A Psalm for the New Year
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. -2 Peter 3:18
BEHOLD, beloved, our perpetual dangers. Whither can we go to escape from peril? Where shall we fly to avoid temptation? If we venture into business, worldliness is there. If we retire to our homes, trials are there. One would have imagined that in the green pastures of the Word of God there would have been perfect security for God’s sheep. Surely no lion shall be there, and no ravenous beast shall go up thereon! Alas! it is not so. For even while we are reading the Bible we are still exposed to peril. Not that the truth is dangerous, but that our corrupt hearts can find poison in the very flowers of Paradise. Mark what our apostle saith of the writings of St. Paul, “Wherein are some things which are hard to be understood.” And mark the danger to which we are exposed, lest we, being unlearned and unstable, should wrest even the Word of God itself to our own destruction. With the Bible before our eyes, we may still commit sin; and pondering over the hallowed words of inspiration, we may receive a deadly wound from “the error of the wicked.” Even at the horns of the altar we need that God should still cover us with the shadow of his wings. It is a very pleasing reflection that our gracious Father has provided a shield by which we may be sheltered from ever ill, and in our text the evil of heterodoxy finds a suitable preventative. We are in danger, lest misinterpreting Scripture we should make God to say what he does not; and lest by departing from the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we should wrest the letter of the Word and lose its spirit, and from the letter draw a meaning which may be for our soul’s ruin. How shall we escape this? Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, has in the words before us, pointed out our safeguard. While ye search the Scriptures and grow in acquaintance with them, see to it that ye grow in grace; and while ye desire to know the doctrine, long above all to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and let your study of Scripture, and your growth in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, still be subservient to that higher object, that you may live to bring glory both now and for ever to Him who hath loved you and bought you with his blood. Let your hearts say evermore, “Amen” to the doxology of praise, so shall ye be kept from all pestilent errors, and ye shall not “fall from your own stedfastness.” It appears, then, that our text is adapted to be a heavenly remedy for certain diseases to which even students of Scripture are exposed; and I am persuaded it may serve also as a most blessed directory to us through the whole of the coming year.
I might divide my text, this morning, as good old Adams does. He says there are here two trumpets. One is blown from heaven to earth – “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;” the other sounds from earth to heaven – “To him be glory both now and for ever.” Or I might quote him again. He says, here is first a point of theology, “Grow in grace;” secondly, a point of doxology, “To him be glory both now and for ever.” We will take the text in the same natural divisions with other headings, and just notice, first, that we have here a divine injunction, with a special direction; and secondly, a grateful doxology, with a suggestive conclusion.
I. To begin, then, at the beginning, we have here first of all A DIVINE INJUNCTION WITH A SPECIAL DIRECTION: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
“Grow in grace.” What is this? It must be in the outset implied that we have been quickened by grace, otherwise this text cannot apply to us at all. Dead things cannot grow. Only those who are alive unto God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ form the dead, have in them any power or capability of growth. The great Quickener must first implant the seeds of life, then afterwards those seeds can germinate and grow. To you, therefore, who are dead in trespasses and sins, this text has no application. You cannot grow in grace, because as yet you are under the curse of the law, and the wrath of God abideth on you. Tremble, repent, believe, and may God have mercy on you. But being avlie from the dead, and quickened by the Spirit of God which is in you, beloved brethren, you who are born again are bidden to grow, for growth shall prove your life. A post planted in the earth grows not; but a tree rooted there, increases from a sapling to a forest king. Drop a pebble into the richest soil, and it will be a pebble still of the same size; put in there the grain or the pulse, and it will spring up and produce its stalk and its flower. Ye who are alive unto God, see to it that ye grow in all the graces. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Seek to believe the promises better than ye have done. Go from that trembling faith which says, “Lord, I believe: help thou my unbelief,” upward to that which staggers not at the promise, but which, like Abraham, believes that he who has promised is also able to perform. Let your faith increase in extent, believing more truth; let it increase in constancy, not being feeble or wavering, nor always tossed about with every wind; let your faith daily increase in simplicity, resting more fully, and more entirely, and more completely upon the finished work of your Lord Jesus Christ. See to it that your love also grows. If ye have loved with a spark, pray that the spark may become an all-consuming flame. If ye have brought to Christ some little, pray that ye may bring your all; and may offer that all in such a fashion, that like Mary’s broken alabaster box, the king himself may be satisfied with the perfume. Ask that your love may become more extended – that ye may have love unto all the saints; more practical, that it may move your every thought, your every word and dead; more intense, that ye may become as burning and shining lights whose flame is love to God and man. Pray that ye may grow in hope, that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints: that ye ma be looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; that the hope not seen as yet may enable you with patience to wait for it; that ye may be hope enter into the joys of heaven while ye are on earth; that hope may give you immortality while you are yet mortal – may give you resurrection before you die – may give you to see God, while as yet the glass darkly parts you from him. Ask that you may grow in humility, till you can say, “I am less than the least of all the saints;” that ye may grow in consecration till ye can cry, “For me to live is Christ: to die is gain;” that ye may grow in contentment till ye can feel, “In whatsoever state I am, I have learned therewith to be content.” Advance in likeness to the Lord Jesus, that your very enemies may take knowledge of you that ye have been with Jesus, and have learned of him. In fie, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, if there be anything that is lovely and of good repute, if there be anything that can increase your usefulness, that can add to your happiness, that can make you more serviceable to man and more glorious towards God, grow in it, for ye have not yet attained, neither are ye yet already perfect.
Following up an illustration furnished by the holy scriptures, let me remind you all, ye faithful believers in Christ, that ye are compared to trees – trees of the Lord’s right hand planting. Seek to grow as the tree grows. Pray that this year ye may grow downward; that ye may know more of your own vileness, more of your own nothingness; and so be rooted in humility. Pray that your roots may penetrate below the mere topsoil of truth, into the great rocks which underlie the uppermost stratum; that ye may get a good hold of the doctrines of eternal love, of immutable faithfulness, of complete satisfaction, of union to Christ, of the eternal purpose of God, which he purposed in Christ Jesus before the world was. The deep things of God will yield a rich and abundant sap, and your roots shall drink from the hidden fountains of “the depth which lieth under.” This will be a growth which will not add to your fame, which will not minister to your vanity: but it will be invaluable in the hour of storm, a growth the value of which no heart can conceive when the hurricane is tearing up the hypocrite, and hurling into the sea of destruction the “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” As ye root downward, seek to grow upward. Send out the topshoot of your love towards heaven. As the trees send out their spring shoot and their midsummer shoot; and as you see upon the top of the fir that new green child of spring, the fresh shoot which lifts its hand towards the sun, so pant to have more love and greater desires after God, a nearer approach towards him in prayer, a sweeter spirit of adoption, a more intense and intimate fellowship with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ. This mounting upwards will add to your beauty and to your delight. Then pray to grow on either side. Stretch out your branches; let the shadow of your holy influence extend as far as God has given you opportunities. But see to it also that ye grow in fruitfulness, for to increase the bough without adding to the fruit is to diminish the beauty of the tree. Labour this year by God’s grace to bring forth more fruit unto him than ye have ever don. Lord, give to this congregation more of the fruits of penitence for sin, of faith in the great sacrifice, of love to Jesus, of zeal for the conversion of souls. We would not be as the gleanings of the vintage when there is only here and there a cluster upon the uppermost bough, we would be as the valley of Eschol, whose presses burst with new wine. This is to grow in grace: to root downward, to shoot upward, to extend your influences like far-reaching branches, and to bring forth fruit unto the Lord’s glory.
But we will borrow another figure from Scripture. Brethren in Jesu Christ, we are not only compared to trees, but to children. Let us grow as babes do, nourished by unadulterated milk. Steadily, slowly, but surely and certainly. Little each day, but much in years. Oh that we may grow as a child does in strength, till the little tottering limbs of our faith shall be firm muscular legs with which the young man may run without weariness, and feet upon which the strong man may walk without fainting. As yet our wings are callow, and we can hardly leave the nest. Lord, bid our growth proceed till we can mount as with the wings of eagles towards thyself, surmounting clouds and storms, and dwelling in the serene presence of the Most High. Let us grow in the development of all our powers. Let us ask that we may be no more little infants of a span long, but that many cubits may be added to our stature till we ripen to perfect men in Christ Jesus. And let us specially pray that we may grow as healthy children, uniformly. Brethren, it is an ill sign if a child’s head enlarges, but not the rest of his body, or if its arm or foot should be swollen to an ill proportion. Beauty consists in the proportion of every part. A vigorous judgment should not be yoked with a cold heart, nor a clear eye with a withered hand. A giant’s head rides ill on a dwarf’s shoulders. A virtue nourished at the expense of others is a fattened cannibal fed upon the flesh and blood of its murdered kinsmen; and it ill becomes a Christian to harbour such a monster. Let us pray that faith and love and every grace may be developed that not one power of the man may be left unnurtured or ungrown, for only thus we can truly grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
But do ye inquire why and wherefore we should thus grow in grace? Let us say, brethren, that if we do not advance in grace it is a sorrowful sign. It is a mark of unhealthiness. It is an unhealthy child that grows not, a cankered tree that sends forth no fresh shoots. More; it may be not only a sign of unhealthiness but of deformity. If a man’s shoulders have come to a certain breadth, and his lower limbs refuse to lift him aloft, we call him a dwarf, and we look upon him with some degree of pity. He is ill-formed. O Lord, let us grow, for we would not be abortions, we would not be deformities. WE would be children like unto God our Father: we would be comely ones, every one of us like the sons of a king. Not to grow may be, moreover, the sign of death. It may say to us, Inasmuch as thou growest not, thou livest not; inasmuch as thou dost not increase in faith, and love, and grace; and inasmuch as thou dost not ripen towards the harvest, fear and tremble lest thou shouldst only have a name to live and be destitute of life., lest thou shouldst be the painted counterfeit; a lovely flower-picture drawn by the painter’s skilful hand, but without reality, because without the life-power which should make it bud and germinate, and blossom and bring forth fruit. Advance in grace, because not to progress augurs many evil things, and may teach that worst of all things, the want of spiritual life. Grow in grace, because, beloved, to increase in grace is the only pathway to enduring nobility. Oh! would ye not wish to stand with that noble host who have served their Master well, and have entered into their eternal rest. Who among ye does not wish to have his name written with the missionaries of modern times – with Judson and with Carey, with Williams and with Moffat? Who amongst us is there who ha snot ambition to find his name written among those servants of God – Whitfield, Grimshaw, Newton, Romaine, Toplady and others who preached the Word with power? Are there any of us who wish to go back to the vile dust from whence we sprung, “unwept, unhonoured, and unsung?” Then let us be as we are; let us cease our march. Meanness lies at your door, be stunted and be ignoble. But if we would be princes in God’s Israel, if we would be mighty warriors for the cross of Christ, let us pray this prayer, “Lord, bid us grow in grace, that we may be faithful servants, and receive thy commendation at the last.” But to grow is not only to be noble, it is to be happy. That man who stays growing, refuses to be blessed. With most men in business, if they do not win, they lose. With the warrior, if he gains not in the battle, his enemy is getting an advantage. That wise man who gets no wiser, grows more foolish. That Christian who does not know more of his Lord, and become more like him, knows less of his Lord and becomes less like him. Our armour if unused will tarnish, and our arms If not strengthened by effort will be weakened by indolence. Our happiness declines as our spirituality fades. To be happy, I say, we must go forward. Forward is the sunlight! forward is the victory! forward is heaven! forward is Christ! But here, to stand still is danger; nay, it is death. O Lord, for our happiness’ sake bid thou us advance, and for our usefulness’ sake let us ascend. Oh! if we as a congregation and as a Church grew in grace more; if we were stronger in faith, mightier in prayer, more fervent in heart, more holy in life, who can tell how much we might effect for our age. Men who walk but lightly, leave but faint steps; but men who tread with the tramp of Roman soldiers stamp their foot-prints on the sands of time, never to be erased. So let us live, that in our day and in after days the world may be the better, and Christ’s Church more prosperous for our having lived. For this reason, if for no other, let us grow in grace.
Oh, could I fire you with some hallowed ambition to-day I were but too happy! Could I snatch from some ancient altar a live coal such as that which fell upon the life of Esias, I would say unto you, Lo, this has touched your lip – go forth in the spirit and power of God, even the Most High; and live as they lived who counted not their lives dear unto them that they might serve their Master and be found in him. I point you to the spirits who have entered within the veil and who rest upon the couches of eternal glory, and I say, they wont the victory by grace, and growth in grace was the means of their triumph. Emulate them; press forward as they did, and through grace you shall inherit their rest and their triumph, and sit down with them for ever.
But do ye inquire how ye shall grow in grace? The answer is simple. He who gave you grace must give you more of it. Where ye first received your grace there ye must receive the increase of that grace. He who made the cattle and who created man, was the same who afterwards said “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” So he that has given you grace must speak with the fiat of his omnipotence in your heart and say to that grace, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the soul till its native emptiness shall be filled, and the natural wilderness shall rejoice and blossom like a rose.” But at the same time we would have you use the means; and those means are much prayer, a more diligent search of the sacred Scriptures, a more constant fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, greater activity in his cause, an earnest attendance upon the means of grace, a devout reception of all revealed truth, and so forth. If ye do these things ye shall never be stunted or dwarfed, for he that has given you life will thus enable you to fulfil the word which he spake to you by his apostle, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
I have thus explained the divine exhortation; but you perceive it contains a special injunction, upon which we must pause a moment. “And in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
My beloved brethren in the Lord Jesus, we must see to it that we ripen in the knowledge of Him. Oh that this year we may know more of him in his divine nature, and in his human relationship to us; in his finished work, in his death, in his resurrection, in his present glorious intercession, and in his future royal advent. To know more of Christ in his work is, I think, a blessed means of enabling us to work more for Christ.
We must study to know more of Christ also in his character – in that divine compound of every perfection, faith, zeal, deference to his Father’s will, courage, meekness, and love. He was the lion of the tribe of Judah, and yet the man upon whom the dove descended in the waters of baptism. Let us thirst to know him of whom even his enemies said, “Never man spake like this man,” and his unrighteous judge said, “I find no fault in him.”
Above all, let us long to know Christ in his person. This year endeavour to make a better acquaintance with the crucified one. Study his hands and his feet; abide ye hard by the cross, and let the sponge, the vinegar and the nails, be subjects of your devout attention. This year seek to penetrate into his very heart, and to search those deep far-reaching caverns of his unknown love, that love which can never find a rival, and can never know a parallel. If ye can add to this a knowledge of his sufferings, ye will do well. Oh! if ye can grow in the knowledge of fellowship – if ye shall this year drink of his cup, and be baptized with his baptism – if ye shall this year abide in him and he in you – blessed shall ye be. This is the only growth in grace which is true growth; and all other growth which leads us not to increase in the knowledge of Christ is but the puffing up of the flesh and not the building up of the Spirit.
Grow in the knowledge of Christ, then. And do ye ask me why? Oh! if ye have ever known Him you will not ask that question. He that longs not to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. He that ever sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that we want to taste more, and more, and more, and more. Oh! if ye know the love of Jesus, I am sure as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after him. If ye say ye do not desire to know him better, then I tell you ye love him not, for love always cries, “Nearer, nearer, nearer.” Absence from Christ is hell; but presence with Christ is heaven; and, as we get nearer to him, our heaven becomes more heavenly, and we enjoy it more, and feel more that it is of God. Oh! may you this year come to the very well of Bethlehem, and not merely receive a vessel from it, as David did, at the risk of the lives of three mighty men; but may you come to the well and drink – drink from the well itself, from that bottomless well-spring of eternal love. Oh, this year may the secret of the Lord be with you, and may you be in the secret place of the Most High! My Master, shouldest thou permit me to ask thee one thing as a special favour, it should be this, that I may “know him and the power of his resurrection, being made conformable to his death!” Nearer to thee, blessed Lord, nearer to thee: this all our cry shall be. The Lord grant that our cry may be heard, that we may grow in the knowledge of Christ!
We wish to know Christ this year as our Lord – Lord of every thought and every desire, of every word and every act. And as our Saviour too, our Saviour from every indwelling sin, our Saviour from every evil past, from every trial to come. All hail, Jesu! we salute thee as Lord. Teach us to fell thy Kingship over us, and to feel it every hour. All hail, thou crucified One! We acknowledge thee as Saviour; help us to rejoice in thy salvation, and to feel the plentitude of that salvation in all and every part of spirit, soul, and body, being wholly saved by thee.
I have thus, men and brethren, sought to expound the point of theology; I life up my heart in prayer for you all that you may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
II. In the second place, we have A GRATEFUL THANKSGIVING, WITH A MOST SUGGESTIVE TERMINATION: “To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
The apostles, we must remark, very frequently suspended their writing in order to lift up their hearts in praise. Praise is never out of season, and it is not interruption to interrupt any engagement in order to laud and magnify our God. “To him be glory.” Brethren, do not let me preach now, but let me interpret your emotions. Let it be not so much my utterance, as your utterance by my lips. Let every heart joyously feel this doxology, To him, the God that made the heavens and the earth, without whom was not anything made; to him who in his infinite compassion became the surety of the covenant – to him who became a babe of span long – to him who was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief – to him who on the bloody tree poured out his heart’s life that he might redeem his people – to him who said “I thirst,” and “It is finished!” – to him whose lifeless body slumbered in the grave – to him be glory. To him that burst the bonds of death – to him who ascended on high and led captivity captive – to him who sitteth at the right hand of the Father and who shall soon become our Judge – “to him be glory.” Yes, to him, ye atheists, who deny him – to him, ye Socinians, who doubt his Deity – to him, ye kings, who vaunt your splendour, and will not have this man to reign over you – to him, ye people, who against him stand up, and ye rulers who against him take counsel – to him, the King whom God hath set upon his holy hill of Zion – to him be glory. To him be glory as the Lord: King of kings and Lords; “Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” And yet again Hosannah in the highest – Hallelujah! King of kings and Lord of lords. To him be glory as Lord. To him be glory as Saviour. He alone hat redeemed us unto God by his blood; he alone hath “trodden the wine-press,” and “cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength.” “To him be glory.” Hear it ye angels: “To him be glory.” Clap your wings. Cry “Hallelujah! to him be glory.” Hear it ye spirits of the just made perfect; sweep the strings of your celestial harps, and say, “Hallelujah, glory to him who hath redeemed us unto God by his own blood.” “To him be glory.” Church of God respond! Let every pious heart say “To him be glory.” Yes, unto him be glory, ye fiends of hell, as ye tremble at his presence, and see the key of yoru prison-house swinging at his girdle. Let heaven, and earth, and hell – let things that are, and were, and shall be, cry, “To him be glory.”
But the apostle adds, “now” – “to him be glory, now.” O brethren, postpone not the day of his triumph; put not off the hour of his coronation. Now, NOW.
“Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown him Lord of all.”
Now, now; for now, to-day, he hath raised us up together, and made us sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God;” now are our sins forgiven; now are we robed in his righteousness; now are our feet upon a rock, and our goings are established. Who is there among you that would defer the time of your hosannahs?
“And for ever.” Never shall we cease our praise. Time! thou shalt grow old and die. Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course; but for ever, for ever, for ever, “to him be glory.” Is he not a “Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek?” “To him be glory.” Is he not king for ever? – King of kings and Lord of lords, the everlasting Father? “To him be glory for ever.” Never shall his praises cease. That which was bought with blood deserves to last while immortality endures. The glory of the cross must never be eclipsed; the lustre of the grave and of the resurrection must never be dimmed. Oh, my beloved brethren, my spirit begins to feel the ardour of the immortals. I would anticipate the songs of heaven. My tongue, had it but celestial liberty, would begin e’en now, to join those thrice-melodious sonnets sung by flaming tongues above. O Jesus! thou shalt be praised forever. Long as immortal spirits live – long as the Father’s throne endures – for ever, for ever, for ever, unto thee shall be glory.
But now, there is a conclusion to this of the most suggestive kind, “Amen.” Brethren, I want to work this amen out – not as a matter of doctrine, but as a matter of blessed transport. Come, give me your hearts again. “To him be glory both now and for ever, Amen.” What means this Amen? Amen has four meanings in Scripture. By the way, the Puritan’s remark – it is a very remarkable thing – that under the old law, there was no amen to the blessings; the only amen was to the curses. When they pronounced the curses, “All the people said Amen.” Under the law, there never an amen to the blessing. Now, it is an equally remarkable, and more blessed thing, that under the gospel, there is no amen to the curses, the only amen is to the blessings. “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God our Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, Amen.” “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.” No amen. There is no amen to the curse under the gospel. But “all the promises of God are yea and amen, in Christ Jesus.” Now, the “Amen,” – and here I am greatly indebted to good old Thomas Adams – means four things. First it is the desire of the heart, “Behold, I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” We say amen at the end of he prayer to signify, “Lord, let it be so,” – it is our heart’s desire. Now, brethren, given me your hearts, then – for it is all a heart-matter here. “To him be glory both now and for ever, Amen.” Is that your heart’s desire? If not, you cannot say amen to it. Does your heart long, pant, thirst, groan, and cry out after Christ, so that you can say, every time you bend your knee, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.” Can you say, “Amen, Lord, let thy kingdom come.” Brethren, if you can say it in this sense, if it be your heart’s desire that Christ’s glory should be extended, and his kingdom should come, say “Amen,” aloud this morning. Now join with me, for my heart glows with it. I can say it, - and the Judge of all knows how my heart longs to see Jesus magnified; join with me then, ye who can do it honestly, while I repeat the doxology – “To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” [The congregation very heartily, aloud said, “Amen.”] So be it Lord. Thou hearest thy Church as it cries “Amen;” verily, it is our heart’s desire.
“Amen, with joy divine, let earth’s
Unnumber’d myriads cry;
Amen, with joy divine, let heaven’s
Unnumber’d choirs reply.”
But it signifies more than this; it means the affirmation of our faith. We only say amen to that which we really believe to be true. We add our affidavit as it were to God’s promise, that we believe him to be faithful and true. Have you any doubts but that Jesus Christ is glorious now and for ever? Do you doubt his being glorified of angels, cherubim and seraphim, to-day? And do you not believe, my brethren, that they that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him, and that his enemies shall lick the dust? If you so believe, if you have faith to-day amid the world’s obstinacy and the sinner’s pride, amid abounding superstition and dominant evil, if you have faith still to believe that Christ shall be glorious for ever and ever, then join with me and again say Amen. “To him be glory both now and for ever, Amen.” [The congregation again said “Amen.”]
Lord, thou hearest it, though it is a feebler cry than aforetime, for there are more who can desire it than there are who believe it. Nevertheless, thou abides faithful.
“This little seed from heaven
Shall soon become a tree;
This ever-blessed leaven
Diffused abroad must be:
Till God the Son shall come again,
It must go on. Amen! Amen.”
But there is yet a third meaning to this amen; it often expresses the joy of the heart. When of old they brought forth a Jewish king, the High Priest took a horn of oil and poured it on his head; then came forward a herald, and the moment he had sounded the trumpet, one with a loud voice said, “God save the king! God save the king!” and all the people said “Amen,” and one shout went up to heaven, while with joy of heart they saluted the king in whom they hoped to see a prosperous ruler through whom God would bless them and make them victorious. Now, what say you? As you see King Jesus sitting upon Mount Zion with death and hell beneath his feet, as to day you anticipate the glory of his Advent, as to day you are expecting the time when you shall reign with him for ever and ever, does not your heart say “Amen?” I can remember, in a season of the greatest darkness of min and weakness of body, there was one text which used to cheer me beyond all measure; there was nothing in the text about myself; it was no promise to me, but it was something about him. It was this – “Him hath God highly exalted and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heave, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Oh! it seemed so joyous that he was exalted. What did it matter what became of me? What did it signify what should become of all of us? King David is worth ten thousand of us. Let our name perish, but let his name last for ever. Brethren, this morning I bring forth the King to you. I bring him before the eyes of your faith to-day; I proclaim him king again, and do you if you desire him to be king, and if you rejoice in his reign, say “Amen.” Here, here he stands in vision before your eyes. Crown him! Crown him! Lo, he is to-day crowned afresh. “To him be glory both now and for ever.” Joyous hearts lift up your voices, and with one accord say “Amen.” [The congregation again said “Amen.”] Amen, Lord, be thou King in the midst of us all.
“Yea, amen, let all adore thee, High on thine exalted throne! Saviour, take thy power and glory; Claim the kingdoms for thine own: O come quickly! Hallelujah! Come, Lord, come.”
But, lastly, and this is a very solemn point. Amen is sometimes used in scripture as an amen of resolution. It means, “I, in the name of God, solemnly pledge myself that in his strength I will seek to make it so; to him be glory both now and for ever.” Now I shall not want you to say “Amen” to this aloud, but I shall pause to let you say it silently in your won souls by-and-bye. I walked last week through the long galleries which vanity has dedicated to all the glories of France. You pass through room after room where especially you see the triumphs of Napoleon in writing bodies, and in the blood, and vapour, and smoke. Surely as you walk through the pages of Scripture, you walk through a much more marvellous picture gallery, in which you see the glories of Christ. This book contains the memorials of his honours. In another place in Paris there stands a column made with the cannons taken by the Emperor in battle. A mighty trophy, certainly. O Jesus! thou hast a better than this; a trophy made of souls forgiven; of eyes which wept, but whose tears have been wiped away; of broken hearts that have been helaed, and of saved souls that for evermore rejoice. But what trophies Christ has to make him glorious, both now and for ever; trophies of living hearts that love him; trophies of immortal spirits who find their heaven in gazing upon his beauties! What must the glories of Christ be for ever when you and I and all the ten thousand millions he has bought with his blood shall be in heaven. Oh! when we have been there many a thousand years we shall feel as fresh a rapture as when we came there, and if our spirits should be sent on any errand from our Master, and we should have to leave the presence-chamber for a moment, oh! with what wings of a dove we will fly back to behold his face again. When we shall all surround that throne, what songs will I give him, the chief of sinners saved by blood! What hymns will you give him; you who have had your iniquities cleansed and are to day saved? What praise will all those multitudes give him who have all been partakers of his grace? But this has more to do with “for ever.” Now, what say you about our glorifying him now? Oh, brothers and sisters, do you make it your prayer this morning, “Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor, help me to glorify thee by contentment; I am sick, help me to give thee honour by patience; I have talents, help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time, Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel, Lord let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame, but affection for thee; I have a head to think, Lord help me to think of the and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something, Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose; for I do desire to say amen. I cannot do much; my amen is but a feeble one, but as the widow put in her two mites, which made a farthing, which was all her living, so, Lord, I put my time and eternity too into thy treasury; ’tis all thine; take it, and thus I say, ‘Amen’ to Peter’s apostolical doxology.”
And now, throughout this year will you go forth, my brothers and sisters, and say, amen to this? I pray you do so. You who love not Christ, cannot say amen. Remember you are under the law. There is an amen to all the curses to you; there is none to the blessings while you are under the law. O poor sinner, under the law, may this be the day when thy law-slavery shall come to an end! “How can it be?” you say. By faith in Christ, I answer. “He that believeth on him is not condemned.” Oh that thou mayest believe on him, and then thy joyful heart will say, amen. Then wilt thou say, “Loudest of all the saints in heaven, I will shout amen, when I see the royal crown brought forth, and Jesus is acknowledged Lord of all.” May God grant that this year may be the best year this Church has ever had. This year concludes eight years of my ministry among you, and seven years of Printed Sermons are now before the public. How much of blessedness God has caused to pass through our mind, and how much he has been pleased to own his Word, we cannot fully measure. But we know that he has been with us in deed and in truth. Now that we begin this year, may the Lord make it so that all the past shall seem to be as nothing compared with that which is to come. I bless you my brothers and sisters in the name of the Lord, and commencing this year, I beg again for renewed tokens of your affection by a renewal of your prayers; and on my part, I only trust that it may be mien through this year, and long as I live, to be giving my amen to that doxology – “To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”