Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Unspeakable Gift

He is God’s unspeakable gift. Heaven itself is nothing as compared with him, and if a man had to wade breast deep through a thousand hells to come at Christ, it were well worth the venture, if at the last he might but say, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.”

Jesus is so precious that he cannot be matched. There is none like him. The fairest of the fair are uncomely and deformed when compared with him. As Rutherford would say, “Black sun, black moon, black stars, but, O bright, infinitely bright Lord Jesus.” “He is the express image of his Father’s person, and the brightness of his Father’s glory.” Ye shall find none that can be likened unto him, if ye ransack time and space. Miss him as your Savior, and you have lost the only salvation possible; gain him, and you will want no other, for he is made of God unto you “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption,” and all your souls can want; yea, be himself is all. If heaven find earth were sold, ye could not match Christ in any market if ye gave the price of heaven and earth for his like. If you search eternity, and ransack immensity, there shall ne’er be found one fit to be second to him, he is so precious.

From a sermon entitled "Three Precious Things," delivered May 8, 1870. Image by Ed Siasoco under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The source of fear

Adam never was afraid of his God till he had broken his commands. When the Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of day, and Adam heard the Almighty’s foot-fall, he hastened to commune with God as a dear child talks with a loving father. But the moment he had touched the fruit that was forbidden, he ran away and hid himself, and when God said, “Where art thou, Adam?” Adam came cringing and trembling, for he was afraid of God. It is sin, consciousness of sin, that “makes cowards of us all.” Though he who made us is a consuming fire, and we should always have a holy awe of him, yet the fear that gendereth bondage would never have come into our spirit if we had not first of all transgressed his law. Sin is the mother of the fear which hath torment.

From a sermon entitled "Away With Fear," delivered April 10, 1870. Image by David Hopkins under Creative Commons License.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Let us preach everywhere

All over England, in our cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, there are tens of thousands who never will hear the gospel while open-air preaching is neglected. I believe that God allows us to preach in churches and chapels, but I do not believe that we have any apostolical precedent for it, certainly none for confining our ministry to such places. I believe that we are allowed, if it promote order and edification, to set apart buildings for our worship; but there is no warrant for calling these places sanctuaries and houses of God, for all places are alike holy where holy men assemble.

It is altogether a mischievous thing that we should confine our preaching within walls. Our Lord, it is true, preached in the synagogues, but he often spake on the mountain’s side, or from a boat, or in the court of a house, or in the public thoroughfares. To him an audience was the only necessity. He was a fisher of souls of the true sort, and not of the modern order, who sit in their houses and expect the fish to come to them to be caught.... The minister who does his duty, goes out into the highways and hedges; he goes into all the world; he preaches whether men will hear or whether they will forbear, and delights to make hills and woods ring with the message of peace.

From a sermon entitled "The Model Home Mission And The Model Home Missionary," delivered April 14, 1870. Image by Richard Outram under Creative Commons License.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grace from first to last

Many nowadays appear to leap into peace without any convictions of sin — they do not seem to have known what the guilt of sin means; but they scramble into peace before the burden of sin has been felt. It is not for me to judge, but I must confess I have my fears of those who have never felt the terrors of the Lord, and I look upon conviction of sin as a good groundwork for a well-instructed Christian. I observe as a rule that when a man has been put in the prison of the law, and made to wear the heavy chains of conviction, and at last obtains his liberty through the precious blood, he is pretty sure to cry up the grace of God, and magnify divine mercy. He feels that in his case salvation must be of grace from first to last, and he naturally favors that system of theology which magnifies most the grace of God. Those who have not felt this, whose conversion has been of the more easy kind, produced rather by excitement than by depth of thought, seem to me to choose a flimsy divinity, in which man is more prominent, and God is less regarded.

I am sure of this one thing, that I personally desire to ascribe conversion in my own case entirely to the grace of God, and to give God the glory of it; and I dread that conversion which could in any degree deprive God of being in his everlasting decrees the cause of it, by his effectual Spirit the direct agent of it, by his continued working through the Holy Ghost the perfecter of it. Give God the praise, my brethren. You must do so, if you have thoroughly experienced what God’s anger means, and what the turning away of it means.

From a sermon entitled "A New Song For New Hearts," delivered May 1, 1870. Image by Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The balance of our spiritual life

It is not an easy thing to maintain the balance of our spiritual life. No man can be spiritually healthy who does not meditate and commune; no man, on the other hand, is as he should be unless he is active and diligent in holy service. David sweetly sang, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;” there was the contemplative, “he leadeth me beside the still waters;” there was the active and progressive: the difficulty is to maintain the two, and to keep each in its relative proportion to the other. We must not be so active as to neglect communion, nor so contemplative as to become unpractical.

From a sermon entitled "Martha And Mary," delivered April 24, 1870. Image by Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If He does not wash you...

If a man profess to be a Christian, and is not in his walk and conversation holier than other men, that man’s profession is vain. There are some who seem to think that we are to come to Christ as sinners, and then after having believed in him are to live as we did before. But, my brethren, it is not so. Christ saves his people from their sins. When you hear the complaints of God’s servants concerning their temptations and their indwelling sins, you are not to conclude from that sin has dominion over them, or that they have not overcome sin, or that they are not other men than they once were. Nay, my brethren, I believe the holier a man becomes the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him; but he is in very truth a far better man, he is a spiritual and holy man.

If Jesus wash you not, so that you become godly and upright, you may depend upon it you have no part in him. If he do not wash that tongue, and cleanse away those angry, or idle, or filthy words; if he do not wash that hand, and render it impossible for it to perform a dishonest or unchaste act; if he do not wash that foot and render it impossible it should be able to carry you to the haunts of vice and criminal amusement, you have no part in him. It is all worthless for unconverted persons to be baptised and come to his table, for if be has not sanctified you in some measure he has not justified you. If you are not a changed man, neither are you a saved man, and if you do not aspire after holiness, neither need you hope that you shall have a part in the heaven of the blessed. “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

From a sermon entitled "The Sine Qua Non," delivered April 17, 1870. Image by Eduardo Wickboldt under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remembering all God's attributes

The effeminate and sentimental talkers of this boastful age represent God as though he had no attribute but that of gentleness, no virtue but that of indifference to evil; but the God of the Bible is glorious in holiness, he will by no means spare the guilty, at his bar every transgression is meted out its just recompense of reward. Even in the New Testament, wherein stands that golden sentence, “God is love,” his other attributes are by no means cast into the shade. Read the burning words of Peter, or James, or Jude, and see how the God of Sabaoth abhorreth evil! As the God who must do right, the Lord cannot shut his eyes to the iniquities of man; he must visit transgression with its punishment. He has done it, has done it terribly, and he will do it; even to all eternity he will show himself the God that hateth iniquity and sin. What, then, is to become of man? “All we like sheep have gone astray;” sin must be punished; what, then, can become of us? Infinite love has devised the expedient of representation and substitution.

From a sermon entitled "Individual Sin Laid On Jesus," delivered April 10, 1870. Image by Steve Jurvetson on flickr under Creative Commons License.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Still with us!

At this day he is with us, and will be with us even to the end of the world. Christ’s existence is not a fact confined to antiquity or to remote distance. By his Spirit he is actually in his church; we have seen him, though not with eyes; we have heard him, though not with ears; we have grasped him, though not with hands; and we feed upon his flesh, which is meat indeed, and his blood, which is drink indeed. We have with us at this very day Jesus our friend, to whom we make known our secrets, and who beareth all our sorrows. We have Jesus our interpreting instructor, who still reveals his secrets to us, and leads us into the mind and name of God. We have Jesus still with us to supply us with strength, and in his power we still are mighty. We confess his reigning sovereignty in the church, and we receive his all-sufficient succours.

The church is not decapitated, her Head abides in vital union with her; Jesus is no myth to us, whatever he may be to others; he is no departed shade, he is no heroic personification: in very deed there is a Christ, and though others see him not, and even we with these eyes see him not, yet in him believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Oh, I trust it will never be so with us, that as we go about our life work our religion shall melt into fiction and become nothing but mere sentiment, nothing but thought, and dream, and vision; but may our religion be a matter of fact, a walking with the living and abiding Savior. Though Moses may be gone, and Elias may be gone, yet Jesus Christ abideth with us and in us, and we in him, and so shall it be evermore.

From a sermon entitled "Jesus Only," delivered April 3, 1870. Image on flickr by Steve Jurvetson under Creative Commons License.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Let us send for Him!

We have sinned, great God, and we confess the sin. What preparation, then, can we make? Suppose we sit down and investigate our case. Can we plead extenuations? Can we urge excuses or mitigations, or hope to escape by promises of future improvement? Let us give up the attempt, my brethren. We have gone astray wilfully and wickedly, and we shall do it again, and it is of no use for us to set up any kind of defense that is grounded upon ourselves. How, then, can we be prepared to meet our God? Hearken. There is an Advocate, and it is written, “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” Let us send for him.

From a sermon entitled "Prepare To Meet Thy God," delivered March 27, 1870. Image by Trey Matula under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If He be your intimate friend...

When you know a man, if he be your intimate friend, you trust him, you love him, you esteem him, you are on speaking terms with him; you not only bow to him in the street, but you go to his house, you sit down with him at his table; at other times, you hold counsel with him, or you ask his assistance; and he comes to your house, and you hold familiar association the one with the other. Such the good understanding there is between you and the man of whom it may be truly said that you know him. On such terms must the soul be with Christ. He must not be merely an historic personage of whom we read in the page of Scripture; but a real person, with whom we can speak in spirit, commune in heart, and be united in the bonds of love. We must know him, his very person, so as to love and to trust him as a real Lord to us. Judge, then, each one yourselves, whether you really and indeed in this sense “know” Christ.

Do distinguish, however, between knowing about Christ and knowing Christ. We may know very much about many of our great men, though we do not know them. Now, it will never save a soul to know about Christ. The only saving knowledge is to know him, his very self, and to trust him, the living Savior, who is now at the right hand of God. To him it is we speak. With him in very deed we commune.

From a sermon entitled "Sincerity And Duplicity," delivered March 6, 1870. Image by Tom Chambers under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

He saw that tear

When you let fall a tear because you could not understand the word, Jesus saw that tear; when you groaned because you could not get satisfaction of heart, he heard that groan. Never true heart seeks Christ without Christ’s being well aware of it. Well may he know of it, for every motion of a trembling heart towards himself is caused by his own love. He is drawing you, though you perceive not the hands of a man which encircle you. He is the hidden loadstone by which your heart is moved. I know it is night with you, and you grope like a blind man for the wall; but if your heart says, “O that I could but embrace him! O that he were mine! If I could but find rest in him, I would give all that I have.” Then be assured that Jesus is close to you: your prayers are in his ear, your tears fall upon his heart; he knows all about your difficulties, all about your doubts and fears, and he sympathises in the whole, and in due time he will break your snares, and you shall yet with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation.

From a sermon entitled "Nathanael And The Fig Tree," delivered March 20, 1870. Image by dingbat2005 under Creative Commons License.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Are we still running?

Think, beloved, each one of you who are Christ’s, how much you may have backslidden of late. Have you not become lax in prayer? You maintain the habit of it, and you could not give that up, but you have not that power in prayer you once had. You still read the word, but mayhap the Scripture is not so sweet to you as it was aforetime. You come now to the communion table, you have not learned to forsake the assembling of yourselves together there; but oh, the face of the King, in his beauty, have you seen that as once you did?

Perhaps you still are doing a little for his cause, but are you doing what you once did or all you might do? Instead of going on unto perfection, is not your growth stunted? Must you not confess that you are not a runner towards heaven so much as a loiterer in the road thither? Do these accusations evoke no confessions? I fear the most of us, if we came to search, would have to say, “I do remember when the love of my espousals was upon me, and my heart was warm with love to Christ; but now, alas! how slow are my passions in moving towards him! O that I could feel once again the glow of my first love, and that my spirit did rejoice in him as on the day of my conversion.”

From a sermon entitled "Backsliding Healed," delivered March 13, 1870. Image by David Baron under Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gathered in His Name

Where two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name, there is he in the midst of them; and in the greater assemblies of his people, when the solemn hymn swells up to heaven, and the fervent prayer rises like a cloud of sweet perfume, and the ministry of the gospel is diffused like a sweet smelling savor of Christ unto God — there God is; there the Father is, receiving returning prodigals, accepting his dear children who feel the spirit of adoption; there the Son is, manifesting himself unto them as he doth not unto the world; there the Spirit is, working in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure, and helping their infirmities as a Comforter and an Advocate. Have you not often felt the presence of God, my dear brethren and sisters, in your assemblies as the people of God?

From a sermon entitled "A Generous Proposal." Image by jaci Lopes dos Santos under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

There is one who is mighty to save

Ah, soul, here is another part of thy misery, that thou hast destroyed thyself, but thou canst not save thyself; thou hast woven the net, thou hast made it fast and firm, but thou canst not tear it in pieces. But there is One who can, there is One upon whom the Spirit of the Lord descended that he might loose the prisoner. There is a heart that feels for thee in heaven, and there is One mighty to save, who can rescue thee.

Breathe that prayer, “O set me free, thou Liberator of captive souls;” breathe the prayer now, and believe that he can deliver thee, and thou shalt yet, captive as thou art, go free, and this shall be thy ransom price, his precious blood; and this shall be the privilege of thy ransomed life, to love and praise him who hath redeemed thee from going down into the pit.

From a sermon entitled "Sinners Bound With The Cords Of Sin," delivered February 13, 1870. Image by Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin under Creative Commons License.

Monday, July 5, 2010

God has not cast away His ancient people

Gate at the fortress of Masada in Israel
Gate on top of the fortress of Masada

They were favored with special protections in providence, with special guidances in all their difficulties, special supplies in time of famine; and if they sometimes had special chastisements, yet even these were but tokens of his peculiar regard. Israel was precious in the sight of God, and therefore, though small and inconsiderable, it was honorable among the nations, so that David could truthfully say, “What one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself?”

I need not dwell upon God’s special love to Israel. We believe it continues to this hour, and though the scattered nation be despised, and the precious sons of Zion comparable to fine gold are esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter, yet the day shall come when “There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Then Judea’s mountains (thy land, O Immanuel), shall drop down with new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk; then the glorious diadem of her former glory shall return to Zion’s brow, and God, even her own God, shall bless her. The covenant of salt shall be remembered, and it shall be seen that the Lord hath not cast away his people whom he did foreknow.

From a sermon entitled "Precious, Honorable, Beloved," delivered February 20, 1870. Image by Matt Mickelson under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Built on a Rock

Beloved hearer, if thou wouldst be built on a rock, see to it that thou hast a true sense of sin. I do not say that a sense of sin is a preparation for Christ, and that we ought to put men back from the gospel till they feel their sin; but I do believe that wherever there is true faith in Jesus there goes with it a deep abhorrence of sin. Faith without contrition is a dead and worthless faith. When I meet with professors who talk lightly of sin, I feel sure that they have built without a foundation. If they had ever felt the Spirit’s wounding and killing sword of conviction, they would flee from sin as from a lion or a bear.

Truly forgiven sinners dread the appearance of evil as burnt children dread the fire. Superficial repentance always leads to careless living. Faith that was never bedewed with repentance never brings forth the flowers of holiness. Pray earnestly for a broken heart. Remember it is the contrite spirit which God is pleased with. Do not believe that you can have ground for rejoicing if you never saw reason for lamenting. The promised comfort is only secured to those who have been mourners. (Matthew 5. 4.)

From a sermon entitled "The Two Builders And Their Houses," delivered February 27, 1870. Image by Irish Typepad under Creative Commons License.