The Fullness of Christ the Treasury of the Saints
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” — Col. i. 19.
“And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”— John i. 16.
THESE two texts make up a very beautiful sketch of the plan of salvation. Put before your mind’s eye the sinner, empty of all holiness, and of all hope, despairing, and ready to die. Put also before your mind God full of mercy, willing to come and fill that sinner’s emptiness, to bring all his communicable attributes, and dwell in that sinner, and give him first the mercy which can blot out his sin, and then the holiness which can lift him up from his ruined condition. Next note the difficulty in the way: God cannot come as half a God, all his attributes must come together, and should the just God come into this guilty sinner to fill his emptiness, the flame of justice must destroy him. It is not possible for God, even our God, who is “a consuming fire,” to come into contact with that which is sinful without destroying it. What then? Shall the sinner remain empty, and shall God’s fulness remain uncommunicated? Behold the plan which infinite wisdom has devised! The Eternal Son of God becomes man, the divine nature comes in all its fulness and dwells in the Mediator Christ Jesus. Coming into him he was made to feel the mighty burnings of justice, which caused him agony but could not consume him, for in him was no sin. Justice burned and blazed within him, and cast him into a bloody sweat, yea, brought him to the cross and to death, because he stood in the sinner’s place; but this golden vessel though heated was not melted; it could contain the divine fire, and yet not be destroyed; and now in Christ Jesus dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and, moreover, the divine nature is in him in such a way as to be capable of communication to the sons of men; of course the essence of Deity is not communicated, for that would be to make men into Gods, but we are “made partakers of the divine nature ” in the sense of receiving the same character, and becoming the children of God. That which God could not bring to us directly by reason of our inability to receive it, he has now brought to us through a Mediator, by placing it in the man Christ Jesus, that we, coming to him, might freely receive of it. The next step in the plan of salvation is this— that after the fulness of God has come to man in the person of his Son, every one that cometh to him by faith receives of his grace. Salvation is not by what you bring to Christ, but by what you take from him. You are to be receivers first, and then, by-and-by, through the power of grace you shall give forth from yourselves rivers of living water to others. In your first coming you come empty, having nothing but your sin and misery; as empty, undeserving sinners you receive of his fulness, and all your life long continue to do the same. The grace already given is not the climax, or the conclusion, you go on receiving more and more. Grace increases your capacity for grace, and that enlarged capacity becomes filled, and so the fulness of God comes into you till you are filled with it, and you rise from grace to glory, being made like unto God, and fitted to dwell where he is for ever and ever.
Now, unconverted ones, take note that this is the plan of salvation, and the only plan. You must obtain God’s love and mercy and holiness by receiving it through the Mediator, Jesus Christ. You have not yet received it: I ask you how long will you tarry without it? You are in some degree aware of your need, for you are not ignorant of the gospel; oftentimes have you heard the voice of its invitation, and have been almost persuaded to receive the fulness revealed in Christ Jesus. How long halt ye between two opinions? How long do ye hesitate? This is the way, the safe way, the suitable way, the only way which is open to you, and it is open to you at this very moment; will your feet never tread it? Will your disobedient steps for ever wander till at last you sink in despair, and die eternally? God have mercy upon you, and bring you to receive of the fulness which the Father has stored up in his Son Christ! Needy sinners, I charge you do not insult the fulness of Christ by thinking that you are full enough yourselves. Never think of putting your own righteousness side by side with the divine, nor think of mixing your tears with Jesus’ blood, nor of bringing your prayers or your faith to increase the all-sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. He wants nought of you; come and take everything from him, for in him all fulness dwells.
As you may not insult his fulness, so I pray you do not neglect it. Do not stand by this fountain and refuse to drink. Do not pass by the riches of his grace as though they were nothing to you, lest haply when you come to die your heart should be wrung with terrible remorse because you have despised the Saviour’s love. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” Put not off these matters from month to month, but “to-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts.” Hasten now unto the place where God himself has come to meet you, namely, in the person of his Son.
Moreover, as I charge you not to neglect the grace of our Lord Jesus, so would I encourage you not to distrust it. All fulness dwells in Jesus, a fulness which is meant to be given out to all who receive it as the gift of grace. Believe in this fulness; and, empty as you are, do not despair any longer when you remember that Jesus has a supply for every possible need. Come, though your head be bowed with grief, for Jesus never did reject a sinner, and he never can. It is his office and calling to cleanse the guilty and to receive the lost. Come to him now, and may we, ere this service is done, be able all of us to sing, “It pleased the father that in him should all fulness dwell,” and “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”
Let not these words be forgotten by those for whom they are meant, but still I have not taken my text this morning with the view of so preaching from it; I have another aim altogether. Moreover, it will be right for me to say that I do not intend to go into an exposition of these texts, having explained them several times before; I have only taken them with one object, namely, to address myself vehemently to the servants of God, that they may be exhorted to lay hold of the fulness of the power, and holiness, which dwell in their covenant Head. During this last week I have given to my brethren in the Conference a motto which lay on my own heart; it is “Forward! Upward!” These are the watchwords of this morning— Forward! Upward! I want you, dear brethren, to see that every preparation is made for greater growth and greater success. I want you to be encouraged to seize upon that which lies before you, but which is too often treated as if it did not exist, and to rise by the power of the Eternal Spirit to something higher than you have hitherto accomplished or even attempted.
I. My first point this morning is this: THERE IS A GLORIOUS FULNESS IN JESUS. Brethren, if it be so, why are we so weak, unfurnished, and unhappy? There is an infinite fulness in Jesus, a fulness of all that any saint can ever want to enable him to rise to the highest degree of grace. If there be anything lacking for the attainment of the divine image in us, it is not a deficiency Christward, it is occasioned by shortcomings in ourselves. If sin is to be overcome, the conquering power dwells in him in its fulness; if virtue is to be attained, sanctifying energy resides in Christ to perfection. If I see before me an eminent child of God, whose conversation is in heaven, I may not dare to say that I am not capable of being as sanctified as he is, for the same Lord is mine as well as his. I have in my flesh no power whatever, for I am emptiness itself, and in me the truth is realised, “Without me ye can do nothing;” but on the other hand the power to do all things lies in Christ, and the power to become fully consecrated streams forth from him. “With God all things are possible,” “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” and they who dwell in him shall find things impossible with man become simple every-day facts with themselves if they will but have faith in the mediatorial fulness. Brethren, I am going to say nothing but what you all know, and I do not mean to garnish it with finery of words. The truth is that there are many who are barely Christians, and have scarcely enough grace to float them into heaven, the keel of their vessel grating on the gravel all the way ; my prayer is that we may reach deep waters, and have so much grace that we may sail like a gallant bark on the broad ocean with a glorious cargo on board and all colours flying, so that there maybe administered unto us an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For this everything is provided. Christ has not merely placed enough bread on the table to keep us from starving, his oxen and fatlings are killed, he has spread a royal festival. He has not provided a scanty garment which may barely hide your nakedness, but he has brought forth the best robe, and has procured earrings for your ears, jewels for your necks, and a crown royal for your heads; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell for all his saints. If you have not these riches the fault lies with yourself. It is there, you might have it if you had but faith to take it. Too often we sit down like beggars on the dunghill, and groan and cry because of the poverty of our nature when we ought to be rejoicing in the Lord. I thank God that we can groan, for that is something; but there is a more excellent way, a better gift to be earnestly coveted. In Christ ye are rich to the fulness of riches; get ye up, I pray you, to the high places, and realise for yourselves the fulness of God in Christ Jesus.
The fulness which dwells in our Lord we may rest assured is sufficient for the conquest of the world. It is not enough for you or for me that we should be wholly consecrated to Christ, our desire is that the whole world should be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Never can we be satisfied while there remains one sinner unsaved, one idol upon its pedestal, or one single error to darken the minds of men. For Christ we do not desire England only and the civilised nations, but we claim for him the darkest dens of cannibalism and the vilest haunts of piracy. The pennon of the cross shall wave where now black flags poison the breeze; it shall be lifted high where to-day Kalee and Juggernaut set up their ensigns; for the Lord God omnipotent shall reign from shore to shore. We have in Christ Jesus all the might which is needed for subduing the nations, for all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. We have, dear brethren, I fear, too often been considering the amount of money and the number of men which would be needed; indeed, I remember a remarkable paper being read explaining to us how much expenditure it would require to evangelise the world, a calculation which I regarded as vanity of vanities and nothing more, for if mountains of money were put before us it might just as well be shovelled into the infernal deep for all the good it could do, if regarded as at all essential. Our exchequer needs more golden treasure, and, thank God, we have it. Depend upon it, when the church is fit to be trusted with money she will have it. Pecuniary straitness is only an index of lack of grace, and is so far a good thing, because it brings before us in palpable form our real poverty before the Most High. But brethren, for the conquest of the world the strength lies in the man Christ Jesus, and since in him all fulness dwells, we have all the necessary power at our disposal. We are never to say,“ Those thieves and criminals are too depraved to be converted,” for in our Lord there is fulness of power to convert the most abandoned. We are not to say, “ That alley in the darkest part of the city will never be cleansed from its abominations;” Jesus could cleanse Sodom itself. We are never to leave a tribe of savages unevangelised because they are too degraded, nor are we to quail before an uneducated and subtle nation because it is too sceptical; all power for all cases is in Jesus; he is the armoury of the house of David, in him we shall find a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. Let us go to the armoury, and we shall receive the invincible weapons of our Holy War, ay, and the strength with which to wield them, the might which ensures victory.
Beloved, the text puts away from us, as far as the east is from the west, every conceivable objection that may be raised as to what a saint can do, for surely the very thought of difficulty is rendered absurd by the fact of all fulness residing in our Lord on our behalf. It is not a fulness for teaching merely, but a fulness for convincing; not a fulness for convincing of sin simply, but for converting and bringing to full salvation. It is not a fulness for justifying the believer alone, but a fulness for sanctifying him; and not a fulness for sanctifying him for a little while merely, but a fulness to keep him to the end, a fulness which can fill him with all the fulness of God. Come to whatever place you may, you shall not say, “Here I am at a nonplus,” but there will you find a new illustration of the might of the eternal God which dwells in Christ Jesus. The fact is we have a superabundant force in Christ, and if we did but know it, instead of talking about the struggles of the church, and the strain that is put upon us, to hold our own, the joy of the Lord would give such strength to us that we should not remember our own efforts, but like the flood which rushes down the mountain after the rain, the flush of life from Jesus would speed on with a tremendous force, overleaping every obstacle, and filling our souls to the brim. God grant us to feel that we do not serve a little Christ nor a niggard Lord. Our God is the God of the hills as well as the valleys, and in the strength of the Lord Omnipotent we triumph in every place. Only let us serve God in real faith, and we know not what we may live to see. God grant us to know this first truth that there is a fulness in Christ, and in the strength of that fulness may we cry, “Forward and upward.”
II. The next encouraging fact is that THE FULNESS IS IN JESUS NOW. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” The glory of the past exercises a depressing influence upon many Christians. “We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us the wondrous things which thou didst in their day and in the old time before them,” but we dolefully complain that the golden age of Christianity is over, its heroic times are matter of history. Indeed, this feeling is transformed to fact, for scarcely any church now existing realises that it can do what its first promoters did, all appear to be quite sure that these are bad times and but little is to be done in them. We do not expect now-a-days to find a Methodist so full of fire as the first field-preachers, the Quakers are never fanatical, and even the Primitives are not Ranters now; the old reproach has ceased because the old ardour which provoked it has cooled down. So far so bad. I see grave cause for sorrow in all this. A people are in an evil case when all their heroism is historical. We read the biographies of former worthies with great wonder and respect, but we do not attempt to follow in their steps with equal stride. Wherefore not ? It has pleased the Father that in Jesus all fulness should dwell, a fulness for Paul, a fulness for Luther, a fulness for Whitfield, and blessed be God, a fulness for me, and a fulness for you. All that Jesus has given forth has not exhausted him. Christianity has not lost its pristine strength; we have lost our faith, there’s the calamity. Oh, ignoble sons of glorious sires, ye have degenerated, but not your Master ; and if, even in your degeneracy, you would cast yourselves upon your unchanging God, you would rise to more than the strength of your sires, and do yet greater things than they. The fulness of Jesus is not changed, then why are our works so feebly done? Pentecost, is that to be a tradition? The reforming days, are these to be memories only? I see no reason why we should not have a greater Pentecost than Peter saw, and a Reformation deeper in its foundations, and truer in its upbuildings than all the reforms which Luther or Calvin achieved. We have the same Christ, remember that. The times are altered, but Jesus is the Eternal, and time touches him not. “But we are not such men as they.” What, then, cannot God make us such? Are we weaker than they? The fitter to be instruments for the mighty God. Out on the cowardice which thinks the past is never to be outdone! Is not the Lord of Hosts with us? Is anything too hard for him? We must labour to eclipse the past as the sunlight eclipses the brightness of the stars.
The mass of professors have their eye on the future only, the good times are coming by-and-by, but they are not here yet. We look forward with much hope to the golden age that is to be, when we shall see the fulness of Jesus, and nations will be born in a day. Brethren, does my text say, “It pleased the Father that in him all fulness shall one day dwell”? I trow not, but in him all fulness now dwells. Whatever has been done can be done now, and whatever shall yet be done by his grace can be done to-day. Our laziness puts off the work of conquest, our self-indulgence procrastinates, our cowardice and want of faith make us dote upon the millennium instead of hearing the Spirit’s voice to-day. Happy days would begin from this hour if the church would but awake and put on her strength, for in her Lord all fulness dwells. When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Some doubting ones say, “We do not wonder that there is success in such a place but we cannot have it. We hear of earnest ministers, and we conclude that where they labour God will send the blessing, but not to our ministry. We conclude that when yonder woman gathers the young people around her, it is no wonder that blessing comes. Does Christ depend on ministers or on holy women? Have you said, “Alas, I cannot have the blessing.” Why not? How dare you limit the Holy One of Israel? Ye who dwell in towns where all is cold around you, do ye despair? Is it in your minds that Christ is dependent upon the circumstances in which he has placed his servants? “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” What if the servants be empty, their Master is not. If the means of grace lack power, grace from above is still omnipotent. Only fly to the fountain, and the dried up streams need not distress you.
Furthermore, our churches believe that there is a great fulness in Christ, and that sometimes they ought to enjoy it. The progress of Christianity is to be by tides which ebb and flow. There are to be revivals like the spring, and these must alternate with long lethargies like the winter. O accursed unbelief, wilt thou always pervert the truth? Wilt thou never understand this word— “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell”? It is not the Lord’s purpose that a fulness should reside in Jesus during revivals, and then withdraw. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. The highest state of revival should be the normal condition of the church. When her martyrs are most self-sacrificing, her missionaries most daring, her ministers most bold, her members most consecrated, she is even then below her standard, she has not fully reached her high calling: to come down from her position would be sin. God grant us grace to feel that we have not to drink of an intermittent spring, nor to work for Christ with an occasional industry, but as all fulness dwells in him, it is ours to believe that to-day we can have all the blessing of a true revival, that to-day we can go forward in the power of God, that at this very hour we lack for nothing which can lift the church into her highest condition of spirituality and power. God grant us to receive grace for grace to-day!
III. Thirdly, THE POSITION OF THIS FULNESS IS RICHLY ENCOURAGING TO US IN THE MATTER OF OBTAINING IT. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” Brethren, ye have heard what we have said about the fulness: our words are very poor and poverty-stricken compared with the fact, but listen! The fulness is placed where you can receive it, where you can receive it now, for it is placed in him who is your brother, bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; it dwells in him who loves to give it, because, as our Head, he delights to communicate with his members. The plenitude of grace dwells in him who is himself yours; since he is yours, all that is in Christ is yours. You need not pray as if you had no inheritance in the blessing which you seek. Christ is the trustee of the fulness of God, and the property of it is vested in his people; you have only to ask of him, and he will give you that which is your own already. Why do you hesitate? How can you linger? The Father has placed his grace in Christ because it gratifies his love to his Son. It pleases the heart of the great God to see Jesus adorned with the fulness of deity, and every time Jesus gives out to believers, the great heart of God is gladdened thereby. How can you hesitate about receiving if it pleases God for you to partake in it? You may go with great spirit and comfort, since Jesus himself is honoured by your going to him. He obtains glory by distributing of his fulness to empty sinners, who, when they receive grace, are sure to love him,— how can you think him reluctant to bestow the gift which will increase his glory? Do you not know, too, that when you go to Christ you gain even by the act of going? I am so thankful that Christ has not put my fulness in myself, for then I should not require to go to him so often, or if I did go to him I should not have an errand to go upon of such importance as to justify me in seeking an audience; but now, every time I go to Christ’s door I can plead necessity. We go to him because we must go. When is there an hour when a believer does not need to receive from Jesus? Go, then, beloved, since it blesses the church, it honours Christ, it pleases God, and it is the way of soul enrichment for yourselves. What place of resort could be so attractive as the person of the Well-Beloved? If God had put his fulness into an angel we should not feel greatly drawn to him, but since he has caused it to dwell in Jesus he has put it where we love to have it, where we feel at home, where, we are glad to go full often, yea, where we would love to abide and never to go away, but to be for ever receiving of him.
I delight to think that this fulness is placed in Christ, because he is the man who receives sinners ; and, therefore, you saints who have lost your evidences, you believers who have acted inconsistently and have not lived up to your privileges, you may say“ we cannot go for this fulness to God himself, but we will joyfully go to the Saviour of sinners.” If you have been till now self-deceived, and your experience has all been a mistake, you can still come to the sinner’s Saviour, to whom the thief looked up in his expiring hour, and from whom your first mercy came. Come, brethren, why do you hesitate, why do you linger? Ye who know what Christ is, come, I pray you, with swift feet to the place where all you want is stored, and take all your heart requires; yea, come for the highest degrees of grace and for the largest measures of success, and you shall have them, for Christ delights to give exceeding abundantly above what we ask or even think.
III. And now I have to pass on to another argument. I want to use each head as a hammer, and may God’s own spirit wield it. The next is this, that FROM THIS FULNESS WE HAVE MANY OF US ALREADY RECEIVED. Is not that an argument for still further exercising faith in Jesus? I know of no argument equal to that of practical experience. They must come who have come before; the sweetness of this honey remains upon the tongue and we long for more, and we cannot be satisfied till we have taken up the dripping honeycomb once again. Now, see, beloved, the text says, “Of his fulness have all we received:” that is, all the saints in former days have received of this fulness. There was not in John any good thing but what he received from his Master; there was not in the noble martyr Stephen one grain of courage but what he received from Christ; Paul, Apollos, or Cephas, these had nothing but what they took from him. If they received everything, why should we hesitate to do the same?
Of ourselves it is also true that all our grace came from Jesus. This is true of the greatest saint, and true of the least. Do you recollect when first you received grace? It brings to my mind right joyful memories of the hour when first these eyes looked to him and were lightened, when I received pardon from his dying love and knew myself forgiven. Since your conversion, dear brethren, everything good you have ever had you have received from our Lord. What hast thou drunk out of thine own cistern? What treasure hast thou found in thine own fields? Nakedness, poverty, misery, death, these are the only possessions of nature; but life, riches, fulness, joy, these are gifts of grace through Jesus Christ. Art thou accepted before God? He justified thee. Hast thou been kept? He has preserved thee. Art thou sanctified? He has cleansed thee by his blood. Dost thou know by full assurance thine interest in the Father’s love? He gave thee that assurance. All thou hast and all thou ever wilt have, all that, every saint that ever shall be born shall have that is worth the having comes out of the fulness of Christ. The serried ranks of the white robed above without exception confess, “Of his fulness have all we received.” I hear them sing this morning, as they keep a glorious Sabbath-day above, and this is one sweet stanza of their song, “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Come then, brethren, what restrains us from receiving? Ah, say you, “I cannot imagine that I can be a Christian of the highest type.” Why not? Have you not received life, why should you not receive life more abundantly? Have you not already been pardoned, why should you not have the full assurance of that pardon? Have you not already been taken up from the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, what doth hinder but that Christ should set you upon a rock, and put a new song into your mouth and establish your goings? “But I cannot hope to be so useful as some are.” Why not? According to your faith so shall it be to you. God has given you one convert, why cannot he give you a hundred? You have been blessed to a dear child in the Sunday-school, and you have rejoiced over that one jewel as a precious God-send; why should you not dive again, and bring up other pearls for your Immanuel’s crown? I would stir in you a sacred ambition, I would provoke you to the highest style of Christian manhood, and the most heroic form of Christian service. What you have received is the pledge of what you may receive; indeed, you have already obtained a good deal more than yet remains to be received. Christ is yours, and by that fact all things are yours. What you now want is included in what you already have; you only require to realise it, by faith to call it your own, and practically to live upon it. May God enable you so to do! Of his fulness have all we received, why should we not receive more?
IV. The last blow of the hammer shall be this— THE RECEIPTS WE HAVE ALREADY HAD ARE NOT TRIFLES, for John says we have received “grace for grace,” which is a mode in the Greek language of expressing the superlative. We have received the highest grace, superlative grace. The gift of Jesus Christ is the highest grace that even God himself can bestow, nothing can go beyond that. Listen to this, then: “He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” I charge you, let that text enter into your hearts, and when you feel straitened in prayer, and tempted to say, “Ho, not here, I cannot rise so high, I am not qualified for that attainment,” do, I pray you, remember the gifts already received, by which Jesus opens your mouth and bids you ask great things. The Father has given you his Son, how can he deny you anything?
The expression “grace for grace” may mean grace answering to grace, grace which was in accordance with grace already given, grace preparatory to what is yet to come. Has not the Father given you such grace as you had capacity to receive? If there had been more room you would have had more; if you had exercised more faith he would have given you more joy; if you had possessed more hope you would have had more realisation. He has always come up to, and even gone beyond, the measure of our expectancy. Is there in your soul this morning an enlargement? I feel it in my own heart, I feel a dissatisfaction with my present attainments; I pant to know my Lord better. I am discontented with what I have done for him hitherto, I long to do ten times more for his glory. Do you feel the same? Oh, then he will keep touch with you ; yea, he will do exceedingly abundantly above all you ask, or even think. That text does not say, “Above what you can ask or think,” as people will persist in saying, therein saying what is not true, because we can ask and can think as great things as God himself will give, and he means us to ask before he gives. Our capacity for asking is, as a general rule, the measure of his giving, but the Scriptures say he will do exceeding abundantly above what you ask or think. Now, are you thinking great things and asking great things? Do not be afraid; the Lord will not let you outstrip him. Be ye enlarged, and as large as your faith so large shall the blessing be.
Then, dear friends, grace for grace may mean grace upon grace, like Pelion upon Ossa, one mountain piled upon another, each grace eclipsing the light of that which went before. This we have already known. When we first believed in Christ pardon for sin seemed everything, but when we came to know that we were justified in Christ Jesus, that appeared to be a much greater blessing; and when we understood that we were adopted and were the sons of God, that new delight surpassed the former joy. The Lord has led you into grace, which has surprised you, and lifted you up from one point to another. I speak to many brethren here who must confess that their present state is very different from their Christian infancy, and they now know what they never thought they could know. Why, there are doctrines that some of you can enjoy this morning which you used to think frightfully high doctrines, and you could not appreciate them, yet they are simplicities to you now; and there are conquests over sin which you could not have achieved in your boyhood, but now in your Christian manhood you can take up dragons and destroy them. Now, dear brethren, as you have been surprised with mercy, you are to be surprised with more mercy, and the Lord says to you, “Son of Man, I will show thee greater favours than these.” Greater joys are yet to be known. You have entered the room of silver, that inner door will lead you to a chamber of gold, and beyond that there is a door in the wall, which he that is taught of God shall open, which will admit you into a chamber of diamonds; and when you shall come there and have seen the glory and the exceeding riches of the grace of God, there is an inner chamber yet, where that which eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard, shall be revealed unto you, a joy unspeakable, unthinkable indeed. May we comprehend with all saints what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum. We have a fulness in Christ as believers, which we ought to use in the manner following:—
First, believe in great things. Do not sit down, as some do, in the little Meeting House, where about five score brethren meet and expect the Lord to send a convert once in twelve months, and when he does send him, worry him by the month together for fear he should not be one of the right sort, and when he comes in at last rejoice over him, as one that findeth great spoil in having picked up one solitary soul after twelve months’ ministry. Oh, brethren, we have a greater God than this would imply. The little narrow thoughts which Christians have had as to the success of the gospel, cannot have come from a great God, can they? The day was when the very idea of sending the gospel to the heathen was regarded by our orthodox brethren as a piece of Don Quixotism, not to be attempted, and even now, if you say, “All the world for Jesus,” they open their eyes and say, “Ah, we are afraid you are tainted with universal redemption, or are going off to the Arminian camp.” God grant these dear brethren new hearts and right spirits; at present their hearts are too small to bring him much glory. May they get larger hearts, hearts something like their Lord’s, and may they have grace given them to estimate the precious blood at a higher rate, for our Lord did not die to buy a few hundreds of souls, or to redeem to himself a handful of people; he shed his blood for a number which no man can number, and his elect shall excel in multitude the sands which belt the sea. Let us have great faith in what God intends to do.
Believing these great things, let us expect them. Be on the qui vive for spiritual miracles. Expect to see hundreds converted. Wonder, when you hear a gospel sermon, that the Holy Ghost does not save three thousand by it. “Ah,” says one, “I should be very much astonished if he did.” I know you would, and that is why we do not see it, but we ought to wonder that there are not, and when we are as we should be, we shall see greater things than these. There is no weakness with God; that limping sinew is in Jacob’s thigh, it is not in the angel’s. That palsied arm is man’s, not God’s, no sinew of his arm can decay. Sirs, think you that he who smote the fields of Zoan with plagues is not Lord of idols and King of heathens? Think you that he who divided the Red Sea cannot lead his people like a flock through the wilderness and bring them into the promised possession? Think you that he cannot bring up his church out of her bondage and set her feet in a large room? The Lord of hosts is with us, therefore let us expect things.
Expecting great things, let us attempt great things. Let us each set about doing something for Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Let us try what can be done. Let us not, if we are Sunday-school teachers, be satisfied with going through the day’s lesson and feeling, “There, that will do.” Aim at the immediate conversion of every child in the class. Do not let us say as we go round with the tracts this afternoon, “We will leave them and not say a word.” Aim at getting a word with every person you meet with about Jesus Christ. As for myself, the preacher, let me come here to preach to you, not with the hope that perhaps here and there one will find a Saviour, but with an earnest cry to heaven that he will comprehend in the lines of his electing and redeeming love the whole mass of you, and make this Tabernacle into a golden casket, in which all of us shall be the jewels, and take it right up and keep it in his bosom for ever.
Last of all, let us not talk about this, but let us set about it. Shall we never have in our midst men who will go among the heathen to preach Jesus Christ? We had two lately, are there not two more? Young men and young women, will you not consecrate yourselves to the Lord and go into exile for his sake? Have we none such? We have here this morning good women and good men too, who are at work amongst the heathens of the east end of London and the worst parts of our city; are there no others to do the same? There is room for scores of you to be as devoted to God as our dear brother, Dr. Barnardo, or our sister, Miss Macpherson— and why are you not? Why should not the same anointing come upon you and qualify you for useful work? Will you not this very day preach Christ in the streets? Will you not consecrate yourselves to be whole burnt-offerings unto Christ, for him to live, for him to die? O soldiers of the cross, will ye loiter in the march? The enemy still holds citadels which belong to Christ, and ye by a desperate push may seize them. Swift as eagles and strong as lions, press onward and win the victory. Why do ye hesitate? The powers of evil linger not, the hosts of hell are raging, they call up all their strength against the Lord of Hosts, and will ye stand back? Have ye no courage? Is your blood turned to water? Has the Spirit of God departed from you? Oh, let it not be so, but may God launch us upon the enemy like thunderbolts from his own omnipotent hand, and yet may it be seen throughout the world that there are men who have received of the fulness of the Crucified One, and who therefore can give it forth to others, and point them to him, in whom the Father is well pleased that all fulness shall dwell. The Lord be with you all. Amen.