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and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." (Luke xv. 22—24.) Mark! “the best robe !"
that we may
“The best, the very best!" Now, are we in want ? and looking to Jesus, convinced of our personal guilt; and knowing that “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; are we looking to Him as our ALL? What is faith ? we hear much about it; but what do we know of a living faith for ourselves? In this epistle to the Hebrews, we have a definition of faith, “But we see Jesus"
-that is faith! Have we seen Jesus ? A valued Christian friend of mine, once said to me, “I have done with all other sight-seeing, since I have seen the Lord.” Seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. iv. 14–16.)
But this looking for Jesus ; " And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin uuto salvation.” The Christian must look for and to Jesus-necessity compels the Christian. Toplady insists that every new-born man is a “necessitarian." The apostle Paul was a necessitarian—"Necessity is laid upon me; yea! woe is me if I preach not the gospel." He was forced to preach it! God made him preach the Gospel ! We are necessitarians in the pulpit; you are necessitarians in the pews-I speak of Christians. I wish not to be a popular preacher; but I do desire to be made a useful one. The members for your city must be popular-ministers of the gospel must be faithful A gospel minister will only be popular with the poor-not poor as to circumstances—I use not the word poor in that sense—but “poor in spirit.”. A duke may be a poor man. If the earl of Derby—the Premier of England were here, I should preach to the noble Earl that the test of his Christianity must be the same as I insist on to you and to myself-poverty of spirit-being a really poor man. It is the poor " that flock as the doves to their wiudows." And in Zeph. iii. 12, “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lörd.” Such is the church and there is none other! Talk not of this church or the other—of the church of the baptist, or of the church of the independent. The church of the living God is composed of the poor "an afflicted and poor people”—of poor churchmen and poor nonconformists. Christ, the head of the church, was a poor man—"a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”. And are we looking for Him? that is the point. There is a remarkable scripture in the 42nd Psalm. I was told by a hearer of mine some time ago in the city who heard a minister preach on that scripture, “ As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God”- the account of it did me good, and I carried the idea to my own little flock at home. “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks." It is only the poor hart that is hunted, that · pants; it is not the deer that lies at ease, under the shade of the spreading oak, in the lordly park; it is the poor hart that is picked out by the huntsman, and turned out to be hunted, that pants. “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” And I pant when the devil tempts and pursues me, when sin besets me. Do you know what temptation is ? Have you never panted ? If I may use the expression-Do you know what it is to sweat under the power and pressure of sin ? ""Mau's extremity is God's opportunity.” “ There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man : but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. x. 13.) The poor hart may be caught and may be devoured by the stag-hounds ; lout the soul which that figure typifies is immortal-Because saved! Tempted we may be! tried we shall be! but damned we never can be! One word and I will stop. There is another point in the text, the words, “He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “Behold, He cometh with clouds, anil every eye shall see Hiin, and they also which pierced Him; and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him, even so, Amen.” He is coming again, “without sin unto salvation." I understand hy this, that He is coming again to realize to His people the reality of salvation. O! what a subject ! what a thought! Salvation ! everlasting blessedness in heaven! Faith is too feeble to paint the picture; we can only sketch its mere outlineeternity alone can fill it up. Then this earth will have been burnt up.
U! what a text have I set before you to-night, my London hearers ; what words for a sinful nian to find his own tongue proclaiming to his fellow.sinners, amid the stillness of this house of God. And then the fact that we shall—that we must realize personally that which the first versé in the text declares—" And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment;"—but O! mark what follows—"so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” And now the solemn point is, are we each looking away from self and creature merit in every way, to Him "mighty to save?"
Such a subject, if applied with power, unctioned in the heart, and hope kindled within us, makes the soul leap (as it were) for joy. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.”.
Christ then is coming again—a second time-not to shed blood again, but to appear without sin unto salvation"—to appear for the everlasting blessedness of His people--of those who know what it is to be waiting, looking for Him. The weakest believer, the poor trembler, can surely come in here—“Them that look for Him," and have hope, and feel hope kindled in the soul.
And now to refer to another subject. And what shall I say? I delight to preach the GOSPEL to you ; but I am too proud to beg-to beg I am ashamed. It was suggested to me that the collection this evening should be postponed_till October, because, as was stated, some who generally attend these Tuesday evening services, and who are the most able to give, are now out of town, at the sea-side, or elsewhere. But my view was, let us be independent of rich men, or any one else ; it is the usual time to have a collection - Many may be absent, but where is the LORD
“God moves in a mysterious way,
And to-night (it may be), He will show, that, though now surrounded with poor,
who cannot afford to go to the seaside, we shall have a better plateful than we have ever had before.—I say no more whether you give a farthing or a ten pound nots. If I am spared to come here three monihs hence, I shall then simply say on the collection evening—"There are plates at the door." Remember that there are unavoidable expenses; and, I should hope there are several here who feel that they cannot spend their money so well, as in the cause of the gospel. May God incline your hearts to do His will. If you value the gospel--if my ministry is userul to you, the want of a few pounds must not stop these monthly servicesthat is sufficient.
God grant that the great and mysterious truth in the tremendous scripture I have been preaching on, may be, above all, blest to you and to me "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation."
May God bless His Gospel to you and burn it into your hearts, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen! Amen!
Recently published, a Volume of Sermons, by the Rev. J. J. WEST, M.A. selected from the “ Penny Pulpit," price 5s.
A PASTORAL LETTER.
I am a prisoner still. Weakness has succeeded pain, and languor of mind is the distressing result of this prostration of my physical powers. It is the Lord's doing. In some sense I might say with Paul, “ I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” But ah! my bonds are more easy and less honourable to wear than his. Instead of a dungeon, my lot is cast in an abode of comfort; the chain that restrains me from my accustomed ministry was not forged by man, but woven in the shuttle of God's providence: no rough jailor, but loving relatives and friends attend upon me in these tedious hours of my bondage. I beseech you therefore, my beloved, let your many prayers to God on my behalf be each and all mingled with thanksgiving. Gratitude should ever be used in devotion, like salt of old was in sacrifice, s without prescribing how much."
And now, though unable to stand in the pulpit, I will endeavour to give you a short address,-or rather, I will attempt to express the kindlings of my heart in a few broken sentences.
And first, to you my well-beloved and trusty brethren and sisters in Christ, and in the family tie of church fellowship; to you I tender my fondest regards, my sincerest thanks, my sweetest love. I feel refreshed by your sympathy, and my heart is overwhelmed at the estimation in which you hold me. It brings the hot blush to my cheek, and well it may. Tenderly as a husband thinks of the doating affection of his wife, as a father receives the fond homage of his children, as a brother when he is held in honour by all the family circle-so tenderly, and even more tenderly, I remember your care of me. The tone of your supplications during my affliction has been to me beyond measure grateful. I rejoice that ye have with humble submission kissed the rod; not impatiently asking my recovery, but meekly acquiescing in the providence of our heavenly Father, craving most of all that the Lord would sanctify the pains of your pastor, and guard with his own watchful eye the flock. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.”
Yet again, in the still chamber of retirement, I anxiously remember some who would have been ere this baptised on a profession of their faith, and received into membership of the church, had not my health been thus impaired. Be not fretful concerning this delay: accept it as an ordained trial of your patience. If a farmer has a field of corn severed by the sickle from its native earth, but not yet housed in the garner, is he not concerned less he suffer loss? How much more, as a minister of Christ, am I concerned for you—the converts God hath given me. Oh, beloved! be stedfast. Commit not the great sin. Beware lest Satan take advantage of you-for we are not ignorant of his devices. Draw not back. It is written in the law,“ No devoted thing that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.” The Israelite might not retract the beast that he dedicated from his fold for an offering—far less the Christian, when he hath resolved to yield up his heart, his life, his soul to Jesus. I speak not thus to grieve you. Think not that my jealousy bodes a suspicion, but rather that it betokens my love. “We are not of them that draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." “My little children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not."
To those who have worshipped during the past two years in the Surrey Music Hall,—the preacher's greetings and his love. Ye have heard how the Prophet Samuel set up a stone and called the name of it EBEN-EZER, saying, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." That stone marked the place where the Lord gave the children of Israel a great victory over the Philistines: but it likewise marked the " very place where, twenty years before, the Israelites were defeated, and the Ark of God was taken.” Let us rejoice, O my people, with trembling. Two years ago that Hall was the scene of such discomfiture, such dire calamity and death, as we hardly dare to think of. Sure that was the night of my heart's bitterest anguish. “How beit our God turned the curse into a blessing.” For ninety-nine successive Lord's days was I enabled to supply the pulpit; no congregation could have been more evenly sustained; never were sermons more widely echoed. God has owned these services to the quickening of many souls, to the establishing of many in our most holy faith, and by them through his goodness hath the Blessed Spirit stirred up many of my brethren in the ministry to a righteous emulation. “ According to this time it shall be said, What hath God wrought!” Ah, sirs! if ye knew in what fear we begun, and with what anxiety we have continued—if ye knew the unrequited exertions of those beloved brethren, whose names are unknown to fame, but whose good offices were essential to keep the place open-if ye knew, once more, how many a time your minister has prostrated himself as a broken-hearted sinner before God to renew his first vows of unreserved self-dedication—if ye knew these things, ye would not be backward in that ascription of praise never more meet to flow forth in liquid strains with weeping eyes—"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.” My beloved brethren, “Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
Yet I have other friends. They are scattered far and wide throughout this country, and the sister isles. To you let me drop a word. Ye have received me kindly. Faster friend ships were never surely made in fewer hours than I have cemented with some of you. Ye are of my kith and kin. I will take you to record that my God hath graciously proportioned my strength to my days, while I have been among you“ in labours more abundant.” When I have laboured most for his glory, I have feasted most on the provisions of his grace. And blessed be God, when ofttimes called to visit a people heretofore unknown to me, he hath given me the key of David, to unlock the secret springs of your heart; nay rather, he holdeth the key in his own hand; he openeth and no man can shut. Keep, beloved, the word of his patience, and he will keep you from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Finally, my brethren, I am cheered and comforted beyond measure by the joyous hope that on the coming Sabbath I shall again appear among you. This prospect is as oil to my bones, and although I cannot hope to fulfil my ministry with my wonted vigour, yet to attempt to address you will be as a rich medicine—as a tonic to my fluttering heart. Brethren, pray for us.
Yours in covenant, November 2nd, 1858.
C, H, SPURGEON.