Abbildungen der Seite

try to show how it is true that the peace of God does keep the mind free from the uttacks of Satan, or delivers it from those attacks when they are made.

I. First, then, beloved, the preservation which God in this promise confers upon the saints, is “TUE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING," to keep us through Jesus Christ. It is called PEACE ; and we are to understand this in a double sense. There is a peace of God which exists between the child of God and God his Judge, a peace which may be truly said to pass all understanding. Jesus Christ has offered so all-sufficient a satisfaction for all the claims of injured justice, that now God hath no fault to find with his children. “He seeth no sin in Jacoh, nor iniquity in Israel ;” nor is he angry with them on account of their sins-a peace unbroken and unspeakable being established by the atonement which Christ hath made on their behalf.

llence flows a peace experienced in the conscience, which is the second part of this peace of God : for, when the conscience sees that God is satisfied, and is no longer at war with it, then it also becomes satisfied with man; and conscience, which was wont to be a great disturber of the peace of the heart, now gives its verdict of acquittal, and the heart sleeps in the arms of conscience, and finds a quiet resting-place there. Against the child of God conscience brings no accusation, or if it brings the accusation, it is but a gentle one-a gentle chiding of a loring friend who hints that we have done amiss, and that we had better change, but doth not afterwards thunder in our ears the threat of a penalty. Conscience knows full well that peace is made betwixt the soul and God, and, therefore, it does nut hint that there is any thing else but joy and peace to be looked forward to by the believer. Do we understand anything of this double peace ? Let us pause here and ask ourselves a question upon this doctrinal part of the matter-Let us make it an experimental question with our own hearts:—“Come, my soul, art thou at peace with God ? H thou seen thy pardon signed and sealed with the Redeemer's blood ? Come, answer this, my heart ; hast thou cast thy sins upon the head of Christ, and hast thou seen them all washed away in the crimson streams of blood ? Canst thou feel that now there is a lasting peace between thyself and God, so that, come what may, God shall not be angry with thee-shall not condemn thee-shall not consume thee in his wrath, nor crush thee in his hot displeasure ? If it be so, then, my heart, thou canst scarcely need to stop and ask the second question—Is my conscience at peace ? For, if my heart condemn me not, God is greater than my heart, and doth know all things; if my conscience bears witness with me, that I am a partaker of the precious grace of salvation, then happy am I ! I am one of those to whom God hath given the peace which passeth all understanding. Now, why is this called “the peace of God?” We suppose it is because it comes from God-because it was planned by God-hecause God gave his Son to make the peace-because God gives his Spirit to give the peace in the conscience because, indeed, it is God himself in the soul, reconciled to man, whose is the peace. And while it is true that this man shall have the peace-even the Man-Christ, yet we know it is because he was the God-Christ that he was our peace. And hence we may clearly perceive how Godhead is mixed up with the peace which we enjoy with our Maker and with our conscience.

Then we are told that it is "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." What does he mean by this? He means such a peace that the understanding can never understand it, can never attain to it. The understanding of mere carnal man can never comprehend this peace. He who tries with a philosophic look to discover the secret of the Christian's peace, finds himself in a maze. “I know not how it is, nor why it is,” saith he; “I see these men hupted through the earth; I turn the pages of history, and I find them hunted to their graves. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, aflicted, and tormented; yet I also see upon the Christian's brow a calm serenity. I cannot understand this; I do not know what it is. I know that I myself, even in my merriest moments, am disturbed; that when my enjoyments run the highest, still there are waves of doubt and fear across my mind. Then why is this? How is it that the Christian can attain a rest so calm, so peaceful, and so quiet?” Understanding can never get to that peace which the Christian hath attained. The philosopher may teach us much; he can never give us rules whereby to reach the peace that Christians bave in their conscience, Diogenes may tell us to do without everything, and may live in his tub, and then think himself happier than Alexander, and that he enjoys peace; but we look upon the poor creature after all, and though we may be astonished at his courage, yet we are obliged to despise his folly. We do not believe that even when he had dispensed with everything, he possessed a quiet of mind, a total and entire peace, such as the true believer can enjoy. We find the greatest philosophers of old laying down maxims for life which they thought would certainly promote happiness. We find that they were not always able to practise them themselves; and many of their disciples, when they laboured hard to put them in execution, found themselves encumbered with impossible rules to accomplish impossible objects. But the Christian man does with faith what a man can never do himself. While the poor understanding is climbing up the crags, faith stands on the summit; while the poor understanding is getting into a calm atmosphere, faith flies aloft and mounts higher than the storm, and then looks down on the valley and smiles while the tempest blows beneath its feet. Faith goes further than understanding, and the peace which the Christian enjoys is one which the worldling cannot comprehend and cannot himself attain. “The peace of God which passeth all understanding.”

And this peace is said to “ keep the mind through Christ Jesus.” Without Christ Jesus this peace would not exist; without Christ Jesus this peace, even where it has existed, cannot be maintained. Daily visits from the Saviour, continual lookings by the eye of faith to him that bled upon the cross, continual drawings from his ever-flowing fountain, make this peace broad, and long, and enduring. But take Christ Jesus, the channel of our peace away, and it fades and dies, and droops, and comes to nought. A Christian hath no peace with God except through the atonement of his Lord Jesus Christ.

I have thus gone over what some will call the dry doctrinal part of the subject “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I cannot show you what that peace is, if you have never felt it; but yet I think I could tell you where to look for it, for I have sometimes seen it. I have seen the Christian man in the depths of poverty, when he lived from hand to mouth, and scarcely knew where he should find the next meal, still with his mind unruffled, calm, and quiet. If he had been as rich as an Indian prince, yet could he not have had less care; if he had been told that his bread should always come to his door, and the stream which ran hard by should never dry—if he had been quite sure that ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning, and again in the evening, he would not have been one whit more calm. There is his neighbour on the other side of the street not half so poor, but wearied from morning to night, working his fingers to the bone, bringing himself to the grave with anxiety; but this poor good man, after having industriously laboured, though he found he had gained little with all his toil, yet hath sanctified his little by prayer, and hath thanked his Father for what he had; and though he doth not know whether he will have more, still he trusted in God, and declared that his faith should not fail him, though providence should run to a lower ebb than he had

There is “the peace of God which passeth all understanding." I have seen that peace, too, in the case of those who have lost their friends. There is a widow-her much loved husband lies in the coffin; she is soon to part with him. Parted with him she has before; but now, of his poor clay-cold corpse-even of that she has to be bereaved. She looks upon it for the last time, and her heart is heavy. For herself and her children. she thinks how they shall be provided for. That broad tree that once sheltered them from the sunbeam has been cut down. Now, she thinks there is a broad heaven above her head, and her Maker is her husband; the fatherless children are left with God for their father, and the widow is trusting in him. With tears in her eyes she still looks up, and she says, “ Lord, thou hast given and thou hast taken away, blessed be thy name.” Her husband is carried to the tomb; she doth not smile, but though she weeps, there is a calm composure on her brow, and she tells you she would not have it otherwise, even if she could, for Jehovah's will is right. There, again, is “the peace of God that passeth all understanding.” Picture another man. There is Martin Luther standing up in the midst of the Diet of Worms; there are the kings and the princes, and there are the bloodhounds of Rome with their tongues thirsting for his bloodthere is Martin rising in the morning as comfortable as possible, and he goes to the Diet, and delivers himself of the truth, solemnly declares that the things which he has spoken are the things which he believes, and God helping him, he will stand by them till the last. There is his life in his hands; they have him entirely in their power. The smell of John Huss's corpse has not yet passed away, and he recollects that princes, before this, have violated their words; but there he stands, calm and quiet; he fears no man, for he has nought to fear; "the peace of God which passeth all understanding,” keeps his heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” There is another scene: there is John Bradford in Newgate. He is to be burned the next morning in Smithfield, and he swings himself on the bed post in very glee, and delights, for to-morrow is his wedding day; and he says to another, “Fine shining we shall make to-morrow, when the flame is kindled.” And he smiles and laughs, and enjoys the very thought that he is about to wear the bloodred crown of martyrdom. Is Bradford mad! Ah, no; but he has got the peace of God that passeth all understanding. But perhaps the most beautiful, as well as the most common illustration of this sweet peace, is the dying bed of the believer. Oh, brethren, you have seen this sometimes—that calm, quiet serenity; you have said, Lord, let us die with him. It has been so good to be in that solitary chamber where all was quiet, and so still, all the world shut out, and heaven shut in, and the poor heart nearing its God, and far away from all its past burdens and griefsnow nearing the portals of eternal bliss. And ye have said, “ How is this? Is not death a black and grim thing? Are not the terrors of the grave things which make the strong man tremble?" Oh yes, they are; but, then, this one has the "peace of God which passeth all understanding.” However, if you want to know about this, you must be a child of God, and possess it yourselves; and when you have once felt it, when you can stand calm amid the bewildering cry, confident of victory, when you can sing in the midst of the storm, when you can smile when surrounded by adversity, and can trust your God, be your way ne'er so rough, ne'er so stormy; when you can always repose confidence in the wisdom and goodness of Jehovah, then it is you will have " the peace of God which passeth all understanding."

ever seen.

II. Thus we have discussed the first point, what is this peace? Now the second thing was, How IS THIS PEACE TO BE OBTAINED ? You will note that although this is a promise, it hath precepts preceding, and it is only by the practice of the precepts that we can get the promise. Turn now, to the fourth verse, and you will see the first rule and regulation for getting peace. Christian, would you enjoy " the peace of God which passeth all understanding?"

The first thing you have to do is to “rejoice evermore.” The man who never rejoices, but who is always sorrowing, and groaning, and crying, who forgets his God, who forgets the fulness of Jehovah, and is always murmuring concerning the trials of the road and the infirmities of the flesh, that man will lose the prospect of enjoying a peace that passeth all understanding. Cultivate, my friends, a cheerful disposition; endeavour, as much as lieth in you, always to bear a smile about with you; recollect that this is as much a command of God as that one which says, “ Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart.” “Rejoice evermore,” is one of God's commands; and it is your duty, as well as your privilege, to try and practise it. Not to rejoice, remember, is a sin. To rejoice, is a duty, and such a duty that the richest fruits and the best rewards are appended to it. Rejoice always, and then the peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds. Many of us, by giving way to disastrous doubts, spoil our peace. It is as I once remember to have heard a woman say, when I was passing down a lane; a child stood crying at the door, and I heard her calling out, “Ah, you are crying for nothing; I will give you something to cry for.” Brethren, it is often so with God's children. They get crying for nothing. They have a miserable disposition, or a turn of mind always making miseries for themselves, and thus they have something to cry for. Their peace is disturbed, some sad trouble comes, God hides his face, and then they lose their peace. But keep on singing, even when the sun does not keep on shining; keep a song for all weathers; get a joy that will stand clouds and storms; and then, when you know how always to rejoice, you shall have this peace.

The next precept is, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” If you would have peace of mind, be moderate. Merchant, you cannot push that speculation too far, and then have peace of mind. Young man, you cannot be so fast in trying to rise in the world, and yet have the peace of God which passeth all understanding. You must be moderate, and when you have got a moderation in your desires, then you shall have peace. Sir, you with the red cheek, you must be moderate in your anger. You must not be quite so fast in flying into a passion with your fellows, and not quite so long in getting cool again; because the angry man cannot have peace in his conscience. Be moderate in that; let your vengeance stay itself; for if you give way to wrath, if you are angry, “ be ye angry and sin not.” Be moderate in this; be moderate in all things which thou undertakest, Christian; moderate in your expectations. Blessed is he who expects little, for he shall have but little disappointment. Remember, never to set thy desires very high. He that has aspirations to the moon, will be disappointed if he only reaches half as high; whereas, if he had aspired lower, he would be agreeably disappointed when he found himself mounting higher than he first expected. Keep moderation, whatsoever you do, in all things, but in your desires after God; and so shall you obey the second precept, and get the glimpse of this promise, “ The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”

The last precept that you have to obey is, “be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make known your requests unto God." You cannot have peace unless you turn your troubles up. You have no place in which to pour your troubles except the ear of God. If you tell them to your friends, you but put your troubles out a moment, and they will return again. If you tell them to God, you put your troubles into the grave; they will never rise again when you have committed them to him. If you roll your burden anywhere else it will roll back again, just like the stone of Sysiphus; but just roll your burden unto God, and you have rolled it into a great deep, out of which it will never by any possibility rise. Cast your troubles where you have cast your sins; you have cast your sins into the depth of the sea, there cast your troubles also. Never keep a trouble half an hour on your own mind before you tell it to God. As soon as the trouble comes, quick, the first thing, tell it to your Father. Remember, that the longer you take telling your trouble to God, the more your peace will be impaired. The longer the frost lasts, the more likely the ponds will be frozen. Your frost will last till you go to the sun; and when you go to Godthe sun, then your frost will soon become a thaw, and your troubles will melt away. But do not be long, because the longer you are in waiting, the longer will your trouble be in thawing afterwards. Wait a long while till your trouble gets frozen thick and firm, and it will take many a day of prayer to get your trouble thawed again. Away to the throne as quick as ever you can. Do as the child did, when he ran and told his mother as soon as his little trouble happened to him ; run and tell your Father the first moment you are in affliction. Do this in everything, in every little thing—“in everything by prayer and supplication make known your wants unto God.” Take your husband's head-ache, take your children's sicknesses, take all things, little family troubles as well as great commercial trials-take them all to God; pour them all out at once.

And so by an obedient practice of this command in everything making known your wants unto God, you shall preserve that peace " which shall keep your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.”

These, then, are the precepts. May God the Holy Spirit enable us to obey them, and we shall then have the continual peace of God.

III. Now, the third thing was to show now THE PEACE, which I attempted to describe in the first place, KEEPS THE HEART. You will clearly see how this peace will keep the heart full. That man who has continued peace with God, will not have an empty heart. He feels that God has done so much for him that he must love his God. The eternal basis of his peace lays in divine election-the solid pillars of his peace, the incarnation of Christ, his righteousness, his death-the climax of his peace, the heaven hereafter where his joy and his peace shall be consummated; all these are subjects for grateful reflection, and will, when meditated upon, cause more love. Now, where much love is, there is a large heart and a full one. Keep, then, this peace with God, and thou wilt keep thy heart full to the brim. And, remember, that in proportion to the fulness of thine heart will be the fulness of thy life. Be empty-hearted and thy life will be a meagre, skeleton existence. Be fullhearted and thy life will be full, fleshy, gigantic, strong, a thing that will tell upon the world. Keep, then, thy peace with God firm within thee. Keep thou close to this, that Jesus Christ hat h made peace between thee and God. And keep thy conscience still; then shall thy heart be full and thy soul strong to do thy Master's work. Keep thy peace with God. This will keep thy heart pure. Thou wilt say if temptation comes, “What dost thou offer me? Thou offerest me pleasure ; lo ! I have got it. Thou offerest me gold ; lo ! I have got it ; all things are mine, the gift of God; I have a city that hands have not made, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' I will not barter this for your poor gold.” “I will give you honour," saith Satan. “I have honour enough,” says the peaceful heart; “God will honour me in the last great day of his account." "I will give thee everything that thou canst desire," saith Satan. “I have everything that I can desire," says the Christian.

“I nothing want on earth;
Happy in my Saviour's love,

I am at peace with God.”

Avaunt, then, Satan! While I am at peace with God, I am a match for all thy temptations. Thou offerest me silver; I have gold. Thou bringest before me the riches of the earth; I have something more substantial than these. Avaunt, tempter of human kind! Avaunt, thou fiend! Your temptations and blandishments are lost on one who has peace with God. This peace, too, will keep the

« ZurückWeiter »