« ZurückWeiter »
not to luxury but to truth; science will minister then not to infidelity but to truth; commerce will minister then not to selfishness but to benevolence; and other realms shall render to us their unbought and unpurchaseable homage, and the sons of our country, in their not unholy pride, may wave their banner to the wind, with the motto on it,
"He is the free man whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides." Yes, brethren, it is Britain's altar and not Britain's throne, Britain's Bible and not Britain's statute book, that is the great, and deep, and strong source of her national prosperity and renown. Do away with this, suffer that fidelity with which, in some humble measure, we have borne witness for God, to be relaxed, let our Sabbaths be sinned away at the bidding of unholy or mistaken mobs; let us enter into adulterous and unworthy alliance with the man of sin ; let us be traitors to the trust with which God has invested us, to take care of the ark of the Lord, and the crown will lose its lustre, the peerage its nobility, and the senate its command; all the phases of social rank and order will be disjointed and disorganized ; a lava tide ot desolation will overwhelm all that is consecrated and noble, and angels may sing the dirge over a once great, but now hopelessly fallen people, " the glory is departed from Israel, because the ark of God is taken." Keep fast by that ark, hold it; hold your attachment to it as the strongest element of being, and there shall be no bounds to the sacred magnificence of our nation, but the fires of the last day, when they consume all that is perishable and drossy, may see us with the light of the Divine presence gleaming harmlessly around our brow, and in our hand the open law for all the nations of mankind.
Those are temporal benefits. And, then, let there be pious men in the land, and spiritual benefits will also be secured. There will, for instance, be the defeat of erroneous opinions. Truth, when the spirit inspires it not, abstract truth, is weak and powerless. Truth, with the spirit in it is mighty, and will prevail. There can be no fear as to the result, because the world has never been left, and will never be left without the active spirit of God. Falsehood breaks out impetuously, just like one of those torrents that leap and rattle over the summit of the mountain after the thunder storm, overwhelming in the first outbreak, but dying away into insignificance and silence by and by; truth is the little spring that rises up imperceptibly and gently and flows on, unostentatious and noiseless, until at last navíes are wafted on its bosom, and it pours its full volume of triumphant waters into the rejoicing sea. So it will be with truth; wealth cannot bribe it, talent cannot dazzle it, sophistry cannot overreach it, anthority cannot please it—they all, like Felix, tremble in its majestic presence. Let pious men increase, and each one of them will become a centre of holiness ; apostates will be brought back to the church, poor backsliders will be reclaimed into new found liberty and new created privilege, and there will be a cry like that on the summit of Carmel after the controversy was over, and had issued in the discomfiture of Baal-" The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
And, then, better than all that, salvation of souls will be secured. The conversion of a soul is an infinitely greater triumph than the eradication of a false opinion. A false opinion may be crushed, and the man that holds it may be in imminent spiritual peril ; convert the man's soul, and his opinions will come right by and by. Oh, if as you go from this place to.night, you were to behold the crowds of tempters and temptresses to evil that will cross your path as you travel homeward, if you think of their activity, of their earnestness to proselytize in the grand diabolical army, and to make sevenfold more the children of hell than they are themselves, and if you think of the apathy of the faithful, of the scantiness of effort, of the failure of faith, of the depression of endeavour, of the laxity of attachment on the part of believers in Jesus, surely there is enough to make you abashed and confounded. Brethren, I should like, if I could, to bring before you one solitary soul, to fasten your attention upon that soul, to transfix it as with a lightning glance before you, so that you might trace it in its downward path, see it as habit crusts it over, and selfishness rejoices over it, and the foul fiend gloats upon it in mockery, and disease, prematurely induced, comes upon it, and death waits for his prey, and hell is moved from beneath to meet it at its coming, and that you should follow it down into those dark and dread abodes, which man's pencil painteth not, and of which man's imagination, thank God, cannot conceive! Oh! draw the curtain over that ; .we cannot bear the sight! But as you think of the real spiritual peril in which not one-not a family-oh! if there were but a family, all London would be awake for its deliverance, but there is a world in danger-not one, not a family, not a island, not a conti. nent, but a world—if I could only fasten that upon your consciences to-night, each one of you would surely go away with tearful eye and glad heart, glad that you were able to do anything for God, and would not rest without saying, “For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake, I will not rest until the righteousness thereof go forth as the brightness, and the salvation thereof as the lamp that burneth."
Just one parting word. If you would do all this, you must be pious yourselves ; but do not be amongst the number of those who busy themselves in the externalisms of godliness, and are in some measure active in connection with the church of God, but are out of Christ, aliens themselves from the commonwealth of Israel. If you are not personally pious, you will be accomplices in drawing down the thunderbolt, and chargeable to that extent with your country's ruin, aud the ruin of souls. Come to Christ now; let all your past iniquity be forgotten and forgiven as you bow before him in humiliation and in tears; he will not refuse you ; he will not cast you out. Then enter upon a life of piety in spite of all that scoffers say. Ah! religion is not so mean a thing as infidels represent it to be! They curl the lip of scorn at us, and we can bear that; they ilash the eye of hate at us, and we can bear that, as long as God looks upon us with complacency, as long as he has promised to crown us as conquerors in heaven, for which, by our spiritual conflicts and victories, we shall have come prepared. Oh, it is no mean thing. The saint, the righteous man, the pious believer in Jesus, is a patriot as well as a saint. The worldling may sneer and scorn, but we have a noble revenge, for it is pious men that have kept the conflagrating elements away from this long doomed world up to the present moment of its history; and if the ten righteous had not been in this enormous Sodom, long ere now would the fire-brand of destruction have struck it that it might be consumed in its deserved ruin. Thank God, there is hope for the world yet. When the prophet in depression and in sorrow was saying, “ I even I, only am left, the prophet of the Lord,” God pointed him to seven thousand that had never bowed the knee to Baal ; and there are faithful ones in the secret places of the world yet-palm-tree-Christians growing up in unexpected places amid sandy soil, and with no companion. ship, who are flourishing in godly vigour and earnest in persevering prayer, There is hope for the world yet.' Oh, for the increase of these pious men! Be you of the number of this unostentatious but valiant host. Do you pant for fame? You can find it here. Young men, there are some of you in the presence of God that have ambition high bounding in your hearts, who feel the elasticity of youth within you, who feel that the flight of your soaring spirit is not the flight of the flagging or the breathless ; that there is something still within you that pants for a distinction other than you have yet attained-oh come to Christ, enlist yourselves in his service, be soldiers of the cross, fight moral battles, and your's shall be the victory. To you the church is looking ; your fathers, worn out with labour, exhausted with the vicissitudes and the victories of years, are passing rapidly away, and they are wondering where their successors are. They have gone from us; just when we were expecting for them higher fields and wider triumphs, the fiery chariot came and they were not, and nothing was left for us but to cry as we fol. lowed the track of the cavalcade, in our hopelessness, almost in our agony
My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof." Oh! thank God, they have fung their mantles down, and it is for you to catch them, to robe yourselves to-day in the garments of the holy departed, and like them, to do and die.
« THE ONLY LIBERTY.”
PREACHED ON TUESDAY EVENING, JULY 15TH, 1856,
BY THE REV. J. J. WEST, M.A.,
(Rector of Winchelsea, Sussex),
AT THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY SOMERSET, THAMES STREET,
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."-John viii. 32.
THERE have been three or four other verses in the Bible on my mind since I have been in the church to-night, and I have been exercised to know which verse to take as a text. One is in the Book of Ecclesiastes—" where the word of the King is there is power,”—and this, as well as the text I am preaching on, equally sets forth the great and essential doctrine of the SoveREIGNTY OF JEHOVAH, in the declaration of his designs, and purposes, and mercies, to “ His own elect." “ Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free." May His doctrine “drop as the rain-distil as the dew." May a word in season be spoken to weary souls, and my ministry be blest with power and unction-may your hearts be touched and God exalted amongst us. May the Lord the Spirit bless these words to you, and make me rightly to divide the Word of TRUTH ;-may the poor be comforted, and the needy edified and blest. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Now, first, observe how unmistakeably and absolutely this text sets forth the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD! and destroys the very root of Arminianism and creature merit-proclaiming the power of HIM “who hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”-and in the rightful exercise of that power, He (if it be now a time of favour) whose vesture and whose thigh is so engraven, is now proclaiming through his unworthy servant before you the positive and FREE GRACE statement, that all His people “SHALL know the TRUTH," and that the effect of that truth when really known, shall be liberty and freedom! "the TRUTH shall make
Now, my hearers, it is a great comfort to me, and so it must be to every one who has received “the gift,” to know that God has determined in his own “eternal purpose” that all his people shall know the truth.
Sweet as is the word GOSPEL-blessed as it is in all its length, and depth, and breadth, and height of meaning-yet, to my mind, there is something much stronger in the word, TRUTH, it seems more discriminating.
Now, what is the truth? Listen to me! ELECTION—PARTICULAR REDEMPTION and PERSONAL CONVERSION by the Holy Ghost! and the truth of each and of all these cardinal doctrines, carried out practically and experimentally by the power of God in every believer's soul, and by which the Christian stands distinguished from the whole scheme of Popish and Arminian errors. And then the mercy of knowing further as the TRUTH, that every ELECT and every REDEEMED man must be “born again," of the Holy Spirit at the set time of farour. And hence (as I am continually insisting on to my own home flock), there is no doubt about the conversion of souls! There need be no anxiety about it—the work of God is absolute; the mandate of the written word is—and the poor sinner gains consolation from it as written in the book of Psalms—"THOU HAST GIVEN COMMANDMENT TO SAVE ME;" and who can alter THAT COMMAND ? And there is not a man, nor a woman, nor a child in London—there is not one amid the masses of this densely-peopled city--the greatest city upon the habitable earth, the most favoured city, certainly, in a temporal sense, in all the world-there is not, I say, a man nor a woman, nor a child in London, loved by God before all worlds, given by the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, as the triune God, to God the Son, to be redeemed by his precious blood, upon Calvary's cross——there is not one such, despite all the devil's power, and despite all his own personal guilt and sin, but shall be “born again," of the Holy Spirit at the appointed time, and become a new creature in Christ Jesus; and then the personal and experimental test of this will be the cry of the soul—under a feeling sense of guilt and sin—and the reality will be known, as was the case with Paul, as declared by him to the Corinthian church : “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor. xiii. 11.)
" Thy people willing in the day of Tuy power!” is God's word and God's decree.
I can hear of people anxious and frightened that such and such a person should not be saved! afraid that this one and the other should not experience salvation by Christ's blood. But there is no doubt, no uncertainty about it-all is settled ! all decreed! But say not this is fatalism! God acts on covenant arrangements, and according to his own eternally decreed purpose-and the knowledge of this encourages and animates us with earnest desire and zeal, as preachers of the everlasting gospel. The knowledge in our own hearts that none but “the election of grace are saved, urges us on to obey the command of my blessed Master—a command as positive to me now as it was in the apostolic age,—“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature "--mark the emphatic word of command ! * Preach the gospel to EVERY creature"—that is, proclaim, declare, make it known to all, wherever we may "go"-but OFFER it to none.
Ministers must preach it! It is the Holy Ghost alone who can, and who does, and who will apply it in and to the hearts of his own prepared people!
This is a most important distinction, and essential specially in these days! and hence the blessedness of the word, “ Ye shall know the truth.” Now I have endeavoured to show you what THE TRUTH is in its doctrinal sense. In John xiv. 6, we have this truth brought before us in a very small compass—" Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Now there is the whole truth, and all contained in one little verse, and this simply setting forth that CHRIST is ALL! This is the TRUTH which ALL His own people shall know, and knowing shall BELIEVE! Herein is God's sovereignty set forth and declared!
Now my first point has been on the Doctrine, showing what TRUTH is. You
may say you knew it all before. But ministers of the gospel are also remembrancers! Many of you may know it, but you need reminding of it, as Peter says, " to stir you up by putting in remembrance ;” and is not this a mercy, the being reminded of these important realities ? to be brought, by my now stirring you up, to think on what you have not been thinking on, it may be, all day before !-even the grand and the great fact, that there is for the sinner an all-sufficient Saviour in Christ, yea, salvation in Him, and through Him, and by Him for the worst, for the chief of sinners, yea, that “ the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
Now, the second point in the text is the promise to the Church, “ Ye shall know the TRUTH." *" All the promises of God in Him are yea and amen, unto the glory of God by us." "Is not this an encouraging word to a seeking and inquiring soul? The promise of God to his own children that they “shall know the TRUTH,” and understand what the truth is? And is not that a great mercy, my hearers ?. I am preaching to several who can understand what I say, in the feeling of their own experience, who have been taught the TRUTH as it is in Jesus.
Do you know practically and experimentally that word of Paul to the Corinthian church, “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of JESUS CHRIST ?" We read in one of the first verses in the Bible, “God divided the light from the darkness.” He has done it as a God of nature. Has He done it in you and to you as a God of GRACE? Do you know the difference between light and darkness—TRUTH and ERROR ? Do
you know the difference between real truth and everything that falls short of it? I am purposely pausing that you may think upon what I ask ! It won't do to go a great way in truth unless you go the whole way? I should be useless to you in the pulpit if I stopped at a point. I should be of no use to you in the ministry of the everlasting, gospel if I began with free grace, and preached the Saviour up to a certain point, and then at the end preached free will. That won't do. It must be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It must be the unadulterated gospel-the gospel of the grace of God—the only real joy and comfort of a poor brokenhearted sinner's soul.” “YE shall know the truth;" and I defy sin and Satan, and the whole league of enemies ranged against the church to stop the truth. David says, " The entrance of The words giveth light; it giveth under-tanding unto the simple ;” and nothing can realize this but God's sovereign power. It is then the word of a King with power;" that only can make a man, a sinful, hell-deserving wretch, understand the mystery of the TRUTH.
But then we see from the text the effect which the truth produces—"and the truth shall make you free.” And here I must preach to you before I go further, where the truth brings a man, or rather where every man is brought before he can experimentally feel the truth fully. Now, I believe that it is an experimental fact, that the first work of the Holy Spirit is to bring the soul into bondage. We prove this by Scripture-—" When He is come He