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every good work and word of him who gave us a perfect example. But, with all that, they neglect Christ, because they
do not receive him as God manifest in the flesh, an atonement for sin, a righteousness to justify, an advocate to plead, and a King to reign. So again, worldly-minded men, who are of no particular doctrine which is the case with a vast number of church-goers and chapel-goers, they neglect Christ. Ask them what is justification, and they will begin to think -"Justification! Well, it is something-in St. Paul I think it is-about Christ and the sinner.” Ask them what is the atonement? “Oh, atonement! That is making amends.” Who makes the atonement ? “I don't know. Christ, I think, or else the sinner.” I believe there are thousands of men, not ignorant of many other things, respectable, well-educated, morally-conducted persons, who are just as ignorant as that. Ask again, what is justification ? “Ah,” say some, “I don't like that. Methodists talk about that, and Puritans. I don't like sanctification ; I like good works. I don't like sanctification, and the Holy Spirit, and all that.” Yet, these men call themselves Christians. They neglect Christ. They may say, as they do say, “Our Saviour, our merciful Saviour.” But they are not saved ; for is he not their Saviour, nor will he be while they remain in that condition. Then, again, there are the high professors of evangelical doctrine ; men that talk about the everlasting covenant, redemption, imputed sanctification, and final perseverance, and apply it all to themselves, and say, " The elect shall be saved let them do what they will”-men that talk in that way of Christ, and never copy his life. To tell them that the justified are holy in their lives is as wormwood. Sanctification is a matter with which they feel no sympathy at all. They love to have the privileges, but they dislike the duties; they like to be elect, but they do not wish to be boly. You will find them say, holiness means election, sanctification means imputed sanctification ; and thus by a perverse ingenuity they explain away, and wrest to their own destruction, the Word of God. Such men, with ungoverned tempers, with wasted hours, with useless lives, spent in talking, and reading, and writing, and so employing themselves to pass away their time agreeably, may talk of Christ from morning to night, but yet they neglect Christ. Every man neglects Christ, who does not copy the example of him who was meek and lowly in heart, who was industrious--up with the dawn to do good, late in the night, that he might continue in prayer. All these men, I say, neglect Christ, and therefore neglect salvation.
Christmas day is coming. We shall soon see how men show they honour Christ, and from that we shall learn who it is that really neglects Christ. I have given notice that the Lord's Supper will be administered here next Friday morning. Many will attend, I doubt not, in the good providence of God; but very many more will not. You, what will you do? You know what you intend to do, I suppose. Very many more than they who attend the Lord's Supper on that day will be found celebrating the birth of Christ with drunkenness and dancing, and theatres and revelry, and such like. This is the way in which they will show that they honour Christ. It will not be by prayer, by alms-giving, and mercy to the poor; by holy duties, discharged conscientiously and in believing dependence upon the help of the Holy Ghost, that they may do all things, whatsoever they do, to the honour and glory of God; but it will be to gratify the flesh, with its affections and lusts; to fall in with the world and its pomps and vanity; and to fulfil the will of the Devil, who is seeking to lead them in these paths. That is the way in which the far greater part of those who call themselves Christians will endeavour to show they are not neglecting Christ; that is the way in which they will mark their observance of the birth of Christ. I am a father; I do not know what I should say or feel if I found, when my birthday came, every child of mine, instead of showing me dutiful kindness to prove that it loved me (as they do, to the youngest), if every one of these children were to set about doing that thing which I most abhorred-one come to me and tell a lie, another tear my sermon to tatters, another be disobedient to its mother--each doing what would be most offensive to my feelings. If I wero to say, "What abominable conduct ! I never saw anything like this before.” What should I think if my child were to say, “Why, it is to celebrate your birthday ?” Such conduct would be more like a fiend's than a human being's. Yet, that will be the way in which some of you will celebrate the birth of Christ. What if Christ came, and found you eating and drinking to excess on the day of his birth, and engaged in the licentious ball-room--for it is licentious to be half naked—what if he came and found you in a theatre, sitting with the vilest of the vile ?--what if he came and found you engaged in these and such like amusements at Christmas ? What would he say? “ Wherefore do you this ?” Would you reply, “Oh, it is Christmas, the time when you were laid in the manger; you did not refuse to take upon you the likeness of sinful flesh, and to suffer therein for my sins; and I am doing this for your honour ?”
“What, by trampling upon my precepts, by forsaking my ordinances, by neglecting my worship, by setting me at defiance ?” Think of that when you are at your Christmas amusements, every one of you. Do you mean to go to the merry dance ? take that to help you when you hear the lively tune. Do you mean to go and sit in the theatre ? take that, and think of it when you see the gay dresses and gaudy exhibitions; when you hear the profane prayers of the tragedian, and the lewd jest of the comedian. If you mean to drink much more than you ought to drink, when you are giving your toasts, take this with you, and remember that Christ considers you are neglecting hiin all that time. Nay, it is more than neglect; it is downright insult. By far the greatest amount of Christmas amusement is neither more nor less than downright insult to the Lord Jesus Christ-doing the thing he hates, and then saying, it is to celebrate his birth! Such persons will not escape. God forbid that I should shut the door of mercy in any man's face; but, living as they live, if they finish their lives in that fashion they shall not escape, for they neglect the great salvation. They only shall escape who believe in him, and, therefore, lead holy lives, unworldly lives.
Now, concerning these, we observe, as touching the great salvation spoken of, that they already have two. They have, first, salvation from the wrath to come. He that believeth is saved, as regards the eternal punishment of sins.“ By grace are ye saved, through faith”--not to be saved, but, are ye saved. “ He that believeth hath everlasting life.”
Faith obtains full, free, and everlasting forgiveness.
And they have salvation in the second sense-viz., deliverance from the dominion of sin. Sin is a hard master. “ The way of transgressors is hard,” says Solomon, or rather the Holy Ghost, by Solomon. How true! Never, hardly, a day passescertainly not a week-but I see proofs of it. They that serve the Devil serve a bad master ; he gives very poor pay; and he gives very, very hard work, and follows it with damnation. Some little pay he gives now-something of pleasure, something of mirth and jollity, something to satisfy the flesh; but, take it altogether, a sinner's life is a hard life, especially amongst the poor; I have found that. Even for this life, upon the whole, a man had better serve God than the Devil. I do not mean if he is to get rich; perhaps, for this end, he had better serve the Devil. But, apart from that, if he wants, upon the whole, a happier life, he had better serve God. He may not be, and probably will not be, so well off in this world. My experience confirms me in this, that, as a general rule, they are much worse off who serve God than they would have been if they had not served him, in a money point of view. Notwithstanding, if I am asked, whose ways are ways of greater pleasantness, a saint's, or a sinner's ? I reply that to serve God will yield greater happiness than to serve the Devil. It is true Christians have their trials in this wilderness world. I have, and so have you; notwithstanding, there is that in a godly life wbich outweighs all troubles, because you can see the end of them. There is that in peace with God which far outweighs anything that comes out of the creature-there is that which sustains under bereavement, persecution, bodily pain in the hour of death, and in the prospect of judgment-there is that which can sustain the heart. The spirit of a man can sustain much, but who can bear a wounded spirit? The man overtaken by sickness or calamity, may take to the maddening excitement of drink to drown his care. The poor man is only adding to his misery thereby. For a little moment it may satisfy, but shortly he finds it adds to the former evil. Thus, the course of the wicked is, on the whole, a less happy course than the course of the righteous.
Next, I say the child of God is safe from the dominion of sin. In that sense he is saved. I do not say he is saved from sin; I feel it necessary to confess sin every day. But I say he is saved from the dominion of sin. He does not serve sin, a bard master, but an unconverted man does. No unconverted man is sure of what he will do to-morrow. He is in the Devil's hands. He may commit murder, poison his mother, strangle his wife in twenty-four hours, or in one hour. The sinner is taken captive by the Devil. Now, think, you who are neglecting Christ and living at ease, you may be plunged at any moment into any atrocity! Here is a miserable condition! David and Peter committed great sin; but in them there was a recovering power. God will not leave his children there when they fall down; he will raise them up, and wash them in the blood of his Son. He does not so with the wicked. As they fall, so shall they lie; as they are, so shall they be for ever and ever. Oh, Satan is a hard master. He gives little satisfaction in this life compared with the trouble he gives! Then, again, look at the ill-temper of ungodly men; at their envy! and look at the unsatisfied ambition of ungodly men! A man will strain all his powers, and use all his influence to attain some point of distinction in his particular profession. He gets it. Is he happy ? Is he satisfied ? No. Why not? Somebody has passed before him, and got something better still. He envies that man; like Haman in the story of Esther, he goes to his wife, and says, “I have this, and this, but it availeth me nothing as long as I see Mordecai sitting in the gate.” So it is with a worldly man, God makes his cup of blessings to overflow. The blessings are turned into curses, the cup is turned bitter because another has more than himself. Then, again, think of the suspicious, vile turn in many ungodly mens' minds. They think every man their enemy; they are always looking out for offences; always thinking that others want to injure them. Ah, what a wretched life! All men live more or less sorrowful lives. Life is a vale of tears; but as for the ungodly, take them altogether, it is often deeply so to them! And what will it be in the life to come? They are under the dominion of sin, which makes them miserable here, and will make them a hundredfold more so in the world to come. The righteous man is delivered from that. Sin is not his master. Sin is his enemy, his persecutor, sometimes alas ! his companion, but never his master.
There is a third sense in which the righteous have salvation; and that is, eternal deliverance from all evil of every kind, both physical and moral, both as regards the body and as regards the soul. Nothing to suffer in the way of sickness and grief; nothing to defile in the way of temptation. That is the third sense of salvation ; when Christ is to come again a second time, without sin, unto salvation. It is spoken of in Hebrews ix. 28:--"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” There is the third and greatest salvation. Now, this is THE salvation, when Christ appears in his glory to take his people to himself, and make them like himself. Christ came to deliver us from hell; and he is gone into heaven to intercede and preserve us from the dominion of sin; and he is coming again a second time unto salvation to deliver us from all evil.
That second coming is very beautifully typified in the Old Testament theology. On the great day of the Atonement the high priest went into the Holy of Holies, taking the blood of the sacrifice, and disappearing from the multitude, who saw him go into the presence of Jehovah, there to present the blood. He made the Atonement, sprinkling the blood and offering incense. That was typical of Christ going into the presence of God for us, bearing not the blood of bulls and goats, but his own blood. There he is now. Well, what then? He is to come a second time; he is to come again from the presence of God unto our salvation. And there shall be sounds of joy, and hearts thrilling with ecstasy. The trumpet shall sound, no terrible sound, but with heavenly melody to say to the waiting people of God, “come up higher.”
Now, two words of APPLICATION.
I. To the sinner. Neglect no longer. Up to this time you have neglected. You have your plans for Christmas. Here I especially speak to young people. Young people think much of Christmas day, but it is mostly with little thought of Christ. Although his name is in the word, they will think of the Christmas Panto. mime, or of the Christmas party, or of the Christmas ball, or of some other enjoy. ment; but, as for Christ upon the cross, Christ in heaven, Christ coming again-of this they will think but little. And yet, my brethren, what does Christmas profit if it does not bring men to think of that? Think of it, my brethren. Neglect him no longer, lest the time come, as surely it will to millions, when your neglect shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.
II. You, beloved in Christ, have escaped-you have escaped the wrath to come, and though you feel and confess yourselves to be vile, hell-deserving sinners, yet you have escaped the dominion of sin :-“Sin shall have no dominion over you." Oh, what a blessed condition is it for a man who feels the poison of sin rankling in his heart, and flowing in his veins, and working in his brain--what a blessing it is for that man yet to know that sin shall not have dominion over him! It may wrestle and struggle with him, and it may trip him up, and make him fall, and drag bim out of the right path, but it shall not have dominion over him.
Finally, brethren, you shall enter upon salvation, which is to be revealed when sin shall cease for ever—when you shall be for ever in the company of the saved elect church of God; where trial shall never be, nor temptation; where fear shall never be, nor doubt; but where the redeemed of the Lord shall come with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and they shall sing praises unto him, who has saved them by his blood, justified them by his righteousness, preserved them by his providence, and brought them to glory!
NOTE.-This sermon is the last of twelve preached upon the texts selected for the bishops, deans, and other eminent clergymen who attracted such great congregations at Exetor-hall in 1857. The author expresses his regret that the discourse on “Who, then, can be saved ?” has been strongly objected to by somo whose station, learning, and character, entitle them to his highest respect and admiration. Nothing could be further from his wish than to make "statements likely to be greatly misunderstood and to do mischief," and " to produce impresssions which are contrary to the tone of Scripture." After a laborious life of study and preaching for twenty-five years in the ministry, it would be matter of the deepest distress to find his preaching calculated to " set the poor agaiust the rich ;" and he would humbly ask pardon both of God and man should his "want of caution" tend to produce so abominable a result. He intended to make the poor contented with their station rather than envious of the rich. He cannot, however, but avow his conviction, after long and careful observation, that the possessors of great wealth are, in this country at least, in little danger of losing their influence or the deference they so generally receive, not only from the poor, but from all classes. The danger of the present day seems to be contempt for constituted authority and hereditary rank. Money is worshipped, while the claims of high birth and real talent are depreciated. I say, with the late excellent Sir Robert Harry Inglis, who said, I have learned to respect the aristocracy of birth, and the aristocracy of genius, but I feel littlo respect for the aristocracy of money."
The New Park Street Pulpit
DELIVERED ON SABBATH EVENING, FERRERY 21, 1858, DIE
REV. C. H. SPURONONI COLLEGE & SEMINA
"The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”—Philippians iv. 7. It is remarkable that when we find an exhortation given to God's people in one part of the Holy Scripture, we almost invariably find the very thing which they are exhorted to do guaranteed to them, and provided for them, in some other part of the same blessed volume. This morning my text was, “ Keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Now, this evening we have the promise upon which we must rest if we desire to fulfil the precept:—“ The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
This evening we shall use another figure distinct from the one used in the morning of the reservoir. We shall use the figure of a fortress which is to be kept. And the promise saith that it shall be kept-kept by “ the peace of God which passeth all understanding through Christ Jesus.”
Inasmuch as the heart is the most important part of man--for out of it are the issues of life--it would be natural to expect that Satan, when he intended to do mischief to manhood, would be sure to make his strongest and most perpetual attacks upon the heart. What we might have guessed in wisdom is certainly true in experience; for although Satan will tempt and try us in every way, though every gate of the town of Mansoul may be battered, though against every part of the walls thereof he will be sure to bring out his great guns, yet the place against which he levels his deadliest malice and his most furious strength, is the heart. Into the heart, already of itself evil enough, he thrusts the seeds of every evil thing, and doth his utmost to make it a den of unclean birds, a garden of poisonous trees, a river flowing with destructive water. Hence, again, arises the second necessity that we should be doubly cautious in keeping the heart with all diligence; for if, on the one hand, it be the most important, and, on the other hand, Satan, knowing this, makes his most furious and determined attacks against it, then, with double force the exhortation comes, “Keep thy heart with all diligence.” And the promise also becomes doubly sweet from the verydact of the double danger—the promise which says, “ The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We shall notice, first of all, that which keeps the heart and mind. Secondly, we shall note how to obtain it—for we are to understand this promise as connected with certain precepts which come before it. And then, when we have had this, we shall