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this is the way to preach the Gospel profitably, and this is the way to hear the Gospel, if the Holy Spirit apply it)-have we got this Righteousness ? Have we received that faith in Christ by which we feel that we stand before God in a righteousness not our own ? I cannot conceive a sweeter evidence that we are so arrayed than having a sense of our entire nothingness before God—a deep, inward-felt sense, that we are nothing but sin and vileness—that we are deeply impressed, and abidingly so, with a sense of our own hell-deservings, and that nothing can save us from the hell that we each deserve but that finished and complete work which has been effected on the cross by the GLORIOUS SON OF GOD. We are told in the Epistle to the Ephesians :“ Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it (now mark !), that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish.” Do you feel your sins? Do you grieve on account of your sins P Have you a heart exercised day by day because of the atrocity of your nature ? Do you hear what the Word says? The work of CARIST, the effect of His love, was to present such a sinner as you are before His Father, and to HIMSELF, " without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing ;” that you should be holy and without blemish.” Not holy in yourselves—full of blemishes in yourselves ; but holy in Him, perfect in the REDEEMER’s RIGHTEOUSNESS. quote a sweet idea in Kent's hymn :
“ 'Tis His own, HE dearly bought her,
What she cost He only knew;
Paid in blood her ransom too." The Church is the property of Christ ; His finished work has sufficiently and entirely satisfied all the wrath of the Trinity against sin. He has run the gauntlet, if I may so speak, of Jehovah's vengeance. He, the just, the holy, the sinless Christ, has entirely, completely, and sufficiently atoned for all the guilt and all the atrocity of ELECT men and women. He has atoned for David's murder and David's adultery, for Peter's oaths and Peter's lies; and, blessed be God, I have a little hope in my own soul that He has pardoned the mass of sins that I have been guilty of ever since I was born. David describeth the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works. Newton says :
“Thus though a sinner-" Listen to me! fellow sinners. Look how Newton exulted in the very fact I am preaching on to you; and in early life great had been the sins of the afterwards Vicar of Olney :
"Thus, though a sinner, I am safe;
He pleads before the throne
And calls my sins His own.
In this appointment shine;
And His obedience mine!" We are told in the book of Isaiah, “He shall bear their iniquities.” Now, we churchmen, as you have already heard in the desk, celebrate to-day what we term, in our Prayer-book, the Epiphany !! the word in the Greek signifies appearance, or manifestation. We read in Paul's Epistle to Timothy, “Great is the mystery of godliness ; God was manifest in the flesh.” I take that meaning in all senses. I taķe it as applicable to His wonderful incarnation; I take it as applicable to Him as God and Man in ONE CHRIST. But, my hearers, has the Christ of God, has the Holy Ghost manifested this
precious Christ in your heart? Have you seen HIM? Let me read you a passage that, perhaps, is not wholly inapplicable to the subject I am speaking
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and the same man was just and devout waiting for the consolation of Israel."-(Who is the consolation of Israel-Christ! He is the consolation); and “the Holy Ghost was upon him.” Here is an account of a man just as hell-deserving a wretch as I am; but the Holy Ghost was upon him, and therefore, hell could not have him. And you will mark the position of the man: he was "WAITING for the consolation of Israel.” I wonder how many waiters there are in this church to-night? What do you come to church for? As I ask my home hearers sometimes—do you come to church, as many people do (bear with my plain English)—for mere form only? Or do you come, as Simeon came, into the temple, led by the Spirit of God ? Mere parish form won't do! The right way to come into the temple of God is by the leading of the Holy Spirit of God, and there to wait for “the consolation of Israel."
“The Holy Ghost was upon him." Mark, Epiphany! you know the meaning of that word—" and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." There's an Epiphany! 0! you little ones before me that are waiting, longing, wrestling, striving, afraid to die, frightened out of your senses at the idea of going into the presence of God; it was revealed unto Simeon that he should
not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.” There's a sight to see before we die. My hearers, do we emulate the example of Simeon ? It was revealed to him. People say we are enthusiastic. People may call as what they like, but we say that it is still true that these things must be revealed unto us by the Spirit of God. That is as essential to you and to me in 1857 in order rightly to understand anything
of the Saviour as it was in the period when Simeon was waiting for Jesus Christ in the temple.
But I must go further into this subject. “He came by the Spirit into the temple : and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” Imagine this picture by faith ; imagine the venerable and honoured Simeon waiting for Christ. ---See Joseph and Mary enter the temple doors-see them bringing in their arms THE INFANT BABE—that Babe which, as Mary held him, was God and man in one eternal Christ. And then look at Sineon—“Then took he Him up in his arms"-(he clutched the Christ from His mother's arms, and breathed up his prayers to God)—" Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen THY SALVATION." That's the Epiphany, and there's no other; and if you have not seen Christ by faith, and been brought to wait for Him, you know nothing of the reality of these things. At present you may not have attained to this, but there is a set time of favour for all God's people. There may be many here astounded at what I am preaching to them, and they may call it enthusiaism, or Calvinism or anything else, but if you are a child of God, though you may be now as dead as the seats you sit on, the grace of God will be revealed unto your souls, and you will have no peace till you have an Epiphany of JESUS CHRIST as your Saviour in your soul.
Now the description that David gives of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputeth righteousness without works, mark how it empties the creature-how it leads
us to the Son of God-how it takes us ont of self, and fixes the eye of faith upon Him who is "mighty to save"_" the just for the unjust (as Peter says), that He might bring us to God;" and sets forth the finished and complete work of the Saviour. Now the text goes on, my hearers -" blessed are they whose iniquities are
law once ;
forgiven, whose sins are covered. There can be no desire for the pardon of sin till we are brought under condemnation on account of the guilt of sin, and hence the Apostle's argument is so blessed—“I was alive without the
but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." This great verse brings us to a right understanding of the truth I desire to set before you. The previous state of the Apostle"I was alive without the law once (or as it is in the Greek, formally). When Paul was in his blood when he was not born of the Holy Spirit, he was alive without the law," but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died”—Paul felt himself a dead man then!
It is quite impossible that any one of you, or that I, can either desire, or value, or wish for, the salvation that is in the Son of God till we have been brought, as I suppose I have preached to you often before, under a law work, until we have been condemned, and not merely condemned, but shut up in the condemned cell, out of which it is impossible to get, till the door is opened for you. Know that the law-those ten commandments-demands the most implicit obedience. It admits of no flaw. It takes us (as it were) " by the throat," and the demand is, “pay me that thou owest.”
Hence a sinful thought is sufficient to condemn any man. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Now, will you just contemplate what I say; and hence (Romans iii. 19, 20) “ What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God; therefore, by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Now, till this has been worked in us and upon us by the Holy Spirit of God, we shall never value the precious Saviour, nor have a desire to be saved in the way JEHOVAH saves His people. And so the Apostle speaks of his own experience—“when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died;” and here is the advantage from preaching these things. I remember in my own church a striking instance of it in one who, if not now dead, is upon a bed of death. That woman had been a devoted follower of the sect called Wesleyans, and she had fallen in with their heresies ; but on one occasion, some years ago, she came over to hear me from an adjoining parish, and just as she entered the church I gave out as a text-"For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." That dropped into the woman's soul; there was immediately a something she had not seen before, and she is now a believer of free grace doctrines. She doubts about herself as to being a Christian, for she knows what darkness of soul is-she has her many doubts and fears. But this is the way in which God works and applies His truth to the heart with power! she had always before been taught make (as it were) a ladder of her own—to get to heaven by her own works; but, as Kent says, then
“ The Lord revealed my desperate case
And down my Babel fell." So you and I must be brought simply to the blood of the atonement; and here is the truth which we are to declare from our pulpit tops, “Blessed are they whose sins are covered.” It is in the past tense you observe ! the thing was done and finished when the Redeemer bowed His head upon the cross and gave up the ghost. O the riches of His MERCY! O the love of God! "Who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us”—(that is His people) —"even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” 'By grace ye are saved.”
Now, my hearers, the point for me to speak upon here is the pardon of sin -“Blessed are they whose sins are covered.” All your sins, all that you have ever done, (if you are a child of God,) and every thing you have done against God in thought, word, or deed, is blotted out. See that wonderful statement in Jeremiah's prophesy—" In those days, and at that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for and there shall be none, and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found, for I will pardon them whom I reserve."
And mark, for your encouragement, poor distressed one! it is sin—all sin ! There is a gradation scale of sins in a moral sense between man and man ; but in God's sight everything that savors of sin, is sin. We know what we understand by murder ; but the Word of God defines hatred of a brother to be murder.- And mark me, adultery does not consist merely in the very actfor “he that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Now, how can we escape ? But, my fellow-sinners, here is the blood that cleanseth THE ELECT from all sin, sins of all kinds and sorts and sizes—little sins and great sins ; sins at school, sins of boyhood, sins of manhood and womanhood, and sins in old age-the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from ALL SIN. is not this good news to you who have been made sensible sinners—to you who know the meaning of that sweet word which we heard in the desk-" This poor man cried, and the Lord heard, and saved him out of all his troubles.' (I longed to take that as a text.)
And what is your trouble my brother and sister? Very great is the trouble you feel under a sense of sin when you are condemned and shut up in the condemned cell and cannot get out; the cry of the broken heart then is, “Lord, save me or I perish.” Well, now, here is the mercy set before us in the Gospel. And look what it cost. Have you ever counted the cost ? I was much struck with reading in the Times the other day the account of the execution of a man at your Old iley. The thing that touched my heart was this, that when the hangman was performing the process of pinioning the felon he looked up into the convict's face with a look of pity and said,
do 1 hurt you ?” Here was a tenderness of feeling even for a murderer but when the Jews nailed Christ to the cross there was no pity felt-no desire even to mitigate but rather to add to the sufferings of Jesus-—" Crucify Him, crucify Him” was the cry!“ not this man but Barrabas.” In addition to His anguish and suffering they mocked Him, spit upon Him, they tortured Him, and all this ! what for? To save such a wretch as I am; and (if you are elected), every one of you. Well does Isaiah describe Him by the Spirit of God, as "A MAN OF SORROWS AND ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF!" That is full of meaning !
And now look at the pardon of sin, my hearers, look at the blotting out of iniquity—“whose sins are covered.” How covered ? In the precious blood of the Saviour. Well does the hymn declare :
“There is a fountain filled with blood
Lose all their guilty stains.” Have you been washed at that fountain P Ah, listen to me while I read to you, (on the covering of sin—a passage in Micah)—“Who is a God like unto TAEE that_pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage ? He retaineth not His anger for ever because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us ; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Observe that expression, “ the depths of the sea," that is the particular spot in the sea where the tide has no power to wash anything up again. There's the force of the expression! If you throw anything from the seashore into the sea within the power of the tide it will be cast back
again. But obsorve the simile in the Bible--"THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA! 80 that they can never rise up in judgment against us. Oh, my hearers, you who have a feeling sense of sin-you who know what you have been guilty of — is not this therefore a mercy. And I cannot conceive a sweeter test that our sins are covered in God's sight, than that they are continually conspicuous in our own. David says, “my sin is ever before me.” But look ; it is covered sin, blotted out; and so I may quote the thought in one of the hymns :-'
"The Holy Ghost this witness bears;
He stands in Jesus still cemblete." Covered sin ! Iniquity blotted out ! never to be brought in accusation against us in that tremendous hour when you and I must all stand before God in judgment. Then can we not, in some degree, sympathise with the reality of David's words, when he describes the blessedness of the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and whose sin is covered ? Blessedness indeed !!
Look at the lovingkindness of God in this ! It does not say blessed is the man in whom there is no sin. You cannot find such a man, except the Godman. What were the prophets and apostles of old time better than I am ? Not one jot! Where can you find a man or a woman without sin ? yea, we are full of sin. But the word is—" Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah (for that ought to be the word, as it is in the original) JehovahFather, Son, and Holy Ghost—to whom the Triune God will not impute sin. He will not allow it to be imputed ; and so the word says of all saved sinners, “ They are without fault before the throne of God.” Now is not this good news to every poor wretched sinner who feels bowed down as a bullrush under a sense of sin. But this is not so to all men. There is a limitation, “ Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” There's the qualification-LABOURING UNDER A SENSE OF SIN! How many are there in this church now really worn down under a sense of sin ? You are in the very state to hear the invitation, “ Come unto Me,”—and the promise, “I will give you rest." Or again, in the words of the 55th of Isaiah “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye buy and eat; yea come buy wine and milk without money and without price." Blessed is the man then—(do you follow me, my hearers ?)—to whom the Jehovah will not impute sin.
Now, for a passing instant, as I finish preaching to you, think upon the day of judgment! The word in the Ephesians is, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him." We read also in a passage in Jude, “ Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” That may be a word for some of you, "able to keep you from falling. We are all liable to fall;
“ Sly snares beset the traveller's feet
And make him often halt." But look at the description of our God" He is able to keep you from falling." What was the Apostle's confession in the Acts of the Apostles, “ HAVING THEREFORE OBTAINED HELP OF GOD I CONTINUE UNTO THIS DAY!” And what, my brother, is there so blessed as to be able to say that the Lord has kept us in possession of the truth and in His Fear ever since he brought us to HIMSELFP You know the account of the father who had the lunatic son, --" he oftimes fell into the fire and oft into the water," and the word is, “ I brought him to Thy disciples and they could not cure him.” - But Christ said, “ Bring him hither to Me." Then He healed him and