Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

spirit ? The man overtaken by sickness or calamity, may take to the maddening excitement 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 hard 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 bas 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."

136

[graphic]

Delivered ON SABBATH EVENING, FLUARY 21, 1858, THE

REV. C. H. SPURCHORAL COLLEGE & SE AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWAIK,

"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 exliortation 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 very fact 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 Nos. 180-81.

Penny Pulpit, Nos. 2,919-20.

try to show how it is true that the peace of God does keep the mind free from the utlacks of Satan, or delivers it from those attacks when they are made.

I. First, then, beloved, the preservation which God in this promise confers upon the saints, is “THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING,” to keep us through Jesus Christ. It is called PEACE ; and we are to understand this in a double sense. There is a peace of God which exists between the child of God and God his Judge, a peace which may be truly said to pass all understanding. Jesus Christ has offered so all-sufficient a satisfaction for all the claims of injured justice, that now God hath no fault to find with his children. “He seeth no sin in Jacob, nor iniquity in Israel ;” nor is he angry with them on account of their sins-a peace unbroken and unspeakable being established by the atonement which Christ hath made on their behalf.

Hence flows a peace experienced in the conscience, which is the second part of this peace of God : for, when the conscience sees that God is satisfied, and is no longer at war with it, then it also becomes satisfied with man; and conscience, which was wont to be a great disturber of the peace of the heart, now gives its verdict of acquittal, and the heart sleeps in the arms of conscience, and finds a quiet resting-place there. Against the child of God conscience brings no accusation, or if it brings the accusation, it is but a gentle one-& gentle chiding of a loring friend who hints that we have done amiss, and that we had better change, but doth not afterwards thunder in our ears the threat of a penalty. Conscience knows full well that peace is made betwixt the soul and God, and, therefore, it does not hint that there is any thing else but joy and peace to be looked forward to by the believer. Do we understand anything of this double peace ? Let us pause here and ask ourselves a question upon this doctrinal part of the matter-Let us make it an experimental question with our own hearts:-“Come, my soul, art thou at peace with God ? Hast thou seen thy pardon signed and sealed with the Redeemer's blood ? Come, answer this, my heart; hast thou cast thy sins upon the head of Christ, and hast thou seen them all washed away in the crimson streams of blood ? Canst thou feel that now there is a lasting peace between thyself and God, so that, come what may, God shall not be angry with thee-shall not condemn thee-shall not consume thee in his wrath, nor crush thee in his hot displeasure ? If it be so, then, my heart, thou canst scarcely need to stop and ask the second question-Is my conscience at peace ? For, if my heart condemn me not, God is greater than my heart, and doth know all things; if my conscience bears witness with me, that I am a partaker of the precious grace of salvation, then happy am I ! I am one of those to whom God hath given the peace which passeth all understanding. Now, why is this called “the peace of God?” We suppose it is because it comes from God-because it was planned by God-because God gave his Son to make the peace-because God gives his Spirit to give the peace in the conscience because, indeed, it is God himself in the soul, reconciled to man, whose is the peace. And while it is true that this man shall have the peace-even the Man-Christ, yet we know it is because he was the God-Christ that he was our peace. And hence we may clearly perceive how Godhead is mixed up with the peace which we enjoy with our Maker and with our conscience.

Then we are told that it is "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." What does he mean by this? He means such a peace that the understanding can never understand it, can never attain to it. The understanding of mere carnal man can never comprehend this peace. He who tries with a philosophic look to discover the secret of the Christian's peace, finds himself in a maze. “I know not how it is, nor why it is,” saith he; “I see these men hupted through the earth; I turn the pages of history, and I find them hunted to their graves. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and tormented; yet I also see upon the Christian's brow a calm serenity. I cannot understand this; I do not know what it is. I know that I myself, even in my merriest moments, am disturbed; that when my enjoyments run the highest, still there are waves of doubt and fear across my mind. Then why is this? How is it that the Christian can attain a rest so calm, so peaceful, and so quiet?” Understanding can never get to that peace which the Christian hath attained. The philosopher may teach us much; he can never give us rules whereby to reach the peace that Christians bave in their conscience. Diogenes may tell us to do without everything, and may live in his tub, and then think himself happier than Alexander, and that he enjoys peace; but we look upon the poor creature after all, and though we may be astonished at his courage, yet we are obliged to despise his folly. We do not believe that even when he had dispensed with everything, he possessed a quiet of mind, a total and entire peace, such as the true believer can enjoy. We find the greatest philosophers of old laying down maxims for life which they thought would certainly promote happiness. We find that they were not always able to practise them themselves; and many of their disciples, when they laboured hard to put them in execution, found themselves encumbered with impossible rules to accomplish impossible objects. But the Christian man does with faith what a man can never do himself. While the poor understanding is climbing up the crags, faith stands on the summit; while the poor understanding is getting into a calm atmosphere, faith flies aloft and mounts higher than the storm, and then looks down on the valley and smiles while the tempest blows beneath its feet. Faith goes further than understanding, and the peace which the Christian enjoys is one which the worldling cannot comprehend and cannot himself attain. “The peace of God which passeth all understanding."

And this peace is said to “keep the mind through Christ Jesus." Without Christ Jesus this peace would not exist; without Christ Jesus this peace, even where it has existed, cannot be maintained. Daily visits from the Saviour, continual lookings by the eye of faith to him that bled upon the cross, continual drawings from his ever-flowing fountain, make this peace broad, and long, and enduring. But take Christ Jesus, the channel of our peace away, and it fades and dies, and droops, and comes to nought. A Christian hath no peace with God except through the atonement of his Lord Jesus Christ.

I have thus gone over what some will call the dry doctrinal part of the subject - The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I cannot show you what that peace is, if you have never felt it; but yet I think I could tell you where to look for it, for I have some times seen it. I have seen the Christian man in the depths of poverty, when he lived from hand to mouth, and scarcely knew where he should find the next meal, still with his mind unruffled, calm, and quiet. If he had been as rich as an Indian prince, yet could he not have had less care; if he had been told that his bread should always come to his door, and the stream which ran hard by should never dry—if he had been quite sure that ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning, and again in the evening, he would not have been one whit more calm. There is his neighbour on the other side of the street not half so poor, but wearied from morning to night, working his fingers to the bone, bringing himself to the grave with anxiety; but this poor good man, after having industriously laboured, though he found he had gained little with all his toil, yet hath sanctified his little by prayer, and hath thanked his Father for what he had; and though he doth not know whether he will have more, still he trusted in God, and declared that his faith should not fail him, though providence should run to a lower ebb than he had ever seen. There is “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” I have seen that peace, too, in the case of those who have lost their friends. There is a widow-her much loved husband lies in the coffin; she is soon to part with him.

« ZurückWeiter »