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watched during the few last months. If “a sparrow falleth not to the ground without our Father," how much less can a Christian, a child of God be smitten down by the hand of death without his cognizance and permission ? « Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,” and the death which is thus “precious" in his sight can be no chance work. Hence Job-"I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living ;" thou who hast the keys of death and of Hades. It was the hand of a Friend, his Almighty and Everlasting Friend, that led our brother down to his quiet resting place in the dust. The consuming disease by which the frame was wasted, was only the wind of the Lord destroying the life of the flower, “He shall blow upon thein, and they shall wither.”
When we see a young man sicken and die, as the result of a cold, over exertion, or hereditary tendency, we are in danger of so interpreting the whole as to exclude the immediate and special providence of God. But we should remember that God veils himself behind secondary causes ; for “the trial of our faith," for the exercise of which there could be no room, if he worked manifestly in the sight of our eyes. And if “we walk by faith, and not by sight,” we shall recognize the interference of an allwise God in the removal of this amiable and useful young man, from whose ashes we are endeavouring to extract lessons that shall fit us to pass with a triumphant courage like his, “ through the valley of the shadow of death.” O no, lovely youth, it was not chance that removed thee, it was thy Master's voice that said unto thee, “ It is enough ; come up hither!"
In the last affliction of our deceased friend, the blessedness of our religion was most delightfully exhibited; a heavenly serenity reigned around his soul; a peace unbroken and unvaried by doubt, fear, or anxiety ; his faith simple and childlike ; his submission to the Divine will cheerful and unfeigned ; his hope of heaven bright and cloudless ; his conscience sprinkled with the blood of Christ, unstained with a spot of guilt, uttered not the murmur of accusasation ; without rapture or depression, with calm Christian confidence he awaited the will of his Lord in his dismissal. O blessed gospel, whose inspiring hopes thus extract from death its sting, and take away from the grave its gloom! “ Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift !"
The following conversation took place between our brother and his pastor while he lay pale and wan in the prostration of near dissolution. “Well, the conflict is almost over.” “ Almost.” “It will be a glorious change." “O yes, I long to depart.” “ Do you feel Christ precious to you now ?” “ Every moment-every moment.” “Well, you are going a little before us, and we shall all soon follow." “ Yes, and I shall be there to welcome you." « Yes, and there will be some there to welcome you.” His reply was an upward look of hope and assurance.
His pastor paid him one more visit, and found him quite on the bank of Jordan; the stream almost laving his feet, and in taking leave of him there, his last words were-" There is not a cloud !” In a short time after the ininister had left him, having taken an affectionate leave of all his friends who were present, he requested to be placed in a comfortable position, and then extending his attenuated arms, he repeatedly said—“Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!” and exchanging the language of prayer for praise, he said, “ Glory! glory! glory! glory!" then was heard a mortal sound—and then a deep siļence-it was the silence of death-and the sanctified spirit had for. saken the shrunken frame which we solemnly laid to rest yonder cemetery to await the resurrection of the just.
Let us pause and reflect. We hear of the death of others, and others will soon hear of ours. We gather together to pay our last tribute of respect and affection to deceased friends, and soon others will gather together to carry us forth to our burial. We stand around the mouth of the open grave and hear solemn words pronounced over the coffined remains of others ; soon ours will be the cold, motionless, enclosed remains over which similar words will be sounded forth.
About the certainty of death there can be no dispute. Here the whole world is in unison of opinion. We differ on almost every other subject that may be submitted to our judgment. There is scarcely another truth which some men may not be found to deny, yet no man thinks of denying that he is mortal. “ The living (if they know anything,) know that they must die."
Do you know this ? and do you admit it? Then ask, O ask solemnly, " What after death for me remains Am I prepared for death I prepared for heaven? Say not, “ It is of no use whether I consider this matter or not, for if I am to die a happy death, it shall be so." For does not God say, “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end."
This is God's compassionate lament over inconsiderate souls, who approach death without thought. There is no hope for you if you will not consider. For want of consideration thousands perish. Let the thought then be deeply fixed in your heart. I must die; eternity follows death. Am I prepared for eternity! Am I found in Christ, forgiven and renewed ! I charge you consider this matter! By the God that made you, by the Sa. viour who redeemed you, by the awful doom of inconsiderate souls who forget God, by the peace and triumph of the Christian's death and “the glory that shall follow." O thoughtless and undecided hearer, I entreat yon, consider your latter end ; how certain its arrival, how swift its approach, how awful its consequences to the unsaved, and turn at once to Jesus crucified, Ay to those dear wounds of his. Then shall that which may have sprung up in your mind as a vague wish this evening, in the contemplation of this young Christian’s deathbed, become a reality in your future history, for you shall “ die the death of the righteous, and your last end shall be like his.” God grant this for Christ's sake. Amen.
(Rector of Winchelsea, Sussex.)
IN BEHALF OF THE CHRISTIAN BLIND RELIEF SOCIETY.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.-Philip. iii. 3.
If there is any solemn meaning in the office which I now occupy in this pulpit before you, it is, that I may be made and acknowledged a messenger to your souls from the God whom I serve. Ministers of the Gospel (and it is a solemn thought as I begin to speak, and find my own voice arresting the attention of the people before me), Ministers of the Gospel are either “the savour of death unto death,” or “the savour of life unto life," just as God sees fit to use our instrumentality.
Now, in the words which you have heard me read, there are four specific points, and no man could have adopted these four points more feelingly or more experimentally than the great Apostle, who had himself formerly been such a thorough legal worker-a double-distilled Arminian. No man could have spoken so feelingly as the Apostle Paul upon the great subject that is embodied in the short text before us !-“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Jesus Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
1. First of all, “ For we are the circumcision.” Well, now, my hearers, we are existing in a day of high towering profession, we are living in a day (distinguished from the generation before us) in which it is positively the fashion to profess something. But there is among the sects and parties of our day, one, and only one established believing people of God—“We are the cir. cumcision." Now, the Apostle had been rapping the beretics of his day. He guards the CHURCH in the verse preceding the one upon which I am attempting to preach, thus, " Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision," "dogs, evil workers, and concisionists !” and then he takes the first point in the text that I am speaking of, claiming for himself this great privilege,
“ For me
are the circumcision." Now, if we turn to a passage in the epistle to the church in Corinth, we shall find him saying,
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” And the verse before has this statement, “ For, first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you, and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." Hence, out of the whole host of carnal professors, in order to bring out the true men and women, there must be divisions, there must be contentions. “I am not come to send peace on earth but a sword.” And yet the Prince of Peace has his own kingdom, a kingdom not of this world, a kingdom composed of his own blood-bought people, and they that are “approved ” must be each manifested amongst us. Thus, in the first point in the text before us, Paul speaks of a particular party, "We are the circumcision.” I think I need not dwell further upon that part of the subject, but go to the testing point, the testing, teaching, separating parts in the text before us.
II.“ Which worship God in the spirit.” That word, which in our English rendered “worship,” has a great deal fuller force in the Greek. It is impossible in our barren English to give the full signification of it in the Greek. In the original it means to serve God, to be made honest in the profession of the Gospel, not a mere profession-distinguishing between carnal profession and the real possession of grace in a broken heart. “Which worship God in the spirit.” Not å mere formalist, not a mere worker, but one whose heart has been arrested by the grace of God, to serve Him. “God is a Spirit,” says our Lord in the Gospel of John, "and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit, and in truth." “ We are the circum. cision which worship God in the spirit," and render him heart-service; not the mere chattering of a carnal tongue, but with a broken heart pouring out our desires unto the Lord as Hannah did. Eli thought that she was drunk; but as a worshipper of God, Hannah, as every other child of God does, poured out her soul unto the Lord. Do you know what that is ? I ask you one by one. I wish to be as personal in the pulpit as I can be; I wish to say to you, with all the power of a Nathan “thou art the man,” thou art the woman, to whom I speak. Do you know what it is, you Londoners ? you professing people that are now so thronging this church to hear me preach I ask (and I will not be satisfied till your inmost conscience gives the answer-not to me but to God).-Do you know what it is to pour out your soul unto the Lord, for that is “ worshipping Him in spirit and in truth p" All the butterfly profession of our day is nothing but Popery in another form, whether it be in churches or in chapels or elsewhere. Nothing instances the reality of what I am speaking but the worshipping of God in the spirit, bonestly, earnestly, with the cry in the soul pouring out your heart unto the Lord. Look at that expression “pouring out!" We know what it is to pour something out of a vessel. We know what it is to empty a vessel. I ask you solemnly then, do you know what it is to pour out your heart, to be emptied as it were of yourself-of every other thing--to go with all your cares and all your troubles, and anxieties and temptations unto God, like Hannah, who, when she wanted her Samuel poured out her soul unto the Lord ? Well, that is only a little sketch of what I understand by the solemn expression of worshipping God in the spirit. Now, you know the heart is the thing that must serve God. I may be speaking here to several tried ones, and it is to you that we preachers are specially sent, when (tod does send us! Allow me to turn to a passage for your comfort To whom was the Head of the church sent? Listen! * The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because He hath anointed ME” (who is the ME there ? Christ!)—"The Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek”—There is the character !-"to bind up the broken-hearted ” —there is the character!-"to proclaim liberty to the captives”—there is the character !-"and the opening of the prison to them that are bound !” Now, if you have not been shut up in prison you du not value liberty. Look at the characters here--meek ones, broken-hearted,
captives, prisoners! “Worshipping God in the spirit.” You know that God must BEGIN the work! It is the fashion with professors now to think that they must begin with God. But the members of the true church realise the fact that unless GOD begins with them they will all go to hell together. That is plain English and there can be no mistake about it. In the very epistle I am preaching from, we have these words, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” And who could so feelingly realise this as the once obstinate, Christ-hating, Saul of Tarsus-he who had been such a stickler to the very bone for mere legal forms and ceremonies-afterwards the great Archbishop to the Church of the Gentiles. We have his own statement recorded in the context to this fact-but what I wish (in preaching and bringing before you the fact of “worshipping God in the spirit”) is this-tbat I may stir up your minds, and that God may honour my pulpit service this evening, by sending away every hearer (men, women, and children, if it be now his will), uncomfortable, dissatisfied with self, wretched and miserable, till you get the evidential test in your own souls that God has begun the work in you! It is God that must turn up the fallow ground; he must put in the plough and the ploughshare, and turn the sinner upside down. “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, 0, God! Thou wilt not despise.” God begins with the heart. But what are the professors of the day? A valued brother minister of mine, with his peculiar keenness, calls the professors of our time “crane-necked professors !” Now the crane is a bird that has a very long neck-a long distance between the head and the heart; and mere head work will not do for the eternal God. When God begins with a sinner, and means to make him worship the Lord in the spirit, he gives him a “new heart and a new spirit.” I have frequently, to those whom I may call my special London flock, at All Saints Church, in Spicer-street, insisted on the very important fact that there is no such thing as a change of heart. There may be some here, perhaps, who may be surprised when I say God never changes the heart. In the rubbishly publications of the day, you constantly find a change of heart insisted on. There is no such thing. The carnal heart is never changed. (Rom. 8. 7.) There is no such thing as a change of heart mentioned in the Bible. It is, “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” If there was a change of heart, there would be a ground for the false doctrine of perfection in the flesh and in that case there would be no conflict. The fact, too, of a new heart and a new spirit being given is the beginning of exercise the cause of soul conflict. And here I will ask my exercised brother and sister, whether it is not one of the sweetest tests of our discipleship, that we know what conflict means. Conflict day after day, and hour after hour, which only the honest professsor knows. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the thing that ye would.” Again, I say, how does Paul speak in his epistle to the Romans of the carnal mind as emnity against God ? “ For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." “ The old Adam," says Augustus Toplady, “never can be the saint,” you will never make the old Adam better, you may try to patch him up, but it is of no use. You men of London are not content with patching up old houses, but you pull down the old tumbledown houses and build up new ones. So it is with my master. It is the spirituality of the new heart that alone can serve God. But you know that in your own natural man you have a continual tendency to serve the devil. But the clock tells me that with four divisions in the text, I must pass on and proceed.
III. Now I shall take the fourth before I take the third point-“ No confidence in the flesh.” My dear hearers, I know nothing so important as that which teaches the broken-hearted believer not to trust in himself. Do you know what the flesh is? Do you know what it is made up of? Know you not every day the motions of sin in your members ? It is only the exercised Christian man that knows what sin really is. “By the law is the knowledge of sin," and that is in its spirituality. "I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not