Friday, October 31, 2008
Ask either saint or sinner, and you shall find that peace was never obtained in the way of the flesh. Turn to the Christian, and he will tell you, “Therefore being justified BY FAITH, we have peace with God.” He will tell you that when he turns away from faith and looks to himself; at once his darkness begins. He will assure you that he never walks in perfect light and true comfort except when he keeps his eye fast fixed upon the great sacrifice of Calvary. I know, brethren, whenever I am dull and drooping as to my eternal interests, it is always because I have thought more of my graces than of Christ’s grace, or more of the Spirit’s work in me than of the finished work of Christ on my behalf. There is no living happily, but by depending wholly upon Christ. A sinner resting upon his Savior as his only hope, is blest. Now, if this be the experience of all saints, and if no sinner living will dare to tell you that he can get his conscience quiet by his own works, why do any of you try it?
Heaven bears witness that salvation by faith is certain: hell bears witness that works do but ruin us. O, hear the double testimony, and lay hold upon eternal life through the person of Christ Jesus. O my dear friend, if you are really panting for salvation, go not round and round these dreary performances of your own doings! It must all end in misery, disappointment, and despair. “They rowed hard to bring it to land, but they could not.” All human work which does not begin and end in the Lord Jesus must be a non-success. All your working has been a non-success with you up to the present, and so it will be to the end of the chapter. Give it up, and God help you to try his method, for it is sure and efficacious.
From a sermon entitled "Labor In Vain," delivered May 1, 1864. Flickr photo by Chris Gin; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
My brethren, if you pray tomorrow for God to send a favorable wind to waft the missionary-ship to its haven, the same wind will waft a merchantman, or a pirate too, if they are going the same way. It may be that you pray that rain may come to extinguish a fire, and perhaps a shower comes, but you do not expect it to fall just where the fire is, but also for miles around. If you know some poor man living in Lancashire, and you pray for him, that God would deliver him from poverty. If your prayer is heard, it may very likely be by quickening the trade of the whole country, and conferring a blessing on the people of the whole neighborhood. In fact, you know yourselves if you are praying to God to bless your children, it is not possible that your children should be blessed without the blessing coming down upon others, because God’s blessing any one man is the means indirectly of blessing other people. You cannot have a godly family down a court, without the whole court being the better for it. You cannot have one Christian man favored by his God without his household having some portion of the favor. God sends the favor only to his servants-that is the special intention, but still there comes with that a wider blessing.
From a sermon entitled "General And Yet Particular," delivered April 24, 1864. Flickr photo by Chris Gin; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Son of God can make the prisoner free. No matter who you are, nor what you are, nor how many years you may have remained the slaves of Satan, the Son, the glorious liberator, can make you free. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost, who come unto God by him.” Perhaps that which weighs upon you most heavily is a sense of your past guilt. “I have offended God: I have offended often, wilfully, atrociously, with many aggravations. On such-and-such a day I offended him in the foulest manner, and with deliberation. On other days I have run greedily in a course of vice. Nothing has restrained me from disobedience, and nothing has impelled me to the service of God. All that his Word says against me. I deserve; and every threatening which his book utters, is justly due to me, and may well be fulfilled. Is there a possibility that I can escape from guilt? Can so foul a sinner as I am be made clean? I know that the leopard cannot lose its spots, nor the Ethiopian change his skin by his own efforts. Is there a power divine which can take away my spots, and change my nature?"
Sinner, there is. No sin which you have committed need shut you out of heaven. However damnable your iniquities may have been, there is forgiveness with God that he may be feared. You may have gone to the very verge of perdition, but the arm of God’s grace is long enough to reach you. You may sit today with your tongue padlocked with blasphemy, your hands fast bound by acts of atrocious violence, your heart fettered with corruption, your feet chained fast to the Satanic blocks of unbelief, your whole self locked up in the bondage of corruption, but there is one so mighty to save that he can set even you free. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
From a sermon entitled "The Great Liberator," delivered April 17, 1864. Flickr photo by 'Speculando; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Priests and kings unto our God hath Christ made us by virtue of his own position. Oh! to think that we who were worse than dogs should sit amongst the children; that we, who once stood at the swine-trough and fain would have filled our belly with the husks, now feed upon the fatted calf, while they dance and make merry. What love is this, that whereas we said, “I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof,” he hath been pleased to make our bodies the temples of the Holy Ghost, and God dwelleth in us and we in him!
My brethren, what an honor to be one with Christ - to be united to the person of him who counts it not robbery to be equal with God - to he made at last to sit upon his throne, even as he sits upon his Father’s throne! Why, when I look upon the dignity which belongs to the meanest Christian, the imperial pomp of all emperors and kings sinks into insignificance, and like a shadow melts away. Think of this, my brethren, and despite your low state of grace this morning, take comfort. He would not have made you such mighty ones as you are in him, if he had not intended to bless you still.
From a sermon entitled "A Promise For Us And For Our Children," delivered April 10, 1864. Flickr photo by Francisco Antunes; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The wrath of God is the thunderbolt which scathes the soul; and now that you are delivered from that tremendous peril, you must not be overwhelmed with the few showers and gales which Providence sends you. A God of love inflicts our sorrows: he is as good when he chastens as when he caresses: there is no more wrath in his afflicting providences than in his deeds of bounty. God may seem unkind to unbelief, but faith can always see love in his heart. Oh! what a mercy that Sinai has ceased to thunder!
From a sermon entitled "The Barley-Field On Fire," delivered April 3, 1864. Flickr photo by Nad Renrel; some rights reserved.
“By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.”
He had kept the highway of Scripture, and not chosen the bye-paths of malice. We should soon imitate the example of the worst of men if the grace of God did not use the Word of God as the great preservative from evil. The paths of the destroyer have often tempted us; we have been prompted to become destroyers too, when we have been sorely provoked, and resentment has grown warm; but we have remembered the example of our Lord, who would not call fire from heaven upon his enemies, but meekly prayed, “Father, forgive them.” All the ways of sin are the paths of Satan, - the Apollyon or Abaddon, both of which words signify the destroyer. Foolish indeed are those who give their hearts to the old murderer, because for the time he panders to their evil desires.
That heavenly Book which lies neglected on many a shelf is the only guide for those who would avoid the enticing and entangling mazes of sin; and it is the best means of preserving the youthful pilgrim from ever treading those dangerous ways. We must follow the one or the other; the Book of Life, or the way of death; the word of the Holy Spirit, or the suggestion of the Evil Spirit. David could urge as the proof of his sincerity that he had no part or lot with the ungodly in their ruinous ways. How can we venture to plead our cause with God, unless we also can wash our hands clean of all connection with the enemies of the Great King?
From the Treasury Of David, exposition of Psalm 17:4. Flickr photo by rachel_thecat; some rights reserved.
Monday, October 13, 2008
“There is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God.” Believers drink of that river and thirst not for carnal delights. They are made “to lie down in green pastures,” and are led “beside the still waters.” Now this solid, lasting joy and peace of mind sets the Christian so on high above all others, that I boldly testify that there are no people in the world to compare with him for happiness. But do not suppose that our joy never rises above this settled calm; for let me tell you, and I speak experimentally, we have our seasons of rapturous delight and overflowing bliss. There are times with us when no music could equal the melody of our heart’s sweet hymn of joy. It would empty earth’s coffers of every farthing of her joy to buy a single ounce of our delight. Do not fancy Paul was the only man who could say, “Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth,” for these ecstasies are usual with believers; and on their sunshiny days when their unbelief is shaken off and their faith is strong, they have all but walked the golden streets; and they can say, “If we have not entered within the pearly gate, we have been only just this side of it; and it we have not yet come to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, if we have not joined the great congregation of the perfect in actual body, yet still-
“E’en now by faith we join our hands
With those that went before,
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
On the eternal shore.”
I would not change one five minutes of the excessive joy my soul has sometimes felt for a thousand years of the best mirth that the children of this world could give me. O friends, there is a happiness which can make the eye sparkle and the heart beat high, and the whole man as full of bounding speed of life as the chariots of Amminadib. There are raptures and high ecstasies, which on festival days such as the Lord allotteth to his people, the saints are permitted to enjoy. I must not fail to remind you that the Christian is the happiest of men for this reason, that his joy does not depend upon circumstances.
From a sermon entitled "Alas For Us, If Thou Wert All, And Nought Beyond, O Earth,” delivered March 27, 1864. Flickr photo by Patrick Emerson; some rights reserved.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Say that sin is not to be punished, and you have unhinged government; you have plucked up the very gate of our common weal; you have been another Samson to another Gaza, and we shall soon have to rue the day. But, sirs, I need not stop to prove it; it is written clearly upon the consciousness of each man, and upon the conscience of every one of us, that sin must be punished. Here are you and I tonight brought into this dilemma. We have sinned; we all like sheep have gone astray, and we must be punished for it. It is impossible, absolutely, that sin can be forgiven without a sacrifice. God must be just if heaven falls. If earth should pass away and every creature should be lost, the justice of God must stand, it cannot by any possibility be suffered to be impugned. Let this, then, be fully established in our minds. You need not to be told, as for the first time, that God in his infinite mercy has devised a way by which justice can be satisfied, and yet mercy can be triumphant. Jesus Christ, the only-begotten of the Father, took upon himself the form of man, and offered unto divine justice that which was accepted as an equivalent for the punishment due to all his people.
From a sermon entitled "Expiation." Flickr photo by F H Mira; some rights reserved.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, but our Master washed his disciples’ feet. Earthly monarchs are often tyrants; their yoke is heavy, and their language domineering; but it is not so with our King; his yoke is easy, and his burden is light, for he is meek and lowly of heart. He is a shepherd king. He has supremacy, but it is the superiority of a wise and tender shepherd over his needy and loving flock; he commands and receives obedience, but it is the willing obedience of the well-eared-for sheep, rendered joyfully to their beloved Shepherd, whose voice they know so well. He rules by the force of love and the energy of goodness. His power lies not in imperious threatenings, but in imperial lovingkindness. Let the children of Zion he joyful in their King, for “men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.”
Never people had such a king before. His service is perfect freedom; to be his subject is to be a king; to serve him is to reign. Blessed are the people who are the sheep of his pasture; if they follow in his footsteps their road is safe; if they sleep at his feet no lion can disturb their peace; if they are fed from his hand they shall lie down in green pastures, and know no lack; if they abide close to his person they shall drink of rivers of delight. Righteousness and peace are the stability of his throne, joy and gladness are the ornaments of his reign. Oh! how happy are we who belong to such a prince. Thou King in Jeshurun, we pay thee homage with loyal hearts; we come into thy presence with thanksgiving, and into thy courts with praise, for thou art our God, and we are the people of thy pasture, and the sheep of thy hand.
From a sermon entitled "Christ Is Glorious - Let Us Make Him Known," delivered March 20, 1864. Flickr photo by fauxto_digit; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
You recollect that Paul went to Ephesus, and Ephesus, as a city, was besotted with a belief in sorcery. The people had given themselves up to practice magical arts. What is the right way to begin to preach at Ephesus? Deliver a course of lectures upon the impossibility and absurdity of such superstition? No, sir, nothing of the kind. Preach Christ, preach the gospel; and as Jesus Christ is lifted up they bring their magical books and make a bonfire of them in the open forum.
But here is a polished governor, Sergius Paulus, sitting upon the judgment seat. What shall be preached to him? Would it not be well to begin with a dissertation on politics, and to show that the Christian religion does not interfere with proper government, that it does not stir up the people to anarchy? No, sir, nothing of the kind. There is nothing for Sergius Paulus any more than there is for Elymas the sorcerer, but the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul goes to Athens. Now the Athenians are the most learned and philosophical of the whole race of men. What will Paul preach there? The gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel. He may change his tones, but never his matter. It is the same remedy for the same disease, he the men what they may. He comes to Corinth, and here you have not only polished manners, but the very refinement of vice. It is a city, an emporium of trade, and a sort of central depot of sin. What then? Will he now, to please the trader, assume a different dialect? Not he! The Christ for Athens is the Christ for Corinth too. And now see him. He has come to Lycaonia, and is preaching at Lystra. Here is an ignorant set of people who worship an image. Why does he not begin by preaching of the deity? Why does he not talk to them of the Trinity in unity? Why does he not try and confute their notions about their gods? No, my dear sir, he will do nothing of the kind; that may be done incidentally, but the first and the last thing that Paul will do at Lystra is, there he will preach the gospel. O glorious gospel of the blessed God! Wherever we take thee thou art suited to the wants of men.
From a sermon entitled "The Cripple At Lystra." Flickr photo by Calum Davidson; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Christian has joy as other men have in the common mercies of life. For him there are charms in music, excellence in painting, and beauty in sculpture; for him the hills have sermons of majesty, the rocks hymns of sublimity, and the valleys lessons of love. He can look upon all things with an eye as clear and joyous as another man’s; he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works. He is not dead to the happiness of the household: around his hearth he finds
happy associations, without which life were drear indeed. His children fill his home with glee, his wife is his solace and delight, his friends are his comfort and refreshment. He accepts the comforts which soul and body can yield him according as God seeth it wise to afford them unto him; but he will tell you that in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as he doth in the person of his Lord Jesus. Brethren, there is a wine which no vineyard on earth ever yielded; there is a bread which even the corn-fields of Egypt could never bring forth. You and I have said, when we have beheld others finding their god in earthly comforts, “You may boast in gold, and silver, and raiment, but I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”
From a sermon entitled "A Bundle Of Myrrh," delivered March 6, 1864. Flickr photo by Vic Brincat; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The Holy Ghost does not repent, nor feed the hungry, nor clothe the naked, nor preach the gospel. He gives us grace to do all these, but we ourselves do them. If the poor be fed, it must be by these hands; if souls are edified, it must be by these lips; we do not fold our arms, and shut our mouths, and then bring forth fruit unto God. We do not find ourselves taken up by the hair of our head as the prophet Habakkuk was said to have been, according to the Apocrypha, and so carried away whether we will or no, to perform a deed of charity. All glory be to the Holy Spirit, but he is not glorified by making him appear to be a physical force instead of the great spiritual Worker. We do, my brethren, bring forth fruit which is properly our own when we consider ways of usefulness, meditate methods of working, plan designs of good, act out deeds of mercy, persevere in labor, and continue in service before God.
From a sermon entitled "Where To Find Fruit," delivered February 28, 1864. Flickr photo by Stephane Vervalle; some rights reserved.
Monday, October 6, 2008
You cannot join a Church without taking upon yourselves very solemn responsibilities. What do you desire when you come to see us, and ask to be admitted into fellowship? You tell us that you have passed from death unto life, that you have been born again, that there has been a change in you, the like of which you never knew before, one which only God could have wrought. You tell us you are in the habit of private prayer; that you have a desire for the conversion of others. If you did not so profess, we dare not receive you.
Well now, having made these professions, it would be insincere on our part if we did not expect to see your characters holy, and your conversation correct; we have a right to expect it from your own professions. We have a right to expect it from the work of the Spirit which you claim to have received. Shall the Holy Spirit work in man’s heart to produce a trifle? Do you think that the Spirit of God would have written us this Book, and that Jesus Christ would have shed his precious blood to produce a hypocrite? Is an inconsistent Christian the highest work of God? I suppose God’s plan of salvation to be that which has more exercised his thoughts and wisdom than the making of all worlds and the sustenance of all providence; and shall this best, this highest, this darling work of God, produce no more than that poor, mean, talking, unacting, fruitless deceiver? Ye have no love for souls, no care for the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and yet think that the Spirit, has made you what you are! No zeal, no melting bowels of compassion, no cries of earnest entreaty, no wrestling with God, no holiness, no self-denial, and yet say that you are a vessel made by the Master and fitted for his use! How can this be? No; if you profess to be a Christian, from the necessity of the Spirit’s work, we have a right to expect
fruit from you.
From a sermon entitled "Noting But Leaves," delivered February 21, 1864. Flickr photo by stephanie carter; some rights reserved.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
As soon as Jesus Christ, being born in the likeness of sinful flesh, has come to years of maturity, and has commenced his real life-work, he at once discloses his friendship for sinners by associating with them. You do not find him standing at a distance, issuing his mandates and his orders to sinners to make themselves better, but you find him coming among them like a good workman who stands over his work; he takes his place where the sin and the iniquity are, and he personally comes to deal with it. He does not write out a prescription and send by another hand his medicines with which to heal the sickness of sin, but he comes right into the lazarhouse [note: this was an old-fashioned word for a hospital, particularly for lepers], touches the wounded, looks at the sick; and there is healing in the touch; there is life in the look. The great Physician took upon himself our sicknesses and bare our infirmities, and so proved himself to be really the sinner’s friend.
Some people appear to like to have a philanthropic love towards the fallen, but yet they would not touch them with a pair of tongs. They would lift them up if they could, but it must be by some machinery, some sort of contrivance by which they would not degrade themselves or contaminate their own hands. Not so the Savior. Up to the very elbow he seems to thrust that gracious arm of his into the mire, to pull up the lost one out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay. He takes himself the mattock and the spade, and goes to work in the great quarry that he may get out the rough stones which afterwards he will himself polish with his own bitter tears and bloody sweat, that he may make them fit to shine for ever in the glorious temple of the Lord his God. He comes himself into direct, personal contact with sin, without being contaminated with it. He comes as close to it as a man can come. He eats and drinks with sinners. He sits at the Pharisee’s table one day, and does not rise because there is a crowd of people no better than they should be coming near him. Another day he goes to the publican’s house, and the publican had, no doubt, been a great extortioner in his time; but Jesus sits there, and that day does salvation come to that publican’s house.
From a sermon entitled "The Sinner's Friend," delivered. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.
Friday, October 3, 2008
“O let the nations be glad and sing for joy,”
or, they shall joy and triumph. When men know God's way and see his salvation, it brings to their hearts much happiness, Nothing creates gladness so speedily, surely, and abidingly as the salvation of God. Nations never will be glad till they follow the leadership of the great Shepherd; they may shift their modes of government from monarchies to republics, and from republics to communes, but they will retain their wretchedness till they bow before the Lord of all. What a sweet word is that “to sing for Joy!” Some sing for form, others for show, some as a duty, others as an amusement, but to sing from the heart, because overflowing joy must find a vent, this is to sing indeed. Whole nations will do this when Jesus reigns over them in the power of his grace. We have heard hundreds and even thousands sing in chorus, but what will it be to hear whole nations lifting up their voices, as the noise of many waters and like great thunders? When shall the age of song begin? When shall groans and murmurs be exchanged for holy hymns and joyful melodies?
“For thou shalt judge the people righteously.”
Wrong on the part of governors is a fruitful source of national woe, but where the Lord rules, rectitude is supreme. He doeth ill to none. His laws are righteousness itself. He rights all wrongs and releases all who are oppressed. Justice on the throne is a fit cause for national exultation.
“And govern the nations upon earth.”
He will lead them as a shepherd his flock, and through his grace they shall willingly follow, then will there be peace, plenty, and prosperity. It is great condescension on God's part to become the Shepherd of nations and to govern them for their good: it is a fearful crime when a people who know the salvation of God, apostatize and say to the Lord, "Depart from us." There is some cause for trembling lest our nation should fall into this condemnation; may God forbid.
From The Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 67:4. Flickr photo by Gary Denham; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
It would be well if every youthful aspirant to the gospel ministry would remember this, if merely to put our hand to the plough proved us to be called of God, how many would be found so; but alas, too many look back and prove unworthy of the kingdom. The charge of Paul to Timothy, is a very necessary exhortation to every young minister: “Be thou faithful unto death.” It is not to be faithful for a time, but to be “faithful unto death,” which will enable a man to say, “I have fought a good fight.”
How many dangers surround the Christian minister! As the officers in an army are the chosen targets of the sharpshooters, so are the ministers of Christ. The king of Syria said to his servants, “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel;” even so the arch-fiend makes his main attack upon the ministers of God. From the first moment of his call to the work, the preacher of the Word will be familiar with temptation. While he is yet in his youth, there are multitudes of the softer temptations to turn the head and trip the feet of the youthful herald of the cross; and when the blandishments of early popularity have passed away, as soon they must, the harsh croak of slander, and the adder’s tongue of ingratitude assail him, he finds himself
stale and flat where once he was flattered and admired; nay, the venom of malice succeeds to the honeyed morsels of adulation. Now, let him gird his loins and fight the good fight of faith. In his after days, to provide fresh matter Sabbath after Sabbath, to rule as in the sight of God, to watch over the souls of men, to weep with them who weep, to rejoice with those who do rejoice, to be a nursing father unto young converts, sternly to rebuke hypocrites, to deal faithfully with backsliders, to speak with solemn authority and paternal pathos to those who are in the first stages of spiritual decline, to carry about with him the care of the souls of hundreds, is enough to make him grow old while yet he is young, and to mar his visage with the lines of grief, till, like the Savior, at the age of thirty years, men shall count him nearly fifty. “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” said the adversaries of Christ to him when he was but thirty-two.
If the minister should fall, my brethren; if, set upon a pinnacle, he should be cast down; if, standing in slippery places, he should falter; if the standard-bearer fall, as fall full well he may, what mischief is done to the Church, what shouts are heard among the adversaries, what dancings are seen among the daughters of Philistia! How hath God’s banner been stained in the dust, and the name of Jesus cast into the mire! When the minister of Christ turns traitor, it is as if the pillars of the house did tremble; every stone in the structure feels the shock. If Satan can succeed in overturning the preachers of the Word, it is as if yon broadspreading tree should suddenly fall beneath the axe; prone in the dust it lies to wither and to rot; but where are the birds of the air which made their nests among its boughs, and whither fly those beasts of the field which found a happy shadow beneath its branches? Dismay hath seized them, and they flee in affright. All who were comforted by the preacher’s word, strengthened by his example, and edified by his teaching, are filled with humiliation and grief, crying, “Alas! my brother.” By these our manifold dangers and weighty responsibilities, we may very justly appeal to you who feed under our ministry, and beseech you, “Brethren, pray for us.”
From a sermon entitled "Enduring To The End," delivered February 14, 1864. Flickr photo by Carl Bednorz; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
We have heard dying men singing themselves into the bottomless pit with this lullaby, “Yes, sir, I am a sinner, but God is merciful; God is good.” Ah! dear friends, let such remember that God is just as well as good, and that he will by no means spare the guilty, except through the great atonement of his Son Jesus Christ. The doctrine of election, in a most blessedly honest manner does come in, and breaks the neck, once for all, of all this false and groundless confidence in the uncovenanted mercy of God. Sinner, you have no right to trust to the goodness of God out of Christ. There is no word in the whole Book of Inspiration, which gives the shadow of a hope to the man who will not believe in Jesus Christ. It says of him, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” It declares of you, who are resting upon such a poor confidence as the unpromised favor of heaven, “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
From a sermon entitled "Election No Discouragement To Seeking Souls," delivered February 7, 1864. Flickr photo by hiroko***; some rights reserved.