« ZurückWeiter »
you my house, for your brothers and sisters cannot endure your society; I feel you would destroy their souls if I should allow you to associate with them.” Now, s man may be lost thus to his own family, and yet sovereign grace will save him. But, mark, a man may be lost to his family and yet not be saved; yea, that may be the increase of his condemnation, that he sinned against a mother's prayers and against a father's exhortations.
Now I will tell you the people whom Christ will save—they are those who are lost to themselves. Just imagine a ship at sea passing through a storm: the ship leaks, and the captain tells the passengers he fears they are lost. If they are far away from the shore, and have sprung a leak, they pump with all their might as long as they have any strength remaining; they seek to keep down the devouring element; they still think that they are not quite lost while they have power to use the pumps. At last they see the ship cannot be saved; they give it up for lost, and leap into the boats. The boats are floating for many a-day, full of men who have but little food to eat. “ They are lost,” we say, “lost out at sea." But they do not think so; they still cherish a hope that perhaps some stray ship may pass that way and pick them up. There is a ship in the horizon; they strain their eyes to look at her; they lift each other up; they wave a flag; they rend their garments to make something which shall attract attention; but she passes away; black night comes, and they are forgotten. At length the very last mouthful of food has been consumed; strength fails them, and they lay down their oars in the boat, and lay themselves down to die. You can imagine then how well they understand the awful meaning of the term—“lost.” As long as they had any strength left they felt they were not lost; as long as they could see a sail they felt there was yet hope; while there was yet a mouldy biscuit left, or a drop of water, they did not give up all for lost. Now the biscuit is gone, and the water is gone; now strength has departed, and the oar lies still: they lie down to die by each other's side, mere skeletons; things that should have been dead days ago, if they had died when all enjoyment of life had ceased. Now they know, I say, what it is to be lost, and across the shoreless waters they seem to hear their deathknell pealing forth that awful word, Lost! lost! lost! Now, in a spiritual sense, these are the people Christ came to save. Sinner, thou too art condemned. Our Father Adam steered the ship awry and she split upon a rock, and she is filling even to her bulwarks now; and pump as philosophy may, it can never keep the waters of her depravity so low as to prevent the ship from sinking. Seeing that human nature is of itself lost, it hath taken to the boat. She is a fair boat, called the boat of Good Endeavour, and in her you are striving to row with all your might, to reach the shore, but your strength fails you. You say, “Oh, I cannot keep God's law. The more I strive to keep it, the more I find it to be impossible for me to do so. I climb; but the higher I climb the higher is the top above me. When I was in the plains, I thought the mountain was but a moderate hill; but now I seem to have ascended half-way up its steps,—there it is, higher than the clouds, and I cannot discern the summit.” However, you gather up your strength, you try again, you row once more, and at last unable to do anything, you lay down your oars, feeling that if you are saved, it cannot be by your own works. Still you have a little hope left. There are a few small pieces of mouldy biscuit remaining. You have heard that by attention to certain ceremonies you may be saved, and you munch your dry biscuit; but at last that fails you, and you find that neither baptism, nor the Lord's supper, nor any other outward rites, can make you clean, for the leprosy lies deep within. That done, you still look out. You are in hopes that there may be a sail coming, and while floating upon that deep of despair, you think you detect in the distance some new dogma, some fresh doctrine that may comfort you. It passes, however, like the wild phantom ship-it is gone, and there you are left at last, with the burning sky of God's vengeance above you, with the deep waters of a bottomless hell beneath you, fire in your heart and emptiness in that ship which once was so full of hope, you lie down despairing, and you cry,—" Lord save me, or I perish!” Is that your condition this morning, my friend, or has that ever been your condition? If so, Christ came into the world to seek and to save you; and you he will save, and no one else. He will save only those who can claim this for their title.--" Lost;" who have understood in their own souls what it is to be lost, as to all self-trust, all self-reliance, and all self-hope. I can look back to the time when I knew myself to be lost. I thought that God meant to destroy me. I imagined that because I felt myself to be lost, I was the special victim of
came to save.
Almighty vengeance; for I said unto the Lord, “Hast thou set me as the target of all thine arrows? Am I a sea or a whale, that thou hast set a mark upon me? Hast thou sewed up mine iniquities in a bag, and sealed my transgressions with a seal. Wilt thou never be gracious? Hast thou made me to be the centre of all sorrow, the chosen one of heaven to be cursed for ever?" Ah! fool that I was! I little knew then, that those who have the curse in themselves are the men whom God will bless-that we have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in him who died for us and rose again. Come, I will put the question once again-can you say that you are lost? Was there a time when you travelled with the caravan through this wild wilderness world? Have you left the caravan with your companions, and are you left in the midst of a sea of sand—a hopeless, arid waste? And do you look around you, and see no helper; and do you cast your eyes around and see no trust? Is the deathbird wheeling in the sky, screaming with delight because he hopes soon to feed upon your flesh and bones? Is the water-bottle dry, and doth the bread fail you? Have you consumed the last of your dry dates, and drunk the last of that brackish water from the bottle; and are you now without hope, without trust in yourself; ready to lie down in despair? Hark thee! The Lord thy God loveth thee; Jesus Christ has bought thee with his blood; thou art, thou shalt be his. He has been seeking thee all this time, and he has found thee at last, in the vast howling wilderness, and now he will take thee upon his shoulders, and carry thee to his house rejoicing, and the angels shall be glad over thy salvation. Now, such people must and shall be saved; and this is the description of those whom Jesus Christ
Whom he came to save he will save; you, ye lost ones-lost to all hope and self confidence, shall be saved. Though death and hell should stand in the way, Christ will perform his vow, and accomplish his design.
I shall be very brief in concluding my discourse; but we have now to notice THE OBJECTS OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST-he came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” I am so glad that these two words are both there, for if they were not, what hope would there be for any of us? The Arminian says Christ came to sare those that seek him. Beloved, there is a sense in which that is true; but it is a lie. Christ did come to save those that seek him, but no one ever sought the Lord Jesus Christ, unless the Lord Jesus first sought him. Christ does not leave it to ourselves to seek him, or else it would be left indeed, for so vile is human nature that although heaven be offered, and though hell thunder in our ears, yet there never was and there never will be any man who, unconstrained by sovereign grace, will run in the way of salvation, and so escape froin hell and flee to heaven. It is all in vain for me to preach to you, and all in vain for the most earnest exhortations to be addressed to any of you, unless the Holy Spirit shall be pleased to back them up; for man is so infatuated, his disease is one which causes such a madness of the brain, that he refuses the remedy, and puts away from him the healing draught which alone can give him life from the dead. “ Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Let man alone, and with the cross of Christ before him and all hell behind him, he will shut his eyes and prefer to be damned rather than enter into eternal life by the blood of Christ the Lord. Hence Christ came first to seek men, and then to save them. Ah! what a task that is of seeking men! There are some of you to-day on the tops of the mountains of pride, and others of you in the deep glens of despair. Methinks I see the Saviour coming forth to seek you; he finds you to-day in the green pastures of the sanctuary, he comes near to you, and by these hands of mine he seeks to lay hold of you, but no sooner do you discern his approach then you run far away into the wild desert of sin. Perhaps this evening you will be spending the remnant of the Sabbath in profaning God's day. One of you at least I know who will be in the public house as soon as the evening sermon is over, and most probably will go home very late. If Christ intends to save you, he will go to you there; and while you are in that wild waste of sin, he will send some providence after you, and save you there. Away you fly then to the marshes of reformation, and you say, “ The shepherd cannot overtake me. I shall be beyond his reach now, I have left off my drunkenness, I have given up my cursing." But he will come to you there, and wade for you ankle deep in. your own selfrighteousness. And then you will run away again and jump into the deer pit of despair, and there you will say to yourself, * He can never find me here." But I see him coming with that crook of his: he enters the pit, takes you by
the feet, and casts you round his neck, and carries you home rejoicing, saying, "I have found him at last! Wherever he wandered, I sought him, and now I have found him.” It is strange what queer places Christ finds some of his people in! I knew one of Christ's sheep who was found out by his Master while committing robbery. I knew another who was found out by Christ, while he was spiting his old mother by reading the Sunday newspaper and making fun of her. Many have been found by Jesus Christ, even in the midst of sin and vanity. I knew a preacher of the Gospel who was converted in a theatre. He was listening to a play, an old-fashioned piece, that ended with a sailor's drinking a glass of gin before he was hung, and he said, “Here's to the prosperity to the British Nation, and the salvation of my immortal soul;” and down went the curtain; and down went my friend too, for he ran home with all his might. Those words, “ The salvation of my immortal soul,” had struck him to the quick; and he sought the Lord Jesus in his
chamber. Many a-day he sought him, and at last he found him to his joy and confidence.
But for the most part Christ finds his people in his own house; but he finds them often in the worst of tempers, in the most hardened conditions; and he softens their hearts, awakens their consciences, subdues their pride, and takes them to himself; but never would they come to him unless he came to them. Sheep go astray, but they do not come back again of themselves. Ask the shepherd whether his sheep come back, and he will tell you, “ No, sir; they will wander, but they never return. When you find a sheep that ever came back of himself, then you may hope to find a sinner that will come to Christ of himself. No; it must be sovereigni grace that must seek the sinner and bring him home.
And when Christ seeks him be saves him. Having caught him at last, like the ram of old, in the thorns of conviction, he does not take a knife and slay him as the sinner expects, but he takes him by the hand of mercy, and begins to comfort and to save. Oh, ye lost sinners, the Christ who seeks you to-day in the ministry, and who has sought you many a-day by his providence, will save you. He will first find you when you are emptied of self, and then he will save you. When you are stripped he will bring forth the best robe and put it on you. When you are dying he will breathe life into your nostrils. When you feel yourselves condemned he will come and blot out your iniquities like a cloud, and your transgressions like a thick cloud. Fear not, ye hopeless and helpless souls, Christ seeks you to-day, and seeking, he will save you-save you here, save you living, save you dying, sare you in time, save you in eternity, and give you, even you, the lost ones, a portion among them that are sanctified. May the Lord now bless these words to your consolation!
III. I shall not stop to say more, as I intended to have done, lest I should weary you. Let me only remind you, that the time is coming when that word “ lost " will have a more frightful meaning to you, than it has to-day. In a few more months, some of you, my hearers, will hear the great bell of eternity tolling forth that awful word-lost, lost, lost! The great sepulchres of hell will toll out your doom-lost, lost, lost! and through the shades of eternal misery this shall for ever assail your ear, that you are lost for ever. But if that bell is ringing in your ear to-day, that you are lost, oh, be of good cheer; it is a good thing to be so lost; it is a happy thing to be lost to self, and lost to pride, and lost to carnal hope. Christ will save you. Believe that. Look to him as he hangs upon his cross. One look shall give you comfort. Turn your weeping eyes to him as he bleeds there in misery. He can, he will save you. Believe on him, for he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. He that believeth not must be damned; but whosoever among the lost ones will now cast himself on Christ Jesus, shall find everlasting life through his death and righteousness. May the Lord now gather in his lost sheep, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
THE WEDDING GARMENT.
PREACHED ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 25, 1857,
BY THE REV, T. DALE, A.M.
IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. PAUL, LONDON.
"And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment ? And he was speechless.”—Matthew xxii. 12.
The parable from which these words are taken, my brethren, and which most of us, I will hope, have already heard entire in the gospel of the day, has this peculiarity, that while it is in its details, like other parables, symbolic, or teaching by signs, at the time of its delivery it was also parabolical, declaring things to come. As yet, the gospel of the kingdom was preached only to the seed of Abraham; they “ of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came," that is, the Jews, were the guests originally bidden. By the refusal of those who were first invited, is typified the unwillingness of the great body of the Jews to receive the gospel, even when proclaimed by him who “spake as never man spake.” And at this point it is that, though parable does not end, prophecy begins. The despiteful usage of the servants who carried the invitation foreshows the persecution of the early Christians, and more especially the sufferings of that great cloud of witnesses whom in the church's sublime hymn of praise we designate “the noble army of martyrs;" while it must be self-evident to all, that the sending forth the king's armies, the destroying of the murderers, and the burning of their city foreshadows one of the most memorable events in the records of bygone ages, even that crisis of agony and bitter desolation which British India itself cannot parallel, when Jerusalem lay prostrate before the Roman Conqueror, steeped in the blood of her children, and the remorseless enemies left not one stone in her upon another, because she knew not the time of her visitation. From this point, however, another and a happier view developes itself before us, even the calling of the Gentiles, and their incorporation into the universal church, upon a footing of perfect equality with the privileged and at one time the exclusive people of God. The command, “Go ye, therefore, into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage," is the same in substance with that which the Lord uttered on the eve of his return to his primal and eternal glory—“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" while the gathering of as many guests as the servants of the king could find, both bad and good, is prophetic of the success which should follow the faithful ministry of the Word, and the speedy and complete evangelising of what was then the Roman world. “The wedding was furnished with guests."
Thus far the general scope and tenor of the parable; thus far also the fulfilment of the prophecy. But here the teaching of the Lord becomes not only comprehensive of all, but personal 10 each. “The king, " we further read, “caine in to see the guests ;” and it was then found that the servants, if not negligent of their duty, had not been found competent to the right performance of it, for they had admitted into the king's palace and banquetting room one who was not arrayed in the wedding garment, one who therefore came into the presence of the sovereign not as a guest duly bidden and qualified, but as an unwarranted and unauthorised intruder. At once the eye of the king detected him amidst the crowd; and although all nations will at last be gathered before the Lord, “every one of us must give account of himself to God." And the voice of the king indignantly demanded of him, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless."
Here, then, and from this point, as I shall now proceed to show, the parable bears immediately and individually upon ourselves, and has a voice for every one here present. It describes our condition, it declares our own duty, it foreshows our own trial, and if we are found unable to abide that trial, it prefigures and predetermines our own eternal destiny. O may
God enable us to lay it well to heart, and to derive a lasting profit from its teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord !
I. First, then, the parable declares our own condition, both nationally and individually. We 100 have been gleaned by the servants of the great king out of the highways and hedges of the Gentile world. At the period of our Lord's ministry upon earth, the inhabitants of Britain were intellectually and morally what they were supposed in the imperfect state of science to be locally and geographically, as the Roman poet terms them, “the last of human kind." The last have become first. This day is the Scripture fulfilled in our ears. From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the name of Jehovah is now great among the Gentiles, and in almost every place and region of the habitable globe, through the agency of Britain, is offered unto the Lord the incense of Scriptural prayer and the pure offering of gospel thanksgiving. He has laid bare his mighty arm in the sight of the nations, and “all the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our God.” Here, in the Lord's house, now, on the Lord's own day, is the Lord's own word accomplished; and no? now and here alone, but it has been accomplished on every one of those past Sabbaths which have gone 10 bear witness, whether for us or against us, before the judgment-seat of God. Still, however, those who outwardly and ostensibly seem to accept the king's invitation are but a part of the many called.