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THE EFFECTUAL OPENING.
(Rector of Winchelsea, Sussex.)
“ Thou opencat Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."-Psalm exlv, 16. My hearers, in this verse, which has been applied to my own heart with some power to speak on to you-we have a great fact, and a great truth as to the experience of the people of GoD set forth—and while as a preacher in the Church of England, sound, I trust, in her doctrines, and attached to her creeds, I proclaim the doctrine that great and grand foundation doctrine of the TriƯNE JEHOVAH-of three persons in Öne ETERNAL GOD-while I insist upon the fact-that the Father is God-the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God—while also I declare the grand and the glorious doctrines of election, redemption, and effectual calling and teaching by the Holy Ghost, and by that blessed Spirit alone and only-I want, while here I stand as a trustee of the Gospel, to set forth before the people of God, and to sift all other hearers-that blessed, experimental, and practical pathway in which the tried and exercised people of God have to go on to
Now David, in this Psalm is, (and as the heading of it in the Bible states) in his own peculiar way, blessedly praising “God for His Famemfor His good. nes-for His kingdom-for His providence-for H18 saving mercy.""But I want, (and I do not think I am straining the verse that forms the subject that I am to speak on), I want to proclaim before you that which it so specially sets forth-the absolute SOVEREINGTY of our God! And I purposely pause here over that statement for every hearer unmistakebly to understand me--that God, is an ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGN—that according to that gigantic Scripture in the Book of Daniel, iv. 35—" And He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth : and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou.” That He acts as a sovereign in all He does for the avowed safety, benefit, and blessing of His CHOSEN people. I pause then upon this stanza in the text I am preaching on—"THOU OPENEST THINE HAND"-and till THAT hand is opened man can do nothing. I should be a traitor in the palpit of the Establisded Church if I did not insist upon that fact as stated in the tenth Article of the Church-and that Article stands based and founded upon that triumphant passage in John vi.-"No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." And in the sister verse—“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to me; and him that cometh to ME I will in no wise cast out.” While thus I have the authority to preach before you that all the given ones shall come, (that is doctrine !)-I have also, for the comfort and encouragement of every exercised and broken-hearted sin
The Morning Sermon on this occasion was preached by the Rev. H. Melvill, B.D., Chaplain in Ordinary to Her Majesty, and Canon Residentiary of St. Paul's.
ner, here to declare from this pulpit top, to the mass of people now assembled before me—“ Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." But, my hearers, they that “honour Me I will honour,"—and we must put the crown apon THE RIGHTFUL READ; for in the words of Augustus Toplady
“ No sinner can be beforehand with THEE,
THY GRACE is preventing Almighty and free." Now then, first of all-bear with me, my hearers—“THOU openest Tune hand.” In that hand there is treasure for THE CHURCH ; it is the FATHER'S hand that holds everything for His children. But he knows when the opening moment is to come, for He does everything according to His own everlasting, decrees and covenant. “The people willing in the day of The power.” There is a set time to favour every child of God. Now mark the fact-and is it not gladdening to hear it from the pulpit ? is it not Gospel truth that in the hand of the Eternal God is treasured up everything for the church? We had the definition of THE CHURCH in the second chapter for this evening's serviceOne LORD, ONE faith, one baptism ; ONE God and FATHER of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all ;” and I think in the chapter following, the 5th of Ephesians, it is declared—“CHRIST loved the CHURCH and gave HIMSELF for it."
Now the subject that I am to speak on is the “hand," and the opening"and in that hand is treasured up everything for the CHURCH of God. “THOU OPENEST THINE HAND"-and when that hand is opened the treasure is bestowed upon the child. We have also in the text three other great blessings that I would speak on to you besides the sovereignty and the open ing of the hand. Satisfaction follows the opening--also, mark the word before me—“the desire," and who the people are who have that “ desire"
Satisfiest the desire of every living thing." Now I take this passage accommodationally, (understand me,) as applicable to the state of the church of God. God opens His hand, and in that hand is contained everything for the special good of His own poople. It may be trial, for there is such a thing, my brother and sister, in the experience of the church, as the cross-banded blessing. Joseph dictated to his venerable father when blessing his boys “ Not so my father”—he dictated to the venerable man-and have not you and I often under trial, and in periods of soul-exercise murmured out, “not so my Father !" But “I know my son, I know !" That hushes every murmur; and 0 ! what a mercy practically to feel and know that we are in the hands of a COVENANT God, and that
“ E'en crosses from His Sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise." But observe here, SATISFACTIon follows the opening of the hand! And here I pause for a second that I may preach to you about the effect of grace in the soul. “ DESIRE." Not to take a higher test—" The DESIRE of our soul is to Tuy name.” That is a token for good.” If the heart is directed CARIST-WARDS—if the heart longs and pants for salvation-if the heart seeks for evidence within that we are safe for eternity-if the heart desires to know_"am I one of the election of grace"-depend upon it, my hearers, that very desire is a test and proof that the SPIRIT of God is in you :-“ It is God which worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.” And I as a minister of the Gospel feel that it is the very secret of my office in the pulpit to lay men in the dust of self-abasement, and to exalt Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as God over all, blessed for ever-not to allow any creature merit, not to allow any creature power. ALL POWER IS OF God-and this is so, both, as to preaching the Gospel, or hearing the Gospel. « We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the POWER may be of God, and not of us."
Now, amidst this mass of people before me, allow me to ask, and I put it to you one one-can you test yourselves by the secret which the text declares, and have you a desire after God the Saviour ! Not, mark me, from a coward
of that love, that is deposited in the broken heart, by the Holy Spirit of God! Desire is an evidence! my hearers. I am too old a soldier in the ranks of my Great Commander not to know that there are a mass of hypocrites all over the land, in London and in the country, that are holding high doctrines. But it is one thing to profess Christianity, it is another thing to be a broken-hearted follower of a despised Christ.
“No big words of ready talkers,
No dry doctrine will suffice,
These are dear in Jesus' eyes."
“ Tinkling sounds of disputation,
Naked knowledge, all are vain,
Must and SHALL BE born again." “Must and shall be.” There is no doubt about it. It is not whether you will or whether you will not. God's will is his child's shall. God puts desire into the soul ! and the desire is an evidential test of good—the desire in a broken heart-the desire to ascertain the fact-did that great and glorious GOD-MAN die for me upon the cross? There is a great deal of profession in the present day, my hearers—a great deal of meddling curiosity about other people. I do not think it is too common a saying for the spot I now occupy to declare that—"Charity begins at home.” The great point for you and me in anticipation of that tremendous moment to which we must all come-a dying bed and a dying hour, is THIS—"Am I a child of God in Christ Jesus ?” I ask you, have you a desire now! There may be, and I should be very much astonished in such a crowd as this if there were not several before me that have not got that DESIRE ? I would breathe out a solemn prayer to the God I serve, as I stand here preaching before you, that the very subject I am here in weakness, and in one sense), in fear, and in much trembling, endeavouring to inculcate before you, may be the means by which you may be brought to have an intense desire in your inmost soul that you are safe for eternity through the blood and victory of Christ. And if you came tonight into this HOUSE of God careless and indifferent upon the subject, that you may leave the place and go out of that door exercised and troubled in your soul, to know these things personally for yourselves. Desire! Look at the worldly man, and look at the professing man-look at the mere dead professors of the day, (the greatest enemies of the Gospel after all,) look how they covet, look how they desire, look how they strive after worldly things. Then listen to the blessed statement of our loving Lord—“ Fear not, little Aock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” A little flock in every time-state of the church's existence; a little flock throughout the habitable world. But when the great day of account shall come-when, to take the thrilling and striking words of the prophet-"When the flocks shall again pass under the hands of Him that telleth them"-when HE counts up His own-(you who live in London may not in its practicality understand this figure so well as a countryman can, but this is the meaning of it, and if you have ever seen the shepherd standing at the half open hurdle counting each sheep one by one as it enters into the fold to see that they are all there, you will see the beauty and appropriateness of the pro. phet's word--and carrying out the imagery for ourselves, and appropriating it to the fact of that great event which must take place when " the Great Sheperd of the sheep" comes to tell out His own)-the redeemed will then be a countless multitude--and we shall all be there. Butshall we all go into the fold ? In that great day of account when God shall be sessioned on His throne, and before Him all nations shall be gathered-then! mark me! only two tremendous sentences will be heard, only two divisions of persons to be made, sheep or goats, the one on the right hand, the other on the left, two everlasting telling sentences-the one-" Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" — or the other, (and do not call me harsh, I must be faithful, and it is God's own word,) or “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Now is there a desire i I put it to myself-I put it to you—Is there a desire within us to realise our safety for that tremendous day? What would you say of a surgeon in a case where, to save life, it was essential to amputate the leg! I can imagine some unskilful awkward surgeon, in a country hamlet, hesitating about it; but what would you say of a Brodie, if he had paused in such a case, if he delayed a moment even to take the knife and to cut off the limb! And wbat would be said of us in our pulpits if we failed from any cause whatever, or from " the fear of man which bringeth a snare "_ What would be said of us, as ministers of Christ, if we “shunned to declare unto you ALL THE COUNSEL or GoD !" Here was the comfort of the Apostle Paul, when about to leave Ephesus—“I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." "Not a piece of it; not a yea and a nay gospel, but that gospel which, thank God, is contained in the Prayer Book-which is inculcated in our Articles--and which from the Archbishop of Canterbury, down to the poorest curate in the country, ought to be sounded forth from every pulpit top, in the land. It is this precious gospel I would preach to you; and I simply ask whether you have that desire which the text inculcates in your heart-the desire to “know YOUR election of God"- the desire to know whether you are safe for eternity! Is it not an important thing! I think, if I remember correctly, the second chapter in the Morning Service typified before us the reality of two sisters-Mary and Martha-Martha care ful and troubled about.“many things," and her sister realizing the important fact, that “one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” How many in this congregation are in Mary's position ! How many that I see now before me, and around me, have got a satisfactory criterion evidence that they-(I will take no higber standard)—humbly desire in a broken heart to know whether they are of God. We may take the blessed example of the Apostle Paul-“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings"-or, as I believe I am correct in saying that I may have His fellowship and sympathy in all my sufferings. I was struck with the simile by the morning preacher, in allusion to this church, referring as he did to the devastating fire that had burnt up the former building, laying it in ruins, that in the midst of the desolations, ils spire still remained preserved from the devouring element, pointing its summit top to heaven-and I would now appropriate that idea to a far higher and grander subject. For amidst all the conflagrations, and trials, and troubles, and perplexities of life, the child of God! will still have the spire of hope pointing and rising up to Him who dwelleth in heaven-and the desire of the soul will be, in the midst of fiery trials and burnings of heart, to JESUS and to the remembrance of His NAME! It is the sweet statement of the Prophet Malachi--and is a very test of the church, and a striking feature of the child of God—“ Them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His NAME !"-and if you have got no higher up in the scale of evidence of being a child of God, I think I am scripturally correct when I say that the fear of God GRACED in the heart, and thinking on His name, is a token and a proof-and this will make you desire to walk morally. It is a mercy to be brought to think upon His Name-to be raised to a hope, and to have a desire to know that we are a child of God in CHRIST JESUS. My hearers, it is bere, to this point, where the doctrines of GRACE bring us. No church in the world holds higher or purer doctrines than the Church of England—and while I delight to sound forth those doctrines—whether it be to my own home flock in the country, or standing in this strange Church before you-I want to show the people that it is not the mere holding high doctrines in the head, but that the very germ and life of Christianity-is, the having Curist CRUCIFIED set up in a broken heart, with an inward desire to follow Christ in the NARROW WAY(for the way is “ narrow !") It is this my hearers, that tests the reality of the second birth.
I now come to the “SATISFACTION” spoken of in the text-every child of God shall be SATISFIED. There shall be no disappointment to the people of God-their desires shall be all granted-God may, God does, and God will keep, some of His children a long time in severe exercise ! He may grant the desire of some much sooner than the desire of others, but all His people BHALL be satisfied—“My soul (says David in another Psalm)-wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him!" And I believe it, and I know it, and I therefore preach it withoạt any ifs, buts, or ands--and I preach it with authority, that unless you know what it is to be tried, unless you know what it is to be “ driven to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man" (we have that in Psalm cvii.)-and “are at your wits end"- you will never understand the experience of the Psalmist_“My soul wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him." Look, my hearers, at the disappointments of life, look at the trials of life, look at the narrow way in which all God's children must more or less continually walk, and yet satisfaction is waiting for them at the end.
Now, have you this feeling of wants May I illustrate the point by the prodigal son í None could be worse than that prodigal son, who left his father's house and spent his patrimony in debauchery and sin. He went into a distant country, and after this, that, and the other, we are told in the words of the Spirit of God—“ he began to be in want."
“I want to know the SaviouR'S LOVE,
I want to fix my heart above,
I want to feel new life within." That is what the church wants, and we shall have it, for God will satisfy the desire of all His people at His own time, and not one atom of time before. In the Psalms-(though I desire not to separate any one portion of this blessed Book from another, for it is all precious, it is all a treasure)-yet I believe you will generally find that the tried, the exercised, afflicted, cast down people of God-however untaught they may be in mere human learning)-are scholars in the Book of Psalms. In those blessed portions is the crying and the petitioning, the deep soul exercise, the experience of the depths and of the darkness in these too are the glimmerings of hope and burstings forth of praise blessedly set forth—and it is in this same Book of Psalms that the triumphant Scripture I am preaching on, is written and engraved" Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.'
Now, the fourth point is this—"every living thing”-and I take this accommodationally to refer to the people of God." We are all " born in sin.” There is no exception here. The Apostle in the Ephesian Epistle states" And you hath ne quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” The Apostle speaks of his own experience as to that fact. We are all dead in sin; and the quickening must be by SOVEREIGN POWER. God quickens whom He will. Now we must be brought into the life of THE GOSPEL; and I insist upon it, that there can be no full appreciation of the blessings of the gospel till we have been condemned under the law. I have stated it over and over again to my own flock, that I consider one of the healthiest portions of our service in the morning is the hearing those Ten Commandments, which declare death to you and to me, in every one of them—“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”. So that there can be no perfection in the flesh. One trip in thought, in word, or deed, makes a man guilty of the whole. Now, what does the Apostle Paul say!—“I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Mark the peculiar wording of the Holy Ghost "When the commandment CAME." I can understand a moral man, or a Pharisee coming to the commandment; but that will not do; the commandment must come to the Pharisee and unpharisaize him. If at this moment there lay in one of the jails of our country some convicted felon under sentence of death, Mr. Walpole, the Home Secretary, must send the Queen's