Friday, January 30, 2009
If there be any deed of kindness or love that we can do for the very meanest and most obscure of God’s people, we ought to be willing to do it - to be servants to God’s servants — to feel like Abigail did, when she said to David, “Let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord.” Abigail became David’s wife, that is the true position of every Christian; but yet she felt she was not worthy even to wash his servants’ feet. That must be our spirit.
Do you know any poor bedridden soul? Go and talk with that poor woman, or that poor man. Seek to take comfort to that poor man’s miserable lodgings. Do you know a brother who is rather angry in temper, and he wants a kind word said to him, and some one says, “I will not speak to any such person as he is?” Do it — do it, my dear brother; go and wash his feet! Do you know one who has gone astray? Some one says, “I would not like to be seen in association with him.” My dear friend, you are spiritual; go and restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Wash his feet! There is another riding the high horse; he is very, very proud. One says, “I am not going to humble myself to him.” My dear brother, go to him, and wash his feet! Whenever there is a child of God who has any defilement upon him, and you are able to point it out and rid him of it, submit to any degradation, put yourself in any position, sooner than that child of God should be the subject of sin.
Especially let those who are highest among us seek to do the lowest offices. “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Recollect that Christ’s way of rising is to go down. He descended, that he might ascend; and so must we. Let us count that evermore it is our highest honor and our greatest glory, to lay aside all honor and all glory, and to win honor and glory out of shame and humiliation for Christ Jesus’ sake. I believe this is done in this Church. I hope we are as free as possible from the feeling of caste: God deliver us from the last relic and remnant of it! Ye are brethren; love one another. “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich in that he is made low.” Ye are brethren, and one is your Master, even Christ. Try to carry out every one of you to your utmost the teaching of your Lord, that ye should wash one another’s feet. You have an opportunity of doing it in the collection; for I believe that these servants of God, these aged ministers, these ministers who are in great poverty, need to-day that you should by your contributions wash their feet.
From a sermon entitled "Jesus Washing His Disciples' Feet," delivered January 29, 1865. Image by James Jordan under Creative Commons License.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Christ has performed a complete obedience to the divine law. He had no need to do this for himself, but he did it for his people. What he did is ours; the perfect obedience of Christ is imputed to every believer. We wrap ourselves about with the garments of Christ, just as Jacob put on the robes of his brother Esau; and our Father gives us the blessing, because he finds us in our brother’s clothes. Oh, this is gracious, for all the righteousness you and I could ever have if we had been perfect would only have been human, but this is divine; Christ is the Lord our Righteousness, and we are sumptuously arrayed in his seamless robe.
Here let me remark that this is matter of experience too, for the believer gets to feel that he can now minister before God without trembling, for he wears Christ’s garments. Oh, how delightful it is to preach, dressed in the robes of Christ, or to pray when you feel you have Christ’s vestments on! Oh, how fair a thing it is to minister at God’s altar, when you know that you are dressed in the white linen, the righteousness of Christ, so clean that even God’s all-seeing eye cannot detect so much as a spot or blemish in it. Pure, lovely, beautiful, without blemish from head to foot in the sight of God, is every justified soul. Oh, Christian, never be satisfied unless you know this, and live in the constant enjoyment of it.
From a sermon entitled "Zechariah's Vision of Joshua the High Priest," delivered January 22, 1865. Image by James Jordan under Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The true Christian has a peace which is totally unknown to any other man; yea, he hath “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” There are indeed two kinds of peace into the secret satisfaction of which no unconverted person can enter — peace with God, and peace in the heart. Yet both of these are the inalienable right of the believer; for the peace which our Lord Jesus Christ made by the blood of his cross has sealed his acceptance with the Father; and the peace which is produced in his conscience as the fruit of the Spirit calms the troubled passions of his breast. He enjoys peace with God. Happy soul! He says of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
From a sermon entitled "The Great Privation: Or, The Great Salvation." Image by daita saru under Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
“Through God we shall do valiantly.”
From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation; but still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction, but rather is it the best excitement for courageous effort. Helped in the past, we shall also be helped in the future, and being assured of this we resolve to play the man.
“For he it is that shall tread down our enemies.”
From him shall the might proceed, to him shall the honour be given. Like straw on the threshing-floor beneath the feet of the oxen shall we tread upon our abject foes, but it shall rather be his foot which presses them down than ours; his hand shall go out against them so as to put them down and keep them in subjection. In the case of Christians there is much encouragement for a resolve similar to that of the first clause. “We shall do valiantly.” We will not be ashamed of our colours, afraid of our foes, or fearful of our cause. The Lord is with us, omnipotence sustains us, and we will not hesitate, we dare not be cowards. O that our King, the true David, were come to claim the earth, for the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations.
From The Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 60:12. Image by mike138 under Creative Commons License.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Search the Scriptures. Do not merely read them — search them; look out the parallel passages; collate them; try to get the meaning of the Spirit upon any one truth by looking to all the texts which refer to it. Read the Bible consecutively: do not merely read a verse here and there-that is not fair. You would never know anything about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress if you opened it every morning and read six lines in any part and then shut it up again; you must read it all through if you want to know anything about it. Get those books, say Mark or John; read Mark right through from beginning to end; do not stop with two or three verses, or a chapter, but try to know what Mark is aiming at. It is not fair to Paul to take his epistle to the Romans and read one chapter: we are obliged to do it in public service; but if you want to get at Paul’s meaning, read the whole epistle through as you would another letter.
Read the Bible in a commonsense way. Do not read it on your knees, as I have known some people do, it is an awkward posture: get into an easy chair: read it comfortably. Pray after you have read it as much as you like, but do not make a penance of what ought to be a pleasure. And when you are reading it, if you come to a knotty point, do not skip it. You have all some Christian friend who knows more than you do; go to him and try to get the thing explained. Above all, when you have read any passage, and do understand it, act it out, and ask the Spirit of God to burn the meaning into your conscience till it is written on the fleshy tables of your heart.
From a sermon entitled "Knowledge Commended," delivered January 15, 1865. Image by rachel_thecat under Creative Commons License.
Friday, January 23, 2009
If the Lord be indeed in Zion, and the king be in the midst of her, why do we pray as if he were not? I find no fault with the prayers of my brethren when they ask for an outpouring of the Spirit — what they mean by their prayers is a very proper thing, but I am not certain that the expression is altogether the best that might be used. The Spirit of God is with his people. I could not, last Monday night, ask to have the Spirit of God poured out, for it was there. If at any time the Holy Spirit was with any men on earth, even at Pentecost, he was here last Monday night, as those present must have felt. We had not so much to ask for it as to be thankful for it.
When two or three of you meet together in Christ’s name, do not meet unbelievingly. Remember that he has said, “There am I in the midst of you.” Be content with that assurance; you have not, as it were, to mount up to heaven, that is, to bring Christ down; nor to descend into the earth, that is, to bring him up from the depths: he is with you! “Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost?” “God dwelleth in you.” The Holy Spirit is given to the Church as a perpetual and abiding Comforter; and in the Church the Spirit of God always dwells. Do not pray, therefore, dear friends, as if God were not with you. “Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in the midst of her?” Do not pray, therefore, like the priests of Baal, as though your God were on a journey, or needed to be awakened out of sleep. He is with you, ready to answer by fire, if, like Elias, you have but faith with which to challenge his promise and his power.
From a sermon entitled "A Discourse For A Revival Season," delivered January 8, 1865. Image by Aislinn Ritchie under Creative Commons License.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
We must watch, the best of us must watch lest we fight the Lord’s battles with Satan’s weapons, and so even from love to God and his truth, violate the unity of the Spirit. The unity of the Spirit ought to be kept, dear friends, because Satan is so busy to mar it. He knows that the greatest glory of Christ will spring from the unity of his Church. “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” There is no Church happiness where there is not Church unity. Let a Church be disaffected and divided, the schism in the body is death to all hallowed fellowship. We cannot enjoy communion with each other unless our hearts be one.
Our work for God, how feebly is it done when we are not agreed! The enemy cannot desire a better ally than strife in the midst of our camp. “Can ye not agree,” said a warrior of old “when your enemy is in sight!” Christians, can you not agree to keep the unity of the Spirit when a destroying Satan is ever on the watch seeking to drag immortal souls down to perdition? We must be more diligent in this matter; we must seek to purge out from ourselves everything which would divide, and to have in our hearts every holy thought which would tend to unite us with our brethren. I am not, when I join a Christian Church, to say, “I am quite certain I shall never break its unity.” I am to suspect myself of a liability to that evil, and I am to watch with all diligence that I keep the unity of the Spirit.
From a sermon entitled "True Unity Promoted," delivered January 1, 1865. Image by Naama ym under Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Mary was not praised for sitting still; no, but for sitting still at Jesus’ feet. And so, Christians are not to be praised, if they neglect duties, merely because they live in retirement, and keep much at home: it is not sitting, I say, but sitting at Jesus’ feet. Had Martha been sitting still, or had Mary been sitting anywhere else, I doubt not that the Master would have given a word of rebuke; he would never have said that mere sitting still was choosing the good part. Indeed, I know some of you who are none the better for doing nothing, but a great deal the worse; for those who do nothing grow sour, and are always willing to find fault with the way in which others serve Christ. Do not think, therefore, that mere activity is in itself an evil: I believe it is a blessing. Taking a survey of Christ’s Church, you will find that those who have most fellowship with Christ, are not the persons who are recluses or hermits, who have much time to spend with themselves, but they are the useful indefatigable laborers who are toiling for Jesus, and who in their toil have him side by side with them, so that they are workers together with God.
Let me, then, try and press this lesson upon you, that when we as a Church, and each of us as individuals, have anything to do for Christ, we must do it in communion with him. We come up to his house, and what do we come for? It is said that among Church people the prayers are the main thing, and among Dissenters the sermon. I believe that in both cases this would be a fault. Praying should not eclipse preaching; for to preach or to listen to preaching, is as true an act of worship as to pray. We never worship God better than when we hear his Word, reverently receive it, and are moved thereby to love and gratitude. To hear preaching is, in a sense, praying; since the true effect of all preaching that is worth the listening to, draws us into a spirit of devotion, and makes us ready for prayer and every other form of worship. But what do we come here for? I am afraid there are some who come merely because it is the time to come, because the hour of worship has come round; and others come only because a certain preacher happens to stand upon the platform. Ah! this is not how God’s own beloved ones come up to his house! They desire to meet with him. Their prayer as they tread the hallowed courts of God’s house will be “My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
There is no hymn sung so well as when we really do praise Jesus in it. No prayer is so true as that prayer which really comes to the mercy-seat, and spreads itself before the allseeing eye. There is no preaching like that which is full of Christ, which gives forth a savor of his good ointments. Worship is not to be commended because of the glorious swell of a Gregorian chant, or because of the equally majestic volume of sound which this great assembly may send forth from that sweet instrument, the human voice. A service is not to be commended because of the eloquence of the preacher, or because of the display of learning which he is able to make in expounding his discourse. No, to the Christian it is, “Was the Master there?” The question on the Sunday morning is, “What think ye, will he come up to the feast?” Coming to the Lord’s table, the child of God’s business is not so much with the bread and the wine, as with his blood and with his flesh. May I feed on him? May I see him? And if I get to him, then it is well with me. If I have then to serve God in the public engagements of his house, let me say, “Come, my beloved, let us get up to the vineyards.”
From a sermon entitled "Good Works In Good Company," delivered December 18, 1864. Image by Chany Crystal under Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
If our view of prophecy be the correct one, it seems to be in perfect harmony with all the doctrines of the gospel. God certainly did elect his people the Jews; he made a covenant with his servant Abraham, and albeit you will remind us that this was only a temporal covenant, I would remind you that it was the type of the spiritual one, and it would be an unhappy reflection for us if the typical covenant should prove to be only temporary as well as temporal; if that came to an end, and if God cast away, in any sense, the people whom he did foreknow, it might augur to us the ill foreboding that mayhap he might cast away his spiritual seed also, and that those who were chosen as the spiritual seed of Abraham, might yet be cut off from the olive into which they had been grafted. If the natural branches are cast away for ever, why not the grafted branches too?
But here is our joy, the God who swore unto his servant Abraham that to him and to his seed would he give the land for ever, hath not gone back from his word; they shall possess the land; their feet shall joyously tread its fruitful acres yet again; they shall sit every man under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; and so the spiritual seed to whom the spiritual heritage is given as by a covenant of salt, they also shall possess their heritage for ever, and of their rightful portion no robber shall despoil them.
From a sermon entitled "The Man With The Measuring Line," delivered December 11, 1864. Image by David King under Creative Commons License.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Recollect that wherever there is present privilege there is also a present duty to be performed... Since “now is the accepted time” with sinners, now is the accepted time for thee to work, O Christian. I know what you intend to do; you have vast plans and machinery. My brother, I do not care what you mean to do tomorrow, but I do care about what you intend to do today.
Oh! those day-dreams of ours! We are always intending in a year or two’s time to be such valorous defenders of the faith, such good soldiers of Christ, such good winners of souls. My dear brother, what art thou doing now? There flies that moment; what does it bear upon its wings? Another drop of the stream of time is passed away: what action of thine is reflected on its crystal surface? Art thou doing anything now? “I do not know,” says one, “I do not know that I can do anything just now. When the service is broken up, I may get home, and then try to do something.” I would pray thee remember that “now is the accepted time,” and therefore now seek to get thy heart warm; and, when the service is over, think thou hearest the now, and begin to speak to those in the pew, or on the way home talk to any person you may meet with; and then, tomorrow, do not say, “Sunday is over, and I cannot do any good on the week-day,” but think you hear the clarion-sound of this word now. You have a sister unsaved, pray for her now; you have a brother unconverted, write to him if you cannot speak to him, and do it now. There is a court, a blind alley, which needs visiting; a dying man who needs instruction - do it now. Do you feel you have a talent? Use it now. You think you will have a better sphere in ten years’ time; I
pray thee get a sphere now, for now is the day of salvation.
I say again, I do not care what you do with your to-morrow. If you will but give God your now, your tomorrows will be all right. For duty, then, let the Christian prize the “now.”
From a sermon entitled "Now," delivered December 4, 1864. Image by atomicjeep under Creative Commons License.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Lot is called a righteous man; and he was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. He frowned at the men of Sodom, and expostulated with them, and wished that sinners would restrain their follies, and not go to quite such lengths in sin. That is the sort of man Lot was. Have I not many a Lot before me now? The father of the faithful went a great deal beyond this. He lived far away from the scenes of vice, and the haunts of impiety. I suppose he did not think it necessary to sleep a night in that cage of uncleanness, that he might familiarize himself with the profane customs of the people. But he stood on hallowed ground, and prayed with a tender heart. He interceded with God; he multiplied his intercessions. Every time he prayed, and with each fresh note of prayer, his spirit grew more ardent. Impressed with God’s severity, he takes courage from his goodness.
Here is a fitting example for us. It is an example which I know will not be lost on some of you. The courage that can rebuke man, must come from the strength that takes hold upon God. When your face shines like an angel with the radiance that the mercy-seat reflects upon it, then it shall come to pass that the scorner will not be able to resist the wisdom or the spirit by which you speak.
From a sermon entitled "The Smoke Of Their Torments ," delivered November 20, 1864. Image by Kyle Pearce under Creative Commons License.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
“And the men said unto Lot. Hast thou here any besides? Son in law, and thy sons. and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place.” -Genesis 19:12.
A man must not pretend that he cares for the souls of others so long as he leaves one stone unturned which might be the means of blessing them. It seems to me, then, that if we are in a right state of heart this morning, one of the first things we shall do will be to tell those dear to us of their danger.
I think I see Lot going out that night. No very tempting place the streets of Sodom, especially after that wretched scene which had been enacted at his own door: a miracle had rescued him; but yet with his life in his hand, the good old man goes to the door of his sons-in-law. Affection is not always so strong towards sons-in-law as towards those who are of our own blood; still he goes with all solemnity of feeling, knowing that he himself should be rescued, but. trembling lest these sons-in-law should refuse the invitation to escape with him. The good old man finds his way through the winding streets of Sodom, and begins to knock at the door with a resolute hand. They look down from the top of the house. “That is the voice of old Lot,” says one, “what is he at, disturbing thus our comfortable slumbers?” They have but little love for him; they have put on some pretense of affection that they might win his daughters, but Sodomites cannot have much love for righteous men; and consequently they have no care for Lot. “What does the old fellow here at this time of night?” say they, “why cannot he keep seasonable hours? Besides, what a disturbance there was at his own door just now! Does he not know better than to knock at our door, when he so resolutely shut his own to protect two tramping strangers? What is he about?”
He cries to them, “My sons, this city is to be burned with fire in the morning; come, get ye up, and fly with me; for the two men who came to me were angels sent from God to rescue me, and they have bidden me seek you; come with me.” “Ah! “ they say; “what next... go thy way, and talk about thy silly dreams to men of softer brains, and not to us.” “Nay,” says he, “it is even so, by the love you bear my daughters, bear with me; if it be not so it will not matter, you can return; but if it be so, think what it will be to be destroyed with fire and brimstone out of heaven! I pray you come.” But they scoff at him: they tell him he is only mocking them, that he has some motive for wishing to get them into the street, and they bid him go; and with an aching heart the poor old man goes back, feeling something more than Isaiah’s grief- “ Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Yet as he fled out of Sodom, if the sight of his daughters reminded him of their husbands, he would think, “I am clear of their blood. I did plead with them; I did exhort them to escape; and if they would not, why, they would not, and the sin lies at their own door.” It will be some comfort to the Christian, if the worst should come to the worst, that he has warned the ungodly. Let us tell them of their danger, and never cease to warn until they cease to sin. Having so done, it is the duty of every Christian to tell his friend the remedy. Plain speaking about Christ is the ordinary means of bringing sinners to repentance. Those ministers are most useful in soul-seeking who put the doctrine of simple faith in the atonement in the clearest light. Let not thy friend perish through ignorance. Tell him that whosoever cometh unto Christ he will in no wise cast out; that there is life in a look at the crucified Savior; that whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. Preach no salvation by works; but preach faith, and works only as the fruit of faith; and let the doctrine that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, he clearly set before thy friend’s face.
From a sermon entitled "A Solemn Inquiry Concerning Our Families," delivered November 20, 1864. Image by jsorbieus under Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Let me commend to the Christian, liberality in all his actions, and benevolence in all his thoughts. This may sound commonplace; but I am persuaded that the little tricks in trade, those little savings of the pence, those sharp dealings, are just the things which bring religion into disrepute. It were infinitely better that the Christian should pay too much than too little. He had better be blamed for an excess of generosity, than take credit to himself for a rigid parsimony. Rather let him become now and then the dupe of an imposter, than shut up the bowels of his compassion against his fellowman. I would seek, Christian man, to win a noble character. I cannot see how thou canst do so, except thou shouldst put generosity into the scale, and enroll it in the list of thy virtues.
From a sermon entitled "The Centurion: Of An Exhortation To The Virtuous. Image by Randi Hausken under Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Newton was a blasphemer of so gross a kind, that even the sailors in the vessel in a storm said that they should never get to port with such a sinner as John Newton on board; but he came to Christ and was not cast out, but lived to preach the Word. John Bunyan was so foul a blasphemer, that even a woman of the street, who passed him by and heard him swear, said that he was enough to corrupt the whole parish; and he was astonished that a woman of so bad a character should so rebuke him. John Bunyan came to Jesus, and he was not cast out; he lived to have the honor of suffering for his Master, and to be the winner of multitudes of souls. Saul of Tarsus had stained himself with the blood of saints; he was a very wolf after Christ’s sheep. He was not satisfied with worrying them in his own land, so he obtained power to persecute them in Damascus; but when he fell upon his face and cried for mercy he was not cast out. Manasseh was blood-red with the murder of God’s prophets. It is said that he cut the prophet Isaiah in two with a saw; and yet, when out of the low dungeon he cried for mercy, he was not cast out. So that any kind of him, though he may have been a persecutor even unto blood, though he may have been exceeding mad against God till he could not speak without blasphemies against the name of Christ, though he hated everything which is good, and despised everything held precious by believing men and women, yet if he comes to Christ, he shall not be cast out.
Every man, woman, and child in this Tabernacle this morning, is included in such a word as this, if he comes to Christ. That is the point: if ye come to Christ, no matter what your past character may have been, nor yet what your present feelings may be “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” I thank God for so generous a liberality as that.
From a sermon entitled "The Certainty And Freeness Of Divine Grace," delivered November 13, 1864. Image by Randi Hausken under Creative Commons License.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, "What be these?" And he answered me, "These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem." And the Lord shewed me four carpenters. Then said I, "What come these to do?" And he spake, saying, "These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.”-Zechariah 1:18-21.
If the seer of the vision asked for an interpretation, much more may you and I. He was not idly curious, but reverently teachable: let us imitate his holy diligence in desiring to learn. Be it remembered, that God’s Word is never out of date. It is not like an almanack which is useful this year, but which will be mere waste paper the next, but it always stands good; and the promises of God, when once fulfilled, are still valid for another fulfillment; unlike a cheque, which being once paid, ceases to be of any force, the promises of God have a perpetual value in them; and if we can lay hold upon them by faith, having once drawn upon the great bank of divine mercy, we may go again with the self-same word, and get as much from the liberal hand of God as we did aforetime. Let us come then with reverent attention to this passage, hoping that God will instruct us in its meaning, and help us to grasp its promises, and win a new fulfillment.
From a sermon entitled "Two Visions," delivered November 6, 1864. Image by Giovanni Neri under Creative Commons License.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I caught a good sentence the other day. Speaking with a Wesleyan minister, I said to him, “Your denomination during the past year did not increase: you have usually had a large increase to your numbers. You were never so rich as now; your ministers were never so well educated; you never had such good chapels as now, and yet you never had so little success. What are you doing? — knowing this to be the fact, what are you doing? How are the minds of your brethren exercised with regard to this?” He comforted me much by the reply. He said, “It has driven us to our knees: we thank God that we know our state and are not content with it. We have had a day of humiliation, and I hope,” he said, “some of us have gone low enough to be blessed.”
There is a great truth in that last sentence, “low enough to be blessed.” I do fear me that some of us never do go low enough to be blessed. When a man says, “Oh! yes, we are getting on very well, we do not want any revival that I know of,” I fear me he is not low enough to be blessed; and when you and I pray to God with pride in us, with self-exaltation, with a confidence in our own zeal, or even in the prevalence of our own prayers of themselves, we have not come low enough to be blessed. An humble Church will be a blessed Church; a Church that is willing to confess its own errors and failures, and to lie at the foot of Christ’s cross, is in a position to be favored of the Lord. I hope we are agreed, then, with God, as to our utter unworthiness and helplessness, so that we look to him alone.
From a sermon entitled "Preparation For Revival," delivered October 30, 1864. Image by Mathias Erhart under Creative Commons License.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." -1 John 5:13-15.
Let me commend the habit of expecting an answer to prayer, and looking for it, for many reasons.... By this means, you put an honor upon God’s ordinance of prayer. He who prays without expecting to receive a return, mocks at the mercy-seat of God. That mercy-seat was made of gold, of pure gold, as if to show its preciousness to all true believers; and you do, by not expecting to receive anything of God, in effect despise the throne of grace. For, let me ask you, of what use the mercy-seat can be if God has said, “Seek ye my face” in vain? If no answers do come to supplication, then supplication is a vain waste of time. You play with prayer when you do not expect an answer. You are not treating it in an earnest, solemn, and devout manner. You are trifling with it. Little children get their bows and shoot their arrows, they care not where, up into the air, to the east, or to the west, it is nothing to them; but men in sober fight take their aim and watch their arrows. You are but playing with God’s ordinances of prayer, if when you pray you are careless about results.
The truly prayerful man is resolved in his own soul that he must have the answer. He feels his need of it; he sees God’s promise; his heart is stirred to earnestness, and he cannot be satisfied to go away without some token for good. You would not treat the mercy-seat as though it were a place for boys to play at; you would honor it, would you not? You would not be among those of whom the prophet said, “Ye have snuffed at it,” and said, “What a weariness it is;” no, but you would make the place where God meets with his people glorious. You would put your shoes from off your feet because it is holy ground; but you cannot do this except you believe that prayer has power in it, and know that you have the petitions which you ask of him.
From a sermon entitled "Praying and Waiting," delivered October 23, 1864. Image by Flemming Christiansen under Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
We do not expect to see the world lifted up to become more and more absorbed into the Church, The union of the world with the Church was never the object of our religion. The object of Christ is to gather to himself a people from among men; it is not the lifting up of all, but the calling out of the some, the making of men to differ, the manifestation of his special and discriminating grace, the gathering together of a people whom he has formed for himself. In this process morality is promoted, men are civilised and improved, but this is only indirectly God’s object, and not his immediate end; the immediate end of the gospel being the salvation of the people whom he has ordained unto eternal life, and who, therefore, in due season arc led to believe in him. The world, to the end of the chapter, will be as much at enmity with true believers as ever it was. Because “ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you,” this will be as true when Christ shall come as at the present moment. Let us expect it; and when we meet with scorn and persecution, let us not be surprised as though some strange thing had happened unto us.
From a sermon entitled "Barabbas Preferred to Jesus," delivered October 16, 1864. Image by helmet13 under Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Remember, you have no evidence of election except you are holy, and that you have no right to expect you will be saved at the last unless you are saved now. A present faith in a present Savior is the test. O that my Master would bring some of you to trust him tonight. The plan of salvation is simple. Trust Christ, and you are saved; rely upon him and you shall live. This faith is the gift of God, but remember that though God gives it, he works in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure. God does not believe for you; the Holy Spirit does not believe for you; you must believe, or else you will be lost: and it is quite consistent with the fact that it is the gift of God, to say that it is also the act of man. You must, poor soul, be led to trust the Savior, or into heaven you can never enter. Is there one here who saith, “I would find the Savior tonight?” Go not to thy bed until thou hast sought him, and seek thou him with sighs and with tears.
Methinks this is a night of grace. I have preached the law and the terrors of the Lord to you, but it will be a night of grace to the souls of some of you. My Master doth but kill you that he may make you alive; he does but wound you that he may make you whole. I feel a sort of inward whisper in my heart that there are some of you who even now have begun your flight from the wrath to come. Whither do ye flee? Fly to Jesus. Haste, sinner, haste. I trust you will find him before you retire to your beds, or if you lie tossing there in doubt and fear, then may he manifest himself unto you before the morning light. Methinks I would freely give my eyes if you might but see Christ, and that I would willingly give my hands if you might but lay hold on him. Do, I conjure you, put not from you this warning, but let it have its proper work upon you and lead you to repentance. May God save you, and may the prayer we have already offered this evening be answered, that the company of you may be found among his elect at his right-hand. To that end let us pray.
Our Father, save us with thy great salvation. We will say unto God, do not condemn us; deliver us from going down to the pit, for thou hast found the ransom; may we not be among the company that shall taste of death when the Son of Man shall come. Hear us, Jesus, through thy blood. God be merciful to us sinners. Amen.
From a sermon entitled "An Awful Premonition." Image by James Jordan under Creative Commons License.
Monday, January 5, 2009
The warfare in the Christian mind is not a thing of imagination, it is most true and real. If you want proof of it you must pass through it. Did you ever kneel down in an agony of spirit, resisting some furious temptation from within? Some of us know what it is to feel the cold sweat running down our brows when we have to fight against ourselves in fearful struggles against black thoughts of unbelief; perhaps it may be that the base heart within has even doubted the existence of a God, and dared to prompt us to defy the deity; and we have loathed that thought, and hated it so much that our whole spirit was put to the utmost stretch of tension in order to win a victory over ourselves.
You must, if you are at all subject to strong emotions, have felt that this struggle was a terrible fact; to you there could be no doubt about it, for your whole soul felt it - your heart was like a field which is torn up and soaked with blood by the fury of battle. There is a frightful reality in this conflict, when we remember how some Christians fall during it, and sin gets the mastery. Recollect, sin may win a battle, though it cannot win the campaign.
From a sermon entitled "Inward Conflicts," delivered October 9, 1864.