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the rings and the jewels away that she might again love him. It is even so with us; God loves his children and he gives us strong faith and gives us joy and comfort, and then if we begin to set our hearts upon these more than upon him, he will come and take them away, for saith he, “ I must have all thy love. I gave thee these to win thy love, not to rob me of it, and inasmuch as thou dost divert thine heart into them, instead of allowing thy love to flow in one channel towards me; I will stop up the channel of thy cjmfort, that thy heart may cleave to me, and to me alone. Oh, for a heart that is like Anacreon's lyre, that would sing of love alone, that whatever subject you tried to bring to it, it would not resound with anything sa ve love! Oh, that our hearts were like that towards God, so that when we tried to sing of comforts and of mercies, our hearts would only sing of God! Oh, that every string were made so divine, that it would never trill to any finger but the finger of the chief player upon my stringed instruments, the Lord Jesus Christ! Oh, that we had a heart like David's harp, that none but David could play, a soul that none but Jesus could make glad and cause to rejoice! Take care Christian, lest thy conforts like the moon eclipse thy sun. That is a sermon for thee, remember it, and be wise from it.
And let the Christian recollect another sermon. Let him take his child out, and when he takes him outside the door, and he sees the sun begin to grow dark and all things fade away, and a strange colour coming over the landscape, the child will begin to cry and say, * Father the sun is going out, he his dying; we shall never have any light again.” And as gradually the black moon creeps over the sun's broad surface and there remains only a solitary streak of light, the tears run down the child's eyes as he says, “The sun is nearly quenched; God has blown it out, it will never shine upon us again. We shall have to live in darkness;" and he would begin to weep for sorrow of heart. You would touch your child on the head, and say, "No, my little boy, the sun has not gone out it is only the moon passing across its face; it will shine bright enough presently.” And your boy would soon believe you; and as he saw the light returning, he would feel thankful, and would believe what you had said, that the sun was always the same. Now, you will be like a child to-morrow, When you get into trouble you will be saying, "God has changed." Then let God's Word speak to you as unto children, and let it say, "No, he has not changed; with him is no variableness, neither shadow of a turning."
"My soul through many changes goes,
And now, last of all, a total eclipse is one of the most terrific and grand sights that ever will be seen. We shall not see the eclipse here in all its majestic terrors but when the eclipse of the sun is total it is sublime. Travellers have given us some records of their own experience. When the sun has been setting far away, the mountains seemed to be covered with darkness, except upon their summits, where there was just a streak of light, when all below was swathed in darkness. The heavens grew darker and darker and darker, until at last it became as black as night, and here and there the stars might be seen shining, but beside them there was no light, and nothing could be discerned. I was thinking that if on a sudden the sun should set in ten-fold darkness, and never should rise again, what a horrid world this would be! If to-morrow the sun should actually die out, and never shine any more, what a fearful world this would be to live in! And then the thought strikes me-Are there not some men, and are there not some here, who will one day have a total eclipse of all their comforts? Thank God, whatever eclipse happens to a Christian, it is never a total eclipse: there is always a ring of comfort left; there is always a crescent of love and mercy to shine upon him. But mark thee, sinner, when thou comest to die, bright though thy joys be now, and fair thy prospects, thou wilt suffer a total eclipse. Soon shall your sun set, and set in everlasting night. A few more months, and your gaiety shall be over; your dreams of pleasure shall be dissipated by the terrible wailing of the judgment-trump, a few more months, and this gay dance of revelry of earth shall all have passed away; and that passed away, remember, you have nothing to expect in the world to come but “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.” Can you guess what the Saviour meant, when he said “outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth?" Can any tell except those eclipsed spirits that have been these many years writhing in the torments of eternal judgment; can any tell what is meant by that “ Outer darkness !" It is darkness so thick, that hope, which lives anywhere, cannot dart even a feeble ray through its impenetrable gloom; it is a darkness so black that you have no candle of your own fancy, no fair imagination to illuminate. A horror thicker than the darkness of Egypt, a darkness that may be felt will get hold upon the spirit. “Depart, ye cursed,” shall roll, like volumes of cloud and darkness over the accursed spirit. "Cursed, cursed, cursed,” pronounced by the Sacred Trinity thrice, shall come, come like a three-fold ocean of unutterable depth, and shall in its caverns hide the soul beyond the reach of hope.
I am but talking in simile and figure of a matter which none of us can thoroughly understand, but which each of us must know, unless we are saved by grace. My fellow-sinner, hast thou to-day any hope that when death shall come thou shalt be found in Christ? If thou hast none, beware and tremble; if thou hast any, take care it is “ a good hope through grace.” If thou hast no hope, but art seeking one, hear me while I tell thee the way of salvation. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, became man; he lived in this world, he suffered and he died; and the object of his death was this--that all who believe may be saved. What you are required to believe is simply this. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: do you feel that you are a sinner? If so, he came to save you. All you have to do—and that grace makes you do-is to believe that he came to save sinners, and therefore came to save you. Mark, he did not come to save all; he came to save sinners. All men who can claim the title of sinners, Christ came to save. If you are too good to be a sinner, then you have no part in this matter; if you are too proud to confess that you are a sinner, then this has nothing to do with you; but if with a humble heart, with a penitential lip, you can say, “Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner," then Christ was punished for your sins, and you cannot be punished for them. Christ has died instead of you; believe on him, and you may go your way rejoicing that you are saved now, and shall be saved eternally. May God the Holy Spirit first teach you that you are a sinner, then lead you to believe that Christ died for sinners, and then apply the promise, so that you may see that he died for you; and that done, you may “rejoice in hope of the glory of God," and your sun shall never set in an eclipse, but shall set on earth to rise with tenfold splendour in the upper sphere, where it shall never know a cloud, a setting, or an eclipse.
NEW VOLUME BY MR. SPURGEON.-Now ready.— Vol. II. of The Pulpit LIBRART,
containing Twe've Sermons (Revised and Corrected) by the Rev. C. II. SPURG EOS, hitherto unpublished; printed in large type, with Preface and Portrait. Cloth, 35,
BY THE REV. J. J. WEST, M.A.,
(Rector of Wiachelsea, Sussex.)
AT ALL SAINT'S CHURCH, SPICER STREET, LONDON.
“The vessels of mercy which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles ?”- Romans ix. 23, 24 . First of all observe ! the characters that are spoken of, “vessels of mercy!" These vessels are distinctively said to have been the ones whom God had “afore prepared unto glory.” In the first place, then, I proceed to preach the doctrine enunciated in the text, and afterwards will endeavour to set before you the experimental part of it as it has been opened up to me. Before all worlds God appointed a church. Before the fall in Adam everything was decreed, and fore-ordained of Jehovah! The election of grace were the men and women afore prepared unto glory! Christ the Saviour of His church was everlastingly appointed by the ETERNAL TRINITY to be the one only salvation of that people so saved in purpose and decree. Everything was predestinated concerning Him and His people! The very moment when he was to die upon the cross was appointed of God-and while we know from Scripture that Pilate and the Jews were the persons who delivered Him up to be nailed on the cross, ret, my hearers, we must bear in mind that they were but the instruments employed to carry out the wonderful designs of God. For as we read in one of the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles :-" Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Or as it is in Greek, “ delivered by the determinate fore-appointment of God'-a more telling word than “foreknowledge." The Arminian tries to quibble on the word “foreknow," but I tell the Arminian whether he is a Greek scholar or not, that he is in utter ignorance if he does not confess that the word in the Greek, where our English version has " foreknowledge' is “fore-appointment!” Therefore I take that text in Acts ii. 23—(and as if I was now reading it out of the Greek Testament, render it thus)-" Hin, being delivered by the determinate counsel and FORE-APPOINTMENT of GoD ye have taken"--and ye must take Him, God, has appointed that ye should take Him)—"and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.". The Eternal God appointed and decreed that! Decreed that His Son should die! Decreed the vast transactions of Calvary's cross! Decreed that Pilate even against his own conscientious convictions, (coward as he was on the judgment-seat) should yield to the rabble cry, and acquiesce in their demand ! But God's everlasting purpose was over all this,
DEITY was carrying on His own designs. THE FATHER, THE Son, and Me Holy Ghost, the Trinity in Unity, the Unity in Trinity delivered up the helpless, the meek, the lowly Christ then and there to die for such a hell-deserving sinner as I am-to die to make an all-sufficient atonement for the sins of the people for whom He died on the cross. And, my hearers, there is something distinguishing in the history of the
Two thieves crucified with the one Saviour ! one on the right hand and the other on the left. Both had been joining together in blasphemy and insult. But as Augustus Toplady so beautifully expresses it-(in one of his published sermons-Christ the Almighty God, Jesus the sinner's Friend and the sinner's Saviour)--"having amidst all His personal agonies detained Himself on earth, until He had looked a dying blasphemer into repentance"and as I may add, forced the prayer into the penitent's inmost heart—" Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” He could not die until He had done that. I believe that in these three crosses we have the largest history possible of the TRUTH! We have there the Christ of the everlasting covenant-we have two men on either side, both equally bad, both equally convicted, both felons, as we should say in England, against the laws of their country, and suffering the penalties of their offences ; yet the Lord takes one and leaves the other. Will you blink the doctrine of election?
“ Knoro ye not that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates." He was in the one; He was not in the other. And because He was in the one, the one must know it. Do you not think Christ loved the penitent thief before all words, as He did Mary Magdalene? None could be worse than either the thief or she. There may be some very bad ones here to-night; but none can be worse than the dying thief or Mary Magdalene! Why seven devils had been cast out of her.
But I am getting away from the text. My point is, “afore prepared unto glory.” The penitent thief was ! Mary Magdalene was! Manasseh was! How many of you are? But we know well that mere doctrine will not feed the sheep
We have plenty of doctrine. Men are getting too cunning in their pulpits now not to preach doctrine. We churchmen should. be guilty of perjury if we did not preach sound truth. I am too old a soldier in the ranks of the faithfuz Church of England not to know that the people of God who really value us in our pulpits do not want to hear only about doctrines. We have got doctrine insisted on in our Prayer Books. The Articles of the Church of England have doctrine quite sufficient. We have ample doctrine in the desk; therefore, we will have a little experience and practice in the pulpit. We have liberty in the pulpit. No one can call me to order for what I preach, if I preach according to the Book. That is the sword of the Spirit, bound and girt upon my thigh as a soldier in the pulpit. Now, I leave doctrine, and come to the “i vessels of mercy." Here is something to encourage and comfort the " poor of the flock.” What is the meaning of a vessel? A vessel is that which holds something.. A vessel of mercy! What a sweet description of a chosen sinner-elect in CHRIST before all worlds! What is the thing he has to hold ? A vessel is to hold whatever is put into itwater or anything else! Do you hold MERCY! Now, do I get into your heart? “ Vessels of MERCY afore prepared unto glory." We are empty vessels in ourselves! and we can only receive the thing that is poured into us. The publican cried, "God be merciful to me a sinner :" I believe that that man received the inpouring of mercy and of love ! “ A vessel of mercy."
Let me go into the subject of mercy. I never can choose a subject! There is a wide difference between a minister taking a text and a text taking a minister. My brother, John Wallinger, the faithful preacher of the Gospel in Bath, congratulated me one day because I had been taught the difference between my taking a text and a text taking me. When I came from Cambridge, with my sermon, written nicely out, in my pocket, it generally took me through the week to find a text for the Sunday. But since the Lord has, as I trust, sent me to preach the Gospel, I sometimes never get a text till the
hymn is just concluding when I am in the pulpit. A "vessel of mercy !" How is it with regard to you-you that are sitting in those pews? You all deserve to be damned. I know not to whom I am speaking-I may be preaching to many moral pharisees, scribes, priests; I am preaching to many persons of whom I know nothing; I know not who may be here. But mark me-you are all deserving of eternal damnation; and you will have it except you are a "vessel of mercy!" If you are a vessel of mercy, you must be made to desire to know that you are such a vessel, and that you must have something poured into you, Can anything be more simple and plain than the words I have before me. And depend upon it, this is the only way profitably to preach the Gospel. It is one thing to be charmed with eloquence. It may be a delight to go into the House of Commons and hear the eloquence of a Gladstone, or into the Courts of Law and hear a Thesiger speak, but in the pulpit you must be content to hear plain, simple, old truths spoken, to have things told you that benefit you, for the test is coming upon every one of us-a dying bed and a dying hour!! And now I ask the plain and simple question, are we®“ vessels of mercy !" I know a godly farmer in Kent who wrote to me the other day, and told me
" that the thing he longed to know was, whether he was a son of God, for,” says he, •sons go to heaven, servants to hell.” Do you want to know whether you are each a vessel of mercy and I desire to preach not to please you, but to be made a blessing to you. It makes no difference to me whether you despise me, or whether you love me, (as I had rather you do,) and receive me as a messenger of God to your soul's eternal good; but I insist upon it, you must have the experimental reality of knowing whether you are a “ vessel of mercy.” And if you are a “tessel of mercy” you will know what it is to have mercy, or the desire for mercy poured in. You will know this in your solitary moments, and cry before God-not to be seen of men, not to adopt the fashion of the day, making broad the phylactery and standing at the corners of the street, but “ When thou prayest enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” There is no gew-gaw show in this ! I believe, now, that many men for show of profession can pray by the hour together, but to my mind the sweetest prayer is, “ Our Father which art in heaven," and the sweetest collect, after all, is in the Bible, “God be merciful to me a sinner."
If, my hearers, you understand the truth that I am enunciating, you must feel your guilt; you must know your depravity; you must have come up to the standard of Isaiah's measure, that, “ From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.” They tell us the Duke of Cambridge, the commander-in-chief, has altered the standard for recruits for the army; but my Commander-in-chief never intends to alter His. It stands written in this Book, that “ From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.” Now, when guilt has taken possession of the heart, when sin has been brought home with the convincing power of the Holy Ghost, when we are taught our depravity and made to feel our sin, then it is we feel our needand hope that we are made “ vessels of mercy." I may quote a verse from Kent, that has been most blessed to my own soul in many a trying hour :
“What, though he feels himself depraved,
To groan beneath the power of sin." Am I going down to too low a standard ! I am not asking whether you are Calvinists or anything else. I am not asking whether you hold the doctrines of grace, but I ask you, are you laid low at the foot of mercy? are you laid low, stripped of all your own creature-merit and righteousness, with the one cry in your heart
Mercy, good.Lord, mercy I ask,
This is the total sum;
Lord, let Thy mercy come !" That verse is in the version of the Psalms; I delight to think that the church has got such an experimental verse as that in her own Hymn Book at the end of the Prayer Book. Oh! if the bishops, and the priests, and the deacons of the Church of England carry that out in their parishes, throughout the length and breadth of the land, we should “indeed be sterrible as an army with banners" against the devil and the whole host of the enemy. A "vessel of mercy !" Now, what is a minister of the Gospel? “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Here, then, is the description of a vessel in the pulpit for vessels in the pews. I am sure my brother in the desk will agree with me, that when he and I are enabled to come up into this pulpit, full of that which proclaims mercy to perishing sinners, we shall be made acceptable, despite the uevil and all his schemes against us, if vessels of mercy “ a fore prepared unto glory" sit in the pews. We shall have something good for you; we shall have " A feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”. We shall have a feast, but the Lord must teach us our own want of mercy before we can proclaim it to the people! We do not stand up here like the bigot priest, full of himself,