Monday, November 30, 2009

In praise of grace

“And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” — Luke 7:37-38.

Grace, my brethren, deserves our praise, since it does so much for its object. Grace does not choose a man and leave him as he is. My brethren and sisters, men rail at grace sometimes as though it were opposed to morality, whereas it is the great source and cause of all complete morality — indeed, there is no real holiness in the sight of God except that which grace creates, and which grace sustains. This woman, apart from grace, had remained black and defiled still to her dying day, but the grace of God wrought a wondrous transformation, removing the impudence of her face, the flattery from her lips, the finery from her dress, and the lust from her heart. Eyes which were full of adultery, were now founts of repentance; lips which were doors of lascivious speech, now yield holy kisses — the profligate was a penitent, the castaway a new creature. All the actions which are attributed to this woman illustrate the transforming power of divine grace.

From a sermon entitled "The Woman Which Was A Sinner," delivered March 22, 1868. Image by Nolene Dowdall under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends! We'll resume publishing on Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The infinite and atoning God

My brethren, when in the stillness of the starry night we look up to the orbs of heaven, and remember the marvelous truths which astronomy has revealed to us, of the magnificence, the inconceivable majesty of creation, if we then reflect that the infinite God who made all these became man for us, and that as man he was fastened to the transverse wood, and bled to death for us, why it will appear to us that if all the stars were crowded with inhabitants, and all those inhabitants had everyone been rebellious against God, and had steeped themselves up to the very throat in scarlet crimes, there must be efficacy enough in the blood of such a one as God himself incarnate to take all their sins away.... If thou believest in him it is done, for to trust him is to be clean.

From a sermon entitled "The Centurion's Faith And Humility," delivered March 15, 1868. Image by Jeff under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Declare His Name

How many times this week have you praised the dear Redeemer to your friends? Have you done it once? I do it often officially; but I wish I did it more often, spontaneously and personally, to those with whom I may commune by the way. You have doubtless murmured this week, or spoken against your neighbors, or spread abroad some small amount of scandal, or, it may be, you have talked frothily and with levity. It is even possible that impurity has been in your speech; even a Christian’s language is not always so pure as it should be.

Oh, if we saved our breath to praise God with, how much wiser! If our mouth were filled with the Lord’s praise and with his honor all the day, how much holier! If we would but speak of what Jesus has done for us, what good we might accomplish! Why, every man speaks of what he loves! Men can hardly hold their tongues about their inventions and their delights. Speak well, O ye faithful, of the Lord’s name. I pray you, be not dumb concerning one who deserves so well of you; but make this the resolve of this Sabbath morning, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.”

From a sermon entitled "Jesus, The Example Of Holy Praise," delivered March 8, 1868. Image by Paul Tomlin under Creative Commons License.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On the mountain of prayer

One night alone in prayer might make us new men, changed from poverty of soul to spiritual wealth, from trembling to triumphing. We have an example of it in the life of Jacob. Aforetime the crafty shuffler, always bargaining and calculating, unlovely in almost every respect, yet one night in prayer turned the supplanter into a prevailing prince, and robed him with celestial grandeur. From that night he lives on the sacred page as one of the nobility of heaven. Could not we, at least now and then, in these weary earthbound years, hedge about a single night for such enriching traffic with the skies? What, have we no sacred ambition? Are we deaf to the yearnings of divine love? Yet, my brethren, for wealth and for science men will cheerfully quit their warm couches, and cannot we do it now and then for the love of God and time good of souls? Where is our zeal, our gratitude, our sincerity? I am ashamed while I thus upbraid both myself and you....

Christ had said to his disciples, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” What he told them to do he would be sure to do himself. He was just about to choose twelve apostles, and before that solemn act of ordination was performed, he sought power for them from the Most High. Who can tell what blessings were vouchsafed to the twelve, in answer to that midnight intercession? If Satan fell like lightning from heaven, Jesus’ prayer did it, rather than the apostles’ preaching.

So, Christian man, if you enter upon a new enterprise, or engage in something that is weightier and more extensive than what you have done before, select a night or a day, and set it apart for special communion with the Most High. If you are to pray, you must work, but if you are to work, you must also pray. If your prayer without your work will be hypocrisy, your work without your prayer will be presumption; so see to it that you are specially in supplication when specially in service.

From a sermon entitled "Special Protracted Prayer," delivered March 1, 1868. Image by Rietje Swart under Creative Commons License.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wood, hay and stubble

When the church of God is extending her bounds rapidly, it is of the utmost importance that the growth should be real and permanent. If the walls of Zion are being builded quickly, the master builders should keep an anxious eye upon the workmanship, lest the stones should be put together with untempered mortar, and therefore the whole erection should by-and-by come to the ground. We desire not to grow up in a night as the gourd, lest we also perish in a night.

Our Lord Jesus, who is the great Shepherd of the sheep, sends to his churches at times when they are most prospering sad reminders of human frailty, by which he warns them to “take heed that they be not deceived; but see to it that they make sure work, and build substantially, with gold, silver, and precious stones, and not with wood, and hay, and stubble.” It is a very doleful season for the church of God when everything is asleep, but there are dangers connected even with activity. When a man is under the intense excitement of earnest endeavor for Christ, it is possible that much within him may be spurious, a mere fungus growth forced out by heat; and hence it is deeply necessary, as Jude says, to write unto the saints and to speak unto believers concerning this thing, that they be sound, true, real, sincere, and approved in the sight of God.

Jude tells us in the text, and indeed in his whole epistle, that many who make a high profession, are not what they profess to be, and that in the church of God in her best estate, many are clouds without rain, trees without fruit, and wandering stars reserved for eternal darkness.

From a sermon entitled "Spots in our Feast of Charity," delivered February 23, 1868. Image by Iain Buchanan under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

To obey Christ

Joshua was especially exhorted to continue in the path of obedience. He was the captain, but there was a great Commander-in-chief who gave him his marching orders. Joshua was not left to his own fallible judgment, or fickle fancy, but he was to do according to all that was written in the book of the law.

So is it with us who are believers. We are not under the law, but under grace; yet still there is a gospel rule which we are bound to follow, and the law in the hand of Christ is a delightful rule of life to the believer. We are not to follow, in the service of God, our own fancies. We are not allowed to frame regulations according to our own conceptions, but our direction is, “whatsoever HE saith unto you, do it.” His servants shall serve him, his sheep follow his footsteps, his disciples obey their Lord, his soldiers fulfill his pleasure: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If we are not obedient unto Christ, we may rest assured that we have not the spirit of Christ, and are none of his.

From a sermon entitled "Joshua's Obedience." Image by Nic McPhee under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have we been faithful?

Dear friends, let us pause and ask ourselves, as believers, whether we have been in all respects conscientiously attentive to our Master’s commands? If not, we may not expect Him to send a blessing to the church or to the world through us, until first of all we have yielded our willing obedience to that which He has prescribed for us. Are any of you living in the neglect of a known part of the divine will? Or are you undesirous of knowing some portions of God’s will, and therefore willfully blind to them? My dear brother, you are cutting the Achilles’ tendon of your strength. You can never overthrow your enemies like Samson while your locks are thus shorn. You cannot expect that God should send you forth to conquer and to bring to Him renown, when you have not as yet conquered your own personal indolence and disobedience. He that is unfaithful in that which is least will be unfaithful in that which is greater; and if you have not kept the Master’s saying in the little vineyard of your personal history, how much less shall you be able to do it if He should entrust you with a greater field of service!

From a sermon entitled "Joshua's Vision," delivered February 16, 1868. Image by ((brian)) under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He makes them His friends

Those who are of a meek and lamb-like spirit are precisely such as become lovers of the gentle Prophet of Nazareth. Like attracts its like. He is meek and lowly in heart, and therefore those who are like him come to him. The power of his gospel, wherever it is exerted, produces men of such character. Those who came to Christ, when he was upon earth, may have been boisterous enough in their natural dispositions, but after they had received the baptism of his Spirit, they were an inoffensive race. They proclaimed the gospel with boldness, and for their Master they were very valiant, but they rose not in arms against Caesar; they headed no seditions; they were no competitors in the race for power; they shed not blood even to win their liberties; they were examples of suffering affliction and of patience; they were ready to live or to die for the truth, but that truth was love to God and man.

Self pride, greed, wrath, as works of the old nature, they sought to mortify, and it was their daily desire to do good unto all men as they had opportunity. Jesus will always gather such lambs. The world hates them and scatters them, the world ridicules and despises them, but Jesus makes them his bosom friends. The world of old hounded them to death, made them pine in the damps of the catacombs of Rome, or perish among the snows of the Alps, but their glorified Lord gathered them by tens of thousands from the prison, the amphitheater, the stake, the bloody scaffold, and in his blessed bosom they rest in congenial company, forever as the Lord’s lambs are they glorified with the Lamb of God.

From a sermon entitled "Jesus And The Lambs," delivered February 9, 1868. Image by rachel_thecat under Creative Commons License.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Away from Jesus, away from joy

The most healthy state for a Christian is that of unbroken and intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. From such a state of heart he should never decline. “Abide in me, and I in you,” is the loving precept of our ever loving Lord. But, alas! my brethren, as in this world our bodies are subject to many sicknesses, so our souls also, by reason of the body of this death with which we are encompassed, are often sorely afflicted with sin, sickness, and an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the Lord. We are not what we might be, we are not what we should be, we are not what we shall be, we are not what we wish to be.

I fear that many of us are not walking in the light of God’s countenance, are not resting with our heads upon the Savior’s bosom, nor sitting with Mary at the Master’s feet; we dwell in Kedar rather than Zion, and sojourn in Mesech rather than Jerusalem. Spiritual sickness is very common in the church of God, and the root of the mischief lies in distance from Jesus, following Christ afar off, and yielding to a drowsy temperament. Away from Jesus, away from joy. Without the sun the flowers pine; without Jesus our hearts faint.

From a sermon entitled "Nearer and Dearer," delivered February 2, 1868. Image by Brian Leon under Creative Commons License.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Those who have loved much

If we have been delivered from great sin or from great despair, should we not say in our souls, “Now, from this day I will be the constant student of Jesus Christ’s teaching. The gospel has done so much for me, that I will seek to know all of it that can be known this side the grave. I will pry into its mysteries, press into its spiritualities, and learn its precepts. And while I am a learner I will also be a follower. Where Christ is I will go. His example shall be law to me. I will pray to have his Spirit. I will ask to be conformed to his image, and what the Master was, that shall the servant be. I will give to him of my substance. If I can, I will give much, but if I have not much, I will give in fair proportion. I will make a system of offering to God: he shall have a set portion of all mine income, and that I will put aside, so that when there is a call for it, I shall not imagine that I am giving from my own purse, but I will give my Lord’s money, which has already been consecrated. Then I shall not feel us if I were giving, but as if I were only a steward, handing out what belonged to Christ before?"

Where persons love little, do little, and give little, we may shrewdly suspect that they have never had much affliction of heart for their sins and that they think they owe but very little to divine grace.

From a sermon entitled "Mary Magdalene," delivered January 29, 1868. Image by Rennett Stowe under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

His redeeming arm

Rejoice when the harlot bows before the Savior with breaking heart, be glad when Saul of Tarsus yields his persecuting heart to the Savior’s scepter, but equally adore the majesty of love when the young man who has kept all these commandments from his youth up seeks the one thing which he lacks, and trusts his heart with Jesus Christ without delay!

When we shall get to heaven, we will astonish the angels with what we shall have to tell, the depths of sin out of which we have been delivered, the fiery lusts from which we have been rescued, the stiff necks that have been made to bow, and the unyielding knees that have been compelled to bend. Glory be unto God. I cannot help saying so again, Glory be to God, for as I look around this place and think of some of you in whom God’s great and wondrous arm has been revealed in redeeming you from all your iniquities, dare make it my boast that here the Lord has broken “the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.”

From a sermon entitled "The Arrows of the Bow Broken in Zion," delivered January 19, 1868. Image by Trent Roche under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Labor in the King's garden

The church is the King’s garden. I am going to ask, now, if the church be a garden, what does it need? One thing it certainly requires, is labor. You cannot keep a garden in proper order without work. We want more laborers in this church, especially of one sort. We want some who will be planters.

I had a letter last week from a young woman; I do not know who she is... She says that she has been here for two years; that she has been very anxious about her soul, and she has often wished that somebody would speak to her, but nobody has done so. Now, if I knew where she sat, I should say to the friends who sit there, that I am ashamed of them! As I do not know where she sits, will those of you who do love Christ, but who have not been in the habit of looking after others, be so kind as to be ashamed of yourselves, because there is somebody or other to be blamed in this business. If you love Jesus at all, I cannot tell how you can let a person come to this Tabernacle for two years and not speak to them. Somebody has been negligent, very negligent; whoever it may be, let him see to it.

From a sermon entitled "King's Gardens," delivered December 29, 1867. Image by Abby Lanes under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Continue to entertain hope!

We must never pause in our efforts for any man till he is either saved or the funeral bell has tolled for him. Even if the last hour is come, and the object of your solicitude is stretched upon the couch, which is evidently meant to be his deathbed, still pursue his soul to the very brink of hell. Up to the very gates of perdition hope should track the rebel. When once that iron gate is shut, it is all over with our efforts, but, meanwhile, until then we may entertain hope for any man. You and I have read nowhere concerning such-and-such a man that God will have no mercy on him. We have never scanned the rolls of God’s decree, and cannot act upon what is not revealed. We have rejoiced to learn that our own names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and yet we were by nature as vile as any; then who shall say that any are too vile; for the Lord may have made the worst of men the objects of his electing love.

From a sermon entitled "Lingerers Hastened," delivered January 12, 1868. Image by Taras Kalapun under Creative Commons License.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Body of the Resurrection

Many believers make a mistake when they long to die and long for heaven. Those things may be desirable, but they are not the ultimatum of the saints. The saints in heaven are perfectly free from sin, and, so far as they are capable of it, they are perfectly happy; but a disembodied spirit never can be perfect until it is reunited to its body. God made man not pure spirit, but body and spirit, and the spirit alone will never be content until it sees its corporeal frame raised to its own condition of holiness and glory. Think not that our longings here below are not shared in by the saints in heaven. They do not groan, so far as any pain can be, but they long with greater intensity than you and I long, for the “adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.”

People have said there is no faith in heaven, and no hope; they know not what they say - in heaven it is that faith and hope have their fullest swing and their brightest sphere, for glorified saints believe in God’s promise, and hope for the resurrection of the body. The apostle tells us that “they without us cannot be made perfect;” that is, until our bodies are raised, theirs cannot be raised, until we get our adoption day, neither can they get theirs. The Spirit saith Come, and the bride saith Come - not the bride on earth only, but the bride in heaven saith the same, bidding the happy day speed on when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For it is true, beloved, the bodies that have mouldered into dust will rise again, the fabric which has been destroyed by the worm shall start into a nobler being, and you and I, though the worm devour this body, shall in our flesh behold our God.

From a sermon entitled "Creation's Groans And The Saints' Sighs," delivered January 5, 1868. Image by Olof Sunder Creative Commons License.

Friday, November 6, 2009

His mercy endureth forever

Let us bless God for the eyes with which we behold the sun, for the health and strength to walk abroad in the sunlight; let us praise him for the mercies which are new every morning, for the bread we eat, for the raiment which clothes us, for houses which give us shelter; let us bless him that we are not deprived of our reason, or stretched upon the bed of languishing; let us praise him that we are not cast out among the hopeless, or confined amongst the guilty; let us thank him for liberty, for friends, for family associations and comforts; let us praise him, in fact, for everything which we receive from his bounteous hand, for we deserve little, and yet are most plenteously endowed.

“His mercy endureth forever:” every morning’s light proclaims it, the beams of every moon declare it; every breath of air, every heaving of the lungs, every beating of the pulse, are fresh witnesses that “his mercy endureth for ever.”

From a sermon entitled "A Song, A Solace, A Sermon, And A Summons" delivered December 29, 1867. Image by Sean McGrath under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mystery: Incarnation

My brethren, if you will carefully consider it, this is one of the most extraordinary doctrines that was ever declared in human hearing, for were it not well attested, it would be absolutely incredible that the infinite God who filleth all things, who was and is, and is to come, the Almighty, the Omniscient, and the Omnipresent, actually condescended to veil himself in the garments of our inferior clay.

He made all things, and yet he deigned to take the flesh of a creature into union with himself: the Infinite was linked with the infant, and the Eternal was blended with mortality. That manger at Bethlehem, tenanted by the express image of the Father’s glory, was a great sight indeed to those who understood it. Well might the angels troop forth in crowds from within the gates of pearl, that they might behold him whom heaven could not contain, finding accommodation in a stable with a lowly wedded pair. Wonder of wonders! God over all, blessed forever, became one with a newborn babe which slept in a manger where the horned oxen fed.

From a sermon entitled "The Great Mystery Of Godliness," delivered December 22, 1867. Image by ~My aim is true~ under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Excuses for keeping out Christ

To harbour Christ was to run the risk of being put out of the synagogue in the first place, to become the object of public contempt in the second, and perhaps in conclusion to meet with a sudden and violent death; therefore, prudent, careful men, closed their doors against him, and argued that they could not expose their families to so much peril. They might in their hearts admire him, in their souls they might lament that he was so hardly dealt with, but they could not run the risk of declaring themselves to be on his side by entertaining him at that moment of excitement.

So is it at this hour, men always have a good reason, as they think, for that most unreasonable of all unkindnesses, the rejection of Jesus, their best friend. The farm, the merchandise, the newlymarried wife, all these are the transparently weak excuses for not coming to the gospel supper. Preoccupation of mind with some other pursuit, or the self-denials which Christianity would involve, or the difficulties which are supposed to beset a consistent Christian profession, any, or all of these, and worse than these, serve to satisfy the human conscience with the shadow of an excuse. Jesus Christ is kept on the cold side of the door, and our worst enemies are welcomed. Though it is the highest honor that man can have to entertain him, yet a cruel refusal is given him, and any excuse in the world is thought to be sufficient.

From a sermon entitled "Wanted, A Guestchamber!," delivered December 15, 1867. Image by Steve Willi under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Love for Him empowers us

Love has laughed at impossibilities, and proved that she is not to be quenched by many waters, nor drowned by floods. Impassable woods have nevertheless been made a footway for the Christian missionary; through the dense jungle, steaming with malaria, men have passed, bearing the message of truth; into the midst of hostile and savage tribes, weak and trembling women even have forced their way to tell of Jesus; no sea has been so stormy, no mountains have been so elevated that they could shut out the earnest spirit; no long nights of winter in Labrador or in Iceland have been able to freeze up the love of Christ in the Moravian’s heart: it has not been possible for the zeal of the heir of heaven to be overcome, though all the elements have combined with the cruelty of wicked men, and with the malice of hell itself.

Christ’s people have been more than conquerors through him that hath loved them, when his love has been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, and they have had elevated thoughts of their Lord.

From a sermon entitled "The Rose And The Lily," delivered December 8, 1867. Image by Richard0 under Creative Commons License.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pray for God to raise up ministers

There is sadly little prayer in the church for the rising ministry. You pray for those who are your pastors, and rightly so. “Brethren, pray for us,” you cannot do us a better favor. But there is so little prayer that God would raise up ministers! Know ye not that, as surely as the blood of Christ bought the redemption of his people, as surely as the resurrection of Christ was for the justification of the saints, so surely the ascension of Christ was for the distribution of ministry among the sons of men? Know ye not the passage, “He ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men and he gave [these were the gifts] some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”?

Now, you plead the precious blood when you would obtain pardon, you plead the resurrection, and you receive justification; but how seldom do you plead the ascension, so as to obtain a faithful ministry!

From a sermon entitled "Sermons From Saintly Death-Beds," delivered December 1, 1867. Image by Noël Zia Lee under Creative Commons License.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Christ, the unmerited gift

Christ was God’s gift to the fallen seed of man. Long ere this world was made, he ordained in the eternal purpose that Christ should be the covenant Head of his elect, their Surety, and their Redeemer: he gave Christ to us before he spread the starry sky: he was the Father’s goodly gift when the fullness of time was come. Many promises had heralded the Master’s coming, and at last he appeared, a babe of a span long in his mother’s arms. His holy life and his suffering death were the gifts of God to us, for “He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”

To the whole company of God’s elect, Christ Jesus is the priceless boon which the Father’s love has bestowed upon them. And when you and I receive Jesus Christ into our heart, he evermore comes as a gift. The faith by which we receive him is a gift: the gift of God is faith, but Jesus Christ himself never comes to a soul that has faith, as a reward. No man ever received Christ by the works of the law or the deeds of the flesh.

From a sermon entitled "Saying Knowledge," delivered November 24, 1867. Image by Brian Leon under Creative Commons License.