Christ Precious to Believers

By / Mar 30

Christ Precious to Believers

 

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.”— 1 Peter ii. 7.

 

HERE we have no far-fetched statement: it belongs to every-day life. Those now present who believe can verify it on the spot: as believers, they can tell us whether the Lord Jesus is precious to them or not. We are not now about to consider an abstruse doctrine, or lose ourselves in a profound mystery of the faith; but we have before us an assertion which even a babe in Christ may put to the test. Yes, you who but last week confessed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, can tell in your own souls whether he is precious to you or not.

     If you can personally verify this sentence, it says a great deal for yourself. You need never raise the question as to whether you have the faith of God’s elect, and are true believers in Jesus; for if Christ is precious to you, that question is answered once for all by this statement, which covers the whole ground— “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” The converse of the statement is equally true: you who find Christ precious have true faith in him. It is important, while looking at this word of the apostle Peter, that we should lay our hands upon our hearts, and ask— Do I know what this means? Is Jesus more to me than gold, or any other thing that can be desired? Can I truly say—

“Yes, thou art precious to my soul,
My transport and my trust:
Jewels to thee are gaudy toys,
And gold is sordid dust”?

If I can so testify, then I have proved my own possession of saving faith.

     Dear friends, if we can verify this statement, it is not only satisfactory to ourselves, but it is glorifying to our Lord. Certain men are best respected where they are least known. Many a character needs distance to lend enchantment to the view; but our Lord is most precious to those who are best acquainted with him. Those who are actually trusting him, and thus putting him to the test, are those who have the highest opinion of him. If you would have the best estimate of the Lord Jesus, we refer you to those who have had transactions with him on the largest scale, to those who cast all their care upon him for time and eternity. Their proof of him is so satisfactory that he is more and more esteemed every day. He is far more precious to them than when they first heard of him, and every thought of him makes him dearer to their hearts. What a glorious friend is he who is most precious to those who receive most from him! Usually men feel sadness at an increase of obligation; but in this case, the more we are his debtors the more we rejoice to be so. Thousands here this morning can say, “I believe in him, and he is precious to me beyond all compare.” O my unbelieving hearer, is there no weight in this testimony? If those that believe in Christ uniformly declare that he becomes more and more delightful to them, should it not persuade you to trust him? If large numbers of Christians were met with who turned round, after a few years, and confessed that they had been deceived, and that, when the novelty was worn off, there was really nothing precious about the Lord Jesus, then unbelievers would be justified in their unbelief. But if it be not so, but the very reverse, what shall I say to you who will not consider the claims of Jesus? Why do you continue to refuse a Saviour to whom so many bear witness? I can truly say, our witness is not forced, it is joyfully spontaneous, and we are glad to bear it on all occasions, and in any company. If we do so unanimously— and I am sure we do— you ought to be convinced of the truth of our statement; and if your judgment were not perverted by sin, you would be convinced, so that you would resolve to believe in Jesus, even as we believe. Do you despise our testimony— the testimony, in many instances, that of your own father, and mother, and friend? No, you are not so ungenerous as to call us all liars or fools. I pray you, therefore, give practical weight to the evidence, by believing in Jesus, and he will be to you as precious as he is to us. This is but common-sense. May God give you grace enough to follow the dictates of ordinary prudence, for these would certainly lead you to do what others have found to be so great a blessing to them.

     Coming at once to the text, we shall consider what Christ is to his people; according to our text, he is “precious.” Secondly, consider what it is in them which makes them so greatly to value their Lord: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” It is their faith which apprehends the preciousness of Christ, and without it Jesus would never be precious in their eyes. Thirdly, consider what they receive from him. This thought arises out of another translation of the text, more strictly accurate than the one we use: “Unto you therefore which believe he is honour.” The Lord Jesus sheds honour and glory upon those who believe in him. May that honour be ours! Oh, for the aid of the Holy Spirit in this promising meditation!

     I. First, consider WHAT CHRIST IS TO HIS PEOPLE. We read in our own Version, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious”; yet the word is not an adjective, but a noun. Hence the Revised Version reads the text, “For you therefore which believe is the preciousness.” His very self is preciousness itself. He is the essence, the substance, the sum of all preciousness. Every believer will subscribe to this; many things are more or less precious; but the Lord Jesus is preciousness itself, outsoaring all degrees of comparison.

     How do believers show that Christ is thus precious to them? They do so by trusting everything to him. Every believer stays his hope solely upon the work of Jesus. With regard to the past, the present, and the future, he finds rest in Christ. The Lord Jesus is the casket into which we have put all our treasures, and we prize him accordingly. All our affection flows toward him as all our hope flows from him. Within his sacred name and person all our expectation is contained. He is all our salvation and all our desire. Despite the homely proverb, we have put all our eggs into this one basket: all our stores are in this one ship. We have no reserve: we have deposited with our Lord everything which concerns us, and we have no secondary trust wherewith to supplement his power or love. We have committed to him our all, and we know that he is able to keep that which we have committed to him till that day. As the Advocate who alone pleads the causes of our soul before the living God, our Lord is most precious to us. Our implicit faith in him proves our high estimate of him.

     To believers the Lord Jesus is evidently very precious, because they would give up all that they have sooner than lose him. Martyrs and confessors have actually given up all for Jesus times without number: history bears this witness abundantly. Tens of thousands have renounced property, liberty, and life, sooner than deny Christ. To this day we have among us those who dare to go forth into the fever country for his name’s sake, not counting their lives dear unto them that they might spread abroad his gospel. I hope that we also could part with everything sooner than separate from our Lord. We would, like the holy children, if the choice lay between apostasy and the fiery furnace, reply, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” Let all things go, but we must hold fast our Lord. Brother, could you give up your Saviour? Very dear to you are your children, and your wife, and your friend; but if it really came to the point to give these up or the Lord Jesus, I am sure you could not hesitate. It is a desirable thing to be esteemed and respected by one’s fellows; but when it comes to this, that for the truth’s sake one must be an outcast, and become the butt of enmity, there must be no question. Popularity and friendship must at once be sacrificed. Believer, you would far sooner take up your cross, and go with Jesus, than take up your crown, and go away from him. Is it not so? We must not speak too confidently, and declare that we would never deny him; but yet he knows all things, and he knows that we love him so truly that for his sake we could suffer the loss of all things, and count them but dung, that we might win Christ, and be found in him. This proves that our Lord is precious, since all else may go to the bottom so long as we can keep our hold on the Well-beloved.

     Saints also find their all in him. He is not one delight, but all manner of delights to them. All that they can want, or wish, or conceive, they find in him. To the believer “Christ is all.” His desires go not beyond the landmarks of his all-sufficiency. When saints have outward good, they enjoy Jesus in it; and when outward good is gone, they find it in him. That which to a man is all things is in the most emphatic sense “precious”; and Christ is that to every believing soul.

     So precious is Jesus to believers that they cannot speak well enough of him. Could you, at your very best, exalt the Lord Jesus so gloriously as to satisfy yourself? I make free confession, that I never preached a sermon about my Lord which came anywhere near my ideal of his merits. I am always dissatisfied when I have done my very best. I have often wished that I could rush back to the pulpit, and try to preach him better; but I am kept back from such an attempt by the fear that probably I might fail even more conspicuously. He is so glorious as to be glory itself. Who can describe the sun? He is so sweet in our apprehension that we cannot convey that apprehension to another by such feeble expressions as words. Our thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ are far, far below his worth; but even those thoughts we cannot communicate to another, for they break the backs of words. Language staggers under the weight of holy emotion which comes upon us in connection with the Lord Jesus. We can never say enough of Cod’s unspeakable gift. On any other subject there is danger of exaggeration, but it is impossible here. If thou findest honey, it is well to eat cautiously of it, for it may pall upon thee; but when thou findest Christ, take all in thou canst, and pray for an enlarged capacity, for he will never cloy. When thou beginnest to talk of what thou hast tasted and handled concerning Jesus, speak with an open mouth, and give thy tongue unbounded liberty. Thou needest now no bridle for thy lips. Rather let a live coal from off the altar burn every bond, and set thee free to speak at large of him who is still as far beyond thee as the heavens are above the earth.  

     Saints show that in their estimation Christ is precious, for they can never do enough for him. It is not all talk: they are glad also to labour for him who died for them. Though they grow weary in his work, they never grow weary of it. Have we not heard them sigh for a thousand tongues, that they might sing the dear Redeemer’s praises as they should be sung? Do they not often wish that they had ten thousand hands, yea, ten thousand bodies, that they might be in a thousand places at once, seeking to glorify their Well-beloved? If they could have their utmost wish as to his glory, and lay down all at his feet, even then they would be dissatisfied, and feel themselves to be infinite debtors to their loving Lord. Oh, that we could crown him with infinite glory! Oh, that we could set him on a glorious high throne among men, where every soul could see him, love him, and adore him! What great things saints have tried to do for Christ! yet never one of them has expressed any satisfaction with what he has done; but all have mourned over their shortcomings, and wished that they could devise a tribute more equal to his deserts.

     Saints show how precious Christ is to them, in that he is their heaven. Have you never heard them, when dying, talk about their joy in the prospect of being with Christ? They have not so much rejoiced because they were escaping the woes of this mortal life, nor even because they would rest from their toils, but because they would behold the Lord. Often have we seen the eye sparkle, as the dying believer said, “I shall see the King in his beauty before many hours have passed.” When saints quit the world, their last thought is that they shall be with their Redeemer; and when they enter heaven, their first thought is to behold his glory. To believers Jesus is heaven. The Lamb is the light, the life, the substance of heavenly bliss.

“Not all the harps above
Could make a heavenly place,
If God his residence remove,
Or but conceal his face.”

We long to be with Christ. Many of us could say with David, “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” Christ is to us the covenant, and in him we find the foundation of our first hope, and the topstone of our highest joy. Is he not, indeed, precious to us?

     If you are not satisfied with these proofs that Christ is precious to believers, I would invite you, my dear brother and sister, to add another yourself. Let every one of us do something fresh by which to prove the believer’s love to Christ. Let us not be satisfied with proof already given. Let us invent a new love-token. Let us sing unto the Lord a new song. Let not this cold world dare to doubt that unto believers Christ is precious: let us force the scoffers to believe that we are in earnest.

     In thinking Christ to be precious, the saints are forming a just estimate of him. “He is precious.” For a thing to be rightly called precious, it should have three qualities: it should be rare, it should have an intrinsic value of its own, and it should possess useful and important properties. All these three things meet in our adorable Lord, and make him precious to discerning minds. As for rarity: talk not of the rarity of gold or of gems— he is the only one: he is absolutely unique. Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid. He is the one sacrifice for sin. Not the infinite God, nor all the wealth of heaven, could supply another like him. As God and man, he alone combines the two natures in one person. “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” If we can never find another like him, after searching all the ages through, we may well call him precious. It is also most clear that he is intrinsically valuable — who shall estimate his worth? I should darken counsel by words without knowledge if I were to attempt in detail to tell you what he is. Only dwell on the simple fact, that while he is God over all, and has thus the fulness of the Godhead, he is also man, true man of the substance of his mother, and so has all the adaptation of perfect manhood. “Consider how great this man was.” Not even heaven itself can be compared with Christ Jesus. He is incomparably, immeasurably, inconceivably precious. As for useful qualities, where else shall we find such a variety of uses in one place? He is eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, healing to the sick, freedom to the slave, joy to the mourner, and life to the dead. Think of his life, and how it gives life to the believer! Think of his death, and how it redeems from hell all those who trust in him! Think of his resurrection, and how it justifies believers; and of his second coming, and how it delights our hearts! Think of our Lord in all his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King! Think of him in all his relationships, as husband, brother, friend! Think of him under all the types and figures with which Scripture delights to set him forth! Think of him in all positions and conditions, think of him as you will, and as you can; but in every one of these, he has a blessed use for the supply of some terrible need which afflicts his redeemed. He is set for the removal of your condemnation, the pardon of your sin, the justification of your person, the changing of your nature, the presentation of your offerings, the preservation of your graces, the perfecting of your holiness, and for all other good and necessary purposes. All good things meet in him, and meet in him in profusion, even to superabundance; wherefore, he is precious indeed!  

     The saints form their estimate of him upon Scriptural principles. They are not so fanatical as to be carried away by mere passion; they can be brought to book, and they can give a reason for their estimate. The text puts it, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” We have a “therefore” for our valuation of Christ: we have reckoned and calculated, and have reason on our side, though we count him to be the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. We can justify our highest estimate of our dear Lord and Saviour.  

     Observe the run of the context. Our Lord Jesus is very precious to us as “a living stone.” As a foundation he is firm as a stone; but in addition, he has life, and this life he communicates, so that we also become living stones, and are joined to him in living, loving, lasting union. A stone alive, and imparting life to other stones which are built upon it, is indeed a precious thing in a spiritual house which is to be inhabited of God. This gives a character to the whole structure. Our Lord is, in fact, the source of all the life which fits the church to be a temple for the living God. We see that Christ in the church is the centre and crown of it: he is as precious to it as the head is to the body. Without Christ we are useless stones, over which men stumble, and dead stones without feeling or power; but in him, being quickened with a heavenly life, we are builded together into a habitation of God through the Spirit. Solomon’s temple was a mere thing of earth as compared with the spiritual house which God constructs out of those who are made alive by contact with the living stone.

     I may add that our Lord is all the more precious to us because he was “disallowed indeed of men.” Never is Christ dearer to the believer than when he sees him to be despised and rejected of men. We do not follow the fashion; we know not the broad road and its crowds; and hence the Lord Jesus is immeasurably glorious to us when we see that the world knew him not. Did they call the Master of the house Beelzebub? then we the more heartily salute him as Lord and God. Did they charge him with drunkenness, madness, and with being a friend of publicans and sinners? We bow at his feet with all the lowlier reverence and love. Did they spit upon him? Did they scourge him? Did they blindfold him, and then mock him? Ah! then he is to our souls all the worthier of adoration. Crown ye the Crucified! As the sun at noonday is he when nailed to the cross and reviled by the ribald crowd. Now is he glorious in our eyes, while scribes and Pharisees make jests around him, and he dies in agony. Worship him, all ye glorified ones! Yet we feel as if worship fit for him upon the throne did not reach the height of his desert when we see him on the accursed tree. Here would our reverence sink lower than ever, and our praise would rise above angelic adoration. Precious is our Lord Christ as we see him going up to the tree, bearing our sins in his own body. Precious is he when forsaken of God, and discharging all our debt by his dread sacrifice. Unto you that believe he is all the more precious because he is still disallowed of men.

     He becomes inconceivably precious to us when we read the next words, and view him as “chosen of God.” God has chosen the man Christ Jesus to be our Saviour. Upon whom else could the divine election have fallen? But he saith, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” The choice of Jehovah must be divinely wise. Infinitely prudent is the choice of him whom he hath exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour. O glorious Christ, chosen of God, well mayest thou be chosen of us! If thy Bather’s heart is set on thee, well may ours be! To us thou art precious.

     Note well that the apostle calls him “precious,” that is, precious to God. We feel abundantly justified in our high esteem of our Lord, since he is so dear to the Father. He never looks with such delight on any as he does upon his own Son. Three times he spoke it out in words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Father finds full rest in his Only-begotten. God finds in him union and communion, as in “one brought up with him,” who was “daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” The Father finds infinite delight in his well-beloved Son, and shall not we be directed by his wisdom to do the same? Since God accounts him elect and precious, we, too, will choose him, and reckon him to be most precious to our hearts.

     Moreover, we prize our Lord Jesus as our foundation. Jehovah saith, “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone.” This foundation is not of our inventing, but of God’s laying. What a privilege to have a foundation of the Lord’s own laying! It is and must be the best, the surest, the most abiding, the most precious foundation. We value in a building a sound basis, and therefore we count our Lord most precious, because nothing that rests upon him can fail or fall.

     Thus have I shown you that we run on good lines when Christ is precious to us. We are not here acting upon our own independent judgment, nor following a freak of fancy. If Christ be precious to us, we have God himself at the back of our judgment, and we are sure we do not err. Besides, we have this witness of the Spirit, that since we are pleased with Jesus, the Father is pleased with us. The Father is not only well pleased with Christ, but well pleased in Christ, and therefore he is well pleased with all who are in him. He is so sweet that he sweetens all who come to God by him. Precious Christ! Precious Christ!

     II. Secondly, consider WHAT IT IS IN THE SAINTS WHICH MAKES THEM PRIZE CHRIST AT THIS RATE. It is their faith. “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” To carnal sense and reason, Jesus is far from precious. To human wisdom Christ is not precious; see how men tug and labour to get rid of his Deity, and to trample on his precious blood. What laboured learning is brought forth to drain inspiration out of his book, and steal satisfaction out of his blood! but “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” Faith calls him precious, when others esteem him “a root out of a dry ground.”

     Note well, that to faith the promises concerning Christ are made. If you will read Psalm cxviii., to which Peter refers, you will find that the Psalmist who rejoiced to see him made the headstone of the corner was a believer; for he says, “I will praise thee, for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.” The whole psalm runs in that way. As for the passage quoted from Isaiah xxviii. 16, it finishes thus, “He that believeth shall not make haste,” or, “shall not be confounded.” In both cases the preciousness of Christ is connected in the Scriptures with a believing people. The Bible never expects that without faith men will glorify Christ.

     For, dear brethren, it is by faith that the value of Christ is perceived. You cannot see Christ by mere reason, for the natural man is blind to the things of the Spirit. You may study the evangelists themselves, but you will never get to see the real Christ, who is precious to believers, except by a personal act of faith in him. The Holy Spirit has removed the scales from the eyes of the man that believeth. If thou trustest the Saviour as a sinner must trust him, thou knowest more of him by that act of faith than all the schools could have taught thee. An ounce of faith is better than a ton of learning. Better be Christ’s patient than a doctor of divinity: for his cure will teach thee more than all thy studies. More is to be learned in the closet by penitent faith than in the university by persevering research. If we look to him whom God has lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, we shall know more of him than if we closed our eyes and spent a century in meditation.

     By faith, again, the Lord Jesus is appropriated. In possession lies much of preciousness. Is the Koh-i-Noor a precious thing to me? Well, it is precious in itself; but I cannot say that it is precious to me; for I do not even know where it is, nor do I give it more thought than if it were a bit of glass. When a thing belongs to you, it has a value to you, and you make a full estimate of it. Now, no man possesses Christ except he believes in him. O unbeliever, thou hast nothing to do with Jesus if thou wilt not trust in him! Though he be a priceless boon, he is nothing to thee if thou dost not rest in him! What hast thou to do to speak about him? Thou art without Christ if thou art without faith. Faith is the hand that grasps him, the mouth that feeds upon him, and therefore by faith he is precious.

     By faith the Lord Jesus is more and more tasted and proved, and becomes more and more precious. In proportion as we test our Lord, he will rise in our esteem. If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, he is precious to you; but if so be you have more than tasted, and have gone on to feed upon him, you have found him to be marrow and fatness to your soul, and he is more precious than ever to you. The more afflictions a believer endures, the more does he discover of the sustaining power of Christ, and therefore the more precious Christ becomes to him. You that have been caught in a storm at sea and have seen him come to you walking on the water, and have heard him rebuke the winds and the waves, you prize him beyond all price. In the great deeps of tribulation we find many a pearl of the knowledge of Christ. To us our Lord is as gold tried in the fire. Our knowledge is neither theoretical nor traditional; we have seen him ourselves, and he is precious to us.

     Our sense of Christ’s preciousness, as I have said before, is a proof of our possessing the faith of God' s elect; and this ought to be a great comfort to any of you who are in the habit of looking within. If you enquire within yourselves, “Is my faith wrought in my soul by the Holy Spirit?” you may have a sure test. Does it magnify Christ? If it makes Christ inexpressibly dear to you, it is the faith of God’s elect. May God grant you to have more of it!

     Christ becomes growingly precious to us as our faith grows. If you have faith in Christ, but do not exercise it every day, he will not be very precious to you. But if your faith keeps her eye fixed on him, she will more and more clearly perceive his beauties. If your soul is driven to Jesus again and again, if your faith anchors in him continually, then he will be indeed more and more precious to you. Everything depends upon faith. If thou doubtest Christ, he has gone down fifty per cent, in thine esteem. Every doubt is a Christ crucifier. Every time you give way to scepticism and critical questioning you lose a sip of sweetness. The dog that barks loses the bone, and the Christian that disputes loses spiritual food. In proportion as you believe with a faith which is childlike, clear, simple, strong, unbroken, in that proportion will Christ be dearer and dearer to you. I recommend you to keep the door of your mind on the chain in these days; for those tramps and vagrants called doubts are prowling about in every quarter, and they may knock at your door with vile intent. The first thing they say, when they are at a good man’s door, is, “I am an honest doubt.” That winch so loudly calls itself honest, has good need to fabricate for itself a character. The most honest doubt is a great thief; but the most of doubts are as dishonest as common housebreakers. Keep doubt out of the soul, or you will make small progress in the discovery of the preciousness of Christ. Never entertain a thought that is derogatory to Christ’s person, or to his atoning sacrifice. Reckon that opinion to be your enemy which is the enemy of the cross of Christ. Do not suffer your faith to diminish even in the least degree. Believe in Christ heartily and unsuspectingly! If you have a doubt as to whether you are a saint, you can have no question that you are a sinner: come to Christ as a sinner, and put your trust in him as your Saviour. It is wonderful how a renewed confidence in Christ’s saving grace will bring back all your joy and delight in him, and sometimes do it at once. “Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.” When I was dull and dead, on a sudden I touched his garment by faith, and my life was renewed in me, even to leaping and rejoicing. God grant you, dear brethren, by faith to know the preciousness of Christ; for only to you that believe is he precious! To you that doubt, to you that mistrust, to you that suspect, to you that live in the land of hesitation, he is without form or comeliness; but to you that believe without stint, he is precious beyond all price.

     III. Now I come to the last point. Briefly consider WHAT BELIEVERS RECEIVE FROM HIM. Take the exact translation — “Unto you that believe he is honour.” Honour! Can honour ever belong to a sinner like me? Worthless, base, only fit to be cast away, can I have honour? Listen! “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” A woman had been a harlot, but she believed in Jesus, and she was so honourable that she was allowed to wash his feet with tears, and wipe them with the hairs of her head. Thus was she a handmaid in the courts of our God. A man had been a thief; but he believed while dying, and lo, he was the first person that Jesus received when he came into his kingdom— he was so honourable. The Lord changes the rank when he forgives the sin. Thou art dishonourable no longer if thou believest in Jesus. Thou art honourable before God now that he has become thy salvation. Yesterday thou didst feed the swine; to-day thou art joyfully welcomed to thy Father’s house. Listen to that music and dancing, it is all for thee! See the fatted calf killed and roasting at the fire; it is for thee! For thee the shoes upon thy feet, and the ring that decks thy finger. Thy Father gives himself to thee by those fond kisses which he lavishes upon thee. Oh yes, Christ is honour to his people: his redemption makes that precious which seemed to have no value before.

     Further, let me notice that it is a high honour to be associated with the Lord Jesus. When a valiant man has achieved a great victory everybody likes to claim some connection with him. The few persons still alive who were at the battle of Waterloo are proud of the fact. And no wonder! Though only a drummer boy at the time, the old man is proud to tell that he was there when his countrymen broke the tyrant’s power. Men even carry to the extreme of folly any slight connection with the great, like the man who boasted that the king had spoken to him, when it turned out that all his majesty said was, “Get out of the way!” We have real honour in being associated with our Lord Christ in any capacity. It is an honour to have washed the feet of his servants, or to have given a cup of cold water to one of his disciples. Simple trust and grateful service make a link more precious than gold. Did men laugh at you for Christ’s sake? That honours you with him. Did you suffer reproach for Christ’s truth? It is well: thus are you bound up in the bundle of life with him whom you love. The day shall come when it shall be thought to be the highest honour that ever was to have been denounced as a bigot and cast out as a troubler, for the sake of Christ and his gospel. How pleased was John the Baptist to be connected with Jesus, though he said, “the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose”! How glad was Paul to be subservient to his Lord! He calls himself Christ’s bond-servant. We read it “servant” in our softened version, but Paul was charmed to feel that he had been bought with Christ’s blood, and was therefore as much his property as a man thought a slave to be when he had paid his price. Oh, to be as the dust of our Lord’s feet! Even this were honour! To be his menial servant is better than to rule all the Russias. Some of us bless the Lord that we are associated with his old-fashioned cross, his time-worn truth, his despised atonement, his antiquated Bible. I protest I bind this as a chaplet about my brow. Jesus, the Substitute, is my honour, and the doctrines of grace are my glory.

     Again, it is a great honour to be built on him as a sure foundation. If you read the passage in Isaiah xxviii. you will see that those who made lies their refuge were trodden down, but not those who rested on the sure foundation; for of them it is written, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” Because he had built upon Christ, the builder enjoyed an honourable rest. I do not know how I should feel if I had had to think out a way of salvation for myself: but I find it happy work to accept what God has clearly revealed in his Word. A minister once said to me, “It must be very easy for you to preach.” I said, “Do you think so? I do not look at it as a light affair.” “Yes,” he said; “it is easy, because you hold a fixed and definite set of truths, upon which you dwell from year to year.” I did not see how this made it easy to preach, but I did see how it made my heart easy, and I said, “Yes, that is true. I keep to one fixed line of truth.” “That is not my case,” said he; “I revise my creed from week to week. It is with me constant change and progress.” I did not say much, but I thought the more. If the foundation is constantly being altered, the building will be rather shaky. Surely, if the basis be not settled, we shall, in our work, show a good deal of jerry-building! It is a precious thing to my heart to feel sure about the verities of God the surely-revealed facts of Scripture. Having once made Christ my — foundation, I shall take a leaf out of the book of the Puritans of Massachusetts. I have heard that in their early days their counsellors agreed “that the State of Massachusetts should be governed by the laws of God, till they had time to make better ones.” So will I rest on Christ alone till I can find a better resting-place. When we find that God has laid another foundation, we will look at it. When we discover a foundation more suitable for sinners than the sinner’s Saviour, we will consider it; but not till then.

     Beloved, it is an honour to believe the doctrines taught by Christ and his apostles. It is an honour to be on the same lines of truth as the Holy Ghost. It is an honour to believe what the lips of Jesus taught. I had sooner be a fool with Christ than a wise man with the philosophers. The day shall come when he that cleaves most to the gospel of God shall be the most honoured man.

     It is an honour to do as Christ bade us in his precepts. Holiness is the truest royalty. It is never a disgrace to any man to be baptized into his name, or to come to his table, and break bread in remembrance of him. The Virgin’s advice is sound—“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Obedience to Jesus is no discredit to any man. It is an honour to “follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth.” Take this as a sure word—sin is disgrace, but holiness is honour.

     It will be our great honour to see our Lord glorified. That one hundred and eighteenth Psalm depicts the exultation of the saints in the day when Christ shall appear in his glory. See how it runs. “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It is a very jubilant psalm. All the adversaries of the believer have been destroyed like swarms of bees, and burned up like heaps of thorns; but the believer is safe; and more, he is glorified as he sees his despised and rejected Lord made head over all things to his church. What an honour to have been with him in his humiliation! How glorious to rehearse the story! The Lord laid Christ as the foundation though the heathen raged. The walls have risen despite the foe. The corner stone is in its place, though the builders refused it. Glory! Glory! He whom we love has come to his own, although the kings stood up and the rulers took counsel together against him. Now, it is no more “Crucify him! crucify him!” but “Crown him! Crown him!” Now he is no more the servant of servants, but King of kings and Lord of lords. Hallelujah! Like bursts of great artillery the praises of men and angels break forth again and again for him. Hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah! He must reign! he must reign! The Father wills it, and reign he shall, all enemies being put under his feet. In that day, to you that believe, he will be an honour. You shall be his honoured attendants when he mounts the throne. Surely, the angels will set great store by every one of you that believed in Christ in the day of his scorning: they will carry you as trophies through the golden streets. Here is a man that believed in Jesus when the world despised him. Though he was poor and obscure he dared to own his Lord and stand up for his truth. Happy man to have been able to give such a proof of loyalty! He was a common soldier in the barracks, and he was the butt of many a coarse joke; but he believed in Jesus! Honour to him! She was a humble workwoman, and all the girls in the warehouse ridiculed her for being a Christian. Honour to her! Honour to all who bore dishonour for Christ.

     Before you go away I would beg you to consider how you stand in this matter. Do you believe in Jesus? If you do believe, be afraid of nothing. Come forward and confess that sacred name. Own that you are a follower of the Lamb; and then, in the day when he distributes crowns and thrones, he will have a crown and a throne for you. You at the resurrection shall wake up in him to glory and immortality.



Man’s Ruin and God’s Remedy

By / Nov 20

Man's Ruin and God's Remedy

 
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live."—Numbers 21:8

 

     I DO not propose this morning to explain again the mystery of the brazen serpent. As many of you well remember, not long ago I preached upon that subject, and endeavored to expound it in all its lengths and breadths. I have a somewhat similar object at the present time, the details may indeed be different, but after all the moral will be the same.

     Man has very many wants, and he should be grateful whenever the least of them is supplied. But he has one want which overtops every other: it is the want of bread. Give him raiment, house him well, decorate and adorn him, yet if you give him not bread, his body faints, he dies of hunger. Hence it is that while the earth when it is tilled is made to bring forth many things that minister unto the comfort and luxury of men, yet man is wise enough to understand that since bread is his chief want, he must be most careful concerning corn. He therefore sows broad acres with it, and he cultivates more of this, which is the grandest necessary, than he doth of anything else in his husbandry. I feel that this is the only excuse I can offer you for coming back again constantly and continually to the simple doctrine of the salvation of the sinner through Christ Jesus. There are many things which the soul wants: it needs instruction, it needs comfort, it needs knowledge of doctrine and enlightenment in its experience; but there is one grand need of the soul, which far surmounts every other, it is the want of salvation, the want of Christ; and I do feel that I am right in repeating again, and again, and again, the simple announcement of the gospel of Christ for poor perishing sinners. At any rate, I know I seldom feel more happy than when I am preaching a full Christ to empty sinners. My tongue becomes something like Anacreon's harp. It is said of it, it resounded love alone. And so my tongue fangs to resound Christ alone, and give forth no other strain, but Christ and his cross; Christ uplifted, the salvation of a dying world; Christ crucified, the life of poor dead sinners. I pray that this morning many here present, who have no clear views of the plan of salvation, may now see for the first time how men are saved through the lifting up of Christ, just, as the poor Israelites in the wilderness were saved from the fiery serpents by lifting up the brazen serpent on the pole.

     Solemnly addressing you this morning, I shall need your attention to two things. First—and here, remember, I am about to speak to sinners dead in trespasses and sins—I want your attention to your ruin, and next I shall want your faithful consideration of your remedy.

     I. First of all, oh unregenerate man! thou who hast heard the Word, but hast never felt its power, let me entreat thee, lend me thine ears while I talk to thee of a solemn subject that much concerns thee. MAN, THOU ART RUINED! The children of Israel in the wilderness were bitten with fiery serpents, whose venom soon tainted their blood, and after intolerable pain, at last brought on death. Thou art much in the same condition. Thou standest there, healthy in body and comfortable in mind, and I come not here to play the part of a mere alarmist; but I do beseech thee, listen to me while I tell thee, neither more nor less than the simple but dreadful truth concerning thy present estate, if thou art not a believer in Christ.

     Oh sinner! there are four things that stare thee in the face, and should alarm thee. The first thing is thy sin. I hear thee say, "Yes I know I am a sinner as well as the rest of mankind;" but I am not content with that confession, nor is God content with it either. There are multitudes of men who make the bare confession of sinnership, the general confession that all men are fallen, but there are few men who know how to take that confession home and acknowledge it as being applicable to them. Ah! my hearers, ye that are without God and without Christ remember, not only is the world lost, but you are lost yourself not only has sin defiled the race, but you yourself are stained by sin. Come, now take the universal charge home to yourself. How many have your sins been! Count them, if you can. Stand here and wonder at them. Like the stars of midnight, or as the sands by the sea shore, innumerable are thine iniquities. Twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty, perhaps more than fifty years have rolled over thy head, and in any one of these years thy sins might out-count the drops of the sea. How innumerable, then, have they become in ALL thy life! And what if thou shouldst say they are but little ones, yet since they are so many, how great has the mountain become. Though they were but as grains of sand, yet are they so many that they might make a mountain that would soar above the stars. Pause, I beseech thee, and let thy conscience have play for a moment. Count over thine iniquities, turn over the pages of thy history, and tell the blots, if thou canst, and count the mistakes. But no, thou art committing fresh sins whilst thou art recounting these, and the denial of thy innumerable sins were but the multiplication of them. Thou art increasing them, mayhap, even whilst thou art telling them. And then think how aggravated they have been. I will not venture to mention the grosser sins into which some of you have fallen. It may be that I have here those who have cursed God to his face who have asked him to blast their limbs and to destroy their souls. I may have those here who have ventured even to deny God's existence, though they have been walking all their lives in the midst of his works, and have even received the breath in their nostrils from him. I may have some who have despised his Word laughed at everything sacred made a jest of the Bible, made a mockery of God's ministers and of his servants. Call I beseech you, these things to your remembrance, for though you have forgotten them, God has not. You have written them in the sand but he has engraven them as in eternal brass, and there they stand against you. Every crime that you have done is as fresh in the memory of the Most High as though it were committed yesterday, and though you think that the repentance of your grey old age might almost suffice to blot out the enormities of your youth, yet be not deceived. Sin is not so easily put away; it needs a greater ransom than a few expressions of regret or a few empty tears. Oh call, ye great sinners, call to your recollection, the enormities you have committed against God. Let your chambers speak, let your beds bear witness against you, and let the days of your feasting, and your hours of midnight rioting—let these things rise up to your remembrance. Let your oaths roll back from the sky against which they have smitten, and let them return into your bosom, to awake your conscience and bestir you to repentance. But what am I saying? I have been talking of some men who have committed great iniquity. Ah! sinner, be thou whosoever thou mayest, I charge thee with great sin. Brought up in the midst of holy influences, nurtured in God's house, it may be that some of my unregenerate hearers this morning, may not be able to remember a single instance of blasphemy against God. It may be that you have never outwardly done despite to any sacred thing. Ah, my hearer, bethink thee, thy sin may be even greater than that of the profligate, or the debauches, for thou hast sinned against light and against knowledge; thou hast sinned against a mother's prayers and against a father's tears; thou rebelled against God's law, knowing the law. When thou wast sinning, conscience pricked thee, and yet thou didst sin. Thou knewest that hell was the portion of the ungodly, and yet thou art ungodly still. Thou knowest the gospel of Christ; thou art no ignoramus. Thy mother took thee in her arms to the house of God, and here thou art even now. Every sin thou hast committed receives a greater aggravation on account of the light thou hast received, and the privileges thou hast enjoyed. Oh, my hearer, think not that thou canst escape in this thing; thy sin hath bitten thee with a terrible bite. 'Tis no flesh wound as thou dreamest, but the venom has entered into thy veins. 'Tis no mere scurf upon the surface, but the leprosy lies deep within. Thou hast sinned. Thou hast sinned continually. Thou hast sinned with many aggravations. Oh, may God convict thee of this charge, and help thee to plead guilty to it. Can you not some of you, if you are honest to yourselves, call to remembrance peculiar sins that you have committed. You recollect your sick bed, and your vow you made to God—where is it now? You have returned like the dog to its vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. You remember that prayer that you offered in the time of your distress: you remember too that God graciously delivered you, but where is the thanksgiving that you promised to him? You said you would give him your heart; but where is it? In the black hand of the devil still! You have been a liar to God, you have deceived him, or you have pretended at least that you would give him your soul, and you have not done so. And think too of certain special sins you have committed after receiving special warning. Do you not remember going out from the house of God with a tender conscience, and then running into sin to harden it again? Do you not remember, some of you, how after being alarmed and startled, you have gone your way, and gone to your evil companions, and laughed away the impressions that you have received? This is no mean sin—to strive against the striving Spirit, and to resist the influence that was drawing you to the right path. I beseech you, call to recollection your sins. Come, don't be cowards. Don't shut up the book; open it. Look and see what you have been and if you have been that which you are ashamed of, I beseech you look it in the face, and make acknowledgment and confess it. There is nothing to be gotten by hiding your sins. They'll spring up, man; if you dig deep as hell to hide them, they'll spring up. Why not now be honest, and look at them today, for they'll look at you by-and-bye, when Christ shall come in the clouds of judgment? If you look not at them, they'll stare you in the face with a look that will wither your soul and blast it into infinite torment and unutterable woe. Your sin, your sin, should make you tremble and feel alarmed.

     But I go further. Sinner, thou hast not only thy sin to trouble thee, but there is a second thing, there is the sentence of condemnation gone out against thee. I have heard some ministers talk of men being in a state of probation. No such thing; no man has a state of probation at all. Ye are condemned already. You are not to-day, my unregenerate hearers, prisoners at the bar about to be tried for your lives. No, your trial is over, your sentence is past already, and you are now this day condemned. What though no officer has arrested you, though death has not laid his cold hand upon you, yet Scripture saith, "He that believeth not is condemned already because he believeth not on the Son of God." Man, the black cap is on the judge's head. He even now declares thee lost, nay more than this, if thou wouldst rightly know thine own estate, thou art standing—mark that, my careless hearer—thou art standing under the gallows, with the rope on thy neck, and thou hast but to be cast off from the ladder by the hand of death, and thou art swinging in eternity lost and ruined. If ye only knew your position, ye would discover that ye are criminals with your necks on the block this morning, and the bright axe of justice is gleaming in this morning's sunlight, and God alone knows how long it is ere it shall fall, or rather how soon thou shalt feel its keen edge, and its edge shall be stained with thy blood. Thou art condemned already. Take that home, man. Thy sentence is signed in heaven and sealed and stamped, and the only reason why it is not carried out is because God in mercy respites thee. But thou art condemned, and this world is thy condemned cell from which thou shalt soon be taken to a terrible execution.

     Now you do not believe this. You think that God is putting you on your trial, and that if you behave as well as you can, you will get off. You think that in some future day you may yet blot out your sin. But when the criminal is condemned, there is no room left for good behavior to alter the sentence. When a capital sentence is passed upon him that sentence is not to be moved by anything that he can do. And your sentence is passed, passed be the judge of all the earth, and nothing you can do can alter that sentence. The law leaves no room for repentance. Condemned you are and condemned you must be, unless that one way of escape, that I am forthwith abut to explain, shall be opened to you by God's rich grace—you are condemned already.

     Now let me ask you one question ere I leave this point. Sinner, you are condemned to-day. I ask you this, whether you do not deserve it? If you are what you should be, and what I hope the Lord will make you, you will say, "Deserve it, ay, that I do!" If I never committed another sin, my past sins would fully justify the Lord in permitting me to go down afire into the pit. The first sin you ever committed condemned you beyond all hope of self-salvation, but all the sins you have committed since then have aggravated your guilt, and surely now the sentence is not only just, but more than just. You will have one day, if you repent not to put your finger on your lips and stand in solemn silence, when God shall ask you whether you have anything to plead why the sentence should not be carried into execution. You will be compelled to feel that God condemns you to nothing more than you deserve, that his sentence is just—a proper one on such a sinner as thou hast been.

     Now, these two things are enough to make any man tremble, if he did but feel them—his sin and his condemnation. But I have a third to mention. Sinner, there is this to aggravate thy ease and increase thine alarm—thy helplessness, thy utter inability to do anything to save thyself, even if God should offer thee the chance. Thou art to-day, sinner, not only condemned, but thou art dead in trespasses and sins. Talk of performing good works—why, man, thou canst not. It is as impossible for thee to do a good work whilst thou art what thou art, as it would be for a horse to fly up to the stars. But thou sayest, "I will repent." Nay, thou canst not. Repentance is not possible to thee as thou art, unless God gives it to thee. Thou mightest force a few tears, but what are those? Judas might do that and yet go out and hang himself and go to his own place. You cannot repent of yourself. Nay, if I had to preach this morning salvation by faith apart from the person of Christ, you would be in as bad a condition as if there were no gospel whatever. Recollect, sinner, thou art so lost, so ruined, so undone, that thou canst do nothing to save thyself. The would is so bad that it cannot be cured by any mortal hand. Thine inability is so great, that unless God pull thee up out of the pit into which thou hast fallen, thou must lie there and rot to all eternity. Thou art so undone that thou canst neither stir hand, nor foot, nor lip, nor hearts, unless grace help thee. Oh, what a fearful thing it is to be charged, tried, condemned, and then moreover, to be bereft of all power. You are to-day as much in the hand of God's justice as a little moth beneath your own finger. He can save you if he will, he can destroy you if he pleases, but you yourself are unable to escape from him. There is no door of mercy left for you by the law, and even by the gospel there is no door of mercy which you have power to enter, apart from the help which Christ affords you. If you think you can do anything, you have yet to unlearn that foolish conceit. If you fancy that you have some strength left, you have not yet come where the Spirit will bring you, for he will empty you of all creature pretension, and lay you low and dash you in pieces, and bring you in a mortar and pound you till you feel that you are weak and without strength, and can do nothing.

     Now have I not indeed described a horrible position for a sinner to be in—but there is something more remaining, a fourth thing. Sinner, thou art not only guilty of past sin, and condemned for it, thou art not only unable, but if thou wert able, thou art so bad that thou wouldst never be willing to do anything that could save thyself. And even if thou hadst no sins in the past, yet art thou lost, man, for thou wouldst go on to commit sin for the future. For this know—thy nature is totally depraved. Thou forest that which is evil, and not that which is good. "Nay," saith one, "I love that which is good." Then thou lovest it for a bad motive. "I love honesty," says one. Yes, because it is the best policy. But dost thou love God? Dost thou love thy neighbor as thyself? No, and thou canst not do this, for thy nature is too vile. Why, man, thou wouldst be as bad as the devil, if God were to withdraw all restraint and let thee alone. Were he but to take the bit out of thy mouth, and the bridle from thy jaws, there is no sin that thou wouldst not commit. Dost thou deny this? Dost thou say, "I am willing; I am willing to be holy and to be saved." Then God has thee so; for if not thou wouldst never be so by nature. If thou shouldst go out of this hall and say, "I hate such preaching as that;" I should but reply, "I knew you did." Though one should say, "I will never believe that I am so lost as that," I should say, "I did not think you ever would—you are too bad to believe the truth;" and if you should say, "I will never be saved by Christ; I will never bow so low as to sue for mercy and accept grace through him;" I should not be surprised, for I know thy nature. Thou art so desperately bad that thou hatest thy own mercy. Thou dost despise the grace that is offered to thee—thou dost hate the Saviour that died for thee, for if not, why dost not thou turn now, man. If thou art not so bad as I say thou art, why not now down on thy knees and cry for pardon? Why not now believe in Christ? Why not now surrender thyself to him? But if thou shouldst do this, then I would say, "This is God's work, he has made thee do it for if he had not done it thou wouldst not have been humble enough to bow thyself to Christ." Let Arminianism go to the winds; let it be scattered for ever from off the face of the earth; man is totally unable to feel his misery or seek relief, if he were able, he is totally unwilling. The sinner could not help the Holy Ghost, even if the Holy Ghost wanted the help of man to perfect his own operations. What! can it be possible that any man will say the creature is to help the Creator—that an insect of an hour is to be yoked with the Ancient of Days—the Eternal—that the clay is to help the potter in its own formation? Why, even if we grant the power, where would be the sympathy or the willing hand? Man hates to be saved. He loves darkness, and if he hath the light, it is because the light thrusts itself upon him. He loves death with a fatal infatuation, and if he be made alive, it is because the Spirit of God quickens him, converts his wicked heart, makes him willing in the day of his power, and turns him unto God.

     Have I not now this morning rend a most awful indictment against you? Mark, I mean it for every living man, woman, and child in this Hall, who has not faith in Christ. You may be fine gentlemen or grand ladies; you may be respectable tradesmen and very upright in your business, but I charge you before Almighty God with being sinners, condemned sinners, sinners that cannot save yourselves, and sinners, moreover, that would not save yourselves if you could, unless grace made you willing, you are sinners unwilling to be saved. What a fearful indictment is this read in the face of high heaven! May some sinner as he hears it be compelled to say, "It is true, it is true, it is true of me; O Lord, have mercy upon me!"

     II. Having thus set before you the hard part of the subject—THE SINNERS RUIN—I now come to preach of HIS REMEDY.

     A certain school of physicians tell us that "like cures like." Whether it be true or not in medicine, I know it is true enough in theology—like cures like. When the Israelites were bitten with the fiery serpents, it was a serpent that made them whole. And so you lost and ruined creatures are bidden now to look to Christ suffering and dying, and you will see in him the counterpart of what you see in yourselves. While you are looking to him, may God fulfill his promise and give you life. A remedy to be worth anything must reach the entire disease. Now Christ on the cross comes to man as man is; not as he may be made, but as he is. And it doth this in the four several respects which I have already described.

     I charge you with sin. Now in Christ Jesus behold the sinner's substitute—the sin-offering. Do you see yonder man hanging on the cross; he dies an awful death. In him prophecy receives a terrible accomplishment: of him Almighty vengeance makes a tremendous example. Jehovah hath cast off and abhorred; he hath been wroth with his anointed. The terrors of the Lord are heavy on his soul. And why does that man Christ Jesus die? —not as himself a sinner, but as numbered with transgressors. O soul if thou wouldst know the terrors of the law, behold him who was made the curse of the law. If thou wouldst see the venom of the fiery serpent's bite, look to yonder brazen serpent; and if thou wouldst see sin in all its deadliness look to a dying Saviour. What makes Christ die? Sin! though not his own. What makes his body sweat drops of blood? Sin! What nails his hands? What rends his side? Sin! Sin does it all. And if you are saved it must be through yonder sin-offering, you dying, bleeding Iamb. "But," saith one, "my sins are too many to be forgiven." Stop awhile; turn thine eye to Christ. Sometimes when I think of my sin I think it is too great to be washed away, but when I think of Christ's blood, oh I think there can be no sin great enough for that to fail in cleansing it every whit. I seem to think, when I see the costly price, Christ paid a very heavy ransom. When I look at myself I think it would need much to redeem me, but when I see Christ dying I think he could redeem me if I were a million times as bad as I am. Now remember Christ not only paid barely enough for us, he paid more than enough. The Apostle Paul says, "His grace abounded—"superabounded," says the Greek. It ran over; there was enough to fill the empty vessel, and there was enough to flood the world besides. Christ's redemption was so plenteous, that had God willed it, if all the stars of heaven had been peopled with sinners, Christ need not have suffered another pang to redeem them all—there was a boundless value in his precious blood. And, sinner, if there were so much as this, surely there is enough for thee.

     And then again, if thou art not satisfied with Christ's sin-offering, just think a moment; God is satisfied, God the Father is content, and must not thou be? The Judge says, "I am satisfied; let the sinner go free, for I have punished the Surety in his stead "and if the Judge is satisfied, surely the criminal may be. Oh! come, poor sinner, come and see, if there is enough to appease the wrath of God there must be enough to answer all the requirements of man. "Nay, nay," saith one, "but my sin is such a terrible one that I cannot see in the substitution of Christ that which is like to meet it." What is thy sin? "Blasphemy." Why, Christ died for blasphemy: this was the very charge which man imputed to him, and therefore you may be quite sure that God laid it on him if men did. "Nay, nay," saith one, "but I have been worse than that; I have been a liar." It is just what men said of him. They declared that he lied when he said, "If this temple be destroyed I will build it in three days." See in Christ a liar's Saviour as well as a blasphemer's Saviour. "But," says one, "I have been in league with Beelzebub." Just what they said of Christ. They said that he cast out devils through Beelzebub. So man laid that sin on him, and man did unwittingly what God would have him do. I tell thee, even that sin was laid on Christ. Come, sinner, there is not a sin in the world with one exception which Jesus did not bear in his own body on the tree. "Ah, but," says one, "when I sinned, I sinned very greedily.! did it with all my might I took a delight in it." Ah! soul, and so did Christ take a delight in being thy substitute. He said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished! "Let Christ's willingness respond to the suggestion that thy greediness in sin can make it too heinous to be forgiven. "Ah!" crieth another, "but, sir, I acted ever with such a bad heart: my heart was worse than my actions. If I could have been worse I would. Among all my companions in vice there was not one who was so greedy of it and black in it as I." Yes, but, my dear hearer, if thou hast sinned in thy heart, remember, Christ suffered in his heart. His heart-sufferings were the heart and soul of his sufferings. Look and see that heart all pierced, and the blood and water flowing therefrom, and believe that he is able to take away even thine heart of sin, however black it may be.

     "Yes," I hear another self-condemned one exclaim, "but I sinned without any temptation. I did it deliberately in cold blood. I had become such a wicked, beastly sinner, that I used to sit down and gloat over my sin before I committed it." Ah, but sinner, remember before Christ died he thought of it; ay, from all eternity he meditated on becoming thy substitute. It was a matter of premeditation with him, and, therefore let his forethought put aside thy forethought. Let the greatness of his previous thought upon his sacrifice, put away the grievousness of thy sin, on account of its having been committed in cold blood. Does there yet come up some sobbing voice—"I have been worse than all the rest, for I did my sin by reason of a covenant which I made with Satan. I said, 'If I could have a short life and a merry one, I would be content;' I made a covenant with death, and I made a league with hell." And what if I am commissioned to tell you that even this bite is not incurable? Remember, Jesus the Son of God made a covenant on thine account. It was a greater covenant than yours, not made with death and hell, but made with his Father on the behalf of sinners. I want, if I can, to bring out the fact, that whatever there is in thy sins there is its counterpart in Christ. Just as when the serpent bit the people, it was a serpent that healed them, so if you are bitten by sin, it is, as it were, thy sin's substitute; it is thy sin laid on Christ that heals you. Oh, turn your eyes then to Calvary, and see the guilt of sin laid upon Christ's shoulders, and say, "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," and looking to him thou shalt live.

     Secondly, here is a remedy for the condemnation. I said, you were not only sinners, but condemned sinners. Yes, and Christ is not only thy substitute for sin, but he is thy condemned substitute too. See him. He stands at Pilate's bar, is condemned before Herod and Caiaphas, and is found guilty. Nay, he stands before the awful bar of God, and though there is no sin of his own put upon him, yet inasmuch as his people's sins were laid on him, justice views him as a sinner, and it cries, "Let the sword be bathed in his blood." Christ was condemned for sinners that they might not be condemned. Look up, look away from the sentence that has gone out against you, to the sentence that went out against him. Are you cursed?—so was he. "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Are you condemned?—so was he, and there was one point in which he excelled you; he was executed, and that you never shall be, if you look to him now and believe that he is able to save you, and put your trust in him.

     In regard to the third particular. Our utter helplessness is such, that as I told you, we are unable to do any thing. Yes, and I want you to look at Christ; was not he unable too? You, in your father Adam, were once strong, but you lost your strength. Christ too was strong, but he laid aside all his omnipotence. See him. The hand that poises the world hangs on a nail. See him. The shoulders that supported the skies are drooping over the cross. Look at him, The eyes whose glances light up the sun are sealed in darkness. Look at him. The feet that trod the billows and that shaped the spheres are nailed with rude iron to the accursed tree. Look away from your own weakness to his weakness, and remember that in his weakness he is strong, and in his weakness you are strong too. Go see his hands; they are weak, but in their weakness they are stretched out to save you. Come view his heart; it is rent, but in its cleft you may hide yourself. Look at his eyes; they are closing in death, but from them comes the ray of light that shall kindle your dark spirit. Unable though thou art, go to him who himself was crucified through weakness, and remember that now "he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." I told you, you could not repent, but if you go to Christ he can melt your heart into contrition, though it be as hard as iron. I said you could not believe, but if you sit down and look at Christ, a sight of Christ will make you believe, for he is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins.

     And then the fourth thing. "Oh," cries one, "you said we were too estranged to be even willing to come to Christ." I know you were; and therefore it is he came down to you. You would not come to him, but he comes to you this morning, and though you are very evil, he comes with sacred magic in his arm, to change your heart. Sinner, thou unwilling, but guilty sinner, Christ stands before thee this morning, he that was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, a man and a brother born for adversity. And he puts his hand to day in thy hand, and he says, "Sinner, wilt thou be saved?" Then trust in me. Ah! if I preach the gospel, you will reject it, but if he preaches it you cannot. Methinks I see the crucified one finding his way in that thick crowd under the gallery, and going between the ranks seated here, and above, and everywhere, and as he goes along, he stops at each broken-hearted sinner, and says, "Sinner, will you trust me? See here I am, the Son of God, yet I am man. Look at my wounds, see still the nail-marks, and the prints of the thorn-crown. Sinner, will you trust me?" And while he says it, he graciously works in you the grace of faith. But are there any who looking him in the face, can reply, "Thou crucified one we cannot trust thee, our sins are too great to be forgiven?" Oh, nothing can grieve him so much as to tell him that. You think that you are humble; you are proud; despising Christ while you think you are despising yourself. And is there one in all this great assembly who says, "This is all twaddle, I care not to hear such preaching as this?" Nay I do not ask thee to care for what I speak; but Jesus the crucified one is standing by thy side, and he asks thee, "Sinner, have I ever done anything to offend thee; have I ever done thee a displeasure? What hurt hast thou ever suffered at my hands? Then why dost thou persecute thy wife for loving me—then why hate thy child for loving one that did thee no hurt? Besides," saith he, and he takes the veil from his face, "did you ever see a face like this? It was marred by suffering for men—for men that hate me too, but whom I love. I need not have suffered. I was in my Father's house, happy and glorious; love made me come down and die. Love nailed me to the tree, and now will you spit in my face after that?" "No," said a young man to me this last week, "I found it hard to love Christ, but," said he, "once upon a time I thought 'Well, if Christ never died for me, and never loved me, yet I must love him for his goodness in dying for other people.'" And methinks if you did but know Christ, you must love him. Thou wouldst say to him, "Thou dear, thou suffering man, didst thou endure all this for those that did hate thee? didst thou die for those that murdered thee? didst thou shed thy blood for those that drew it from thy veins with cursed iron? didst thou dive into the depths of the grave that thou mightest lift out rebellious ones who scorned thee and would have none of thee? Then dissolved by thy goodness I fall before thy feet and I weep. My soul repents of sin—I weep—Lord accept me, Lord have mercy upon me."

     Did you think I have run away from my point? So I had, but I have brought you back to it. You know I was to shew that Christ could overcome our depravity. And he has done it in some of you while I have been speaking. You hated him, but you do not hate him now. It may be, you said you would never trust him, but you do trust him now. And if God has done this in your heart, this is the true end of preaching; the best way of keeping to the subject, is for the subject to be brought home to the heart. Ah! dear hearers, I wish I had a better voice this morning. I wish I had more earnest tones and a more loving heart, for I do feel when I am preaching about Christ, that I am a poor dauber. When I grant to paint him so beautiful, I am afraid you will say of him, he is not lovely! No, no; it is my bad picture of him; but he is lovely. Oh! he is a loving Lord. He has bowels of compassion; he has a heart brimful of tenderest affection; and he bids me tell you—and I do tell you that—he bids me say, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief." And he bids me add his kind invitation, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls." Do not believe what the devil tells you. He says that Christ is not ready to forgive; oh! he is more willing to forgive then you are to be forgiven. Do not believe your heart, when it says, that Christ will shut you out, and will not pardon you: Come and try him, come and try him; and the first one that is shut out, I will agree to be shut out with him. The first soul that Christ rejects after it has put its trust in him—I risk my soul's salvation with that man. It cannot be. He never was hard-hearted yet, and he never will be. Only believe, and may he himself help thee to believe. Only look to him, and may he himself open thine eyes and enable thee to look, and this shall be a happy morning. For though I may have spoken feebly, as I am too conscious I have, God will have worked powerfully; and unto him shall be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.



The Sweet Uses of Adversity

By / Nov 13

The Sweet Uses of Adversity

 

"Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me."—Job 10:2

 

     And will God content with man? If God be angry, can he not take away the breath of his nostrils, and lay him low in the dust of earth? If the heart of the Almighty be moved unto hot displeasure, can he not speak in his anger, and will not the soul of man sink into the lowest hell? Will God contend—will he set himself in battle array against his creature? and such a creature? —the creature of an hour—a thing that is not, that is here to-day and gone to-morrow? Will the Almighty contend with the nothingness of man? Will the everlasting God take up the weapons of war, and go out to fight against the insect of a day? Well might we cry out to him, "after whom is my Lord the King gone forth? After a dead dog: after a flea?" Wilt thou hunt the partridge on the mountains with an army, and wilt thou go forth against a gnat with shield and spear? Shall the everlasting God who fainteth not, neither is weary, at whose reproof the pillars of heaven's starry roof tremble and start—will he become combatant with a creature? Yet our text saith so. It speaks of God's contending with man. Ah, surely, my brethren, it needs but little logic to understand that this not a contention of anger, but a contention of love. It needs, methinks, but a short sight for us to discover that, if God contendeth with man, it must be a contention of mercy. There must be a design of love in this. If he were angry he would not condescend to reason with his creature, and to have a strife of words with him; much less would he put on his buckler, and lay hold on his sword, to stand up in battle and contend with such a creature as man. You will all perceive at once that there must be love even in this apparently angry word; that this contention must, after all, have something to do with contentment, and that this battle must be, after all, but a disguised mercy, but another shape of an embrace from the God of love. Carry this consoling reflection in your thoughts while I am preaching to you; and if any of you are saying to-day, "Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me," the very fact of God contending with you at all, the fact that he has not consumed you, that he has not smitten you to the lowest hell, may thus, at the very outset, afford consolation and hope.

     Now, I propose to address myself to the two classes of persons who are making use of this question. First, I shall speak to the tried saint; and then I shall speak to the seeking sinner, who has been seeking peace and pardon through Christ, but who has not as yet found it, but, on the contrary, has been buffeted by the law, and driven away from the mercy-seat in despair.

     I. First, then, to THE CHILD OF GOD. I have—I know I have—in this great assembly, some who have come to Job's position. They are saying, "My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me." Sometimes to question God is wicked. As the men of Bethshemesh were smitten with death when they dared to lift up the lid of the ark and look into its sacred mysteries, so is it often death to our faith to question God. It often happens that the sorest plagues come upon us on account of an impudent curiosity which longs to pry between the folded leaves of God's great council-book, and find out the reason for his mysterious providences. But, methinks this is a question that may be asked. Inquiring here will not be merely curious: for there will be a practical affect following therefrom. Tried saint! follow me while I seek to look into this mystery and answer your question, and I pray you, select that one of several answers which I shall propound, which shall, to your judgment, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, seem to be the right one. You have been tried by trouble after trouble: business runs cross against you; sickness is never out of your house; while in your own person you are the continual subject of a sad depression of spirit. It seems as if God were contending with you, and you are asking, "Why is this" 'Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.?'

     1. My first answer on God's part, my brother, is this—it may be that God is contending with thee that he may show his own power in upholding thee. God delighteth in his saints; and when a man delights in his child, if it be a child noted for its brightness of intellect, he delights to see it put through hard questions, because he knows that it will be able to answer them all. So God glories in his children. He loves to hear them tried, that the whole world may see that there is none like them on the face of the earth, and even Satan may be compelled before he can find an accusation against them, to resort to his inexhaustible fund of lies. Sometimes God on purpose puts his children in the midst of this world's trials. On the right, left, before, behind, they are surrounded. Within and without the battle rages. But there stands the child of God, calm amidst the bewildering cry, confident of victory. And then the Lord pointeth joyously to his saint, and he saith, "See, Satan, he is more than a match for thee. Weak though he is, yet through my power, he all things can perform." And sometimes God permits Satan himself to come against one of his children; and the black fiend of hell in dragon's wings, meets a poor Christian just when he is faint and weary from stumblings in the valley of humiliation. The fight is long and terrible, and, well it may be, for it is a worm combating with the dragon. But see what that worm can do. It is trodden under foot, and yet it destroys the heel that treads upon it. When the Christian is cast down he utters a cry, "Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy, for though I fall yet shall I rise again." And so God pointeth to his child and with, "See there! see what I can do: I can make flesh and blood more mighty than the most cunning spirit; I can make poor feeble foolish man, more than a match for all the craft and might of Satan." And what will you say to this third proof that God puts us through? Sometimes God doth as it were, himself enter into the lists; oh, let us wonder to tell it. God to prove the strength of faith, sometimes himself makes war on faith. Think not that this is a stretch of the imagination. It is plain simple fact. Have ye never heard of the brook Jabbok, and of that angel-clothed God who fought with Jacob there, and permitted Jacob to prevail? What was this for? It was this: thus had God determined, "I will strengthen the creature so much, that I will permit it to overcome its Creator." Oh, what noble work is this, that while God is casting down his child with one hand, he should be holding him up with the other: letting a measure of omnipotence fall on him to crush him, while the like omnipotence supports him under the tremendous load. The Lord shows the world—"See what faith can do! "Well does Hart sing of faith—

"It treads on the world and on hell;
It vanquishes death and despair;
And, O! let us wonder to tell,
It overcomes heaven by prayer."

     This is why God contends with thee: to glorify himself, by showing to angels, to men, to devils, how he can put such strength into poor puny man, that he can contend with his Maker, and become a prevailing prince like Israel, who as a prince had power of God, and prevailed. This, then, may be the first reason.

     2. Let me give you a second answer. Perhaps, O tried soul! the Lord is doing this to develope thy graces. There are some of thy graces that would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather, as it does in winter? Hast thou not heard that love is too often like a glow-worm, that showeth but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness? And dost thou not know that hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity? Dost thou not understand that afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of his children's graces, to make them shine the better. It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou west saying, "Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith." But dost thou know thou wast praying for trials, for thou canst not know that thou hast faith, until thy faith be exercised. Our trials, so to speak, are like wayfarers in a wood. When there is no intruder in the silent glades of the forest, the hare and the partridge lie; and there they rest, and no eye sees them. But when the intruding footstep is heard, then you see them start and run along the green lane, and you hear the whirr of the pheasant as it seeks to hide itself. Now, our trials are intruders upon our heart's rest; our graces start up and we discover them. They had lain in their lair, they had slept in their forms, they lead rested in their nests, unless these intruding trials had startled them from their places. I remember a simple rural metaphor used by a departed divine. He says he was never very skillful at birds' nesting in the summer time, but he could always find birds' nests in the winter. Now, it often happens that when a man has but little grace, you can scarcely see it when the leaves of his prosperity are on him; but let the winter's blast come and sweep away his withered leaves, and then you discover his graces. Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, it is real growth that is the result of these trials. There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a brood spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant. Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps, and cries, "My shelter is departed: every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me." "No, no," saith the angel of that flower, "now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection, shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, 'How greatly hath that plant increased! how glorious hath become its beauty through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!'" See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains his soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather beds, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which he makes soldiers—not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made, but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets, and roaring cannonades—not in soft and peaceful times. Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? This is the reason why he is contending with you.

     3. Another reason may be found in this. It may be the Lord contends with thee because thou hast some secret sin which is doing thee sore damage. Dost thou remember the story of Moses? Never a man better beloved than he of the Lord his God, for he was faithful in all his house as a servant. But dost thou remember how the Lord met him on the way as he was going to Egypt, and strove with him? find why? Because he had in his house an uncircumcised child. This child was, so long as it had not God's seal upon it, a sin in Moses; therefore God strove with him till the thing was done. Now, too often we have some uncircumcised thing in our house, some joy that is evil, some amusement that is sinful, some pursuit that is not agreeable to his will. And the Lord meets us often as he did Moses, of whom it is written—"The Lord met him by the way in the inn, and sought to kill him."—Exodus 4:24. Now search and look, for if the consolations of God be small with thee, there is some secret sin within. Put it away, lest God smite thee still more sorely, and vex thee in his hot displeasure. Trials often discover sins—sins we should never have found out if it had not been for them. We know that the houses in Russia are very greatly infested with rats and mice. Perhaps a stranger would scarcely notice them at first, but the time when you discover them is when the house is on fire; then they pour out in multitudes. And so doth God sometimes burn up our comforts to make our hidden sins run out; and then he enables us to knock them on the head and get rid of them. That may be the reason of your trial, to put an end to some long-fostered sin. It may be, too, that in this way God would prevent some future sin, some sin hidden from thine own eyes into which thou wouldst soon fall if it were not for his troubling thee by his providence. There was a fair ship which belonged to the great Master of the seas; it was about to sail from the port of grace to the haven of glory. Ere it left the shore the great Master said, "Mariners, be brave! Captain, be thou bold! for not a hair of your head shall perish; I will bring you safely to your desired haven. The angel of the winds is commissioned to take care of you on your way." The ship sailed right merrily with its streamers flying in the air. It floated along at a swift rate with a fair wind for many and many a day. But once upon a time there came a hurricane which drove them from the course, strained their mast until it bent as if it must snap in twain. The sail was gone to ribbons; the sailors were alarmed and the captain himself trembled. They had lost their course. "They were out of the right track," they said; and they mourned exceedingly. When the day dawned the waves were quiet, and the angel of the winds appeared; and they spoke unto him, and said, "Oh angel, wast thou not bidden to take charge of us, and preserve us on our journeys?" He answered, "It was even so, and I have done it. You were steering on right confidently, and you knew not that a little ahead of your vessel lay a quicksand upon which she would be wrecked and swallowed up quick. I saw that there was no way for your escape but to drive you from your course. See, I have done as it was commanded me: go on your way." Ah, this is a parable of our Lord's dealings with us. He often drives us from our smooth course which we thought was the right track to heaven. But there is a secret reason for it; there is a quicksand ahead that is not marked in the chart. We know nothing about it; but God seeth it, and he will not permit this fair vessel, which he has himself insured, to be stranded anywhere; he will bring it safely to its desired haven.

     4. I have now another reason to give, but it is one which some of you will not understand; some however will. Beloved, ye remember that it is written, that we "must bear the image of the heavenly," namely, the image of Christ. As he was in this world even so must we be. We must have fellowship with him in his sufferings, that we may be conformable unto his death. Hast thou never thought that none can be like the Man of Sorrow unless they have sorrows too? How can you be like unto him, who sweat as it were great drops of blood, if you do not sometimes say, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Think not, O well-beloved, that thou canst be like the thorn-crowned head, and yet never feel the thorn. Canst thou be like thy dying Lord, and yet be uncrucified? Must thy hand be without a nail, and thy foot without a wound? Canst thou be like him, unless like him thou art compelled to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" God is chiselling you—you are but a rough block—he is making you into the image of Christ; and that sharp chisel is taking away much which prevents your being like him. Must he who is our head be marred in his visage by reason of grief, and must we for ever rejoice and sing? It cannot be.

"The heirs of salvation, I know from his word,
Through much tribulation must follow their Lord."

     Sweet is the affliction which gives us fellowship with Christ. Blessed is the plough that ploughs deep furrows, if the furrows be like his. Blessed is the mouth that spits upon us, if the spittle be from the same cause as that which defiled his face. Blessed are the nails and thorns, and vinegar and spear, if they but make us somewhat like to him, in whose glory we shall be partakers when we shall see him as he is. This is a matter which all cannot understand, for it is a path which no unhallowed foot hath trodden, and no careless eye hath so much as seen it. But the true believer can rejoice therein, for he has had fellowship with Christ in his sufferings.

     5. To the child of God I shall give only one more reason. The Lord, it may be, contendeth with thee, my brother, to humble thee. We are all too proud; the humblest of us do but approach to the door of true humility. We are too proud, for pride, I suppose, runs in our very veins, and is not to be gotten out of us any more than the marrow from our bones. We shall have many blows before we are brought down to the right mark; and it is because we are so continually getting up that God is so continually putting us down again. Besides, don't you feel, in looking back on your past troubles, that you have after all been best when you have had troubles? I can truly say, there is a mournfulness in joy, and there is a sweet joy in sorrow. I do not know how it is, but that bitter wine of sorrow, when you once get it down gives such a warmth to the inner man as even the wine of Lebanon can scarce afford. It acts with such a tonic influence upon the whole system, that the very veins begin to thrill as the blood leaps therein. Strange influence! I am no physician, but yet I know that my sweet cup often leaves bitterness on the palate, and my bitter cup always leaves a sweet flavour in the mouth. There is a sweet joy in sorrow I cannot understand. There is music in this harp with its strings all unstrung and broken. There are a few notes I hear from this mournful lute that I never get from the loud-sounding trumpet. Softness and melody we get from the wail of sorrow, which we never get from the song of joy. Must we not account for this by the fact that in our troubles we live nearer to God? Our joy is like the wave as it dashes upon the shore—it throws us on the earth. But our sorrows are like that receding wave which sucks us back again into the great depth of Godhead. We should have been stranded and left high and dry upon the shore if it had not been for that receding wave, that ebbing of our prosperity, which carried us back to our Father and to our God again. Blessed affliction! it has brought us to the mercy seat; given life to prayer; enkindled love; strengthened faith; brought Christ into the furnace with us, and then brought us out of the furnace to live with Christ more joyously than before.

     Surely, I cannot answer this question better. If I have not hit upon the right reason, search and look my dearly beloved; for the reason is not far off if ye but look for it—the reason why he contendeth with you.

     II. I have thus done with the saints; I shall now turn myself to address THE SEEKING SINNER, who is wondering that he has found no peace and comfort. By the way—running a little apart from the subject—I heard a brother saying the other evening in describing his experience, that before he was converted he Was never sick, never had an affliction at all, but from the very hour when he became converted, he found that trials and troubles came upon him very thick. I have been thinking of that ever since, and I think I have found a reason for it. When we are converted, it is the time of the singing of birds; but do you know the time of the singing of birds is the time of the pruning of vines, and as sure as the time of the singing of birds is come the time of the pruning of vines is come also. God begins to try us as soon as he begins to make our soul sing. This is not running away from the subject. I thought it was. It has just brought me to address the sinner. You have come here this morning saying to yourself, "Sir, not long ago I was awakened to a sense of my lost estate. As I was directed I went home and sought mercy in prayer. From that day till now I have never ceased to pray. But, alas! I get no comfort, sir; I grow worse than ever I was before—I mean I grow more desponding, more sad. If you had asked me before conviction, sir, whether the path to heaven was easy, I should have said 'yes.' But now it seems to me to be strewn with flints. That I would not mind but, alas! methinks the gate is shut which lies at the end of the road; for I have knocked, and it has never opened; I have asked, and I have not received; I have sought, and I have not found. In fact, instead of getting peace I receive terror. God is contending with me. Can you tell me, sir, why it is? "I will try to answer the question, God helping me.

     1. My first answer shall be this. Perhaps, my dear hearer, God is contending with you for awhile, because as yet you are not thoroughly awakened. Remember, Christ will not heal your wound till he has probed it to its very core. Christ is no unqualified physician, no foolish surgeon, who would close up a wound with proud flesh in it; but he will take the lances, and cut, and cut, and cut again crossways, and he will lay the sore open, expose it, look into it, make it smart; and then after that, he will close up its mouth and make it whole. Perhaps thou hast not as yet known thine own vileness, thine own lost state. Now, Christ will have thee know thy poverty before he will make thee rich. His Holy Spirit will convince thee of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. He will strip thee, and though the pulling off of thy own righteousness be like flaying thee and tearing off the skin from thy breast, yet he will do it; for he will not clothe thee with the robe of his own righteousness till every rag of thy own self-sufficiency is pulled away. This is why God is contending with thee. Thou hast been on thy knees. Go lower, man—go lower; fall flat on thy face. Thou hast said, "Lord, I am nothing." Go lower, man; say, "Lord, I am less than nothing and the very chief of sinners." Thou hast felt somewhat; go ask that thou mayest feel more; may be yet more fully convinced of sin—may learn to hate it with a more perfect hatred, and to bewail thy lost estate with a wailing like that of Ramah, when Rachel wept for her children and would not be comforted because they were not. Seek to know the bottom of your case. Make it a matter of conscience to look thy sins in the face, and let hell also blaze before thee: realise the fact that thou deservest to be lost for ever. Sit down often and take counsel with the Lord thy God, whom thou hast grievously offended. Think of thy privileges, and how thou hast despised them; recollect the invitations thou hast heard, and how often thou hast rejected them; get a proper sense of sin, and it may be that God will cease to contend with thee, because the good is all obtained which he sought to give thee by this long and painful contention.

     2. Another answer I will give you is this: perhaps God contends with thee in order to try thy earnestness. There are many Mr. Pliables, who set out on the road to heaven for a little time, and the first boggy piece of road they come to, they creep out on that side which is nearest to their own house, and go back again. Now, God meets every pilgrim on the road to heaven and contends with him. If you can hold your own, and say, "Though he slay me yet will I trust in him;" if you can dare to do it, and be importunate with God, and say, "Though he never hear me, if I perish I will pray, and perish only there;" then you have got the mastery and you shall succeed. God's Spirit is teaching you how to wrestle and agonize in prayer. I have seen a man, when he has become solemnly in earnest about his soul, pray as though he was a very Samson, with the two gates of mercy in his hand, rocking them to and fro as though he would sooner pull them up—gates, and bar, and all—than he would go away without obtaining a blessing. God loves to see a man mighty in prayer, intent upon getting the blessing, resolved that he will have Christ, or he will perish seeking him. Now, be in earnest. Cry aloud! spare not! Rise in the night-watches! pour out your heart like water before the Lord, for he will answer thee when he hath heard the voice of thy crying; he will hearken to thy supplication and give thee the desire of thy heart.

     3. Yet, again, another matter. "May it not be, my dear hearers, that the reason why God contends with you and does not give you peace is, because you are harbouring some one sin" Now, I will not say what it is; I have known a man solemnly under conviction of sin, but the company which he kept on market-day was of such a caste, that until he was separated entirely from his companions, it was not possible he should have peace. I do not know what your peculiar besetting sin may be. It may be a love for frivolity; it may be the desire to associate with those who amuse you; it may be worse. But remember, Christ and thy soul will never be one till thou and thy sins are two. Thy desires and longings must make a clean sweep of the devil and all his crew, or else Christ will not come and dwell with thee. "Well," says one, "but I cannot be perfect." No, but you cannot find peace till you desire to be. Wherever you harbour a sin, there you harbour misery. One sin wilfully indulged in, and not forsaken by true repentance, will destroy the soul. Sins given up are like goods cast out at sea by the mariners in days of storm; they lighten the ship, and the ship will never float till you have thrown all your sins overboard. There is no hope whatever for you till you can truly say,

"Whate'er consists not with thy love,
O help me to resign."

"The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee."

     4. Then drawing near to a conclusion let me have your most solemn attention while I give one more hint as to the reason why you have not yet found peace. My dear hearers, perhaps it is because you do not thoroughly understand the plan of salvation. I do feel that all ministers, —and here perhaps, I am as great a sinner as any other, and I condemn myself while I chastise others—we all of us do in some way or other, I fear, help to dim the lustre of God's grace, as manifested in the cross of Christ. Often am I afraid lest I should prefer Calvinism to Calvary, lest I should put the sinner's sense of need like a quickset hedge round the cross, and keep the poor sinner from getting as near as he would to the bleeding Lamb of God. Ah, my dear hearers, remember if you would be saved, your salvation comes wholly and entirely from Jesus Christ, the dying Son of God. View him yonder, sinner, sweating in the garden! See the red drops of blood as they fall from that dear face! Oh, see him sinner, see him in Pilate's hall. View the streams of gore as they gush from those lacerated shoulders. See him, sinner, see him on his cross! View that head still marked with the wounds with which the thorns pierced his temples! Oh, view that face emaciated and marred! See the spittle still hanging there—the spittle of cruel mockers! See the eyes floating in tears with languid pity! Look, too, at those hands, and view them as they stream like founts of blood! Oh, stand and listen while he cries, "lama sabachthani!" Sinner, thy life is in him that died; thy healing is in yonder wounds; thy salvation is in his destruction. "Oh," says one, "but I cannot believe." Ah, brother, that was once my mournful cry. But I will tell you how I came to believe. Once upon a time, I was trying to make myself believe, and a voice whispered, "Vain man, vain man, if thou wouldst believe, come and see!" Then the Holy Spirit led me by the hand to a solitary place. And while I stood there, suddenly there appeared before me One upon his cross. I looked up, I had then no faith. I saw his eyes suffused with tears, and the blood still flowing: I saw his enemies about him hunting him to his grave; I marked his miseries unutterable; I heard the groaning which cannot be described; and as I looked up, he opened his eyes and said to me, "The Son of Man is come into the world to seek and to save that which was lost." I clapped my hands, and I said, "Jesus, I do believe, I must believe what thou hast said, I could not believe before, but the sight of thee has breathed faith into my soul. I dare not doubt—it were treason, it were high treason to doubt thy power to save." Dissolved by his agonies, I fell on the ground, and embraced his feet, and when I fell, my sin fell also! And I rejoiced in love divine that blots out sin and saves from death.

     Oh my friend, you will never get faith by trying to make yourself have it. Faith is the gift of Christ! go and find it in his veins. There is a secret spot where faith is treasured up; it is in the heart of Christ; go and catch it sinner as it flows therefrom. Go to your chamber, and sit down and picture Christ in holy vision, dying on the tree, and as your eye sees, your heart shall melt, your soul shall believe, and you shall rise from your knees and cry, "I know whom I may believe, and I am persuaded he is able to save that which I have committed to him until that day."

     And now, may the love of Christ Jesus, and the grace of his Father, and the fellowship of his Spirit, be with you for ever and ever. Amen and Amen.



The Saviour’s Many Crowns

By / Oct 30

The Saviour's Many Crowns

 

"On his head were many crowns."—Revelation 19:12

 

     Ah, well ye know what head this was, and ye have not forgotten its marvellous history. A head which once in infancy reclined upon the bosom of a woman! A head which was meekly bowed in obedience to a carpenter! A head which became in after years a fountain of water, and a reservoir of tears. A head which "sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground!" A head which was spit upon, whose hair was plucked: A head which at the last in the grim agony of death, crowned with thorns, gave utterance to the terrible death-shriek—lama sabachthani! A head which afterwards slept in the grave; and—glory be unto him that liveth and was dead, but is alive for evermore—a head which afterwards rose again from the tomb, and looked with radiant eyes of love upon the holy women waiting at the sepulcher. This is the head whereof John speaks in the words of the text. Who would have thought that a head, the visage of which was more marred than that of any other man—a head which suffered more from the tempests of heavenward of earth than ever mortal brow before, should now be surrounded with these many diadems, these star-bestudded crowns!

     My brethren, it needs John himself to expound this glorious vision to you. Alas my eye has not yet seen the heavenly glory, nor has my ear heard the celestial song, I am therefore but as a little child among topless mountains, overawed with grandeur, and speechless with awe. Pray for me that I may utter a few words which the Holy Spirit may comfortably apply to your souls, for if he help me not, I am helpless indeed. With his divine aid, I dare to look upon the glorious diadems of our Lord and King. The crowns upon the head of Christ are of three sorts. First, there are the crowns of dominions, many of which are on his head. Next, there are the crowns of victory, which he has won in many a terrible battle. Then there are the crowns of thanksgiving with which his church and all his people have delighted to crown his wondrous head.

     I. First, then, let every believing eye look through the thick darkness and behold Jesus us he sits this day upon the throne of his Father, and let every heart rejoice while it sees the many CROWNS OF DOMINION upon his head. First, and foremost, there sparkles about his brow the everlasting diadem of the King of Heaven. His are the angels. The cherubim and seraphim continually bound forth his praise. At his behest the mightiest spirit delights to fly, and carry his commands to the most distant world". He has but to speak, and it is done. Cheerfully is he obeyed, and majestically doth he reign. His high courts are thronged with holy spirits, who live upon his smile, who drink light from his eyes, who borrow glory from his majesty. There is no spirit in heaven so pure that it does not bow before him, no angel so bright that it does not veil its face with its wings, when it draweth near to him. Yea, moreover, the many spirits redeemed, delight to bow before him, day without night they circle his throne, singing—"Worthy is he that was slain and hath redeemed us from our sins by his blood, honor, and glory, and majesty, and power, and dominion, and might, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." To be King of heaven were surely enough! The ancients were accustomed to divide heaven, and earth, and hell, into divers monarchies, and allot each of them to distinct kings; and surely heaven were an empire large enough even for an infinite Spirit. Christ is Lord of all its boundless plains. He laid the precious stones upon which was builded that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; he is the light of that city, he is the joy of its inhabitants, and it is their loving life evermore to pay him honor. Side by side with this bright crown behold another. It is the iron crown of hell, for Christ reigneth there supreme. Not only in the dazzling brightness of heaven, but in the black impenetrable darkness of hell is his omnipotence felt, and his sovereignty acknowledged; the chains which bind damned spirits are the chains of his strength; the fires which burn are the fires of his vengeance; the burning rays that scorch through their eyeballs, and melt their very heart, are flashed from his vindictive eye. There is no power in hell besides his. The very devils know his might. He chaineth the great dragon. If he give him a temporary liberty, yet is the chain in his hand, and he can draw him back lest he go beyond his limit. Hell trembles at him. The very howlings of lost spirits are but deep bass notes of his praise. While in heaven the glorious notes shout forth his goodness; in hell the deep growlings resound his justice, and his certain victory over all his foes. Thus his empire is higher than the highest heaven, and deeper than the lowest hell. This earth also is a province of his wide domains. Though small the empire compared with others, yet from this world hath he perhaps derived more glory than from any other part of his dominions. He reigns on earth. On his head is the crown of creation. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." His voice said, "Let there be light," and there was light. It was his strength that piled the mountains, and his wisdom balances the clouds. He is Creator. If you lift your eye to the upper spheres, and behold yon starry worlds—he made them. They are not self-created. He struck them off like sparks from the anvil of his omnipotence; and there they glitter, upheld and supported by his might. He made the earth and all men that be upon it, the cattle on a thousand hills, and the birds that make glad the air. The sea is his, and he made it also. Leviathan he hath formed, and though that monster maketh the deep to be hoary, yet is he but a creature of his power. Together with this crown of creation there is yet another—the crown of providence, for he sustaineth all things by the word of his power. Everything must cease to be, if it were not for the continual out-going of his strength. The earth must die, the sun must grow dim with age, and nature sink in years, if Christ supplied it not with perpetual strength. He sends the howling blasts of winter; he, anon, restrains them and breathes the breath of spring; he ripens the fruits of summer, and he makes glad the autumn with his harvest. All things know his will. The heart of the great universe beats by his power; the very sea derives its tide from him. Let him once withdraw his hands, and the pillars of earth must tremble; the stars must fall like fig leaves from the tree, and all things must be quenched in the blackness of annihilation. On his head is the crown of providence. And next to this there glitters also the thrice-glorious crown of grace. He is the King of grace: he gives, or he withholds. The river of God's mercy flows from underneath his throne; he sits as Sovereign in the dispensation of mercy. He hath the key of heaven; he openeth, and no man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man openeth; he calleth, and the stubborn heart obeys; he willeth, and the rebellious spirit bends its knee; for he is Master of men, and when he wills to bless, none can refuse the benediction. He reigneth in his church amidst willing spirits; and he reigns for his church over all the nations of the world, that he may gather unto himself a people that no man can number who shall bow before the scepter of his love.

     I pause here, overcome by the majesty of the subject, and instead of attempting to describe that brow, and those glittering crowns, I shall act the part of a seraph, and bow before that well-crowned head, and cry, "Holy, holy, holy, art thou Lord God of hosts! The keys of heaven, and death, and hell, hang at thy girdle; thou art supreme, and unto thee be glory for ever and ever."

     And now, my brothers, what say you to this? Do not sundry thoughts at once stir in your hearts? Methinks I hear one say, "If this be so, if Christ hath these many crowns of dominion, how vain it is for me to rebel against him." My hearers, it may be, some of you are striving against Christ. Like Saul of Tarsus, you have become "exceeding mad" against him. Your wife frequents the house of God, and you forbid her. You persecute your child because she follows Jesus. You hate the very name of Christ; you curse his servants; you despise his Word. You would if you could, spit upon his ministers; and, perhaps, burn his people. This know, that you have undertaken a battle in which you are certain of defeat. Who ever above against him and prospered? Go O man and do battle against the lightning, and hold the thunder-bolt in thine hand; go and restrain the sea, and hush the billows, and hold the winds in the hollow of thine hand; and when thou hast done this, then lift thy puny hand against the King of kings. For he that was crucified is thy Master, and though thou oppose him thou shalt not succeed. In thy utmost malice thou shalt be defeated, and the vehemence of thy wrath shall but return upon thine own head. Methinks I see this day the multitudes of Christ's enemies. They stand up; they take counsel together—"Let us break his bands in sunder; let us cast away his cords from us." Hear ye, O rebels, yonder deep-sounding laugh? Out of the thick darkness of his tabernacle, Jehovah laughs at you. He hath you in derision. He saith "I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Come on, ye enemies of Christ, and be dashed in pieces. Come on in your most vehement force, and fall like the waves that are broken against the immovable rock. He ruleth and he will rule; and you one day shall be made to feel his power. For "At the name of Jesus every knee must bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth."

     Another thought, right full of comfort springs up to my mind. Believer, look to Christ's thrice-crowned head this day and be comforted. Is providence against thee? Correct thy speech; thou hast erred, God hath not become thine enemy. Providence is not against thee, for Jesus is its King; he weighs its trials and counts its storms. Thy enemies may strive, but they shall not prevail against thee—he shall smite them upon the cheek-bone. Art thou passing through the fire? The fire is Christ's dominion. Art thou going through the floods? They shall not drown thee; for even the floods obey the voice of the Omnipotent Messiah. Wherever thou art called, thou canst not go where Jesus's love reigns not. Commit thyself into his hands. However dark thy circumstance, he can make thy pathway clear. Though night surround thee, he shall surely bring the day. Only trust thou in him; leave thy concerns both little and great in his Almighty hands, and thou shalt yet see how kind his heart, how strong his hand to bring thee out and glorify thee. Repose your confidence in him who is the King of kings. Come bring your burdens each one of you to his feet, and take a song away. If your hearts be heavy bring them here; the golden scepter can lighten them. If your griefs be many, tell them into his ear; his loving eyes can scatter them, and through the thick darkness shall there be a bright light shining, and you shall see his face and know that all is well.

     I am sure there is no more delightful doctrine to a Christian, than that of Christ's absolute sovereignty. I am glad there is no such thing as chance, that nothing is left to itself, but that Christ everywhere hath sway. If I thought that there was a devil in hell that Christ did not govern, I should be afraid that devil would destroy me, If I thought there was a circumstance on earth, which Christ did not over-rule, I should fear that that circumstance would ruin me. Nay, if there were an angel in heaven that was not one of Jehovah's subjects, I should tremble even at him. But since Christ is King of kings, and I am his poor brother, one whom he loves, I give all my cares to him, for he careth for me; and leaning on his breast, my soul hath full repose, confidence, and security.

     II. And now, in the second place, Christ hath many CROWN'S OF VICTORY. The first diadems which I have mentioned are his by right. He is God's only begotten and well-beloved Son, and hence be inherits unlimited dominions. But viewed as the Son of Man, conquest has made him great, and his own right hand and his holy arm have won for him the triumph. In the first place, Christ has a crown which I pray that every one of you may wear. He has a crown of victory over the world. For thus saith he himself, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Did you ever think of what a stern battle that was which Christ had to fight with the world? The world first said, "I will extinguish him, he shall not be known;" and it threw on Christ heaps of poverty that there he might be smothered. But he shone in his poverty, and the seamless coat shone with greater light than the robe of the rabbi. Then the world attacked him with its threatenings. Sometimes they dragged him to the brow of a hill to cast him down headlong; at another time they took up stones to stone him. But he who was not to be bidden by poverty, was not to be quenched by threatening. And then the world tried its blandishments; it came with a fair face and presented to him a crown. They would have taken Christ and would have made him a king; but he who cared not for their frowns was regardless of their smiles. He put away the crown from him; he came not to be a king but to suffer and to die. "My kingdom is not of this world," said he, "else would my servants fight." Have you never thought how through thirty years the world tempted Christ? That temptation of the devil in the wilderness was not the only one which he had to endure. Trials of every shape and size surrounded him, the world emptied its quiver, and shot all its arrows against the breast of the spotless Redeemer; but all holy, all unharmed was he. Still separate from sinners, he walked among them without defilement; feasted among them, and yet did not sanction their gluttony; drank with them, and yet was not a drunkard, acted as they acted in all innocent things, and was the world's man, and yet not a man of the world. He was in the world, but he was not of it; separate, and yet one of themselves; united to our race by closest ties, and yet evermore separate and distinguished from all mankind. I would, my brethren, that we could imitate Christ in our battle with the world. But alas, the world oftentimes gets the upper hand of us. Sometimes we yield to its smiles, and often do we tremble before its frowns. Have hope and courage, believer; be like your Master, be the world's foe and overcome it, yield not, suffer it never to entrap your watchful feet. Stand upright amid all its pressure, and be not moved by all its enchantments. Christ did this, and therefore around his head is that right royal crown of victory; trophy of triumph over the entire forces of the world.

     Furthermore, the next crown he wears is the crown by which he has overcome sin. Sin has been more than a match for creatures of every kind. Sin fought the angels and a third part of the stars of heaven fell. Sin defied the perfect Adam and soon overcame him, for even at the first blow he fell. Sin had a stern contest with Jesus our Lord, but in him it found its master. Sin came with all its temptations, but Christ resisted and overcame. It came with its horror and with its curse; Christ suffered, Christ endured, and so destroyed its power. He took the poisoned darts of the curse into his own heart, and there quenched its poison fires by shedding his own blood. By suffering, Christ has become master over sin. The dragon's neck is now beneath his feet. There is not a temptation which he has not known and therefore not a sin which he has not overcome. He has cast down every shape and form of evil, and now for ever stands he more than a conqueror through his glorious sufferings. Oh, my brethren, how bright that crown which he deserves, who hath for ever put away our sin by the sacrifice of himself. My soul enraptured restrains my voice, and once again I bow before his throne and worship, in spirit, My bleeding Ransomer, my suffering Saviour.

     And then again, Christ wears about his head the crown of death. He died, and in that dreadful hour he overcame death, rifled the sepulcher, split the stone which guarded the mouth of the grave, hewed death in pieces and destroyed the arch-destroyer. Christ seized the iron limbs of Death and ground them to powder in his hand. Death swayed his scepter over all the bodies of men, but Christ has opened the gate of resurrection for his redeemed, and in that day when he shall put the trumpet to his lips and blow the resurrection blast, then shall it be seen how Christ is universal monarch over all the domains of death, for as the Lord our Saviour rose, so all his followers must. And then again, Christ is not only Lord of the world, king of sin, and king of death, but he is king of Satan too. He met that arch fiend foot to foot. Fearful was the struggle, for our champion sweat as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground; but he hewed his way to victory through his own body, through the agonies of his own soul. Desperate was the encounter. Head and hands, and feet and heart were wounded, but the Saviour flinched not from the fight. He rent the lion of the pit as though he were a kid, and broke the dragon's head in pieces. Satan was nibbling at Christ's heel, Christ trod on him and smashed his head. Now hath Jesus led captivity captive, and is master over all the hosts of hell. Glorious is that victory! Angels repeat the triumphant strain, his redeemed take up the song; and you, ye blood-bought sons of Adam, praise him too, for he hath overcome all the evil of hell itself.

     And yet, once again, another crown hath Christ, and that is the crown of victory over man. Would to God, my hearers, that he wore a crown for each of you. What hard work it is to fight with the evil heart of man. If you wish him to do evil, you can soon overcome him; but if you would overcome him with good, how hard the struggle! Christ could have man's heart, but man would not give it to him. Christ tried him in many a way; he woed him, but man's heart was hard and would not melt. Moses came, and said, "My Master, let me try and open man's heart;" and he used the fire, and the whirlwind, and the hammer of God; but the heart would not break, and the spirit would not open to Christ. Then Christ came, and he said, "Hard-heart, I will win thee; O, icy Soul, I will melt thee." And the Soul said. "No, Jesus, I defy thee." But Christ said, "I will do it." And he came once upon a time to the poor Hard-heart, and brought his cross with him. "See, Hard-heart," said he, "I love thee; though thou lovest not me, yet I love thee, and in proof of this, see here; I will hang upon this cross." And as Hard-heart looked on, suddenly fierce men nailed the Saviour to the tree. His hands were pierced; his soul was rent in agony, and looking down on the Hard-heart, Jesus said, "Hard-heart, wilt thou not love me? I love thee; I have redeemed thee from death; though thou me, yet do I die for thee; though thou kickest against me yet will I surely carry thee to my throne." And the Hard-heart said, "Jesus, I can bear it no longer, I yield to thee. thy love has overcome me; oh, I would be thy subject for ever, only remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom, and let me be numbered with thy subjects both now and for ever." My hearers, has Christ ever overcome you? Say, has his love bean too much for you? Have you been compelled to give up your sins, woed by his love divine? Have your eyes been made to run with tears at the thought of his affection for you, and of your own ingratitude? Have you ever thought this over? —"I, the blackest of sinners, have despised him; his Bible I have left unread; his blood I have trampled under foot, and yet he died for me, and loved me with an everlasting love." Surely, this has made you bow your knee; this has made your spirit cry—

"Oh, sovereign grace my heart subdue;
I will be led in triumph, too,
A willing captive to my Lord
To sing the triumphs of his Word."

     If this be the case with you, then you may yourself recognize one of the many crowns that are on his head.

     III. Now, this brings me to the third point, and may I very earnestly ask your prayers, that, feeble as I am this morning, I may be helped while I endeavor to dwell upon this sweet subject.

     I am preaching in my own spirit against wind and tide. There are times when one preaches with pleasure and delight, enjoying the Word, but now I can get nothing for myself, even if I am giving you anything. Pray for me, that nevertheless the Word may be blessed, that in my weakness God's strength may appear.

     The third head deals with the CROWNS OF THANKSGIVING. Surely, concerning these we may well say, "On his head are many crowns." In the first place, all the mighty doers in Christ's church ascribe their crown to him. What a glorious crown is that which Elijah will wear—the man who went to Ahab, and when Ahab said, "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" reproved him to his very face—the man who took the prophets of Baal, and let not one of them escape, but hewed them in pieces and made them a sacrifice to God. What a crown will he wear who ascended into heaven in a chariot of fire! What a crown, again, belongs to Daniel, saved from the lion's den—Daniel, the earnest prophet of God. What a crown will be that which shall glitter on the head of the weeping Jeremy, and the eloquent Esaias! What crowns are those which shall begirt the heads of the apostles! What a weighty diadem is that which Paul shall receive for his many years of service! And then, my friends, how shall the crown of Luther glitter, and the crown of Calvin; and what a noble diadem shall that be which Whitfield shall wear, and all those men who have so valiantly served God, and who by his might have put to flight the armies of the Aliens, and have maintained the gospel banner erect in troublous times! Nay, but let me point to you a scene. Elijah enters heaven, and where goes he with that crown which is instantly put upon his head? See, he flies to the throne, and stooping there, he uncrowns himself; "Not unto me, not unto me but unto thy name be all the glory!" See the prophets as they steam in one by one; without exception, they put their crowns upon the head of Christ. And mark the apostles, and all the mighty teachers of the church; they all bow there and cast their crowns at his feet, who, by his grace, enabled them to win them.

"I ask them whence their victory came;
They, with united breath,
Ascribe their triumph to the Lamb,
Their conquest to HIS DEATH."

     Not only the mighty doers but the mighty sufferers do this. How brilliant are the ruby crowns of the martyred saints. From the stake, from the gibbet, from the fire, they ascended up to God; and among the bright ones they are doubly bright, fairest of the mighty host that surrounds the throne of the Blessed One. What crowns they wear! I must confess that I have often envied them. It is a happy thing to live in peaceful days; but while happy, it is not honorable. How much more honorable to have died the death of Lawrence, grilled to death upon that fiery gridiron, or to die pierced with spears, with every bone dislocated on the rack! A noble way of serving Christ, to have stood calmly in the midst of the fires, and have clapped one's hands, and cried. "I can do all things, even give my body to be burned for his dear names sake!" What crowns are those which martyr's wear! An angel might blush to think that his dignity was so small compared with that of those riders in chariots of fire. Where are all those crowns? They are on the head of Christ. Not a martyr wears his crown; they all take their blood-red crowns, and then they place them on his brow—the fire crown, the rack crown, there I see them all glitter. For it was his love that helped them to endure; it was by his blood that they overcame.

     And then, brethren, think of another list of crowns. They who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. There are a few men whom God has enabled to do much for the church and much for the world. They spend and are spent. Their bodies know no rest, their souls no ease. Like chariots instinct with life, or dragged by unseen but resistless coursers, they fly from duty to duty, from labor to labor. What crowns shall theirs be when they come before God, when the souls they have saved shall enter paradise with them, and when they shall say, "Here am I and the children which thou hast given me! "What shouts of acclamation, what honors, what rewards shall then be given to the winners of souls! What will they do with their crowns? Why, they will take them from their heads and lay them there where sits the Lamb in the midst of the throne. There will they bow and cry, "Jesus, we were not saviours, thou didst it all; we were but thy servants. The victory belongs not to us but to our Master. We did reap, but thou didst sow, we did cast in the net, but thou didst fill it full. All our success is accomplished through thy strength, and by the power of thy grace." Well may it be said of Christ, "On his head are many crowns."

     But see, another host approaches. I see a company of cherubic spirits flying upwards to Christ; and who are these? I know them not. They are not numbered among the martyrs; I read not their names among the apostles; I do not even distinguish them as having been written amongst the saints of the living God. Who are these? I ask one of them, "Who are you, ye bright and sparkling spirits?" The leader replies, "We are the glorious myriad of infants, who compose the family above. We from our mother's breasts fled straight to heaven, redeemed by the blood of Christ. We were washed from original depravity, and we have entered heaven. From every nation of the earth have we come; from the days of the first infant even to the winding up of earth's history, we in flocks have sped hither like doves to their windows." "How came ye here, ye little ones?" They reply, "through the blood of Christ, and we come to crown him Lord of all." I see the countless multitude surround the Saviour, and flying to him, each one puts its crown upon his head, and then begins to sing again louder than before. But yonder I see another company following them. "And who are ye?" The reply is, "Our history on earth is the very opposite of the story of those bright spirits that have gone before. We lived on earth for sixty, or seventy, or eighty years, until we tottered into our graves from very weakness; when we died there was no marrow in our bones, our hair had grown grey, and we were crisp and dry with age." "How came ye here?" They reply—"After many years of strife with the world, of trials and of troubles, we entered heaven at last." "And ye have crowns I see." "Yes," they say, "but we intend not to wear them." "Whither are ye going then?" "We are going to yonder throne for our crowns have been surely given us by grace, for nothing but grace could have helped us to weather the storm so many, many years." I see the grave and reverend sires pass one by one before the throne, and there they lay their crowns at his blessed feet, and then shouting with the infant throng, they cry, "Salvation unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

     And then I see following behind them another class. And who are ye? Their answer is "We are the chief of sinners, saved by grace." And here they come—Saul of Tarsus, and Manasseh, and Rahab, and many of the same class. And how came ye here? They reply, "We have had much forgiven, we were grievous sinners, but the love of Christ reclaimed us, the blood of Christ washed us, and whiter than snow are we, though once we were black as hell." And whither are ye going? They reply, "We are going to cast our crowns at his feet, and 'Crown him Lord of all.'" Among that throng, my dear hearers, I hope it may be my lot to stand. Washed from many sins, redeemed by precious blood, happy thou that moment be, when I shall take my crown from off my head, and put it on the head of him whom having not seen I love, but in whom believing, I rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And it is a happy thought for me, this morning. that many of you will go with me there. Come brother and sisters; in a few more years, many of us who have met Sunday after Sunday in this Music Hall, will walk up in one hand; and without exception, ye saints of God, I am persuaded we shall be prepared there to lay all our honors down, and to ascribe unto him the glory for ever and ever. "Ah, but" says Little-Faith, "I fear I shall never get into heaven, and therefore I shall never crown him." Yes, but Little-Faith, do you know that one of the richest crowns Christ ever wears, and one of the brightest which adorns his brow, is the crown which Little-Faith puts on his head? For Little-Faith when it gets to heaven will say, "O what grace has been shown to me, that though the meanest of the family, I have still been kept—though least of all the saints, yet hell has not prevailed against me—though weaker than the weakest, yet as my days so has my strength been." Will not your gratitude be great? Will not your song be loud, when approaching his dear feet, you lay your honors there and cry, "Blessed be Jesus who has kept my poor soul in all its dangers, and brought me safely at last to himself?" "On his head were many crowns."

     I cannot preach any longer, but I must ask you this question, my dear hearers: Have you a crown to put on the head of Jesus Christ to-day? "Yes," says one, "I have. I must crown him for having delivered me out of my last great trouble." "I must crown him," says another, "for he has kept up my spirits when I was well nigh despairing." "I must crown him," says another, "for he has crowned me with lovingkindness and tender mercy." Methinks I see one standing yonder who says, "Would that I could crown him. If he would but save me, I would crown him. Ah, if he would but give himself to me, I would gladly give myself to him. I am too worthless and too vile." Nay, my brother, but does your heart say, "Lord have mercy upon me?" Does your soul now crave pardon and forgiveness through the blood of Christ? Then go boldly near him this day and say to him, "Jesus, I the chief of sinners am, but I rely upon thee;" and in so saying thou put a crown upon his head which shall make glad his heart, even as in the day when his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals. Make this the day of your espousals to him. Take him to be thy all in all, and then mayest thou look at this text with pleasure and say, "Yes, on his head are many crowns, and I have put one there, and I shall put another there ere long."

     God add his blessing, for Jesus sake! Amen.



The Chaff Driven Away

By / Oct 23

The Chaff Driven Away

 

"The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away."—Psalm 1:4

 

     And who are the ungodly? Are they open and wilful sinners—men who take God's name in vain, and curse, and blaspheme—men who break the laws of man, the laws of the state—men who are scarcely to be trusted with liberty? Certainly these are included, but these are not mainly intended. While such men come under the category of "sinners" and "scorners," there is another class expressly aimed at by the term "ungodly." And who are the ungodly? Are they the men who deny God's existence, who neglect the outward forms of religion, who scoff at everything that is sacred, and make a ribald jest of things at which angels tremble? These are included, most certainly, but neither are these the men specially aimed at. They are the scornful, the pestilent: these are the men whose iniquities have gone beforehand to judgment against them, and whose sins are clammering before the throne for justice. Another class of men is intended under the term "ungodly." And who are they? Surely, my brethren, the answer may well strike you with awe. I do trust there are not many in this hall who may be called scorners; and, perhaps, not very many who would come under the denomination of open profligates and rebels; but how large a proportion of all those who attend our places of worship may justly be ranked under the character of the ungodly! What does this exactly mean? Let me just show its differences once again, and then more precisely define it.

     We sometimes call men irreligious; and, surely, to be irreligious is bad enough; but to be religious is not good enough. A man may be religious, but yet he may not be godly. There are many who are religious; as touching the law outwardly they are blameless; Hebrews of the Hebrews, Pharisees of the straitest sect. They neglect no rubric, they break no law of their church, they are exceedingly precise in their religion; yet, notwithstanding this, they may rank under the class of the ungodly; for to be religious is one thing. and to be godly is quite another. To be godly, then, —to come at once to the mark—to be godly is to have a constant eye to God, to recognize him in all things, to trust him, to love him, to serve him. And the ungodly man is one who does not have an eye to God in his daily business, who lives in this world as if there were no God; while he attends to all the outward ceremonies of religion, he never goes to their core, never enters into their secret heart and their deep mysteries. He sees the sacraments, but he sees not God therein; he hears the preaching, he comes up to the house of prayer, into the midst of the great congregation, he bows his head, but there is no present Deity to him, there is no manifest God. There is no hearing of his voice, there is no bowing before his throne. Doubtless, there is a large number here who must confess that they are not trusting in the blood of Christ, they are not influenced by the Holy Ghost, they do not love God; they cannot say that the bent and tenour of their fires is towards him. Why you have been the last six days about your business, occupying all your time, —and quite right is it to be diligent in business—but how many of you have forgotten God all the while? You have been trading for yourselves, not for God. The righteous man does everything in the name of God: at least, this is his constant desire. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatsoever he does, he desires to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. But you have not recognized God in your shop. You have not acknowledged him in your dealings with your fellow-men. You have acted towards them as if there had been no God whatever.

     And, perhaps, even this day you must confess that your heart does not love the Lord. You have never gone into his company. You do not seek retirement. You do not relish private prayer. Now God's children cannot be happy without sometimes talking to their Father. The sons of God must have frequent interviews with Jehovah. They love to cling to him. They feel that he is their life, their love, their all. Their daily cry is, "Lord, draw me to thyself; come thou to me, or draw me up to thee." They pant to know more of God; they long to reflect more of his image, they seek to keep his law; and it is their desire that they may be saturated with his Spirit. But such are not your desires. You have no such longings as these. It is true you are not addicted to strong drink, you do not swear, you are no thief, you are no harlot. In all these things you are blameless; but yet are you ungodly, without God in the world. He is not your friend, he is not your helper. You do not cleave to him with purpose of heart. You are not his child. You have not "the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." You could do as well without a God as with one. In fact you feel that the thought of God, if you think of it solemnly, strikes you with terror, and excites in your breasts, no emotions of delight. You are ungodly. Well then, mark, whatever I have to say this morning, belongs to you. Don't be looking round you and saying, I wonder how this will suit my neighbor. Do not I beseech you be thinking of some thriftless loon who has spent his estate in extravagance and debauchery, but be thinking of yourself. If you are not born again, if you are not a partaker of the Spirit, if you are not reconciled to God, if your sins be not forgiven, if you are not this day a living member of the living church of Christ, all the curses that are written in this book belong to you, and that part of them in particular which it will be my solemn business to thunder out this morning. I pray God that this part may be applied to your soul, that you may be made to tremble before the Most High, and seek him who will certainly be found of you, if you seek him with all your hearts.

     You will readily perceive that my text may be divided into three parts. You have, first, a fearful negative—"The ungodly are not so." You have in the next place a terrible comparison—"they are like the chaff. Then you have, thirdly, an awful prophesy—"They are like the chaff which the wind driveth away."

     I. First, then, you have here A FEARFUL NEGATIVE. The vulgate Latin version, the Arabic and Septuagint, read this first sentence thus: —"Not so the ungodly, not so;" for according to their version there is a double negative here—"Not so the ungodly, not so." Now in order to understand what is meant by this negative you must read the third verse. The righteous man is said to be "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper;"—"Not so the ungodly, not so."

     To explore the negative, we must take each clause of this sentence. The ungodly are not like a tree planted. If they may be compared to a tree at all, they are as trees "twice dead plucked up by the roots;" or if they are to be compared to anything that hath life, then are they like the tree in the desert which is planted there by a chance hand, which hath nought to nourish it. It is the peculiar characteristic of the Christian man, that he is like "a tree planted." That is to say, there is a special providence exercised in his position and in his culture. You all know the difference between a tree that is planted and a tree that is self-sown. The tree that is planted in the garden is visited by the husbandman. He digs about it; he dungs it; he trims it, prunes it, and looks for its fruit. It is an object of property and of special care. The wild tree in the forest, the tree which is self-sown upon the plain, no one owns, no one watches over it; no heart will sigh if the lightning flash shall shiver it; no tear will be wept if the blast should light upon it and all its leaves should wither. It is no man's property. It shelters no man's roof. No man careth for it. Let it die, why doth it stand there to suck nourishment from the soil and yield none again.

     The ungodly are, it is true, the subjects of a universal providence, even as everything is ordered of God; but the righteous have a special providence over them. They are trees planted. Everything which takes place works together for their good. The Lord their God is their guardian. He watches the earth that it should bring forth for them its fruit. The precious things of the heavens, the dew, and the deep that coucheth beneath, and the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and the precious things put forth by the moon—these are their heritage. He watcheth everything round about them. If pestilence stalk through the land, he permitteth not one of its shafts to hit, unless he seeth it is for good. If war ariseth, behold he stretches his aegis over his children; and if famine comes, they shall be fed, and in the days of scarcity they shall be satisfied. Is it not a glorious thing for the Christian to know that the very hairs of his head are all numbered, that the angels of God keep watch and ward over him; that the Lord is his shepherd, and therefore, he shall not want? I know this is a doctrine that often comforts me. Let what will happen, if I can but fall back upon the thought that there is a providence in everything, what do I need? A providence in the great and in the little there assuredly is to every child of God. It may be said of every tree of the Lord's right hand planting—"I the Lord do keep it, and will water it every moment; lest any hurt it I will watch it night and day." Upon the righteous there are not only ten eyes, but there are all the eyes of the Omniscient ever fixed both by night and day. The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous. They are like the planted tree. Not so, ye that are ungodly, not so ye; there is no special providence for you. To whom will ye carry your troubles? Where is your shelter in the day of wrath? Where is your shield in the hour of battle? Who shall be your sun when darkness shall gather about you? Who shall comfort you when your troubles shall encompass you round? You have no eternal arm to lean upon. You have no compassionate heart to beat for you. You have no loving eye to watch you. You are left alone! alone! alone! like the heath in the desert, or like the forest tree which no man regardeth, until the time comes when the sharpened axe shall be lifted up, and the tree must fall. "Not so," then "the ungodly, not so." 'Tis a fearful negative the ungodly man is not the object of the special providence of God.

     But we must proceed. The righteous man is like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Now, a tree that is planted by the rivers of water sends out its roots, and they soon draw sufficient nourishment. The tree that is planted far away upon the arid desert hath its times of drought, it depends upon the casual thunder-cloud that sweeps over it, and distils the scanty drops of rain. But this tree planted by rivers of water hath a perennial supply. It knows no drought, no time of scarcity. Its roots have but to suck up the nourishment which pours itself lavishly there. "Not so the ungodly, not so." They have no such rivers from which to suck their joy, their comfort, and their life. As for the believer, come what may, he can any—if earth shall fail him, then will he look to heaven. If man forsake him, then he looks to the divine man Christ Jesus. If the world should shake, his inheritance is on high. If everything should pass away, he hath a portion that can never be dissolved. He is planted not by brooks that may be dried up, far less in a desert, which only hath a scanty share, but by the rivers of water. Oh, my beloved brethren, you and I know something about what this means. We know what it is to suck up the promises, to drink of the rivers of Christ's fullness. We know what it is to partake and satisfy ourselves as with marrow and fatness. Well may we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, for our storehouse is inexhaustible, our riches can never be spent. We have wealth that cannot be counted a treasury that never can be drained. This is our glory, that we have a something to rely upon which can never fail us. We are trees planted by the rivers of water. Ah! but not so you that are ungodly, not so. Your days of drought shall come. You may rejoice now, but what will you do upon the bed of sickness, when fever shall make you toss from side-to-side, when head and heart shall be racked with anguish, when death shall stare upon you, and shall glaze your eyes? What will ye do when ye come into the swellings of Jordan? You have joys to-day, but where will be your joys then? You have wells now, but what will you do when these are all stopped up, when these shall all fail, when your skin-bottles are dried when your broken cisterns have emptied themselves of their last drop—what will ye do then, ye ungodly? Surely, this negative is full of awful threatenings to you. You may have a little mirth and merriment now, you may enjoy a little excitement at present, but what will ye do when the hot wind comes upon you—the wind of tribulation? And above all, what will you do when the chilling blast of death shall freeze your blood? Ah, where, oh, where will you then look? You will look no longer to friends, nor to the comforts of home. You cannot find in the hour of death consolation on the bosom of the most loving wife, you will be quite unable then to find peace in all your riches or your treasures. As for your past life, however good it may seem, if you are ungodly, you will find no comfort in the retrospect; and as for the future, you will find no comfort in the prospect, for there will be for you nothing but "a fearful looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation." Oh, my ungodly friends, I beseech you, think upon this matter, for if there were nothing worse, the first sentence of my text sounds like the trumpets of doom, and hath in it bitterness like the vials of the Revelation.

     Again we must go forward. It is said of the righteous man, that he "bringeth forth his fruit in his season." "Not so the ungodly, not so,"—they bring forth no fruit; or if there be here and there a shrivelled grape upon the vine, it is brought forth in the wrong season when the genial heat of the sun cannot ripen it, and therefore it is sear and worthless. Many people imagine that if they do not commit positive sin they are all right. Now let me give you a little sermon in the midst of my sermon. Here is the text: "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." First, what has Meroz done? Nothing. Secondly, is Meroz cursed? Yes; cursed bitterly. What for? —for doing nothing. Yes, for doing nothing. "Curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof," for what they did not do, "because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Did Meroz fight against God? No. Did Meroz put on a buckler and lay bold on shield and spear and go forth against the Most High? No. What did Meroz do? Nothing. And is it cursed? Yes, cursed bitterly, with the inhabitants thereof "because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Preach that sermon to yourselves when you get home. Draw it out at length, and perhaps while you are sitting down you will say, "Meroz! why that is myself. I don't fight against God, I am no enemy to Christ, I do not persecute his people, in fact I even love his ministers, I love to go up and hear the Word preached. I should not be happy if I spent my Sunday anywhere but in God's house. But still that must mean me, for I do not go up 'to the help of the Lord against the mighty.' I do nothing. I am an idle do-nothing. I am a fruitless tree." Ah, then remember you are cursed, and cursed bitterly too. Not for what you do, but for what you don't do. So here it is one of the sad curses of the ungodly—that they bring forth no fruit in their season. Why look at many of you. What is the good of you in this world? With regard to your families, you are their main-stay and prop. God bless you in your work, and may you train up your children well. But as to the church, what good are you? You occupy a seat, you have had it these years; how do you know but that you have been occupying a seat which might have been the place where some other sinner would have been converted had he been there? It is true you sit and hear the sermon; yes but what of that, if that sermon shall add to your condemnation? It is true that you make one among many, but what if you should be a black sheep in the midst of the flock! What are you doing for Christ? Of what value are you? Have you added one stone to his spiritual temple? Have you done as much as the poor woman who broke the alabaster box upon his head? You have done nothing for him. He has nourished you and brought you up, and you have done nothing for him. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib," but you do not know, you do not consider. Behold, the Lord hath a controversy with you this day, not for what you have done, but for what you have not done. He has sent you the ministry; you are invited every Sabbath-day. With the tears running down my cheeks have l warned you and invited you. You are hearing the Word continually; you are enjoying privileges. God is feeding you in his providence, clothing you in his compassion, and you are doing nothing for him. You are a cumberer of the ground, bringing forth no fruit at all. O my dear hearer, I beseech thee lay this to heart, for this is a curse as well as a sign to you. It is not only a bad trait in thy character, but it is a curse from God. Thou art ungodly, and therefore fruitless. Thou lovest him not, therefore thou art useless. Thou trustest not in Christ, and therefore thou art not like the tree which "bringeth forth his fruit in his season."

     Pass on to the description. His leaf also shall not wither. Not so the ungodly, not so." The ungodly man's leaf shall wither. I see before me this day many proofs that God's promise is verified to his people. Look round, and behold what a large number of gray-headed men assemble every Lord's day to hear the Word. There are many of them who loved Christ in their youth. Then they had "a joy unspeakable and full of glory" in making a profession of his dear name; and now they have come into what men call the sear and yellow leaf of life, but they do not find it so, for they still bring forth fruit in old age, they are still fat and flourishing to show that the Lord is upright. Their leaf has not withered, they are just as active in the cause of Christ as ever they were, and perhaps ten times more happy. Instead of bringing forth no fruit, they bring forth richer and more luscious clusters than ever they did before. Walking in the midst of the younger ones they shine as lights in the midst of the world; or to return to the simile, they are like trees whose branches hang down by reason of the abundance of their fruit, even as their heads bow down by reason of the abundance of their years. What a mercy it is, dear brethren, to have Christ for your portion in youth, and such a Christ too as will last us all our life long. To see good old Rowland Hill preaching when he was tottering on the borders of the grave and talking of the faithfulness of Christ—what a glorious sight! There was a proof! That leaf did not wither. Was there ever a tree like this that would maintain its greenness eighty years and yet not wither? Was there ever a religion like this that would make the old men youthful and make their tottering feet leap for joy? And yet this is the religion of Christ. Our leaf withers not. But oh, "Not so the ungodly, not so." Your leaf shall wither; at least when they that look out of the windows are darkened, when the grinders fail because they are few, when your days of old age shall come upon you, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, if not before, shall your leaf wither. But how many there are whose leaves do wither! There comes a blight from God and the tree which looked once green becomes brown and dead, and at last it blackens and has to be removed. We have seen such in our lives. Men that seemed to be getting on in this world, rich and happy, and respected by almost everybody, but they had no solid background, they had no rock to stand on, no God to trust to. I have seen them spreading themselves like a green bay tree, and I have often envied them as the Psalmist did, but "I looked and lo they were not," I passed by and lo there was not so much as a stump of them left, God had cursed their habitation; as a dream when one awaketh, their image had been despised, as the wax before the fire, they had melted away; like the fat of rams had they been consumed; into smoke did they consume away. "Not so the ungodly, not so," says the text, and surely experience proves it, the ungodly man's leaf must and shall wither. And then it is added concerning the righteous man," whatsoever he doeth, shall prosper." Godly men, it is true have many tribulations, but I am not sure that they have more than the wicked. I do think that when a man is converted he will find it to be true that religion's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," and he has a better hope of even worldly prosperity when he becomes a Christian, than the ungodly man has. Christian habits are the best business habits, if men would but believe it. When a man mixes his religion with his business and allows every act of his life to be guided by it, he stands the best chance in this world, it I may be allowed such a secular expression, for "Honesty is the best policy " after all, and Christianity is the best honesty. The sharp cutting competition of the times may be called honesty—it is only called so down here, it is not called so up there, for there is a good deal of cheating in it. Honesty in the highest sense—Christian honesty—will be found after all to be the best policy in everything, and there will ordinarily be a prosperity, even worldly prosperity, attending a good man in the patient industrious pursuit of his calling. But if he does not have that success he craves, still there is one thing he knows, he would have it if it were best for him. I often know Christian men talk in this fashion, "Well, I do but very little business," says one, "but I have enough coming in to live upon comfortably and happy. I never cared much for push and competition; I never felt that I was fit for it, and I sometimes thank God that I never thrust myself out into the rough stream, but that I was content to keep along shore." And I have marked this one thing, and as a matter of fact I know it cannot be disproved, that many such humble-minded men are the very best of Christians, they live the happiest lives, and whatsoever they do certainly does prosper, for they get what they expected though they did not expect much, and they get what they want though their wants are not very large. They are not going in for anything very great, and therefore they do not come out plucked and empty handed, but they just hold on their way, looking to Providence constantly, for their supplies, and they have all they require; and whatsoever they do, prospers. But they can say too, rusts. If he spends it, it does him little service. The man that hath no God, hath no prosperity. Is he fat—he fattens for the slaughter! Is he in adversity—behold the first drops of the fated storm have begun to fall on him. To the ungodly man there is nothing good in this life. The sweet that he tasteth is the sweetness of poison. That which looketh fair is but as paint upon the harlot's face, beneath there is loathsomeness and disease. There may be a greenness and a verdure upon the mound, but within there lies the rotting carcase, the loathsomeness of corruption. Whatsoever the believer doth, it shall prosper. "Not so the ungodly, not so." Surely this first part of my text is quite bad enough—to have the gate of blessedness shut against you, to have the promises denied you, to be without the blessing which is given to the godly—this punishment of the lost surely were enough to make us start in dismay.

     II. Now very briefly upon the second point. Listen awhile to THE TERRIBLE COMPARISON. "The ungodly are like the chaff." They are not like the wild tree, for that hath life, and they are dead in sin. They are not compared here even to the dead tree plucked up by the roots, for that may be of some service. Floating down the stream, the hand of poverty may recall it from the water, and kindle its fire and relieve its cold. They are not even like the heath in the desert, for it hath some uses, and tends to cheer the arid waste. They are like nothing that hath life, nothing that is of any value. They are here said to be like chaff which the wind driveth away. Now you will at once see how terrible is this figure, if you look at it a moment. They are like chaff. Chaff envelopes good corn, but when the wheat is cut down and carried into the barn, the corn alone is useful, the grain alone is looked at, and that chaff which has grown side by side with the good living wheat, is now become utterly useless, and is to be separated and driven away. And the wicked are compared to chaff—think for a moment, of two or three reasons. First, because they are sapless and fruitless. Chaff hath no sap of life in itself. It is of no use, of no service. Men do but desire to get rid of it. They take the fan into their hands that they may thoroughly purge their floor. They cast up the wheat before the wind with the winnowing shovel, that the breath of the air may blow away the chaff, and leave the wheat pure. All that they care for the chaff is that they may get rid of it, that it may be blown away to waste, for it is sapless and fruitless. Then again you notice that it is light and unstable. The wind sweeps through the wheat, the wheat remains unmoved, the chaff flies away. When cast up in the shovel, the wheat soon finds its place, and returns to the spot from which it has been lifted up; but the chaff is light, it has no stability. Every eddying wind, every breath moves it and carries it away. So are the ungodly. They have nothing stable; they are light, they are but as the froth upon the water; they are but as a bubble on the breaker, seen to day and gone, here and there, and then carried away for ever. Again, the wicked are compared to chaff because it is base and worthless. Who will buy it? Who cares for it? In the East at least it is of no good, no use whatever can be made of it. They are content to burn it up and get rid of it, and the sooner they are rid of it, the better pleased are they. So is it with the wicked. They are good for nothing, useless in this world, useless in the world to come. They are the dross, the offal of all creation. The man who is ungodly, however much he may value himself, is as nothing in the estimation of God. Put a gold chain round his neck, put a star upon his breast, put a crown upon his head, and what is he but a crowned heap of dust, useless, perhaps worse than useless. Base in God's sight, he tramples them beneath his feet. The potter's vessel hath some service, and even the broken potsherd might be used. Some Job might scrape himself with it. But what shall be done with the chaff? It is of no use anywhere, and no one careth for it.

     See, then, your value, my hearers, if you fear not God. Cast up your accounts and look at yourselves in the right light. You think, perhaps, that you are good for much, but God saith you are good for nothing. You are "like the chaff which the wind driveth away." I linger no more upon this comparison, but choose, rather to dwell upon the third head, which was this: —

     III. THE AWFUL PROPHECY contained in the Verse—"They are like the chaff which the wind driveth away." How near the chaff is to the grain! It is, in fact, its envelope; they grow together. My hearers, I wish to speak now very pointedly and personally. How nearly related are the ungodly to the righteous! One of you, it may be, now present, an ungodly man, is the father of a godly child. You have been to that child what the chaff is to the wheat; you have nourished the child—cherished it in your bosom; you have been wrapt about it like the chaff about the grain. Is it not an awful thing for you to think that you should have been in such close relationship to a child of God, but that in the great day of division you must be separated from it? The chaff cannot be taken into heaven with the wheat. I point to another. You are the son of a godly mother; you have grown up at her knee. She taught you, when you were but a little one, to say your little prayer, and to sing the little hymn,

"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child."

     That mother looked upon you as her joy and her comfort. She is gone now. But you were once to her what the chaff is to the wheat. You grew, as it were, upon the same stock, you were of the same family, and her heart was wholly wrapt up in you. You were her joy and her comfort here below. Does it not cause you one pang of regret that, dying as you are, you must everlastingly be separated from her? Where she is you can never come. Mayhap, too, I have here a mother who has lost several infants; she has been to those infants what the chaff is to the wheat—wrapt up in her bosom for a little while she fondled them; and they, God's good wheat, have been gathered into the garner, and there they are now in Jesu's floor. There are their little spirits rejoicing before the throne of the Most High. The mother who is left thinks not of it, but she is the mother of angels, and, perhaps, herself a child of hell. Ah, mother! what think you of this? Is this' separation from your child eternal? Will you be content to be found at God's great winnowing-day, the chaff, and will you be driven from your children? Shall you see them in heaven—them in heaven, and yourselves then cast out for ever? Can you bear the thought? Hath your heart become brutish? Is your soul harder than a nether mill-stone? Surely, if it be not, the thought of your present intimate connection with God's people, and of your sure separation, will make you tremble. And oh! my hearers here are some of you sitting side by side with the godly. You sing as they sing, you hear as they hear. Perhaps you assist the outward wants of the church. You are to the church just what the chaff is to the wheat. You are the outward husk, the congregation which surrounds the inner living nucleus of the church. And must it be—must you be separated from us? Are you content to go from the songs of the saints to the shrieks of the doomed? Will you go from the great convocation of the righteous to the last general assembly of the destroyed and cursed in hell? The thought checks my voice. I must speak slowly on this matter for awhile. Well, dear brethren, well I know that this thought used to be dreadful to me. My mother said to me once, after she had long prayed for me, and had come to the conviction that I was hopeless, "Ah," said she "My son, if at the last great day you are condemned, remember your mother will say Amen to your condemnation." That stung me to the quick. Must the mother that brought me forth and that loved me say "Amen" to my being condemned at last? Yet such things must be. Doth not the wheat say Amen to the chaff being blown away? Is it not in fact the very prayer of the wheat that it may be separated from the chaff? and surely when that prayer is heard, and awfully answered, the wheat must say Amen to the chaff being blown away into fire unquenchable. Think, my dear hearers, think again. And must it be—must I bid farewell to her I love, who served the Lord in spirit. Must I see her body committed to the grave, and as I stand there must I bid her a last, a final farewell? Must I be for ever separated from her, because I fear not God, neither regard him, and therefore cannot have a portion amongst the Lord's chosen ones? What, have you lost your relatives for ever? Are your pious fathers and mothers buried in a "sure and certain hope" to which you are strangers? Will you never sing the song of rejoicing with them in heaven? Is there never to be another salutation? Is death a gulf that cannot be bridged to you? Oh, I hope it is the joy of some of us to know we shall meet many of our kindred above, and as we have lost one after another this has been our sweet consolation they are gone and we shall soon follow them; they are not lost but gone before; they are buried as to their flesh, but their souls are in Paradise, and we shall be there also; and, when we have seen our Saviour's face and have rejoiced in that glorious vision, then shall we see them also, and have deeper and purer fellowship with them than we ever had before in all the days of our lives. Well, here is a sad prophecy! The wicked are "like the chaff which the wind driveth away."

     But you will remark that the awful character of my text does not appear upon the surface. They "are like the chaff which the wind driveth away." Where—where—where? Where are they driven? The man is in health; the sun shines, the sky is calm, the world is still about him. Suddenly there is seen a little cloud the size of a man's hand. A little signal overtakes him. The hurricane begins to rise but first it is but a faint breath. The wicked man feels the cold air blowing on him, but he screens it with the physician, and he thinks that surely he shall live. The storm is on. God hath decreed it, and man cannot stay it. The breath becomes a gale, the gale a wind, the wind a storm, the storm a howling hurricane. His soul is swept away. To go to heaven on angels' wings is a glorious thing; but to be swept out of this world with the wicked is an awful thing—to be carried, not on wings of cherubs, but on the eagle wings of the wind; to be borne, not by yon songsters up to their celestial seats, but to be carried away in the midst of a howling tempest by grim fiends. The wicked are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Do you not catch the thought? I do not know how to bring out the fullness of its poetry—the great storm sweeping man from the place on which he stands. He is driven away. And now cannot your thoughts go further on while I again repeat the question, Whither is he driven? Ah! Whither is he driven? I see him driven from the solid shore of life. He is carried away. But—

"In vain my fancy strives to paint the moment after death."

     I cannot tell you into what state that soul at once enters, that is to say, I cannot tell you by any guess of my own—that were frivolous, and were to play with a solemn matter; but I can tell you one thing, Jesus Christ himself hath said it—"He shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." You die, but you die not. You depart, but you depart to fire that never shall be quenched. I will not dwell upon the topic. I return again to ask the question—"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Who here is prepared to make his bed in hell? Who shall lie down and rest for ever in that lake of fire? You must, my hearers, if you are ungodly, except you repent. Are there none of you behind me there, who have been living without Christ, and without hope in the world? Are there none of you? Surely there are some such. I beseech you, think of your destiny—death, and after death the judgment. The wind, and after the wind the whirlwind, and after the whirlwind the fire, and after the fire nothing—for ever for ever, for ever lost, cast away, where ray of hope can never come; where eye of mercy can never look upon you, and hand of grace can never reach you. I beseech you, oh, I beseech you by the living God, before whom you stand this day, tremble and repent. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." "Tophet is ordained of old, yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die O house of Israel?" "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

     Oh, I pray God the Holy Spirit to touch some ungodly hearts now, and make you think. And remember my dear hearers, if there be in your bosoms this morning one desire towards Christ, cherish it, blow the little spark till it comes to a flame. If your heart melts ever so little this morning, I beseech you resist not, quench not the heavenly influence. Yield up yourselves and remember the sweet text of last Sunday morning, "whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." I thunder at you, but it is to bring you to Christ. Oh that you would but come to him! Oh poor hearts would that ye did but feel! Oh, that ye knew how to weep for yourselves as I could weep for you now. Oh, that ye knew what a fearful thing it will be to be cast away for ever! Why will ye die? Is there anything pleasing in destruction? Is sin so luscious to you that you will burn in hell for ever for it? What, is Christ so hard a master that you will not love him? Is his cross so ugly that ye will not look towards it? Oh, I beseech you by him whose heart is love, the crucified Redeemer, who now speaks through me this morning, and in me weeps over you, I beseech you look to him and be saved, for he came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost, and him that cometh to him he will in nowise cast out, for "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him."

     To-day, O Spirit bring sinners to thyself. I exhort you, sinners, lay hold on Christ. Touch the hem of his garment now. Behold, he hangs before you on the cross. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. even so is Jesus lifted up. Look, I beseech you, look and live. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. As though God did beseech you by me, I pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God. And O may the Spirit make my appeal effectual! May angels rejoice this day over sinners saved and brought to know the Lord.



Come and Welcome

By / Oct 16

Come and Welcome

 

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."—Revelation 22:17

 

     The cry of the Christian religion is the simple word, "Come." The Jewish law said, "Go, and take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Go, and break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; Go, and keep them, and thou shalt live." The law was a dispensation of the whip, which drove men before it; the gospel is just of the opposite kind. It is the Shepherds dispensation. He goeth before his sheep, and he bids them follow him, saying unto them, "Come." The law repels; the gospel attracts. The law shows the distance between God and man; the gospel bridges that distance, and brings the sinner across that great fixed gulf which Moses could never bridge. The fact is, as you will all have to learn, if you know anything of gracious experience, that from the first moment of your spiritual life until you are ushered into glory, the cry of Christ to you will be, "Come, come unto me." He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow him as the soldier follows his leader. He will always go before you to pave your way, and to prepare your path, and he will bid you come after him all through life, and in the solemn hour of death, when you shall lie panting upon your bed, his sweet word with which he shall usher you into the heavenly world shall be—"Come, come unto me. Stretch thy wings and fly straight to this world of joy where I am dwelling. Come and be with me where I am."

     Nay, further than this, this is not only Christ's cry to you; but if you be a believer, this is your cry to Christ—"Come! come!" You will be longing for his second advent; you will be saying, "Come quickly, even so come Lord Jesus." And you will be always panting for nearer and closer communion with him. As his voice to you is "Come," even so will be your prayer to him, "Come, Lord, and abide in my house. Come, and consecrate me more fully to thy service; come, and without a rival reign; come, occupy alone the throne of my heart."

     "Come," then, is the very motto-word of the gospel. I hope to expand that word, this morning, to beat out the golden grain into goldleaf, and may God the Holy Spirit speak this day with his minister, and may some who have never come to Jesus before, now come to him for the first time.

     Let us go at once to our text—"Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Now, there are four things very plain from our text, namely, that first, there is a "water of life;" that secondly, the invitation is very wide—"Whosoever will;" that thirdly, the path is clear, for it says, "Whoever will, let him come;" and then again, that, fourthly, the only rule that is prescribed is—let him take it "freely." That is the only price demanded, and the only condition, which indeed is not a condition, but a death-blow to all conditions. "Let him come and take the water of life freely."

     I. First, then, remember I am about to preach a very simple sermon this morning, dealing with simple souls. I am longing to see sinners brought to Christ, my heart yearns after the multitude of men who see no beauty in him that they should desire him. God has saved many in this place; may he be pleased this morning to bring some wanderer to the Father's house, through the merit of the Son's cross by the Spirit's influence. Well, then, THERE IS A "WATER OF LIFE." Man is utterly ruined and undone. He is lost in a wild waste wilderness. The skin bottle of his righteousness is all dried up, and there is not so much as a drop of water in it. The heavens refuse him rain, and the earth can yield him no moisture. Must he perish? He looks aloft, beneath, around, and he discovers no means of escape. Must he die? Must thirst devour him? Must he fall upon the desert and leave his bones to bleach under the hot sun? No; for the text declares there is a fountain of life. Ordained in old eternity by God in solemn covenant, this fountain, this divine well, takes its spring from the deep foundations of God's decrees. It gusheth up from the depth which coucheth beneath, it cometh from that place which the eagle's eye hath not seen, and which the lion's whelp hath not passed over. The deep foundations of Godly government, the depth, of his own essential goodness and of his divine nature—these are the mysterious springs from which gush forth that fountain of the "water of life" which shall do good a to man. The Son hath digged this well and bored through massive rocks which prevented this living water from springing upward. Using his cross as the grand instrument he has pierced through rocks, he has himself descended to the lowest depth, and he hath broken a passage by which the love and grace of God, the living water which can save the soul, may well up and overflow to quench the thirst of dying men. The Son hath bidden this fountain freely flow, hath removed the stone which laid upon the mouth thereof, and now having ascended upon high he standeth there to see that the fountain shall never stay its life-giving course, that its floods shall never be dry, that its depths shall never be exhausted. This sacred fountain, established according to God's good will and pleasure in the covenant, opened by Christ when he died upon the cross, floweth this day to give life and health, and joy and peace to poor sinners dead in sin, and ruined by the fall. There is a "water of life."

     Let us pause awhile and look at its floods as they come gushing upwards, overflowing on every side, and assuaging men's thirst. Let us look with joyous eye. It is called the "water of life," and richly doth it deserve its name. God's favor is life, and in his presence there is pleasure for evermore; but this water is God's favor, and consequently life. By this water of life is intended God's free grace, God's love for men, so, that if you come and drink, you shall find this to be life indeed to your soul, for in drinking of God's grace you inherit God's love, you are reconciled to God, God stands in a fatherly relation to you, he loves you, and his great infinite heart yearns towards you.

     Again, it is living water not simply because it is love, and that is life, but it saves from impending death. The sinner knows that he must die because he is filthy. He has committed sins so tremendous that God must punish him. God must cease to be just if he does not punish the sins of man. Man when conscious that he has been very guilty, stands shivering in the presence of his Maker, feeling in his soul that his doom is signed, and sealed, and that he must certainly be cast away from all hope, and life, and joy. Come hither then ye sin-doomed; this water can wash away your sins, and when your sins are washed away, then shall ye live; for the innocent must not be punished. Here is water that can make you whiter than driven snow. What though you be black as Kedar's smoky tents, here is water that can purge you, and wash you to the whiteness of perfection, and make you fair as the curtains of king Solomon. These waters well deserve the name of life, since pardon is a condition of life. Unpardoned we die, we perish, we sink into the depths of hell; pardoned we live, we rise, we ascend to the very heights of heaven. See here, then, this ever-gushing fountain will give to all who take thereof life from the dead, by the pardon of their sins.

     "But," saith the poor convicted soul, "This is not all I want, for if all the sins I have ever committed were blotted out, in one ten minutes I should commit many more. If I were now completely pardoned, it would not be many seconds before I should destroy my soul and sink helplessly again." Ay! but see here this is living water, it can quench thy thirst of sin; entering into thy soul it shall overcome and cover with its floods thy propensities to evil. It shall cover them first, it shall afterwards drown them, and at last, it shall utterly carry them away, sucking them into its whirlpool-depths where they shall never be found any more for ever. Oh sinners! this fountain of gospel grace can so wash your hearts that you shall no longer love sin, yea, so perfectly can this water refine the soul that it shall one day make you as spotless as the angels who stand before the throne of God, and you too, like them, shall obey the behests of God, hearkening to his commands, and rejoicing to be his servants. This is life indeed, for here is a favor, here is pardon, here is sanctity, the renewing of the soul by the washing of water, through the Word.

     "But," saith one, "I have a longing within me which I cannot satisfy. I feel sure that if I be pardoned yet there is something which I want—which nothing I have ever heard of, or have ever seen or handled can satisfy. I have within me an aching void which the world can never fill." "There was a time," says one, "when I was satisfied with the theater, when the amusements, the pleasures of men of the world, were very satisfactory to me. But lo! I have pressed this olive till it yields no more the generous oil; it is but the dreggy thick excrement thereof that now I can obtain. My joys have faded; the beauty of my fat valley hath become as a faded flower. No longer can I rejoice in the music of this world." Ah! soul, glad am I that thy cistern has become dry, for till men are dissatisfied with this world they never look out for the next; till the God of this world has utterly deceived them they will not look to him who is the only living and true God. But hearken! thou that art wretched and miserable, here is living water that can quench thy thirst. Come hither and drink, and thou shalt be satisfied; for he that is a believer in Christ finds enough for him in Christ now, and enough for ever. The believer is not the man who has to pace his room, saying, "I find no amusements and no delight." He is not the man whose days are weary, and whose nights are long, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find good company; place him in a barren wilderness, still he could eat the bread of heaven; drive him away from friendship, he will find the "friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the rock of ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but since the foundation of his God standeth sure, his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord. There is each a fullness in religion, that I can honestly testify from experience,

"I would not change my best estate,
For all that earth calls good or great."

     I never knew what happiness was till I knew Christ; I thought I did. I warmed my hands before the fire of sin, but it was a painted fire. But oh, when once I tasted the Saviour's love, and had been washed in Jesus's blood, that was heaven begun below.

"'Tis heaven on earth, and heaven above,
To see his face, to taste his love."

     Oh, if ye did but know the joys of religion, if ye did but know the sweetness of love to Christ, surely ye could not stand aloof. If ye could but catch a glimpse of the believer when he is dancing for joy, you would renounce your wildest mirth, your greatest joy, to become the meanest child in the family of God. Thus then it is the living water, it is the water of life, because it satisfies our thirst, and gives us the reality of life which we can never find in anything beneath the sky.

     And here let me add very briefly, he who once drinks of this water of life, drinks that which will quench his thirst for ever. You shall never thirst again, except it be that you shall long for deeper draughts of this living fountain.

     In that sweet manner shalt thou thirst. It shalt not be a thirst of pain, it shall be a thirst of loving joy—a happy thirst, you will find it a sweet thing to be thirsting after more of Christ's love. Become a Christian, and thou shalt be satisfied for life, thou shalt then be able to say, —"Return unto thy rest, O my son, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with thee." Thou shalt find an ever-living tree upon which thou shalt build thy nest, and no axe shall ever fell it, no winds shall ever shake thy quiet resting-place, but thou shalt rest for ever on the dear bosom of the Saviour where thou shalt find eternal rest, eternal joy and peace. Oh, come and take of him, and drink of the water of life freely.

     And, moreover, he who drinketh of this living water shall never die. His body shall see corruption for a little while, but his soul mounting aloft, shall dwell with Jesus. Yea! and his very body when it has passed through the purifying process, shall again more glorious than when it was sown in weakness. It shall rise in glory, in honor, in power, in majesty, and united with the soul, it shall everlastingly inherit the joys which Christ has prepared for them that love him. This is the living water; I see the fountain flowing now, freely flowing, sparkling with all these excellent properties. Who would not long to come and drink thereof?

     II. In the second place we observe from the text that the invitation is very wide—"WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." How wide is this invitation! There are some ministers who are afraid to invite sinners, then why are they ministers! for they are afraid to perform the most important part of the sacred office. There was a time I must confess when I somewhat faltered when about to give a free invitation. My doctrinal sentiments did at that time somewhat hamper me. I boldly avow that I am unchanged as to the doctrines I have preached; I preach Calvinism as high, as stern, and as sound as ever; but I do feel, and always did feel an anxiety to invite sinners to Christ. And I do feel also, that not only is such a course consistent with the soundest doctrines, but that the other course is after all the unsound one, and has no title whatever to plead Scripture on its behalf. There has grown up in many Baptist churches an idea that none are to be called to Christ but what they call sensible sinners. I sometimes rebut that by remarking, that I call stupid sinners to Christ as well as sensible sinners, and that stupid sinners make by far the greatest proportion of the ungodly. But I glory in the avowal that I preach Christ even to insensible sinners—that I would say even to the dry bones of the valley, as Ezekiel did, "Ye dry bones live!" doing it as an act of faith; not faith in the power of those that hear to obey the command, but faith in the power of God who gives the command to give strength also to those addressed, that they may be constrained to obey it. But now listen to my text; for here, at least, there is no limitation. But sensible or insensible, all that the text saith is, "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely."

     The one question I have to ask this morning is, art thou willing? if so, Christ bids thee take the water of life. Art thou willing? if so, be pardoned, be sanctified be made whole. For if thou art willing Christ is willing too, and thou art freely invited to come and welcome to the fountain of life and grace.

     Now mark, the question has to do with the will. "Oh," says one, "I am so foolish I cannot understand the plan of salvation, therefore I may not come and drink." But my question has nothing to do with your understanding, it has to do with your will. You may be as big a fool as you will, but if you are willing to come to Christ you are freely invited. If you could not read a single letter in the alphabet, or spell out a word in the book, yet may your lips—ignorant lips though they be—now drink of this water of life. It has nothing to do with your understanding; it does not say "Whosoever understandeth let him come," but "whosoever will," and I do not doubt but what there are many souls who when they first come to Christ have very little understanding of the way of salvation, and very little knowledge of the way in which he saves; but they come to Christ, the Holy Ghost makes them willing to come, and so they are saved. Oh ye who have been for many a year wearing the pauper's garb, ye who come here from the workhouse, ye that are ignorant, ye that are despised among men—are you willing to be saved? Can you say from your heart, "Lord, thou knowest I would have my sins forgiven?" Then come and welcome. Jesus bids thee come. Let not thine ignorance keep thee away. He appeals, not to thine understanding, but to thy will.

     "Oh," says one, "I can understand the plan of salvation, but I cannot repent as I would. Sir, my heart is so hard, I cannot bring the tear to my eye, I cannot feel my sins as I would desire.

"My heart how dreadful hard it is,
How heavy here it lies;
Heavy and cold within my breast,
Just like a rock of ice."

     Ay, but this text has nothing to do with your heart; it is with your will. Are you willing? Then be your heart hard as the nether millstone if thou art willing to be saved I am bidden to invite thee. "Whosoever will," not "whosoever feels," but "whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." "Yes," says one, "I can honestly say I am willing, but my heart will not soften. I wish that grace would change me. I can say I wish that Christ would soften my heart. I do desire that he would put the living fire within my cold breast and make me repent, and make me love him, and make me believe in him. I am willing." Well, then, the text is for thee, "Whosoever will, let him come." If thou art willing thou art freely invited to Christ. "No," saith one, "but I am such a great sinner. I have been a drunkard; I have been a lascivious man; I have gone far astray from the paths of rectitude. I would not have all my sins known to my fellow creatures. How can God accept of such a wretch as I am, such a foul creature as I have been?" Mark thee, man! There is no reference made here to thy past life. It simply says, "whosoever will," Art thou willing? Art thou willing to be saved? Canst thou say, "Now, Lord, I am willing to be saved, give me a new heart; I am willing to give up my sins; I am willing to be a Christian; I am willing to believe and willing to obey, but oh for this no strength have I, Lord, I have the will; give me the power." Then thou art freely invited to come, if thou art but willing. There is no barrier between thee and Christ except thy stubborn will. If thy will is subdued, and if thou art saying "Yes, Lord, I am willing," then art thou freely invited. Oh, reject not the invitation, but, come and welcome, sinner come."

     But saith one, "I cannot come, I cannot believe; I cannot do as I would." Well, but it does not say, "Whosoever can, let him come," but "whosoever will, let him come." Art thou willing? You know there is many a man that has more will than power, but God estimates us not by our power, but by our will. You see a man on horseback, he is in haste to fetch a doctor for some dying man: the horse is a miserable jade, and will not go as rapidly as the man would like, but you cannot scold him because you see him whipping and spurring, and thus proving that he would go if he could, and so the master takes the man's will for the deed. So is it with you, your poor heart will not go, it is a sorry, disabled jade, but it would go if it could. So Jesus invites you, not according to what you can, but according to what you will. "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." All the stipulation is—Art thou willing—truly willing? If so, thou art freely welcome. Thou art earnestly invited to take of the water of life, and that freely too.

     Surely as this goes round the hall, there will be many found who did answer to it, and who will say, from all their hearts, "I am willing: I am willing." Come let the question go personally round. Let me not talk to you in the mass, but let the arrow reach the individual. Grey head, give thy reply, and let you fair-haired boy answer also. Are you willing now to be saved—are you willing to forsake sin—willing to take Christ to be your master from this day forth and for ever? Are you willing to be washed in his blood? Willing to be clothed in his righteousness? Are you willing to be made happy—willing to escape from hell, and willing to enter? Strange that it should be necessary to ask such questions, but still it is. Are you willing? Then remember that whatever may be against you—whatever may have defiled you—however black, however filthy, however worthless you may be, you are invited this day to take of the fountain of the water of life freely, for you are willing, and it is said, "Whosoever will, let him come."

     "Ah!" saith one, "God knows I am willing, but still I do not think I am worthy." No, I know you are not, but what is that to do with it? It is not "whosoever is worthy," but "whosoever will, let him come." "Well," says one, "I believe that whosoever will may come, but not me, for I am the vilest sinner out of hell." But mark thee, sinner, it says, "whosoever." What a big word that is! Whosoever! There is no standard height here. It is of any height and any size. Little sinners, big sinners, black sinners, fair sinners, sinners double dyed, old sinners, aggravated sinners, sinners who have committed every crime in the whole catalogue, —whosoever. Doth this exempt one? Who can be excluded from this whosoever? It mattereth not who thou mayest be, nor what thou mayest have been, if thou art willing to be saved; free as the air thou breathest is the love and grace of God. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

     Thus have I tried to show you how broad the invitation is.

     III. And now I am about to show you, in the third place, how clear the path is. "WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." That word "let" is a very curious word, because it signifies two opposite things. "Let" is an old-fashioned word which sometimes signifies "hinder." "He that letteth shall be taken away,"—that is, "He that hindereth." But here, in our text, it means the removing of all hindrance. "Let him come:"—Methinks I hear Jehovah speaking this. Here is the fountain of love and mercy. But you are too unworthy, you are too vile. Hear Jehovah! He cries, "Let him come, he is willing. Stand back! doubts and fears, away with you, let him come; make a straight road; let him come if he be but willing." Then the devil himself comes forward and striding across the way, he says to the poor trembling soul, "I will spill thy blood; thou shalt never have mercy. I defy thee; though shalt never believe in Christ, and never be saved." But Christ says, "Let him come;" and Satan, strong though he be, quails beneath Jehovah's voice, and Jesus drives him away, and the path stands clear this morning, nor can sin, nor death, nor hell, block up the way, when Jehovah Jesus says, "Let him come."

     Methinks I see several ministers standing in the way. They are of such high doctrine that they dare not invite a sinner, and they therefore clog the gospel with so many conditions. They will have it that the sinner must feel a certain quantity of experience before he is invited to come, and so they put their sermons up and say, "You are not invited, you are a dead sinner, you must not come; you are not invited; you are a hardened rebel." "Stand back," says Christ, "every one of you, though ye be my servants. Let him come, he is willing—stand not in his way." It is a sad thing that Christ's ministers should become the devil's aiders and abettors, and yet sometimes they are, for when they are telling a sinner how much he must feel, and how much he must know before he comes to Christ, they are virtually rolling big stones in the path, and saying to the willing sinner, "Thou mayest not come." In the name of Almighty God, stand back everything this morning that keeps the willing sinner from Christ. Away with you, away with you! Christ sprinkles his blood upon the way, and crises to you, "Vanish, begone! leave the road clear; let him come; stand not in his path; make straight before him his way, level the mountains and fill up the valleys; make straight through the wilderness a highway for him to come, to drink of this water of life freely. 'Let him come.'" Oh, is not that a precious word of command! for it has all the might of Omnipotence in it. God said, "Let there be light and there was light," and he says, "Let him come" and come he will and must, that is but willing to come. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." And now, sinner, remember God says, "come." Is there anything in thy way? Remember, he adds, "Let him come." He bids everything stand out of thy way. Standing one day in the court-house, some witness was required, I forget his name, it may have been Brown, for instance, in one moment the name was announced, "Brown, Samuel Brown," by-and-bye twenty others take up the cry, "Samuel Brown, Samuel Brown." There was seen a man pushing his way through, "Make room," said he, "make room, his honor calls me," and though there were many in his path, they gave way, because his being called was a sufficient command to them, not to hinder him, but to let him come. And now, soul, if thou be a willing sinner, though thy name it not mentioned—if thou be a willing sinner, thou art as truly called as though thou wert called by name, and therefore, push through thy fears. Make elbow room, and come; they that would stop thee are craven cowards. He has said "Let him come," and they cannot keep you back; Jehovah has said, "Let him come," and it is yours now to say, "I will come. "There is nothing that shall hinder me, I will push through every thing, and

'I will to the gracious King,
Whose scepter mercy gives,'

     I will go to the fountain and take of the water of life freely."

     IV. And now this brings me to the last head, the condition which is the death of all conditions—LET US TAKE IT FREELY. Methinks I see one here who is saying "I would be saved and I will do what I can to be worthy of it." The fountain is free, and he comes with his halfpenny in his hand, and that a bad one, and he says, "Here, sir, give me a cup of this living water to drink; I am well worthy of it for see the price is in my band." Why, man, if thou could'st bring the wealth of Potosi, or all the diamonds of Galconda, and all the pearls of Ormuz, you could not buy this most costly thing. Put up your money, you could not have it for gold or silver. The man brings his merit, but heaven is not to be sold to merit-mongers. Or perhaps you say "I will go to church regularly, I will give to the poor, I will attend my meeting-house, I will take a sitting, I will be baptized, I will do this and the other, and then no doubt I shall have the water of life." Back, miserable herd, bring not your rags and rubbish to God, he wants them not. Stand back, you insult the Almighty when you tender anything as payment. Back with ye; he invites not such as you to come. He says come freely. He wants nothing to recommend you. He needs no recommendation. You want no good works. Do not bring any. But you have no good feelings. Nevertheless you are willing, therefore come. He wants no good feelings of you. You have no belief and no repentance, yet nevertheless you are willing.

"True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings us nigh,
Without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy."

     Do not try to get them yourself—come to him, and he will give them to you. Come just as you are; it is "freely," "without money and without price." The drinking fountains at the corners of our streets are valuable institutions; but I cannot imagine anyone being so foolish, as when he comes to the drinking. fountains fumbling for his purse, and saying, "I cannot drink because I have not five pounds in my pocket." Why, however poor the man is, there is the fountain, and poor as he is he may drink of it. It is put there for the public. Thirsty souls as they go by, whether they are dressed in fustian or in broad cloth, don't look for any warrant for drinking; they come and drink of it freely. Here it is; the liberality of some good friend has put it there, and they take it and ask no questions whatever. Perhaps the only persons that ever need to go thirsty through the street where there is a drinking fountain, are the fine ladies and gentlemen who are in their carriages. They are very thirsty, and cannot think of being so vulgar as to get out to drink. It would bemean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain, so they go with parched lips. Oh, how many there are that are rich, rich in their own good works, that cannot come to Christ. "I will not he saved," they say, "in the same way as a harlot or a swearer. What I go to heaven the same way as a chimney sweep! Is there no pathway to glory, but the path which a Magdalene may take? I will not be saved that way." Then you fine gentry may remain without. You are not bidden to come, for you are not willing. But remember,

"None are excluded hence,
But those who do themselves exclude;
Welcome the learned and polite,
The ignorant and rude."

     "Whosoever wills let him come." Let him bring nothing to recommend him. Let him not imagine he can give any payment to God or any ransom for his soul; for the one condition that excludes all conditions is, "Let him come and take the water of life freely." There is a man of God here, who has drank of the river of the water of life many times; but he says, "I want to know more of Christ, I want to have nearer fellowship with him; I want to enter more closely into the mystery of his sacrifice; I want to understand more and more of the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be made conformable unto his death." Well, believer, drink freely. You have filled your bowl of faith once, and you drank the draught off, fill it again, drink again, and keep on drinking. Put your mouth to the fountain if you will, drink right on. As good Rutherford says in one of his letters, "I have been sinking my bucket down into the well full often, but now my thirst after Christ has become so insatiable, that I long to put the well itself to my lips, and drain it all, and drink right on." Well take it freely as much as ever you can. You have come now into the field of Boaz, you may pick up every ear that you can find, nay more than that, you may carry away the sheaves if you like, and more than that, you may claim the whole field to be yours if you will. The eating and drinking at Christ's table is like that of Ahasuerus, only in an opposite way. It is said of that table, none did compel; it is said of this, none doth withhold: none can restrain. If there be a big vessel full of this holy water, drink it all up, and if there be one that holdeth twelve firkins, drink it, yea, drink it all, and thou shalt find that even then there is as much as ever. In Christ there is enough for all, enough for each enough for evermore; and none shall ever have need to say that there was not enough in Christ for him. Drink freely. So you see that there are two meanings—drink without price, and drink without stint.

     Then, again, we have an old proverb that there are certain guests who come to our houses who are more free than they are welcome. They make free themselves, and go further than we can bid them welcome. But with regard to those who come to the fountain of living waters, you may make as free as you will and you are welcome; make as free as you can, take this water as you will, Christ will not grudge you. He that stands by the fountain will never mourn because you drink too much; he will never be dissatisfied because such a black fellow as you has dared to wash himself in the living stream. No, but the blacker you are the more will he rejoice that you have been washed; the more thirsty you are the more will his soul be gladdened to have you drink even to the full and be satisfied. He is not enriched by withholding; rather he is enriched in joy by giving. It is as much a pleasure to Christ to save you as it will be to you to be saved. He is just as glad to see the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind sit at his table as ever they can be to sit there. He is just as pleased to carry men to heaven as they themselves can be when they drink of the river of joy at the fountain-head of eternity, "Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely."

     And now I do not know what to say further. My text is such a precious one that I cannot enter into the fullness of its freeness and sweetness. Remember, my dear friends, if you are willing to be saved, God requires nothing of you except that you will yield yourselves up to Christ. If you are willing to be saved none can prevent; there is no obstacle. You are not going like the daughters of Hobab to a well from which you will be driven by the coarseness and rudeness of shepherds. You are come where Jesus stands—stands with open arms, stands with open mouth, crying to you this day, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely."

     And now will you refuse the invitation? See that you refuse not him that speaketh! Will you go this day and abuse the free mercy of God? Shall this very mercy lead you into more sin? Will you be wicked enough to say, that because grace is free, therefore you will continue in sin year after year?

     Oh do not so; grieve not the Spirit of God; to-day is the accepted time; to-day is the day of salvation. If ye turn not he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. You have been warned, your conscience has often pricked you, now this day you are sweetly invited. But the time of warnings and invitations will not last for ever: they will soon be over, and when your funeral knell is tolling, you shall be in that lake of fire, that land of misery and pain, where not a drop of water shall ever cool your burning tongue. As you would escape from the flames of hell, as you would be delivered from the eternal torments which God will certainly hurl upon you like hailstones, I beseech thee now consider thy ways, and if now thou art willing thou art invited and none can keep thee back from his mercy. "Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." Shall I preach in vain? Will you all go away and not take the water of life? Come, soul—is there not one at least that God shall give me this day for my hire—not one? May I not take one of you by the hand, some poor sinning erring brother? Come, brother let us go together and drink. O may the Holy Ghost incline you. Take it my brother. See on that bloody tree Jesus hangs; behold he pays his life a ransom for your sins and mine. Believe on him, trust him, commit your soul to him and be saved. Will you not say in your soul

"Just as I am without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bid'st me come to thee,
O lamb of God I come, I come?"

     And as my Master is true and faithful, he cannot cast away one soul that cometh, for "him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." O Spirit, now draw reluctant hearts, and now give timid souls courage to believe for Jesus' sake. Amen.



Grieving the Holy Spirit

By / Oct 9

Grieving the Holy Spirit

 

"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."—Ephesians 4:30

 

     There is something very touching in this admonition, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." It does not say, "Do not make him angry." A more delicate and tender term is used—"Grieve him not." There are some men of so hard a character, that to make another angry does not give them much pain; and indeed, there are many of us who are scarcely to be moved by the information that another is angry with us; but where is the heart so hard, that it is not moved when we know that we have caused others grief? —for grief is a sweet combination of anger and of love. It is anger, but all the gall is taken from it. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offense. We all know how we use the two terms in contra-distinction the one to the other. When I commit any offense, some friend who hath but little patience, suddenly snaps asunder his forbearance and is angry with me. The same offense is observed by a loving father, and he is grieved. There is anger in his bosom, but he is angry and he sins not, for he is angry against my sin; and yet there is love to neutralize and modify the anger towards me. Instead of wishing me ill as the punishment of my sin, he looks upon my sin itself as being the ill. He grieves to think that I am already injured, from the fact that I have sinned. I say this is a heavenly compound, more precious than all the ointment of the merchants. There may be the bitterness of myrrh, but there is all the sweetness of frankincense in this sweet term "to grieve." I am certain, my hearers, I do not flatter you when I declare, that I am sure that the most of you would grieve, if you thought you were grieving anyone else. You, perhaps, would not care much if you had made any one angry without a cause; but to grieve him, even though it were without a cause and without intention, would nevertheless cause you distress of heart, and you would not rest until this grief had subsided, till you had made some explanation or apology, and had done your best to allay the smart and take away the grief. When we see anger in another, we at once begin to feel hostility. Anger begets anger; but grief begets pity, and pity is next akin to love; and we love those whom we have caused to grieve. Now, is not this a very sweet expression—"Grieve not the Holy Spirit?" Of course, the language is be to understood as speaking after the manner of men. The Holy Spirit of God knoweth no passion or suffering, but nevertheless, his emotion is here described in human language as being that of grief. And is it not, I say a tender and touching thing, that the Holy Spirit should direct his servant Paul to say to us "Grieve not the Holy Spirit," do not excite his loving anger, do not vex him, do not cause him to mourn? He is a dove; do not cause him to mourn, because you have treated him harshly and ungratefully. Now, the purport of my sermon, this morning, will be to exhort you not to grieve the Spirit; but I shall divide it thus: —first, I shall discourse upon the love of the Spirit; secondly, upon the seal of the Spirit; and then, thirdly, upon the grieving of the Spirit.

     I. The few words I have to say UPON THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT will all be pressing forward to my great mark, stirring you up not to grieve the Spirit; for when we are persuaded that another loves us, we find at once a very potent reason why we should not grieve him. The love of the Spirit! —how shall I tell it forth? Surely it needs a songster to sing it, for love is only to be spoken of in words of song. The love of the Spirit! —let me tell you of his early love to us. He loved us without beginning. In the eternal covenant of grace, as I told you last Sabbath, he was one of the high contracting parties in the divine contract, whereby we are saved. All that can be said of the love of the Father, of the love of the Son, may be said of the love of the Spirit—it is eternal, it is infinite, it is sovereign, it is everlasting, it is a love which cannot be dissolved, which cannot be decreased, a love which cannot be removed from those who are the objects of it. Permit me, however, to refer you to his acts, rather than his attributes. Let me tell you of the love of the Spirit to you and to me. Oh how early was that love which he manifested towards us, even in our childhood! My brethren, we can well remember how the Spirit was wont to strive with us. We went astray from the womb speaking lies, but how early did the Spirit of God stir up our conscience, and solemnly correct us on account of our youthful sins. How frequently since then has the Spirit wooed us! How often under the ministry has he compelled our hearts to melt, and the tear has run down our cheeks, and he has sweetly whispered in our ear, "My son, give me thy heart; go to thy chamber, shut thy door about thee, confess thy sins, and seek a Saviour's love and blood." Oh, —but let us blush to tell it—how often have we done despite to him! When we were in a state of unregeneracy, how we were wont to resist him! We quenched the Spirit; he strove with us but we strove against him. But blessed be his dear name, and let him have everlasting songs for it, he would not let us go! We would not be saved, but he would save us. We sought to thrust ourselves into the fire, but he sought to pluck us from the burning. We would dash ourselves from the precipice, but he wrestled with us and held us fast; he would not let us destroy our souls. Oh, how we ill-treated him, how we did set at nought his counsel! How did we scorn and scoff him; how did we despise the ordinance which would lead us to Christ! How did we violate that holy cord which was gently drawing us to Jesus and his cross! I am sure, my brethren, at the recollections of the persevering struggles of the Spirit with you, you must be stirred up to love him. How often did he restrain you from sin, when you were about to plunge headlong into a course of vice! How often did he constrain you to good, when you would have neglected it! You, perhaps, would not have been in the way at all, and the Lord would not have met you, if it had not been for that sweet Spirit, who would not let you become a blasphemer, who would not suffer you to forsake the house of God, and would not permit you to become a regular attendant at the haunts of vice, but checked you, and held you in, as it were, with bit and bridle. Though you were like a bullock, unaccustomed to the yoke, yet he would not let you have your way. Though you struggled against him, yet he would not throw the reins upon your necks, but he said, "I will have him, I will have him against his will; I will change his heart, I will not let him go till I have made him a trophy of my mighty power to save." And then think my brethren of the love of the Spirit after that—

"Dost mind the time, the spot of land,
Where Jesus did thee meet?
Where he first took thee by the hand,
Thy bridegroom's love—how sweet!"

     Ah, then, in that blest hour, to memory dear, was it not the Holy Spirit who guided you to Jesus? Do you remember the love of the Spirit, when, after having quickened you, he took you aside, and showed you Jesus on the tree? Who was it that opened our blind eye to see a dying Saviour? Who was it that opened your deaf ear to hear the voice of pardoning love? Who opened your clasped and palsied hand to receive the tokens of a Saviour's grace Who was it that brake your hard heart and made a way for the Saviour to enter and dwell therein? Oh! it was that precious Spirit that self-same Spirit, to whom you had done so much despite, whom in the days of your flesh you had resisted! What a mercy it was that he did not say, "I will swear in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest, for they have vexed me, and I will take my everlasting flight from them;" or thus, "Ephraim is joined unto idols, I will let him alone!" And since that time, my brethren, how sweetly has the Spirit proved his love to you and to me. It is not only in his first strivings, and then his divine quickenings; but in all the sequel, how much have we owed to his instruction. We have been dull scholars with the word before us, plain and simple, so that he that reads may read, and he that reads may understand, yet how small a portion of his Word has our memory retained, how little progress have we made in the school of God's grace! We are but learners yet, unstable, weak, and apt to slide, but what a blessed instructor we have had! Has he not led us into many a truth, and taken of the things of Christ and applied them unto us? Oh! When I think how stupid I have been, I wonder that he has not given me up. When I think what a dolt I have been, when he would have taught me the things of the kingdom of God, I marvel that he should have had such patience with me. Is it a wonder that Jesus should become a babe? Is it not an equal wonder that the Spirit of the living God, should become a teacher of babes? It is a marvel that Jesus should lie in a manger; is it not an equal marvel that the Holy Spirit should become an usher in the sacred school, to teach fools, and make them wise? It was condescension that brought the Saviour to the cross, but is it not equal condescension that brings the mighty Spirit of grace down to dwell with stubborn unruly, wild asses' colts, to teach them the mystery of the kingdom, and make them know the wonders of a Saviour's love?

     Furthermore, my brethren, forget not how much we owe to the Spirit's consolation, how much has he manifested his love to you in cherishing you in all your sicknesses, assisting you in all your labors; and comforting you in all your distresses. He has been a blessed comforter to me I can testify; when every other comfort failed, when the promise itself seemed empty, when the ministry was void of power, it is then the Holy Spirit has proved a rich comfort unto my soul, and filled my poor heart with peace and joy in believing. How many times would your heart have broken if the Spirit had not bound it up! How often has he who is your teacher become also your physician, has closed the wounds of your poor bleeding spirit, and has bound up those wounds with the court plaister of the promise, and so has stanched the bleeding, and has given you back your spiritual health once more. It does seem to rise a marvel that the Holy Ghost should become a comforter, for comforting is, to many minds, but an inferior work in the church, though really it is not so. To teach, to preach, to command with authority, how many are willing to do this because this is honorable work; but to sit down and bear with the infirmities of the creature, to enter into all the stratagems of unbelief, to find the soul a way of peace in the midst of seas of trouble this is compassion like a God, that the Holy Spirit should stoop from heaven to become a comforter of disconsolate spirits. What! must he himself bring the cordial? must he wait upon his sick child and stand by his bed? must he make his bed for him in his afflictions must he carry him in his infirmity? must he breathe continually into him his very breath? Doth the Holy Spirit become a waiting servant of the church? Doth he become a lamp to enlighten? and doth he become a staff on which we may lean? This, I say, should move us to love the Holy Spirit, for we have in all this abundant proofs of his love to us.

     Stay not here, beloved, there are larger fields yet beyond, now that we are speaking of the love of the Spirit. Remember how much he loves us when he helpeth our infirmities. Nay, not only doth he help our infirmities, but when we know not what to pray for as we ought he teacheth us how to pray, and when "we ourselves groan within ourselves," then the Spirit himself maketh intersession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered—groans as we should groan, but more audibly, so that our prayer, which else would have been silent, reaches the ears of Christ, and is then presented before his Father's face. To help our infirmities is a mighty instance of love. When God overcomes infirmity altogether, or removes it, there is something very noble, and grand, and sublime in the deed; when he permits the infirmity to remain and yet works with the infirmity, this is tender compassion indeed. When the Saviour heals the lame man you see his Godhead, but when he walketh with the lame man, limping though his gait may be; when he sitteth with the beggar, when he talketh with the publican, when he carryeth the babe in his bosom, then this helping of infirmities is a manifestation of love almost unequalled. Save Christ's bearing our infirmities upon the tree and our sins in his own body, I know of no greater or more tender instance of divine love than when it is written, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities." Oh how much you owe to the Spirit when you have been on your knees in prayer! You know, my brethren, what it is to be dull and lifeless there; to groan for a word, and yet you cannot find it; to wish for a word, and yet the very wish is languid; to long to have desires, and yet all the desire you have is a desire that you may be able to desire. Oh, have you not sometimes, when your desires have been kindled longed to get a grip at the promise by the hand of faith? "Oh," you have said, "if I could but plead the promise, all my necessities would be removed, and all my sorrows would be allayed;" but, alas, the promise was beyond your reach. If you touched it with the tip of your finger, you could not grasp it as you desired, you could not plead it, and therefore you came away without the blessing. But when the Spirit has helped our infirmities how have we prayed! Why, there have been times when you and I have so grasped the knocker of the gate of mercy, and have let it fall with such tremendous force, that it seemed as if the very gate itself did shake and totter; there have been seasons when we have laid hold upon the angel, have overcome heaven by prayer, have declared we would not let Jehovah himself go except he should bless us. We have, and we say it without blasphemy, moved the arm that moves the world. We have brought down upon us the eyes that look upon the universe. All this we have done, not by our own strength, but by the might and by the power of the Spirit, and seeing he has so sweetly enabled us, though we have so often forgotten to thank him; seeing that he has so graciously assisted us though we have often taken all the glory to ourselves instead of airing it to him, must we not admire his love, and must it not be a fearful sin indeed to grieve the Holy Spirit by whom we are sealed?

     Another token of the Spirit's love remains, namely, his indwelling in the saints. We sing in one of our hymns, —

"Dost thou not dwell in all the saints?"

     We ask a question which can have but one answer. He does dwell in the heart of all God's redeemed and blood-washed people. And what a condescension is this, that he whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, dwells in thy breast my brother. That breast often covered with rags, may be a breast often agitated with anxious care and thought, a breast too often defiled with sin, and yet he dwells there. The little narrow heart of man the Holy Spirit hath made his palace. Though it is but a cottage, a very hovel, and all unholy and unclean yet doth the Holy Spirit condescend to make the heart of his people his continual abode. Oh my friends, when I think how often you and I have let the devil in, I wonder the Spirit has not withdrawn from us. The final perseverance of the saints, is one of the greatest miracles on record; in fact, it is the sum total of miracles. The perseverance of a saint for a single day, is a multitude of miracles of mercy. When you consider that the Spirit is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and yet he dwells in the heart where sin often intrudes, a heart out of which comes blasphemies, and murders, and all manner of evil thoughts and concupiscence, what if sometimes he is grieved, and retires and leaves us to ourselves for a season? It is a marvel that he is there at all, for he must be daily grieved with these evil guests, these false traitors, these base intruders who thrust themselves into that little temple which he has honored with his presence, the temple of the heart of man. I am afraid, dear friends, we are too much in the habit of talking of the love of Jesus, without thinking of the love of the Holy Spirit. Now I would not wish to exalt one person of the Trinity above another, but I do feel this, that because Jesus Christ was a man, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and therefore there was something tangible in him that can be seen with the eyes, and handled with the hands, therefore we more readily think of him, and fix our love on him, than we do upon the Spirit. But why should it be? Let us love Jesus with all our hearts, and let us love the Holy Spirit too. Let us have songs for him, gratitude for him. We do not forget Christ's cross, let us not forget the Spirit's operations. We do not forget what Jesus has done for us, let us always remember what the Spirit does in us. Why you talk of the love, and grace, and tenderness, and faithfulness of Christ, why do you not say the like of the Spirit? Was ever love like his, that he should visit us? Was ever mercy like his, that he should bear with our ill manners, though constantly repeated by us? Was ever faithfulness like his, that multitudes of sins cannot drive him away? Was ever power like his, that overcometh all our iniquities, and yet leads us safely on, though hosts of foes within and without would rob us of our Christian life?

"Oh, the love of the Spirit I sing
By whom is redemption applied."

     And unto his name be glory for ever and ever.

     II. This brings me to the second point. Here we have another reason why we should not grieve the Spirit. IT IS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WE ARE SEALED. "BY whom we are sealed unto the day of redemption." I shall be very brief here. The Spirit himself is expressed as the seal, even as he himself is directly said to be the pledge of our inheritance. The sealing, I think, has a three-fold meaning. It is a sealing of attestation or confirmation. I want to know whether I am truly a child of God. The Spirit itself also beareth witness with my spirit that I am born of God. I have the writings, the title-deeds of the inheritance that is to come—I want to know whether those are valid, whether they are true, or whether they are mere counterfeits written out by that old scribe of hell, Master Presumption and Carnal Security. How am I to know? I look for the seal. After that we have believed on the Son of God, the Father seals us as his children, by the gift of the Holy Ghost. "Now he which hath anointed us is God, who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearse." No faith is genuine which does not bear the seal of the Spirit. No love, no hope can ever save us, except it be sealed with the Spirit of God, for whatever hath not his seal upon it is spurious. Faith that is unsealed may be a poison, it may be presumption; but faith that is sealed by the Spirit is true, real, genuine faith. Never be content, my dear hearers, unless you are sealed, unless you are sure, by the inward witness and testimony of the Holy Ghost, that you have been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is possible for a man to know infallibly that he is secure of heaven. He may not only hope so, but he may know it beyond a doubt, and he may know it thus, —by being able with the eye of faith to see the seal, the broad stamp of the Holy Spirit set upon his own character and experience. It is a seal of attestation.

     In the next place, it is a sealing of appropriation. When men put their mark upon an article, it is to show that it is their own. The farmer brands his tools that they may not be stolen. They are his. The shepherd marks his sheep that they may be recognized as belonging to his flock. The king himself puts his broad arrow upon everything that is his property. So the Holy Spirit puts the broad arm of God upon the hearts of all his people. He seals us. "Thou shalt be mine," saith the Lord, "in the day when I make up my jewels." And then the Spirit puts God's seal upon us to signify that we are God's reserved inheritance—his peculiar people, the portion in which his soul delighteth.

     But, again, by sealing is meant preservation. Men seal up that which they wish to have preserved, and when a document is sealed it becomes valid henceforth. Now, it is by the Spirit of God that the Christian is sealed, that he is kept, he is preserved, sealed unto the day of redemption—sealed until Christ comes fully to redeem the bodies of his saints by raising them from the death, and fully to redeem the world by purging it from sin, and making it a kingdom unto himself in righteousness. We shall hold on our way, we shall be saved. The chosen seed cannot be lost they must be brought home at last, but how? By the sealing of the Spirit. Apart from that they perish, they are undone. When the last general fire shall blaze out, everything that has not the seal of the Spirit on it, shall be burned up. But the men upon whose forehead is the seal shall be preserved. They shall be safe "amid the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds." Their spirits, mounting above the flames shall dwell with Christ eternally, and with that same seal in their forehead upon Mount Zion, they shall sing the everlasting song of gratitude and praise. I say this is the second reason why we should love the Spirit and why we should not grieve him.

     III. I come now to the third part of my discourse, namely, THE GRIEVING OF THE SPIRIT, How may we grieve him, —what will be the sad result of grieving him—if we have grieved him, how may we bring him back again? How may we grieve the Spirit? I am now, mark you, speaking of those who love the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God is in your heart, and it is very, very easy indeed to grieve him, Sin is as easy as it is wicked. You may grieve him by impure thoughts. He cannot bear sin. If you indulge in lascivious expressions, or if even you allow imagination to coat upon any lascivious act, or if your heart goes after covetousness, if you set your heart upon anything that is evil, the Spirit of God will be grieved, for thus I hear him speaking of himself. "I love this man, I want to have his heart, and yet be is entertaining these filthy lusts. His thoughts, instead of running after me, and after Christ, and after the Father, are running after the temptations that are in the world through lust." And then his Spirit is grieved. He sorrows in his soul because he knows what sorrow these things must bring to our souls. We grieve him yet more if we indulge in outward acts of sin. Then is he sometimes so grieved that he takes his flight for a season, for the dove will not dwell in our hearts if we take loathsome carrion in there. A cleanly being is the dove, and we must not strew the place which the dove frequents with filth and mire, if we do he will fly elsewhere. If we commit sin if we openly bring disgrace upon our religion, if we tempt others to go into iniquity by our evil example, it is not long before the Holy Spirit will begin to grieve. Again, if we neglect prayer, if our closet door is cob-webbed, if we forget to read the Scriptures, if the leaves of our Bible are almost stuck together by neglect, if we never seek to do any good in the world, if we live merely for ourselves and not to Christ, then the Holy Spirit will be grieved, for thus he saith, "They have forsaken me, they have left the fountain of waters, they have hewn unto themselves broken cisterns." I think I now see the Spirit of God grieving, when you are sitting down to read a novel and there is your Bible unread. Perhaps you take down some book of travels, and you forget that you have got a more precious book of travels in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the story of your blessed Lord and Master. You have no time for prayer, but the Spirit sees you very active about worldly things, and having many hours to spare for relaxation and amusement. And then he is grieved because he sees that you love worldly things better than you love him. His spirit is grieved within him; take care that he does not go away from you, for it will be a pitiful thing for you if he leaves you to yourself. Again, ingratitude tends to grieve him. Nothing cut a man to the heart more than after having done his utmost for another, he turns round and repays him with ingratitude or insult. If we do not want to be thanked, at least we do love to know that there is thankfulness in the heart upon which we have conferred a boon, and when the Holy Spirit looks into our soul and sees little love to Christ, no gratitude to him for all he has done for us, then is he grieved.

     Again, the Holy Spirit is exceedingly grieved by our unbelief. When we distrust the promise he hath given and applied, when we doubt the power or the affection of our blessed Lord, then the Spirit saith within himself—"They doubt my fidelity, they distrust my power, they say Jesus is not able to save unto the uttermost, thus again is the Spirit grieved. Oh, I wish the Spirit had an advocate here this morning, that could speak in better terms than I can. I have a theme that overmasters me, I seem to grieve for him; but I cannot make you grieve, nor tell out the grief I feel. In my own soul I keep saying, "Oh, this is just what you have done—you have grieved him." Let me make a full and frank confession even before you all. I know that too often, I as well as you have grieved the Holy Spirit. Much within us has made that sacred dove to mourn, and my marvel is, that he has not taken his flight from us and left us utterly to ourselves.

     Now suppose the Holy Spirit is grieved, what is the effect produced upon us? When the Spirit is grieved first, he bears with us. He is grieved again and again, and again and again, and still he bears with it all. But at last, his grief becomes so excessive, that he says, "I will suspend my operations; I will begone; I will leave life behind me, but my own actual presence I will take away. And when the Spirit of God goes away from the soul and suspends all his operations what a miserable state we are in. He suspends his instructions; we read the word, we cannot understand it; we go to our commentaries, they cannot tell us the meaning; we fall on our knees and ask to be taught, but we get no answer, we learn nothing. He suspends his comfort; we used to dance, like David before the ark, and now we sit like Job in the ash-pit, and scrape our ulcers with a potsherd. There was a time when his candle shone round about us, but now he is gone; he has left us in the blackness of darkness. Now, he takes from us all spiritual power. Once we could do all things; now we can do nothing. We could slay the Philistines, and lay them heaps upon heaps, but now Delilah can deceive us, and our eyes are put out and we are made to grind in the mill. We go preaching, and there is no pleasure in preaching, and no good follows it. We go to our tract distributing, and our Sunday-school, we might almost as well be at home. There is the machinery there, but there is no love. There is the intention to do good, or perhaps not even that, but alas! there is no power to accomplish the intention. The Lord has withdrawn himself, his light, his joy, his comfort, his spiritual power, all are gone. And then all our graces flag. Our graces are much like the flower called the Hydrangia, when it has plenty of water it blooms, but as soon as moisture fails, the leaves drop down at once. And so when the Spirit goes away, faith shuts up its flowers; no perfume is exhaled. Then the fruit of our love begins to rot and drops from the tree; then the sweet buds of our hope become frostbitten, and they die. Oh, what a sad thing it is to lose the Spirit. Have you never, my brethren, been on your knees and have been conscious that the Spirit of God was not with you, and what awful work it has been to groan, and cry, and sigh, and yet go away again, and no light to shine upon the promises, not so much as a ray of light through the chink of the dungeon. All forsaken, forgotten, and forlorn, you are almost driven to despair. You sing with Cowper: —

"What peaceful hours I once enjoyed,
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void,
The world can never fill.

Return, thou sacred dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest,
I hate the sins that made thee mourn,
And drove thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee."

     Ah! sad enough it is to have the Spirit drawn from us. But, my brethren, I am about to say something with the utmost charity, which, perhaps, may look severe, but, nevertheless, I must say it. The churches of the present day are very much in the position of those who have grieved the Spirit of God; for the Spirit deals with churches just as it does with individuals. Of these late years how little has God wrought in the midst of his churches. Throughout England, at least some four or five years ago, an almost universal torpor had fallen upon the visible body of Christ. There was a little action, but it was spasmodic; there was no real vitality. Oh! how few sinners were brought to Christ, how empty had our places of worship become; our prayer-meetings were dwindling away to nothing, and our church meetings were mere matters of farce. You know right well that this is the case with many London churches to this day; and there be some that do not mourn about it. They go up to their accustomed place, and the minister prays, and the people either sleep with their eyes or else with their hearts, and they go out, and there is never a soul saved. The pool of baptism is seldom stirred; but the saddest part of all is this, the churches are willing to have it so. They are not earnest to get a revival of religion. We have been doing something, the church at large has been doing something. I will not just now put my finger upon what the sin is, but there has been something done which has driven the Spirit of God from us. He is grieved, and he is gone. He is present with us here, I thank his name, he is still visible in our midst. He has not left us. Though we have been as unworthy as others, yet has he given us a long outpouring of his presence. These five years or more, we have had a revival which is not to be exceeded by any revival upon the face of the earth. Without cries or shoutings, without fallings down or swooning, steadily God adds to this church numbers upon numbers, so that your minister's heart is ready to break with very joy when he thinks how manifestly the Spirit of God is with us. But brethren, we must not be content with this, we want to see the Spirit poured out on all churches. Look at the great gatherings that there were in St. Paul's, and Westminster Abbey, and Exeter Hall, and other places, how was it that no good was done, or so very little? I have watched with anxious eye, and I have never from that day forth heard but of one conversion, and that in St. James' Hall, from all these services. Strange it seems. The blessing may have come in larger measure than we know, but not in so large a measure as we might have expected, if the Spirit of God had been present with all the ministers. Oh would that we may live to see greater things than we have ever seen yet. Go home to your houses, humble yourselves before God, ye members of Christ's church, and cry aloud that he will visit his church, and that he would open the windows of heaven and pour out his grace upon his thirsty hill of Zion, that nations may be born in a day, that sinners may be saved by thousands—that Zion may travail and may bring forth children. Oh! there are signs and tokens of a coming revival. We have heard but lately of a good work among the Ragged School boys of St. Giles's, and our soul has been glad on account of that; and the news from Ireland comes to us like good tidings, not from a far country, but from a sister province of the kingdom. Let us cry aloud to the Holy Spirit, who is certainly grieved with his church, and let us purge our churches of everything that is contrary to his Word and to sound doctrine, and then the Spirit will return, and his power shall be manifest.

     And now, in conclusion, there may be some of you here who have lost the visible presence of Christ with you; who have in fact so grieved the Spirit that he has gone. It is a mercy for you to know that the Spirit of God never leaves his people finally; he leaves them for chastisement, but not for damnation. He sometimes leaves them that they may get good by knowing their own weakness, but he will not leave them finally to perish. Are you in a state of backsliding, declension, and coldness? Hearken to me for a moment, and God bless the words. Brother, stay not a moment in a condition so perilous; be not easy for a single second in the absence of the Holy Ghost. I beseech you use every means by which that Spirit may be brought back to you. Once more, let me tell you distinctly what the means are. Search out for the sin that has grieved the Spirit, give it up, slay that sin upon the spot; repent with tears and sighs; continue in prayer, and never rest satisfied until the Holy Ghost comes back to you. Frequent an earnest ministry, get much with earnest saints, but above all, be much in prayer to God, and let your daily cry be, "Return, return, O Holy Spirit return, and dwell in my soul." Oh, I beseech you be not content till that prayer is heard, for you have become weak as water, and faint and empty while the Spirit has been away from you. Oh! it may be there are some here this morning with whom the Spirit has been striving during the past week. Oh yield to him, resist him not; grieve him not, but yield to him. Is he saying to you now "Turn to Christ?" Listen to him, obey him, he moves you. Oh I beseech you do not despise him. Have you resisted him many a time, then take care you do not again, for there may come a last time when the Spirit may say, "I will go unto my rest, I will not return unto him, the ground is accursed, it shall be given up to barrenness." Oh I hear the word of the gospel, ere ye separate, for the Spirit speaketh effectually to you now in this short sentence—"Repent and be converted everyone of you, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord," and hear this solemn sentence, "He that believeth in the Lord Jesus and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." May the Lord grant that we may not grieve the Holy Spirit. Amen.



The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant

By / Oct 2

The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant

 

"The blood of the everlasting covenant."—Hebrews 13:20

 

     All God’s dealings with men have had a covenant character. It hath so pleased Him to arrange it, that he will not deal with us except through a covenant, nor can we deal with Him except in the same manner. Adam in the garden was under a covenant with God and God was in covenant with Him. That covenant he speedily brake. There is a covenant still existing in all its terrible power—terrible I say, because it has been broken on man's part, and therefore God will most surely fulfill its solemn threatenings and sanctions. That is the covenant of works. By this he dealt with Moses, and in this doth he deal with the whole race of men as represented in the first Adam. Afterwards when God would deal with Noah, it was by a covenant; and when in succeeding ages he dealt with Abraham, he was still pleased to bind himself to him by a covenant. That covenant he preserved and kept, and it was renewed continually to many of his seed. God dealt not even with David, the man after his own heart, except with a covenant. He made a covenant with his anointed and beloved; he dealeth with you and me this day still by covenant. When he shall come in all his terrors to condemn, he shall smite by covenant—namely, by the sword of the covenant of Sinai; and if he comes in the splendors of his grace to save, he still comes to us by covenant—namely, the covenant of Zion; the covenant which he has made with the Lord Jesus Christ, the head and representative of his people. And mark, whenever we come into close and intimate dealings with God, it is sure to be, on our part, also by covenant. We make with God, after conversion, a covenant of gratitude; we come to him sensible of what he has done for us, and we devote ourselves to him. We set our seal to that covenant when in baptism we are united with his church; and day by day, so often as we come around the table of the breaking of the bread, we renew the vow of our covenant, and thus we have personal intercourse with God. I cannot pray to him except through the covenant of grace; and I know that I am not his child unless I am his, first through the covenant whereby Christ purchased me, and secondly, through the covenant by which I have given up myself, and dedicated all that I am and all that I have to him. It is important, then, since the covenant is the only ladder which reaches from earth to heaven—since it is the only way in which God has intercourse with us, and by which we can deal with him, that we should know how to discriminate between covenant and covenant; and should not be in any darkness or error with regard to what is the covenant of grace, and what is not. It shall be our endeavor, this morning, to make as simple and as plain as possible, the matter of the covenant spoken of in our text, and I shall thus speak—first upon the covenant of graceits everlasting character"The blood of the everlasting covenant."

     I. First of all, then, I have to speak this morning of THE COVENANT mentioned in the text; and I observe that we can readily discover at first sight what the covenant is not. We see at once that this is not the covenant of works, for the simple reason that this is an everlasting covenant. Now the covenant of works was not everlasting in any sense whatever. It was not eternal; it was first made in the garden of Eden. It had a beginning, it has been broken; it will be violated continually and will soon be wound up and pass away: therefore, it is not everlasting in any sense. The covenant of works cannot bear an everlasting title; but as the one in my text is an everlasting covenant, therefore it is not a covenant of works. God made a covenant first of all with the human race, which ran in this wise: "If thou, O man, wilt be obedient, thou shalt live and be happy, but if thou wilt be disobedient, thou shalt perish. In the day that thou disobey me thou shalt die. That covenant was made with all of us in the person of our representative, the first Adam. If Adam had kept that covenant, we believe we should every one of us have been preserved. But inasmuch as he broke the covenant, you and I, and all of us, fell down and were considered henceforth as the heirs of wrath, as inheritors of sin as prone to every evil and subject to every misery. That covenant has passed away with regard to God's people; it has been put away through the new and better covenant which has utterly and entirely eclipsed it by its gracious glory.

     Again, I may remark that the covenant here meant is not the covenant of gratitude which is made between the loving child of God and his Saviour. Such a covenant is very right and proper. I trust all of us who know the Saviour have said in our very hearts: —

"'Tis done! The great transaction's done;
I am my Lord's, and he is mine."

     We have given up everything to him. But that covenant is not the one in the text, for the simple reason that the covenant in our text is an everlasting one. Now ours was only written out some few years ago. It would have been despised by us in the earlier parts of our life, and cannot at the very utmost be so old as ourselves.

     Having thus readily shown what this covenant is not, may I observe what this covenant is. And here it will be necessary for me to subdivide this head again and to speak of it thus: To understand a covenant, you must know who are the contracting parties; secondly, what are the stipulations of the contract; thirdly, what are the objects of it; and then, if you would go still deeper, you must understand something of the motives which lead the contracting parties to form the covenant between themselves.

     1. Now, in this covenant of grace, we must first of all observe the high contracting parties between whom it was made. The covenant of grace was made before the foundation of the world between God the Father, and God the Son; or to put it in a yet more scriptural light, it was made mutually between the three divine persons of the adorable Trinity. This covenant was not made mutually between God and man. Man did not at that time exist; but Christ stood in the covenant as man's representative. In that sense we will allow that it was a covenant between God and man, but not a covenant between God and any man personally and individually. It was a covenant between God with Christ, and through Christ indirectly with all the blood-bought seed who were loved of Christ from the foundation of the world. It is a noble and glorious thought, the very poetry of that old Calvinistic doctrine which we teach, that long ere the day-star knew its place, before God had spoken existence out of nothing, before angel's wing had stirred the unnavigated ether, before a solitary song had distributed the solemnity of the silence in which God reigned supreme, he had entered into solemn council with himself, with his Son, and with his Spirit, and had in that council decreed, determined, proposed, and predestinated the salvation of his people. He had, moreover, in the covenant arranged the ways and means, and fixed and settled everything which should work together for the effecting of the purpose and the decree. My soul flies back now, winged by imagination and by faith, and looks into that mysterious council-chamber, and by faith I behold the Father pledging himself to the Son, and the Son pledging himself to the Father, while the Spirit gives his pledge to both, and thus that divine compact, long to be hidden in darkness, is completed and settled—the covenant which in these latter days has been read in the light of heaven, and has become the joy, and hope, and boast of all the saints.

     2. And now, what were the stipulations of this covenant? They were somewhat in the wise. God has foreseen that man after creation would break the covenant of works; that however mild and gentle the tenure upon which Adam had possession of Paradise, yet that tenure would be too severe for him, and he would be sure to kick against it, and ruin himself. God had also foreseen that his elect ones, whom he had chosen out of the rest of mankind would fall by the sin of Adam, since they, as well as the rest of mankind, were represented in Adam. The covenant therefore had for its end the restoration of the chosen people. And now we may readily understand what were the stipulations. On the Father's part, thus run the covenant. I cannot tell you it in the glorious celestial tongue in which it was written: I am fain to bring it down to the speech which suiteth to the ear of flesh, and to the heart of the mortal. Thus, I say, run the covenant, in ones like these: "I, the Most High Jehovah, do hereby give unto my only begotten and well-beloved Son, a people, countless beyond the number of stars, who shall be by him washed from sin, by him preserved, and kept, and led, and by him, at last, presented before my throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. I covenant by oath, and swear by myself, because I can swear by no greater, that these whom I now give to Christ shall be for ever the objects of my eternal love. Them I will forgive through the merit of the blood. To these will I give a perfect righteousness; these will I adopt and make my sons and daughters, and these shall reign with me through Christ eternally." Thus run that glorious side of the covenant. The Holy Spirit also, as one of the high contracting parties on this side of the covenant, gave his declaration, "I hereby covenant," saith he, "that all whom the Father giveth to the Son, I will in due time quicken. I will show them their need of redemption; I will cut off from them all groundless hope, and destroy their refuges of lies. I will bring them to the blood of sprinkling; I will give them faith whereby this blood shall be applied to them, I will work in them every grace; I will keep their faith alive; I will cleanse them and drive out all depravity from them, and they shall be presented at last spotless and faultless." This was the one side of the covenant, which is at this very day being fulfilled and scrupulously kept. As for the other side of the covenant this was the part of it, engaged and covenanted by Christ. He thus declared, and covenanted with his Father: "My Father, on my part I covenant that in the fullness of time I will become man. I will take upon myself the form and nature of the fallen race. I will live in their wretched world, and for my people I will keep the law perfectly. I will work out a spotless righteousness, which shall be acceptable to the demands of thy just and holy law. In due time I will bear the sins of all my people. Thou shalt exact their debts on me; the chastisement of their peace I will endure, and by my stripes they shall be healed. My Father, I covenant and promise that I will be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I will magnify thy law, and make it honourable. I will suffer all they ought to have suffered. I will endure the curse of thy law, and all the vials of thy wrath shall be emptied and spent upon my head. I will then rise again; I will ascend into heaven; I will intercede for them at thy right hand; and I will make myself responsible for every one of them, that not one of those whom thou hast given me shall ever be lost, but I will bring all my sheep of whom, by thy blood, thou hast constituted me the shepherd—I will bring every one safe to thee at last." Thus ran the covenant; and now, I think, you have a clear idea of what it was and how it stands—the covenant between God and Christ, between God the Father and God the Spirit, and God the Son as the covenant head and representative of all Gods elect. I have told you, as briefly as I could what were the stipulations of it. You will please to remark, my dear friends, that the covenant is, on one side, perfectly fulfilled. God the Son has paid the debts of all the elect. He has, for us men and for our redemption, suffered the whole of wrath divine. Nothing remaineth now on this side of the question except that he shall continue to intercede, that he may safely bring all his redeemed to glory.

     On the side of the Father this part of the covenant has been fulfilled to countless myriads. God the Father and God the Spirit have not been behindhand in their divine contract. And mark you, this side shall be as fully and as completely finished and carried out as the other. Christ can say of what he promised to do. "It is finished!" and the like shall be said by all the glorious covenanters. All for whom Christ died shall be pardoned, all justified, all adopted. The Spirit shall quicken them all, shall give them all faith, shall bring them all to heaven, and they shall, every one of them, without let or hindrance, stand accepted in the beloved, in the day when the people shall be numbered, and Jesus shall be glorified.

     3. And now having seen who were the high contracting parties, and what were the terms of the covenant made between them, let us see what were the objects of this covenant Was this covenant made for every man of the race of Adam? Assuredly not; we discover the secret by the visible. That which is in the covenant is to be seen in due time by the eye and to be heard with the ear. I see multitudes of men perishing, continuing wantonly in their wicked ways, rejecting the offer of Christ which is presented to them in the Gospel day after day, treading under foot the blood of the Son of Man, defying the Spirit who strives with them; I see these men going on from bad to worse at last perishing in their sins. I have not the folly to believe that they have any part in the covenant of grace. Those who die impenitent, the multitudes who reject the Saviour, are clearly proved to have no part and no lot in the sacred covenant of divine grace; for if they were interested in that, there would be certain marks and evidences which would show us this. We should find that in due time in this life they would be brought to repentance, would be washed in the Saviour's blood, and would be saved. The covenant—to come at once straight to the matter, however offensive the doctrine may be—the covenant has relationship to the elect and none besides. Does this offend you? Be ye offended ever more. What said Christ? "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me: for they are thine." If Christ prayeth for none but for the chosen, why should ye be angry that ye are also taught from the Word of God that in the covenant there was provision made for the like persons, that they might receive eternal life. As many as shall believe, as many as shall trust in Christ, as many as shall persevere unto the end, as many as shall enter into the eternal rest, so many and no more are interested in the covenant of divine grace.

     4. Furthermore, we have to consider what were the motives of this covenant. Why was the covenant made at all? There was no compulsion or constraint on God. As yet there was no creature. Even could the creature have an influence on the Creator, there was none existing in the period when the covenant was made. We can look nowhere for God's motive in the covenant except it be in himself, for of God it could be said literally in that day, "I am, and there is none beside me." Why then did he make the covenant? I answer, absolute sovereignty dictated it. But why were certain men the objects of it and why not others? I answer, sovereign grace guided the pen. It was not the merit of man, it was nothing which God foresaw in us that made him choose many and leave others to go on in their sins. It was nothing in them, it was sovereignty and grace combined that made the divine choice. If you, my brethren and sisters, have a good hope that you are interested in the covenant of grace, you must sing that song—

"What was there in me to merit esteem, or give the Creator delight?
'Twas even so Father I ever sing, for so it seemed good in thy sight."

     "He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy," "for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." His sovereignty elected, and his grace distinguished, and immutability decreed. No motive dictated the election of the individuals, except a motive in himself of love and of divine sovereignty. Doubtless the grand intention of God in making the covenant at all was his own glory; any motive inferior to that would be beneath his dignity. God must find his motives in himself: he has not to look to moths and worms for motives for his deeds. He is the "I AM."

"He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be."

     He doth as he wills in the armies of heaven. Who can stay his hand and say unto him, "What doest thou?" Shall the clay ask the potter for the motive for his making it into a vessel? Shall the thing formed before its creation dictate to its Creator? No, let God be God, and let man shrink into his native nothingness, and if God exalt him, let him not boast as though God found a reason for the deed in man. He finds his motives in himself. He is self-contained, and findeth nothing beyond nor needeth anything from any but himself. Thus have I, as fully as time permits this morning, discussed the first point concerning the covenant. May the Holy Spirit lead us into this sublime truth.

     II. But now, in the second place, we come to notice ITS EVERLASTING CHARACTER. It is called an everlasting covenant. And here you observe at once its antiquity. The covenant of grace is the oldest of all things. It is sometimes a subject of great joy to me to think that the covenant of grace is older than the covenant of works. The covenant of works had a beginning, but the covenant of grace had not; and blessed be God the covenant of works has its end, but the covenant of grace shall stand fast when heaven and earth shall pass away. The antiquity of the covenant of grace demands our grateful attention. It is a truth which tends to elevate the mind. I know of no doctrine more grand than this. It is the very soul and essence of all poetry, and in sitting down and in sitting down and meditating upon it. I do confess my spirit has sometimes been ravished with delight. Can you conceive the idea that before all things God thought of you? That when as yet he had not made his mountains, he had thought of thee, poor puny worm? Before the magnificent constellations began to shine, and ere the great centre of the world had been fixed, and all the mighty planets and divers worlds had been made to revolve around it, then had God fixed the centre of his covenant, and ordained the number of those lesser stars which should revolve round that blessed centre, and derive light therefrom. Why, when one is taken up with some grand conceptions of the boundless universe, when with the astronomers we fly through space, when with we find it without end, and the starry hosts without number, does it not seem marvelous that God should give poor insignificant man the preference beyond even the whole universe besides? Oh this cannot make us proud, because it is a divine truth, but it must make us feel happy. Oh believer, you think yourself nothing, but God does not think so of you. Men despise you but God remembered you before he made anything. The covenant of love which he made with his Son on your behalf is older than the hoary ages, and if ye fly back when as yet time had not begun, before those massive rocks that bear the marks of gray old age upon them, had begun to be deposited, he had loved and chosen you, and made a covenant on your behalf. Remember well these ancient things of the eternal hills.

     Then, again, it is an everlasting covenant from its sureness. Nothing is everlasting which is not secure. Man may erect his structures and think they may last for ever, but the Tower of Babel has crumbled, and the very Pyramids bear signs of ruin. Nothing which man has made is everlasting, because he cannot ensure it against decay. But as for the covenant of grace, well David say of it, "It is ordered in all things and sure." It is

"Signed, and sealed, and ratified,
In all things ordered well."

     There is not an "if" or a "but" in the whole of it from beginning to end. Free-will hates God's "shalls" and "wills," and likes man's "ifs" and "buts," but there are no "ifs" and "buts" in the covenant of grace. Thus the tenure runs: "I will" and "they shall." Jehovah swears it and the Son fulfills it. It is—it must be true. It must be sure, for "I AM" determines. "Hath he said and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" It is a sure covenant. I have sometimes said, if any man were about to build a bridge or a house if he would leave me just one single stone or one timber to put where I liked, I would undertake that his house would fall down. Let me if there is anyone about to construct a bridge, have just simply the placing of one stone—I will select which stone it shall be — and I will defy him to build a bridge that shall stand. I should simply select the key-stone and then he might erect whatever he pleased and it should soon fall. Now, the Armenian's covenant is one that cannot stand because there are one or two bricks in it (and that is putting it in the slightest form; I might have said, "because every stone in it," and that would be nearer the mark) that are dependent on the will of man. It is left to the will of the creator whether he will be saved or not. If he will not, there is no constraining influence that can master and overcome his will. There is no promise that any influence shall be strong enough to overcome him, according to the Armenian. So the question is left to man, and God the mighty Builder—though he put stone on stone massive as the universe—yet may be defeated by this creature. Out upon such blasphemy! The whole structure, from beginning to end, is in the hand of God. The very terms and conditions of that covenant are become its seals and guarantees, seeing that Jesus has fulfilled them all. Its full accomplishment in every jot and title is sure, and must be fulfilled by Christ Jesus, whether man will or man will not. It is not the creature's covenant, it is the Creators. It is not man's covenant, it is the Almighty's covenant, and he will carry it out and perform it, the will of man notwithstanding. For this is the very glory of grace—that man hates to be saved—that he is enmity to him, yet God will have him redeemed—that God's consensus is. "You shall," and man's intention is "I will not, and God's "shall" conquers man's "I will not." Almighty grace rides victoriously over the neck of free will and leads it captive in glorious captivity to the all-conquering power of irresistible grace and love. It is a sure covenant, and therefore deserves the title of everlasting.

     Furthermore, it is not only sure, but it is immutable. If it were not immutable, it could not be everlasting. That which changes passes away. We may be quite sure that anything that has the word "change" on it, will sooner or later die, and be put away as a thing of nought. But in the covenant, everything is immutable. Whatever God has established must come to pass, and not word, or line, or letter, can be altered. Whatever the Spirit voweth shall be done, and whatever God the Son promised hath been fulfilled, and shall be consummated at the day of his appearing. Oh if we could believe that the sacred lines could be erased—that the covenant could be blotted and blurred, why then my dear friends, we might lie down and despair. I have heard it said by some preachers, that when the Christian is holy, he is in the covenant; that when he sins, he is crossed out again; that when he repents, he is put in again, and if he fails he is scratched out once more; and so he goes in and out of the door, as he would in and out of his own house. He goes in at one door and out of another. He is sometimes the child of God, and sometimes the child of the devil—sometimes an heir of heaven, and anon an heir of hell. And I know one man who went so far as to say that although a man might have persevered through grace for sixty years, yet should he fall away the last year of his life—if he should sin and die so, he would perish everlastingly, and all his faith, and all the love which God had manifested to him in the days gone by would go for nothing. I am very happy to say that such a notion of God is just the very notion I have of the devil. I could not believe in such a God, and could not bow down before him. A god that loves today and hates tomorrow; a God that gives a promise, and yet foreknows after all that man shall not see the promise fulfilled; a God that forgives and punishes—that justifies and afterwards executes—is a God that I cannot endure. He is not the God of the Scriptures I am certain, for he is immutable, just, holy, and true, and having loved his own, he will love them to the end, and if he hath given a promise to any man, the promise shall be kept, and that man once in grace, is in grace forever, and shall without fall by-and-by enter into glory.

     And then to finish up this point. The covenant is everlasting because it will never run itself out. It will be fulfilled but it will stand firm. When Christ hath completed all, and brought every believer to heaven; when the Father hath seen all his people gathered in—the covenant it is true, will come to a consummation, but not to a conclusion, for thus the covenant runs: The heirs of grace shall be blessed for ever, and as long as "for ever" lasts, this everlasting covenant will demand the happiness, the security, the glorification, of every object of it.

     III. Having thus noticed the everlasting character of the covenant, I conclude by the sweetest and most precious portion of the doctrine—the relation which the blood bears to it—THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT. The blood of Christ stands in a fourfold relationship to the covenant. With regard to Christ, his precious blood shed in Gethsemane, in Gabbatha and Golgotha, is the fulfillment of the covenant. By this blood sin is canceled; by Jesus' agonies justice is satisfied; by his death the law is honoured; and by that precious blood in all its mediatorial efficacy, and in all its cleansing power, Christ fulfills all that He stipulated to do on the behalf of his people towards God. Oh, believer, look to the blood of Christ, and remember that there is Christ's part of the covenant carried out. And now, there remains nothing to be fulfilled but God's part, there is nothing for thee to do; Jesus has done it all; there is nothing for free will to supply; Christ has done everything that God can demand. The blood is the fulfillment of the debtor's side of the covenant, and now God becometh bound by his own solemn oath to show grace and mercy to all whom Christ has redeemed by his blood. With regard to the blood in another respect, it is to God the Father the bond of the covenant. When I see Christ dying on the cross, I see the everlasting God from that time, if I may use the term of him who ever must be free, bound by his own oath and covenant to carry out every stipulation. Does the covenant say, "A new heart will I give thee, and a right spirit will I put within thee?" It must be done, for Jesus died, and Jesus' death is the seal of the covenant. Does it say, "I will sprinkle pure water upon them and they shall be clean; from all their iniquities will I cleanse them?" Then it must be done, for Christ has fulfilled his part. And, therefore, now we can present the covenant no more as a thing of doubt; but as our claim on God through Christ, and coming humbly on our knees, pleading that covenant, our heavenly Father will not deny the promises contained therein, but will make every one of them yea and amen to us through the blood of Jesus Christ.

     Then, again, the blood of the covenant has relation to us as the objects of the covenant, and that is its third light; it is not only a fulfillment as regards Christ, and a bond as regards his Father, but it is an evidence as regards ourselves. And here, dear brothers and sisters, let me speak affectionately to you. Are you relying wholly upon the blood? Has his blood—the precious blood of Christ—been laid to your conscience? Have you seen your sins pardoned, through his blood? Have you received forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus? Are you glorying in his sacrifice, and is his cross your only hope and refuge? Then you are in the covenant. Some men want to know whether they are elect. We cannot tell them unless they will tell us this. Dost thou believe? Is thy faith fixed on the precious blood? Then thou are in the covenant. And oh, poor sinner, if thou hast nothing to recommend thee; if thou are standing back, and saying "I dare not come! I am afraid! I am not in the covenant!" still Christ bids thee come. "Come unto me," saith he. "If thou canst not come to the covenant Father, come to the covenant Surety. Come unto me and I will give thee rest." And when thou hast come to him, and his blood has been applied to thee doubt not, but that in the red roll of election stands thy name. Canst thou read thy name in the bloody characters of a Saviour's atonement? Then shalt thou read it one day in the golden letters of the Father's election. He that believeth is elected. The blood is the symbol, the token, the earnest, the surety, the seal of the covenant of grace to thee. It must ever be the telescope through which thou canst look to see the things that are afar off. Thou canst not see they election with the naked eye, but through the blood of Christ thou canst see it clear enough. Trust thou in the blood, poor sinner, and then the blood of the everlasting covenant is a proof that thou are an heir of heaven. Lastly, the blood stands in a relationship to all three, and here I may add that the blood is the glory of all. To the Son it is the fulfillment, to the Father the bond, to the sinner the evidence, and to all—To Father, Son, and sinner—it is the common glory and the common boast. In this the Father is well pleased; in this the Son also, with joy, looks down and sees the purchase of his agonies; and in this must the sinner ever find his comfort and his everlasting song, —"Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, are my glory, my song, for ever and ever!"

     And now, my dear hearers, I have one question to ask, and I have done. Have you the hope that you are in the covenant? Have you put your trust in the blood? Remember, though you imagine, perhaps, from what I have been saying, that the gospel is restricted, that the gospel is freely preached to all. The decree is limited, but the good news is as wide as the world. The good spell, the good news, is as wide as the universe. I tell it to every creature under heaven, because I am told to do so. The secret of God, which is to deal with the application, that is restricted to God's chosen ones, but not the message, for that is to be proclaimed to all nations. Now thou hast heard the gospel many and many a time in thy life. It runs thus: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Dost thou believe that? And this is thy hope—something like this: "I am a sinner. I trust Christ has died for me; I put my trust in the merit of his blood, and sink or swim, I have no other hope but this.

'Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling'"

     Thou hast heard it; hast thou received it in thy heart, and laid hold on it; then thou art one of those in the covenant. And why should election frighten thee? If thou hast chosen Christ, depend upon it he has chosen thee. If thy tearful eye is looking to him, then his omniscient eye has long looked on thee; if thy heart lovest him, his heart loves thee better than ever thou canst love, and if now thou art saying, "My father, thou shalt be the guide of my youth," I will tell thee a secret—he has been thy guide, and has brought thee to be what thou now art, a humble seeker, and he will be thy guide and bring thee safe at last. But art thou a proud, boastful, free-willer, saying, "I will repent and believe whenever I choose; I have as good a right to be saved as anybody, for I do my duty as well as others, and I shall doubtless get my reward"—if you are claiming a universal atonement, which is to be received at the option of man's will, go and claim it, and you will be disappointed in your claim. You will find God will not deal with you on that ground at all, but will say, "Get thee hence, I never knew thee. He that cometh not to me through the Son cometh not at all." I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart. May God take away the enmity out of your heart to his own precious truth, and reconcile you to himself through THE BLOOD of his Son, which is the bond and seal of the everlasting covenant.



A Divided Heart

By / Sep 25

A Divided Heart

 

"Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty."—Hosea 10:2

 

     This passage may be taken as referring to the people of Israel as a nation, and it is not less applicable to the church of God. It is one grand and grievous fault with the church of Christ at the present day, that it is not merely divided somewhat in its creed, and somewhat also in its practice of the ordinances, but alas, it is also somewhat divided in heart. When the differences are of such a character, that as people of God we can still love each other, and still unite in the common battle against the cause of evil and in the common end of building up the church, then there is but little that is faulty. But when our doctrinal divisions grow to so great a head that we cease to co-operate; when our opinions upon mere ordinances become so acid towards each other, that we can no longer extend the right hand of fellowship to those who differ from us, then indeed is the church of God found faulty. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Even Beelzebub with all his craft cannot stand when once his hosts are divided. If Beelzebub be divided against himself, even he must fall, and assuredly this must be the case with those who lack that craft which might tend to overcome disunion. Oh, my brethren, nothing can so soon cast down the church from its high place, mar its glories, and diminish its opportunities of success, as divisions among the hearts of God's people. If we would grieve the Holy Spirit and cause him to begone; if we would provoke the anger of the Most High and bring down trying providences on the churches, we have nothing to do but to be divided in our hearts and all will be accomplished. If we wish that every vial may empty out its ill, and that every vessel may withhold its oil, we have but to cherish our bickerings till they become animosities; we have but to nurse our animosities till they become hatreds, and all the work will be fully completed. And if this be the case in the church at large, it is peculiarly true in those various sections of it which we now call Apostolic Churches. Oh, my brethren, the smallest church in the world is potent for good when it hath but one heart and one soul; when pastor, elders, deacons, and members, are bound together by a threefold cord that cannot be broken. Then are they mighty against every attack. But however great their numbers, however enormous their wealth, however splendid may be the talents with which they are gifted, they are powerless for good the moment that they become divided amongst themselves. Union is strength. Blessed is the army of the living God, in that day when it goeth forth to battle with one mind, and its soldiers as with the tramp of one man, in undivided march, go onwards towards the attack. But a curse awaiteth that church which runneth hither and thither and which, divided in itself, hath lost the main stay of its strength with which it should batter against the enemy. Division cuts our bowstrings, snaps our spears, hoofs our horses, and burns our chariots in the fire. We are undone the moment the link of love is snapped. Let this perfect bond be once cut in twain and we fall down, and our strength is departed. By union we live, and by disunion we expire.

     I intend, however, to take the text this morning specially with reference to our individual condition. We shall look at the separate individual heart of each man. If divisions in the great main body—if separation among the distinct classes of that body should each promote disasters, how much more disastrous must be a division in that better kingdom—the heart of man. If there be civil tumult in the town of Mansoul, even when no enemy attacks its walls, it will be in a sufficiently dangerous position. If the isle of Man be governed by two kings, then is it disorganised, and it will soon be destroyed. I address myself this morning to some of whom it can be said, "their heart is divided, now shall they be found faulty." And thus shall I address you, first of all noticing a fearful disease; secondly, its usual symptoms; thirdly, its sad effects; and fourthly, its future consequences.

     I. Observe, then, that our text describes a FEARFUL DISEASE. Their heart is divided. I have called it a fearful disease, and this will very readily appear if you observe, first of all, the seat of it. It affects a vital part, it is not merely a disease of the hand, that reformation might cure; it is not merely a disease of the foot, that restraint might sometimes mollify; it is not merely a disease of the eye which hath but to be couched to let the light stream in upon it. It is a disease of a vital region—of the heart; a disease in a part so vital that it affects the whole man. The utmost extremity of the frame suffers when once the heart becomes affected, and especially so affected as to be divided. There is no power, no passion, there is no motive, no principle, which does not become vitiated, when once the heart is diseased. Hence it is that Satan, who is always crafty, endeavors to strike at the heart. He will give you the hand if you please; you may be honest. He will give you the eye if you please; you shall be outwardly chaste. He will give you the foot, if you please; you shall appear to run in the way of righteousness Only let him keep the heart, only let him rule in the citadel, and he will be well content to give up all the rest. John Bunyan describes this as being one of the terms which old Diabolus was said to make with King Shaddai, —"Oh!" said he, "I will give up all the city of Mansoul, if thou wilt but permit me to live in the citadel of the heart." Surely there was but little in his terms and conditions. Ay but give up everything else; if thou retainest the heart, thou retainest all, O, fiend! for out of the heart are the issues of life.

     Thus the disease of our text is one that toucheth a vital part, a part which if once affected, tends to vitiate the whole frame. But you will observe, the disease here described, not only deals with a vital part, but toucheth it after a most serious fashion. It does not simply say the heart palpitates; it doth not declare that the life-floods that issue from it have become more shallow and less rapid, but it declares something worse than all these, namely, that the heart was cleft in twain and utterly divided. A stony heart may be turned to flesh but turn a divided heart into whatsoever you please, so long as it is divided, all is ill. Nothing can go right when that which should be one organ becomes two; when the one motive power begins to send forth its life-floods into two diverse channels, and so creates intestine strife and war. A united heart is life to a man, but if the heart be cut in twain, in the highest, deepest, and most spiritual sense, he dies. It is a disease which is not only affecting a vital part, but affecting it after the most deadly fashion.

     But we must observe again of this divided heart, that it is a division in itself peculiarly loathsome. Men who are possessed of it do not feel themselves to be unclean; in fact they will visit all society, they will venture into the church, they will propose to receive her communion, and to be numbered with her members, and they will afterwards go and mingle with the world; and they do not feel that they have become dishonest. They think themselves fit to mingle with honest worldlings, and with sincere Christians too. If a man had spots upon his countenance or some disease that stared everyone else in the face as often as he was beheld surely he would retire from society and endeavor to keep himself a recluse. But not so the man with a divided heart. He goes everywhere, utterly unconscious that his disease is of the most loathsome character. Shall I show you how it is so? Take the glass and look at the man's heart, and you will discern that it is loathsome, because Satan and sin reigns there. Although the man goes about and has sufficient of what is right and what is wrong, to be uneasy in his sin, yet has he such an intense love of all manner of iniquity, that he allows the loathsome demons to come and dwell in his heart. But his loathsomeness is worse than this, because all the while that he is really living in sin, he is a loathsome hypocrite, pretending that he is a child of God. Of all the things in the world that stink in the nostrils of a honest man, hypocrisy is the worst. If thou be a worldling, be a worldling. If thou serve Satan, serve him. If Baal be god, serve him, but mask not thy service of self and sin by a pretended service of God. Appear to be what thou art, tear off thy masks. The church was never meant to be a masquerade. Stand out in thy true colors. If thou preferest Satan's shrine say so, and let men know it, but if thou wilt serve God, serve him, and do it heartily, as knowing him who is a jealous God and searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of men. It is a terribly loathsome disease this of a divided heart. If the man were but known, his disease is so loathsome, that the most wicked men in the world would have nothing to do with him. I have known sometimes instances of this. A man who pretended to be religious and regularly attended his place of worship is seen on one occasion entering into a ball-room of the very lowest class. He begins at once to plunge into its gaieties, with the most evil intentions. He is at once observed. The right senses even of the wicked themselves are awakened. "Kick that man down stairs," is the unanimous verdict, and he receives it and he deserved it right well. When a man has a divided heart—tries to do right and to do wrong, to serve God and to serve Satan at the same time; I say his disease is of so loathsome and degraded a character, that the very worldling, whose leprosy is on his brow, despises, hates him, and avoids him.

     And yet again, not merely is the disease loathsome, but I must observe it is one always difficult to cure, because it is chronic. It is not an acute disease, which brings pain, and suffering, and sorrow with it, but it is chronic, it has got into the very nature of the man. A divided heart, how are you to get at that? If it were a disease in any other part, the lancet might find it out, or some medicine might heal it. But what physician can join together a divided heart? What skillful surgeon can set together the disrupted members of a soul that has been divided between God and mammon? This is a disease which enters into the very nature, and will lie in the blood, though the most powerful medicines search it out. This is a disease, in fact, which nothing but Omnipotent grace can ever overcome. But he has no grace whose heart is divided between God and mammon. He is an enemy to God, he is an injury to the church, he is a despiser of God's Word, he is a sheaf ripening for the harvest of eternal fire. His disease is deeply rooted within him, and if left alone it will come to a most dreadful end—its end is sure destruction.

     I must observe once more, and then I will leave this point of the disease, that, according to the Hebrew of my text, this disease is a very difficult one to deal with, from the fact that it is a flattering disease. The text might be rendered—"Their heart flatters them; now are they found faulty." There are many cunning flatterers in the world, but the most cunning is man's own heart. A man's own heart will flatter him even about his sins. A man is a grasping miser—his heart flatters him that he is only exercising proper business habits. A man on the other hand is extravagant and spends the good gifts of God upon his own evil passions; then his heart tells him that he is a liberal soul. The heart turns "sweet into bitter and bitter into sweet." It is so "deceitful above all things," and so "desperately wicked," that it has the impudence to "put darkness for light and light for darkness." Now when a man has a divided heart, he generally flatters himself. "Well," says he, "it is true I drink too much, but then there is never a time that I refuse a guinea towards a charity. It is true," says he "I am not certainly what I should be in my moral character, but still, see how regularly I keep to my church or chapel. It is true," says he, "I don't now and then mind a trick or two in my trade, but I am always ready to help the poor." And so he imagines that he blots out an evil trait in his character with a good one and thus flatters his heart. And see how self-contented and satisfied he is. The poor child of God is trying his own heart with the deepest possible anxiety; this man knows of no such thing. He is always fully assured that he is right. The true believer is sitting down and turning over his accounts day by day to see whether he be really on the road to heaven or whether he has mistaken his evidence and has been deceived. But this man, self-satisfied, bandages his own eyes and walks deliberately on, singing at every step, straight to his own destruction. I know of some such now. It will not suffice for me simply to state what their character is unless God the Holy Spirit open their eyes. They will be sure not to know their own likeness, even though I should paint it to the very life, and put in every touch and stroke, yet they will say, "Ah he could not refer to me. I am so good and so godly, there could have been no reference to me in anything that he said." Do you know a class of people that pull the most tremendously long faces, that always look so serious, that talk the English language with a kind of unctuous twang, that give a savoury pronunciation to every word they utter? Beware of them. When a man wears all his religion in his face, he has generally but a very small stock in his heart. Those tradesmen that put such a great display in their windows, frequently have very little behind. So with these professors; no one would know they were religious, so they label themselves that you may not make a mistake. You would think they were worldlings, if it were not for their sanctimonious appearance. But by putting that on, they think to glide through the world with credit. I hope they are not imagining that they shall stand accepted before the bar of God and deceive the Omniscient. Alas for them! Their heart is divided. This is no uncommon disease, despite its loathsomeness and its terrible fatality. Rife is it in this day; tens of thousands of Englishmen who are reckoned good and honorable are afflicted with it. Their whole head is sick, and their whole heart faint from the fact that their heart is divided. They lack the courage to be thorough-going sinners, and they have not sincerity enough to be truly-devoted people of God.

     II. Having thus described the disease, I proceed to notice its USUAL SYMPTOMS. When a man's heart is divided, one of the most frequent symptoms is formality in his religious worship. You know some men, perhaps, who are very stringent believers of a certain form of doctrine, and very great admirers of a certain shape of church rule and government. You will observe them utterly despising, and abhorring, and hating all who differ from their predilections. Albeit the difference be but as a jot or a tittle, they will stand up and fight for every rubric, defend every old rusty nail in the church door, and think every syllable of their peculiar creed should be accepted without challenge. "As it was in the beginning, so must it be now, and so must it ever be even unto the end." Now it is an observation which your experience will probably warrant, as certainly mine does, that mostly these people stand up so fiercely for the form, because lacking the power, that is all they have to boast of. They have no faith, though they have a creed. They have no life within, and they supply its place with outward ceremony. What wonder therefore that they fiercely defend that? The man who knows how precious the life of godliness is, the man who understands its vitality, its deep-seated, deeply-rooted heart power, he also loves the form, but not as he loves the Spirit. He approves the letter, but he likes the pith and marrow better. He is apt, perhaps to think less of forms than he should do, for he will mingle first with one body of sincere Christians and then with another, and he will say, "If I can enjoy my Master's presence it is but little matter to me where I am found. If I can but find the name of Christ extolled, and his simple gospel preached, this is all I desire." Not so, the man whose heart is divided who has no soul in godliness. He is bigoted to the extreme, and well—I repeat it—he may be, poor man; all he has is the empty shell. What wonder therefore that he should be ready to fight for it? You will notice many persons punctilious with regard even to the form of our own simple worship. They will have it that there must always be observed, not simply reverent behavior in the house of God, but something more than mere reverence, there must be an abject slavish, tyrannical fear upon the hearts of all who are gathered. They will have it that every jot and tittle of our worship must always be conducted with a certain traditional decorum. Now these people, as frequently as not, know nothing whatever of the power of godliness, and only contend for these little shells because they have not the kernel. They fight for the surface albeit they have never discovered "the deep that coucheth beneath." They know not the precious ores that lie in the rich mines of the gospel, and therefore the surface, covered though it be with weeds, and thistles, is quite enough for them. Formality in religion is very often a trait in the character of a man who has a divided heart.

     But this, perhaps, is not the most prominent symptom. Another mark in such a man's character is his inconsistency. You must not see him always, if you would have a good opinion of him. You must be guarded as to the days on which you call upon him. Call upon him on a Sunday and you will find him like a saint; don't call upon him on the Saturday night—you might, perhaps, find him very much like the worst of sinners. Oh! of all the men in the world whom I fear most for, because I know their dangerous and deceitful position, they are those among you who try with all your might to follow the church and yet follow the world You can come up and sing the sacred hymns of Zion one evening, and another time you can go to your haunts and sing a profane and lascivious song. You can drink one day at the table of the Lord and another day at the table of devils. You appear to run first of all with God's people in his service, and then afterwards run with the multitude to do evil. Ah, men and brethren, this, indeed, is a terrible fact—a terrible index of a frightful disease. You must have a divided heart if you lead an inconsistent life. It is a happy circumstance when a minister can believe of his church that he has no hypocrite in the whole number, but I am bold to say, though with the deepest sorrow, this is more than I could believe of so large a church as that over which I am called to preside. Ah, friends, there may be some of you who practice sins unseen by your pastor's eye. Neither elder or deacon has yet tracked you out. You have been cunning in your iniquity. Perhaps your sin is of such an order that church discipline would altogether fail to touch it. You know, however, and your conscience tells you, that your life is not consistent with your profession. I adjure you, by the living God, as you and I must stand at the last great day face to face at his tremendous bar, either give up your profession, or be true to it. Cease to be called a Christian, or else be a Christian in truth. Seek more grace, that you may live up to the example of your Master, or else I entreat of you—and do it honestly, and if you would take me at my word, I should rejoice that you had done so—renounce your membership, and no longer make a profession of godliness. An inconsistent life, I say, is a sure token of a divided heart.

     And again I must observe there is another token of a divided heart, namely—variableness in object. I might depict a character which you have met with often in your life. A man who attends a public meeting upon some religious matter is seized with a sudden enthusiasm to do good. If he will not be a missionary to the heathen himself, yet he will undertake to devote of his substance to the cause, and for the next week there is nothing on his tongue but the missionary enterprise. A little while after he attends some political meeting, and now there is nothing before him but the reformation of politics. Another week, and he is called to attend some sanitary commission, and now there is nothing wanted but proper drainage. Religion, politics, social economy, each in its turn, and everything else must give place to the last topic which has engrossed his attention. These men run first in one direction—then in another. Their religion is all spasmodic. They are taken with it as men are taken with an ague. They shake by fits, and anon they are calm. They are sometimes hot and feverish, and anon they are chilly and cold. They take up their religion, and then they lay it down again. What does this prove concerning them, but that they have a divided heart, and they are in the sight of God diseased, loathsome persons, who shall never see his face with joy.

     To conclude the list of symptoms. Once more, frivolity in religion is often a token of a divided heart; and here I address myself more immediately to those of my own age. It is perhaps too common a sin with young persons to treat religion with a light and frivolous air. There is a seriousness which is well becoming, especially in youthful Christians. Cheerfulness should be the constant aim of the aged. Their tendency is towards sadness. Perhaps a proper seriousness and solemnity should be the aim of the youthful believer, whose tendency will rather be to levity than to despondency. Oh, my brethren, when we can talk about religious things with flippancy; when we can quote texts of Scripture in order to make jests upon them, when we come up to the Lord's table as if it were but a common repast; when we come to baptism as though it were but an ordinary observance, about which no solemnity is to be found—then I fear we prove that our heart is divided. And I know that any soul conscious of its guilt, if it has really been brought to know the love of Christ, will always come to sacred things in a sacred manner. We do not come to the Lord's table with lightness of heart. There have been times when it has seemed too solemn a matter for us to come at all; and as for baptism, he that comes to baptism without having searched his heart, without having looked well to his motives, and without true devotion of spirit, comes altogether in vain. As the wrong communicant may eat and drink damnation to himself, so may he who would be thus wrongly baptized receive condemnation instead of a blessing. Frivolity of spirit is often a sign of a divided heart.

     III. This brings us to the third point, the sad effects of a divided heart. When a man's heart is divided, he is at once everything that is bad. With regard to himself he is an unhappy man. Who can be happy while he has rival powers within his own breast. The soul must find a nest for itself, or else it cannot find rest. The bird that would seek to rest upon two twigs would never have peace, and the soul that endeavors to find two resting places, first, the world, and then the Saviour, will never have any joy or comfort. A united heart is a happy heart; hence David says, "Unite my heart to fear thy name." They that give themselves wholly to God are a blessed people, for they find that the ways of religion are "ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Men who are neither this nor that, neither one thing nor another, are always uneasy and miserable. The fear of discovery, and the consciousness of being wrong, conspire together to agitate the soul and make it full of unease, disease, and restlessness of spirit. Such a man is unhappy in himself.

     He is in the next place useless in the church. Of what good is such a man to us? We cannot put him in the pulpit to propound that gospel he does not practice. We cannot put him in the deaconship to serve the church which his life would ruin. We cannot commit to his charge the spiritual matters of the church in the eldership, because we discern that not being spiritual himself, he is not to be entrusted with them. In no respect is he of any good to us. "Reprobate silver shall men call them." His name may be in the church-book, but it had better be taken away. He may sit among us and give us his contribution, we should be better without it and without him than with either, though he should double his talent and treble his contribution. We know that no man who is not united in his heart vitally and entirely to Christ, can ever be of the slightest service to the church of God.

     But not only this; he is a man dangerous to the world. Such a man is like a leper going abroad in the midst of healthy people; he spreads the disease. The drunkard is a leper set apart by himself; he doth but little harm comparatively, for he in his drunkenness is like the leper when he is driven from society. His very drunkenness cries out, "Unclean, unclean, unclean!" But this man is a professor of religion and therefore tolerated. He says he is a Christian, and therefore he is admitted into all society, and yet he is inwardly full of rottenness and deception. Though outwardly whitewashed like a sepulcher, he is more dangerous to the world, I say, than the most vicious of men. Tie him up—let him not go loose; build a prison for him. But what am I saying? If you would build a prison for hypocrites, all London would not suffice for ground for the prisons. Oh my brethren, notwithstanding the impossibility of binding them, I do say that the maddest dog in the hottest weather is not one-half so dangerous to men as a man who hath a divided heart, one who runs about with the rabid poison of his hypocrisy upon his lips, and destroys the souls of men by contamination.

     Not only unhappy himself, useless to the church, and dangerous to the world but he is contemptible to everybody. When he is found out nobody receives him. Scarcely will the world own him, and the church will have nothing to administer to him but its censure.

     The most solemn consideration, however, is that this man is reprobate in the sight of God. To the eye of infinite purity he is one of the most obnoxious and detestable of beings. His heart is divided. A pure and holy God hates, first, his sin, and secondly, the lies with which he endeavors to cover it. Oh, if there be a place where sinners are more loathsome to God than anywhere else, it is in his church. A dog in its kennel is well enough; but a dog in the throne-room is quite out of place. A sinner in the world is bad enough, but in the church he is hideous. A madman in an asylum is a creature to be pitied, but a madman who protests he is not mad, and will thrust himself among us that he may obtain means of doing mischief, is not merely to be pitied, he is to be avoided, and needs to be restrained. God hateth sin anywhere, but when sin puts its fingers upon his divine altar; when it comes and lays its insolent hand upon the sacrifice that is burning there, then God spurns it from him with disgust. Of all men, who stand in the most likely place to receive the mightiest thunderbolt, and the most terrible lightning's flash, those are the men who have a divided heart, and profess to serve God while with their souls they are serving sin. Take heed, sinner, take heed, running on in thy sin thou wilt meet with punishment; but after all, O hypocrite, look well to thy ways, for thy sin and thy lie together shall bring down a dread and swift destruction upon thy devoted head.

     IV. In conclusion I have to address some remarks to you with regard to the FUTURE PUNISHMENT of the man whose heart is divided, unless he be rescued by a great salvation.

     I have endeavored to preach faithfully this morning, as faithfully as I could, but I am conscious that many of the children of God do not find food under such a sermon as this, nor is it my intention that they should do so. It is not rightly possible to blend the sieve of sifting, with the bushel of the gospel. We cannot well bring you the wheat and the sieve too. This morning I have sought to take the fan ministerially into my hand, and thoroughly purge this floor, in the name of him who shall be the great "Purger" at the last day. We all need it whether we know it or not. The best Christian needs sometimes to question himself as to his motives. And when God's children are not fed, it is often more profitable to them to be led to examine themselves, than it would be if they had some rich promise to feed upon. My hearers, out of so vast a number this morning, are there none among you with divided hearts? Is it possible that this whole congregation is made up of sincere Christians, truly enlightened, called, and saved? Is there not one man, who, mistaking his place, has put himself among the sheep when he should have been among the goats? Is there not one man here who without making a mistake has dared impudently to thrust himself into the number of God's priests, when he is really a worshipper of Baal? Let me then, in the last place, that I may with faithfulness discharge my mission, describe the terrible condition of the hypocrite when God shall come to judge the world.

     He comes with brazen face, he comes in the midst of the congregation of the righteous. The mandate has gone from the throne, "Gather out first the tares!" He hears the mandate, and his cheek pales not. His impudence continues with him even now. He would still knock at the door, and say, "Lord! Lord! open to me." The dividing angel flies. Terror is on the face of the wicked, as on the left the tares are bound in bundles to burn. Imagine, however the still greater consternation of this individual, who, standing in the midst of ministers, saints and apostles, suddenly finds himself about to be gleaned from them. With a tremendous swoop, like an eagle descending from its lofty height, the death angel bears upon him, snatches him away, and claims him as his own. "Thou art," says the black angel, "Thou art a tare. Thou hast grown side by side with the wheat, but that has not changed thy nature. The dew that falls upon the wheat has fallen upon thee; the sun which shone upon it thou hast enjoyed also, but thou art still a tare, and thy doom remaineth the same. Thou shalt be bound up with the rest in bundles to be burned." O hearer, what must be his consternation when with mighty hand that angel plucks him up by the roots, carries him away, and he that thought himself a saint is bound up with sinners for destruction!

     And now imagine the reception that he meets. He is brought into the midst of the wicked—the wicked who once with Pharasaic tongue he had reproved. "Here he comes," say they, "the man who instructed us, the good man who taught us to do better, here he comes himself, found out at last to be no better than those whom he despised." And then imagine, if you dare, the inner dungeon, the reserved seats of that fiery abode, and the heaviest chain of despair—imagine, I say, if you can, the terrible destruction, terrible beyond every other, which shall overwhelm the man who in this world deceived the church and dishonored God, but who is now detected to his shame. Common sinners have the common prison, but this man shall be thrust into the inner prison, and made fast in the stocks of despair. Tremble, professors, tremble, you who are half and half religious men, tremble, you who pretend to fear God, but like the Samaritans, worship your idols also. O, tremble now lest your trembling should come upon you in a day when you are not aware of it, when you shall long for the rocks to hide, and for the mountains to cover you, but shall be without a shelter in the day of the fierce anger of the God of the whole earth.

     And now, I cannot send you away without preaching the gospel for a moment or two. I have, perhaps, one here who is saying, "Sir, my heart is not only divided, but it is broken." Ah, there is a great deal of difference between a divided heart and a broken heart. The divided heart is cut in twain, the broken heart is broken in pieces, all asunder, and yet it is not divided. It is all in pieces, in one sense, as to its proud hope, and it is melted, in another sense, as to its earnest longing that it may be saved. Poor broken heart, I was not rebuking thee. Art thou desirous thy morning to have thy sins put away. Then from the bottom of thy poor broken heart cry to day, Lord, save me from hypocrisy. Whatever I may be, do not permit me to think I am one of thine if I am not." Are you breathing out this prayer to God, "Lord, make me truly thine. Put me among thy children. Let me call thee 'my Father,' and not turn away from thee. Give me a new heart and a right spirit; O wash me in the blood of Christ, and make me clean. Make me what thou wouldst have me be, and I will praise thee for ever." Remember, my dear hearer if that is the desire of thy heart, thou art this day bidden to believe that Christ is able to save thee, and willing to save thee, and waiting to be gracious unto thee, and more ready to bestow mercy than thou art to receive it. Therefore thou art commanded to trust him, fur all thy sins have been punished on him as thy surety, and for the sake of Christ, God is willing now to receive thee, now to bless thee. Come close with him this morning. Lift thine eye to him that did die upon the tree. Put thy trust in him who is my Redeemer, and thy Redeemer too; let the blood which flows from his side be received into thy heart. Open thy poor wounds, and say, "My Master, heal these wounds for me. O Jesus! I know no other trust. If thou wilt save me I will know no other love. My heart is undivided in its love, it looks alone to thee; it shall be soon undivided in its gratitude; I will praise thee and thee alone. Poor heart-broken penitent, I said not ill when I contradicted myself by saying, "Though thy heart is broken, it is not divided." Bring it just as it is, and say, "Lord, receive me through the blood of Christ, and let me be thine now, and thine for ever, through Jesus." Amen.



Who Can Tell?

By / Sep 18

Who Can Tell?

 

"Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"—Jonah 3:9

 

     This was the forlorn hope of the Ninevites: "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" The book of Jonah should be exceedingly comfortable to those who are despairing because of the wickedness of their times. Nineveh was a city as great in its wickedness as in its power. If any of us with little faith had been bidden to go round about her, and "tell the towers thereof, and mark well her bulwarks;" if we had been commanded to go through her streets and behold her both in the blaze of the sun and in the light of the moon as her inhabitants indulged in vice, we should have said. "Alas! Alas! the city is wholly given into idolatry, and it is girt about with a wall of sin, as stupendous as its wall of stone." Suppose that the problem had been given to us to solve—how shall this city be moved to repentance? How shall its vice be forsaken and the God of Israel worshipped by all its inhabitants from the highest to the lowest? If we had not been paralyzed with despair, which is the most probable, we should, nevertheless, have sat down carefully to consider our plans. We should have parcelled it out into missionary districts; we should have needed at least several hundreds, if not thousands, of able ministers; at once, expenses would have to be incurred, and we should have considered ourselves bound to contemplate the erection of innumerable structures in which the Word of God might be preached. Our machinery would necessarily become cumbrous; we should find that we, unless we had the full resources of an empire, could not even begin the work. But what saith the Lord concerning this? Putting aside the judgments of reason, and all the plans and schemes which flesh and blood so naturally do follow, he raises up one man. By a singular providence he qualifies that one man for his mission. He sends him down into the very depths of the sea, where the weeds are wrapped about him, he comes up from the great deep, and the awful descent has steeled his soul and completely covered him with the armor of courageous faith. Who need tremble at anything on shore who has passed the bowels of a fish and yet survived? He comes into the city, his eyes almost starting from their sockets with the recollection of the great judgment which had passed over his head, and in stern inflexible manner, with shrill monotonous voice, he begins to cry, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" Is this, O God! is this thy way? Is this the means with which thou wilt accomplish the great event? Wilt thou make Nineveh repent at the bidding of one man? Shall yon sallow man fresh from the sea—shall his voice be sufficient to stir this great city? O God! if thou hadst come forth in thy fiery chariot, if thou hadst spoken with thy thunder, if thou hadst shaken the earth with thine earthquakes then might Nineveh feel, but surely this one man is not sufficient for the deed. But as high as the heaven is above the earth, so high are his ways above our ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts. So skillful is he that with the weakest instrument he can produce the mightiest workmanship. That one man begins his journey. Already the inhabitants flock to listen to him. He proceeds—the crowd multiplies. As he stands at the corner of the alleys, and the lanes, every window is thrown up to listen, and the streets are thronged as he walks along. Still on he goes till the whole city has begun to shake with his terrible voice. And now the King himself bide him come into his presence, and the fearless still propounds the threatening of God. Then comes the effect. All Nineveh is wrapped in sackcloth; the cry of man and beast go up in one terrible wailing to God. Jehovah is honored and Nineveh repents. Ah! My brethren, we see in this rich grounds for hope. What cannot God do? Think not that he needs to wait for us. He can accomplish the greatest deeds by the meanest instrumentality. One man, if he willed it, would be sufficient to stir this giant city. One man, if God decreed it, might be the means of the conversion of a nation, nay, a continent should shake beneath the tramping of one man. There is no palace so high that this one man's voice should not reach it, and there is no den of infamy so deep that his cry should not be heard therein. All we need is that God should "make bare his arm," and who can withstand his might. What though he grasp but the jaw-bone of an ass yet is his arm mightier than Samson's, and not only would it be heaps upon heaps, but city upon city, continent upon continent. With the meanest instrument would God slay his thousands and overcome his myriads. Oh church of God, never fear; remember the men that God has given thee in the days of yore. Look back to Paul; remember Augustine; think ye well of Luther, and of Calvin; talk ye of Whitfield, and of Wesley, and remember these were but separate individual men, and yet through them God did a work, the remembrance whereof still rolleth on and shall never cease while this earth endures.

     With this by way of preface, I shall now somewhat turn aside from the narrative, to address myself to those who are trembling on account of sin and who are in the same position as the men of Nineveh, and like them anxiously desiring mercy.

     I shall notice briefly this morning three things. First, the miserable plight in which the men of Nineveh found themselves; secondly, the scanty reasons which they had for hope; and then, thirdly, I shall observe that we have stronger reasons to compel us to pray, and more comfortable arguments to urge us to trust.

     I. First then, I shall consider the men of Nineveh, as representing many here present, as to THE DOLEFUL PLIGHT IN VICE THEY FOUND THEMSELVES. The men of Nineveh were like those in the days of Noah. They were married and given in marriage: they ate and they drank: they builded and they planted. The whole world was their granary, and the kingdoms of the earth their hunting ground. They were rich and mighty above all people, for God had greatly increased their prosperity; and they had become the greatest nation upon the face of the earth. Locked in security they fell into great and abominable sins. Their vices probably rivalled those of Sodom. If they were not worse even than the Eastern cities of the present day, they were abominable beyond description. How suddenly were they however startled from their security and convinced of their sin? The preaching of that one strange man had brought them from the height of their splendor to the depths of sorrow. Now was their boasting cut off; the sound of their mirth had ceased; and they began to weep and lament. What was their miserable plight? I take it, it consisted in three discoveries; they now discovered their great sin; then again, the shortness of their time, and in the next place, the terrible character of their destruction. Would that ye would discover the like ye careless sinners, ye that slumber in Zion, ye that fear not God, neither turn from your evil ways. Would I say that in the first place, some prophet-voice would stir you to remember your sins, for are they not many and exceeding great? Let each man among us look to his life, and who is there here that need not blush? Some of us have been moral. We have by the training of our youth and by the restraints of grace been kept from the immoralities of others, but even we are compelled to lay our mouths in the dust. While looking into our heart, we discover it to be a nest of unclean birds, full of all manner of evil and loathsome things. We have been as visions in our hearts as the worst of men have been in their acts. But there are too many who cannot even plead that they have been moral, though this would be but a poor excuse for the want of love to God. Look, men and brethren, look to your lives; who among us hath been free from murmuring against God? Who is he that hath loved his neighbor as himself? Who is it that has never been angry without a cause? Who has never cursed God in his heart, even if he hath not done so with his lips? Who among us have always scrupulously kept our eye from lust and our heart from covetousness? Have we not all sinned? If our iniquities could now be revealed; if on every man's brow were written his sin, which of you would not put his hand upon his forehead to hide his iniquity from his fellows? It will be of essential service to many of you if you will read over your lives. Turn, I beseech you, to the pages of your memory, and let the black, blotted, misspelled pages now be read again. Think not that the preacher understands how to flatter his congregation. It has become fashionable in these times to look upon our hearers as all being good and excellent—would not this be a lie and a falsehood before Almighty God? Are there not here those that can indulge secretly in vices which we must not mention? Are there not those who do that to their fellows in trade which they would despise in others? What! are none of you covetous? Do none of you over-reach or defraud your neighbors? Do none of ye practice the common frauds and tricks in trade? Are none of ye liars, and none deceivers, none slanderers who bear false witness against your neighbors? Am I so happy as to have a spotless congregation here? I cannot flatter myself that such can be the truth. No, our iniquities are great and our sins are hideous. Oh, that we were all ready to confess, each man for himself, the iniquities which we have done! Surely, if the Spirit of God shall but shine into our hearts and show us the evil of our ways, we shall find ourselves in a sorrowful condition indeed, and shall be ready to cry out before God, oven as Nineveh did of old.

     Added to this however the Ninevites had information as to the shortness of their days. "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." How fixed and definite the date! Six weeks shall scarcely run their round," says the Prophet, "ere ye must die, and perish miserably." To an hour was the time described, "yet forty days." How would the Ninevites count the days with terror, and watch each rising and setting sun as if these were the black milestones upon their dreary road to death! "Ah," saith one, "but ye will not tell us that our days are only forty." Nay, men and brethren I am no prophet. I cannot tell how many your days may be, but this one thing I can say, it is possible that there are some here who have not forty days to live! There may be some among you who have not so long a respite as even Nineveh itself. Suppose now I should be able to take you to that great city. If I could have shown you its massive ramparts and its stupendous fortresses; if like Jonah I could point to them and say, "In forty days this city will be an overthrown," which would require the greatest stretch of credulity to believe this prophecy or that which follows, "In forty days your body shall crumble back to dust?" Which I say would require the greatest stretch of faith? whether is the easier of these twain, to send you to death, or to uproot a city? What art thou, man, but a heap of animated dust? A worm may destroy thee, a grain of sand may be sufficient to take away thy life. Feeble is the thread of life, a spider's web is a cable compared therewith. It is but a dream, a child's whisper may break it, and we may awake in another world. "Forty days!" surely that was a long and distant period compared with what may be the date of your death. I have been long enough preaching in this place to look back now on many who have gone from this spot to the place appointed to all firing. Many, many are the faces which this day I miss as I look along your ranks and cast my eye around this gallery. There are not a few who I remember to have passed from the land of the living and to have gone to another world—and some how suddenly, how rapidly! I have been startled at it often myself. I have seen some here on the Sabbath, and by the Tuesday or by the Thursday the message has come, "On what day can you bury such-and-such a one?" "Bury her!" "Yes sir, bury her, she is gone;" and I have said, "How strange it seems that she should be dead who so lately was living in our midst!"

     Forty days I add is a long lease compared with that which you have any reason to conclude that God has bestowed on you. But what if it were forty years, how short a time even then. If ye will but look with the eye of wisdom, how rapidly our years revolve. Are you not startled even now to see the sear leaf in your path? It was but yesterday that the fresh green buds were seen. It seemeth but a month ago since first we saw the wheat starting up from the ground, and lo the harvest is over and gone and many of the birds have disappeared and the tints of autumn are succeeding the verdure of summer. Years seem but months now and months but days, and days pass so rapidly that they 'flit like shadows before us. O! men and women, if we could but measure life it is but a span, and in a time how short, how brief every one of us must appear before his God. The shortness of time should help to arouse us, and then, let me add the third thing which startled the Ninevites was this, the terrible character of the judgment. Doubtless one part of the effect of Jonah's preaching may be traced to the singular vagueness of his prophecy. He says, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." By whom, he does not tell us. How he does not deign to reveal. It is to be overthrown, that is all. Whether some mighty nation should invade it, or whether an earthquake should swallow it up quick, or whether by plague or pestilence the whole city should be emptied, or whether an intestine quarrel should cut off the population, he says not. The very vagueness and indistinctness of a prophecy adds to its terror, just as men can never bring their minds to think of spectres in the plain daylight, but always conjure up such things in hours of shade and gloom. The gloominess of the message made men tremble. And oh! ye that are not reconciled to God, men without religion, without hope and without God in the world, how terrible is the judgment that shall come upon you! It is not for me to attempt to describe it. Scripture only speaks of the life to come in indistinct terms. Terrible are they in their vagueness. Jesus saith, "These shall go away into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth," and anon he speaks of torment as a place "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." and then he describes it as "a bottomless pit," and as "a fire" that "never shall be quenched." Ah! my brethren, we know but little of the wrath of God which shall certainly come upon the wicked, but we know enough to let us understand that it is too terrible for human ear to hear. If hell had been fully described to us in this time-state, this life itself would have been but the vestibule of eternal torment. I question whether any eyes could bear to read such a description as God might have given. Both our ears would have tingled, and our hearts would melt like water, at the sound thereof. Oh! sinner, it is enough for me to say to you this day, "Except ye repent, ye must perish with a terrible overthrow. God, even God himself, shall draw his sword and bathe it in your blood. He shall drive you from his presence amidst the thunders of his wrath and the lightnings of his vengeance. He shall smite you with his omnipotence, and shall spend himself in punishing you, and your torment shall be without end, and the smoke thereof shall go up for ever and ever. I speak not this day to you that are unbelievers in the word: with you I will have nothing to do this morning; but to you who are believers in the revelation of the Bible—who profess to be nominal Christians, with you I have to deal. Oh sirs, if ye believe this book, if ye are impenitent, how tremendous is the doom which awaits you; how fatal shall death be to you, and how terrible the last dread day of judgment! And all this is coming on apace. The chariot wheels of God's justice have axles which are hot with speed, the black coursers are covered with foam as on they drive. Perhaps, as here I stand and speak alas, too coldly on things which should make any man boil over with enthusiasm—perhaps death may even now be fitting his arrow to the string, and you may be his victim, and this sermon may be closed, as Paul's sermon was, with some one's falling dead like Eutychus, in the window in his sleep. God grant it may not be so, but nevertheless there is cause enough for each one of us to tremble and to bow before the God of Israel. Thus have I spoken on the first point: O Holy Spirit, bless the word!

     These Ninevites however took heart and hope. They said, "Let us proclaim a fast, let man and beast cry mightily unto God, for who can tell but he may turn from his fierce anger that we perish not."

     II. Now the second point was, THE SLENDER GROUND WHICH THE NINEVITES HAD FOR HOPE. And now regard attentively, for I long this morning for you all in the bowels of Christ, that ye also with a far better hope may be enabled to imitate the example of the men of Nineveh. You will notice that in Jonah's message, there was no proclamation of mercy made. It was one short sentence of doom. 'Twas like the great bell of St. Sepulchre's Church tolling out the hour of the execution of a criminal. There was not so much as a note of mercy. 'Twas the trumpet of the Judge, but not the silver trump of Jubilee. No mercy glanced from Jonah's eye, no pity was in his heart. He was sent with a thundering commission and he dealt it out in a thundering fashion. "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be Overthrown." I think I see the king of Nineveh sitting down with his nobles at a council of state, and one of them would say, "We have little hope of mercy, for if you will observe Jonah never offered us any. How terribly he spoke. There was not so much as a tear in his eye. I am persuaded that Jonah's God is very just and severe. He will by no means spare us; we shall be cut off." But the king's answer to his councillor was, "Who can tell? you only think so, but you cannot say it, let us yet hope, for "Who can tell." My dear hearers, 'tis no Jonah that addresses you. My language to-day shall be rather that of Isaiah, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Oh cannot you say with Nineveh's king, "Who can tell?" Will not you go home to your chamber and pray, for "Who can tell?" Will you not go to the Bible and search for a promise, for "Who can tell?" Will you not go to the cross and trust in the flowing blood, for "Who can tell?" You may be forgiven yet, accepted yet, and one day yet sing God's praises before the throne above. Another thing which would cut off the hope of the Ninevites very much was this, that they knew nothing of God except, it may he, some dreadful legends they had heard of his terrible acts. One of the councillors of the king deeply learned would say, "O king, live for ever! The God of Jonah is a terrible God. Hast thou not heard what he did in Egypt; how he destroyed Pharaoh and his chariots of old in the Red Sea? And hast thou not heard what he did to Sennacherib when he cut him off and his hosts? Hast thou never heard the thunder of his power, and the might of his terrible acts? Surely he will have no mercy on us." But the king answered—"Who can tell?" Thou dost not know. It is but a surmise. "Who can tell?" But oh, my hearers, we are on a vantage ground here, for you know that God is merciful. Many and many a time have we assured you from the lips of God himself, through this written word, that he delighteth in mercy. You have his promise for it, nay, you have his oath for it. Jehovah lifts his hand to heaven, and swears by himself. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth; but had rather that he should turn unto me and live." Come, then sinner, for "who can tell;" he is a merciful God. Do what Benhadad did of old, when he and his army had been routed, and he alone was left with a few of his nobles. He said: "Let us put ropes on our necks, and go unto the king of Israel, for we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful kings." Do you the like with Jesus. You have heard that he is merciful and full of compassion. Come to him now; trust in his blood, and "who can tell;" this day your sins may be blotted out? "Who can tell?" This day you may be washed in the blood of Christ, and made white as Adam in Paradise. "Who can tell?" This day the Lord may make your heart leap with joy, while he whispers—"Thou art mine, and I am thine." "Who can tell?" Drowning men catch at straws—this is no straw—this is a solid rock: lay hold on it and be saved. "Who can tell?"

     But once again, the people of Nineveh lacked another encouragement which you and I have. They had never heard of the cross. Jonah's preaching was very powerful, but there was no Christ in it. There was nothing about the Messiah that was to come—no talking of the sprinkled blood—no mention of a great sin-atoning sacrifice—and therefore the men who were in the council of the king, might have said—"Surely we have never heard that any satisfaction has been offered to the injured justice of God. How therefore can he be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly? "Ah," said the king, "who can tell?" and on that slender "who can tell?" they ventured to cry for mercy; but oh, sinner thou art answered this day, that "God hath spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that he sent forth his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but might be saved. For there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Come sinner, come to the cross, for God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. I say, this should make thee ask—"Who can tell?" He may wash me clean, he may accept me, and I may yet be able to sing with the loudest of all the voices of his children—

"I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me."

     And now shall I tell you what I think was the hope which the poor king of Nineveh really had? I have set before you his discouragements, and now I will set before you his encouragements. They were very slender, but still they seemed to have been sufficient. Perhaps the king said in his heart, or he might have said to his councillors—"Sirs, there is one thing which ye cannot deny, we are come to the worst, and if we repent and cry for mercy, at least that cry will not be to our disadvantage. We shall be none the worse off even if we are not heard."

     Now sometimes I have known a trembling sinner take comfort even from that. The words of our hymn suggest the full idea.

"I can but perish if I go,
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away I know,
I must for ever die."

     If you seek not Christ; if you repent not of sin; if you put not your trust in him, perish you must. That is certain. If you go, and are rejected, at least you are none the worse off. Try it, and you shall find out that you are much the better, for you shall not be rejected. Remember the cage of the three lepers at the gate of Samaria. They were sitting there without food to eat, and at last the pangs of hunger were strong upon them. One of them said to his fellows, "Let us go now to the host of the Syrians. If they kill us we shall but die; if they save us alive, we shall live, but if we stay here, perish we must. So, as there was nothing to lose, and there might be something to gain, they risked it. Oh, sinner, would to God the Lord would teach thee as much wisdom as this. Go to him just as thou art, and say, "Lord, sink or swim, I take thy cross to be my only trust. If thou wilt not save me, if I perish in the stream, yet will I perish clinging to the rock of my salvation, for no other trust and no other hope have I." Oh that you may be led to do even this, and ye shall not be disappointed.

     Besides, the king would add, "It is true that Jonah did not say that God would have mercy, but then he did not say he would not." There was a cry from Jonah's lip, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown" but he did not say, "God will not have any mercy at all." So the king said, "Who can tell, then?" if any could have told him, Jonah would. Was he not a fierce looking man; if there had been any thunders in store, would he not have dealt them out in his terrible fury of prophecy? "Surely," said the king, if he stopped there, and did not add, "I will have no mercy, this is a happy token. Who can tell? If Jonah did not tell, we cannot."

     And now, sinner, I would thou wouldst catch hold on this. But thou hast something stronger and firmer still, for there is mercy proclaimed to thee this day. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. These are his own words and he himself expressly invites you to come to him. He says "Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely;" and he gives you his word for it—"Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out." Salvation is free as the air we breathe to every convinced sinner. If thou knowest this day thy need of Christ, take him, he is thine. He is a fountain open for the thirsty. All the preparation thou needest is simply a burning thirst. Then come and drink, and none can say thee nay.

"From the Mount of Calvary,
Where the Saviour deigned to die,
What transporting sounds I hear,
Bursting on my ravished ear! —
Love's redeeming work is done,
Come and welcome, sinner, come!"

     Well, then, if thou art invited, "Who can tell?" Come, come and try, for "Who can tell?"

     Yet, I think, the greatest confidence which the king of Nineveh would have would be derived from the following suggestion. "Oh," said he, "if God had meant to destroy us without giving us an opportunity of pardon, he would not have sent Jonah forty days beforehand. He would have given us no time at all. He would simply have given a blow and a word, but the blow would have been first. He would have overthrown the city in his wrath without a single message. What did he to Sodom? He sent no messenger there. The sun rose and the fire descended from God's terrible right hand. Not so Nineveh; it had its warning. And now, sinner, turn thou this to good account. Thou hast had many a warning. Thou art this day warned, nay, more thou art affectionately invited to come to Christ. The voice from the cross is speaking, and each trickling drop of blood crieth, "Amen."

"Come and welcome, sinner, come!"

     Now, if the Lord were unwilling to forgive, would he have sent his servants to warn and to invite? If there were not bowels of mercy with him, would he not have said, "Let them alone, they are joined unto idols, let them perish?" It is no small prophecy of God's good intentions to a man when God sends to him a faithful minister. Oh, my hearers, I cannot speak to you with eloquence. I cannot address you with the fervid words of such an one as Whitfield, but this I can say, and God is my witness, I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God, whether man would hear, or whether he will forbear. If ye perish, it is not because I have kept back any part of that which I have received of God, who hath sent me. I have broken through the trammels of creed and system that I might free my head of the blood of all men. I have not been content to run in the track of an old and narrow creed, if I felt that it kept me from earnestly pleading with you, and warning you to flee from the wrath to come. I have endangered many a friendship, and brought upon my self no little shame, because I must and will, in this matter, deal earnestly with your souls. 'Tis no child's play to preach. It shall be no child's play to give an account of preaching at the last great tremendous day. You are warned; in God's name I conjure you, ere the gates of mercy are shut upon you—ere life shall end: now, now bethink yourselves. Now may the Spirit of God bring you to your knees, now drive you to prayer, now lead you to faith in the sprinkled blood of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. Sinner, remember! if thou perish thou destroyest thyself. Behold, God willeth not thy death, but he bids thee come now. Nay! he doth, as it were, pray thee to return. He says, "Return, ye backsliding children of men." "Oh Israel, return unto me." He says again, "Come, now, let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson they shall be white as snow." Would that I could draw you! Oh that I had chains on my lips that should bind you in golden fetters to the cross of Christ. Come, sinner, for "who can tell?" Nay, I change the sentence. "I can tell"—if ye turn, he will turn unto you. Come ye to him, and he will accept you, for he is a God ready to forgive, and now, this day, he is ready to cast your sins into the depths of the sea, and remember them no more for ever.

     III. And now, this shall bring me to the third point, namely, THE URGING OF DIVERS REASONS WHY WE SHOULD IMITATE THE NINEVITES IN REPENTANCE.

     It was an old and a horrible custom of past governments, when a man was executed for murder, to allow him to be hung in chains, so that as often as any one passed by the gibbet they might learn, as was thought, the severity of justice. I fear, however, that they more frequently learned the brutality and barbarism of the age. Now, as these were hung in chains as warnings, I would translate this horrible figure into one that shall glitter with joy and delight. God, in order that you may know his mercy, has been pleased to preserve instances thereof, that so often as you look upon them you may be led to say, if such and such an one was saved, why may not I? It is needless for me to refer you to Old Testament and New Testament scriptures. You will remember well the pardon given to David! Surely you have not forgotten the mercy which God had on that chief of sinners, Manasseh! As for the New Testament pardoned sinners, from the thief on the cross to Saul of Tarsus, the chief of sinners, it sufficeth but to hint at them. And now this day behold before your eyes in this place, sinners once like yourselves, who have obtained mercy and are now forgiven. Amongst the thousands in this hall there are not a few who (say some two years ago or less) entered this place out of idle curiosity. I could describe some to you who had never entered a place of worship for twenty or even thirty years. Some of them had been habitual drunkards, their lives had been the abodes of misery; some of them had been harlots, and led others into sin, beside destroying their own bodies and their souls. Into this place they crept, they came merely to listen to the preacher, of whom many a strange thing had been said. Their attention was rivetted. An arrow from the bow of God shot into their hearts and here they are this day. Without boasting I say it, they are my joy and my crown of rejoicing, and shall be such in the day of the appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If you, who have been like them, but are now repenting of your sins, could hear their testimony as I have done, you would never doubt of the mercy of God. If you could read the account that I have preserved of some of them—sailors, who in every part of the world have sinned—who have never touched upon land except to commit fornication and wickedness—if I could tell you on the other hand the dreadful iniquities into which some here have plunged in the days of their flesh, you would say, "Surely he is a pardoning God, and methinks that might entice you to come. Oh if there be any such here, and there are many such here, I know, if you are sitting in this hall to-day side by side with some trembling sinner, and you observe the tear dropping from his eye, be not slow to tell him, "I am one of the men that Mr. Spurgeon mentions." The Lord has saved thee, and be not slow to take the hand of the penitent, and bid him come where you went, and bid him look for mercy where you sought it and found it. And I may say again, if I may speak for myself here to-day, if you knew my own character as it was before conversion, you need none of you despair of mercy. When I went to God confessing my sins to him, I felt myself to be the vilest sinner out of hell. Others might have praised me, but I had not a word to say on my own account. If the hottest flames of the pit had been mine eternal portion it was not one whit more than I deserved. But

"Tell it unto sinners tell,
I am, I am out of hell,"

     And forgiven and accepted in Christ. Who then need despair? Who can tell? Come sinner, come, and say this in thine heart, and go and cry unto God in prayer, and lay hold on Christ by faith, saying, "Who can tell?" The innumerable instances of past mercies should stir us up to say, "Who can tell?"

     And then again let me remind you—Oh, ye that are now conscious of your guilt, that your only hope for deliverance lies in the mercy of God. When a man knows that he has only one hope left how tenaciously will he cling to it. Some sick man has tried every system of medicine—he has spent nearly all his wealth, and now he has come to the last stage. He is trying the last system of medicine. If this remedy fail, die he must. Do you not readily imagine that he would use this with the greatest diligence, and be as obedient as possible to every command of the physician? And now sinner, it is Christ or hell with thee this day. If Christ save thee not, thou art a lost man. If the cross be not thy salvation, the jaws of hell must soon close upon thee. 'Tis Christ or nothing. Nay it is Christ or perdition! Lay hold on him then; clutch him; he is thy last, thy only hope. Oh, fly to him: he his thine only refuge. If thou wert pursued by some fierce beast of prey: if there were but one tree on some vast plain, albeit, there were but a scanty hope of escape by climbing it, with what speed would thy feet carry thee to it. I see thee running and I come before thee and say, "Stop, why in such haste?" You rush past me crying—"Sir, 'tis my only chance, 'tis my only hope; I am devoured, I am rent in pieces if I find not shelter there." It is your case today. Behold the roaring lion of the pit, athirst for your blood, is after you. Away to the cross; cling to it; there is hope; there is sure refuge. But apart from that thou art worse than rent in pieces; thou art destroyed for ever and ever.

     But for thy encouragement, let me tell thee one other thing, and then I shall have done. Sinner, remember that while it will be a happy thing for thee to be saved, it will be a glorious thing for God to save thee. Men object not to do a thing which is expensive to them, if it bring them in some honor. They will not stoop to do a thing which involves shame and scorn; but if honor goeth with a thing then are they ready enough to do it. Now soul, remember, if God shall save thee it will honor him. Why, wilt thou not honor him if he will but blot out thy sin? I thought when I was seeking mercy, if God would but save me there was nothing I would not do for him. I would be cut in pieces rather than deny him. I would serve him all my life, and he might do what he would with me in heaven. And do you not sometimes feel that if God would but save you, you would sing loudest of them all in heaven? Would you not love him; creep to the foot of his throne, and cast your crown before his feet, saying: "Lord, not unto me, not unto me, but unto thy name be all the glory." God delighteth to save sinners, because this puts jewels in his crown. He is glorified in his justice, but not as he is in his mercy. He appears in silken robes with a golden crown upon his head when he saves sinners. He wears an iron crown when he crushes them. Judgment is his strange work; he does that with his left hand, but his right-handed acts are those of mercy and of love. Hence he puts the righteous always on the right hand that he may be ready to pardon and ready to deliver. Oh, come then soul to Christ. Thou art not about to ask a thing which God is unwilling to give, or that which will slur his escutcheon, or blot his banner. Thou art asking for that which is as glorious to God as it is beneficial to thyself. Come humble soul and cry to Christ, and he will have mercy upon thee.

     My only fear in conclusion is, that if any of you have received the slightest impression this morning you will go home and forget it. May I ask you now as a favor that if you have but got so much as a scar under the preaching of the Word, go home alone if you can. Say but little if you are obliged to walk with others, and go straight away to your chamber, fall there on your knees, make a confession of your sin, cry to God for mercy through the blood of Christ, and "Who can tell?" Who can tell—this very day there shall be high holiday in heaven over hundreds of sinners who in this Music Hall have first learned to pray—who in this place have first been led to consider their ways and turn to God. I hope our friends will all remain and no one move, while I pray that that may be the case, and all of you that wish it may be so, will solemnly say Amen after the few sentences of prayer I shall utter: —

     "Lord, save us this morning. We confess our sin; we ask for mercy humbly through the blood of Christ. We pray thee do not deny us, but let us all appear at thy right hand at last. Here reveal with power, and let many be saved this morning for Jesus' sake." And the people said AMEN.