Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nearer than ever to home!

You have been nearly shipwrecked, but you are not wrecked. The storm has been very furious, but above all the billows Jehovah’s power has kept and preserved you. Your feet had almost gone, your steps had well nigh slipped, but the divine power interposed in everlasting grace, and to this day - a wonder unto many, but especially a wonder to yourself - you are still on the road towards the celestial city, and you are nearer to it than when you first believed.

From a sermon entitled "Timely Reflections," delivered December 27, 1868. Image by Craig ONeal under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Praying always

You need not be afraid that there is anything in any lawful calling that need make you desist from vital prayer; but, oh! if your calling is such that you cannot pray in it;, you had better leave it. If it be a sinful calling, an unholy calling, of course, you cannot present that to God, but any of the ordinary avocations of life are such that if you cannot sanctify them, it is a want of sanctity in yourself, and the fault lies with you.

Men ought always to pray. It means that when they are using the lapstone, or the chisel, when the hands are on the plough handles, or on the spade, when they are measuring out the goods, when they are dealing in stocks, whatever they are doing, they are to turn all these things into a part of the sacred pursuit of God’s glory. Their common garments are to be vestments, their meals are to be sacraments, their ordinary actions are to be sacrifices, and they themselves a royal priesthood, a peculiar people zealous for good works.

From a sermon entitled "The Importunate Widow," delivered February 21, 1869. Image by Jasen Miller under Creative Commons License.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wasting our strength

While this world remains so wicked as it is, we need not be spending our strength as Christian denominations in attacking one another: it will be better for us to go and fight with the Canaanites than with rival tribes which should be one united Israel. I should reckon it to be a burning disgrace if it could be said, “The large church under that man’s pastoral care is composed of members whom he has stolen away from other Christian churches.” No, but I value beyond all price the godless, the careless, who are brought out from the world into communion with Christ. These are true prizes, not stealthily removed from friendly shores, but captured at the edge of the sword from an enemy’s dominions.

We welcome brethren from other churches if in the providence of God they are drifted to our shores, but we would never hang out the wrecker’s beacon to dash other churches in pieces in order to enrich ourselves with the wreck. Far rather would we be looking after perishing souls than cajoling unstable ones from their present place of worship. To recruit one regiment from another is no real strengthening of the army; to bring in fresh men should be the aim of all.

From a sermon entitled "Every-Day Usefulness," delivered February 14, 1869. Image by Donald Macleod under Creative Commons License.

Friday, February 19, 2010

We need His fire!

...the fire in the preacher sent of God is not that of mere excitement, nor that alone of an intelligent judgment acting upon the passions; but there is also a mysterious influence resting on God’s servants which is irresistible. The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven anoints all true evangelists, and is the true power and fire. The more we believe in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, the more likely shall we be to see the gospel triumphant in our ministry.

Brethren, there is nothing in the gospel, apart from the Spirit of God, which can win upon man, for man hates the gospel with all his heart. Though the reasonableness of the gospel of Jesus ought to make the belief of it universal, yet its plain dealing with human sin excites deadly antagonism; and, therefore, the gospel itself would make no progress were it not for the divine power. There is an arm invisible which pushes forward the conquests of the truth, there is a fire unfed of human fuel, which burns a way for the truth of Jesus Christ into the hearts of men.

From a sermon entitled "Fire - The Want Of The Times," delivered February 7, 1869. Image by Arturo Donate under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do not be swallowed up by your mourning

Let none of us give way to an irritable, complaining, mournful temperament. It is the giving way which is the master-mischief; for it is only as we resist this devil that it will flee from us. Let not your heart be troubled. If the troubles outside the soul toss your vessel and drive her to and fro, yet, at least, let us strain every nerve to keep the seas outside the bark, lest she sink altogether. Cry with David, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?”

Never mourn unreasonably. Question yourself about the causes of your tears; reason about the matter till you come to the same conclusion as the psalmist, “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him.” Depend upon it, if thou canst believe in God, thou hast, even in thy soul’s midnight, ten times more cause to rejoice than to sorrow. If thou canst humbly lie at Jesus’ feet, there are more flowers than thorns ready to spring up in thy pathway; joys lie in ambush for thee; thou shalt be compassed about with songs of deliverance. Therefore, companions in tribulation, give not way to hopeless sorrow; write no bitter things against yourselves; salute with thankfulness the angel of hope, and say no more, “My soul refused to be comforted.”

From a sermon entitled "A Sermon For The Most Miserable Of Men," delivered January 31, 1869. Image by Romtomtom under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You will complete your journey!

Earnest Christians in toiling towards heaven often grow faint, and in year after year of the pursuit of righteousness, human nature becomes weary of the daily watching unto prayer; but the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen his saints for the pilgrimage, lest they faint or turn aside. The Lord will renew the strength of those who wait on him, so that they shall hold on their way.

Poor traveler to Mount Zion, the devil tells you that you will soon turn back unto perdition, but be of good courage, mighty is he that is in you; his grace is sufficient for you. The divine life within you will not stay its sacred impulse for the holy and the heavenly till it has brought you up from the wilderness and lodged you within the palace gate of Jehovah.

From a sermon entitled "Constancy and Inconstancy - A Contrast," delivered January 24, 1869. Image by Vince Alongi under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

First, the Cross

Christ’s second coming was never intended to take the place of Christ’s crucifixion, and yet there have been some, I fear, who, in their zeal for the very great and important truth of the coming glory, have suffered the blazing light of the second advent to obscure the milder radiance, and the more healing beams of the first advent, with its bloody sweat, its scourge, and thorn-crown, and ransom price for sinners lost.

Let it be never forgotten, that while we bless Immanuel, God with us, for his incarnation, and we joyfully perceive that even our Lord’s birth in human flesh brought man near to God; while we thank and praise the Man of Sorrows for his divine example, and we see that this is a blessed help to us practically to advance towards our heavenly Father; while we praise and magnify the Lord Jesus for his resurrection and his ascension, and discern in each glorious step fresh rounds of the ladder which leads from earth to heaven; yet still, for all that, we are not made nigh to God by the incarnation; we are not in very deed made nigh to God by the resurrection, nor by the second advent, but we are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

The first, the grandest, the highest, the most essential truth for us to lay hold of and to preach, is the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sakes according to the Scriptures, and that this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and for sinners gave himself up to die, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. God is glorified because Christ was punished for the sin of his people. Love hath its full, but law has its due. On the cross we see sin fully punished and yet fully pardoned. We see justice with her gleaming sword triumphant, and mercy with her silver scepter regnant in sublimest splendor. Glory be to the wondrous wisdom which discovered the way of blending vengeance with love, making a tender heart to be the mirror of unflinching severity, causing the crystal vase of Jesus’ loving nature to be filled with the red wine of righteous wrath.

From a sermon entitled "Nearness To God," delivered January 17, 1869. Image by Vince Alongi under Creative Commons License.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to carve a permanent memorial

I think it was Michelangelo who once carved certain magnificent statues in snow. They are gone; the material readily compacted by the frost as readily melted in the heat. Far wiser was he when he fashioned the enduring marble, and produced works which will last all down the ages. But even marble itself is consumed and fretted by the tooth of time; and he is wise who selects for his raw material immortal souls, whose existence shall outlast the stars.

If God shall bless us to the winning of souls, our work shall remain when the wood, and hay, and stubble of earth’s art and science shall have gone to the dust from which they sprang. In heaven itself, the soul-winner, blessed of God, shall have memorials of his work preserved for ever in the galleries of the skies. He has selected a wise object, for what can be wiser than to glorify God, and what, next to that, can be wiser than in the highest sense to bless our fellow men; to snatch a soul from the gulf that yawns, to lift it up to the heaven that glorifies; to deliver an immortal from the thraldom of Satan, and to bring him into the liberty of Christ?

From a sermon entitled "Soul Winning." Image by Wouter under Creative Commons License.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great falls are gradual

Rest assured, beloved, great falls and terrible mischief never come to a Christian man at once, they are a work of slow degrees; and be assured, too, that you may glide down the smooth waters of the river and never dream of the Niagara beyond, and yet you may be speeding towards it. An awful crash may yet come to the highest professor among us, that shall make the world to ring with blasphemy against God, and the church to resound with bitter lamentations because the mighty have fallen.

God will keep his own, but how if I should turn out not to be his own? He will keep the feet of his saints, but what if I leave off to watch, and my feet should not be kept, and I should turn out to be no saint of his, but a mere intruder into his family, and a pretender to have what I never had! O God, through Christ Jesus, deliver each of us from this.

From a sermon entitled "Unsound Spiritual Trading," delivered January 10, 1869. Image by Wouter under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Savior, not merely an Example

On Calvary was it seen that the Son of Man saved others, though, through blessed incapacity of love, “himself he could not save.” When he was made to feel the wrath of God on account of sin, and pangs unknown were suffered by him as our substitute, when he was made to pass through the thick darkness and burning heat of divine wrath, then was he, according to Scripture, “the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.”

Yes, it is on the tree that Christ is peculiarly a Savior. If he were nothing better than our exemplar [example], alas for us! We might be grateful for the example if we could imitate it, but without the pardon which spares us, and the grace which gives us power for holiness, the brightest example were a tantalising of our grief. To be shown what we ought to be, without having any method set before us by which we could attain to it, were to mock our misery. But Jesus first draws us up out of the horrible pit into which we were fallen, takes us out of the miry clay, by the efficacy of his stoning sacrifice, and then, having set our feet upon a rock by virtue of his merits, he himself leads the way onward to perfection, and so is a Savior both in life and in death.

From a sermon entitled "Jesus Christ Immutable," delivered January 3, 1869. Image by Yuval Haimovits under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fear will magnify your trouble

I remember well, one night, having been preaching the word in a country village, I was walking home alone along a lonely footpath. I do not know what it was that ailed me, but I was prepared to be alarmed, when of a surety I saw something standing in the hedge, ghastly, giant-like, and with outstretched arms. Surely, I thought, for once I have come across the supernatural; here is some restless spirit performing its midnight march beneath the moon, or some demon of the pit. I deliberated with myself a moment, and having no faith in ghosts, I plucked up courage, and resolved to solve the mystery. The monster stood on the other side of a ditch, right in the hedge. I jumped the ditch, and found myself grasping an old tree, which some waggish body had taken pains to color with a little whitewash, with a view to frighten simpletons. That old tree has served me a good turn full often, for I have learned to leap at difficulties, and find them vanish or turn to triumphs.

Half our afflictions are only appalling in prospect because we do not know what they are; and if we will but in faith patiently await them, they will be but light and transient. Thus, by chasing away the gloom of our dark imagination, God often makes darkness light before us. Much, again, of the darkness which does really exist is exaggerated. There is some cause for alarm, but not one half the cause which your fancy pictures. “All these things are against me,” says Jacob: “Joseph is not, Simeon is not; and now ye will take Benjamin away.” There was something in this complaint. Joseph was not with his father, Simeon was kept in ward; but the old man had pictured Joseph devoured of an evil beast, and Simeon given up to be a perpetual slave in a foreign land.

His fears had magnified the trouble which existed. And, believer, so probably it is with you. You shall find that the load which seems now to be far too ponderous for you to lift, shall be easily carried on the shoulders which divine grace shall strengthen if you have but confidence enough to venture upon the task. That cross is not made of iron, it is only a wooden one; it may be painted with iron colors, but iron it is not; it has been carried, ay, and a weightier one by far, has been carried by other men aforetime - shoulder it like a man, shoulder it like a man of God. Take up your cross daily, and go forward with your Master, and you shall find that mountains shrink to molehills, giants are seen to be but dwarfs, dragons and griffins are but bats and owls, and the leviathan himself a defeated foe.

From a sermon entitled "Joyful Transformations," delivered December 27, 1868. Image by Thomas & Dianne Jones under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Glorious Names

O beloved, what glorious names our Lord deservedly wears! Whichever of his names you choose to dwell upon for a moment, what a mine of wealth and meaning it opens up to you! Here is this name, “El Shaddai;” “El,” that is, “the strong one,” for infinite power dwells in Jehovah. How readily may we who are weak become mighty if we draw upon him! And then, “Shaddai,” that is to say, “the unchangeable, the invincible.” What a God we have then, who knows no variableness, neither shadow of turning, against whom none can stand! “El,” strong; “Shaddai,” unchangeable in his strength; always therefore strong in every time of need, ready to defend his people, and able to preserve them from all their foes.

Come, Christian, with such a God as this why needest thou abase thyself to win the good word of the wicked man? Why gaddest thou abroad to find earthly pleasures where the roses are always mixed with thorns? Why needest thou to put thy confidence in gold and silver, or in the strength of thy body, or in aught that is beneath the moon? Thou hast El Shaddai to be thine.

From a sermon entitled "Consecration to God - Illustrated By Abram's Circumcision," delivered December 13, 1868. Image by Tony under Creative Commons License.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The real faith

The faith which justifies the soul concerns itself about Christ and not concerning mere abstract truths. If your faith simply believeth this dogma and that, it saveth you not; but when your faith believes that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; when your faith turns to God in human flesh and rests in him with its entire confidence, then it justifies you, for it is the faith of Abram.

Dear hearer, have you such a faith as this? Is it faith in the promise of God? Is it faith that deals with Christ and looks alone to him?

From a sermon entitled "Justification By Faith - Illustrated By Abram's Righteousness," delivered December 6, 1868. Image by Melissa Wiese under Creative Commons License.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Called and separated

For Christ’s sake the Christian man is henceforth obliged to be separated in many respects from such of his family and kindred as remain in their sins. They are living according to the flesh, they are seeking this world; their pleasure is here, their comfort below the skies. The man who is called by grace lives in the same house, but lives not under the influence of the same motives, nor is he ruled by the same desires. He is so different from others that very soon they find him out; and, as Ishmael mocked Isaac, so the sons of the world mock at the children of the resurrection. The call of grace, the more it is heard the more it completes the separation.

At first, with some believers, they only go part of the way in nonconformity to the world; they are only partly conformed to Jesus Christ’s image, and partly led out of worldly influences. Indeed, this is the case with most of us; but as we ripen in the things of God, our decision for God becomes more complete, our obedience to the law of Christ becomes more perfect, and there is a greater division set between us and the world. Oh! I wish that all Christians would believe this great truth, and carry it out, that “ye are not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world.” To try to be a worldly Christian or a Christian worldling, is to attempt an impossible thing.

From a sermon entitled "Effectual Calling Illustrated By The Call Of Abram," delivered November 29, 1868. Image by James Jordan under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When we shall be as the angels

As we shall resemble the angels in beauty, so no doubt we shall also equal them in strength: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels that excel in strength.” Thus saith the apostle, “It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” What kind of power that will be we may guess. There will be an enlarged mental capacity, a far more extensive spiritual range. So far as the new body is concerned, there will be an amount of power in it of which we have no conception. What we shall be, beloved, in the matter of strength, we cannot tell, but this we know, that we shall not need so constantly to stretch our weary frames upon the bed of rest, and to lie half our time in unconsciousness, for we shall serve him day and night in his temple; and this indicates a degree of unweariedness and physical endurance to which we are total strangers now. We shall in this also be as the angels of God.

Just then for a minute let your thoughts foresee that blessed personality which shall be yours when this present age is past. You suffer today, you are today despised and rejected; but as from yonder creeping caterpillar, or from this dried up chrysalis, there will arise a lovely creature with wings coloured like the rainbow, so from your poor groaning humanity there shall come forth a fair and lovely being; while your spirit also shall cast off the slough of its natural depravity, be rid of all the foulness and damage of its sojourn here below, and your whole man shall be restored a goodly fabric - a temple glorious to look upon, in which God shall dwell with you, and in which you shall dwell with God.

From a sermon entitled "The Angelic Life," delivered November 22, 1868. Image by John Talbot under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our privilege and our duty

If there be any here who have received the grace of God, it will be natural for them to induce others to listen to the word of life, that so they also may find salvation in our exalted Savior. Thus it is that more and more the kingdom grows, until the strongholds of sin are overthrown and the gates of hell are shaken. The little cloud no bigger than a man’s hand increases till it darkens all the skies, and at last deluges the earth with blessing. Let us take care that we prove not an exception to this blessed rule, never let us by unholy silence rob our Master of one of his best weapons, and the church of her greatest joy. You who are healed should publish abroad in every place the fame of the Friend of Sinners, it is your privilege and your duty.

From a sermon entitled "Crowding To Touch The Savior," delivered November 13, 1868. Image by Jayanta Debnath under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Admonition to Parents

Parental care can alone preserve household piety, and if that be gone, the pillars of the nation are removed. It is an ill day for any church when family piety is on the decline. Household religion has been the great defense of England against Popery. Do not tell me of your state paid clergy and their lofty prelates - give me family prayer, and the Pope may curse away as long as he likes. Give us the open catechism, and the children made to understand it; give us the Bible read from day to day, and godly parents inculcating gospel truths upon their little ones’ minds, and we may laugh to scorn all the powers of Pope or devil.

But once let the family altar be forsaken, and let parents forget the natural duty of ordering their households before the Lord, and you may guard the church as you will, your labor will be vain; you have cast down her hedges, the bear out of the wood shall waste her; you have taken away the tower of the flock, and when the wolf cometh he will find the sheep an easy prey. Christian parents, though I cannot address you this morning as I would, yet with all my heart would I say to you, do not sin against the child by your ill example or by your negligence as to his salvation, but seek of the Holy Spirit that to your own offspring you may fully discharge the solemn duties which providence and grace have thrown upon you.

From a sermon entitled "Do Not Sin Against The Child," delivered November 8, 1868. Image by Chris under Creative Commons License.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Christ our Teacher

It is nothing, my brethren, to the faithful servant of Jesus Christ that a certain dogma comes down to him with the grey antiquity of the ages to make it venerable. Like a sensible man, the Christian respects antiquity, but like a loyal subject of his King, he does not so bow before antiquity as to let it become ruler in Zion instead of the living Christ. A multitude of good men may meet together, and they may, in their judgment, propound a dogma, and assert it to be essential and undoubted, and they may even threaten perils most abundant to those who receive not their verdict; but if the dogma was not authorized long before they decided it - if it was not written in the Book, the decision of the learned council amounts to nothing.

All the fathers, and doctors, and divines, and confessors, put together, cannot add a word to the faith once delivered unto the saints: yea, I venture to say, that the unanimous assent of all the saints in heaven and earth would not suffice to make a single doctrine binding upon conscience unless Jesus had so determined. In vain do men say, “So did the early church” - the early church has no supremacy over us. It is to no purpose to quote Origen or Augustine: quote the inspired apostles and the doctrine is established, but not otherwise. In the church of God it is never sufficient to say, “So thinks Martin Luther.” Who was Martin Luther? A servant of Jesus Christ, and nothing more. It is not sufficient to say, “So teacheth John Calvin,” for who is John Calvin? Hath he shed his blood for you, or is he your master? His opinion is to be respected as the opinion of your fellow servant, but in no respect as a doctor or authoritative teacher in the church - for Christ alone is Rabbi, and we are to call no man Master upon earth.

From a sermon entitled "The Head of the Church," delivered November 1, 1868. Image by Martina Rathgens under Creative Commons License.