while they might, but still tarried on deck; at last a sea swallowed them, and they went down alive into the depths. Take heed of procrastination; delays are dangerous, and some delays are damnable! Look hither, look hither to Christ bleeding on cross. Look now, for the Spirit saith, "to-day: if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts as in the day of provocation."

     I doubt not, there were some there who tried physicians: "Look at the brazen serpent?" said they, "not we. Doctor, come hither, bring your balsam; can you not take the caustic and burn out this poison from my arm, and then pour in some cordial that will save me? Physician, have you no antidote that might cool my blood? Ah. I laugh at that brazen serpent; I will not look at it; I trust to your skill. O learned physician!" And how many now do the same? They say, "I will not believe in Christ; I will try and do better; I will reform myself, I will attend to all the ceremonies of the church. Can I not help myself, and so improve myself that I shall have no need of Jesus?" Ah, ye may try; ye may lay that flattering unction to your souls, and film the ulcerous wound, but all the while dark corruption shall sleep within, and shall at last break out in sore flames upon thee; when thou shalt have no time to attempt a cure, but shalt be swept away—not to the hospital of mercy, but like the leper, without the city, thou shalt be cast away from hope of blessedness.

     It may be there were some who were so busy looking at their sores, that they did not think of looking at the serpent. Poor creatures, they lay in their misery, and kept looking first at that wound on the foot, and then at that one on the hand; and crying over their sores, and never looked at the serpent. Scores and hundreds perish in that way. ' Oh," says the sinner, "I have been so sinful!" Man, what has that to do with it? Christ is all meritorious, look at him. "No, no," says another, "I cannot look at Christ. Oh, sir, you do not know what crimes I have committed; I have been a drunkard, I have been a swearer, I have been a whore-monger, or what not; how can I be saved!" My dear man, your wounds have nothing to do with it: it is just Christ on the cross. If any poor creature, bitten by the serpent, had said to me—" Now it is no good my looking there; see how often I have been bitten; there is a huge serpent twisting round my loins, there is another devouring my hand, how can I live?" I should say to him, "My dear fellow, do not take any notice whether you have got one serpent or fifty serpents, one bite or fifty bites; all you have to do is to look. You have nothing to do with these bites, except that you have to feel them, and perish by them unless you look. But just look straight to Christ." And now thou chief of sinners, believe in the Lord Jesus; and be thy sins never so many, he is able to save unto the uttermost, them that come unto God by him. And yet how many perish through those divers delusions, with the gospel before their very eyes, lifted up on the pole so plainly that we wonder they do not see it.

     And now I must tell you one or two sweet things for the encouragement of the poor sinner. Oh, you that are guilty this morning, and know that you are so, let me say to you, "Look to Christ." For remember the brazen serpent was lifted up, that every one in the camp who was bitten might live; and now Christ is lifted up to you, that "whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Sinner, the devil says you are shut out; tell him that "whosoever" shuts out none. Oh that precious word, "whosoever." Poor soul, I see thee clutch at it and say, "Then, Sir, if I believe, he will not cast me away." I see the harlot in all her guilt bemoaning her iniquity; she says it is impossible that Christ should save. But she hears it said, "Whosoever," and she looks and lives! Remember, it mattered not how old they were, nor how much bitten they were, nor whereabouts in the camp they lived; they did but look and live. And now ye that have grown grey in iniquity, whose hairs might rather be black than white, if they showed forth your character, for it has been blackened by years of vice. Remember there is the same Christ for big sinners as for little sinners; the same Christ for grey heads as for babes; the same Christ for poor as for rich; the same Christ for chimney sweeps as for monarchs; the same Christ for prostitutes as for saints: "Whosoever." I use broad words that I may take a broad range, and sweep the whole universe of sinners through—whosoever looketh to Christ shall live. And remember it does not say that if they looked but little they should not live. Perhaps there was some of them so bitten that their eyelids were swollen and they could scarcely see. Old Christopher Ness says, "There may have been some of them that had so little sight that they could but squint from one eye." Says he, in his strange language, "If they did but dart a little glance at the brazen serpent, they lived." And you who say you cannot believe; if God gives you only half a grain of faith, that will carry you to heaven. If you can only say, "O Lord, I would believe, help thou mine unbelief;" if you can but put out your hand with Simon Peter, and say, "Lord save, or I perish," it is enough. If you can only pray that poor publican's prayer—" God be merciful to me a sinner," that will do. And if you cannot sing with some of the old experienced saints—

 

"My name from the palms of his hands,

Eternity cannot erase;”

 

     remember it is quite enough, if you can only sing—

 

"I can but perish if I go,

I am resolved to try;

For if I stay away, I know

I must for ever die."

 

     And now poor soul I have almost done. But I cannot let thee go. I see thee with the tear in thine eye; I hear thee confessing thy guilt, and bemoaning thy sin; I bid thee look to my Master and live. Be not afraid to try my Lord and Master. I know what thy bashfulness is; I have felt the same, and thought he never would save me. Come soul, thou art in secret now with thyself; for though there be thou sands around thee, thou thinkest I am speaking alone to thee. And so I am. My brother, my sister, you are weeping to-day on account of sin—look to Jesus. And for your encouragement note these three things. Note first that Jesus Christ was put on the cross on purpose for you to look at. The only reason why he died, was that poor sinners might look at him and be saved. Now, my dear brethren, if that was Christ's purpose in being hung on the tree, you need not think you may not do it. If God sends a river, and sends it for us to drink of, will you disappoint him in not drinking? No, rather you will say. "Did he design me to drink it? Then will I drink it." Now, Jesus hung on the cross on purpose to be looked at. Look at him, look at him, and live. Remember again for your encouragement, he asks you to look; he invites you to believe; he has sent his minister this day, even to command you to do it; he has said to me, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." Now I need not simply say that my Master's door is wide open for you; I will say something more: he has told me to ask you to come in. Wisdom crieth aloud, she uttereth her voice in the streets, she inviteth you; she saith, "My oxen and my fatlings are killed, all things are ready, come ye to the supper." Yea, my Master has given instructions to his Holy Spirit that if men will not come of themselves, he should compel them to come in that his house may be filled. Then, poor sinner, you must be welcome, he will have enough sinners to fill his table; and if he has made you feel your sinnership—come and welcome, sinner, come. And my last encouragement is this: Come to my Master and try him, because he promises to save you. The promises of Jesus Christ are all of them as good as oaths; they never fail. He says—"Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Now, if I had here a man who declared himself to be the vilest wretch on earth, I would say to him—Young man, I am very fond of proving the truthfulness of God's promises; now God says, if you believe you shall not perish. My dear friend, when a common sinner tries, and it does not fail, it is some proof of its truthful ness: but you are an extraordinary sinner. Now, thou extraordinary sinner, venture thyself on this promise; he says thou shalt not perish; come and try him. And remember, God must undeify himself, and cease to be true, before he can ever damn a sinner who has believed in Christ. Come risk it, thou who art so laden with sin that thou staggerest under thy burden; fall down on the simple promise, "He is able to save to the uttermost." Just cast thyself wholly on Christ, and if thou art not saved, God's book is a lie, and God himself has broken his truth. But that cannot be. Come thou and try it. "Whosoever believeth in Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life."



Things that Accompany Salvation

By / Sep 20

Things That Accompany Salvation

 

"Things that accompany Salvation."—Hebrews 6:9

 

     I am not quite certain that my text will warrant all I shall say upon it this day if read and understood in its connection. But I have taken the words rather by accommodation than otherwise, and shall make use of them as a kind of heading to the discourse which I hope to be enabled to deliver. I sat myself down, and I meditated on this subject—"Things that accompany Salvation." And after some period of rumination, my thoughts assumed the form of an allegory; in which I hope to present them to you this morning. I compared Salvation to a rich and costly treasure, which God in his infinite love and mercy had determined to send into the world, and I remembered that our Lord Jesus was so much interested in the bringing of this Salvation to this earth, that he did send all that he had, and came himself to attend and to accompany this Salvation. I then pictured to myself a great march of bright ones through this land, carrying in their midst the sacred jewel of Salvation. I looked forward, and I saw a mighty van-guard, who already had attained the shores of Eternity. I looked around Salvation, and I saw it always in every case attended with divers graces and virtues which seemed to be like troops and soldiers to guard it in the van, about its flanks, and in the rear.

     Before we begin, however, let us just make this caution. When the Apostle speaks of virtues and of graces, he calls them "things that accompany Salvation," not things which cause it. Our faith does not cause Salvation, nor our hope, nor our love, nor our good works; they are things which attend it as its guard of honor. The origin of Salvation lies alone in the sovereign will of God the Father; in the infinite efficacy of the blood of Jesus—God the Son, and in the divine influence of God the Holy Spirit. There are, however, "things that accompany Salvation." Picture then to yourselves the march of some ancient monarch through his territory. We read stories of eastern monarchs in the olden time, that seem more like romance than reality; when they marched with thousands of flying banners and with all kinds of riches borne with them. Now you are to take that as the basis of my figure and suppose Salvation to be the sacred treasure which is being carried through the world, with guards before and guards behind, to accompany it on its journey.

     We will begin, then, with the advance-guard that has accompanied Salvation or rather gone before it. We shall then come to those who immediately precede it, and then we shall notice those who accompany it by its side, and conclude by noticing the rear guard attending upon this Salvation of our God.

     I. First, then, IN THE MARCHES OF TROOPS AND ARMIES, THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE OUTRIDERS, AND GO FAR AHEAD OF THE OTHER TROOPS. So in the march of Salvation, which have far preceded it to clear the way. I will tell you the names of these stupendous Titans who have gone before. The first is Election, the second is Predestination, the third is Redemption and the Covenant is the captain of them all. Before Salvation came into this world, Election marched in the very forefront, and it had for its work the billeting of Salvation. Election went through the world and marked the houses to which Salvation should come and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race of man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom Salvation was designed. "He must needs go through Samaria," said Election; and Salvation must go there. Then came Predestination. Predestination did not merely mark the house, but it mapped the road in which Salvation should travel to that house, Predestination ordained every step of the great army of Salvation, it ordained the time when the sinner should be brought to Christ, the manner how he should be saved, the means that should be employed; it marked the exact hour and moment, when God the Spirit should quicken the dead in sin, and when peace and pardon should be spoken through the blood of Jesus. Predestination marked the way so completely, that Salvation doth never overstep the bounds, and it is never at a loss for the road. In the everlasting decree of the Sovereign God, the footsteps of Mercy were every one of them ordained. As nothing in this world revolves by chance—as even the foreknown station of a rush by the river is as fixed as the station of a king—it was not meet that Salvation should be left to chance; and therefore God has mapped the place where it should pitch its tent, the manner of its footsteps to that tent, and the time when it should arrive there. Then came Redemption. The way was rough; and though Election had marked the house, and Predestination had mapped the road, the way was so impeded that Salvation could not travel it until it had been cleared. Forth came Redemption, it had but one weapon; that weapon was the all-victorious cross of Christ. There stood the mountains of our sins; Redemption smote them, and they split in halves and left a valley for the Lord's redeemed to march through. There was the great gulph of God's offended wrath; Redemption bridged it with the cross, and so left an everlasting passage by which the armies of the Lord may cross. Redemption has tunnelled every mountain; it has dried up every sea, cut down every forest; it has levelled every high hill, and filled up the valleys, so that the road of Salvation is now plain and simple. God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly.

     Now, this sacred advance-guard carry for their banner the Eternal Covenant. Election, Predestination, and Redemption—the things that have gone before, beyond the sight, are all rallied to the battle by this standard—the Covenant, the Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure. We know and believe that before the morning star startled the shades of darkness, God had covenanted with his Son that he should die and pay a ransom price, and that, on God the Father's part, he would give to Jesus "a number whom no man could number," who should be purchased by his blood, and through that blood should be most securely saved. Now, when Election marches forward, it carries the Covenant. These are chosen in the Covenant of grace. When Predestination marcheth, and when it marketh out the way of Salvation, it proclaims the Covenant. "He marked out the places of the people according to the tribes of Israel." And Redemption also, pointing to the precious blood of Christ, claims Salvation for the blood-bought ones, because the Covenant hath decreed it to be theirs.

     Now, my dear hearers, this advance-guard is so far ahead that you and I cannot see them. These are true doctrines, but very mysterious; they are beyond our sight, and if we wish to see Salvation, we must not stop until we see the van-guard, because they are so far off that only the eye of faith can reach them. We must have that sacred glass, that divine telescope of faith, or else we shall never have the evidence of things not seen. Let us rest certain, however, that if we have Salvation we have Election. He that believeth is elected whoever casts himself on Christ as a guilty sinner, is certainly God's chosen child. As sure as ever you believe on the Saviour, and go to him, you were predestinated to do so from all eternity, and your faith is the great mark and evidence that you are chosen of God, and precious in his esteem. Dost thou believe? Then Election is thine. Dost thou believe? Then Predestination is as surely thine as thou art alive. Dost thou trust alone in Jesus? Then fear not, Redemption was meant for thee. So then, we will not be struck with terror at that grand advance-guard that hath already gained the celestial hill, and have prepared the place where the elect shall for ever repose upon the bosom of their God.

     II. But mark, we are about to review THE ARMY THAT IMMEDIATELY PRECEDES SALVATION; and first, in the forefront of these, there marches one whose name we must pronounce with sacred awe. It is God, the Holy Spirit. Before anything can be done in our salvation, there must come that Third Person of the Sacred Trinity. Without him, faith, repentance, humility, love, are things quite impossible. Even the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot save until it has been applied to the heart by God the Holy Spirit. Before we notice the grand army, then, that immediately precedes Salvation, let us be cautious that we do not forget Him who is the leader of them all. The great King, Immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead for ever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel, it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole: he, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us. O soul, by this mayest thou know whether Salvation has come to thine house—art thou a partaker of the Holy Spirit? Come now, answer thou this question—hath he ever breathed on thee? Hath he ever breathed into thee? Canst thou say that thou hast been the subject of his supernatural influence? For, if not, remember except a man be born of the Spirit from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Thy best exertions will be all unavailing unless the Holy Ghost shall work in thee, to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The highest efforts of the flesh can never reach higher than the flesh, just as water of itself will never run higher than its source. You may be moral, you may be strictly upright, you may be much that is commendable, but unless you be partakers of the Holy Spirit, salvation is as impossible to you as it is even to the lost. We must be born again, and born again by that divine influence, or else it is all in vain. Remember, then, that the Spirit of God always accompanies Salvation.

     And now, close in the rear of the adorable Spirit follow the Thundering Legion. No sooner does God the Holy Ghost come into the soul, than he brings with him what I have called the Thundering Legion; and those of you that have been saved will not be at a loss to understand what I mean. This Thundering Legion are clad in mail, their helmets wave with horror; their speech is rough like men that come from a far country; their faces are terrible to look upon, for they are like unto lions, and do terribly affright the timid. Some of the men in this Thundering Legion bear with them swords; with these swords they are to slay the sinner. For before he can be made whole, he must be spiritually killed, the sword must pierce him, and must slay all his selfishness before he can be brought to the Lord Jesus. Then another body of them carry with them axes, with which they cut down the thick trees of our pride and abase the goodly cedars of our righteousness. There are with them those that fill up the wells with stones, and break up all the cisterns of our carnal sufficiency, until we are driven to despair, having all our hopes despoiled. Then come those who, with brazen trumpets, or with trumps of ram's horns—like those who once razed Jericho level with the ground—do blow a blast, so shrill and dread, that the sinner thinks that even the yells of hell itself could not be more terrible. Then come those who with lances pierce the spirit through and through; and in the rear are the ten great guns, the artillery of the law, which, perpetually fire upon the wounded spirit till it knows not what it is, nor what it does. My friend, has this Thundering Legion ever come to your house? Have they ever taken up their quarters in your heart? For, rest assured, these are some of the "things that accompany Salvation." What I have said is no allegory to those who have been converted, but it may be a mystery to those who know not the Lord. Understand, then, that the first work of God the Spirit in the soul is a terrible work. Before a man can be truly converted, he must suffer great agony of spirit; all our self-righteousness must be laid level with the ground, and trampled like the miry streets. Our carnal hopes must, every one of them, be cut in pieces, and our refuges of lies must be swept away with the hail of God's anger. The law of God will appear terrible to the sinner when he is first convinced of sin. "What have I done?" he will say. Or rather, "What have I undone? I have undone myself." See him when God the Spirit has first convinced him of sin; you would think him mad; he is thought to be mad by his worldly companions. He weeps day and night, tears become his meat and his drink; he can scarcely sleep for the dreams of hell, and when he wakes he thinks he feels it already. "Oh, the wrath to come, the wrath to come, the wrath to come!" that seems to be ever pressing on his heart. He is like John Bunyan's pilgrim, he has a heavy burden on his back, and he knows not how to get rid of it, he wrings his hands and cries, "What shall I do? I am undone. I have rebelled against God, and God is angry with me." Ah, I tell you this Thundering Legion is a terrible thing indeed. God be praised, when once they go out of the heart there is some joy; but whilst they are billited in the conscience of man, I defy him to eat or drink with any mirth or joy. The poor town of Mansoul is hung with black all the time these rough soldiers are there. Hideous threatenings and doleful forebodings are the sinner's only company in such a case. He seeks to find a little hope and comfort in his own doings; down comes the hammer of the Law, and breaks all his doings to pieces. He thinks, well he will rest on the couch of Indifference and Sloth; forth comes the Law, ties him to the halberts, takes its ten-thonged whip and begins to lay on to him with all his might till his heart bleeds again. Then comes Conscience with its brine, and washes him all over; and he is exceedingly tormented, for even his bed is become a bed of spikes and thorns. This Thundering Legion always precedes Salvation. More or less of terrors every man must feel before he is converted. Some have less, some have more; but there must be some measure of this terrible law work in the soul, or else Salvation is not come to a man's house.

     Oh, Thundering Legion, ye are gone; we hear their trumpets and the dying echoes still appall us. We can remember, brethren, those terrible days when they were in our house and in our heart. They are gone. What see we in the rear of them? Close in the rear there follows a broken heart. Look at it; do not despise it, God never despises it, do not thou. "A broken and a contrite heart O God thou wilt not despise." I see how this poor broken heart is broken; it is rent to its very eye and center; it is bathed in tears; it is overwhelmed with suffering. See its humility; it never talks about boasting now. Mark its repentance, the sins it loved before it hates now; it speaks not about self-salvation. Hear it, as the broken heart speaks out its broken language. Hear it—"Lord have mercy upon me a sinner!" Do not fear to come and look at this broken heart; how sweetly is it perfumed! The sacred smell of a sacrifice which God approves rises from it. Hear it, as again it speaks—"Lord, save, or I perish." See this poor broken heart when it is in the world and at its business; it interrupts its business with ejaculations like these—"Oh that—Ah, ah—would that!" And when it can get alone, it pours out its heart before God, and cries,

 

Unclean, unclean, and full of sin

From first to last, O Lord I've been;

Deceitful is my heart.

 

     Oh wash my soul in Jesus' blood; forgive me all my guilt, and I will be thy servant for ever and ever.

     Dear hearers, has this broken heart ever come to your house? Rest assured I am speaking God's own truth, that admits of no dispute—unless this broken heart has come within your bosom you cannot be made partakers of Christ. The heart must first be pounded in the mortar of conviction, and beaten in pieces with the pestle of the law, or else it never can receive the grace of the Comforter in all its plenitude. Are you broken-hearted to-day? Are you sorrowful at this very hour? Be of good cheer, Salvation is not far behind. When there is once a broken heart there is mercy very near. The broken heart is the prelude of healing. He that kills will make whole; he that woundeth will bind up; he that smote will cure. God is looking on thee with love, and will have mercy upon thee.

     But who are those that follow in the rear? Another troop, another legion, but these are far different from the rest. The silken legion follow, these are not clad in steel; they have no helmets of war upon their head; they have smiling looks and countenances that are full of joy. No weapons of war in their hands; no thunders do they utter, but they speak kind words of pity, and their hands are full of benedictions. Shall I tell you who this silken legion are? There is a troop of them who take the poor wounded heart, and wash it first in blood; they sprinkle on it the sacred blood of the Atonement; and it is amazing how the poor broken heart, though faint and sick, revives at the first drop of the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when well washed in blood, another of this legion steps forward and takes it and washes it in water—for both water and blood flowed from the Saviour's heart.

 

"Let the water and the blood,

From thy wounded side which flow'd

Be of sin the double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and power"

 

     And oh, what a washing it is! The heart that was once black as the coals of hell, seems white as the snow of Lebanon. When it has once been bathed in the bath of the Saviour's blood and water, oh, how pure it becomes! He who was black as the tents of Kedar becomes fair as the curtains of Solomon. Then follow those who pour oil and wine into the wounds of this poor broken heart, so that where it smarted before, the wounds begin to sing. The sacred oil and wine of the precious promise is poured into every wound; and then follow those who with downy fingers bind up the heart with the sacred liniment of Promise till it seems no longer broken, but the broken heart rejoices. The whole heart sings for gladness; for God hath restored its strength and bound up all its wounds, according to his promise: "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." And then, since the work is not quite done, there come those who carry the King's ward-robe; and with the things out of this rich storehouse they array the soul from head to foot; they clothe it with everything that for lustre and for glory could adorn it, and make it bright as the spirits before the throne. And then the King's jewellers come in and complete the whole: they array the soul with ornaments, and bedeck it with precious stones. As the Father said, "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet," even so do this Silken Legion wash and heal and cleanse and glorify the once poor broken heart. Have these ever come to your house? It is an allegory, but it is all plain to him that understandeth it. Sinner, hast thou ever had the blood of Christ applied to thee?

 

"Couldst thou look and see the flowing

Of his soul's redeeming blood,

With divine assurance knowing

He hath made thy peace with God?"

 

     Dost thou this hour lay thine hand on the dear head of Christ; confess thy sin, and believe that he was punished for thee? Thou canst? Then, verily salvation is thine. And has thine heart been ever washed with water? Say, dost thou hate sin? Is thy guilt all cleansed, and is the power of guilt cut away, so that thou dost not love the ways of iniquity, nor seek to run in the paths of transgressors. Then thou art an heir of heaven. And say, poor sinner, hast thou ever been arrayed in the robe of Jesus' righteousness? Couldst thou ever fondly hope that thou wast accepted in the Beloved? Methinks I see thee with the tear in thine eye, and hear thee saying, I have sometimes sung with all my heart—

 

Jesus, thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

'Midst flaming worlds, in these array'd,

With joy shall I lift my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through Christ I am

From sin's tremendous curse and shame."

 

     And now we have not yet come to a full conviction of Salvation. The Silken Legion are gone; their banners are still flying in the gale, and their trumpets of promise are still making the air glad with melody. What cometh next? Now come those that are the actual attendants upon Salvation—or rather, that march in the rank immediately before it. There are four of these, called Repentance, Humility, Prayer and a tender Conscience. Just before the full assurance of Salvation there marches Humility. She is of a downcast look; she is not sad, but she hath no high looks; she scarcely dares to lift her eye to the place where God's honor dwelleth. She is often looking downwards, remembering her past estate thinking of all the bitterness and the guilt of her previous life. She never boasts; of what God has done for her, she looks to the hole of the pit and the miry clay from whence she was digged. She knows she has been washed in the blood of the Saviour, but she remembers how black she was before she was washed, and oh, she laments the past although she rejoices in the present. She feels her own weakness; she dares not stand alone; she leans on the arm of her Beloved, for she knows that she should fall to the ground unless he should constantly maintain her. Side by side with her, is her sister called Repentance, watering the ground with tears to lay the dust before the King. Wherever she goes she weeps and if you ask her why, she will tell you she does not weep because of a fear of hell—that is all gone. The Silken Legion yonder, she tells you, have wiped all her fears away; but she weeps because she smote the Lord that loved her so well she beats her breast, and cries—

 

"'Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,

His chief tormentors were;

Each of my crimes became a nail,

And unbelief the spear."

 

     The more you tell her of her Salvation, the more she weeps to think she could have rebelled against such a Saviour. She is confident that her sins are blotted out; she knows her Master has forgiven her; but she never will forgive herself. Then side by side with Repentance is one called Prayer. He is a priest, and he waves in his hand a censer full of odoriferous incense, that the way for the King may be prepared, that wherever he marches there may be a sweet perfume. Prayer riseth by midnight to call upon God, its waking eyes salute the rising sun, that it may lift up its heart to Jehovah, and when the sun is setting, Prayer will not let his wheel be hidden beneath the horizon, until in his chariot he hath carried supplication. Then in this company is the fourth of those immediately attending upon Salvation, a tender Conscience. This tender Conscience is afraid to put one foot before the other, lest it should put its foot in the wrong place. Poor tender Conscience; some despise him; but he is dear to the King's heart. I would to God, my brethren, you and I knew more about him. I used to know a conscience so tender, that I would wish to feel it again. Then we questioned the lawfulness of every act before we committed it, and then, though it was lawful we would stop to see if it were expedient and if we thought it expedient, even then we would not do it, except we felt it would be abundantly honorable to the Lord our God. Every doctrine we used to scruple at, lest we should believe a lie; every ordinance we examined, lest we should commit idolatry; happy were the days when tender Conscience went with us. And now, my hearers, do you know anything about these four? Has Humility ever come to you? Has she ever abased your pride and taught you to lie in the dust before God? Has Repentance ever watered the floor of your hearts with tears? Have you ever been led to weep in secret for your sins, and to bewail your iniquities? Has Prayer ever entered your spirit? Remember, a prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Have you learned to pray, not with the parrot's cry, but with the heart's ever fresh expression. Have you ever learned to pray? And lastly are you tender of Conscience, for unless your conscience is made tender, salvation has not met you, for these are the immediate attendants upon it.

     III. And now comes SALVATION IN ALL ITS FULLESS. The "things that accompany Salvation" make a glorious march in the forefront of it—from Election down to these precious opening buds of virtue in the sinner's heart. What a goodly array! Sure the angels do sometimes fly along in admiration, and see this long array that heralds Salvation to the heart. And now comes the precious casket set with gems and jewels. It is of God-like workmanship; no hammer was ever lifted on it, it was smitten out and fashioned upon the anvil of Eternal blight, and cast in the mould of Everlasting Wisdom; but no human hand hath ever defiled it, and it is set with jewels so unutterably precious, that if heaven and earth were sold they could never buy another Salvation! And who are those that are close around it? There are three sweet sisters that always have the custody of the treasure—you know them, their names are common in Scripture—Faith, Hope, and Love, the three divine sisters; these have Salvation in their bowels and do carry it about with them in their loins. Faith, who layeth hold on Christ, and trusteth all in him; that ventureth everything upon his blood and sacrifice, and hath no other trust. Hope, that with beaming eye looks up to Jesus Christ in glory, and expects him soon to come: looks downward, and when she sees grim Death in her way, expecting that she shall pass through with victory. And thou sweet Love, the sweetest of the three, she whose words are music and whose eyes are stars; Love, also looks to Christ and is enamoured of him; loves him in all his offices, adores his presence, reverences his words, and is prepared to bind her body to the stake and die for him, who bound his body to the cross to die for her. Sweet Love, God hath well chosen to commit to thee the custody of the sacred work. Faith, Hope, and Love—say sinner, hast thou these three? Dost thou believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Dost thou hope that through the efficacy of his merits thou shalt see thy Maker's face with joy? Dost thou love him? Say, couldst thou repeat after me,

 

"Jesus! I love thy charming name,

'Tis music to my ear;

Fain would I sound it out so loud

That earth and heaven might hear.

Yes, thou art precious to my soul,

My transport and my trust;

Jewels to thee are gaudy toys,

And gold is sordid dust."

 

     Have you these three graces? If so, you have Salvation. Having that, you are rich to all intents of bliss; for God in the Covenant is yours. Cast your eye forward; remember Election is yours, Predestination and Sovereign Decree are both yours; remember, the terrors of the law are past; the broken heart is mourning; the comforts of religion you have already received; the spiritual graces are already in the bud, you are an heir of immortality, and for you there is a glorious future. These are the "things that accompany Salvation."

     IV. Now you must have patience with me for just a few more minutes; I MUST BRING UP THE REAR GUARD. It is impossible that with such a van guard, grace should be unattended from behind. Now see those that follow Salvation. As there were fair bright cherubs that walked in front of it—you remember still their names—Humility, Repentance, Prayer, and a tender Conscience—there are four that follow it, and march in solemn pomp into the sinner's heart. The first of these is Gratitude—always singing, "Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name." And then Gratitude lays hold upon its son's hand; the name of that son is Obedience. "O my master, "saith the heart, "thou hast done so much for me; I will obey thee"—

 

"Help me to run in thy commands,

'Tis a delightful road;

Nor let my heart, nor hands, nor feet,

Offend against my God."

 

     In company with this fair grace is one called Consecration—a pure white spirit that hath no earthliness; from its head to its foot it is all God's, and all gold. Hear it speak—

 

"All that I am and all I have

Shall be for ever thine;

Whate'er my duty bids me give,

My cheerful hands resign.

And if I might make some reserve,

And duty did not call,

I love my God with zeal so great,

That I would give him all."

 

     Linked to this bright one, is one with a face Serene and solemn, called Knowledge, "Then shall ye know when ye follow on to know the Lord." Those that are saved understand mysteries, they know the love of Christ; they "know him, whom to know is life eternal."

     Now, have you these four? They are rather the successors of Salvation than the heralds of it. "Oh yes," the believer can say, "I trust I have Gratitude. Obedience, Consecration, and Knowledge." I will not weary you, but there are three shining ones that follow after these four, and I must not forget them, for they are the flower of them all. There is Zeal with eyes of fire, and heart of flame a tongue that burneth, a hand that never wearies and limbs that never tire. Zeal, that flies round the world with wings swifter than the lightning's flash, and finds even then she wings too tardy for her wish. Zeal, ever ready to obey, resigning up itself for Christ, jealously affected always in a good thing. This Zeal always dwells near one that is called Communion. This, sure, is the goodliest of all the train; an angel spiritualised, an angel purified and made yet more angelic, is Communion. Communion calls in secret on its God; its God in secret sees. It is conformed to the image of Jesus; walks according to his footsteps, and lays its head perpetually on his bosom. And as a necessary consequence, on the other side of Communion—which with one hand lays hold of Zeal, is Joy—joy in the Spirit. Joy, that hath an eye more flashing than the world's merriment ever gave to mortal beauty, with light foot trips over hills of sorrow, singing in the roughest ways, of faithfulness and love. Joy, like the nightingale, sings in the dark, and can praise God in the tempest and shout his high praises in the storm. This is indeed a fitting cherub to be in the rear of Salvation. Do not forget these other three; they are after works of the Spirit, they are high attainments—Zeal, Communion, and Joy.

     Now I have almost done. Just in the rear is Perseverance, final, certain and sure. Then there follows complete Sanctification, whereby the soul is purged from every sin, and made as white and pure as God himself. Now we have come to the very rear of the army; but remember as there was an advance guard so far ahead that we could not see them, so there is a rear guard so far behind that we cannot behold them now. Let us just try to see them with the eye of faith. We have seen the army; we have traced it from the Thundering Legion, guided by the Holy Spirit, till we have finished it by complete Sanctification. Hark, I hear the silver trumpet sound; there is a glorious array behind. A guard, far, far back are coming following the steps of the conquering heroes, that have already swept our sins away. Do you not see in the fore part there is one, whom men paint a skeleton. Look at him; he is not the King's terrors. I know thee, Death, I know thee. Miserably men have belied thee. Thou art no spectre; thine hand bears no dart; thou art not gaunt and frightful. I know thee, thou bright cherub: thou hast not in thy hand a dart, but a golden key that unlocks the gates of Paradise. Thou art fair to look upon, thy wings are like the wings of doves, covered with silver and like yellow gold. Behold this angel Death, and his successor Resurrection. I see three bright things coming; one is called Confidence, see it! it looks at Death; no fear is in its eye, no palor on its brow. See holy Confidence marches with steady steps; the cold chill stream of Death doth not freeze its blood. See behind it its brother Victory; hear him, as he cries, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave where is thy victory?" The last word, "victory," is drowned amidst the shouts of angels. These bring up the rear. Angels bear the spirits of the redeemed into the bosom of the Saviour—

 

"Far from a world of grief and sin,

With God eternally shut in,

They are for ever blest."

 

     And now follow everlasting songs—"Praise him, praise him, King of kings and Lord of lords; he hath gotten him the victory. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, world without end! Hallelujah, yet again!" Let the echoes of eternity perpetually cry, "Hallelujah! for"

 

"THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY YOUR SALVATION."



The Condescension of Christ

By / Sep 13

The Condescension of Christ

 

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."—2 Cor. 8:9

 

     The apostle, in this chapter, was endeavoring to stir up the Corinthians to liberality. He desired them to contribute something for those who were the poor of the flock, that he might be able to minister to their necessities. He tells them, that the churches of Macedonia, though very much poorer than the church at Corinth, had done even beyond their means for the relief of the Lords family, and he exhorts the Corinthians to do the same. But suddenly recollecting that examples taken from inferiors seldom have a powerful effect, he lays aside his argument drawn from the church of Macedonia, and he holds before them a reason for liberality which the hardest heart can scarcely resist, if once that reason be applied by the Spirit. "My brethren," said he, "there is One above, by whom you hope you have been saved, One whom you call Master and Lord, now if you will but imitate him, you can not be ungenerous or illiberal. For, my brethren, I tell you a thing which is an old thing with you and an undisputed truth—'For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.' Let this constrain you to benevolence." O Christian, whenever thou art inclined to an avaricious withholding from the church of God, think of thy Saviour giving up all that he had to serve thee, and canst thou then, when thou beholdest self-denial so noble,—canst thou then be selfish, and regard thyself, when the claims of the poor of the flock are pressed upon thee? Remember Jesus; think thou seest him look thee in the face and say to thee, "I gave myself for thee, and dost thou withhold thyself from me? For if thou dost so, thou knowest not my love in all its heights and depths and lengths and breadths."

     And now, dear friends, the argument of the apostle shall be our subject to-day. It divides itself in an extremely simple manner. We have first, the pristine condition of our Saviour—"He was rich." We have next, his condescension—"He became poor." And then we have the effect and result of his poverty—"That we might be made rich." We shall then close by giving you a doctrine, a question, and an exhortation. May God bless all these, and help us to tell them aright.

     I. First, then, our text tells us THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS RICH. Think not that our Saviour began to live when he was born of the Virgin Mary; imagine not that he dates his existence from the manger at Bethlehem; remember he is the Eternal, he is before all things, and by him all things consist. There was never a time in which there was not God. And just so, there was never a period in which there was not Christ Jesus our Lord. He is self-existent, hath no beginning of days, neither end of years; he is the immortal, invisible, the only wise God, our Saviour. Now, in the past eternity which had elapsed before his mission to this world, we are told that Jesus Christ was rich; and to those of us who believe his glories and trust in his divinity, it is not hard to see how he was so. Jesus was rich in possessions. Lift up thine eye, believer, and for a moment review the riches of my Lord Jesus, before he condescended to become poor for thee. Behold him, sitting upon his throne and declaring his own all-sufficiency. "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee, for the cattle on a thousand hills are mine. Mine are the hidden treasures of gold; mine are the pearls that the diver can not reach; mine every precious thing that earth hath seen." The Lord Jesus might have said, "I can stretch my scepter from the east even to the west, and all is mine; the whole of this world, and yon worlds that glitter in far off space, all are mine. The illimitable expanse of unmeasured space, filled as it is with worlds that I have made, all this is mine. Fly upward, and thou canst not reach the summit of the hill of my dominions; dive downward, and thou canst not enter into the innermost depths of my sway. From the highest throne in glory to the lowest pit of hell, all, all is mine without exception. I can put the broad arrow of my kingdom upon every thing that I have made.

     But he had besides that which makes men richer still. We have heard of kings in olden times who were fabulously rich, and when their riches were summed up, we read in the old romances, "And this man was possessed of the philosopher's stone, whereby he turned all things into gold." Surely all the treasures that he had before were as nothing compared with this precious stone that brought up the rear. Now, whatever might be the wealth of Christ in things created, he had the power of creation, and therein lay his boundless wealth. If he had pleased he could have spoken worlds into existence; he had but to lift his finger, and a new universe as boundless as the present would have leaped into existence. At the will of his mind, millions of angels would have stood before him, legions of bright spirits would have flashed into being. He spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. He who said, "Light, be," and light was, had power to say to all things, "Be," and they should be. Herein then, lay his riches; this creating power was one of the brightest jewels of his crown.

     We call men rich, too, who have honor, and though men have never so much wealth, yet if they be in disgrace and shame, they must not reckon themselves among the rich. But our Lord Jesus had honor, honor such as none but a divine being could receive. When he sat upon his throne, before he relinquished the glorious mantle of his sovereignty to become a man, all earth was filled with his glory. He could look both beneath and all around him, and the inscription, "Glory be unto God," was written over all space; day and night the smoking incense of praise ascended before him from golden viols held by spirits who bowed in reverence; the harps of myriads of cherubim and seraphim continually thrilled with his praise, and the voices of all those mighty hosts were ever eloquent in adoration. It may be, that on set days the princes from the far off realms, the kings, the mighty ones of his boundless realms, came to the court of Christ, and brought each his annual revenue. Oh, who can tell but that in the vast eternity, at certain grand eras, the great bell was rung, and all the mighty hosts that were created gathered together in solemn review before his throne? Who can tell the high holiday that was kept in the court of heaven when these bright spirits bowed before his throne in joy and gladness, and, all united, raised their voices in shouts and hallelujahs such as mortal ear hath never heard. Oh, can ye tell the depths of the rivers of praise that flowed hard by the city of God? Can ye imagine to yourselves the sweetness of that harmony that perpetually poured into the ear of Jesus, Messias, King, Eternal, equal with God his Father? No; at the thought of the glory of his kingdom, and the riches and majesty of his power, our souls are spent within us, our words fail, we cannot utter the tithe of his glories.

     Nor was he poor in any other sense. He that hath wealth on earth, and honor too, is poor if he hath not love. I would rather be the pauper, dependent upon charity, and have love, than I would be the prince, despised and hated, whose death is looked for as a boon. Without love, man is poor—give him all the diamonds, and pearls, and gold that mortal hath conceived. But Jesus was not poor in love. When he came to earth, he did not come to get our love because his soul was solitary. Oh no, his Father had a full delight in him from all eternity. The heart of Jehovah, the first person of the Sacred Trinity, was divinely, immutably linked to him; he was beloved of the Father and of the Holy Spirit; the three persons took a sacred complacency and delight in each other. And besides that, how was he loved by those bright spirits who had not fallen. I cannot tell what countless orders and creatures there are created who still stand fast in obedience to God. It is not possible for us to know whether there are, or not, as many races of created beings as we know there are created men on earth. We can not tell but that in the boundless regions of space, there are worlds inhabited by beings infinitely superior to us: but certain it is, there were the holy angels, and they loved our Saviour; they stood day and night with wings outstretched, waiting for his commands, hearkening to the voice of his word; and when he bade them fly, there was love in their countenance, and joy in their hearts. They loved to serve him, and it is not all fiction that when there was war in heaven, and when God cast out the devil and his legions, then the elect angels showed their love to him, being valiant in fight and strong in power. He wanted not our love to make him happy, he was rich enough in love without us.

     Now, though a spirit from the upper world should come to tell you of the riches of Jesus he could not do it. Gabriel, in thy flights thou hast mounted higher than my imagination dares to follow thee, but thou hast never gained the summit of the throne of God.

 

"Dark with insufferable light thy skirts appear."

 

     Jesus, who is he that could look upon the brow of thy Majesty, who is he that could comprehend the strength of the arm of thy might? Thou art God, thou art infinite, and we poor finite things, are lost in thee. The insect of an hour cannot comprehend thyself. We bow before thee, we adore thee; thou art God over all, blessed for ever. But as for the comprehension of thy boundless riches, as for being able to tell thy treasures, or to reckon up thy wealth, that were impossible. All we know is, that the wealth of God, that the treasures of the infinite, that the riches of eternity, were all thine own: thou wast rich beyond all thought.

     II. The Lord Jesus Christ, then, was rich. We all believe that, though none of us can truly speak it forth. Oh, how surprised angels were, when they were first informed that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Light and Majesty, intended to shroud himself in clay and become a babe, and live and die! We know not how it was first mentioned to the angels, but when the rumor first began to get afloat among the sacred hosts, you may imagine what strange wonderment there was. What! was it true that he whose crown was all bedight with stars, would lay that crown aside? What! was it certain that he about whose shoulders was cast the purple of the universe, would become a man dressed in a peasants garment? Could it be true that he who was everlasting and immortal would one day be nailed to a cross? Oh! how their wonderment increased! They desired to look into it. And when he descended from on high, they followed him; for Jesus was "seen of angels," and seen in a special sense, for they looked upon him in rapturous amazement, wondering what it all could mean. "He for our sakes became poor." Do you see him as on that day of heaven's eclipse he did ungird his majesty? Oh, can ye conceive the yet increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the deed was actually done, when they saw the tiara taken off, when they saw him unbind his girdle of stars, and cast away his sandals of gold? Can ye conceive it, when he said to them, "I do not disdain the womb of the virgin; I am going down to earth to become a man?" Can ye picture them as they declared they would follow him! Yes, they followed him as near as the world would permit them. And when they came to earth they began to sing, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men." Nor would they go away till they had made the shepherds wonder, and till heaven had hung out new stars in honor of the new-born King. And now wonder, ye angels, the Infinite has become an infant; he, upon whose shoulders the universe doth hang, hangs at his mothers breast; he who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation, hath now become so weak that he must be carried by a woman! And oh, wonder, ye that knew him in his riches, whilst ye admire his poverty! Where sleeps the new-born King? Had he the best room in Caesar's palace? hath a cradle of gold been prepared for him, and pillows of down, on which to rest his head? No, where the ox fed, in the dilapidated stable, in the manger, there the Saviour lies, swathed in the swaddling bands of the children of poverty! Nor there doth he rest long; on a sudden his mother must carry him to Egypt; he goeth there, and becometh a stranger in a strange land. When he comes back, see him that made the worlds handle the hammer and the nails, assisting his father in the trade of a carpenter! Mark him who has put the stars on high, and made them glisten in the night; mark him without one star of glory upon his brow—a simple child, as other children. Yet, leave for a while the scenes of his childhood and his earlier life; see him when he becomes a man, and now ye may say, indeed, that for our sakes he did become poor. Never was there a poorer man than Christ; he was the prince of poverty. He was the reverse of Croesus—he might be on the top of the hill of riches, Christ stood in the lowest vale of poverty. Look at his dress, it is woven from the top through out, the garment of the poor! As for his food, he oftentimes did hunger; and always was dependent upon the charity of others for the relief of his wants! He who scattered the harvest o'er the broad acres of the world, had not sometimes wherewithal to stay the pangs of hunger? He who digged the springs of the ocean, sat upon a well and said to a Samaritan woman, "Give me to drink!" He rode in no chariot, he walked his weary way, foot sore, o'er the flints of Galilee! He had not where to lay his head. He looked upon the fox as it hurried to its burrow, and the fowl as it went to its resting-place, and he said, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but I, the Son of man, have not where to lay my head." He who had once been waited on by angels, becomes the servant of servants, takes a towel, girds himself, and washes his disciples' feet! He who was once honored with the hallelujahs of ages, is now spit upon and despised! He who was loved by his Father, and had abundance of the wealth of affection, could say, "He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." Oh, for words to picture the humiliation of Christ! What leagues of distance between him that sat upon the throne, and him that died upon the cross! Oh, who can tell the mighty chasm between yon heights of glory, and the cross of deepest woe! Trace him, Christian, he has left thee his manger to show thee how God came down to man. He hath bequeathed thee his cross to show thee how man can ascend to God. Follow him, follow him, all his journey through; begin with him in the wilderness of temptation, see him fasting there, and hungering with the wild beasts around him; trace him along his weary way, as the Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He is the byword of the drunkard, he is the song of the scorner, and he is hooted at by the malicious; see him as they point their finger at him, and call him "drunken man and wine-bibber!" Follow him along his via dolorosa, until at last you meet him among the olives of Gethsemane; see him sweating great drops of blood! Follow him to the pavement of Gabbatha; see him pouring out rivers of gore beneath the cruel whips of Roman soldiers! With weeping eye follow him to the cross of Calvary, see him nailed there! Mark his poverty, so poor that they have stripped him naked from head to foot, and exposed him to the face of the sun! So poor, that when he asked them for water they gave him vinegar to drink! So poor that his unpillowed head is girt with thorns in death! Oh, Son of Man, I know not which to admire most, thine height of glory, or thy depths of misery! Oh, Man, slain for us, shall we not exalt thee? God over all, blessed for ever, shall we not give thee the loudest song? "He was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor." If I had a tale to tell you this day, of some king, who, out of love to some fair maiden, left his kingdom and became a peasant like herself, ye would stand and wonder, and would listen to the charming tale; but when I tell of God concealing his dignity to become our Saviour, our hearts are scarcely touched. Ah, my friends, we know the tale so well, we have heard it so often; and, alas, some of us tell it so badly that we cannot expect that you would be as interested in it as the subject doth demand. But surely, as it is said of some great works of architecture, that though they be seen every morning, there is always something fresh to wonder at; so we may say of Christ, that though we saw him every day, we should always see fresh reason to love, and wonder, and adore. "He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor."

     I have thought that there is one peculiarity about the poverty of Christ, that ought not to be forgotten by us. Those who were nursed upon the lap of want feel less the woes of their condition. But I have met with others whose poverty I could pity. They were once rich; their very dress which now hangs about them in tatters, tells you that they once stood foremost in the ranks of life. You meet them amongst the poorest of the poor; you pity them more than those who have been born and bred to poverty, because they have known something better. Amongst all those who are poor, I have always found the greatest amount of suffering in those who had seen better days. I can remember, even now, the look of some who have said to me when they have received assistance—and I have given it as delicately as I could, lest it should look like charity—"Ah, sir, I have known better days." And the tear stood in the eye, and the heart was smitten at bitter recollections. The least slight to such a person, or even too unmasked a kindness, becomes like a knife cutting the heart. "I have known better days," sounds like a knell over their joys. And verily our Lord Jesus might have said in all his sorrows, "I have known better days than these." Methinks when he was tempted of the devil in the wilderness, it must have been hard in him to have restrained himself from dashing the devil into pieces. If I had been the Son of God, methinks, feeling as I do now, if that devil had tempted me, I should have dashed him into the nethermost hell, in the twinkling of an eye! And then conceive the patience our Lord must have had, standing on the pinnacle of the temple, when the devil said, "Fall down and worship me." He would not touch him, the vile deceiver, but let him do what he pleased. Oh! what might of misery and love there must have been in the Saviour's heart when he was spit upon by the men he had created; when the eyes he himself had filled with vision looked on him with scorn, and when the tongues, to which he himself had given utterance, hissed and blasphemed him! Oh, my friends, if the Saviour had felt as we do, and I doubt not he did feel in some measure as we do—only by great patience he curbed himself—methinks he ought have swept them all away; and, as they said, he might have come down from the cross, and delivered himself, and destroyed them utterly. It was mighty patience that could bear to tread this world beneath his feet, and not to crush it, when it so ill-treated its Redeemer. You marvel at the patience which restrained him; you marvel also at the poverty he must have felt, the poverty of spirit, when they rebuked him and he reviled them not again; when they scoffed him, and yet he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He had seen brighter days; that made his misery more bitter, and his poverty more poor.

     III. Well, now we come to the third point—WHY DID THE SAVIOUR COME TO DIE AND BE POOR? Hear this, ye sons of Adam—the Scripture says, "For your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be made rich." For your sakes. Now, when I address you as a great congregation, you will not feel the beauty of this expression, "For your sake." Husband and wife, walking in the fear of God, let me take you by the hand and look you in the face, let me repeat those words, "for your sakes he became poor." Young man, let a brother of thine own age, look on thee and repeat these words, "Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor." Gray-headed believer, let me look on you and say the same, "For your sake he became poor." Brethren, take the word home, and see if it does not melt you—"Though he was rich, yet for my sake he became poor." Beg for the influences of the Spirit upon that truth, and it will make your heart devout and your spirit loving—"I the chief of sinners am, yet for my sake he died." Come, let me hear you speak; let us bring the sinner here, and let him soliloquize—"I cursed him, I blasphemed, and yet for my sake he was made poor; I scoffed at his ministers, I broke his Sabbath, yet for my sake was he made poor. What! Jesus, couldst thou die for one who was not worth thy having? Couldst thou shed thy blood for one who would have shed thy blood, if it had been in his power? What! couldst thou die for one so worthless, so vile?" "Yes, yes," says Jesus, "I shed that blood for thee." Now let the saint speak: "I," he may say, "have professed to love him, but how cold my love, how little have I served him! How far have I lived from him; I have not had sweet communion with him as I ought to have had. When have I been spending and spent in his service? And yet, my Lord thou dost say, 'for thy sake I was made poor.'" "Yes," saith Jesus, "see me in my miseries; see me in my agonies; see me in my death—all these I suffered for thy sake." Wilt thou not love him who loved thee to this great excess, and became poor for thy sake?

     That, however, is not the point to which we wish to bring you, just now; the point is this, the reason why Christ died was, "that we through his poverty might be rich." He became poor from his riches, that our poverty might become rich out of his poverty. Brethren, we have now a joyful theme before us—those who are partakers of the Saviour's blood are rich. All those for whom the Saviour died, having believed in his name and given themselves to him, are this day rich. And yet I have some of you here who cannot call a foot of land your own. You have nothing to call your own to-day, you know not how you will be supported through another week; you are poor, and yet if you be a child of God, I do know that Christ's end is answered in you; you are rich. No, I did not mock you when I said you were rich: I did not taunt you—you are. You are really rich; you are rich in possessions; you have in your possession now things more costly than gems, more valuable than gold and silver. Silver and gold, have I none, thou mayest say; but if thou canst say afterward, "Christ is all," thou hast outspoken all that the man can say who had piles of gold and silver. "But," thou sayest, "I have nothing." Man, thou hast all things. Knowest thou not what Paul said? He declares that "things present and things to come, and this world, and life and death, all are yours and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." The great machinery of providence has no wheel which does not revolve for you. The great economy of grace with all its fullness, is yours. Remember that adoption, justification, sanctification, are all yours. Thou hast everything that heart can wish in spiritual things; and thou hast everything that is necessary for this life; for you know who hath said, "having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." You are rich; rich with true riches, and not with the riches of a dream. There are times when men by night do scrape gold and silver together, like shells upon the sea shore; but when they wake in the morning they find themselves penniless. But, yours are everlasting treasures; yours are solid riches. When the son of eternity shall have melted the rich man's gold away, yours shall endure. A rich man has a cistern full of riches, but a poor saint has got a fountain of mercy, and he is the richest who has a fountain. Now, if my neighbor be a rich man, he may have as much wealth as ever he pleases, it is only a cistern full, it will soon be exhausted; but a Christian has a fountain that ever flows, and let him draw, draw on forever, the fountain will still keep on flowing. However large may be the stagnant pool, if it be stagnant, it is but of little worth; but the flowing stream, though it seem to be but small, needs but time, and it will have produced an immense volume of precious water. Thou art never to have a great pool of riches, they are always to keep on flowing to thee; "Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure." As old William Huntingdon says, "The Christian has a hand-basket portion. Many a man, when his daughter marries, does not give her much, but he says to her, 'I shall send you a sack of flour one day, and so-and-so the next day, and now and then a sum of gold; and as long as I live I will always send you something." Says he, "She will get a great deal more than her sister, who has had a thousand pounds down. That is how my God deals with me; he gives to the rich man all at once, but to me day by day." Ah, Egypt, thou wert rich when thy granaries were full, but those granaries might be emptied; Israel was far richer when they could not see their granaries, but only saw the manna drop from heaven, day by day. Now, Christian, that is thy portion—the portion of the fountain always flowing, and not of the cistern-full, and soon to be emptied.

     But remember, O saint, that thy wealth does not all lie in thy possession just now; remember thou art rich in promises. Let a man be never so poor as to the metal that he hath, let him have in his possession promissory notes from rich and true men, and he says, "I have no gold in my purse, but here is a note for such-and-such a sum—I know the signature—I can trust the firm—I am rich, though I have no metal in hand." And so the Christian can say, "If I have no riches in possession, I have the promise of them; my God hath said, ' No good thing will I withhold from them that walk uprightly,'—that is a promise that makes me rich. He has told me, 'My bread shall be given me, and my water shall be sure.' I cannot doubt his signature, I know his word to be authentic; and as for his faithfulness, I would not so dishonor him as to think he would break his promise. No, the promise is as good as the thing itself. If it be God's promise, it is just as sure that I shall have it, as if I had it."

     But then the Christian is very rich in reversion. When a certain old man dies that I know of, I believe that I shall be so immensely rich that I shall dwell in a place that is paved with gold, the walls of which are builded with precious stones. But, my friends, you have all got an old man to die, and when he is dead, if you are followers of Jesus, you will come in for your inheritance. You know who that old man is, he is very often spoken of in Scripture; may the old man in you die daily, and may the new man be strengthened in you. When that old man of corruption, your old nature, shall totter into its grave, then you will come in for your property. Christians are like heirs, they have not much in their minority, and they are minors now; but when they come of age, they shall have the whole of their estate. If I meet a minor, he says, "That is my property." "You can not sell it, sir; you can not lay hold of it." "No," says he, "I know I can not; but it is mine when I am one-and-twenty, I shall then have complete control; but at the same time, it is as really mine now as it ever will be. I have a legal right to it, and though my guardians take care of it for me, it is mine, not theirs." And now, Christian, in heaven there is a crown of gold which is thine to-day; it will be no more thine when thou hast it on thy head than it is now. I remember to have heard it reported that I once spoke a metaphor, and bade Christians look at all the crowns hanging in rows in heaven—very likely I did say it—but if not, I will say it now. Up, Christian, see the crowns all ready, and mark thine own; stand thou and wonder at it; see with what pearls it is bedight, and how heavy it is with gold! And that is for thy head, thy poor aching head; thy poor tortured brain shall yet have that crown for its arraying! And see that garment, it is stiff with gems, and white like snow; and that is for thee! When thy week-day garment shall be done with, this shall be the raiment of thy everlasting Sabbath. When thou hast worn out this poor body, there remaineth for thee, "A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Up to the summit, Christian, and survey thine inheritance; and when thou hast surveyed it all, when thou hast seen thy present possessions, thy promised possessions, thine entailed possessions, then remember that all these were bought by the poverty of thy Saviour! Look thou upon all thou hast, and say, "Christ bought them for me." Look thou on every promise, and see the bloodstains on it; yea, look too, on the harps and crowns of heaven, and read the bloody purchase! Remember, thou couldst never have been anything but a damned sinner, unless Christ had bought thee! Remember, if he had remained in heaven, thou wouldst for ever have remained in hell; unless he had shrouded and eclipsed his own honor, thou wouldst never have had a ray of light to shine upon thee. Therefore, bless his dear name, extol him, trace every stream to the fountain; and bless him who is the source, and the fountain of everything thou hast. Brethren, "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

     IV. I have not done, I have three things now to say, and shall say them as briefly as possible.

     The first is a doctrine; the doctrine is this: If Christ in his poverty made us rich, what will he do now that he is glorified. If the Man of Sorrows saved my soul, will the man now exalted suffer it to perish? If the dying Saviour availed for our salvation, should not the living, interceding Saviour, abundantly secure it?

 

"He lived, he lives and sits above,

For ever interceding there;

What shall divide us from his love,

Or what shall sink us in despair?"

 

If when the nail was in thine hand, O Jesus, thou didst rout all hell, canst thou be defeated now that thou hast grasped the scepter? If, when the thorn crown was put about thy brow, thou didst prostrate the dragon, canst thou be overcome and conquered now that the acclamations of angels are ascending to thee? No, my brethren, we can trust the glorified Jesus; we can repose ourselves on his bosom; if he was so strong in poverty, what must he be in riches?

     The next thing was a question, that question was a simple one. My hearer, hast thou been made rich by Christ's poverty? Thou sayest, "I am good enough without Christ; I want no Saviour." Ah, thou art like her of old, who said, "I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, whereas, saith the Lord, 'Thou art naked, and poor, and miserable.'" O ye that live by good works, and think that ye shall go to heaven because you are as good as others; all the merits you can ever earn yourselves, are good for nothing. All that human nature ever made, turns to a blot and a curse. If those are your riches, you are no saints. But can you say this morning, my hearers, "I am by nature without anything, and God has by the power of his Spirit taught me my nothingness."

     My brother, my sister, hast than taken Christ to be thine all in all? Canst thou say this day, with an unfaltering tongue, "My Lord, my God, I have nothing; but thou art my all?" Come, I beseech thee, do not shirk the question. Thou art careless, heedless; answer it, then, in the negative. But when thou hast answered it, I beseech thee, beware of what thou hast said. Thou art sinful, thou feelest it. Come, I beseech thee, and lay hold on Jesus. Remember, Christ came to make those rich that have nothing of their own. My Saviour is a physician; if you can heal yourself, he will have nothing to do with you. Remember, my Saviour came to clothe the naked. He will clothe you, if you have not a rag of your own; but unless you let him do it from head to foot, he will have nothing to do with you. Christ says he will never have a partner; he will do all, or none. Come then, hast thou given up all to Christ? Hast thou no reliance and trust save in the cross of Jesus? Then thou hast answered the question well. Be happy, be joyous; if death should surprise thee the next hour, thou art secure. Go on thy way, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

     And now I close with the third thing, which was an exhortation. Sinner, dost thou this morning feel thy poverty? Then look to Christ's poverty. O ye that are to-day troubled on account of sin—and there are many such here—God has not let you alone; he has been plowing your heart with the sharp plowshare of conviction; you are this day saying, "What must I do to be saved?" You would give all you have, to have an interest in Jesus Christ. Your soul is this day sore broken and tormented. O sinner, if thou wouldst find salvation, thou must find it in the veins of Jesus. Now, wipe that tear from thine eye a moment, and look here. Dost thou see him high, where the cross rears its terrible tree? There he is. Dost see him? Mark his head. See the thorn-crown, and the beaded drops still standing on his temples. Mark his eyes; they are just closing in death. Canst see the lines of agony, so desperate in woe? Dost see his hands? See the streamlets of blood flowing down them. Hark, he is about to speak. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" Didst hear that, sinner? Pause a moment longer, take another survey of his person; how emaciated his body, and how sick his spirit! Look at him. But hark, he is about to speak again—"It is finished." What means he by that? He means, that he has finished thy salvation. Look thou to him, and find salvation there. Remember, to be saved, all that God wants of a penitent, is to look to Jesus. My life for this—if you will risk your all on Christ, you shall be saved. I will be Christ's bondsman to-day, to be bound for ever if he breaks his promise. He has said, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." It is not your hands that will save you; it must be your eyes. Look from those works whereby you hope to be saved. No longer strive to create a garment that will not hide your sin, throw away that shuttle; it is only filled with cobwebs. What garment can you weave with that? Look thou to him, and thou art saved. Never sinner looked, and was lost. Dost mark that eye there? One glance will save thee, one glance will set thee free. Dost thou say, "I am a guilty sinner?" Thy guilt is the reason why I bid thee look. Dost thou say, "I cannot look?" Oh, may God help thee to look now. Remember, Christ will not reject thee; thou mayest reject him. Remember now, there is the cup of mercy put to thy lip by the hand of Jesus. I know if thou feelest thy need, Satan may tempt thee not to drink, but he will not prevail; thou wilt put thy lip feebly and faintly, perhaps, to it. But oh, do but sip it; and the first draught shall give thee bliss; and the deeper thou shalt drink, the more of heaven shalt thou know. Sinner, believe on Jesus Christ; hear the whole gospel preached to thee. It is written in God's Word, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Hear me translate it—He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved. Believe thou, trust thyself on the Saviour, make a profession of thy faith in baptism, and then thou mayest rejoice in Jesus, that he hath saved thee. But remember not to make a profession till thou hast believed: remember, baptism is nothing, until thou hast faith. Remember, it is a farce and a falsehood, until thou hast first believed; and afterwards, it is nothing but the profession of thy faith. Oh, believe that; cast thyself upon Christ, and thou art saved for ever! The Lord add his blessing, for the Saviour's sake. Amen.



India’s Ills and England’s Sorrows

By / Sep 6

India's Ills and England's Sorrows

 

"Oh that my head were waters, ad mine ees a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."—Jeremiah 9:1

 

     Sometimes tears are base things; the offspring of a cowardly spirit. Some men weep when they should knit their brows, and many a woman weepeth when she should resign herself to the will of God. Many of those briny drops are but an expression of child-like weakness. It were well if we could wipe such tears away, and face a frowning world with a constant countenance. But oft times tears are the index of strength. There are periods when they are the noblest things in the world. The tears of penitents are precious: a cup of them were worth a king's ransom. It is no sign of weakness when a man weeps for sin, it shows that he hath strength of mind; nay more, that he hath strength imparted by God, which enables him to forswear his lusts and overcome his passions, and to turn unto God with full purpose of heart. And there are other tears, too, which are the evidences not of weakness, but of might—the tears of tender sympathy are the children of strong affection, and they are strong like their parents. He that loveth much, must weep much; much love and much sorrow must go together in this vale of tears. The unfeeling heart, the unloving spirit, may pass from earth's portal to its utmost bound almost without a sigh except for itself; but he that loveth, hath digged as many wells of tears as he has chosen objects of affection; for by as many as our friends are multiplied, by so many must our griefs be multiplied too, if we have love enough to share in their griefs and to bear their burden for them. The largest hearted man will miss many sorrows that the little man will feel, but he will have to endure many sorrows the poor narrow-minded spirit never knoweth. It needs a mighty prophet like Jeremiah to weep as mightily as he. Jeremiah was not weak in his weeping; the strength of his mind and the strength of his love were the parents of his sorrow. "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people." This is no expression of weak sentimentalism; this is no utterance of mere whining presence; it is the burst of a strong soul, strong in its affection, strong in its devotion, strong in its self-sacrifice. I would to God we knew how to weep like this; and if we might not weep so frequently as Jeremy I wish that when we did weep, we did weep as well.

     It would seem as if some men had been sent into this world for the very purpose of being the world's weepers. God's great house is thoroughly furnished with everything, everything that can express the thoughts and the emotions of the inhabitant, God hath made. I find in nature, plants to be everlasting weepers. There by the lonely brook, where the maiden cast away her life, the willow weeps for ever; and there in the grave yard where men lie slumbering till the trumpet of the archangel shall awaken them, stands the dull cypress, mourning in its sombre garments. Now as it is with nature, so it is with the race of man. Mankind have bravery and boldness; they must have their heroes to express their courage. Mankind have some love to their fellow-creatures; they must have their fine philanthropists to live out mankind's philanthropy. Men have their sorrows, they must have their weepers; they must have men of sorrows who have it for their avocation and their business, to weep, from the cradle to the grave to be ever weeping, not so much for themselves as for the woes of others, it may be I have some such here; I shall be happy to enlist their sympathies; and truly if I have none of that race, I shall boldly appeal to the whole mass of you, and I will bring before you causes of great grief; and when I bid you by the love you bear to man, and to his God, to begin to weep; if you have tears, these hard times will compel you to shed them now. Come, let me show you wherefore I have taken this my text, and why I have uttered this mournful language; and if your hearts be not as stolid as stone, sure there should be some tears shed this morning. For if I be not foolish in my utterances and faint in my speech, you will go home to your chambers to weep there. "Oh that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."

     I want your griefs this morning, first, for persons actually slain—"the slain of the daughter of our people;" and then I shall need your tears for those morally slain, "the slain of the daughter of our people."

     I. To begin, then, with ACTUAL MURDER AND REAL BLOODSHED. My brethren, our hearts are sick nigh unto death with the terrible news brought us post after post, telegraph after telegraph; we have read many letters of the Times, day after day, until we have folded up that paper, and professed before God that we could read no more. Our spirits have been harrowed by the most fearful and unexpected cruelty. We, perhaps, may not have been personally interested in the bloodshed, so far as our own husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters have been concerned, but we have felt the tie of kindred very strongly when we have found our race so cruelly butchered in the land of the East. It is for us to-day humbly to confess our crime. The government of India has been a cruel government; it has much for which to appear before the bar of God. Its tortures—if the best evidence is to be believed—have been of the most inhuman kind; God forgive the men who have committed such crimes in the British name. But those days are past. May God blot out the sin. We do not forget our own guilt; but an overwhelming sense of the guilt of others, who have with such cold-hearted cruelty tormented men and women, may well excuse us if we do not dilate upon the subject.

     Alas! alas, for our brethren there! They have died; alas for them! They have been slain by the sword of treachery, and traitorously murdered by men who swore allegiance. Alas for them! But, O ye soldiers, we weep not for you. Even when ye were tortured, ye had not that high dishonor to bear to which the other sex has been obliged to submit. O England! weep for thy daughters with a bitter lamentation; let thine eyes run down with rivers of blood for them. Had they been crushed within the folds of the hideous boa, or had the fangs of the tiger been red with their blood, happy would their fate have been compared with the indignities they have endured! O Earth! thou hast beheld crimes which antiquity could not parallel; thou hast seen bestial lust gratified upon the purest and the best of mortals. God's fairest creatures stained; those loved ones, who could not brook the name of lust, given up to the embraces of incarnate devils! Weep, Britain, weep; weep for thy sons and for thy daughters! If thou art cold-hearted now, if thou readest the tale of infamy now without a tear, thou art no mother to them! Sure thine heart must have failed thee, and thou hast become less loving than thine own lions, and less tender than beasts of prey, if thou dost not weep for the maiden and the wife, Brethren, I am not straining history; I am not endeavoring to be pathetic where there is no pathos. No; my subject of itself is all pathos; it is my poor way of speaking that doth spoil it. I have not to-day to act the orator's part, to garnish up that which was nothing before; I have not to magnify little griefs—rather I feel that all my utterances do but diminish the woe which every thoughtful man must feel. Oh, how have our hearts been harrowed, cut in pieces, molten in the fire! Agony hath seized upon us, and grief unutterable, when, day after day, our hopes have been disappointed, and we have heard that still the rebel rages in his fury, and still with despotic might doth as he pleaseth with the sons and daughters, the husbands and the wives of England Weep, Christians, weep! And ye ask me of what avail shall be your weeping eye bidden you weep today, because the spirit of vengeance is gathering; Britain's wrath is stirred; a black cloud is hanging over the head of the mutinous Sepoys! Their fate shall be most dreadful, their doom most tremendous, when England shall smite the murderers, as justly she must. There must be Judicial punishment enacted upon these men, so terrible that the earth shall tremble, and both the ears of him that heareth it shall tingle! I am inclined, if I can, to sprinkle some few cooling tears upon the fires of vengeance. No, no, we will not take vengeance upon ourselves. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Let not Britain's soldiers push their enemies to destruction, through a spirit of vengeance, as men, let them do it as the appointed executioners of the sentence of our laws. According to the civil code of every country under heaven, these men are condemned to die. Not as soldiers should we war with them, but as malefactors we must execute the law upon them. They have committed treason against government, and for that crime alone the doom is death! But they are murderers, and rightly or wrongly, our law is, that the murderer must die the death. God must have this enormous sin punished, and though we would feel no vengeance as Britons, yet, for the sake of government, God's established government on earth, the ruler who beareth the sword must not now bear the sword in vain. Long have I held that war is an enormous crime; long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale: but this time, I, a peaceful man, a follower of the peaceful Saviour, do propound war. No, it is not war that I propound, but a just and proper punishment. I will not aid and abet soldiers as warriors, but as executioners of a lawful sentence, which ought to be executed upon men, who, by the double crime of infamous debauchery, and fearful bloodshed, have brought upon themselves the ban and curse of God, so that they must be punished, or truth and innocence can never walk this earth. As a rule I do not believe in the utility of capital punishment, but the crime has been attended with all the horrid guilt of the cities of the plain, and is too bestial to be endured. But still, I say, I would cool down the vengeance of Britons, and therefore I would bid you weep. Ye talk of vengeance, but ye know not the men with whom ye have to deal; many a post may come, and many a month run round, and many a year may pass before ye hear of victory over those fierce men. Be not too proud. England talked once of her great deeds, and she hath since been humbled. She may yet again learn that she is not omnipotent. But ye people of God, weep, weep for this sin that hath broken loose, weep for this hell that hath found its way to earth; go to your chambers and cry out to God to stop this bloodshed. You are to be the saviours of your nation. Not on the bayonets of British soldiery, but on the prayers of British Christians, do we rest. Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, lament most bitterly, for this desperate sin; and then cry to God to save! Remember, he heareth prayer—prayer moveth the arm of the Omnipotent. Let us proclaim a fast; let us gather a solemn assembly; let us cry mightily unto him; let us ask the God of armies to avenge himself; let us pray him so to send the light of the gospel into the land, that such a crime may be impossible a second time; and this time, so to put it down, that it may never have an opportunity of breaking loose again. I know not whether our government will proclaim a national fast; but certain I am it is time that every Christian should celebrate one in his own heart. I bid all of you with whom my word has one atom of respect, if my exhortation has one word of force, I do exhort you to spend special time in prayer just now. Oh! my friends, ye cannot hear the shrieks, ye have not seen the terror-stricken faces, ye have not beheld the flying fugitives; but you may picture them in your imagination; and he must be accursed who does not pray to God, and lift up his soul in earnest prayer, that he would be pleased now to put his shield between our fellow-subjects and their enemies. And you, especially, the representatives of divers congregations in various parts of this land, give unto God no rest until he be pleased to bestir himself. Make this your cry: "O Lord our God arise, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let all them that hate thee become as the fat of rams." So shall God, through your prayers, haply, establish peace and vindicate justice, and "God, even our own God, shall bless us, and that right early."

     II. But I have now a greater reason for your sorrow—a more disregarded, and yet more dreadful source of woe. If the first time we said it with plaintive voice, we must a second time say it yet more plaintively—"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night," FOR THE MORALLY SLAIN of the daughter of my people. The old adage is still true, "One-half of the world knows nothing about how the other half lives." A large proportion of you professing Christians have been respectably brought up; you have never in your lives been the visitants of the dens of infamy, you have never frequented the haunts of wickedness, and you know but very little of the sins of your fellow creatures. Perhaps it is well that you should remain as ignorant as you are; for, where to be ignorant is to be free from temptation, it would be folly to be wise. But there are others who have been obliged to see the wickedness of their fellows; and a public teacher, especially, is bound not to speak from mere hearsay, but to know from authentic sources what is the spirit of the times. It is our business to look with eagle eye through every part of this land, and see what crime is rampant—what kind of crime, and what sort of infamy. Ah, my friends, with all the advancement of piety in this land, with all the hopeful signs of better times, with all the sunlight of glory heralding the coming morn, with all the promises and with all our hopes, we are still obliged to bid you weep because sin aboundeth and iniquity is still mighty. Oh, how many of our sons and daughters, of our friends and relatives, are slain by sin! Ye weep over battle-fields, ye shed tears on the plains of Balaklava; there are worse battlefields than there, and worse deaths than those inflicted by the sword.

     Ah, weep ye for the drunkenness of this land! How many thousands of our race reel from our sin-palaces into perdition! Oh, if the souls of departed drunkards could be seen at this hour by the Christians of Britain, they would tremble, lift up their hands in sorrow, and begin to weep. My soul might be an everlasting Niobe, perpetually dropping showers of tears, if it might know the doom and the destruction brought on them by that one demon, and by that one demon only! I am no enthusiast, I am no total abstainer.—I do not think the cure of England's drunkenness will come from that quarter. I respect those who thus deny themselves, with a view to the good of others, and should be glad to believe that they accomplish their object. But though I am no total abstainer, I hate drunkenness as much as any man breathing, and have been the means of bringing many poor creatures to relinquish this beastial indulgence. We believe drunkenness to be an awful crime and a horrid sin; we look on all its dreadful effects, and we stand prepared to go to war with it, and to fight side by side with abstainers, even though we may differ from them as to the mode of warfare. Oh! England, how many thousands of thy sons are murdered every year by that accursed devil of drunkenness, that hath such sway over this land!

     But there are other crimes too. Alas, for that crime of debauchery! What scenes hath the moon seen every night! Sweetly did she shine last evening; the meadows seemed as if they were silvered with beauty when she shone upon them. But ah! what sins were transacted beneath her pale sway! Oh, God, thou only knowest: our hearts might be sickened, and we might indeed cry for "A lodge in some vast wilderness," had we seen what God beheld when he looked down from the moon-lit sky! Ye tell me that sins of that kind are common in the lower class of society. Alas, I know it; alas, how many a girl hath dashed herself into the river to take away her life, because she could not bear the infamy that was brought upon her! But lay not this to the poor; the infamy and sin of our streets begin not with them. It beginneth with the highest ranks—with what we call the noblest classes of society. Men that have defiled themselves and others will stand in our senates, and walk among our peers; men whose characters are not reputable—it is a shame to speak even of the things that are done of them in secret—are received into the drawing rooms and into the parlors of the highest society, while the poor creature who has been the victim of their passions is hooted and cast away! O Lord God, thou alone knowest the awful ravages that this sin hath made. Thy servant's lips can utter no more than this, he hath gone to the verge of his utterance, he feeleth that he hath no further license in his speech, still he may well cry—"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" If ye have walked the hospital, if ye have seen the refuges, if ye have talked with the inmates—and if ye know the gigantic spread of that enormous evil, ye may well sympathize with me when I say, that at the thought of it my spirit is utterly cast down. I feel that I would rather die than live whilst sin thus reigns and iniquity thus spreads.

     But are these the only evils? Are these the only demons that are devouring our people? Ah, would to God it were so. Behold, throughout this land, how are men falling by every sin, disguised as it is under the shape of pleasure. Have ye never, as from some distant journey ye have returned to your houses at midnight, seen the multitudes of people who are turning out of casinos, low theatres, and other houses of sin? I do not frequent those places, nor from earliest childhood have I ever trodden those floors, but, from the company that I have seen issuing from these dens, I could only lift up my hands, and pray God to close such places; they seem to be the gates of hell, and their doors, as they very properly themselves say, "Lead to the pit." Ah, may God be pleased to raise up many who shall warn this city, and bid Christian people by day and night "for the slain of the daughter of our people!" Christians, never leave off weeping for men's sins and infamies. There are sins by day; God's own day, this day is defiled, is broken in pieces and trodden under foot. There are sins every morning committed, and sins each night. If ye could see them ye might be never happy, if ye could walk in the midst of them and behold them with your eyes, if God would give you grace, ye might perpetually weep, for ye would always have cause for sorrow. "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people."

     But now I must just throw in something which will more particularly apply to you. Perhaps I have very few here who would indulge in open and known sin; perhaps most of you belong to the good and amiable class who have every kind of virtue, and of whom it must be said, "One thing thou lackest;" My heart never feels so grieved as at the sight of you. How often have I been entertained most courteously and hospitably, as the Lord's servant, in the houses of men and of women whose characters are supremely excellent, who have every virtue that could adorn a Christian, except faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; who might be held up as the very mirrors and patterns to be imitated by others. How has my heart grieved when I have thought of these, still undecided, still godless, prayerless and Christless. I have many of you in this congregation to-day—I could not put my finger upon one solitary fault in your character, you are scrupulously correct in your morals—Alas, alas, alas for you, that you should still be dead in trespasses and sins, because you have not been renewed by divine grace! So lovely, and yet without faith; so beautiful, so admirable, and yet not converted. O God, when drunkards die, when swearers perish, when harlots and seducers sink to the fate they have earned, we may well weep for such sinners; but when these who have walked in our midst and have almost been acknowledged as believers, are cast away because they leek the one thing needful, it seems enough to make angels weep. O members of churches, ye may well take up the cry of Jeremiah when ye remember what multitudes of these you have in your midst—men who have a name to live and are dead: and others, who though they profess not to be Christians, are almost persuaded to obey their Lord and Master, but are yet not partakers of the divine life of God.

     But now I shall want, if I can, to press this pathetic subject a little further upon your minds. In the day when Jeremiah wept this lamentation with an exceeding loud and bitter cry, Jerusalem was in all her mirth and merriment. Jeremiah was a sad man in the midst of a multitude of merry makers; he told them that Jerusalem should be destroyed, that their temple should become a heap, and Nebuchadnezzar should lay it with the ground. They laughed him to scorn; they mocked him. Still the viol and the dance were only to be seen. Do you not picture that brave old man, for he was bravely plaintive, sitting down in the courts of the Temple? And though as yet the pillars were unfallen, and the golden roof was yet unstained, he lifted up his hands and pictured to himself this scene of Jerusalem's Temple burned with fire, her women and her children carried away captive, and her sons given to the sword. And when he pictured this, he did, as it were, in spirit set himself down upon one of the broken pillars of the Temple, and there, in the midst of desolation which was not as yet—but which faith, the evidence of things not seen, did picture to him—cry, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears." And now, to-day, here are many of you masquers and merry makers in this ball of life, ye are here merry and glad to-day, and ye marvel that I should talk of you as persons for whom we ought to weep. "Weep ye for me!" you say; "I am in health, I am in riches, I am enjoying life; why weep for me? I need none of your sentimental weeping!" Ah, but we weep because we foresee the future. If you could live here always, we might not, perhaps, weep for you; but we, by the eye of faith, look forward to the time when the pillars of heaven must totter, when this earth must shake, when death must give up its prey, when the great white throne must be set in the clouds of heaven, and the thunders and lightnings of Jehovah shall be launched in armies, and the angels of God shall be marshalled in their ranks, to swell the pomp of the grand assize—we look forward to that hour, and by faith we see you standing before the Judge; we see his eye sternly fixed on you, we hear him read the book; we mark your tottering knees, whilst sentence after sentence of thundering wrath strikes on your appalled ear; we think we see your blanched countenances; we mark your terror beyond all description, when he cries, "Depart, ye cursed!" We hear your shrieks; we hear you cry, "Rocks hide us; mountains on us fall!" We see the angel with fiery brand pursuing you, we hear your last unutterable shriek of woe as you descend into the pit of hell—and we ask you if you could see this as we see it, would you wonder that at the thought of your destruction we are prepared to weep? "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes were a fountain of tears that I might weep" over you who will not stand in the judgment, but must be driven away like chaff into the unquenchable fire! And by the eye of faith we look further than that; we look into the grim and awful future: our faith looks through the gate of iron bound with adamant; we see the place of the condemned, our ear, opened by faith, hears "The sullen groans, and hollow moans, and shrieks of tortured ghosts!" Our eye anointed with heavenly eye salve sees the worm that never dieth, it beholds the fire that never can be quenched, and sees you writhing in the flame! O professors, if ye believed not in the wrath to come, and in hell eternal, I should not wonder that ye were unmoved by such a thought as this. But if ye believe what your Saviour said when he declared that he would destroy both body and soul in hell, I must wonder that ye could endure the thought without weeping for your fellow-creatures who are going there. If I saw mine enemy marching into the flames, I would rush between him and the fire and seek to preserve him; and will you see men and women marching on in a mad career of vice and sin, well aware that "the wages of sin is death," and will you not interpose so much as a tear? What! are you more brutal than the beast, more stolid than the stone! It must be so, if the thought of the unutterable torment of hell, doth not draw tears from your eyes and prayer from your hearts. Oh, if to-day some strong archangel could unbolt the gates of hell, and for a solitary second permit the voice of wailing and weeping to come up to our ears; Oh, how should we grieve! Each man would put his hand upon his loins and walk this earth in terror. That shriek might make each hair stand on an end upon our heads, and then make us roll ourselves in the dust for anguish and woe—

 

"Oh, doleful state of dark despair,

When God has far removed,

And fixed their dreadful station where

They must not taste his love."

 

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep for some of you that are going there this day.

     Remember, again, O Christian, that those for whom we ask you to weep this day are persons who have had great privileges, and consequently, if lost, must expect greater punishment. I do not to-day ask your sympathies for men in foreign lands, I shall not bid you weep for Hottentots or Mahomedans though ye might weep for them, and ye have goodly cause to do so—but I ask this day your tears for the slain of the daughter of your own people. Oh! what multitudes of heathens we have in all our places of worship! what multitudes of unconverted persons in all the pews of the places where we usually assemble to worship God; and I may add, what hundreds we have here who are without God, without Christ, without hope in the world. And these are not like Hottentots who have not heard the Word: they have heard it, and they have rejected it. Many of you, when you die, cannot plead, as an excuse, that you did not know your duty; you heard it plainly preached to you, you heard it in every corner of the streets, you had the book of God in your houses. You cannot say that you did not know what you must do to be saved. You read the Bible, you understand salvation—many of you are deeply taught in the theory of salvation; when ye perish, your blood must be on your own head, and the Master may well cry over you to-day, "Woe unto thee, Bethsaida, woe unto thee Chorazin! For if the mighty works that were done in thee, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." I wonder at myself this day; I hate my eyes, I feel as if I could pluck them from their sockets now, because they will not weep as I desire, over poor souls who are perishing! How many have I among you whom I love and who love me! We are no strangers to one another, we could not live at a distance from each other, our hearts have been joined together long and firmly. Ye have stood by me in the hour of tribulation, ye have listened to the Word, ye have been pleased with it; I bear you witness that if you could pluck out your eyes for me you would do it. And yet I know there are many of you true lovers of God's Word in appearance, and certainly great lovers of God's servant, but alas for you, that you should still be in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity! Alas, my sister, I can weep for thee! Woe, woe, my brother, I can weep for thee! we have met together in God's house, we have prayed together, and yet we must be sundered. Shepherd, some of thy flock will perish! O sheep of my pasture, people of my care, must I have that horrid thought upon me, that I must lose you? Must we, at the day of judgment, say farewell for ever? Must I bear my witness against you? I shall be honest; I have dealt faithfully with your souls. God is my witness, I have often preached in weakness; often have I had to groan before him that I have not preached as I could desire; but I have never preached insincerely. Nobody will ever dare to accuse me of dishonesty in this respect; not one of your smiles have I ever courted. I have never dreaded your frowns; I have been in weariness oftentimes, when I should have rested, preaching God's Word. But what of that? That were nothing; only this much, there is some responsibility resting upon you. And remember, that to perish under the sound of the Gospel is to perish more terribly than anywhere else. But, my hearers, must that be your lot? And must I be witness against you in the day of judgment? I pray God it may not be so; I beseech the Master, that he may spare us each such a fate as that.

     And now, dear friends I have one word to add before I leave this point. Some of you need not look round on this congregation to find cause for weeping. My pious brethren and sisters, you have cause enough to weep in your own families. Ah, mother! I know thy griefs; thou hast had cause to cry to God with weeping eyes for many a mournful hour, because of thy son; thine offspring hath turned against thee; and he that came forth of thee has despised his mother's God. Father, thou hast carefully brought up thy daughter; thou has nourished her when she was young, and taken her fondly in thine arms; she was the delight of thy life, yet she hath sinned against thee and against God. Many of you have sons and daughters that you often mention in your prayers, but never with hope. You have often thought that God has said of your son, "Ephraim is given to idols; let him alone;" the child of your affection has become an adder stinging your heart! Oh, then weep, I beseech you. Parents, do not leave off weeping for your children; do not become hardened towards them, sinners though they be; it may be that God may yet bring them to himself. It was but last church meeting that we received into our communion a young friend who was educated and brought up by a pious minister in Colchester. She had been there many years, and when she came away to London the minister said to her, "Now, my girl, I have prayed for you hundreds of times, and I have done all I can with you; your heart is as hard as a stone; I must leave you with God!" That broke her heart; she is now converted to Jesus. How many sons and daughters have made their parents feel the same! "There," they have said, "I must leave you, I cannot do more." But in saying that, they have not meant that they would leave them unwept for, but they have thought within themselves, that if they were damned, they would follow them weeping to the very gates of hell, if by tears they could decoy them into heaven. How can a man be a Christian, and not love his offspring? How can a man be a believer in Jesus Christ, and yet have a cold and hard heart in the things of the kingdom, towards his children? I have heard of ministers of a certain sect, and professors of a certain class, who have despised family prayer, who have laughed at family godliness and thought nothing of it. I cannot understand how the men can know as much as they do about the gospel, and yet have so little of the spirit of it. I pray God, deliver you and deliver me from anything like that. No, it is our business to train up our children in the fear of the Lord; and though we cannot give them grace, it is ours to pray to the God who can give it; and in answer to our many supplications, he will not turn us away, but he will be pleased to take notice of our prayers and to regard our sighs.

     And now, Christian mourners, I have given you work enough; may God the Holy Spirit enable you to do it. Let me exhort you, yet once again, to weep. Do you need a copy? Behold your Master; he has come to the brow of the hill; he sees Jerusalem lying on the hill opposite to him, he looks down upon it, as he sees it there—beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth—instead of feeling the rapture of some artist who surveys the ramparts of a strong city, and marks the position of some magnificent tower in the midst of glorious scenery, he bursts out and he cries, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem I how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Go ye now your ways, and as ye stand on any of the hills around, and beheld this Behemoth city lying in the valley, say; "O London, London! how great thy guilt. Oh! that the Master would gather thee under his wing, and make thee his city, the joy of the whole earth! O London, London! full of privileges, and full of sin, exalted to heaven by the gospel, thou shalt be cast down to hell by thy rejection of it!" And then, when ye have wept over London, go and weep over the street in which you live, as you see the sabbath broken, and God's laws trampled upon, and men's bodies profaned—go ye and weep! Weep, for the court in which you live in your humble poverty, weep for the square in which you live in your magnificent wealth; weep for the humbler street in which you live in competence, weep for your neighbors and your friends, lest any of them, having lived godless, may die godless! Then go to your house, weep for your family, for your servants, for your husband, for your wife, for your children. Weep, weep; cease not weeping, till God hath renewed them by his Spirit. And if you have any friends with whom you sinned in your past life, be earnest for their salvation. George Whitfield said there were many young men with whom he played at cards, in his lifetime, and spent hours in wasting his time when he ought to have been about other business; and when he was converted, his first thought was," I must by God's grace have these converted too." And he never rested, till he could say, that he did not know of one of them, a companion of his guilt, who was not now a companion with him in the tribulation of the gospel. Oh, let it be so with you! Nor let your exertions end in tears; mere weeping will do nothing without action. Get you on your feet, ye that have voices and might, go forth and preach the gospel, preach it in every street and lane of this huge city; ye that have wealth, go forth and spend it for the poor, and sick, and needy, and dying, the uneducated, the unenlightened; ye that have time, go forth and spend it in deeds of goodness; ye that have power in prayer, go forth and pray, ye that can handle the pen, go forth and write down iniquity—every one to his post, every one of you to your gun in this day of battle, now for God and for his truth; for God and for the right; let every one of us why knows the Lord seek to fight under his banner! O God, without whom all our exertions are vain, come now and stir up thy church to greater diligence and more affectionate earnestness, that we may not have in future such cause to weep as we have this day! Sinners, believe on the Lord Jesus; he hath died, look to him and live, and God the Almighty bless you! To God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever.



Independence of Christianity

By / Aug 31

Independence of Christianity

 

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."—Zechariah 4:6

 

     God’s first and greatest object is his own glory. There was a time, before all time, when there was no day but the Ancient of days, when God dwelt alone in the magnificence of his sublime solitude. Whether he should create, or not create was a question depending upon the answer to another question—Would it be to his honor or not? He determined that he would glorify himself by creating; but, in creating, beyond all doubt, his motive was his glory. And since that time, he hath ever ruled the earth, and even blessed it with the same object in his infinite mind—his own glory and honor. Lesser motive for God to have, were less than divine; it is the highest position to which you or I could attain, to live for God; and the very highest virtue of God is for him to magnify himself in all his greatness as the Infinite and the Eternal. Whatever, then, God permits or does, he doeth with this one motive, his own glory. And even salvation, costly though it was, and infinitely a benefaction to us, had for its first object, and for its grand result, the exaltation of the Being and of the attributes of the Supreme Ruler.

     Now, as this is true in the general of the great acts of God, this is equally true in the minutiae of them. It is true that God has a church, that that church has been redeemed and will be preserved for his glory, and it is equally true that everything that is done to the church, in the church, or for the church either with the permission or by the power of God, is for God's glory, as well as for the church's weal. You will notice, in reading Scripture, that whenever God has blessed the church, he has secured himself the glory of the blessing, though they have had the profit of it. Sometimes he has been pleased to redeem his people by might but then he has so used the might and power that all the glory hath come to him, and his head alone hath worn the crown. Did he smite Egypt, and lead forth his people, with a strong hand and outstretched arm? The glory was not to the rod of Moses, but to the Almighty power which made the rod so potent. Did he lead his people through the wilderness, and defend them from their enemies? Still, did he, by teaching the people their dependence upon him, preserve to himself all the glory? So that not Moses or Aaron amongst the priests or prophets could share the honor with him. And tell me, if ye will, of slaughtered Anak, and the destruction of the tribes of Canaan; tell me of Israel's possessing the promised land; tell me of Philistines routed, and laid heaps on heaps; of Midianites made to fall on each other; tell me of kings and princes who fled apace and fell, until the ground was white, like the snow in Salmon. I will say of everyone of these triumphs, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously;" and I will say at the end of every victory, "Crown him, crown him, for he hath done it; and let his name be exalted and extolled, world without end." Sometimes, however, God chooseth not to employ the agency of power. If he chooses to save, by might and by power, it is that glory may be unto him; and when he says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord," it is still with the same object, and the same desire, that we may be led—

 

"To give to the King of kings renown,

The Lord of Lords with glory crown,"

 

     God is jealous of his own honor; he will not suffer even his church to be delivered in such a way as to honor men more than God; he will take to himself the throne without a rival he will wear a crown that never head did wear, and sway a scepter that never head hath grasped, for as truly as he is God, the earth shall know that he, and he alone, hath done it, and unto him shall be the glory.

     Now, my objects this morning will be to glorify God, by showing to you, who love the Saviour, that the preservation and the triumph of the church are both of them to be accomplished, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God, in order that all the honor might be to God, and none of it to man. I shall divide my text very simply; it divides itself. First, not by might; secondly, nor by power; thirdly, but by my Spirit.

     You will ask me whether there is any distinction to be drawn between these two words, "NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER." I answer, yes. The best Hebrew scholars tell us that the "might," in the first place, may be translated, "army." The Septuagint does so translate it. It signifies power collectedly—the power of a number of men combined together. The second word, "power," signifies the prowess of a single individual, so that I might paraphrase my text thus—"Not by the combined might of men laboring to assist each other, nor by the separate might of any single hero, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." And now you will see the distinction, which is not without a difference.

     To begin then, the preservation and the triumph of the church cannot be accomplished BY MIGHT—that is, not by might collectedly.

     First, let us consider that collected might to represent human armies. The church, we affirm, can neither be preserved nor can its interests be promoted by human armies. We have all thought otherwise in our time, and have foolishly said when a fresh territory was annexed to our empire, "Ah! what a providence that England has annexed Oude,"—or taken to itself some other territory—"Now a door is opened for the Gospel. A Christian power will necessarily encourage Christianity, and seeing that a Christian power is at the head of the Government, it will be likely that the natives will be induced to search into the authenticity of our revelation, and so great results will follow. Who can tell but that, at the point of the British bayonet, the Gospel will be carried, and that, by the edge of the true sword of valiant men, Christ's Gospel will be proclaimed?" I have said so myself; and now I know I am a fool for my pains, and that Christ's church hath been also miserably befooled; for this I will assert, and prove too, that the progress of the arms of a Christian nation is not the progress of Christianity, and that the spread of our empire, so far from being advantageous to the Gospel, I will hold, and this day proclaim, hath been hostile to it.

     We will just confine our attention for a moment or two to India. I believe that British rule there, has been useful in many ways. I shall not deny the civilizing influence of European society; or that great things have been done for humanity; but I do assert, and can prove it, that there would have been greater probability of the Gospel spreading in India if it had been let alone, than there has been ever since the domination of Great Britain. Ye thought that when Christians, as ye called them, had the land, they would favor religion. Now I will state a fact which ought to go through the length and breadth of the land; it does not rest on hearsay, I was informed of it a little while ago by a clergyman, upon whose memory the fact is vividly impressed. A Sepoy in a certain regiment was converted to God by a missionary. He proposed to be baptized, and become a Christian. Mark, not a Christian after our way and fashion, as a Baptist, or an Independent or a Methodist; but a Christian according to the fashion of the Episcopalian church established in this realm. He was seen by the chaplain, and was received as a Christian. What think you became of that Sepoy? Let the East India Company blush for ever, he was stripped of his regimentals, dismissed the service and sent home, because he had become a Christian! Ah! we dreamed that if the; had the power they would help us. Alas! the policy of greed cannot easily be made to assist the Kingdom of Christ.

     But I have another string to my bow, I believe that the help of Government would have been far worse than its opposition, I do regret that the Company sometimes discourages missionary enterprise; but I believe that, had they encouraged it, it would have been far worse still, for their encouragement would have been the greatest hindrance we could receive. If I had to-morrow to go to India to preach the Gospel, I should pray to God, if such a thing could be, that he would give me a black face and make me like a Hindoo; for otherwise I should feel that when I preached I should be regarded as one of the lords—one of the oppressors it may sometime be added—and I should not expect my congregation to listen to me as a man speaking to men, a brother to brother, a Christian full of love, but they would hear me, and only cavil at me, because even my white face would give me some appearance of superiority. Why in England, our missionaries and our clergymen have assumed a kind of superiority and dignity over the people; they have called themselves clergy, and the people laity; and the result has been that they have weakened their influence. I have thought it right to come amongst my fellow men, and be a man amongst men, just one of themselves, their equal and their friend; and they have rallied around me, and not refused to love me. And I should not expect to be successful in preaching the gospel, unless I might stand and feel that I am a brother, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh. If I cannot stand before them thus, I cannot get at their hearts. Send me, then, to India as one of the dominant ruling race, and you give me a work I cannot accomplish when you tell me to evangelise its inhabitants. In that day when John Williams fell in Erromanga, ye wept, but it was a more hopeful day for Erromanga than the day when our missionaries in India first landed there. I had rather go to preach to the greatest savages that live, than I would go to preach in the place that is under British rule. Not for the fault of Britain, but simply because I, as a Briton, would be looked upon as one of the superiors, one of the lords, and that would take away much of my power to do good. Now, will you just cast your eye upon the wide world? Did you ever hear of a nation under British rule being converted to God? Mr. Moffat and our great friend Dr. Livingstone have been laboring in Africa with great success, and many have been converted. Did you ever hear of Kaffir tribes protected by England, ever being converted? It is only a people that have been left to themselves, and preached to by men as men, that have been brought to God. For my part, I conceive, that when an enterprise begins in martyrdom, it is none the less likely to succeed, but when conquerors begin to preach the gospel to those they have conquered, it will not succeed, God will teach us that it is not by might All swords that have ever flashed from scabbards have not aided Christ a single grain. Mahommedans' religion might be sustained by scimitars, but Christians' religion must be sustained by love. The great crime of war can never promote the religion of peace. The battle, and the garment rolled in blood, are not a fitting prelude to "peace on earth, goodwill to men." And I do firmly hold, that the slaughter of men, that bayonets, and swords, and guns, have never yet been, and never can be, promoters of the gospel. The gospel will proceed without them, but never through them. "Not by might." Now don't be befooled again, if you hear of the English conquering in China, don't go down on your knees and thank God for it, and say it's such a heavenly thing for the spread of the gospel—it just is not. Experience teaches you that, and if you look upon the map you will find I have stated only the truth, that where our arms have been victorious, the gospel has been hindered rather than not; so that where South Sea Islanders have bowed their knees and cast their idols to the bats, British Hindoos have kept their idols, and where Bechuanas and Bushmen have turned unto the Lord, British Affairs have not been converted, not perhaps because they were British, but because the very fact of the missionary being a Briton, put him above them, and weakened their influence. Hush thy trump, O war; put away thy gaudy trappings and thy bloodstained drapery, if thou thinkest that the cannon with the cross upon it is really sanctified, and if thou imaginest that thy banner hath become holy, thou dreamest of a lie. God wanteth not thee to help his cause. "It is not by armies, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."

     Now, understanding this word "might," in another sense, to signify great corporations, or, as we say, denominations of men. Now-a-days, people get a queer notion in their head, and they form what they call a denomination. It is all wrong; there never ought to have been any denominations at all, for according to Scripture, every church is independent of every other. There ought to have been as many separate churches as there were separate opinions; but denominations, which are the gathering up of those churches, I take it, ought not to have existed at all. They may do some good, but they do a world of mischief. Now, when first denomination starts it is very much opposed. Take, for instance, Methodism; how earnest were its first preachers, how indefatigably did they toil, and how incessantly were they persecuted; yet what a harvest of souls God gave to them! What a great blessing was showered from the cloud that first started at Oxford, with those few young men preaching the everlasting gospel! Methodism goes on till it grows to be a most respectable kind of society, its ramifications extend all over England and it has societies in every country—and now—God forbid I should say anything against Methodism; let those who like it believe it; I do not like it—but I do say now, when they have come to the greatest is the time when they are doing the least. They will confess that the ancient power of Methodism has to a great degree failed. That power which once seemed to turn the world upside down, and set the whole of the churches on fire with a divine light and life, is to a great degree quenched. Wars and rumors of wars are in their camp; till, what with new connections and old connections, reformed and conferential, and an infinite quantity of names, one does not know into how many fraternities they intend to divide themselves. The fact is, that just when the corporation began to be the greatest, God said, "Now then, you have done your work, to a great degree, it shall not be by you any longer; not by might, not by your allied forces. You have said our efforts will cover the earth with the gospel." "Now," says God, "I will diminish you by thousands, I will take off your roll year by year, as many as would make another denomination strong; and though you shall still exist, you shall have to weep and repent with bitterness, because of your departed zeal." It is just the same with every other denomination. When we Baptists were reckoned to be the poorest lot in the world, and everybody sneered at us, we did far more good than we do now. There was far more pure doctrine, and far better preaching than there is at the present time. But we began to be respectable—and just as we began to be respectable we began to lose our power. Every fresh Gothic Baptist chapel was a diminution of simplicity; and every fresh place where the minister become intellectual, as it was called, was just a loss of evangelical might, till now, as a denomination, we are just as low as any other: and we need some of our old leaders again, just to preach the word with demonstration and with power, and to overthrow all those grand conventionalisms which have tried to make the Baptist denomination respectable. I pray to God I may never be called to preach to a much applauded congregation; it would be a sad and evil day. To be despised, to be spit upon, to be caricatured, and to be jeered, is the highest honor that a Christian minister can have; and to be pampered, flattered, and applauded by men, is a poor, base thing, that is not worth having. If any come here and say "They are not a respectable sort;" we reply, "we labor to preach to the poor." But mark this, whenever a great denomination begins to get too great, God will cut away its horns, and take away its glory, till the world shall say, "It is not by might nor by power."

     And now, I shall give one more application of the word "might." It is so with one particular church, just as I have been observing. I tremble for the church of which I am the pastor. I never trembled for it when we were few, when we were earnest in prayer, and devout in supplication, when it was a thing of contempt to go into "that miserable Baptist Chapel in Park Street," when we were despised and maligned and slandered. I never trembled for them then; God was blessing the ministry, souls were saved, and we walked together in the fear of the Lord and in love. But I tremble for it now, now that God hath enlarged our borders, and given us to count our members not by tens but by hundreds, now that we can say we are the largest Baptist church in England. I do tremble now, because now is just the time when we shall begin to say, "We are a great people," "We shall do very much," "We are a great agency," "The world will look upon us, and we will do a great deal." If we ever say that, God will say, "Cursed is he that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm," and he will hide the light of his countenance from us, so that our mountain that standeth firm shall begin to shake. O churches!—all of ye here that are representatives of churches, carry ye the tidings. O churches! take heed lest ye trust in yourselves; take heed lest ye say, "We are a respectable body," "We are a mighty number," "We are a potent people;" take heed lest ye begin to glory in your own strength; for when that is done, "Ichabod" shall be written on your walls and your glory shall depart from you. Remember, that he who was with us when we were but few, must be with us now we are many, or else we must fail; and he who strengthened us when we were but as "little in Israel," must be with us, now that we are like "the thousands of Manasseh," or else it is all over with us and our day is past. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord."

     II. NOR BY POWER, that is, individual strength. You know, beloved, that after all, the greatest works that have been done have been done by the ones. The hundreds do not often do much, the companies never do, it is the units, just the single individuals, that after all are the power and the might. Take any parish in England where there is a well-regulated society for doing good—it is some young woman or some young man who is the very life of it. Take any church, there are multitudes in it, but it is some two or three that do the work. Look on the Reformation, there might be many reformers, but there was but one Luther, there might be many teachers, but there was but one Calvin. Look ye upon the preachers of the last age, the mighty preachers who stirred up the churches; there were many coadjutors with them, but after all, it was not Whitfield's friends, nor Wesley's friends, but the men themselves that did it. Individual effort is, after all, the grand thing. A man alone can do more than a man with fifty men at his heels to fetter him. Committees are very seldom of much use, and bodies and societies sometimes are loss of strength instead of a gain. It is said, that if Noah's Ark had had to be built by a company, they would not have laid the keel yet; and it is perhaps true. There is scarcely anything done by a body, it almost always fails; because what is many men's business is just nobody's business at all. Just the same with religion; the grand things must be done by the ones, the great works of God must be accomplished by single men. Look back through old history. Who delivered Israel from the Philistines? It was a solitary Samson. Who was it gathered the people together to rout the Midianites? It was one Gideon, who cried, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." Who was he that smote the enemy? It was one Shamgar, with his ox goad, or it was an Elon, who with his dagger, put an end to his country's tyrant. Separate men—Davids with their slings and stones, have done more than armies could accomplish. "But," says God, "it is not even by individual might, the gospel is to be spread." Take individual might in different senses; sometimes we may say, of this kind, it represents learning. We discover here and there certain great and mighty men in learning, that can take an infidel, strap him on to the dissecting board, and just anatomise him in a minute, they are great doctors of divinity, they have achieved the highest titles that can be given them at the universities; they have read the Scriptures thoroughly, they are mighty theologians, they could dispute with John Owen, and could entirely take the wind out of the sails of Calvin, they know a great deal, a very great deal; they can write most excellent reviews, and are much gifted in philosophical disquisitions. But did you ever hear, in the course of all your life, of any one of these being blessed by God to lead any great religious movement? Such a thing may have been, but I have forgotten all about it; there may have been such an occurrence, but I do not remember it. This I am sure of; that the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ had taken no degree, except it was a good degree of being excellent fishermen, this I am certain, that all through the ages God has not often used men of any very great intellectual compass, they have not seemed to be men of profound learning; they have generally been men of determined will and strong principle, but not often of any very high intellectual attainments. Do I, therefore, rail at learning? O! no; God forbid, the more of that the better. Let men be as wise as they can be, and as learned as they can be, but still the fact remaineth. and there is no one that can dispute it—that God hath often taken the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, in order that men may see "It is not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."

     I have the pleasure and happiness of being acquainted with a large number of the most eminent ministers in England; I have walked and talked with them, and spoken to them about the things of the kingdom, and with great pleasure, and if they were present they would not think me severe in what I am about to say. Many of those at whose feet we have been prepared to sit as little children to hear their wisdom, confessed as ministers, that when they reviewed up their life, they felt that it has been unprofitable. They have been learned, but they would say with Owen, "I would give up all my talents to preach like Bunyan the tinker." They have wished that they could have believed something else besides having attained a name for profound learning and research. My brethren, it is not their fault, they have labored well and earnestly, I find no fault whatever with them: it is God's supremacy that stamps this upon them and makes them feel the force of it—that it must not be by power, and their very intellectual prowess, puts them out of the way—so that they are incapable of being used by God as a mass at least, though individuals may be, for any very great result in the church, because then it would seem to be by power.

     "No, no," says one. "If a man is not learned that does not signify much, a man must be eloquent." That is another mistake; it is not by power of eloquence that souls are saved. I believe every man that preaches the gospel in his heart is eloquent; so I have used a wrong word. I mean, however, that great oratorical powers are very seldom made use of by God for any very great result; not even here, is God pleased to let it be seen to be by power. Ye have heard of the preaching of Whitfield did ye ever read his sermons? If ye did ye will say they were rather contemptible productions. There is nothing in them that I should think could have approached to oratory; it was only the man's earnestness that made him eloquent. Have ye heard any preacher that has been blessed by God to move the multitude? He has been eloquent, for he has spoken earnestly, but as to oratory, there has been none of it. I, for my own part, must eschew every pretension thereunto. I am certain I never think, when I come into this pulpit, "How shall I talk to this people in a grand fashion?" I think when I come up here, "I have got something to say, I will tell them it." How I will tell them, it does not signify much to me, I shall find the words somehow or other I daresay, God helping me, but about any of the graces of eloquence, or the words of oratory, I am utterly and quite in the dark, nor do I wish to imitate any who have been masters in that. I believe that the men whom we call eloquent now they are dead, were laughed at in their day as poor bungling speakers. Now they are buried they are canonized, but in their lives they were abused.

     Now, my brethren, God, I do think will generally cast a slur upon fine speaking and grand compositions and so on, in order that he may show that it is not by individual power, but by his Spirit. I could stand here, and point my finger in a certain circle around this place, and I could pause at such a chapel and say, There is a man preaching there whose compositions are worthy to be read by the most intellectual of persons, but whose chapel contains this morning, a hundred. I will point you to another of whose preaching we can say that it was the most faultless oratory to which we ever listened, but his congregation were nearly all of them asleep. We might point you to another, of whom we could say that there was the most chaste simplicity, the most extraordinary beauty in the compositions he delivered, but there has not been a soul known to be saved in the chapel for years. Now, why is that? I think it is because God says, it is not by power, it shall not he by individual power. And I will say this that whenever God is pleased to raise up a man by individual power to move the world, or to work any reform, he invariably selects a man whose faults and whose errors are so glaring and apparent to everyone, that we are obliged to say, "I wonder that man should do it, surely it must be of God, it could not be of that man." No, there are some men who are too great for God's designs, their style is too excellent. If God blessed them the world would cry—especially the literary world—it is their talent that God blesses; but God, on the other hand takes up some rough fellow, truly an earthen vessel, puts his treasure in him, and just shakes the whole world. People cry, "We do not see how it is, it is not in the man certainly;" the critic takes up his pen, dips it in gall, writes a most fearful character about the man, the man reads it, and says, "It is just true, and I am glad of it for if it had not been true God would not have used me. I glory in my infirmities, because Christ's own power rests on me. If I had not those infirmities so much could not have been done, but the very infirmities have insured against men's saying, 'It was the man.'" I have often been delighted at some of my opponents, they have sneered at everything in me—from the crown of my head to the sole of my foot, I have been all over bruises and putrifying sores, every word has been vulgarity, every action has been grotesque, the whole of it has been abominable and blasphemous; and I said, 'Well that is delightful, now that is good.' And while some persons have said, 'Now we must defend our minister,' I have thought, "You had better let it alone, it is much the best that it should be so; for suppose it is true—and it is, the most of it—there is all the more glory to God; for who can deny that the work is done?'" And he is a great workman that can use bad tools and yet produce a fine piece of workmanship; and if the conversion of hundreds of souls now present, if the sobriety of drunkards, if the chastity of harlots, if the salvation of men who have been swearers, blasphemers, thieves and vagabonds from their youth up, is not a grand result, I do not know what is. And if I have been the unwieldy, uncouth, unworthy tool employed in doing it, I bless God, for then you cannot honor me, but must give all the glory to him, and to him all the glory belongs. He will have it proved that "It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."

     III. And now to conclude lest I weary you. Whilst the progress and advance of the church are neither to be accomplished by the collected might of armies, corporations, nor churches, nor by the separate exertions of individuals, by the might neither of learning nor of eloquence, yet both the objects are to be accomplished BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

     I was thinking, yesterday, my friends, what a magnificent change would come over the face of Christendom if God were on a sudden to pour out his Spirit as he did on the day of Pentecost. I was then sitting down meditating upon this sermon, and I thought! oh, if God should pour his Spirit upon me, should I not leap from this place where I am now sitting, and on my knees begin to pray as I never did before; and should I not go next Sabbath-day to a congregation who would feel a solemn awe about them! Every word I spoke would strike like arrows from the bow of God; and they themselves would feel that it was "none other than the house of God and the very gate of heaven!" Thousands would cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" and go away carrying the divine fire till the whole of this city would be kindled. And then I had pictured to myself what would come over all the churches if they were in the same condition, and all the people received that same Spirit. I had seen the minister from Monday morning till Saturday night doing little or nothing; delivering his weekly lecture, attending one prayer-meeting, and thinking himself hard worked I saw him, on a sudden, start from his couch, and go round to all the sick of his chapel, and I marked how he delivered a short address of comfort to the sick, with such holy gravity and such divine simplicity, that they lifted their heads from their pillows, and began to sing, even in the agonies of death. I thought I saw others of them girding up their loins, and crying, "What am I doing?—men are perishing, and I am preaching to them but three times a week and am called to the work of the ministry." I thought I read of all those ministers going into the open-air to preach next Monday night; I thought I saw the whole of them flying, like angels fly, to-and-fro this land. And then I thought I saw the deacons all full of the Spirit too, and found them with all their powers, doing everything in the fear of God. I found those who had been lords and rulers no longer seeking to be like Diotrephes; I saw the heavenly influence spread over every mind, I saw the vestries too small for the prayer-meetings, and I saw the chapel crowded, and I heard the brethren who year after year had prayed the same monotonous prayer, break forth in earnest burning words; I saw the whole assembly melted in tears when the pastor addressed them, and urged them to prayer, and I heard the brethren one by one as they rose up speak like men who had been with Jesus, and had learned how to pray. They prayed as if they had heard Christ pray in Gethsemane, that prayer which was such as never man prayed; and then I thought I saw all those members, and those deacons, and those pastors going out into the world. And, oh, I pictured what preaching there would be, what tract distributing, what alms giving, what holy living! And then I already thought I heard every house at vesper uttering its song, and every cottage as its matin, sending up its prayer to heaven. I thought I saw upon every ploughshare "consecrated to God," and every bell upon the horses, "holiness unto the Lord." And then I thought I saw the different denominations rushing into each others arms; I saw the bishop doff his mitre, and clasp his dissenting brother and call him friend, and bid him preach in his cathedral. And I thought I saw the stiff puritanical dissenter casting away his hatred of conformity, and receiving the Church of England brother to his heart. I thought I saw baptized and unbaptized sitting at one table. I saw Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Independent, and Quaker agreeing in one thing—that Christ crucified was all: and clasping one another's hands. Ay, and then I thought I have the angels coming down from heaven. And I was not long before I finished my reverie by hearing the shout—"Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!" It was a reverie, but it will be true some day. By the Spirit of God all this will be accomplished. How and by what means I know not, but I know the great agency must be the Holy Spirit.

     And now, dear friends, let me counsel you. The grand thing the church wants in this time, is God's Holy Spirit. You all get up plans and say, "Now, if the church were altered a little bit, it would go on better." You think if there were different ministers, or different church order, or something different, then all would be well. No, dear friends, it is not there the mistake lies; it is that we want more of the Spirit. It is as if you saw a locomotive engine upon a railway, and it would not go, and they put up a driver, and they said, "Now, that driver will just do." They try another and another. One proposes that such-and-such a wheel should be altered, but still it will not go. Some one then bursts in amongst those who are conversing and says, "No, friends; but the reason why it will not move, is because there is no steam. You have no fire, you have no water in the boiler: that's why it will not go. There may be some faults about it; it may want a bit of paint here and there, but it will go well enough with all those faults if you do but get the steam up." But now people are saying, "This must be altered, and that must be altered; but it would go no better unless God the Spirit should come to bless us. You may have the same ministers, and they shall be a thousand times more useful for God, if God is pleased to bless them. You shall have the same deacons, they shall be a thousand times more influential than they are now, when the Spirit is poured down upon them from on high. That is the church's great want, and until that want be supplied, we may reform, and reform, and still be just the same. We want the Holy Spirit, and then whatever faults there may be in our organization, they can never materially impede the progress of Christianity, when once the Spirit of the Lord God is in our midst.

     But I beseech you be earnest in praying for this. Do you know that there is no reason to day, why I should not have preached to day, so that every soul in the place was converted, if God the Holy Spirit had been pleased to manifest himself. There is not any solitary shadow of a reason why every soul that has been within the sound of my lips should not have been converted by something said to-day if God the Holy Spirit had been pleased to bless the word. Now I will repeat, there, is not a humble Primitive Methodist, nor a poor insignificant preacher of any sort on earth, but who, if he preaches the truth, God the Spirit may not make as useful in conversion, as any of the great departed, who are now before God's throne. All we want is the Spirit of God. Dear Christian friends, go home and pray for it; give no rest until God reveals himself, do not tarry, here you are, do not be content to go on in your everlasting jog-trot as you have done; do not be content with the mere round of formalities. Awake, O Zion; awake, awake, awake! Put on thy strength, O Jerusalem, start ye from your slumbers, arouse ye from your lethargy, and cry unto God and say unto him, "Awake, awake! put on thy strength, O arm of the Lord, as in the ancient days," then when he shall do it, you will find that while it is not by might, nor by power, it is by God's Spirit.

     And now I conclude with a brief address that shall not occupy a moment. Sinner, unconverted sinner, thou hast often tried to save thyself, but thou hast often failed. Thou hast, by thine own power and might, sought to curb thy evil passions and licentious desires with thee, I lament that all thine efforts have been unsuccessful. And I warn thee, it will be unsuccessful, for thou never canst by thine own might save thyself; with all the strength thou hast, thou never canst regenerate thine own soul; thou canst never cause thyself to be born again, And though the new birth is absolutely necessary, it is absolutely impossible to thee, unless God the Spirit shall do it. I pray for thee that God the Spirit may convince thee of sin, and if thou art already convinced, I bid thee believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, for he has died for thee, hath washed away thy sins; thou art forgiven. Believe that; be happy, and go thy way rejoicing; an, God Almighty be with thee until thou diest.



Five Fears

By / Aug 23

Five Fears

Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.”—Ecclesiastes 8:12

I have heard it sometimes said by wicked men, when they would arraign the justice of the Most High, that it is unjust that God should condemn men for the use of the powers which he himself has given them. This most subtle evil has often grieved the hearts of those who are weak and ignorant, and have not seen its untruthfulness—for to speak plainly of it, it is a gross lie. God does not condemn men for the use of the powers he has given them; he condemns them for the misuse of those powers; not for employing them, but for employing them as they ought not to employ them; not for thinking, not for speaking, not for doing, but for thinking, speaking, and doing, contrary to his law God damneth no man for the use of the powers which he hath given him, let that be again repeated—but he doth condemn them for the abuse of those powers, and for their impudence in daring to turn those powers, which he hath given them, for his honor, against his service, and against his throne Now, my friends, there is no power which God hath given us, which may not be employed for God. I believe that David uttered a great truth, as well as a great exhortation to himself, when he said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” There is nothing in man that God has not there, which may not be employed in God’s service. Some may ask me whether anger can be brought in. I answer, yes. A good man may serve God by being angry against sin; and to be angry against sin is a high and holy thing. You may ask me, perhaps, whether ridicule can be employed. I answer, yes. I believe we may even rightly employ it in the preaching of God’s word. I know this, I always intend to use it; and if by a laugh I can make men see the folly of an error better than in any other way, they shall laugh, and laugh here, too; for ridicule is to be used in God’s service; and every power that God hath implanted in man—I will make no exception,—may be used for God’s service, and for God’s honor. What man hath gotten for himself by the fall, cannot be employed to serve God with, we cannot bring before God Adam’s robbery, to be a sacrifice to the Almighty, nor can our own carnal and sinful passions honor the Most High, but there are natural powers which God hath conferred, and none of these are in themselves sinful. I would have them, therefore, employed for the Master. Yea, even those powers with which it seems impossible to worship, such as the powers of assimilation, eating, and drinking, may be brought to honor God; for what says the Apostle?—”whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Jesus Christ.”

Now, you will notice that fear may be yoked into the service of God. True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian. Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God hath given us, is not in itself sinful. Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the very grandest part of man. In fact, Scripture has honored fear, for the whole of piety is comprehended in these words, “Fear God;” “the fear of the Lord;” “them that fear Him.” These phrases are employed to express true piety, and the men who possess it. Fear, I have said, may ruin the soul, alas! it has ruined multitudes. O Fear, thou art the rock upon which many a ship hath been wrecked. Many a soul hath suffered spiritual destruction through thee, but then it hath been not the fear of God, but the fear of man. Many have rushed against the thick bosses of the Almighty’s buckler, and defied God, in order to escape the wrath of feeble man. Many through fear of worldly loss have brought great guilt into their consciences; some through fear of ridicule and laughter have not had the boldness to follow the right, and so have gone astray and been ruined. Yea, and where fear doth not work utter destruction it is capable of doing much damage to the spirit. Fear hath paralysed the arm of the most gigantic Christian, stopped him in his race, and impeded him in his labors. Faith can do anything, but fear, sinful fear, can do just nothing at all, but even prevent faith from performing its labors. Fear hath made the Christian to sorrow, both by night and day, a cankering fear lest his wants should not be provided for, and his necessities supplied, has driven the Christian to unworthy thoughts; and distrustful, doubting fear hath made him dishonor God, and prevented his sucking the honey out of the promises. Fear hath kept many a child of God from doing his duty, from making a bold profession; hath brought bondage into his spirit. Fear misused, thou art the Christian’s greatest curse, and thou art the sinner’s ruin. Thou art a sly serpent, creeping amongst the thorns of sin, and when thou art allowed to twist thyself around manhood, thou dost crush it in thy folds, and poison it with thy venom. Nothing can be worse than this sinful fear; it hath slaughtered its myriads and sent thousands to hell. But yet it may seem a paradox; fear, when rightly employed, is the very brightest state of Christianity, and is used to express all piety, comprehended in one emotion. “The fear of God” is the constant description which the Scripture gives of true religion.

And now, beloved, I shall want you this morning to have some little patience with me whilst I try to go after certain fearing souls whose fear is of the right kind, even a fear which gendereth salvation, but who through it are now suffering some degree of torment, and are wishing to be delivered from it. An old Puritan says, “Jesus Christ would shake hands with a man that had the palsy.” I must try and do the same this morning. Some of you have the palsy of fear. I want to come after you and say unto you, “Fear not;” to bid you to be of good cheer, because God would comfort you. There are five different kinds of fear, that persons are laboring under which I would now endeavor to address.

I. There is, first, THE FEAR CAUSED BY AN AWAKENING CONSCIENCE. This is the lowest grade of godly fear; here all true piety takes its rise. By nature, the sinner does not dread the wrath of God; he thinks sin a little thing; he looks upon its pleasures, and forgets its penalty, he dares the Almighty to the war, and lifts his puny arm against the Eternal. No sooner, however, is he awakened by God’s Spirit, than fear takes possession of his heart, the arrows of the Almighty drink up his spirit, the thunders of the law roll in his ears; he feels his life to be uncertain, and his body frail, He dreads death, because he knows that death would be to him the prelude of destruction; he dreads life, for life itself is intolerable, when the wrath of God is poured out into his soul. Many of you who are now before me have passed through that dreadful ordeal of suffering under a sense of the wrath of God. We, my brethren, shall never forget, to our dying day, that hour of desperate grief when first we discovered our lost estate. By the preaching of the Word, by the reading of the Scriptures, by prayer, or by some Providence, we were led to look within; we discovered the evil of our hearts, and we heard how terribly God would punish the transgressor. Do you not remember how we started from our beds in the morning, having slept uneasily, and bowed our knees in prayer, and prayed until the hot sweat ran down our brow; but rose without a hope that we had been heard? Do you not recollect how, in our business, we were sometimes so absent in mind, that those who were round about us thought that we must have been bereaved of our wits? Do you not well recollect how the best dainties of our meals seemed to have the bitterness of wormwood in them, and the sweetest draughts were mingled with gall; how all day lone we sorrowed, and went to our bed at night with another prayer, still as full of agony and still as hopeless; and by night we could not sleep, but dreamed of the wrath to come, saw dreams more horrible than we had dreamed before; each night and day the wrath of God seemed to increase, and our pangs and agonies became more terrible? Oh, we shall never forget it; those of us who have passed through the same will never let that era be forgotten, for the time of its beginning was the time of our conversion, and the time of its end was the time of our salvation. Have I any here who are in this same state this morning? I am coming after you, and in coming after you I proclaim the words of my text, “Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” Sinner, it shall be well with thee if thou art now made to fear the wrath of God on account of thy sin; if God the Spirit hath poured forth the vials of Almighty wrath into thy soul, so that thou art cast down and sore vexed. Think not thou shalt be destroyed; it shall be well with thee. Let me comfort thee now, whilst thou art suffering these things, remember that what thou sufferest is that which all God’s people have had to suffer in a measure. Many poor hearts come to me when I am sitting to see the anxious ones, and at other times, and they tell me they are in such deep distress; surely never anyone felt as they feel. And when I begin to unfold to them the experience of all saints, and tell them how it is a well-trodden path which almost every traveler to heaven has had to tread, they stand astonished, and think it cannot be so. I tell thee sinner, that thy deepest woes have been felt by some one, even more keenly than thou feelest them now. Thou sayest, “I sink in deep mire where there is no standing.” Why, man, there have been some that have sunk far deeper than thou hast sunk. Thou art up to thy ankles; I have known some to have been up to the loins, and there have been some that have been covered over their very heads so that they could say, “All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me.” Your distresses are very painful, but they are not singular, others have had to endure the same. Be comforted, it is not a desert island; others have been there too; and if they have passed through this, and won the crown, thou shalt pass through it, and inherit yet the glory of the believer on the breast of Christ.

But I will tell thee something else to comfort thee; I will put this question to thee—Wouldst thou wish to go back and become what thou once wast? Thy sins are now so painful, that thou canst scarce eat, or drink, or sleep. There was a time when thy sins never haunted thee, when thou couldst drink and may with Satan and with sin as merrily as anyone. Come, wouldst thou like to be as thou wast then? “No,” I hear thee say, “no; my Master, my God, grieve me more, if so it pleaseth thee, but do not let me be hardened any more.” Ask the poor strickened conscience, in the first agonies and throes of his grief, whether he would like to be a hardened sinner? “No,” he says; and when he hears the blasphemer swear against God, the tear is in his eye; he says, “Lord, I thank thee for my miseries, if they deliver me from hardness of heart. I can extol thee for my agonies, if they save me from such dire presumption, such rebellion against thee.” Well, then, be of good cheer, your condition, you see, is not the worst of all; there is a worse state yet. Oh, it thou hast come so far, hope thou in Christ, thou shalt come further yet. But the great consolation is this, Jesus Christ died for thee. If God the Holy Ghost hath shown thee that thou art dead in sin, and if he hath revealed to thee the desperate character of thine iniquity, and broken thee in pieces with penitence on account of thy guilt—hear me, I speak not now at hap-hazard, I speak with God’s authority—Jesus Christ died for thee; yes, for thee, thou vilest of the vile. I am no general redemptionist, I believe Jesus Christ died for as many as will be saved; I do not believe he died in vain for any man alive. I have always believed that Christ was punished instead of men. Now, if he were punished in the stead of all men, I could see no justice in God punishing men again after having punished Christ for them. I hold and believe—and, I think, on Scriptural authority, that Jesus Christ died for all those who believe or will believe; and he was punished in the stead of all those who feel their need of a Saviour, and lay hold on him. The rest reject him, despise him, sin against God, and are punished for their sine. But those who are redeemed, having been blood-bought, shall not be lost. Christ’s blood is too precious to have been shed for men who are damned. It is too awful a thing to think of the Saviour standing in a sinner’s stead, and then that sinner after all having to bear his own iniquities; I can never indulge a thought which appears to be so unrighteous to God, and so unsafe to men. All that the Saviour bought he shall have, all that his heavenly Father hath given him, he says, shall come unto him. Now here is something solid for thee, poor soul. I ask again, dost thou know and feel thyself to be lost and ruined? Then the Saviour bought thee, and will have thee; then he was punished for thee and thou never wilt be punished again; then he hung upon the cross for thee that thou mightest not perish. For thee there is no hell, so far as thou art concerned. The eternal lake is quenched; the dungeons of hell are broken open, their bars are cut in sunder. Thou art free; no damnation can ever seize thee, no devils can ever drag thee to the pit. Thou art redeemed, and thou art saved. “What!” sayest thou, “I redeemed! Why, sir, I am full of sin.” It is the very reason why thou art redeemed. “But I feel myself to be the guiltiest of all the human race.” Yes, and that is just the evidence that Christ died for thee. He says himself, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If you have got abundance of good works, and think you can go to heaven by them, you will perish; but if you know your guilt, and confess it—it is not my affirmation, but the affirmation of the Scriptures—”This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom,” says the Apostle, “I am chief.” Lay hold on that, poor soul: and then I repeat to thee the text, “Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” It shall be well with thee yet, and black though thou art, thou shalt one day sing among the bloodwashed ones in glory everlasting. That is the first stage of fearing God; we shall now proceed to another.

II. There are many who have believed, and are truly converted, who have a fear which I may call THE FEAR OF ANXIETY. They are afraid that they are not converted. They are converted, there is no doubt of it. Sometimes they know they are so themselves, but, for the most part, they are afraid. There are some people in the world who have a preponderance of fear in their characters it seems as if their mind, from its peculiar constitution, had a greater aptitude for the state of fear than for any other state. Why, even in temporal matters they are always fearing; and, when these poor souls get converted, they are always afraid that they are not so. First, they will tell you they are afraid they never repented enough; the work in their hearts, they say, was not deep; it was just superficial surface-ploughing, and never entered into their souls. Then they are quite sure they never came to Christ aright, they think they came the wrong way. How that can be no one knows, for they could not come at all except the Father drew them; and the Father did not draw them the wrong way, Still they hold that they did not come aright; then if that idea is knocked on the head, they say they do not believe aright; but when that is got rid of, they say, if they were converted they would not be the subject of so much sin. They say they can trust Christ, but they are afraid they do not trust him aright; and they always do, what you may, come back to the old condition; they are always afraid. And now, what shall I say to these good souls? Why, I will say this, “Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” Not only those who believe, but those who fear, have got a promise, I would to God that they had more faith; I would that they could lay hold on the Saviour, and had more assurance, and even attain unto a perfect confidence; but if they cannot shall I utter a word that would hurt them? God forbid; “Surely it shall be with even with them that fear God, with them that fear before him.” There are some of these poor creatures who are the holiest and most heavenly minded people in all the world. I have seen men who, with poor, desponding spirits, have exhibited the most lovely graces. There has not been the blushing healthful beauty of the rose; but the lily hath its beauties, sickly though it seemeth, and these, though they be faint and weak, have eminently the graces of humility and meekness, of patience and endurance, and they practice more of meditation, more of self examination, more of repentance more of prayer, than any race of Christians alive. God forbid that I should vex their spirits: there are some of God’s best children who always grow in the shade of fear, and can scarcely attain to so much as to say, “I know whom I have believed.” Darkness suits them best, their eyes are weak, and much sunlight seems to blind them, they love the shadows; and though they thought they could sing, “I know my Saviour, I love him, and he loves me;” they go back again, and begin to groan in themselves, “Do I love the Lord; indeed, if it be so, why am I thus?”

Now, I am about to utter a great paradox—I believe that some of these poor fearing people have got the greatest faith of anybody in the world; I have sometimes thought that great tear, great anxiety, must have great faith with it to keep the soul alive at all. See that man drowning, there—there is another in the water too, I see. He in the distance thinks he can swim: a plank is thrown to him; he believes himself to be in no danger of sinking. Well he clutches the plank very leisurely, and does not seem to grasp it firmly. But this poor creature here, he knows he cannot swim, he feels that he must soon sink Now put the means of escape near him, how desperately he clutches it; how he seems as if he would drive his fingers through the plank! He clutches it for life or death, that is his all, for he must perish if he is not saved by that. Now, in this case, he that fears the most believes the most; and I do think it is so sometimes with poor desponding spirits. They have the greatest fear of hell, and the greatest fear of themselves, and the greatest dread that they are not right. Oh, what a faith they must have, when they are enabled to throw themselves on Christ, and when they can but whisper to themselves “I think that he is mine”—”Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.”

But I want to comfort these poor souls a little. I do not think a minister does well in killing the lambs; for where would be the sheep next year if he should do so? But at the same time it is his business to make the lambs grow into sheep if he can. And you who are fearing, I would not say a word to hurt you, but I would say a word to comfort you if I could; I would remind you that you are not fit to judge of yourself. You have been just now examining yourself, and you came to the conclusion that you really are not a child of God. Now, you will not be offended with me, but I would not give one single farthing for your opinion of yourself. Why, I tell you, you have not any judgment. It is not long ago you were a base, presumptuous sinner, and then you thought yourself all right. I did not believe you then. Well, then you began to reform yourself. You practiced many good works, and thought, surely you were mending your pace to heaven then. Then I knew you were wrong. Now you are becoming a true believer in Christ, but you are very fearful, and you say you are not safe. I know you are; you are not fit to judge. I should not like to see you elevated to the bench; you would scarcely know how to deal with other men, for you would not know how to deal with yourself; and who is he that can deal with himself? We sometimes think ourselves proud, and we are never more humble than when we feel that we are proud. At other times, we think ourselves to be wonderfully humble, and we are never more proud than then. We sometimes say within ourselves, “Now I think I am overcoming my corruptions;” that is just the time when they are about to attack us most severely. At another time we are crying, “Surely I shall be cut off,” that is just the period when sin is being routed, because we are hating it the most and crying out the most against it. We are not qualified to fudge ourselves; our poor scales are so out of order, that they will never tell the truth. Now, then, just give up your own judgment, except thus far. Can you say that you “are a poor sinner and nothing at all, and that Jesus Christ is your all in all?” Then be comforted. You have no right to be anxious; you have no reason to be so. You could not say that if you had not been converted. You must have been quickened by grace, or else you would not be anxious at all; and you must have faith, or else you would not be able even to lay hold of Christ so much as to know your own nothingness and his all sufficiency. Poor soul! be comforted.

But shall I tell thee one thing? Dost thou know the greatest of God’s people are often in the same condition as thou art now? “No, no,” says the fearful soul, “I do not believe that, I believe that when persons are converted they never have any fear,” and they look at the minister, and they say, “Oh, but if I could be but like that minister; I know he never has doubts and fears. Oh, if I could be like old deacon So-and-so—such a holy man how he prays! Oh, if I could feel like Mr. So-and-so, who calls to visit me, and talks to me so sweetly. They never doubt.” Ah, that is because you do not know. Those whom you think to be the strongest, and are so in public, have their times of the greatest weakness, when they can scarcely know their own names in spiritual things. If one may speak for the rest, those of us who enjoy the greatest portions of assurance have times when we would give all the world to know ourselves to be possessors of grace; when we would be ready to sacrifice our lives if we might but have the shadow of a hope that we were in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Now, little one, if the giants go there, what wonder if the dwarfs must? What if God’s favourite and chosen ones, what if his valiant men, the body guard of Christ, those men whose swords are on their thighs, and who stand up for the truth and are its champions—if they sometimes are weak, what wonder if thou shouldest be weak? What if the heirs of salvation and the soldiers of the cross sometimes feel their knees feeble and their hands hang down and their hearts faint, what wonder if thou, who art less than the least of all saints shouldst sometimes be in trouble too? Oh, be of good cheer; fear will never kill anybody. “Doubts and fears,” said an old preacher, once, “are like the toothache nothing more painful, but never fatal.” They will often grieve us, but they will never kill us, they distress us much but they will never burn the soul. Fears even do good at times. Let me not, however, praise them too much. I heard a preacher say, the other day, that fear was a good housekeeper. I said, “So I have heard, but I do not believe it. She never will keep a cupboard full; she is a good doorkeeper; she can keep beggars and thieves away; she is a good housedog to guard us and protect us in the night, and warn us of dangers, lest we fall into them.” The fear of anxiety then, is a good fear. Take this promise—”Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.”

III. And now, my brethren, in the next place there is A FEAR WHICH WORKS CAUTION. When we get a little further advanced in the Christian life, our present state is not so much a matter of anxiety as our future state. We believe that we shall never totally fall from grace. We hold it as a cardinal doctrine of our religion that by no means will God ever leave his people or suffer them to perish. But we often think within ourselves, I am afraid lest I should bring dishonor on the cause of Christ; I am afraid lest, in some moment of temptation, I shall be left to go astray; I am afraid lest I should lose that hallowed peace and that delightful joy which it has been my privilege to enjoy, and shall yet go back into the world. God grant I may not prove to be a hypocrite, after all! Now, I have hundreds of persons just now in this place, who are feeling like this, and I will tell you one ill effect of this fear. These persons say, “I dare not join the church, because I am afraid I shall fall.” A friend mentions to them that they hold it to be their duty, if they have believed, to make a profession of their faith in baptism. They say, “Well, I believe it to be my duty to partake of the two institutions of our Saviour; I ought to be buried with him in baptism unto death; I ought also, I know, to hold fellowship with him in the Lord’s supper, but I dare not join the church; for suppose I should bring dishonor upon the cause, suppose I should disgrace the church, what a sad thing it would be!” That fear is good, in itself. But do you think that you would not bring disgrace on Christ’s cause as it is? You are always at the place of worship; you are never away. You were always looked upon as being one of the church, though you have not made a profession. Now, if you were to sin, would it not dishonor the church even now? You know your relatives and friends esteem you to be a Christian. You would scarce dishonor the church more if you were actually to join it; for you really are united with it. If you would be consistent, you must never go to the chapel any more. Just stop away; give up your seat; turn right down irreligious, and then you cannot dishonor the church. Do one or the other, but never think you will be saving Christ’s church by dishonoring God, as you really are doing now. And then I will ask you this question, Where do you think a man is safest—in the paths of obedience, or in the paths of disobedience? Now you know you are disobedient; you are quite sure of that. Do you think you are safer where your wayward will leads you, or where God’s Spirit points the way? And remember this, if you cannot trust God to keep you standing, you must have a poor faith indeed. If you cannot just risk that and be united with the church, and hope that Christ will keep you, then I fear you will have some terrible fall. If you do not join the church, you will bring far more disgrace upon it by being outside it, than you would have done if you had been united with it and had been kept. Ah, friends, I believe that union with the Christian church is often a means under God, of preserving men from sin; for then they think there is a bond upon them, and a sacred claim, and many of them are more careful what they do. And I trust there would be the same check upon you.

But now, I daresay that the poor creature who has been uttering this, thinks I am about to condemn her; and the poor man who has been talking so thinks I would cut him off and say he is no child of God. God forbid! My text belongs to him. You are afraid you will fall into sin—”Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” If you should tell me you were not afraid of falling, I would not have you in the church for the world; you would be no Christian. All Christians, when they are in a right state, are afraid of falling into sin. Holy fear is the proper condition of a child of God. Even the most confident will not go into presumption. He that knows his love to the Saviour, and his Saviour’s rove to him, is yet afraid lest he should dishonor him. If there be a man who has an assurance of such a kind, as to put fear out of the question, so that he is never afraid of sinning, I will tell him he has a satanic assurance, an assurance which came from Satan and not from God for the more assured we are of our own conversion, the more careful we shall be lest we should offend God, and the more fearful lest by word or look, or deed, we should grieve God’s Holy Spirit. I love your fear, and love you too for it, you are my brother and sister in Jesus, if you can truly say that you fear lest you should sin. Seek then, my friends, to grow in this fear of caution, obtain more and more of it; and whilst thou dost not distrust the Saviour, learn to distrust thyself more and more every day.

IV. I shall not detain you many more minutes; I have only to notice in the next mace the fear which I may call THE FEAR OF JEALOUSY. Strong love will usually promote jealousy. “Love is as strong as death;” then comes the next, “Jealousy is cruel as the grave.” We cannot love strongly without feeling some jealousy—I mean, not jealousy against the object of our love; for, “perfect love casteth out fear”—but jealousy against ourselves. “Oh what jealousy,” says the Apostle, addressing the Corinthians, “what revenge,” did grace work in you when you were first converted. The true believer, when he gets his Saviour in full possession, and in blissful communion, is so jealous lest any rival should intrude in his heart; he is afraid lest his dearest friend should get more of his heart than the Saviour has. He is afraid of his wealth; he trembles at his health, at his fame, at everything that is dear to him, lest it should engross his heart. Oh, how often does he pray, “My Lord, let me not be of a divided spirit; cast down each idol—self-will, self-righteousness.” And I tell you the more he loves, the more he will fear lest he should provoke his Saviour by bringing a rival into his heart, and setting up an Antichrist in his spirit; so that fear just goes in proportion to love; and the bright love is congenial, and must walk side by side with the deepest jealousy and the profoundest fear. Seek, my brethren to know the meaning of communion, and you must know, then, the meaning of fear; for fear and communion must, to a great degree go together.

V. And now I will conclude by just mentioning that fear which is felt WHEN WE HAVE HAD DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS. Did you never, in the silence of the night, look up and view the stars, feeding, like sheep, on the azure pastures of the sky? Have you never thought of those great worlds, far, far away, divided from us by almost illimitable leagues of space? Did you never, whilst musing on the starry heavens, lose yourself in thoughts of God; and have you never felt, at such a time, that you could say with Jacob, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven.” Have you never seen the craggy hills lift their summits to the skies? Have you never marked the tempests sailing o’er them, and seen the thunder-cloud burst upon the mountain, and heard the heavens shake beneath the tramp of the Most High, and seen the skies all glaring red with fire, when God hath sent his thunder-bolts abroad; and have you not trembled that God was there, and in other and happier seasons have you not in your chamber been so wrapt in devotion, have you not so manifestly known the presence of God that you were filled with trembling? Fear took hold upon you and made all your bones to shake, not because you dreaded God, but because you then saw some of his greatness. It is said of Moses, that when he saw the burning bush he feared to look upon God. God is so great a Being, that the rightly constituted mind must always fear when it approaches into his presence. The Eastern subject, when he came before his king, regarded him as a being so infinitely superior to himself, that even in the vestibule he began to shake, and as he neared the throne he began to totter and his cheek was blanched with fear. Like Esther, he would faint when he came before the king, so glorious was his majesty. And if it be so with earthly monarchs, how fearful must it be to come into the presence chamber of the King of kings, and to feel one’s self near him! Why, I believe that even in heaven we shall have this kind of fear. Certainly the angels have it. They dare not look on God. They veil their faces with their wings, and whilst they cry aloud, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts yet they dare not view him. The very sight of him might destroy them, and they tremble at his presence. Now this kind of fear, if you have ever felt it, if it has been produced in your heart by contemplation of God, is a high and hallowed thing, and to you this promise is addressed—”Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.”

And now, might I go round again this morning—I cannot do it personally, yet by my voice—to the poor trembling soul who is overcome with sin. Poor man, where art thou? Hath the devil got hold of thee, and have thy sins covered thee up, so that thou canst not see the face of the sun, and behold the light of mercy? Listen to me; you may never hope till you have left off hoping in yourself. You have never any right to believe, till you have nothing to believe in yourself. Until you have lost all, you have no right to take anything. But now, if you have lost all your own good works and righteousness, if you feel that there is no reason why you should be saved, that is the very reason why you should be. My Master bids me tell the naked to come to his heavenly wardrobe, and take his royal garment for their clothing. He bids me tell the hungry to haste away to his heavenly granaries, and feed upon the old corn of the kingdom to their very full. He bids me tell the thirsty that the river of life is broad and deep, and flows freely to all those who thirst after it. Now, sinner, if thou art sick of sin, and grieved at heart where thou standest, follow me in spirit in these words: “O Lord, I know my guilt, and I confess my misery. If thou dampest me to all eternity, thou wilt be just; but, O Lord, have mercy upon me, according to thy promise, which thou hast made in Christ Jesus, unto those who confess their faults.” If that came from your heart, go out of that door, and sing all the way home, for you are a pardoned sinner. You shall never see death—the second death, the death of the soul. Go home to your chamber! let your heart burst itself in tears of thankfulness. Go, and there prostrate yourself, and bless God that he has enabled you to see that only Jesus can do a helpless sinner good. And then, “go your way; eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart. Let your head lack no oil, and your face no ointment; for God hath accepted you; and you have a right to be happy. Live cheerfully and joyfully all the days of your life, hereafter and for ever.”



The Good Man’s Life and Death

By / Aug 16

The Good Man's Life and Death

 

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."—Philippians 1:21

 

     How ominously these words follow each other in the text—"live," "die." There is but a comma between them, and surely as it is in the words so is it in reality. How brief the distance between life and death! In fact there is none. Life is but death's vestibule, and our pilgrimage on earth is but a journey to the grave. The pulse that preserves our being beats our death march, and the blood which circulates our life is floating it onward to the deeps of death. To-day we see our friends in health, to-morrow we hear of their decease. We clasped the hand of the strong man but yesterday, and to-day we close his eyes. We rode in the chariot of comfort but an hour ago, and in a few more hours the last black chariot must convey us to the home of all living. Oh, how closely allied is death to life! The lamb teat sporteth in the field must soon feel the knife. The ox that loweth in the pasture is fattening for the slaughter. Trees do but grow that they may be felled. Yea, and greater things than these feel death. Empires rise and flourish, they flourish but to decay, they rise to fall. How often do we take up the volume of history, and read of the rise and fall of empires. We hear of the coronation and the death of kings. Death is the black servant who rides behind the chariot of life. See life! and death is close behind it. Death reacheth far throughout this world, and hath stamped all terrestrial things with the broad arrow of the grave. Stars die mayhap; it is said that conflagrations have been seen far off in the distant ether, and astronomers have marked the funerals of worlds, the decay of those mighty orbs that we had imagined set for ever in sockets of silver to glisten as the lamps of eternity. But blessed be God, there is one place where death is not life's brother, where life reigns alone; "to live," is not the first syllable which is to be followed by the next, "to die." There is a land where death-knells are never tolled, where winding-sheets are never woven, where graves are never digged. Blest land beyond the skies! To reach it we must die. But if after death we obtain a glorious immortality, our text is indeed true: "To die is gain."

     If you would get a fair estimate of the happiness of any man you must judge him in these two closely connected things, his life and his death. The heathen Solon said, "Call no man happy until he is dead; for you know not what changes may pass upon him in life." We add to that—Call no man happy until he is dead; because the life that is to come, if that be miserable, shall far outweigh the highest life of happiness that hath been enjoyed on earth. To estimate a man's condition we must take it in all its length. We must not measure that one thread which reacheth from the cradle to the coffin. We must go further; we must go from the coffin to the resurrection, and from the resurrection on throughout eternity. To know whether acts are profitable, I must not estimate their effects on me for the hour in which I live, but for the eternity in which I am to exist. I must not weigh matters in the scales of time; I must not calculate by the hours, minutes and seconds of the clock, but I must count and value things by the ages of eternity.

     Come, then, beloved; we have before us the picture of a man, the two sides of whose existence will both of them bear inspection; we have hi life, we have his death: we have it said of his life, "to live is Christ," of his death, "to die is gain;" and if the same shall be said of any of you, oh! ye may rejoice! Ye are amongst that thrice happy number whom the Lord hath loved, and whom he delighteth to honor.

     We shall now divide our text very simply into these two points, the good man's life, and the good man's death.

     I. As to HIS LIFE, we have that briefly described thus: "For me to live is Christ." The believer did not always live to Christ. When he was first born into this world he was a slave of sin, and an heir of wrath, even as others. Though he may have afterwards become the greatest of saints, yet until divine grace hath entered his heart, he is "in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity." He only begins to live to Christ when God the Holy Spirit convinceth him of his sin, and of his desperate evil nature, and when by grace he is brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From that moment when by faith he sees the slaughtered victim of Calvary, and casts his whole life on him, to be saved, to be redeemed, to be preserved, and to be blest by the virtue of his atonement and the greatness of his grace, from that moment the man begins to live to Christ.

     And now shall we tell you as briefly as we can what living to Christ means.

     It means, first, that the life of a Christian derives its parentage from Christ. "For me to live is Christ." The righteous man has two lives. He has one which he inherited from his parents; he looks back to an ancestral race of which he is the branch, and he traces his life to the parent stock; but he has a second life, a life spiritual, a life which is as much above mere mental life, as mental life is above the life of the animal or the plant; and for the source of this spiritual life he looks not to father or mother, nor to priest nor man, nor to himself, but he looks to Christ. He says, "O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, thou art my spiritual parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into my nostrils the breath of a new, holy and spiritual life, I had been to this day "dead in trespasses and sins." I owe my third principle, my spirit, to the implantation of thy grace. I had a body and a soul by my parents, I have received the third principle, the spirit from thee, and in thee I live, and move, and have my being. My new, my best, my highest my most heavenly life, is wholly derived from thee. To thee I ascribe it. My life is hid with Christ in God. It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me." And so the Christian says, "For me to live is Christ," because for me to live is to live a life whose parentage is not of human origin, but of divine, even of Christ himself. Again he intended to say, that Christ was the sustenance of his life, the food his newborn spirit fed upon. The believer hath three parts to be sustained. The body, which must have its proper nutriment; the soul, which must have knowledge and thought to supply it; and the spirit which must feed on Christ. Without bread I become attenuated to a skeleton, and at last I die; without thought my mind becomes dwarfed, and, and dwindles itself until I become the idiot, with a soul that hath just life, but little more. And without Christ my newborn spirit must become a vague shadowy emptiness. It cannot live unless it feeds on that heavenly manna which came down from heaven. Now the Christian can say, "The life that I live is Christ," because Christ is the food on which he feeds and the sustenance of his new-born Spirit.

     The apostle also meant, that the fashion of his life was Christ. I suppose that every man living has a model by which he endeavors to shape his life. When we start in life, we generally select some person, or persons, whose combined virtues shall be to us the mirror of perfection. "Now," says Paul, "if you ask me after what fashion I mould my life, and what is the model by which I would sculpture my being, I tell you, it is Christ. I have no fashion, no form, no model by which to shape my being, except the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, the true Christian, if he be an upright man, can say the same. Understand, however what I mean by the word "upright." An upright man mean" a straight-up man—a man that does not cringe and bow, and fawn to other men's feet; a man that does not lean for help on other men, but just stands with his head heavenward, in all the dignity of his independence, leaning nowhere except on the arm of the Omnipotent. Such a man will take Christ alone to be his model and pattern. This is the very age of conventionalities. People dare not now do a thing unless everybody else does the same. You do not often say, "Is a thing right?" The most you say is, "Does so-and-so do it?" You have some great personage or other in your family connection, who is looked upon as being the very standard of all propriety; and if he do it, then you think you may safely do it. And oh! what an outcry there is against a man who dares to be singular, who just believes that some of your conventionalities are trammels and chains, and kicks them all to pieces and says, "I am free!" The world is at him in a minute; all the ban-dogs of malice and slander are at him, because he says, "I will not follow your model! I will vindicate the honor of my Master, and not take your great masters to be for ever my pattern." Oh! I would to God that every statesman, that every minister, that every Christian were free to hold that his only form, and his only fashion for imitation, must be the character of Christ. I would that we could scorn all superstitious attachments to the ancient errors of our ancestors; and whilst some would be for ever looking upon age and upon hoary antiquity with veneration, I would we had the courage to look upon a thing, not according to its age, but according to its rightness, and so weigh everything, not by its novelty, or by its antiquity, but by its conformity to Christ Jesus and his holy Gospel; rejecting that which is not, though it be hoary with years, and believing that which is, even though it be but the creature of the day, and saying with earnestness, "For me to live is not to imitate this man or the other, but 'for me to live is Christ.'"

     I think, however, that the very center of Paul's idea would be this: The end of his life is Christ. You think you see Paul land upon the shores of Philippi. There, by the river-side, were ships gathered and many merchant men. There you would see the merchant busy with his ledger, and overlooking his cargo, and he paused and put his hand upon his brow, and said as he griped his money-bag, "For me to live is gold." And there you see his humbler clerk, employed in some plainer work, toiling for his master, and he, perspiring with work mutters between his teeth, "For me to live is to gain a bare subsistence." And there stands for a moment to listen to him, one with a studious face and a sallow countenance, and with a roll full of the mysterious characters of wisdom. "Young man," he says, "for me to live is learning." "Aha! aha;" says another, who stands by, clothed in mail, with a helmet on his head, "I scorn your modes of life, for me to live is glory." But there walks one, a humble tent-maker, called Paul; you see the lineaments of the Jew upon his face, and he steps into the middle of them all and says, "For me to live is Christ." Oh! how they smile with contempt upon him, and how they scoff at him, for having chosen such an object! "For me to live is Christ." And what did he mean! The learned man stopped, and said, "Christ! who is he? Is he that foolish, mad fellow, of whom I have heard, who was executed upon Calvary for sedition?" The meek reply is, "It is he who died, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." "What?" says the Roman soldier, "and do you live for a man who died a slave's death? What glory will you get by fighting his battles?" What profit is there in your preaching, chimes in the trader. Ah! and even the merchant's clerk thought Paul mad; for he said, "How can he feed his family? how will he supply his wants if all he liveth for is to honor Christ?" Ay, but Paul knew what he was at. He was the wiser man of them all. He knew which way was right for heaven, and which would end the best. But, right or wrong, his soul was wholly possessed with the idea—"For me to live is Christ."

     Brethren and sisters, can you say, as professing Christians, that you live up to the idea of the apostle Paul? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? I will tell you my opinion of many of you. You join our churches you are highly respectable men; you are accepted among us as true and real Christians; but in all honesty and truth I do not believe that for you to live is Christ. I see many of you whose whore thoughts are engrossed with the things of earth; the mere getting of money; the amassing of wealth, seems to be your only object. I do not deny that you are liberal, I will not dare to say that you are not generous, and that your cheque-book does not often bear the mark of some subscription for holy purposes, but I dare to say, after all, that you cannot in honesty say that you live wholly for Christ. You know that when you go to your shop or your warehouse, you do not think, in doing business, that you are doing it for Christ; you dare not be such a hypocrite as to say so. You must say that you do it for self-aggrandisement, and for family advantage. "Well!" says one, "and is that a mean reason?" By no means; not for you, if you are mean enough to ask that question, but for the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; then how IS it he dares to profess to live for his Master, and yet does not do so, but lives for mere worldly gain? Let me speak to many a lady here. You would be shocked if I should deny your Christianity. You move in the highest circles of life, and you would be astonished if I should presume to touch your piety, after your many generous donations to religious objects; but I dare to do so. You—what do you do? You rise late enough in the day: you have your carriage out, and call to see your friends, or leave your card by way of proxy. You go to a party in the evening; you talk nonsense, and come home and go to bed. And that is your life from the beginning of the year to the end. It is just one regular round. There comes the dinner or the ball, and the conclusion of the day; and then Amen, so be it, for ever. Now you don't live for Christ. I know you go to church regularly, or attend at some dissenting chapel; all well and good. I shall not deny your piety, according to the common usage of the term, but I deny that you have got to anything like the place where Paul stood when he said, "For me to live is Christ." I, my brethren, know that with much earnest seeking I have failed to realize the fullness of entire devotion to the Lord Jesus. Every minister must sometimes chasten himself and say, "Am I not sometimes a little warped in my utterances? Did I not in some sermon aim to bring out a grand thought instead of stating a home truth? Have I not kept back some warning that I ought to have uttered, because I feared the face of man?" Have we not all good need to chasten ourselves, because we must say that we have not lived for Christ as we should have done? And yet there are, I trust, a noble few, the elite of God's elect, a few chosen men and women on whose heads there is the crown and diadem of dedication, who can truly say, "I have nothing in this world I cannot give to Christ—I have said it, and mean what I have said—

 

'Take my soul and body's powers,

All my goods and all my hours,

All I have, and all I am.'

 

     Take me, Lord, and take me for ever." These are the men who make our missionaries; these are the women to make our nurses for the sick, these are they that would dare death for Christ; these are they who would give of their substance to his cause; these are they who would spend and be spent, who would bear ignominy, and scorn, and shame if they could but advance their Master's interest. How many of this sort have I here this morning? Might I not count many of these benches before I could find a score? Many there are who do in a measure carry out this principle; but who among us is there (I am sure he standeth not here in this pulpit) that can dare to say he hath lived wholly for Christ, as the apostle did? And yet, till there be more Pauls, and more men dedicated to Christ, we shall never see God's kingdom come, nor shall we hope to see his will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.

     Now, this is the true life of a Christian, its source, its sustenance, its fashion, and its end, all gathered up in one word, Christ Jesus; and, I must add, its happiness, and its glory, is all in Christ. But I must detain you no longer.

     II. I must go to the second point, THE DEATH OF THE CHRISTIAN. Alas, alas, that the good should die; alas, that the righteous should fall! Death, why dost thou not hew the deadly upas? Why dost thou not mow the hemlock? Why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou touch the flower whose perfume hath made glad the earth? Death, why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If thou wouldest use thine axe, use it upon the cumber-grounds, the trees that draw nourishment, but afford no fruit; thou mightest be thanked then. But why wilt thou cut down the cedars, why wilt thou fell the goodly trees of Lebanon? O Death, why dost thou not spare the church? Why must the pulpit be hung in black; why must the missionary station be filled with weeping? Why must the pious family lose its priest, and the house its head? O Death, what art thou at? touch not earth's holy things; thy hands are not fit to pollute the Israel of God. Why dost thou put thine hand upon the hearts of the elect? Oh stay thou, stay thou; spare the righteous, Death, and take the bad! But no, it must not be; death comes and smites the goodliest of us all; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. Weep, weep, weep, O church, for thou hast lost thy martyrs; weep, O church, for thou hast lost thy confessors, thy holy men are fallen. Howl, fir tree, for the cedar hath fallen, the godly fail, and the righteous are cut off. But stay awhile; I hear another voice. Say ye thus unto the daughter of Judah, spare thy weeping. Say ye thus unto the Lord's flock, Cease, cease thy sorrow thy martyrs are dead, but they are glorified; thy ministers are gone, but they have ascended up to thy Father, and to their Father, thy brethren are buried in the grave, but the archangel's trumpet shall awake them, and their spirits are ever now with God.

     Hear ye the words of the text, by way of consolation, "To die is gain." Not such gain as thou wishest for, thou son of the miser, not such gain as thou art hunting for, thou man of covetousness and self-love; a higher and a better gain is that which death brings to a Christian.

     My dear friends, when I discoursed upon the former part of the verse, it was all plain. No proof was needed; ye believed it, for you saw it clearly. "To live is Christ," hath no paradox in it. But "To die is gain," is one of the Gospel riddles which only the Christian can truly understand. To die is not gain if I look upon the merely visible, to die is loss, it is not gain. Hath not the dead man lost his wealth? though he had piles of riches, can he take anything with him? Hath it not been said, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." And which of all thy goods, canst thou take with thee? The man had a fair estate and a goodly mansion; he hath lost that. He can no more tread those painted halls, nor walk those verdant lawns. He had abundance of fame and honor; he hath lost that, so far as his own sense of it is concerned, though still the harp string trembles at his name. He has lost his wealth, and buried though he may be in a costly tomb, yet is he as poor as the beggar who looked upon him in the street in envy. That is not gain, it is loss and he hath lost his friends: he hath left behind him a sorrowing wife and children, fatherless, without his guardian care; he hath lost the friend of his bosom, the companion of his youth. Friends are there to weep over him, but they cannot cross the river with him; they drop a few tears into his tomb, but with him they must not and cannot go. And hath he not lost all his learning, though he hath toiled ever so much to fill his brain with knowledge? What is he now above the servile slave, though he hath acquired all knowledge of earthly things? Is it not said,

 

"Their memory and their love are lost

Alike unknowing and unknown?"

 

     Surely death is loss. Hath he not lost the songs of the sanctuary and the prayers of the righteous? Hath he not lost the solemn assembly, and the great gathering of the people? No more shall the promise enchant his ear, no more shall the glad tidings of the gospel wake his soul to melody. He sleeps in the dust, the Sabbath-bell tolls not for him, the sacramental emblems are spread upon the table, but not for him. He hath gone to his grave, he knoweth not that which shall be after him. There is neither work nor device in the grave, whither we all are hastening. Surely death is loss. When I look upon thee, thou clay-cold corpse, and see thee just preparing to be the palace of corruption and the carnival for worms, I cannot think that thou hast gained. When I see that thine eye hath lost light, and thy lip hath lost its speech, and thine ears have lost hearing, and thy feet have lost motion, and thy heart hath lost its joy, and they that look out of the windows are darkened, the grinders have failed, and no sounds of tabret and of harp wake up thy joys, O clay-cold corpse, than hast lost, lost immeasurably. And yet my text tells me it is not so. It says, "To die is gain." It looks as if it could not be thus, and certainly it is not, so far as I can see. But put to your eye the telescope of faith, take that magic glass which pierces through the veil that parts us from the unseen. Anoint your eyes with eyesalve, and make them so bright that they can pierce the ether and see the unknown worlds. Come, bathe yourself in this sea of light, and live in holy revelation and belief, and then look, and oh how changed the scene! Here is the corpse, but there the spirit; here is the clay, but there the soul; here is the carcase, but there the seraph. He is supremely blest; his death is gain. Come now, what did he lose? I will show that in everything he lost, he gained far more. He lost his friends, did he? His wife, and his children, his brethren in church fellowship, are all lea to weep his loss. Yes, he lost them, but, my brethren what did he gain? He gained more friends than e'er he lost. He had lost many in his lifetime, but he meets them all again. Parents, brethren and sisters who had died in youth or age, and passed the stream before him, all salute him on the further brink. There the mother meets her infant, there the father meets his children, there the venerable patriarch greets his family to the third and fourth generation, there brother clasps brother to his arms, and husband meets with wife, no more to be married or given in marriage, but to live together, like the angels of God. Some of us have more friends in heaven than in earth. We have more dear relations in glory, than we have here. It is not so with all of us, but with some it is so; more have crossed the stream than are left behind. But if it be not so, yet what friends we have to meet us there! Oh, I reckon on the day of death if it were for the mere hope of seeing the bright spirits that are now before the throne; to clasp the hand of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, to look into the face of Paul the apostle, and grasp the hand of Peter; to sit in flowery fields with Moses and David, to bask in the sunlight of bliss with John and Magdalene. Oh how blest! The company of poor imperfect saints on earth is good; but how much better the society of the redeemed. Death is no loss to us by way of friends. We leave a few, a little band below, and say to them, "Fear not little flock," and we ascend and meet the armies of the living God, the hosts of his redeemed. "To die is gain." Poor corpse! thou hast lost thy friends on earth; nay, bright spirit, thou hast received a hundred fold in heaven.

     What else did we say he lost? We said he lost all his estate, all his substance and his wealth. Ay, but he has gained infinitely more. Though he were rich as Croesus, yet he might well give up his wealth for that which he hath attained. Were his fingers bright with pearls, and hath he lost their brilliancy? The pearly gases of heaven glisten brighter far. Had he gold in his storehouse? Mark ye, the streets of heaven are paved with gold, and he is richer far. The mansions of the redeemed are far brighter dwelling places than the mansions of the richest here below. But it is not so with many of you. You are not rich, you are poor. What can you lose by death? You are poor here, you shall be rich there. Here you suffer toil, there you shall rest for ever. Here you earn your bread by the sweat of your brow but there, no toil Here wearily you cast yourself upon your bed at the week's end, and sigh for the Sabbath, but there Sabbaths have no end. Here you go to the house of God, but you are distracted with worldly cares and thoughts of suffering; but there, there are no groans to mingle with the songs that warble from immortal tongues, Death will be gain to you in point of riches and substance.

     And as for the means of grace which we leave behind, what are they when compared with what we shall have hereafter? Oh, might I die at this hour, I think I would say something like this, "Farewell Sabbaths,—I am going to the eternal Sabbath of the redeemed. Farewell minister; I shall need no candle, neither light of the sun, when the Lord God shall give me light, and be my life for ever and ever. Farewell ye songs and sonnets of the blessed; farewell, I shall not need your melodious burst; I shall hear the eternal and unceasing hallelujahs of the beatified. Farewell, ye prayers of God's people; my spirit shall hear for ever the intercessions of my Lord, and join with the noble army of martyrs in crying, 'O Lord, how long?' Farewell, O Zion! Farewell, house of my love, home of my life! Farewell, ye temples where God's people sing and pray; farewell, ye tents of Jacob, where they daily burn their offering! I am going to a better Zion than you, to a brighter Jerusalem, to a temple that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God!" O my dear friends, in the thought of these things, do we not, some of us, feel as if we could die!

 

"E'en now by faith we join our hands

With those that went before,

And greet the blood-besprinkled bands

Upon th' eternal shore.

One army of the living God,

At his command we bow,

Part of the host have crossed the flood,

And part are crossing now."

 

     We have not come to the margin yet, but we shall be there soon: we soon expect to die.

     And again, one more thought. We said that when men died they lost their knowledge, we correct ourselves. Oh, no, when the righteous die they know infinitely more than they could have known on earth.

 

"There shall I see and hear and know

All I desired or wished below;

And every power find sweet employ,

In that eternal world of joy."

 

     "Here we see through a glass darkly, but there face to face." There, what "eye hath not seen nor ear heard" shall be fully manifest to us. There, riddles shall be unravelled, mysteries made plain, dark texts enlightened, hard providences made to appear wise. The meanest soul in heaven knows more of God than the greatest saint on earth. The greatest saint on earth may have it said of him, "Nevertheless he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Not our mightiest divines understand so much of theology as the lambs of the flock of glory. Not the greatest master-minds of earth understand the millionth part of the mighty meanings which have been discovered by souls emancipated from clay. Yes, brethren, "To die is gain." Take away, take away that hearse, remove that shroud; come, put white plumes upon the horse's heads and let gilded trappings hang around them. There, take away that fife, that shrill sounding music of the death march. Lend me the trumpet and the drum. O hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah; why weep we the saints to heaven; why need we lament? They are not dead, they are gone before. Stop, stop that mourning, refrain thy tears, clap your hands, clap your hands.

 

"They are supremely blest,

Have done with care and sin and woe.

And with their Saviour rest."

 

     What! weep! weep! for heads that are crowned with coronals of heaven? Weep, weep for hands that grasp the harps of gold? What, weep for eyes that see the Redeemer? What, weep for hearts that are washed from sin, and are throbbing with eternal bliss! What, weep for men that are in the Saviour's bosom? No; weep for yourselves, that you are here. Weep that the mandate has not come which bids you to die. Weep that you must tarry. But weep not for them. I see them turning back on you with loving wonder, and they exclaim, "Why weepest thou?" What, weep for poverty that it is clothed in riches? What, weep for sickness, that it hath inherited eternal health? What, weep for shame, that it is glorified; and weep for sinful mortality, that it hath become immaculate? Oh, weep not, but rejoice. "If ye knew what it was that I have said unto you, and whither I have gone, ye would rejoice with a joy that no man should take from you." "To die is gain." Ah, this makes the Christian long to die—makes him say,

 

"Oh, that the word were given!

O Lord of Hosts, the wave divide,

And land us all in heaven!"

 

     And now, friends, does this belong to you all? Can you claim an interest in it? Are you living to Christ? Does Christ live in you? For if not, your death will not be gain. Are you a believer in the Saviour? Has your heart been renewed, and your conscience washed in the blood of Jesus? If not, my bearer, I weep for thee. I will save my tears for lost friends; there, with this handkerchief I'd staunch mine eyes for ever for my best beloved that shall die, if those tears could save you. O, when you die, what a day! If the world were hung in sackcloth, it could not express the grief that you would feel. You die. O death! O death! how hideous art thou to men that are not in Christ! And yet, my hearer, thou shalt soon die. Save me thy bed of shrieks, thy look of gall, thy words of bitterness! Oh that thou couldst be saved the dread hereafter! Oh! the wrath to come! the wrath to come! the wrath to come! who is he that can preach of it? Horrors strike the guilty soul! It quivereth upon the verge of death; no, on the verge of hell. It looketh over, clutching hard to life, and it heareth there the sullen groans, the hollow moans, and shrieks of tortured ghosts, which come up from the pit that is bottomless, and it clutcheth firmly to life, clasps the physician, and bids him hold, lest he should fall into the pit that burneth. And the spirit looketh down and seeth all the fiends of everlasting punishments, and back it recoileth. But die it must. It would barter all it hath to coin an hour; but no, the fiend hath got its grip, and down it must plunge. And who can tell the hideous shriek of a lost soul? It cannot reach heaven; but if it could, it might well be dreamed that it would suspend the melodies of angels, might make even God's redeemed weep, if they could hear the wailings of a damned soul. Ah! you men and women, ye have wept; but if you die unregenerate, there will be no weeping like that, there will be no shriek like that, no wail like that. May God spare us from ever hearing it or uttering it ourselves! Oh, how the grim caverns of Hades startle, and how the darkness of night is frighted, when the wail of a lost soul comes up from the ascending flames, whilst it is descending in the pit. "Turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Christ is preached to you. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Believe on him and live, ye guilty, vile, perishing; believe and live. But this know—if ye reject my message, and despise my Master, in that day when he shall judge the world in righteousness by that man, Jesus Christ, I must be a swift witness against you. I have told you—tat your soul's peril reject it. Receive my message, and you are saved; reject it—take the responsibility on your own head. Behold, my skirts are clear of your blood. If ye be damned, it is not for want of warning. Oh God grant, ye may not perish.



Love Thy Neighbour

By / Aug 9

Love Thy Neighbour

 

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."—Matthew 19:19

 

     Our Saviour very often preached upon the moral precepts of the law. Many of the sermons of Christ—and what sermons shall compare with them—have not what is now currently called "the gospel" in them at all. Our Saviour did not every time he stood up to preach, declare the doctrine of election, or of atonement, or of effectual calling, or of final perseverance. No, he just as frequently spoke upon the duties of human life, and upon those precious fruits of the Spirit, which are begotten in us by the grace of God. Mark this word that I have just uttered. You may have started at it at first, but upon diligent reading of the four evangelists, you will find I am correct in stating that very much of our Saviour's time was occupied in telling the people what they ought to do towards one another; and many of his sermons are not what our precise critics would in these times call sermons full of unction and savor; for certainly they would be far from savory to the sickly sentimental Christians who do not care about the practical part of religion. Beloved, it is as much the business of God's minister to preach man's duty, as it is to preach Christ's atonement; and unless he doth preach man's duty, he will never be blessed of God to bring man into the proper state to see the beauty of the atonement. Unless he sometimes thunders out the law, and claims for his Master the right of obedience to it, he will never be very likely to produce conviction—certainly, not that conviction which afterwards leads to conversion. This morning, I am aware, my sermon will not be very unctuous and savory to you that are always wanting the same round of doctrines, but of this I have but little care. This rough world sometimes needs to be rebuked, and if we can get at the ears of the people, it is our business to reprove them; and I think if ever there was a time when this text needed to be enlarged upon, it is just now. It is so often forgotten, so seldom remembered, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

     I shall notice, first of all, the command; secondly, I shall try and bring some reasons for your obedience to it; and afterwards, I shall draw some suggestions from the law itself.

     I. First, then, THE COMMAND. It is the second great commandment. The first is, "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God," and there, the proper standard is, thou shalt love thy God more than thyself. The second commandment is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour," and the standard there is a little lower, but still preeminently high, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." There is the command. We can split it into three parts. Whom am I to love? "My neighbour."What am I to do? I am to love him. How am I to do it? I am to love him as myself.

     First, whom am I to love? I am to love my neighbour. By the word neighbour, we are to understand any person who is near us. It comes from two old words, nae or near, (near) and buer, (to dwell) persons residing, or being near us, and if any one in the world is near us, he is our neighbour. The Samaritan, when he saw the wounded man on the road to Jericho, felt that he was in his neighbourhood, and that therefore he was his neighbour, and he was bound to love him. "Love thy neighbour." Perhaps he is in riches, and thou art poor, and thou livest in thy little cot side-by-side with his lordly mansion. Thou seest his estates, thou markest his fine linen, and his sumptuous raiment. God has given him these gifts, and if he has not given them to thee, covet not his wealth, and think no hard thoughts concerning him. There will ever be differences in the circumstances of man, so let it be. Be content with thy own lot, if thou canst not better it, but do not look upon thy neighbour, and wish that he were poor as thyself; and do not aid or abet any who would rid him of his wealth, to make thee hastily rich. Love him, and then thou canst not envy him. Mayhap, on the other hand, thou art rich, and near thee reside the poor. Do not scorn to call them neighbours. Do not scorn to own that thou art bound to love even them. The world calls them thy inferiors. In what are they inferior? They are thine equals really, though not so in station. "God hath made of one blood all people that dwell on the face of the earth." Thou art by no means better than they. They are men, and what art thou more than that? They may be men in rags, but men in rags are men; and if thou be a man arrayed in scarlet, thou art no more than a man. Take heed that thou love thy neighbour, even though he be in rags, and scorn him not, though sunken in the depths of poverty.

     Love thy neighbour, too, albeit that he be of a different religion. Thou thinkest thyself to be of that sect which is the nearest to the truth, and thou hast hope that thou and thy compeers who think so well, shall certainly be saved. Thy neighbour thinketh differently. His religion thou sayest is unsound and untrue; love him, for all that. Let not thy differences separate him from thee. Perhaps he may be right, or he may be wrong; he shall be the rightest in practice who loves the most. Possibly he has no religion at all. He disregards thy God; he breaks the Sabbath; he is confessedly an atheist; love him still. Hard words will not convert him, hard deeds will not make him a Christian. Love him straight on; his sin is not against thee, but against thy God. Thy God takes vengeance for sins committed against himself, and leave thou him in God's hands. But if thou canst do him a kind turn, if thou canst find aught whereby thou canst serve him, do it, be it day or night. And if thou makest any distinction, make it thus: Because thou art not of my religion, I will serve thee the more, that thou mayest be converted to the right; whereas thou art a heretic Samaritan, and I an orthodox Jew, thou art still my neighbour, and I will love thee with the hope that thou mayest give up thy temple in Gerizim, and come to bow in the temple of God in Jerusalem. Love thy neighbour, despite differences in religion.

     Love thy neighbour, although he oppose thee in trade. It will be a motto hard to introduce upon the exchange, or in trade; but, nevertheless, it is one I am bound to preach to you that are merchants and tradesmen. A young man has lately started a shop which you are afraid will damage you. You must not hurt him; you must neither think nor say anything to injure him. Your business is to love him, for though he oppose you in your business, he is your neighbour still. There is another one residing near you, who is indebted to you, and if you should take from him all that he owes you, you will ruin him; but if you let him keep your money for a little, he may weather the storm, and succeed in his endeavors. It is your business to love him as yourself. Let him have your money, let him try again, and perhaps you shall have your own, and he shall be helped too. With whomsoever thou hast dealings in thy business, he is thy neighbour. With whomsoever thou tradest, be he greater or less than thou, he is thy neighbour, and the Christian law commands that thou shalt love thy neighbour. It doth not merely say that thou art not to hate him, but it tells thee to love him; and though he should thwart thy projects, though he should prevent thy obtaining wealth, though he should rob thee of thy custom—ay, though he should obscure thy fame, yet thou art bound to love him as thyself. This law makes no exception. Is he near thee, and hast thou any dealings with him? Thus says the law, "Thou shalt love him."

     Again, thou art bound to love thy neighbour, though he offend thee with him sin. Sometimes our spirits are overwhelmed, and our hearts are grieved, when we see the wickedness of our streets. The common habit with the harlot or the profligate, is to drive them out of society as a curse. It is not right, it is not Christian-like. We are bound to love even sinners, and not to drive them from the land of hope, but seek to reclaim even these. Is a man a rogue, a thief, or a liar? I cannot love his roguery, or I should be a rogue myself. I cannot love his lying, or I should be untrue; but I am bound to love him still, and even though I am wronged by him, yet I must not harbor one vindictive feeling, but as I would desire God to forgive me, so I must forgive him. And if he so sins against the law of the land, that he is to be punished (and rightly so,) I am to love him in the punishment; for I am not to condemn him to imprisonment vindictively, but I am to do it for his good, that he may be led to repent through the punishment; I am to give him such a measure of punishment as shall be adequate, not as an atonement for his crime, but to teach him the evil of it, and induce him to forsake it. But let me condemn him with a tear in my eye, because I love him still. And let me, when he is thrust into prison, take care that all his keepers attend to him with kindness, and although there be a necessity for sternness and severity in prison discipline, let it not go too far, lest it merge into cruelty, and become wanton, instead of useful. I am bound to love him, though he be sunken in vice, and degraded. The law knows of no exception. It claims my love for him. I must love him. I am not bound to take him to my house; I am not bound to treat him as one of my family. There may be some acts of kindness which would be imprudent, seeing that by doing them I might ruin others, and reward vice. I am bound to set my face against him, as I am just, but I feel I ought not to set my heart against him, for he is my brother-man, and though the devil has besmeared his face, and spits his venom in his mouth, so that when he speaks he speaks in oaths, and when he walks, his feet are swift to shed blood, yet he is a man, and as a man he is my brother, and as a brother I am bound to love him, and if by stooping I can lift him up to something like moral dignity, I am wrong if I do not do it, for I am bound to love him as I love myself. Oh, I would to God that this great law were fully carried out. Ah, my hearers, you do not love your neighbours, you know you do not. You do not hardly love all the people who go to the same chapel. Certainly, you would not think of loving those who differ from you in opinion—would you? That would be too strange a charity. Why, you hardly love your own brothers and sisters. Some of you to-day are at daggers drawing with them that hung on the same breast. O, how can I expect you to love your enemies if you do not love your friends? Some of you have come here angered at your parents, and here is a brother who is angry with his sister for a word she said before he left home. Oh, if you cannot love your brothers and sisters you are worse than heathen men and publicans. How can I expect you to obey this high and mighty command, "Love your neighbours?" But whether you obey it or not, it is mine to preach it, and not shift it to a gainsaying generation's taste. First, we are bound to love and honor all men, simply because they are men; and we are to love, next, all those who dwell near us, not for their goodness or serviceableness toward us, but simply because the law demands it, and they are our neighbours. "Love thy neighbour as thyself."

     2. But, now, what am I to do to my neighbour? Love him —it is a hard word—love him. "Well I believe," says one, "I never speak an unkind word of any of my neighbours. I do not know that I ever hurt a person's reputation in my life. I am very careful to do my neighbour no damage. When I start in business I do not let my spirit of competition over throw my spirit of charity. I try not to hurt anybody." My dear friend, that is right as far as it goes, but it does not go the whole way. It is not enough for you to say, you do not hate your neighbour, you are to love him. When you see him in the street it is not sufficient that you keep out of his way, and do not knock him down. It is not sufficient that you do not molest him by night, nor disturb his quiet. It is not a negative, it is a positive command. It is not the not doing, it is the doing. Thou must not injure him it is true, but thou hast not done all when thou hast not done that. Thou oughtest to love him. "Well," says one, "when my neighbours are sick round about; if they be poor, I take a piece from the joint for dinner, and send it to them, that they may have a little food and be refreshed, and if they be exceedingly poor, I lay out my money, and see that they are taken care of." Yes, but thou mayest do this, and not love them. I have seen charity thrown to a poor man as a bone is thrown to a dog, and there was no love in it. I have seen money given to those who needed it with not one half the politeness with which hay is given to a horse. "There it is, you want it. I suppose I must give it to you, or people will not think me liberal. Take it, I am sorry you came here. Why don't you go to somebody else's house? I am always having paupers hanging on me." Oh, this is not loving our neighbour, and this is not making him love us. If we had spoken a kind word to him, and refused him, he would have loved us better than when we gave to him in an unkind manner. No, though thou feedest the poor, and visitest the sick, thou hast not obeyed the command, unless thy heart goes with thy hand, and the kindness of thy life bespeaks the kindness of thy soul. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour."

     And now some one here may say, "Sir, I cannot love my neighbour, you may love yours perhaps, because they may be better than mine, but mine are such an odd set of neighbours, and I try to love them, and for all I do they do but return insult." So much the more room for heroism. Wouldst thou be some feather-bed warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love? Sir, he who dares the most—shall win the most; and if rough be thy path of love, tread it boldly, and still on, loving thy neighbours through thick and thin. Heap coals of fire on their heads, and if they be hard to please, seek not to please them, but to please thy Master, and remember if they spurn thy love, thy Master hath not spurned it, and thy deed is as acceptable to him as if it had been acceptable to them. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour."

     Now, if this love for our neighbour were carried out—love, real love—it would prohibit all rash anger. Who is ever angry with himself? I suppose all wise men are now and then, and I suspect we should not be righteous if we were not sometimes angry. A man who is never angry is not worth a button. He cannot be a good man, for he will often see things so bad that he must be angry at them. But, remember, thou hast no right to be more angry with thy neighbour than thou art with thyself. Thou art sometimes vexed with thyself, and thou mayest sometimes be vexed with him if he has done wrong. But thine anger toward thyself is very short lived: thou soon forgivest thine own dear self; well, thou art bound just as soon to forgive him, and though thou speakest a rough word, if it be too rough, withdraw it, and if it be but rough enough, do not add more to it to make it too much so. State the truth if thou art obliged to do it, as kindly as thou canst. Be no more stern than there is need to be. Deal with others as thou wouldst deal with thyself. Above all, harbor no revenge. Never let the sun set on thine anger—it is impossible to love thy neighbour if thou dost that. Revenge renders obedience to this command entirely out of the question.

     Thou art bound to love thy neighbour, then do not neglect him. He may be sick, he may live very near thy house, and he does not send for thee to call on him, for he says, "No, I do not like to trouble him." Remember, it is thy business to find him out. The most worthy of all poverty is that which never asks for pity. See where thy neighbours are in need; do not wait to be told of it, but find it out thyself, and give them some help. Do not neglect them; and when thou goest, go not with the haughty pride which charity often assumes, not as some superior being about to bestow a benefaction, but go to thy brother as if thou were about to pay him a debt which nature makes his due, and sit by his side, and talk to him; and if he be one that hath a high spirit, give him not thy charity as a charity, give it to him in some other way, lest thou break his head with the very box of ointment with which thou hadst intended to have anointed him. Be thou very chary how thou speakest to him: break not his spirit. Leave thy charity behind thee, and he shall forget that, but he shall remember well thy kindness toward him in thy speech.

     Love to our neighbours puts aside every sin that is akin to covetousness, and envy, and it makes us at all times ready to serve them, ready to be their footstool, if so it must be, that we may be so proved to be the children of Christ.

     "Well," says one, "I can not see that I am always to forgive; you know a worm will turn if it is trodden upon." And is a worm to be your exemplar? A worm will turn; but a Christian will not. I think it foul scorn to take a worm for my exemplar, when I have got Christ for my copy. Christ did not turn—when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when they crucified him, and nailed him to the tree, he cried, "Father, forgive them." Let love, unconquerable love, dwell in thy bosom, love which many waters cannot quench, love which the floods cannot drown. Love thy neighbours.

     3. And now we have done with this command, when we have noticed how we are to love our neighbour. It would be a good thing if some ladies loved their neighbours as much as they loved their lap-dogs. It would be a fine thing for many a country squire if he loved his neighbours as much as he loved his pack of hounds. I think it might be a high pitch of virtue, if some of you were to love your neighbours as much as you love some favorite animal in your house. What an inferior grade of virtue, however, that appears to be! And yet it were something far superior to what some of you have attained to. You do not love your neighbour as you love your house, your estate, or your purse. How high then is, "Love thy neighbour as thyself" the gospel standard? How much does a man love himself? None of us too little, some of us too much. Thou mayest love thyself as much as thou pleasest, but take care that thou lovest thy neighbour as much. I am certain thou needest no exhortation to love thyself, thine own case will be seen to, thine own comfort will be a very primary theme of thine anxiety. Thou wilt line thine own nest well with downy feathers, if thou canst. There is no need to exhort thee to love thyself. Thou wilt do that well enough. Well, then, as much as thou lovest thyself love thy neighbour. And mark, by this is meant—thine enemy, the man who opposes thee in trade, and the man of another class. Thou oughtest to love him as thou lovest thyself.

     Oh, it would turn the world upside down indeed, if this were practiced. A fine lever this would be for upsetting many things that have now become the custom of the land. In England we have a caste almost as strong as in Hindostan. My lord will not speak to any one who is a little beneath himself in dignity, and he who hath the next degree of dignity thinks the tradesman infinitely below him, and he who is a tradesman thinks a mechanic scarcely worth his notice, and mechanics according to their grades have their castes and classes too. Oh, for the day when these shall be broken down, when the impulse of the one blood shall be felt, and when as one family each shall love the other, and feel that one class depends upon the other! It were well if each would strive to help and love the other as he ought. My fine lady, in your silks and satins, you have gone to church many a day and sat side by side with a poor old woman in her red cloak, who is as good a saint as you could be. But do you ever speak to her? Never in your life. You would not speak to her, poor soul, because you happen to be worth more hundreds of pounds a-year than she is shillings. There are you, Sir John, you come to your place, and you expect every one to be eminently respectful to you, as indeed they ought to be, for we are all honorable men, and the same text that says, "Honor the king," says also, "Honor all men." And so we are bound to honor every one of them. But you think that you, above all men, are to be worshipped. You do not condescend to men of mean estate. My dear sir, you would be a greater man by one-half if you were not to appear so great. Oh, I say again, blessed be Christ, blessed be his Father for this commandment, and blessed be the world when the commandment shall be obeyed, and we shall love our neighbours as ourselves!

     II. And now shall I have to give REASONS WHY WE SHOULD OBEY THIS COMMAND.

     The best reason in all the world is that with which we will begin. We are bound to love our neighbours because God commands it. To the Christian there is no argument so potent as God's will. God's will is the believer's law. He doth not ask what shall it profit him, what shall be the good effect of it upon others, but he simply says, doth my Father say it? Oh, Holy Spirit, help me to obey, not because I may see how it shall be always good for me, but simply because thou commandest. It is the Christian's privilege to do God's commandments, "hearkening to the voice of his Word." But some other reasons may prevail more with others of you who are not Christians.

     Let me remark, then, that selfishness itself would bid you love your neighbours. Oh, strange that selfishness should preach a suicidal sermon; but yet if self could speak, it might, if it were wise, deliver an oration like this, "Self, love thy neighbour, for then thy neighbour will love thee. Self, help thy neighbour, for then thy neighbour will help thee. Make to thyself, O self, friends of the mammon of unrighteousness that when thou fairest they may receive thee into abiding habitations. Self, thou wantest ease; make thyself easy by treating everybody well. Self, thou wantest pleasure, thou canst get no pleasure if those around thee hate thee. Make them love thee, dear self, and so shalt thou bless thyself." Ay, even if ye are selfish, I would ye were so pre-eminently selfish, and so wisely selfish that ye would love others to make yourselves happy.

     The short cut to be happy yourself is to try to make others happy. The world is bad enough, but it is not so bad as not to feel the power of kindness. Treat servants well. There are some of them that you can't mend at all, but treat them well, and as a rule they will treat you well. Treat your masters well. Some of them are gruff and bad enough, but as a class they know good servants, and they will treat you well. There, now, if I would wish to be happy, I would not ask to have the wealth of this world, nor the things that men call comforts; the best comforts that I should desire would be loving ones round about me, and a sense that where I went I scattered happiness, and made men glad. That is the way to be happy, and selfishness itself might say, "Love thy neighbour," for in so doing thou dost love thyself; for there is such a connection between him and thee, that in loving him the stream of thy love returns into thine own heart again.

     But I shall not assail you with such a paltry motive as that; it is too poor for a Christian; it should be too base even for a man. Love your neighbour, in the next place, because that will be the way to do good in the world. You are philanthropists, some of you subscribe to missionary societies, you subscribe to the society for orphans, and other charitable objects. I am persuaded that these institutions, though they be excellent and good things, are in some respects a loss, for now a man gives to a society one-tenth of what he would have given himself; and where an orphan would have been kept by a single family, ten families join together to keep that orphan, and so there is about one-tenth of the charity. I think the man who has the time is bound to give nothing at all to societies, but to give all away himself. Be your own society. If there be a society for the sick, then if you have enough money, be your own sick society. If you have the time go and visit the sick yourself, you will know money is well spent then, and you will spare the expense of a secretary. There is a society for finding soup for the poor. Make your own soup. Give it yourself; and if every one who gives his half-a-crown to the society would just spend half-a-sovereign to give the soup away himself, there would be more done. Societies are good; God forbid that I should speak against them; do all you can for them: but still I am afraid that they sometimes thwart individual effort, and I know they rob us of a part of the pleasure which we should have in our own benefactions—the pleasure of seeing the gleaming eye, and of hearing the grateful word when we have been our own almoners.

     Dear friends, remember that man's good requires that you should be kind to your fellow creatures. The best way for you to make the world better is to be kind yourself. Are you a preacher? Preach in a surly way and in a surly tone to your church; a pretty church you will make of it before long! Are you a Sunday-school teacher? Teach your children with a frown on your face; a fine lot they will learn! Are you a master? Do you hold family prayer? Get in a passion with your servants, and say, "Let us pray." A vast amount of devotion you will develop in such a manner as that. Are you a warder of a jail, and have prisoners under you? Abuse them and ill-treat them, and then send the chaplain to them. A fine preparation for the reception of the Word of God! You have poor around you; you wish to see them elevated, you say. You are always grumbling about the poverty of their dwellings, and the meanness of their tastes. Go and make a great row at them all—a fine way that would be to improve them! Now, just wash your face of that black frown, and buy a little essence of summer somewhere, and put it on your face, and have a smile on your lip, and say, "I love you. I am no cant, but I love you, and as far as I can I will prove my love to you. What can I do for you? Can I help you over a stile? Can I give you any assistance, or speak a kind word to you? Methinks I could see after your little daughter. Can I fetch the doctor to your wife now she is ill?" All these kind things would be making the world a little better. Your jails and gibbets, and all that, never made the world better yet. You may hang men as long as you like; you will never stop murder. Hang us all, we should not be much the better for it. There is no necessity for hanging any; it will never improve the world. Deal gently, deal kindly, deal lovingly, and there is not a wolf in human shape but will be melted by kindness; and there is not a tiger in woman form but will break down and sue for pardon, if God should bless the love that is brought to bear upon her by her friend. I say again, for the world's good, love your neighbours.

     And now, once more, love your neighbour, for there is a deal of misery in the world that you do not know of. We have often spoken hard words to poor miserable souls; we did not know their misery, but we should have known it, we should have found it out. Shall I tell you, my friend landlord, you went yesterday to get a warrant against a poor woman that has got three children. Her husband died a long while ago. She was three weeks back in her rent; the last time, to pay you, she sold off her late husband's watch and her own wedding ring; it was all that she had that was dear to her, and she paid you; and you went to her the next week, and she begged a little patience, and you think yourself highly exemplary because you had that little patience. "The woman," you have said, "I dare say is good for nothing, and if not, it is no particular business of mine whether she has got three children, or none; rent is rent, and business is business." Out she goes directly. Oh, if you could have seen that woman's heart when she stood penniless and homeless, and knew not where to send the children for the night, you would have said, "Never mind, my good woman, stop there; I can not turn a widow out of house and home." You did not do it yourself, did you? No, but you sent your agent to do it and the sin lay on you just as much for all that. You had no right to do it; you had a right in the eye of man's law but God's law says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self." A young man called upon you a little time ago. He said, "Sir, you know my little business. I have been struggling very hard, and you have kindly let me have some things on credit. But through the pressure of the times, I don't know how it is, I seem to get very hard up. I think, sir, if I could weather the next month, I might be able to get on well. I have every prospect of having a trade yet, if I could but have a little more credit, if you could possibly allow it." "Young man," you have said, "I have had a great many bad debts lately. Besides you do not bring me any good security; I can not trust you." The young man bowed, and left you. You did not know how he bowed in spirit as well as in body. That young man had a poor old mother and two sisters in the house, and he had tried to establish a little business that he might earn bread and cheese for them as well as for himself. For the last month they have eaten scarcely anything but bread and butter, and the weakest tea has been their drink, and he has been striving hard; but some one, poorer than he seemed to be, did not pay him the little debt that was due to him, and he could not pay you. And if you had helped him, it might have been all well with him; and now what to do he cannot tell. His heart is broken, his soul is swollen within him. That aged mother of his, and those girls, what shall become of them? You did not know his agony, or else you would have helped him. But you ought to have known. You never should have dismissed his case until you had known a little more about him. It would not be business-like, would it? No, sir, to be business-like is sometimes to be devil-like. But I would not have you business-like when it is so. Out on your business; be Christian-like. If you be professors, seek to serve God in obeying his commands—"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

     "Nay," says another, "but I am always very kind to the poor." There is a lady here who has got a tolerable share of money to spare, and to her, money is about as common as pins. And she goes to see the poor; and when she gets in, they set her a chair, and she sits down, and begins to talk to them about economy, and gives them a tolerably good lecture on that. The poor souls wonder how they are to economise any more than they do; for they eat nothing but bread, and they cannot see that they can get anything much cheaper. Then she begins to exhort them about cleanliness, and makes about fifty impertinent remarks about the children's clothes. "Now," says she, "my good woman, before I leave you I will give you this tract, it is about drunkenness: perhaps you will give it to your husband." If she does he will beat her, you may depend upon it. "Come now," she says, "there is a shilling for you." And now, my lady thinks, "I love my neighbour." Did you shake hands with her? "No, sir." Did you speak lovingly to her? "Of course not. She is an inferior." Then you did not obey this command, "Love thy neighbour as thyself." Shall I tell you what happened after you left? That woman as soon as ever you were gone, began to cry. She started off to the minister for consolation. She said to him, "Do you know, sir, I am very thankful to God that I have had a little relief given me this morning, but my spirit was almost broken. Do you know, sir, we used to be in better circumstances. This morning Mrs. So-and-so came and talked to me in such a way, as if I had been a dog, or as if I had been a child, and though she gave me a shilling I did not know what to do. I wanted the shilling bad enough, or else I really think I should have thrown it after her. She did talk in such a way, I could not bear it. Now, if you come to see me, sir, I know you will speak kindly to me, and if you give me nothing you will not abuse me and find fault with me." "Oh," she said, "my heart is broken within me. I can not bear this, for we have seen better days, and we have been used to different treatment to this." Now, you did not love her. Your shilling, what was the good of that, if you did not put a little love on it. You might have made it as good as a golden sovereign if you had spread a little love upon it. She would have thought far more of it. "Love thy neighbours." Oh! would to God that I could always practice it myself, and would that I could impress it into every one of your hearts. Love thy neighbour as thou lovest thyself.

     And now the last argument I shall use is one especially appropriate to the Christian. Christian, your religion claims your love—Christ loved you before you loved him. He loved you when there was nothing good in you. He loved you though you insulted him, though you despised him and rebelled against him. He has loved you right on, and never ceased to love you. He has loved you in your backslidings and loved you out of them. He has loved you in your sins, in your wickedness and folly. His loving heart was still eternally the same, and he shed his heart's blood to prove his love for you. He has given you what you want on earth, and provided for you an habitation in heaven. Now Christian, your religion claims from you, that you should love as your Master loved. How can you imitate him, unless you love too? We will leave to the Mahometans, to the Jew, and to the infidel, coldheartedness and unkindness; 'twere more in keeping with their views, but with you unkindness is a strange anomaly. It is a gross contradiction to the spirit of your religion, and if you love not your neighbour, I see not how you can be a true follower of the Lord Jesus.

     And now I conclude with just a weighty suggestion or two, and I will not weary you. My text suggests first, the guilt of us all. My friends, if this be God's law, who here can plead that he is not guilty? If God's law demands I should love my neighbour, I must stand in my pulpit, and confess my guilt. In thinking of this text yesterday, my eyes ran with tears at the recollection of many a hard thing I had spoken in unwary moments. I thought of many an opportunity of loving my neighbour that I had slighted, and I labored to confess the sin. I am certain there is not one of all this immense audience who would not do the same, if he felt this law applied by the Spirit in power to his soul.

     Oh! are we not guilty? Kindest of spirits, most benevolent of souls, are you not guilty? Will you not confess it? And then that suggests this remark. If no man can be saved by his works, unless he keeps this law perfectly, who can be saved by his works? Have any of you loved your neighbour all your life with all your heart? Then shall you be saved by your own deeds, if you have not broken any other command. But if you have not done it, and cannot do it, then hear the sentence of the law. You have sinned, and you shall perish for your sin. Hope not to be saved by the mandate of the law. And oh! how this endears the gospel to me! If I have broken this law, and I have—and if I can not enter heaven with this law broken, precious is the Saviour who can wash me from all my sins in his blood! Precious is he that can forgive my want of charity, and pardon my want of kindness—can forgive my roughness and my rudeness, can put away all my harsh speaking, my bigotry and unkindness, and can through his all-atoning sacrifice give me a seat in heaven, notwithstanding all my sins. You are sinners this morning—you must feel it: my sermon, if blessed of God, must convince you all of guilt. Well, then, as sinners, let me preach to you the gospel. "Whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus shall he saved." Though he hath hitherto broken this law God shall forgive him, and put a new heart and a right spirit into his bosom, whereby he shall be enabled to keep the law in future, at least to an eminent degree, and shall, by-and-by, attain to a crown of life in glory everlasting.

     Now, I do not know whether I have been personal to anybody this morning. I sincerely hope I have. I meant to be. I know there are a great many characters in the world that must have a cap made exactly to fit them, or else they will never wear it, and I have tried as near as I could to do it. If you would not say, "How well that applied to my neighbour," but just for once say, "How well it applied to me," I shall hope that there will be some good follow from this exhortation; and though the Antinomian may turn away, and say, "Ah! it was only a legal sermon," my love to that precious Antinomian. I do not care about his opinion. My Saviour preached like that, and I shall do the same. I believe it is right that Christians should be told what they should do, and that worldlings should know what Christianity will lead us to do; that the highest standard of love, of kindness, and of law, should be uplifted in the world, and kept constantly before the people's eyes.

     May God bless you, and be with you, for Jesus' sake!



Waiting Only Upon God

By / Aug 2

"My Waiting Only Upon God

 

"My soul, wait thou only upon God."—Psalm 62:5

 

     Calvin translates this verse, "My soul, be thou silent before God." Rest calm and undisturbed. Thine enemies are round about thee, and have sore beset thee thy troubles do surround thee like strong bulls of Bashan; but rest, my soul, in God. Thine enemies are mighty, but HE IS Almighty; thy troubles are grievous, but he is greater than thy troubles, and he shall deliver thee from them. Let not thy soul be agitated. The wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest: be not thou like unto them. Be thou calm: let not a wave ruffle thine untroubled spirit. "Cast thy burden on the Lord," and then sleep on his bosom. Commit thy way unto Jehovah, and then rest in sure and certain confidence, for

 

"He everywhere hath sway,

And all things serve his might;

His every act pure blessing is,

His path unsullied light."

 

     Oh! that we had grace to carry out the text in that sense of it! It is a hard matter to be calm in the day of trouble; but it is a high exercise of divine grace when we can stand unmoved in the day of adversity, and feel that

 

"Should the earth's old pillars shake,

And all the wheels of nature break,

Our stedfast souls should hear no more

Than solid rocks when billows roar."

 

     That is to be a Christian indeed. Nothing is so sweet as to

 

"Lie passive in God's hand,

And know no will but his."

 

     I shall, however, this morning stand to the authorised version. "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him." Here is, first, an exhortation, and secondly, an expectation.

     I. We begin with the EXHORTATION. The Psalmist was a preacher, and it was quite right that he should sometimes make himself his congregation. The preacher who neglects to preach to himself has forgotten a very important part of his audience. He who never in his silent privacy speaketh a word to his own soul, doth not know where to begin his preaching. We must first address our own soul. If we can move that by the words we may utter, we may hope to have some power with the souls of others.

     And note where David begins his exhortation: "My soul, wait thou upon God." He addresses the very center of his being. "My soul, I preach to thee; for if thou goest wrong, all is amiss. If thou art amiss, mine eyes follow after vanity, my lips utter leasing, my feet become swift to shed blood, and mine hands meddle with mischief. My soul, I will preach to thee. My face, I will not preach to thee. Some men preach to their faces, and try to put on their countenances emotions which they never feel. No, countenance, I will leave thee alone: thou wilt be right enough if the soul is so. I will preach to thee, O my soul, and address my sermon to thee Thou art mine only auditor: hear what I say." "My soul, wait thou only upon God." Let us, then, explain the exhortation.

     1. First, the Psalmist means by this,—My soul make God thine only object in life. "My soul, wait thou only upon God." Make him the summit of thy desires and the object of thine exertions. Oh! how many men have made a fearful shipwreck of their entire existence, by choosing an object inferior to this high and noble object of existence, the serving of God. I could put my finger upon a thousand biographies of men, who after having lived in this world and done great things, have nevertheless died unhappily, because they did not first seek God and his righteousness. Perhaps there never was a mind more gigantic than the mind of Sir Walter Scott: a man whose soul was as fertile as the newly broken soil of the land of gold. That man was a good man I believe, a Christian; but he made a mistake in the object of his life. His object was to be a laird, to found a family, to plant the root of an ancestral tree the fruit of which should be heard of in ages to come; magnificent in his hospitality, generous in his nature, laborious in his continual strife to win the object of his life, yet after all he died a disappointed and unsuccessful man. He reared his palace, he accumulated his wealth and one sad day saw it scattered to the wind, and he had lost that for which he had lived. Had he fixed his eye upon some better object than the pleasing of the public, or the accumulation of wealth, or the founding of a family, he might have got the others, and he would not have lost the first. Oh! had he said "Now I will serve my God; this potent pen of mine, dedicated to the Most High; shall weave into my marvellous stories things that shall enlighten, convince, and lead to Jesus," he might have died penniless, but he would have died having achieved the object of his wishes—not a disappointed man. Oh if we could make God our only object we should rest quite secure, and whatever happened it never could be said of us, "He died without having had what he wished for." How many of you that are here to day are making the same mistake on a smaller scale? You are living for business. You will be disappointed, then. You are living for fame. As certain as you are alive you will die disappointed, grieved and sad at heart. You are living to maintain respectability; perhaps that is the utmost of your desire. Poor aim that! You shall be disappointed; or even if you gain it, it shall be a bubble not worth the chase. Make God your one object in life, and all these things shall be added to you, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." There is no loss in being a Christian, and making God the first object; but make anything else your goal, and with all your running, should you run ever so well, you shall fall short of the mark; or if you gain it, you shall fall uncrowned, unhonored to the earth. "My soul, wait thou only upon God." Say, "I love to serve him; I love to spread his kingdom, to advance his interests, to tell the story of his gospel, to increase the number of his converted ones that shall be my only object; and when that is sufficiently attained, 'Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'"

     2. But the Psalmist meant other things beside this, when he said, "My soul wait thou only upon God." He meant, My soul, have no care but to please God. Perhaps the most miserable people in the world are the very careful ones. You that are so anxious about what shall happen on the morrow that you cannot enjoy the pleasures of to-day, you who have such a peculiar cast of mind that you suspect every star to be a comet, and imagine that there must be a volcano in every grassy mead, you that are more attracted by the spots in the sun than by the sun himself, and more amazed by one sear leaf upon the tree than by all the verdure of the woods—you that make more of your troubles than you could do of your joys,—I say, I think you belong to the most miserable of men. David says to his soul, "My soul, be thou careful for nothing except God; cast all thy care on him; he careth for thee, and make this thy great concern, to love and serve him; and then thou needest care for nothing else at all." Oh! there are many of you people that go picking your way all through this world you are afraid to put one foot down before another, because you fear you will be in danger. If you had grace just to turn your eye to God, you might walk straight on in confidence, and say, "Though I should tread on hell itself at the next step, yet if God bade me tread there it would be heaven to me." There is nothing like the faith that can leave care with God and have no thought but how to please him. "Behold the fowls of the air, they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them." "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Say not, "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Oh, happy is the man who says, "I am a gentleman commoner upon the bounties of providence. Let God send me little, it will be enough; let him send me much, it will not be too much, for I will divide my wealth with those who have less. I will trust to him. He has said, 'Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure.' Then let famine come, I shall not starve; let the brook dry up, he will open the bottles of heaven and give me drink. Whatever shall happen to this world, yet shall I be secure against all ills." Some people talk about being independent gentlemen. I know an independent gentleman that lives on three shillings and sixpence a week. He has nothing but parish allowance and the charity of friends; but he says in sickness and in weariness, Jehovah will provide; if my Father knows I want more he will send me more. And if you hint to him that his parish allowance will be taken away, he will just smile, and say, "If it does not come one way it will come another; for God is the chancellor of my exchequer and he will never let my funds run too low. I shall have it for God has said it. 'They that wait on the Lord shall not want any good thing.'" That is the right kind of independency—the independency of the man who knows no dependence except upon God. My soul, let this be thy care, to serve God, and wait only upon Him.

     3. Again, David meant this,—My soul, make God thine only dependence, and never trust in anything else. It is marvellous how God's creation illustrates my text,—David bids his soul take God for its only pillar. Have you never noticed how the world displays the power of God, in its want of any apparent support? Behold the unpillared arch of heaven; see how it stretches its gigantic span; and yet it falleth not, though it is unpropped and unbuttressed. "He hangeth the world upon nothing." What chain is it that bindeth up the stars, and keepeth them from falling? Lo, they float in ether, upheld by his omnipotent arm, who hath laid the foundations of the universe. A Christian should be a second exhibition of God's universe; his faith should be an unpillared confidence, resting on the past, and on the eternity to come, as the sure groundwork of its arch. His faith should be like the world; it should hang on nothing but the promise of God, and have no other support but that; and he himself, like the stars, should float in the ether of confidence, needing nothing to uphold him but the right hand of the Majesty on high. But, fools that we are, we will be always getting other confidences. The merchant has a man who so understands his business, that he thinks the whole establishment depends upon that one man, and if he should die or give up his situation, what would become of the business? Ah! merchant, if thou art a godly man, thou hast forgotten where thy confidence ought to be, not in thy man, but in thy God. The wife often saith, "I love the Lord, but if my husband died, where would be my dependence?" What! hast thou buttressed the almighty even with a husband's love? Trust thou in him, and make him thine only consolation. He will supply thy needs out of the riches of his fullness. Oh we should not have half the trouble we have, if we learned to live wholly upon God. But we are so dependent upon creatures; we get leaning one on another; and our dear friend, into whose ear we have told our tale of misery, seems to be quite necessary to our existence. Take heed, then; take heed! ye are trying to prop that which requires no prop, when you lean upon your friend; you are just dishonoring Christ, when you make him your joy and confidence; and when in some grievous day, your friend shall be smitten from the earth, then you will begin to feel it would have been better for you if you had leaned upon your heavenly Friend, and made no one your strength and your support but God.

     This would be a good lesson for some who occupy the pulpit. There is so much time-serving everywhere. The Dissenting minister must make his prop out of his deacons and the clergyman will too much make his prop out of some high officials in church or state, who are likely to promote him. We shall never get an outspoken gospel until we get a set of men, who say "I don't care for the whole earth; if there is no one else right, and I conceive myself to be so, I will battle the whole earth; and I ask no man's wish, or will, or assent. 'Let God be true, and every man a liar.'" Oh, we want a few of those gigantic spirits who need no approvers—who can of themselves sweep their acre of men and slay them with their strong broad sword of confidence; and when we get these care-for-nothings, who care only for God, then shall the earth shake again beneath the tramp of angels, and God shall visit our land, even as he did of old.

     4. Again, beloved, "My soul wait thou only upon God," that is to say, make God thine only guide and confidence. When we get into trouble the first thing we do is to knock at our neighbour's door. "Have you heard about my trouble? Come and give me your advice." If your neighbor were prudent he would say, "My brother, have you gone to God first? I will give you no advice till God has given you his counsel?" It is laughed at as an enthusiastic idea that men should ever take counsel of God. "Oh," say some, "it is superstitious to imagine that God will ever give to his people guidance in their temporal affairs." It would be superstitious to you perhaps; but it is not to a David, and it is not to any other child of God. He saith, "My soul wait thou only upon God." Christian, if thou wouldest know the path of duty take God for thy compass; if thou wouldest know the way to steer thy ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let God take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to his sovereign will to choose and to command. The old puritans said, "As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself he'll cut his own fingers;" and that is a great truth. Said another old divine, "He that goes before the cloud of God's providence goes on a fool's errand;" and so he does. We must mark God's providence leading us; and then let us go. But he that goes before providence will be very glad to run back again. Take your trouble, whatever it is, to the throne of the Most High and on your knees put up the prayer, "Lord, direct me." You will not go wrong. But do not do as some do. Many a person comes to me and says, "I want your advice, sir; as my minister, perhaps you could tell me what I ought to do." Sometimes it is about their getting married. Why, they have made up their minds before they ask me, they know that; and then they come to ask my advice. "Do you think that such and such a thing would be prudent, sir? Do you think I should change my position in life?" and so on. Now, first of all, I like to know, "Have you made your mind up?" In most cases they have—and I fear you serve God the same. We make up our mind what we are going to do, and often we go down on our knees, and say, "Lord, show me what I ought to do," and then we follow out our intention and say, "I asked God's direction." My dear friend, you did ask it, but you did not follow it, you followed your own. You like God's direction so long as it points you the way you wish to go, but if God's direction lead the contrary to what you considered your own interest, it might have been a very long while before you had carried it out. But if we in truth and verity do confide in God to guide us, we shall not go far wrong, I know.

     5. Once again: My soul, wait thou only upon God, for protection in times of danger. A naval Officer tells the following singular story concerning the siege of Copenhagen, under Lord Nelson. An officer in the fleet says, "I was particularly impressed with an object which I saw three or four days after the terrific bombardment of that place. For several nights before the surrender, the darkness was ushered in with a tremendous roar of guns and mortars, accompanied by the whizzing of those destructive and burning engines of warfare, Congreve's rockets. The dreadful effects were soon visible in the brilliant lights through the city. The blazing houses of the rich, and the burning cottages of the poor, illuminated the heavens; and the wide-spreading flames, reflecting on the water, showed a forest of ships assembled round the city for its destruction. This work of conflagration went on for several nights but the Danes at length surrendered; and on walking some days after among the ruins, consisting of the cottages of the poor, houses of the rich, manufactories, lofty steeples, and humble meeting-houses, I descried, amid this barren field of desolation, a solitary house, unharmed; all around it a burnt mass, this alone untouched by the fire, a monument of mercy. 'Whose house is that?' I asked. 'That,' said the interpreter, 'belongs to a Quaker. He would neither fight nor leave his house, but remained in prayer with his family during the whole bombardment.' Surely, thought I, it is well with the righteous, God has been a shield to thee in battle, a wall of fire round about thee, a very present help in time of need." It might seem to be an invention of mine, only that it happens to be as authentic a piece of history as any that can be found. There is another story told, somewhat similar of that Danish war. "Soon after the surrender of Copenhagen to the English, in the year 1807, detachments of soldiers were, for a time, stationed in the surrounding villages. It happened one day that three soldiers, belonging to a Highland regiment, were set to forage among the neighboring farm-houses. They went to several but found them stripped and deserted. At length they came to a large garden, or orchard, full of apple trees, bending under the weight of fruit. They entered by a gate, and followed a path which brought them to a neat farm-house. Everything without bespoke quietness and security; but as they entered by the front door, the mistress of the house and her children ran screaming out by the back. The interior of the house presented an appearance of order and comfort superior to what might be expected from people in that station, and from the habits of the country. A watch hung by the side of the fireplace, and a neat book-ease, well filled, attracted the attention of the elder soldier. He took down a book: it was written in a language unknown to him, but the name of Jesus Christ was legible on every page. At this moment, the master of the house entered by the door through which his wife and children had just fled. One of the soldiers, by threatening signs demanded provisions the man stood firm, and undaunted, but shook his head. The soldier who held the book approached him, and pointing to the name of Jesus Christ, laid his hand upon his heart, and looked up to heaven. Instantly the farmer grasped his hand, shook it vehemently, and then ran out of the room. He soon returned with his wife and children laden with milk, eggs, bacon, etc., which were freely tendered; and when money was offered in return, it was at first refused, but as two of the soldiers were pious men, they, much to the chagrin of their companion, insisted upon paying for all they received. When taking leave, the pious soldiers intimated to the farmer that it would be well for him to secrete his watch; by the most significant signs, he gave them to understand that he feared no evil, for his trust was in God; and that though his neighbors, on the right hand and on the left, had fled from their habitations, and by foraging parties had lost what they could not remove, nor a hair of his head had been injured, nor had he even lost an apple from his trees." The man knew that. "He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword;" so he just tried the non-resistant principle; and God, in whom he put implicit confidence, would not let him be injured. It was a remarkable thing that in the massacre of the Protestants in Ireland, a long time ago, there were thousands of quakers in the country, and only two of them were killed; and those two had not faith in their own principles; one of them ran away and hid himself in a fastness, and the other kept arms in his house; but the others, unarmed, walked amidst infuriated soldiers, both Roman Catholics and Protestants' and were never touched, because they were strong in the strength of Israel's God, and put up their sword into its scabbard, knowing that to war against another cannot be right, since Christ has said, "Resist not evil; if any man smite thee on one cheek, turn to him the other also." "Be kind, not only to the thankful, but to the unthankful and to the evil;" "forgive your enemies;" "bless them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you." But we are ashamed to do that; we do not like it; we are afraid to trust God; and until we do it we shall not know the majesty of faith, nor prove the power of God for our protection. "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him."

     And now, my dear brethren and sisters, I cannot single out all your cases, but doubtless I have many cases here to which the text will apply. There is a poor Christian there; he does not know much more than where his next meal will come from. My brother, he that feeds the ravens will not let you starve. Instead of looking to find friends to console you, tell your story into the ears of God. As sure as the Bible is true he will not leave you. Shall a father leave his children to die? No, the granaries of earth have no key but the Almighty's will, "The cattle on a thousand hills are his." If he were hungry he would not tell us. Shall he not supply your needs out of the riches of his goodness?

 

"All things living he doth feed

His full hand supplies their need."

 

     Shall he forget you, when he clothes the grass of the field, and when he makes the valleys rejoice with food? But is your anxiety about your character? Has some one been slandering you? And are you troubled and grieved, lest you should lose your good name? If a man has called you every name in the world, do not go to law with him. "Wait only upon God." If you have been reviled in every newspaper and falsely charged in every sheet, never answer—leave it alone. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Practise non-resistance in words, as well as in deeds. Just bow yourself, and let the missiles fly over your head. Stand not up to resist. To resist slander is to make it worse. The only way to blunt the edge of calumny is to be silent: it can do no hurt when we are still. Where no wood is the fire goeth out; and if you will not refute nor answer, the fire will die out of itself. Let it alone. "Wait thou only upon God."

     And now, what else is thy danger? What else is thy trouble? Art thou afraid of losing thy dearest child? Is thy husband sick? Doth thy wife lie upon the bed of languishing? These are hard troubles; they cut us to the very quick: to see our dear ones sick, and we incapable of helping them, is a trouble indeed. Then the strong man's eye doth weep, and his heart beats heavily, because those he loves are sick. But "wait thou only upon God." Go to thy chamber; tell the Lord thy dear one is ill; pour out thy heart before him, and say to him, "My Lord, spare me this trouble, if it be thy will; take not my friends away; but this know, O God, though thou slay me yet will I trust in thee. Yea,

 

'Shouldst thou take them all away,

Yet would I not repine;

Before they were possessed by me

They were entirely thine.

There! let it go: one look from thee

Shall more than make amends.'"

 

     Oh! it is a happy way of smoothing sorrow, when we can say, "We will wait only upon God." Oh, ye agitated Christians, do not dishonor your religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon the Lord. I see ye staggering beneath a weight which He would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. See! the Almighty bends his shoulders, and he says, "Here, put thy troubles here. What! wilt thou bear thyself what the everlasting shoulders are ready to carry?" No;

 

"Give to the winds thy fears

Hope, and be undismayed

God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,

He shall lift up thy head."

 

     No finer exhibition of the power of religion than the confidence of a Christian in the time of distress. May God vouchsafe such a carriage and bearing unto us through Jesus Christ!

     II. And now I close with the EXPECTATION; and upon that I shall be very brief. The Psalmist charges his soul to wait only upon God, because he had DO expectation anywhere else but there.

     I know very well what some of you are after; you have got an old grandfather, or an old grandmother, or an old great aunt, and you are most fiercely kind to them, you are most provokingly loving! You almost run to the extreme of teasing them by the frequency of your affectionate embraces. If your aunt does not know what you do it for, if she wants to know, let her write to me, I can tell her. She has a few thousand pounds; I do not say that you have any affection for them, but I should not wonder if you have some expectation of them, and that is just the reason why you are always waiting upon her. You will take care of her, because you well know which way the wind blows; and you trust that one day, if you put your sails in the right position there may be a valuable cargo brought to your haven—of course not at all through your design; you will go into deep mourning, and lament the old lady's decease, but at the same time you will feel it to be a magnificent consolation to you, almost greater than the suffering and affliction incurred, that you have become the possessor of her wealth. Now, worldly-wise people always wait where their expectations are. David says, "My soul, imitate the worldly in this; wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him." That is where I expect to get all I shall have, and therefore I will wait at that door which I expect will be opened with the hand of munificent grace. What is there in the world that you are expecting, except from God? You will not get it, or if you get it, it will be a curse to you. That is only a proper expectation which looks to God, and to God only. "My expectation is from him." Well, you expect to have bread to eat, and raiment to put on, till ye die, don't you? Where do you expect to get it from? The interest of that £600, or £1200 of yours in the funds. Well, if that is your expectation, and not God, he will put some bitters in that little income of yours, and you shall find it if sufficient for your sustenance, not sufficient for your comfort. But you will be provided for, because you have a large business! Well, the mill may be burned down; the trade may break the stream of prosperity may run into another's lap, and you may find yourself yet a beggar in the street, notwithstanding all you have, if that is your trust. No; if you are expecting to get aught from the world it is a poor expectation. I expect to be provided for till I die; but I expect that I shall have to draw from the bank of faith till I die, and get all I need out of the riches of God's lovingkindness. And this I know, I had rather have God for my banker than any man that hath ever lived. Surely, he never fails to honor his promises; and when we bring them to his throne he never sends them back unanswered. You must hope in God, even for temporal supplies. And after all, what a little thing the temporal supplies are! We have heard of a king, who once went into a stable and heard a stable boy singing. Said he to him, "And now, John, what do you get for your work?" "If you please sir," he said, "I get my clothes and my food." "That is all I get" said the King, "for my work." And that is all everybody gets. All else that you have got besides is not yours, except to look at; and other people can do the same. When a man gets a large park I can ride through it as much as he, and I have not the trouble of keeping it in order; he may take care of it, and I am much obliged to him for doing so. I can do as the poor Chinaman did, when he bowed before the mandarin. The mandarin was covered with jewels, and the Chinaman said, "I thank you for your jewels." The mandarin was surprised: the next day he was again saluted by the man, who said as before, "I thank you for your jewels," "Why," said the mandarin, "What do you thank me for?" Said the Chinaman, "I always look at them every day, and that is as much as you do; only that you are the pack horse that has to carry them, and you have the trouble at night of taking care of them, whilst I can enjoy them just as much as you." And so, dear friends, if we are not rich, contentment can make us so. Contentment gives the poor man broad acres; contentment gives him great riches upon earth, and adds great enjoyment to the comparatively little that he has. "My expectation is from him."

     But we have better expectations than that. We shall die soon; and then "my expectation is from him." Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness he will send troops of angels to carry us to his bosom? We are believing that when the pulse is faint and few, and the heart heaves heavily, that then some spirit, brighter than the noon-day sun shall draw the curtains of our bed, and look with loving eyes upon us, and whisper, "Sister, spirit, come away!" And do we not expect that then a chariot shall be brought, a triumphal chariot, such as earth's conquerors have not seen; and in it we shall be placed, and drawn by coursers of light up the eternal hills, in majesty and triumph, we shall ride to yon bright gates of pearl. Then shall the gates wide open swing, and he shall say, "Come in, ye blessed of the Lord, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundations of the world." We are expecting wreaths of aramanth, and harps of gold, and crowns of glory; we are thinking when we have done with this poor clay, the poor terrestrial stuff this body's made of, we shall be made white, like spirits who now shine as stars before the throne of the majesty on high, and that we shall share those splendours and enjoy their happiness, for ever blest with them,

 

"Far from a world of grief and sin,

With God eternally shut in."

 

     Now, "My soul, wait thou only upon God," if these be thine expectations. And if thine expectation is based upon God, my soul, live for God; live with only this care, to bless him: live, looping for a better world, but believing this world to be good enough, if we had God in it. You know what Luther said the little bird said to him. He sat upon the spray of the tree, and he sang—

 

"Mortal, cease from toil and sorrow; God provideth for the morrow."

 

     And it chirped and picked up its little grain, and sang again. And yet it had no granary; it had not a handful of wheat stored up anywhere; but it still kept on with its chirping—

 

"Mortal, cease from toil and sorrow; God provideth for the morrow."

 

     Oh! ye that are not Christians, it were worth while to be Christians, if it were only for the peace and happiness that religion gives. If we had to die like dogs, yet this religion were worth having to make us live here like angels. Oh if the grave were what it seems to be, the goal of all existence, if the black nails in the coffin were not bright with stars, if death were the end and our lamps were quenched in darkness, when it was said, "Dust to dust and earth to earth." Yet 'twere worth while to be a child of God, only to live here.

 

"'Tis religion that can give sweetest pleasures whilst we live;

'Tis religion must supply solid comforts when we die."

 

     Remember, he that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ and is baptized shall be saved; and you, as well as any other, if these two things be given you, shall be saved. He that trusts in Christ alone for salvation, and then (to translate the word baptized the right way, and it can only be rightly translated one way) "is immersed, shall be saved." So stands the praise: believing first, baptism afterwards; believing, the great thing, baptism the sign of it; believing the great means of grace, immersion, the outward and visible sign of the washing of the flesh and of the dedication unto God. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." May God give you grace to obey both commands, and so enter into eternal life! But remember, "He that believeth not shall be damned." He that neglects the great essential shall perish. May God grant that none of you may know the terrible meaning of that word!