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but we stand here like the great apostle who wrote the text-"earthen veseels" – "vessels of mercy.” Listen to me-How sweet is the thought, that when Paul speaks of sinners he speaks of himself as “ the chief of sinners," when he speaks of saints, he takes the lowest place in that scale, " less than the least of all saints" -and, yet, though "less than the least of all-is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” How I would still dwell upon the thought-“ vessels of mercy!!" because it is such a sweet and full Scripture! It only contains three words, but to me it seems to be the very synopsis of the whole gospel, the epitome of the whole magnificent charter of salvation—“Vessels OF MERCY AFORE PREPARED UNTO GLORY."
Suppose there had been no mercy. We read the other day in the various newspapers of the fall of Delhi-of the victory that had been obtained by the British bayonet. The flag of victory now floats upon those battlements, where before, butchery, and cruelty, and cowardice, and Sepoy and Ma. hommedan devilishness had deluged the place with blood. We have heard that the British soldier, blessed by the God of battles, had been able to subdue that celebrated fortress, and to carry it at the point of the bayonet. We have heard of those in our own country who have been making speeches upon the occasion, discussing whether or not mercy should be shown to the rebels. It is no subject for me in this place. It is a subject for a senator on the floor of the House of Commons to discuss, whether mercy should be shown or not, to Nena Sahib, if he be taken prisoner. But the thing I have to proclaim to Sepoys in London, (for in one sense you are mutineers,) is, that MERCY will be shown you, if you are a “VESSEL OF MERCY." It all hinges upon That. I am not going to turn Methodist in the pulpit; I am not going to coax and woo you, and try to persuade you to come; bat I tell you, you shall come, if you are a "vessel of mercy." I tell the greatest sinner in the church, that! There may be some Mary Magdalene straggled in here tonight to hear the babbler from Sussex; there may be some Manasseh sitting among these pews; there may be some Saul of Tarsus too!-I tell you, that even for such an one, (if it is to-night a time of favour to hear and receive the know. ledge of the truth, if it is to-night a time of favour to any one "vessel of mercy,") that that mercy shall be poured into your soul, whether you will or not. Toplady says, " a child of God is like a tumbler without a foot; it can only stand as it is held up.” If it were not held up it would hold nothing, and would fall over. So, you can only contain mercy in you, as you are a
vessel of mercy" held up. "Hold Thou me up,” (said an experimental sinner,) and I shall be safe.” No man more experimentally knew than David did, that he needed the upholding power of God. “The man after God's own heart”-such is his description in the Bible--guilty of the double sin of adultery and murder had the experimental cry afterwards forced from his very soul-" Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe, and I will have respect unto Thy statutes continually."
My hearers, it is a great mercy to know that God will teach His own people, not by halves, but entirely and fully the TRUTH. It is the blessed statement of a man of God, that “if ihings were otherwise than they are they would be all wrong" —everything is just as it should be-all things are working together for good to those that love God-everything is just working together to effect His own purposes. You may be tried by man or by woman; you may be persecuted; you may be belied ; you may be assailed on all sides-listen to this—" The wrath of man shall praise Thee."-" The remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.” I may be speaking here to some who are suffering for the truth's sake-reviled. It is so amid the masses of London-it is so in the
If we are made faithful, we are attacked by all sorts and conditions of men. And yet we stand. “ Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us Out of thine hand, o king." I may repeat here a text that I was preaching on with some comfort the other Sunday to my own home flock. Talking of the persecutions of the people of God, the astonished king says to his counsellors—“ Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire ! They answered and said unto the king, True O king. He answered and said, Lo; I see four men loose."--(my hearers, do not pass from that word, “ loose,' in a hurry; I shall go back again to it)—" walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
scarcely dare to annotate such a magnificent Scripture as that. Its climax seems to be in its own inspired statement, and needs no exposition from such a tongue as mine.-Yet it may be for the comfort of the * vessels of mercy" now hanging upon my lips that I should say a word on it. I may be speaking to some brother or sister now in the furnace, in the experience of the narrow pathway. Do you know what it is to walk loose in the midst of the fire ? in the sweet liberty of the Gospel, loose in the fire? What was it that loosed the bonds which the wretched king had commanded to bind their bodies with What was it that enabled them to bask in the glorious liberty of Zion's chil. dren? WHO WAS THEIR COMPANION IN THAT FIRE ? Nebuchadnezzar had not cast the fourth into the fire ? but THE FOURTH CAME into the fire to save HIS CHILDREN THERE. It was the persecutions against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego-God's love, that brought the "FOURTH" there, that brought Himshall I say, like a feeling mother to the bedside of her crying and pained child ? Such a simile would not do; no mother could fully enter into that feeling. It was LOVE DIVINE!! The Watcher had allowed Nebuchadnezzar to go as far as God intended ; and when His children were in that fire-then—" the form of the fourth was like the Son of God." As to the companionship of men and women, Hart is quite right in what he says
“Companions if we find,
Alas! how soon they're gone!”
But the companionship to the “vessels of mercy" of the Son of God is most fully prizedand known when they are in the fire, or when they are in the den of “lions.” I can imagine Daniel in the lion's den. You may have heard the other day of a tiger that escaped out of a van in London and injured two boys. The papers have been full of it. Have you not heard something from a better paper of Daniel in the den of lions, and how he escaped ? The Lord allowed Darius to have his lions in the den, and He allowed him to throw Daniel into the den. They could not stop Daniel praying; he would pray. He was no hypocrite about it, for his windows were all open, and they could all see him pray. They, therefore, put him into the den. Oh! what a beautiful picture! The picture of a “vessel of mercy.” Look at Daniel in the den of lions--the savage beasts, the monster quadrupeds, before whom everything would tremble-look at Daniel patting as it were their backs as you would a domestic dog. “Through faith, the saints are said to have • stopped the mouths of lions," and "out of weakness were made strong.” What a wonderful. thing is a saved man! a man just as bad naturally as his neighbour, but “a vessel of mercy afore prepared unto glory!!"
My hearers, I have not nearly got into the depth of the subject that this great verse sets before me, but I ask you once, again, as I did before, what do you know of guilt? what do you know of sin : what do you know of temptation? what do you know of heart depravity? These are the things that teach men the value of the blood. For my own part-(and it is as needful for me to preach it to a London church, as I am compelled continually to insist on it to my own home flock)-I am sick of professors. Toplady felt this. He said, “profession is not possession.” Now we are living in a peculiar day. It is the fashion now to be evangelical. I know what the word, “evangelical” means in its classicality, but what it means now, as applied indiscriminately to carnal professors—I believe is, arrant hypocrites. The Gospel remains the same as of old ; and the only way for a man to value Christ, and to long for the blood that cleanseth from all sin, is to be made to feel himself a wicked, vile, carnal, sensual, sinner-nothing else. But, then, look at the love that has “afore prepared unto glory the vessels of mercy !" Look how in a previous chapter the Apostle speaks, Romans viii. 35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ?” Why, NOTHING CAN !! I surely have preached to you before, that a question in the Bible is a peculiar idiom, by which it is intended to give a sentence a stronger force ; 80 that when the word comes in the shape of a question, “ Who can separate us from the love of Christ ?" the Apostle means that nothing can separate us from His love! It is not as we say in common conversation, How do you do ?' But it is, if I may so call it, a strong affirmation! meaning that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Now, let us see how he follows that out-he gives a list of what the Church knows! The Apostle says, “TRIBULATION?"- Shall that separate us? why, it draws us nearer.' I was preaching at home on Sunday on this text, “ Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, horo that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?" Now, follow me here; “ Examine yourselves" "prove your own selves.” Prove your own selves by trial, prove your own selves by temptation, prove your own selves by a feeling sense of sin--the only way to prove a child of God. It is the burnt child that dreads the fire. The best way to make a little tiresome child, that will play with the fire, not to do so, is to let it burn its fingers. “ Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ?" shall these separate us ? Not any one of them. Now there is a large congregation here before me, and I like to be a separator in the churches. I like, wherever I go, to “take forth the precious from the vile," and I ask how many there are who understand the Apostle's statement? “ As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long ; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.". "We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” What is the church called in Zechariah? “ The flock of slaughter!" And how is that expounded—you, O! poor of the flock-slaughtered ones ? “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors." This is what the “ vessels of mercy" alone know, Now, what are “these things ?" " Tribulation !" that stands first. “ Tribulation !" What troubles in the family! troubles within! troubles in soul! troubles without contempt and hatred as they despised my Blessed Master—they hated and spake evil of Him! All these things trouble us. Flesh and blood rise up; flesh and blood like to be comfortable! But it is trouble that makes the promise sweet. Look, how sweetly Newton was taught, when he says
“ Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer,
Lay me low and keep me there."
I would not give a straw for your Christianity if you know not what trouble is. Then, the Apostle adds, “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, ne angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." “ Which is in Christ Jesus our Lord !" There is the treasury! Look where the treasure is deposited, “ The love of God which is in Christ Jesus our LORD.
Thus far have I gone through the first portion of the text on " the vessels of mercy which He had afore prepared unto glory.” Can there be any subject like this? I cannot express what I would express on such a tremendous Scripture as this quarter of a verse contains ! “ A vessel of mercy" carries with it the reality of guilt! If there was no guilt—if there was no "sin !-We could not know the meaning even of the word “mercy.”-I ask not Dr. Johnson's Dietionary to tell me the definition of the word—but I take it in its gospel meaning-yea, I look into the dictionary of my own heart, and feeling guilt, depravity, and sin-convinced of sin, and depravity, knowing what in myself I am-I look to the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and then can understand something of its meaning !- Mercy !!
There is another portion in the text that I must glance at before I finish, upon the subject of " calling." “ Eden us, whom He hath called, not of the Jetcs only, but also of the Gentiles." I bave no occasion here to enter on this subject “ of Jew and Gentile.” There is only one church-whether a man be a Jew, a Gentile, a Churchman, or a Nonconformist, if he is in Christ, that is the point. There may be great discussions about whether Jews are to be suffered to sit in Parliament or not. That is a question of politics. But there can be no question that some Jews shall sit in heaven, there can be no question that some Gentiles shall be there also. Therefore, the Apostle John-now, hear me, for it is important—the Apostle John, in a controverted
passage in his First Epistle, says, “ And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous ; and He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” Not as it is in our English, " for the sins of the whole world,” but “for the whole world.” The Apostle John knew the Jews had got into a foolish feeling that no Gentile could be saved. They had got a supposition that only Jews could enter the kingdom of heaven; therefore, the Apostle John, who was the only then surviving Apostle corrects this statement—"If any man sin, we have an adroco ith the Father"- (xe have an Advocate, whether Jews or Gentiles); and, if we are “ vessels of mercy, afore prepared unto glory”—“ He is the propitiation for our sins” -(for the Jews' sins) "and not for our's only, but for the whole world," i.e. for the whole election of grace,” in every part of the world.
But I pass from the subject of Jews and Gentiles, and shall finish with the subject of " calling.” If I were to turn to different passages in Scripture upon the subject of effectual calling, I should be preaching here a long time, but I will only take one; one of the most incontrovertible passages in the whole Bible-one of the most convincing Scriptures that can possibly be adduced before a Christian audience-I mean in the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, "Who hath sared us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Now, mark me! salvation is first, calling is second. Like precedence in the different grades of society, where the duke at the queen's levee precedes the marquis, the marquis the earl, the earl the viscount, the viscount the baron, so in the gospel before me, salvation ranks before calling. What then, as a minister of God proclaiming the truth to you, do I deduce from this text? What, as a messenger of the church do I proclaim to you from this pulpit top ?-that saltation precedes calling ! and that therefore, every saved sinner must and shall be called. If, then, you and I receive an effectual call, it is an evidential test that we are saved, yea, have been saved from all eternity. I may give you another test on this point. Desire is an evidence! The cry, “ LORD, is it I ?” “ LORD, is it I ?" That question was asked on a memorable occasion of old! O! that I might so preach now as to bring into your hearts by the power of grace that intensity of desire" LORD is it I ? • Am I a tessel of mercy ?' ' Am I a sared sinner?' "Am I a called one ?' Jehovah has everlastingly saved His Churchand Ile will call His people ! " not according to our works !” Pride strives for mastery! It was pride that made poor Eve ensnare her husband in the Garden of Eden. “ Ye shall be as gods !” She could not withstand that, and the devil caught her in the snare. Beware of pride! the pride of works, the pride of self, the pride of other things. Men, professing men, and carnal men, are proud of their fancied works ! proud of their charities like to be talked of as men who give their money to this, and that, and the other !- who can distribute tracts, for a pretence make long prayers, attempt even expositions of the Bible, and all this “to be seen of men !" 0! my bearers, the pride of works is a besetting snare. But "by grace ye are saved !” Let me, therefore, like a revising barrister, who strikes out of the list of voters every one not entitled to a vote, so get into your consciences that everything false and unsound may be struck out and that you may know the TRUTH and live on it. “ Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
Now, in finishing, the point I desire to set before you is this :- Are you called? I shall rejoice, though I may know nothing of it, if you can say, • I am. But I shall not have been a useless minister in this pulpit to-vight, if by my feeble instrumentality I send away some uncommonly puzzled to know whether they are called or not. Like a child playing with a box of puzzles, I put it before you, and may God teach you to put it together. I wish I could repeat by heart that splendid passage in one of Toplady's sermons, where Christ called Matthew at the receipt of custom. I can give you just an outline of it. Toplady draws a picture of Matthew, the publican. He was a tax-gatherer-sitting at the receipt of custom, as you men of business go to your counting-houses, and was taking the toll from the passers to and fro the sea of Galilee. But amongst this crowd of persons a stranger happened to pass, and from IIis mouth proceeded words different from all the others; and, to use the words of Augustus Toplady, Christ accosted him with that unexpected, but "resistless word,” “ Follow me,” it touched the publican's heart -he left his till-box and followed the Son of God. Have you had “ Follow me" said to you? You know it, my hearers, if you have. There will be no occasion for me to give you signs and evidences. There will be no occasion for me to pass before you the why, and the how, and the when. You may depend upon it that one of the sweetest tests of discipleship (and here I go down to the experience of the very babe in Christ)-is to be exercised about whether you are one for whom Christ died ! I cannot imagine a sweeter experience, though it is a trying one, than that of Newton
“'Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought;
Now, I shall close, dear hearers. The time is come to stop. Perhaps some of you will say, “Spicer Street is out of the way.' Why, you do not come half so far some of you as my home flock do. True, it is, as I said to my brother, this evening, Spicer Street is very dirty to day,' but not half so unclean as your hearts. You can escape the mud of Spicer Street in a cab, but it is only the blood of the Everlasting Covenant that will make your heart clean. I cannot help saying to night, it is a great comfort to me to see so many here on such a wet evening. We were told at one time that Spicer Street was so out of the way. I never fell in with that feeling. I never would give a straw for people who can only go to a convenient church! I know that people must travel for the Gospel ; if the Gospel is not worth coming for, it is not worth having. I am sure you will bear with my honest expression of feeling. You will not mind the distance to Spicer Sireet. I love the church-the Gospel is in the place. I shall read this text now, and finish, and may God bless it to your souls. “Vessels of mercy" — I wonder how many there are here to-niglit! What a type !-" ressels of mercy !" We read the other day in the Gazette, that the Queen has honoured one or two deserving men by raising them from the rank of commoners to the peerage. One of these is the great historian, Macauley, whom she has raised to a barony of the realm. That is a poor title compared with a “ tessel of mercy!" Much as I respect Lord Macauley, much as I admire his talent, much as I delighted to hear his eloquence when I heard him in the House of Commons, yet, what a poor title is his, compared with that of "a vessel of mercy''-Registered in the Book of God, who hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, “King of KinGS, AND LORD OF LORDS !!" The commoner has been raised by his earthly sovereign, and ranks amongst his peers, for merit, for talent-but the peers of heaven are not sa--you and I, if saved, are raised for nothing of our own-our's is the exaltation of grace alone, so Toplady sings
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simple, to Tüy cross I cling ;
“ A dessel of mercy afore prepared unto glory.” “ The vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, ecen us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.”
God bless the Gospel through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.