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fury, and with really no real dread of its coming. But if the preaching take a different turn, and there be interspersed with the descriptions of vengeance descriptions of the privileges and portions of the believer in Christ, how easily on insufficient grounds, they may take these privileges as their own! Here, in. deed, it is that Ezekiel may have been to his hearers as "a very lovely song.” If a man has but persuaded himself, without good reason, of his own conversion and security, every description of hell may give him pleasure, as showing him what he has escaped ; and every description of heaven, as showing him what joys he shall possess. There is nothing needed, but that a man work himself into the notion of his being a believer, and it may be a source of the greatest satisfaction itself to him to attend the ministrations of the word, and then this satisfaction will just help to confirm him in his delusion, seeming like a proof that he has a spiritual perception, and enjoys spiritual truths. Therefore it's a matter of prime moment, that we warn all our hearers against the inferring that they have undergone a moral change, from the finding that they have pleasure in listening to the gospel. If converted, they will listen with pleasure ; but they may listen with pleasure, and, nevertheless, be far from the kingdom of God. Herod heard John, and the Jews heard Ezekiel, gladly; yet the former had not put away Herodias, nor the latter their idols.
We have not space to go into all the producing causes of this false glad. ness; but we have said enough to set those who feel interested in preaching, and who may be disposed to take the feeling as an evidence of conversion, on the careful examining whether or no they are not deceiving themselves, and whether their gladness ought not to be their sorrow. There is many an enthusiastic lover of music, who mistakes for piety and religious emotion, the feelings of which he is conscious, as the sacred anthem comes pealing down the aisle of a cathedral, just because he feels an elevation of soul and a kindling of heart. As on a tide of melody poured forth from a choired orchestra there coines floating to him the psalmody of the sweet singer of Israel, he will imagine that he has really an affection towards spiritual things, and really aspires after heaven. Alas! alas ! though music may indeed be an auxiliary to devotion, it proves no devotion, that you can be thrilled and lifted out of yourselves by the power of music. It is altogether on your natural feelings or sensibilities, which may or may not be drawn out by religion, that the lofty strain tells with so subduing an effect; and even when you are most carried away and overcome by the varied notes, I see no reason whatsoever, why you might not return from the oratorio of the “Creation" and ascribe the universe to chance, or from that of the “Messiah” and be ready, with the Jews to crucify the Christ. It is the same with preaching. The eloquence of Ezekiel was stern and severe; it was commonly employed on wrath and calamity, yet, “thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one thać hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument.” You may, then, alternately tremblo and soar, and weep and exult, as the preacher discourses on the various truths of the Bible; but you are not to take this as any necessary evidence that the truths themselves have power over your souls. You must judge of this power by what you are out of church, when there is not the stimulus of the sermon. You must read it in the sermon of your own lives, in subdued lusts, vanquished passions, undertaken duties. Do not form your opinion of yourself in church, when excitement may pass for piety, or the gladness of the hypocrite for that of the believer. Get your information in church, and then go home to apply it in deciding your condition. Oh, what may a minister become, when men have heard gladly, and yet remain unconverted! Ye who are yet fast bound in the fetters of sin, persist in wickedness, and thus do your part towards wearing down those who have watched for your souls, as they that may give account, and the memory of what you now hear gladly, but vainly, may haunt you, when there is no place for repentance; and the minister nay rise before you as an accusing spirit, and what has been to you as a very lovely song” justify your being sentenced to the weeping and grashing of teeth. May God avert this from us all, through Jesus Christ!
THE REDEEMER'S PRAYER.
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, APRIL 1874, 1858, BY THE
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundations of the world."-John xvii. 24.
When the High Priest of old entered into the most holy place, he kindled the incense in his censer, and waving it before him, he perfumed the air with its sweet fragrance, and veiled the mercy seat with the denseness of its smoke. Thus was it written concerning him, “He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not.” Even so our Lord Jesus Christ, when he would once for all enter within the vail with his own blood to make an atonement for sin, did first offer strong crying and prayers. In this 17th chapter of John, we have, as it were, the smoking of the Saviour's pontifical censer. He prayed for the people for whom he was about to die, and ere he sprinkled them with his blood, he did sanctify them with his supplications. This prayer therefore stands pre-eminent in Holy Writ as the Lord's Prayer—the special and peculiar prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ; and “if,” as an old divine hath it, “it be lawful to prefer one Scripture above another, we may say, though all be gold, yet this is a pearl in the gold; though all be like the heavens, this is as the sun and stars.” Or if one part of Scripture be more dear to the believer than any other, it must be this which contains his Master's last prayer before he entered through the rent vail of his own crucified body. How sweet it is to see that not himself
, but his people, constituted the staple of his prayer! He did pray for himself-he said, "Father, glorify thou me!" but while he had one prayer for himself, he had many for his people. Continually did he pray for them—“Father, sanctify them!" “ Father, keep them!" "Father, make them one!" And then he concluded his supplication with, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." Melancthon well said there was never a more excellent, more holy, more fruitful, and more affectionate voice ever heard in heaven or in earth, than this prayer.
We shall first notice the style of the prayer ; secondly, the persons interested in it; and thirdly, the great petitions offered—the last head constituting the main part of our discourse. No. 188.
Penny Pulpit, No. 2,938.
I. First, notice THE STYLE OF THE PRAYER-it is singular: it is, “ Father, I will.“ Now, I cannot but conceive that there is something more in the expression, I will." than a mere wish. It seems to me, that when Jesus said "I will," although perhaps it might not be proper to say that he made a demand, yet we may say that he pleaded with authority, asking for that which he knew to be his own, and uttering an “I will” as potent as any fiat that ever sprang from the lips of the Almighty. “Father, I will." It is an unusual thing to find Jesus Christ saving to God, “I will." You know that before the mountains were brought forth, it was said of Christ, “in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, () God;" and we find whilst he was on earth, that he never mentioned his own will; that he expressly declared, “I came not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." It is true you do hear him when addressing men, saying “I will,” for he saith, “I will, be thou clean;" but in his prayers to his Father he prayed with all huniility;
“With sighs and groans he offered up,
Ilis humble suit below.”
“I will,” therefore, seems to be an exception to the rule; but we must remember that Christ was now in an exceptional condition. He had never been before where he was now. He was now come to the end of his work; he could say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” and therefore, looking forward to the time when the sacrifice would be complete and he should ascend on high, he sees that his work is done, and takes his own will back again and saith, “Father, I will."
Now, mark, that such a prayer as this would be totally unbecoming in our lips. We are never to say, “Father, I will." Our prayer is to be," Not my will, but thine be done.” We are to mention our wishes, but our wills are to subside into the will of God. We are to feel that whilst it is ours to desire, it is God's to will. But how pleasant, I repeat, it is to find the Saviour pleading with such authority as this, for this puts the stamp of certainty upon his prayer. Whatsoever he has asked for in that chapter he shall have beyond a doubt. At other times, when he pleaded as a Mediator, in his humility he was eminently successful in his intercessions; how much more shall his prayer prevail now that he takes to himself his great power, and with authority cries, * Father, I will." I love that opening to the prayer, it is a blessed guarantee of its fulfilment, rendering it so sure that we may now look upon Christ's prayer as a pro.nise which shall be assuredly fulfilled.
II. Thus much concerning the style of the prayer; and now we XOTICE THE PERSONS FOR WHOM HE PRAYED, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast giren mne, be with me where I am.” This was not an universal prayer. It was a prayer including within it a certain class and portion of mankind, who are designatel as * those whom the Father had given him.” Now we are taught to believe that God the Father did, from before the foundation of the world, give unto his Son Jesus Christ a number whom no man can number, who were to be the reward of his death, the purchase of the travail of his soul; who were to be infallibly brought unto everlasting glory by the merits of his passion, and the power of his resurrection. These are the people here referred to. Sometimes in Scripture they are called the elect, because when the Father gave them to Christ he chose them out from among men. At other times they are called the beloved, because God's love was set upon them of old. They are called Israel; for like Israel of old, they are a chosen people, a royal generation. They are called God's inheritance, for they are especially dear to God's heart; and as a man careth for his inheritance and his portion, so the Lord careth especially for them.
Let me not be misunderstood. The people whom Christ here prays for, are those whom God the Father out of his own free love and sovereign good pleasure ordained unto eternal life, and who, in order that his design might be accomplished, were given into the hands of Christ the Mediator, by him to be redeemed, sanctified, and perfected, and by him to be glorified everlastingly. These people, and none vthers, are the object of our Saviour's prayer. It is not for me to defend the doctrine; it is Scriptural, that is my only defence. It is not for me to vindicate God from any profane charge of partiality or injustice. If there be any wicked enough to impute this to him, let them settle the matter with their Maker. Let the thing formed, if it have arrogance enough, say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” I am not God's apologist; he needs no defender. “Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Hath he not, like the potter, power over the clay, to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?” Instead of disputing, let us enquire who are these people? Do we belong to them? Oh! let each heart now put the solemn query, “ Am I included in that happy throng whom God the Father gave to Christ? Beloved, I cannot tell you by the mere hearing of your names; but if I know your character, I can tell you decisively-or rather, you will need no telling, for the Holy Spirit will bear witness in your hearts that you are amongst the number. Answer this question-Have you given yourselves to Christ? Have you been brought, by the constraining power of his own free love, to make a voluntary surrender of yourself to him? Have you said, “O Lord, other lord's have had dominion over me; but now I reject them, and I give myself up to thee,
Other refuge have I none;
and as I have no other refuge, so I have no other Lord. Little am I worth; but such as I am, I give all I have and all I am to thee. It is true, I was never worth thy purchasing; but since thou hast bought me, thou shalt have me. Lord, I make a full surrender of myself to thee.” Well, soul, if thou hast done this, if thou hast given thyself to Christ, it is but the result of that ancient grant niade by Jehovah to his son long ere the worlds were made. And, once again, canst thou feel to-day that thou art Christ's? If thou canst not remember the time when he sought thee and brought thee to himself, yet canst thou say with the spouse, “I am my beloved's?" Can you now from your inmost soul say, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! If so, trouble not your minds about election; there is nothing troublesome in election to you. He that believes is elected, he who is given to Christ now, was given to Christ from before the foundation of the world. You need not dispute divine decrees, but sit down and draw honey out of this rock, and wine out of this flinty rock, Oh, it is a hard, hard doctrine to a man who has no interest in it, but when a man has once a title to it, then it is like the rock in the wilderness; it streams with refreshing water whereat myriads may drink and never thirst again. Well does the Church of England say of that doctrine, it “is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort tu godly persons." And though it be like the Tarpeian rock, whence many a malefactor has been dashed to pieces in presumption, yet it is like Pisgah, from whose lofty summit the spires of heaven may be seen in the distance. Again, I say, be not cast down, neither let your hearts be disconsolate. If you be given to Christ now, you are anong the happy number for whom he intercedes above, and you shall be gathered amongst the glorious throny, to be with him where he is, and to behold his glory.
II. I very briefly pass over these two points, because I desire to dwell upon the third, which is, THE PETITIONS WHICH THE SAVIOUR OFFERS.
Christ prayed, if I understand his prayer, for three things-things which consti. tute Ileaven's greatest joy, Heaven's sweetest enployment, and Heaven's highest privilé ge.
1. The first great thing he prayed for, is that which is heaven's greatest joy“ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." If you notice, every word in the sentence is necessary to its fulness. He does not sa -“ pray that those, whom thou hast given me, may be where I am;" bur, " with me where I am." And he does not only pray that they might be with him, but that they miglit be with him in the same place where he is. And mark! he did not say he wished his people to be in heaven, but with him in heaven, because that makes heaven lieaven. It is the very pith and marrow of heaven to be with Christ. Heaven without Christ would be but an empty place; it would lose its happiness; it would be a harp without strings; and where would be the niusic?-a sea without water, a very pool of Tantalus. He prayed then that we might be with Christ-that is our companionship; with him where he is that is our position. It seems as if he would tell us, that heaven is both a condition an. a siatu-in the company of Christ, and in the place where Christ is.
I might, if I chose, enlarge very much ou these points, but I just throw out the raw material of a few thoughts, that will furnish you with topics of meditation in
the afternoon. Let us now pause and think how sweet this prayer is, by contrasting it with our attainments on earth, “ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." Ah! brothers and sisters, we know : little of what it is to be with Christ. There are some happy moments, sweet pauses between the din of the continued battles of this wearied life there are some soft times, like couches of rest, wherein we do repose. There are hours when our Master comes to us, and makes us, or ever we are aware, like the chariots of Amminadib. It is true, we have not been caught up to the third heaven, like Paul, to hear words which it is unlawful for us to utter; but we have sometimes thought that the third heavens have come down to us. Sometimes I have said within myself, “ Well, if this be not heaven, it is next door to it," and we have thought that we were dwelling in the suburbs of the celestial city. You were in that land, which Bunyan calls the land Beulah. You were so near to heaven, that the angels did flit across the stream and bring you sweet bunches of myrrh, and bundles of frankincense, which grow in the beds of spices on the hills, and you pressed these to your heart and said with the spouse, “ A bundle of myrrh, is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts," for I am ravished with his love, and filled with his delights He hath made himself near to me, he hath unveiled his countenance and manifested all his love. But, beloved, while this gives us a foretaste of heaven, we may nevertheless use our state on earth as a complete contrast to the state of the glorified above. For here, when we see our Master, it is but at a distance. We are sometimes we think in his company, but still we cannot help feeling that there is a great gulf fixed between us, even when we come the nearest to him. We talk, you know, about laying our head upon his bosom, and sitting at his feet; but alas! we find it after all to be very metaphorical, compared with the reality which we shall enjoy above. We have seen his face, we trust we have sometimes looked into his heart, and tasted that he is gracious, but still long nights of darkness lay between us. We have cried again and again with the bride, “Oh, that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate." We were with him, but still he was in an upper-room of the house, and we below; we were with him, but still we felt that we were absent from him, even when we were the nearest to him.
Again, even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are! Christ comes and goes very much like an angel: his visits are few and tar between with the most of us, and oh! so short-alas, too short for bliss. One moment our eyes see him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see him, our beloved withdraws himself from us; like a roe or a young hart he leaps over the mountain of division; he is gone back to the land of spices, and feeds no more among the lilies.
“If to-day he deigns to bless us,
With a sense of pardoned sin,
Make us feel the plague within."
Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not see him at a distance, but face to face. There is a sermon in those words, "face to face." And then we shall not see him for a little time, but
“ Millions of years our wondering eyes,
Shall o'er our Saviour's beauties rove;
Oh, if it is sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one's eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest days! when shall ye come, when our companionship with Christ shall be close and uninterrupted?
And let us remark, again, that when we get a glimpse of Christ, many step in to interfere. We have our hours of contemplation, when we do draw near to