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beginning in the soul, has to do with God the Holy Spirit. There is no step that can be taken without him, there is nothing which can be accomplished aright without him; yea, though ye had the best of means, the rightest of ceremonies, the most orthodox of truths, and though ye did exercise your minds upon all these things, and though the blood of Jesus Christ were shed for you, and God himself had ordained you from before the foundations of the world to be saved, yet still there must be that one link always inserted in the golden chain of the plan of salvation; for without that it were all incomplete. You must be quickened by the Spirit; you must be called out of darkness into light; you must be made a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Now, I wonder how many of you know anything about this. That is the practical part of it. Now my hearer, dost thou understand this? Perhaps, sir, thou art one exceeding wise, and thou turnest on thy heel with a sneer, and thou sayest “Supernaturalism in one of its phases; these Methodists are always talking about supernatural things." You are very wise, exceeding so, doubtless; but it seemeth to me that Nicodemus of old had gotten as far as you, and you have gotten no farther than he; for he asked “How could a man be born again when he is old ? " And though every Sunday-school child has had a smile at the expense of Nicodemus's ignorance, you are not wiser. And yet you are a Rabbi, sir, and you would teach us, would you? And you would teach us about these things, and yet you sneer about supernaturalism. Well, the day may come-I pray it may come to you before the day of your death and your doom-when the Christ of the supernaturalists will be the only Christ for you; when you shall come into the floods of death, where you shall need something more than nature, then you will be crying for a work that is supernatural within your hearts; and it may be that then, when you first of all awake to know that your wisdom was but one of the methods of madness, you may perhaps have to cry in vain, having for your only answer, “I called, and ye refused; I stretched out my hands, and no man regarded; I also will mock at your calamity, and laugh when your fear cometh.”
I hear another of you say, “ Well, sir, I know nothing of this work of God the Holy Spirit, in my heart; I am just as good as other people, I never make a profession of religion; it is very rarely that I go into a place of worship at all, but I am as good as the saints, any of them: look at some of them--very fine fellows certainly." Stop, now, religion is a thing between yourself and your Maker, and you have nothing to do with those very fine fellows you have spoken of. Suppose I make a confession that a large number of those who are called saints deserve a great deal more to be called sinners double-dyed, and then white-washed, -suppose I make a confession of that, what has that to do with you? Your religion must be for yourself, and it must be between you and your God. If all the world were hypocrites, that would not exonerate you before your God. When you came before the Master, if you were still at enmity to him, could you venture to plead such an excuse as this-“All the world was full of hypocrites ?” “Well," he would say, “what had that to do with you? so much the more reason why you should have been a honest man. If you say the church was thus drifting away upon the quicksands, through the evil conduct and folly of the members thereof, so much the more reason why you should have helped to make it sound, if you thought you could have done so." Another cries, “Well, I do not see that I need it; I am as moral a man as I can be; I never break the Sabbath; I am one of the most punctillious of Christians; I always go to church twice a Sabbath; I hear a thoroughly evangelical minister, and you would not find fault with hin.” Or perhaps say's another, “I go to a Baptist chapel, I am always found there, I am scrupulously correct in my conduct; I am a good father, a good husband; I do not know that any man can find fault with me in business." Well certainly that is very good, and if you will be so good to-morrow morning as to go into Saint Paul's and wash one of those statues till you make it alive, then you will be saved by your morality; but since you, even you, are dead in trespasses and sins, without the Spirit you may wash yourself never so clean, but you cannot wash life into you any more than those statues, by all your washing, could be made to walk, or think, or breathe. You must be quickened by the Holy Spirit, for you are dead in trespasses and sins.
Yes, my comely maiden, thou that art everything excellent; thou that art not to be blamed in aught; thou that art affectionate, tender, kind, and dutiful; whose very life seems to be so pure, that all who see thee think thou seemest an angel; even thou, except thou be born again, canst not see the kingdom of God; the golden gate of heaven must grind upon its hinges with a doleful sound and shut thee out for ever, unless thou art the subject of a divine change, for this knows no exception. And, O ye vilest of the vile, ye who have wandered farthest from the paths of rectitude, “ye must be born again,” ye must be quickened by a divine lite; and it is comforting for you to recollect, that the very same power which can quicken the moral man, which can save the man of rectitude and honesty, is able to work in you, is able to change you; to turn the lion to a lamb, the raven to a dove.
O my hearers, ask yourselves, are you the subjects of this change? And if you be, rejoice with joy unspeakable, for happy is that mother's child, and full of glory, that can say, “ I am born of God;" blessed is that man: God and the hol; angels call him blessed who hath received the quickening of the Spirit, and is born of God. For him there may be many troubles, but there is “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” to counterbalance all his woe; for him there may be wars and fightings; but let him tarry, there are trumpets of victory, there are better wreaths than the laurels of conquerors, there is a crown of immortal glory, there is bliss unfading, there is acceptance in the breast of God for aye, and perpetual fellowship with Jehovah. But oh! if thou be not born again this night, I can but tremble for thee, and lift my heart in prayer to God, and pray for thee, that he may now by his Divine Spirit make thee alive, give thee to know thy need of him, and then direct thee to the cross of Jesus. But if thou knowest thy need of a Saviour to. night, if thou art this night conscious of thy death in sin, hear me preach the gospel and I have done. The Lord Jesus Christ died for you. Dost thou know thyself to be guilty, not as the hypocrite pretendeth to know it, but dost thou know it consciously, sensitively, dost thou weep over it? Dost thou lament it? Dost thou feel that thou canst not save thyself? Art thou sick of all fleshly ways of saving? Canst thou say to-night, “Unless God shall put out the hand of his mercy, I know I deserve to be lost for ever, and I am?” Then, as the Lord my God liveth, before whom I stand, my Master bought you with his blood, and those whom he bought with blood he will have; from the fangs of the lion and the jaws of the bear will he pluck them. He will save thee, for thou art a part of his bloody purchase; he has taken thy sins upon his headl; he suffered in thy room and place; he has been punished for thee; thou shalt not die; "thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven," and I am the Master's glad herald to tell thee to night what his Word tells thee also, that thou mayest rejoice in the fulness of faith, for “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.”
May the Lord now be pleased to add his blessing for Jesus' sake.
THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL.
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, MARCH 21, 1858, BY THE
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ; of whom I am chief.”—1 Timothy i. 15.
I SUPPOSE that the message delivered by God's servants to the people must always be called “the burden of the Lord.” When the old prophets came forth from their Master, they had such dooms, and threatenings, and lamentations, and woe to preach, that their countenances were wan with sorrow, and their hearts heavy within them. They usually commenced their discourses by announcing, “The burden of the Lord, the burden of the Lord.” But now, our message is no heavy one. No threatenings and no thunders compose the theme of the gospel minister. Allis mercy; love is the sum and substance of our gospel-love undeserved; love to the very chief of sinners. But it is still a burden to us. So far as the matter of our preaching is concerned, it is our joy and our delight to preach it; but if others feel as I feel now, they will all acknowledge it to be a hard matter to preach the gospel. For now I am sore vexed, and my heart is troubled, not concerning what I have to preach, but how I shall preach it. What if so good a message should fail because of so ill an ambassador? What if my hearers should reject this saying which is worthy of all acceptation, because I may announce it with lack of earnestness? Surely-surely such a supposition is enough to draw the tears to the eyes of any man! But may God in his mercy prevent a consummation so fearfully to be dreaded; and, however I may now preach, may this Word of God commend itself to every man's conscience; and may many of you now gathered together, who have never as yet fled to Jesus for refuge, by the simple preaching of the Word, now be persuaded to come in, that you may taste and see that the Lord is good. Our text is one that pride would never prompt a man to select.
It is quite impossible to flourish about it, it is so simple. Human nature is apt to cry,“ Well. I cannot preach upon that text-it is too plain; there is no mystery in it; I cannot show my learning: it is just a plain, common-sense announcement-I scarcely would wish to take it, for it lowers the man, however much it may exalt the Master.” So, expect nothing but the text from me this morning, and the simplest possible explanation of it.
We shall have two heads: first there is the tert; then there is a double commenda. tion appended to the text — “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation."
I. First, there is THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE TEXT—"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." In that there are three things very prominent. There is the Suviour, there is the sinner, and there is the salvation.
1. There is, first of all, the Suviour. And in explaining the Christian religion, this is where we must begiu. The person of the Saviour is the foundation-stone of our hope. Upon that person depends the usefulness of our gospel. Should some one arise and preach a Saviour, who was a mere man, he would be unworthy of our hopes, and the salvation preached would be inadequate to what we need. Should another preach salvation by an angel, our sins are so heavy that an angelic atonement would have been insufficient; and therefore his gospel totters to the ground. I repeat it, upon the person of the Saviour rests the whole of the salva. tion. If he be not able, if he be not commissioned to perform the work, then, indeed, the work itself is worthless to us, and falls short of its design. But, men and brethren, when we preach the gospel, we need not stop and stammer. We have to show you this day such a Saviour that earth and heaven could not show his fellow. He is one so loving, so great, so mighty, and so well adapted to all our needs, that it is evident enough that he was prepared of old to meet our deepest wants. We know that Jesus Christ who came into the world to save sinners was God; and that long before his descent to this lower world, he was adored by angels as the Son of the Highest. When we preach the Saviour to you, we tell you that although Jesus Christ was the Son of man, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, yet was he eternally the Son of God, and hath in himself all the attributes which constitute perfect Godhead. What more of a Saviour can any man want than God? Is not he who made the heavens able to purge the soul? If he of old stretched the curtains of the skies, and made the earth, that man should dwell upon it, is he not able to rescue a sinner from the destruction that is to come? When we tell you he is God, we have at once declared his omnipotence and his infinity; and when these two things work together, what can be impossible? Let God undertake a work, it cannot meet with failure. Let him enter into an enterprise, and it is sure of its accomplishment. Since, then, Christ Jesus the man was also Christ Jesus the God, in announcing the Saviour, we have the fullest confidence that we are offering you something that is worthy of all acceptation.
The name given to Christ suggests something concerning his person. He is called in our text, “Christ Jesus.” The two words mean, the “ Anointed Saviour." The Anointed Saviour " came into the world to save sinners."
Pause here, my soul, and read this o'er again:-He is the anointed Saviour. God the Father from before all worlds anointed Christ to the office of a Saviour of men; and, therefore, when I behold my Redeemer coming from heaven to redeem man from sin, I note that he does not come unsent, or missioned, He has his Father's authority to back him in his work. Hence, there are two immutable things whereon our soul may rest;—there is the person of Christ, divine in itself; there is the anointing from on high, giving to him the stamp of a commission received from Jehovah his Father. () sinner, what greater Saviour dost thou want than he wkom God anointed? What more canst thou require than the eternal Son of God to be thy ransom, and the anointing of the Father to be the ratification of the treaty ?
Yet we have not fully described the person of the Redeemer, until we have noted that he was man. We read that he came into the world; by which coming into the world we do not understand his usual coming; for he often came into the world before. We read in Scripture, “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and it not, I will know.” In fact, he is always here. The goings of God are to be seen in the sanctuary: both in providence and in nature they are to be seen most visibly. Does not God visit the earth when he makes the tempest his chariot, and rides upon the wings of the wind? But this visitation was different from all these. Christ came into the world in the sense of the fullest and most complete union with human nature. Oh, sinner, when we preach a Divine Saviour, perhaps the name of God is so terrible to thee, that thou canst scarcely think the Saviour is adapted to thee. But hear thou again the old story. Although Christ was the Son of God, he left his highest throne in glory and stooped to the manger. There he is, an infant of a span long. See, he grows from boyhood up to manhood, and he comes forth into the world to preach and suffer! See him as he groans under the yoke of oppression; he is mocked and despised; his visage more marred than that of any other man, and his form more than the sons of men! See him in the garden, as he sweats drops of blood! See him in Pilate's chamber, in which he is scourged and his shoulders run with gore! On the bloody tree behold him! See him dying with agony too exquisite to be imagined, much less to be described ! Behold him in the silent tomb! See him at last bursting the bonds of death, and rising the third day, and afterwards ascending up on high, “ leading captivity
captive!” Sinner, thou hast now the Saviour before thee, plainly manifested. Je who was called Jesus of Nazareth, who died upon the cross, who had his superscription written, “ Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” this man was the Son of God, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his Father, “ begotten by his Father before all worlds, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.” He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Oh, could I bring him before you, could I now bring him here to show you his hands and his side, if ye could now, like Thomas, put your fingers in the holes of the nails, and thrust your hand into his side, methinks you would not be faithless, but believing. This much I know, if there be anything that can make men believe under the hand of God's most Holy Spirit, it is a true picture of the person of Christ. Seeing is believing in his case. A true view of Christ, a right-looking at him, will most assuredly beget faith in the soul. Oh, I doubt not if ye knew my Master, some of you who are now doubting, and fearing, and trembling, would say, “Oh, I can trust him; a person so divine, and yet so human, ordained and anointed of God, must be worthy of my faith, I can trust him; nay more, it I had a hundred souls I could trust him with them all; or, if I stood accountable for all the sins of all mankind, and were myself the very reservoir and sink of this world's infamy, I could trust him even then-for such a Saviour must be “able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him.” This, then, is the person of the Saviour.
2. Now, the second point is the sinner. If we had never heard this passage before, or any of similar import, I can suppose that the most breathless silence would reign over this place it for the first time I should commence to read them in your hearing, “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save-" I know how you would thrust forward your heads; I know how you would put your hand against your ear, and look as if you would hear with the eye as well as with the ear, to know for whom the Saviour died. Every heart would say, whom did he come to save? And if we had never heard the message before, how would our hearts palpitate with fear lest the character described should be one unto which it would be impossible for us to attain! Oh, how pleasant it is to hear again that one word which describes the character of those Christ came to save: "He came into the world to save sinners.” Monarch, there is here no distinction; princes, he hath not singled you out to be the objects of his love; but beggars and the poor shall taste his grace. Ye learned men, ye masters of Israel, Christ does not say he came specially to save you; the unlearned and illiterate peasant is equally welcome to his grace. Jew, with all thy pedigree of honour, thou art not justified more than the Gentile. Men of Britain, with all your civilization and your freedom, Christ does not say he came to save you: he names not you as the distinguishing class who are the objects of his love--no, and ye that have good works, and reckon yourselves saints among men, he doth not distinguish you either.
The one simple title, large and broad as humanity itself, is simply this;—" Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Now, mark, we are to understand this in a general sense when we read it, viz., that all whom Jesus came to save are sinners; but if any man asks, may I infer from this that I am saved; we must then put another question to him. To begin then, with the general sense:—“
_“ Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The men whom Christ came to save were by nature sinners, nothing less and nothing more than sinners. I have often said that Christ came into the world to save awakened sinners. It is quite true; so he did. But those sinners were not awakened sinners when he came to save them; they were nothing but “sinners dead in trespasses and sins” when he came to them. It is a common notion that we are to preach that Christ died to save what are called sensible sinners. Now that is true; but they were not sensible sinners when Christ died to save them. He makes them sensible or feeling sinners, as the effect of his death. Those he died for are described, without any adjective to diminish the breadth of it, as being sinners, and simply sinners, without any badge of merit or mark of goodness which could distinguish them above their fellows. Sinners! Now, the term includes some of all kinds of sinners. There are some men whose sins appear but little. Trained up religiously, and educated