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hind. Heaven, the promised reward of the poor in spirit, who hunger and thirst after righteousness-the aim of all their hopesis unseen. No one has been admitted into the happy country, and returned to tell us, that he has beheld the mansion of eternal joy, and actually trod where the curse is not, where all tears are wiped away, where “the wicked cease from troubling, aud the weary are at rest.” We are told also, that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God." We read of unquenchable flames--of a never-dying worm,-of unending agonies, of torments reserved for the impenitent who die in their iniquities, and who bid defiance to all admonition and warnings--such a doom as we cannot think of without shuddering. But, though we may well believe that such shall be the case ; though, were there no other grounds, the bitings of a guilty conscience, the miseries of transgression, and the woes which are its fruits—the consequences even often here of offending God's holy laws in sins of omission and commission-these alone might well make us believe all that has been revealed to us of a hell hereafter : yet, is the fire prepared unseen by us, and no man hath been to the gate of hell, and returned to tell us where or what it is.
It appears, then, that Religion deals with the Unseen : it teaches us to worship a God whom we see not: it animates us with hopes of an invisible place of future reward : its place of righteous retribution and punishment is unseen ; the enemies of our soul, and the angels which minister to the heirs of salvation, are alike unseen:-and, whO HAS SEEN THE SOUL THAT IS TO BE LOST OR SAVED! Such being the case, we understand at once how, without Faith, religion could not possibly exist. Without Faith it would be impossible to please God, or to pay Him any act of worship at all. For it is by Faith that the things which are not seen become as sure to us as those which we beheld with the eyes of our flesh. It is by Faith that the invisible world becomes present to our view, and we live with the unseen God for our Ruler and our Father ; with Heaven, the country we are seeking ; with Hell, a reality to be feared and avoided ; with the air thronged with views less spirits, leading us for good, or seeking our destruction, swift to do the will of the master they serve. Faith is the realization of unseen things, thus causing them to actuate us, and to serve for motives, like the things which we see around us. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is to be influenced by what is unseen, as if seen : it is to embrace the promises, though seen but afar off, yet seen as though present; to be assured of them, and so assured, to live as strangers and pilgrims upon earth. At once we are able to comprehend how extensive is the province of Faith ; how it must come in, as it were, in every religious act, in every religious word, and in every serious imagination. “Faith," however, is “the gift of God :" it must be given to us to believe ; and a rightly-disposed heart is requisite for this, which God alone can give.
Strange as it may seem, yet the fact is, that the Word of God is not truly believed by the generality of hearers : even by very inany who attend the
Ilouse of God pretty well upon the whole so far as the Sundays are concerned, without at all referring to the other Festivals and Holy Days enjoined for observance. Such may not, with the sceptic, profess their disbelief; but when the grand duties and commands of our Holy Faith are urged upon them, there is a secret disposition to doubt whether such reiterated injunctions are 60 indispensable to salvation as the duly authorized Minister of God represents them. Sermon after sermon is heard, but where the visible reform upon the many? Alas! the sweeping majority seem to think of nothing in the Sermon beyond the satisfaction or dissatisfaction it may occasion for the half hour it may be in delivering. Sermons are not got up for amusement, (the Pulpit is surely above this sort of thing,) although the spirit of the age looks at them too much in that light.
When we call upon you to feed your souls through Sealing Ordinances ; promulgate the promises, the denunciations, the blessings, the woes, of the glorious Gospel ; when we enforce this or that particular duty, or denounce this or that particular vice-we are to be regarded not merely as going through the routine of our profession, but as God's Heralds deputed by the Apostolic Laying on of Hands, to utter, in the name of God, what it is His pleasure should be declared to that Flock we are set over. Our exhortations, advices, and remonstrances, are not ours, but God's, who condescends to make use of men like yourselves as His Instruments. Raise, then, Brethren, your minds above the weak and feeble instrument who is addressing you, and listen to him merely as the echo of the voice of God. Have first the disposition of a willing scholar, otherwise, no teacher can make anything of you : have profound reverence for the Word as the Word of God, and not of man ; so can we say of you, with St. Paul to the Thessalonians—"For this cause, thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
The devils believe and tremble: such a belief is of no use. The test of our Faith is our Obedience; not merely a passable, inoffensive morality ; but the submission of the mind, soul, and spirit, to the will of God. Faith waits upon God. Devotion consists in a habitual converse with God, rather than in occasional outbursts or transports of vehement prayers. It is the privilege of Faith to gaze steadily on the Unseen, glorifying God in the most unsearchable of His dealings, owning His wisdom when we cannot see it, bowing to His justice, when the equity of its decisions is obscured in darkness, and magnifying His goodness when chastised by the sorest afflictions. It is by the soul's submission in these things, that the genuineness and strength of true Faith are best ascertained. Little, indeed, do we know, comparatively speaking, of the Unseen Kingdom. We now see but through the glass of Faith darkly. Our best thoughts are inadequate to grasp its glory and bliss : our noblest conceptions of the sunlight of Heaven are but as faint streaks of indistinct
twilight. Yet, little though we know, we glean enough from the Apocalypse to arouse our dormant powers that we may ascend on the ladder of Faith and Prayer to Him who sits on the Throne, surrounded by a rainbow,-to deepen our contrition,-to cheer and quicken our drooping hearts till they burn with seraphic love, lit up with live coals from off the Altar of God. We learn from St. John the Divine that, in the Unseen, the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world is the Object of adoration and worship. The God-Man, being Himself both Priest and Sacrifice, the hierarchies in Heaven fall prostrate before in lowly reverence and loving awe. He is the Alpha and Omega of their devotions; and, in hymning forth His praises, they are represented as bringing the powers of Instrumental Music to their aid, and letting their Harps be, as it were, a joyous undertone to the magnificent sound of voices, which are as the rush of many waters. The song in Heaven is never hushed; the harp is never unstrung ; from side to side, clothed in white, as choristers, the Heavenly Band antiphonally sing and answer one another. And if the things done in Heaven are the patterns of those to be done on earth, what is the conclusion at which we arrive? Surely when we imitate this pattern here below, we are assimilating our services to those who never fell from their first estate. The Church on earth is the Representative of the Church in Heaven. The Church on earth is the Christian's home here, and should ever speak of Heaven, his home hereafter. The Church on earth is the place where God's Honour dwelleth. Here Christ is set before us : all here tells of Christ, and shadows forth His Presence. We gaze on the distant ALTAR with its ornamental CROSS,—and are hereby reminded of the wonders of redeeming love, and the sacrifice made by Christ for the sins of all born of woman. And when we adorn it, it is for Christ. It is to the Lamb slain we dedicate our gifts : and when we, in our humble way, strive to make the place of His Feet glorious, and make beautiful His Tabernacle, it is all for Christ. To Him we offer our choicest gifts; to Him we dedicate all that skill can design, and art accomplish. All our accessories of holy worship are devoted to Him : for, pure love dictates that nothing too costly of ours can be given back to Him, who out of love gave Himself for us. As, in the Book of the Revelation, the Altar in Heaven is repeatedly alluded to, so, in the words of St. Paul, “ WE HAVE AN ALTAR" on earth whereon to offer the Memorial of the One Sacrifice which was, once for all, offered and slain on the Cross. The Great High Priest of our profession bears now in His glorified Humanity in Heaven the marks of His suffering here upon earth,—the five blessed Wounds imprinted upon His Sacred Body, IIe ever presents to His Father, as our Mediator, the merits of this most precious Oblation, as well as the prayers of the saints as holy incense. So, “ Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." After the AWFUL Final SCENE, Faith will be no more, nor no more needed. If found Faithful, our Faith shall merge into Beatific Vision ; we shall gaze upon the Sun of Righteousness who is the Light of the New Jerusalem, and who filleth all things with the brightness of His shining.
SOVEREIGN GRACE AND MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY.
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, August 1, 1858, BY TUB
REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT TIIE MUSIC HALL, ROYAL SURREY GARDENS.
"But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."---Rom. x. 20--21.
DOUBTLESS these words primarily refer to the casting away of the Jews, and to the choosing of the Gentiles. The Gentiles were a people who sought not after God, but lived in idolatry; nevertheless, Jehovah was pleased in these latter times to send the gospel of his grace to them: while the Jews who had long enjoyed the privileges of the Word of God, on account of their disobedience and rebellion were cast away. I believe, however, that while this is the primary object of the words of our text, yet, as Calvin says, the truth taught in the text is a type of a universal fact. As God did choose the people who knew him not, so hath he chosen, in the abundance of his grace, to manifest his salvation to men who are
of the way; while, on the other hand, the men who are lost, after having heard the Word, are lost because of their wilful sin; for God doth all the day long “stretch forth his hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that “it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are 80 nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
Now, this morning I am about to consider the two doctrines. In the 20th verse, we have taught us the doctrines of sovereign grace—"But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” In the next verse, we have the doctrine of man's guilt in No. 207.
Penny Pulpit, No. 2,972.
rejecting God. "To Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."
1. First, then, Divine SOVEREIGNTY AS EXEMPLIFIED IN SALVATION. If any man be saved, he is saved by Divine grace, and by Divine grace alone; and the reason of his salvation is not to be found in him, but in God. We are not sured as the result of anything that we do or that we will; but we will and do'as the result of God's good pleasure, and the work of his grace in our hearts. No sinner can prevent God; that is, he cannot go before hin, cannot anticipate him; God is always first in the matter of salvation. He is before our convictions, before our desires, before our fears, before our hopes. All that is good or ever will be good in us, is preceded by the grace of God, and is the effect of a Divine cause within.
Now in speaking of God's gracious acts of salvation, this morning, I notice first, that they are entirely unmerited. You will see that tlre people bere mentioned certainly did not merit God's grace. They found him, but they never sought for him; he was made manitest to them, but they never asked for him. There never was a man saved yet who merited it. Ask all the saints of God, and they will tell you that their former life was spent in the lusts of the flesh; that in the days of their ignorance, they revolted against God and turned back from his wars that when they were invited to come to him they despised the invitation, and, when warned, cast the warning behind their back. They will tell you that their being drawn by God, was not the result of any merit before conversion; for some of them, so far from having any merit, were the very vilest of the vile: they plunged into the very kennel of sin; they were not ashamed of all the things of which it would be a shame for us to speak; they were ringleaders in crime, very princes in the ranks of the enemy; and yet sovereign grace came to them, and they were brought to know the Lord. They will tell you that it was not the result of anything good in their disposition, for although they trust that there is now something excellent implanted in them, yet in the days of their flesh they could see no one quality which was not perverted to the service of Satan. Ask them whether they think they were chosen of God because of their courage; they will tell you, no; if they had courage it was defaced, for they were courageous to do evil. Question them whether they were chosen of God because of their talent; they will tell you, no; they had that talent, but they prostituted it to the service of Satan. Question them whether they were chosen because of the openness and generosity of their disposition; they will tell you that that very openness of temper, and that very generosity of disposition, led them to plunge deeper into the depths of sin, than they otherwise would have done, for they were
hail fellow, well met,” with every evil man, and ready to drink and join every jovial party which should come in their way. There was in them no reason whatever w., God should have mercy upon them, and the wonder to them is that he did not cut them down in the midst of their sins, blot out their names from the book of life, and sweep them into the gulf where the fire burneth that shall devour the wicked. But some have said that God chooses his people because he foresees that after he chooses them, they will do this, that, and the other, which shall be meritorious and excellent. Refer again to the people of God, and they will tell you that since their conversion they have had much to weep orer. Although they can rejoice that God has begun the good work in them, they often tremble lest it should not be God's work at all. They will tell you that if they are abundant in faith yet there are times when they are superabundant in unbelief; that if sometimes they are full of works of holiness, yet there are times when they weep many tears to think that those very acts of holiness were stained with sin. The Christian will tell you that he weeps over his very tears; he feels that there is filth even in the best of desires; that he has to pray to God to forgive his prayers, for there is sin in the midst of his supplications, and that he has to sprinkle even bis best offerings with the atoning blood, for he never else can bring an offering without spot or blemish. You shall appeal to the brightest saint, to the man whose presence in the midst of society is like the presence of an angel, and he will tell you that he is still ashamed of himself. “Ah!" he will say, “ you may praise me, but I cannot praise myself, you speak well of me, you applaud me, but if you knew my heart you would see abundant reason to think of me as a poor sinner saved by grace, who hath nothing whereof to glory, and must bow his head and confess his iniquities in the sight of God.” Grace, then, is entirely unmerited.