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husband and the wife, in heaven, for all these relationships shall have passed away. Religion must be intended for this life; the duties of it cannot be practised, unless they are practised here.
But besides these, there are other duties devolving upon the Christian. Though it is every man's duty to be honest and sober, the Christian has another code of law. It is the Christian's duty to love his enemies, to be at peace with all men, to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven; and it is his duty not to resist evil, when smitten on the one cheek to turn the other also; it is his duty to give to him that asketh of him, and from him that would borrow of him not to turn away-he is to be a liberal soul, devising liberal things. It is the Christian's duty to visit his Master's children when they are sick, so that it may be said to him at last, “ I was sick, and naked, and in prison, and ye visited me, and ministered to my necessities.” Now, if religion be not a thing for this world, I ask you how is it possible to perform its duties at all? There are no poor in heaven whom we can comfort and visit; there are no enemies in heaven whom we can graciously forgive; and there are no injuries inflicted, or wrongs endured, which we can bear with patience. Religion must have been intended in the very first place for this world, it must have been meant that now we should be the sons of God. For again I repeat it, that the major part of the duties of religion cannot be practised in heaven, and therefore religion must be a present thing.
But, coming near to our conclusion, I believe there are many more persons who do not like religion for to-day, but who want to have it at the last, for this reason: they think religion is not a happy thing; they believe it makes men miserable. They have met with persons with long faces; they have seen some who were born in stormy weather, and who seem to have lived all their lives long with a hurricane inside their hearts, never having one flash of sunlight, nor one pleasant rainbow across their brow. Many young people imbibe this idea. They think that surely religion must be a thing that will make men go moping and melancholy all through this world. In fact, they enter the chapel sometimes, and they hear the saints singing—and what a sweet hymn it is—a sorry sweetness in truth:
“Lord, what a wretched land is this;" and they go out and say, “No doubt it is; we will have nothing to do with it." Looking upon religion as medicine which is extremely nauseous,-if they must drink it, they will put it off to the last; they will gulp it down with a “Lord, have mercy on me!" and ere its bitterness is fairly in their mouth, they expect to begin to enjoy its sweetness in heaven. What a mistake! Religion has its present enjoyments. I do solemnly affirm to-day, in the face of this congregation, and before Almighty God, if I were certain that I were to die like a dog, and when I was buried there would be an end of me, had I my choice of the happiest life a man could lead, I would say, “Let me be a Christian;" for if, as some say, it be a delusion, it is one of the most magnificent delusions that ever was devised. If any man could prove the religion of Christ to be a delusion, the next thing he should do would be to hang himself, because there is nothing worth living for. He might well sit down and weep to think he had made a ruin of so goodly & structure, and dissolved such a pleasant dream.
Ah! beloved, there are present enjoyments in religion. Speak, ye that know them, for ye can tell; yet ye cannot recount them all. Oh! would ye give up your religion for all the joys that earth calls good or great? Say, if your immortal life could be extinguished, would you give it up, even for all the kingdoms of this world? Oh! ye sons of poverty, has not this been a candle to you in the darkness? Has not this lightened you through the dark shades of your tribulation? Oh! ye hornyhanded sons of toil, has not this been your rest, your sweet repose? Have not the testimonies of God been your song in the house of your pilgrimage? Oh! ye daughters of sorrow, ye who spend the most of your time upon your beds—and your couch to you is a rack of pain-has not religion been to you a sweet quietus? When your bones were sore vexed, could ye not even then praise him on your beds? Speak from your couches to-day, ye consumptives, blanched though your checks; speak this day from your beds of agony, ye that are troubled with innumerable diseases, and are drawing near your last home! is not religion worth having in the sick chamber, on the bed of pain and anguish? “Ah!" they heartily say, “ we can praise him on our beds; we can sing his high praises in the fires." And ye men of business, speak
for yourselves! You have hard struggles to pass through life. Sometimes you have been driven to a great extremity, and whether you would succeed or not seemed to hang upon a thread. Has not your religion been a joy to you in your difficulties? Has it not calmed your minds ? When you have been fretted and troubled about worldly things, have you not found it a pleasant thing to enter your closet, and shut-to the door, and tell your Father in secret all your cares? And O ye that are rich, cannot you bear the same testimony, if you have loved the Master? What had all your riches been to you without a Saviour ? Can you not say, that your religion did gild your gold, and make your silver shine more brightly? for all things that you have are sweetened by this thought, that you have all these and Christ too! Was there ever a child of God who could deny this? We have heard of many infidels who grieved over their infidelity when they came to die. Did you ever hear of a Christian acting the counterpart? Did you ever hear of any one on his death-bed looking back on a life of holiness with sorrow? We have seen the rake, with a wasted constitution, shrivel into a corpse through his iniquities, and we have heard him bemoan the day in which he went astray. We have seen the poor debauched child of sin rotting with disease, and listened to her shriek, and heard her miserably curse herself that she ever turned aside, to what was called the path of gaiety, but what was really the path to hell. We have seen the miser too, who has gripped his bags of gold, and on his dying bed we have found him curse himself, that when he came to die, his gold, though laid upon his heart, could not still its achings and give him joy. Never, never did we know a Christian who repented of his Christianity. We have seen Christians so sick, that we wondered that they lived-s0 poor, that we wondered at their misery; we have seen them so full of doubts, that we pitied their unbelief; but we never heard them say, even then, “I regret that I gave myself to Christ.” No; with the dying clasp, when heart and flesh were failing, we have seen them hug this treasure to their breast, and press it to their heart, still feeling that this was their life, their jɔy, their all. Oh! if ye would be happy, if ye would be saved, if ye would strew your path with sunshine, and dig out the nettles and blunt the thorns, “ seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Seek not happiness first ; seek Christ first, and happiness shall come after. Seek ye first the Lord, and then he provide for you everything that is profitable for you in this life, and he will crown it with everything that is glorious in the life to come. “ Beloved, now are we the sons of God.”
Before closing this discourse, I fear that there are a great many of you who will say, “Well, I care nothing at all about religion; it is of no avail to me!" No, my friends, and it is very probable that you will not care about it, until it shall be too late to care. Mayhap you will go on putting off these thoughts, until the day shall come, when they will come so thick upon you, that you will not be able to procrastinate any longer, and then will you in right earnest set about seek. ing Christ; but at that hour he will say to you, Inasmuch as Moab hath wearied himself upon the high places, and he betaketh himself to my sanctuary, I will not hear him, saith the Lord.” “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate" now; "for many shall seek to ent in, but shall not be able." Let us fear, lest, having the gospel preached in our ears, we should neglect and put it off until the last hour has struck, and we find ourselves without hope, when there is no time to seek a Saviour.
I know where this morning's sermon will be found profitable. It will be in the case of those who are seeking Christ. Old Flockhart, who used to preach till within the last few months in the streets of Edinburgh, a much despised, but a very godly man, used to say, “When I begin my sermon, I begin by preaching the law, and then I bring the gospel afterwards; for,” he said, " it is like a woman who is sewing-she cannot sew with thread alone, she first sticks a sharp needle through, and then draws the thread afterwards; so," he says, "does the Lord with us; he sends the sharp needle of conviction, the needle of the law, into our hearts, and pricks us in the heart, and he draws through the long silken thread of consolation afterwards.". Oh! I would that some of you were pricked in the heart to-day. Remember, there are thunders in this book; though they are sleeping now, they will wake by-and-bye. There are in this Bible curses too horrible for heart to know their full extent of meaning; they are slumbering now, but they shall waken, and when they leap from between the folded leaves, and the seven seals are broken, where will you flee, and where shall you hide yourselves, in that last great day of anger? If, then, ye are pricked to the heart, I preach to you tho
gospel now. “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” This day look to him that hung upon the cross. This day believe and live.
And now to illustrate the manner in which rebellious sinners are reconciled to God, I will relate to you an interesting anecilote from the life of a soldier. It may picture to your minds the majesty of God in shewing grace, and the humbling experi'nce of the sinner in receiving it, and help us to answer that solemn question—“What must I do to be saved ?” My author says, that himself and his comrades of a certain regiment serving in India, had been without pay for about six months, and there was strong suspicion throughout the ranks that their commanding officer had embezzled the money : he was a great gambler, and they thought it most likely that he had gambled away their pay. They were determined to seek redress ; so all the private soldiers (with the exception of non-commissioned officers,) agreed that on a particular morning, when on parade, they should not obey the word of coumand. The day arrived, and they carried their design into execution. The regiment was assembled ; the men in companies, headed by their respective officers, proceeded to the parade ground, and formed into open column. The commanding officer took his station in front and gave the word of command. Not one, however, of the privates obeyed. This being the conduct of the regiment, the commanding officer, with great self-possession, ordered every tenth man to be confined in the guard-house. It was done without a show of resistance. After which, all the privates fixed bayonets, shouldered arms, and marched off the band playing and the drums beating alternately -all the way to the residence of the general, about a mile distant. There they halted, and formed in line fronting the house, in a most orderly manner. One man from each of the ten companies then stepped forward, and they proceeded to lodge a written complaint against the colonel. Having thus fulfilled their purpose, they marched back, and dismissed; but the next thing was to release the prisoners, and this they did without any violence being offered by the guard. Whatever extenuations we may conceive for such conduct, according to military law it was a heinous crime. The soldier's duty is to obey ; he must not think for himself, but he must be as a tool in the hands of his superior officers, to do as he is told, and not to complain. Shortly after this, to the surprise of these soldiers, the general was seen approaching with a large army of Sepoys, infantry and cavalry, with field pieces in front. The regiment went out and respectfully saluted him, forming in line. But this was not what the general came for. They saw the storm brewing and prepared to fight. After the two lines had been formed, facing each other, the General moved out on horseback, and said, “Twenty-second, take the command from me.” They obeyed. He then said, “ Order arms." Next—" Handle arnis;" -and last, which was most disgraceful to them—“ Ground arms.” Having thus disarmed, he ordered his black cavalry to charge upon them, and drive them from their arms. One more order he gave to those disaffected men, that they should strip off their accoutrements and lay them on the ground, and be off to their cantonments. When he had thus disarmed and dishonoured the men, he forgave them,
And now will not this incident fitly represent the manner of God with sinners, when according to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, he brings terms of peace and reconciliation to us who are in revolt against him? He says, “Ground arms, give up your sins, take off your self-righteousness." He disarms us, dishonours us, and strips off all our comely array, and then says, “ Now I will forgive you." If there be any one here who has thrown down his weapons of rebellion, ard whose fine ornaments of beauty are stained with shame, let him believe that God will now forgive him; lie forgives those who cannot forgive themselves. The great Captain of our salvation will pardon those whom he has humbled. He will have you submit to his will, and though that will may at first seem imperious to drive you from your quarters, and visit you with punishment, you shall presently find that his sovereign will is gracious, and he delighteth in mercy. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved," for thus saith the Word, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Just Published, in a neat wrapper, price ld., “A CALL TO THE UNCONVERTED;” by the Rer.
C. H. SPURGEON. Also, in a neat wrapper, price ld., “THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST;" with a Brief Preface, by the Rev. C. H, SPURGEON.
" THE ONLY RIGHTEOUSNESS."
BY THE REV. J. J. WEST, M.A.,
(Rector of Winchelsea, Sussex.) AT THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY SOMERSET, THAMES STREET,
"Even aus David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Blessed they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose șins are covered. Blessed the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."- Romans iv. 6, 7, 8. Now, my hearers, you have already heard read by the rector, in the desk, the Psalm in which a portion of my text stands. - The 32nd Psalm is the one to which the Apostle refers in the two verses that I have read to you as a text; the material upon which I, as God's workman, desire rightly to divide the Word of Truth, by His Holy Spirit teaching me. I cannot imagine to a serious minded man or woman-who has been rescued from a vain course, either of dead worldliness or dead profession—any subject more full of blessed realities, for the Church to contemplate than this which the text contains.
Now, no man was better able (by an experimental path) to describe what he spoke of than David. We know how grievously David sinned, how tremendously David fell, how cold-blooded and premeditated his sin was-that he had not the mere excuse of being drawn into a sly snai e, or by a sudden temptation ; but the sin of the man after God's own heart was a cold blooded and deliberately premeditated act; and, therefore, I can understand how David's heart must have been melted under the mercy of that God whom the Apostle describes to be "rich in mercy,” when, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, David knew that there was pardon for the worst of crimes.
I will take two or three points to preach upon from the great subject which the text contains.
First of all, the peculiar blessedness of that man or woman who knows experimentally in his or in her soul the reality of the fact that “God imputeth righteousness” without any work of ours. Now, in preaching upon that great doctrine I believe I shall have the sympathy of every Christian before me, when I say that creature, or self-righteousness, is a great snare. Look at one great memorable example in the Book of God; look at Job, see how he clung almost to the very last to his self-righteousness, till Almighty God wrought in him that wonderful work, and compelled the proud sinner to declare, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear;"" (and so have all the professors of London)"but now mine eye seeth Thee "-(no mere professor can say that)—“wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."
There is nothing, I say, that sticks to us so close as self-righteousness. Now mark the text. “God imputeth righteousness without works" —and I conceive it to be a most important point in every pulpit in these days, when we have so much of a yea and nay Gospel, to distinguish between grace and works—to discriminate between Church and world—to distinguish between mere profession and real possession--that we may ascertain the mighty and important fact, whether we are of the Church or whether we are of the world.
And here is the sovereignty of God, (as I was preaching to my own flock on Sunday)--that wonderful way in which the grace of God discriminates between the two seeds in Rebecca's wombin her twin sons, Jacob and Esau ; that "the children, being not yet born," (mark me!) -neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to "election might stand, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger,” as it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” If there was no other verse in the Bible, that wonderful verse would be quite amply sufficient to cut up the false doctrine of salvation by works. But while, perhaps, there are several before me who would not positively assert that any man could go to heaven by good works, yet there may be many here, in this large attendance, who think that there must be something done by the sinner in order to attain to heaven's happiness. Let me read to you upon that subject (not to use words of my own) a decisive passage in this same epistle, in chapter eleven :-“Even so then at this present time also there is & remnant according to the election of grace.” It was so at Rome. It is so now in London. It is a "little flock” amid the masses of your populous city; it is a "little flock," comparatively speaking; but there is in London now, as in the Apostle's time at Rome, a remnant according to the election of grace." A draper knows the meaning of a remnant; it is not a whole piece!! Now see how this passage proceeds :—“If by grace, then no more of works : otherwise grace is no more grace.
But if of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." There is the doctrine, my hearers, and I am satisfied in my own conscience that if you never hear doctrines again, you have heard ample to-night, if the Holy Spirit sanctify in your hearts the truth of the Gospel.
I want to get into the experimental reality of the words before me the blessedness of that particular individual who is favoured by God to have a righteousness, (and without a righteousness he cannot be saved-not a righteousness of his own)-a righteousness without works. Now, then, my brother and sister in Christ Jesus, what is the Righteousness which the Apostle is speaking of in the text before me? It is the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is a righteousness with which the creature has nothing to do, except to be the recipient of it; it is imputed to him by the Holy Spirit, by which he is put into a position as if he had never sinned, by which, (as he stands in Christ and is received in Christ,) he is as perfect as God is perfect, as holy_as God is holy. Christ (mark me !) is the believer's Righteousness. Do you remember a tremendous parable in the Gospel of Matthew, that when the King came in to see the guests, " he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment P” Do you know that parable? The address to that man was, “Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? and he was speechless." " Then said the King to the "servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness; there "shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And that, simply and entirely because the man had not on a wedding garment. Now, the text describes and speaks of “the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works." The solemn point is this (and