« EdellinenJatka »
First, with respect to myself. I have said within myself, during my season of retirement, “Lord, shew me wherefore Thou contendest with me?" and I think I have seen in some little measure the reason. I fear whether I have been sufficiently earnest and faithful. I have dwelt, it is true, from time to time, upon the absolute necessity of the new birth, and the “ coming out from the world, the being separate, and touching not the unclean thing, but have I followed it up, as it behoved me to have done? Have I acted the part in regard to you, my beloved people, that the angels acted with respect to Lot, namely, that “while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters ; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city?" Have I thus, as it were “laid hold of your hands," and, in the spirit and language of the angels, have I, with becoming stress and energy, exclaimed, “ Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed ?".
Oh, I do fear, beloved people, that this earnestness—this zeal—this, so to speak, following up the pulpit-testimony with the “line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept; here a little and there a little"—this “sowing beside all waters,”—I say, I fear there has been a lack here. The Lord pardon His servant in this thing; and grant me in regard to my present distressing bereavement, as bearing upon this state of things, to say, “ Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth.” “Do give me to take heed to Thy voice, and enable me, O Holy Ghost, for the future to be more zealous, more devoted, more self-denying, less scrupulous about going counter to the carnal will and natural prejudices of men. Help me to remember and to testify that every spiritual blessing comes in direct opposition to the will and dictation of the flesh; that all is in precise unison with the words of our blessed Lord and Master, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Dear, dear friends, these words are easily read; but oh, how much is involved in them, even nothing less than the “cutting off of a right arm, and the plucking out of a right eye." Again, this leads me to ask myself, “Have I, as it behoved me to do, testified with becoming zeal and energy, ‘No man can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon'?” (Matt. vi. 24.) Verily I fear there has been a want here; and I rejoice to flee to the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness with the plea, “Pardon the sins of my holy things.”
Then again, I have been (Martha-like) "cumbered about much serying;” I have been “careful and troubled about many things ;” and have been fool enough to anticipate and seek after a smoother path. Again and again of late months have I felt inwardly rebuked upon this very ground. I have said within myself, “ Ah, I am hoping to be rid of such a trouble, and to be free from such a perplexity, by the end of the year; but who knows what the Lord may have in reserve ? Who knows what cross or what anxiety He may have in waiting to take its place ?” Little indeed did I apprehend that which has now overtaken me-one which has left me desolate and bare indeed.
This, moreover, reminds me of another ground on account of which I may well be deeply, deeply humbled before God, and wherein, probably, my more public ministrations have been lacking. It is the sin—for a sin it is-of creature-idolatry. Perhaps few, if any, have been from time to time more significantly rebuked upon this ground than I; and yet I am compelled honestly to acknowledge, that I feel myself to be as great a creature-idolater as ever. Oh, what a hold has wife and children had upon me! How frequently have I had to exclaim with Dr. Watts :
“ The fondness of a creature's love,
How strong it strikes the sense;
Nor can we draw them thence.”
And leave but half for God." Now all this creature-indulgence has been in the face of the great fact, that the Lord has declared Himself to be a jealous God, and in spite of the exhortation, “Son, daughter, give me thine heart.”
Furthermore, dear people, I ask myself, “Whether I have preached to you ALL that the Lord has taught me?" I appeal to my own conscience, “Have I kept back part of the price, or, in other words, hesitated to put the full truth before the people in so far as I have been taught it, upon the supposition that you are not as yet prepared to receive it ?” Some five-and-twenty years ago, I was struck with the remark of the Rev. Mr. Mackenzie, of Islington: “One is often tempted to keep back a truth,” said he, “upon the supposition that the people are not prepared to receive it, just upon the ground of the Saviour's saying to His disciples, I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. Christ," said he, "might say so, but it is not for us so to speak, He that led us into a truth might have prepared some one or more in the congregation to receive it!
Moreover, have I sufficiently protested against the errors and delusions of the day? Oh, what multitudes are being led blindfolded on! They are beguiled and infatuated; imagining they are pleasing God and rendering Him acceptable service by a round of so-called duties and obseryances, that will ultimately prove (if God interpose not) to be of the most awfully delusive and destructive character, ending in irremediable and eternal destruction. I care not how uncharitable any may deem me when I say, that Ritualism or mere ceremonial will (if divine grace prevent not) at last leave its hapless votaries in the most fatal and ruinous of consequences. Oh, how I felt this, when recently upon the bed of weakness and languishing! How I felt that no form, no creed, no creature-work or worthiness, could in the leastwise prove a substitute for CHRIST! It was then,
“None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do me, a poor helpless sinner, good.”
Then, indeed, did I feel beyond all power of expression, that Christ, and Christ alone, could help and save and deliver. I dare not look for a moment upon the best action I had ever performed. It was all sin, sin, sin, short of Christ, and I had nothing but His blood to bathe in, and His righteousness to plead. And oh, how precisely in the same line of things was my dear departed one led, as I hope hereafter to prove to you! On her dying-bed she said, “What would High Churchism do for me now?” Oh, could you have heard, as I and others did, the emphatic way in which she spoke of the robe of righteousness, the wedding garment, the entire
renunciation of all creature-goodness, and of Christ alone being the sinner's only hope and refuge, methinks you would never have forgotten it. Oh, may it prove as a voice from the tomb-yea, from the skies—both to you and me! May she, “ being dead, yet speak.”
But now, my dear, dear people, permit me a little to change the subject and appeal to you. This, to me, most severe and most unlooked-for affliction, is connected with you as well as myself. Such is invariably the case with all God's ministers. Hence, says the apostle, in writing to the Corinthians, “ And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."
First, this very bereavement speaks as with trumpet-tongue of the thorough uncertainty of life. Ah, what fact could more confirm that saying of the apostle James : “Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Who would have thought for one moment that the loved one who accompanied me, her invalid husband, three weeks since, should so speedily be smitten down, and, in so short a period be numbered with the dead ?
Oh, my dear people, you will remember that on sundry occasions, I have reminded you, that when tempted as I have been to exhort and admonish
you less than I am wont to do, upon the brevity of life, something or other has occurred so solemn and so significant as to deepen my conviction as to its being my paramount duty to warn and remonstrate and affectionately advise
you in respect to the absolute vanity and positive uncertainty of all and everything of earth. How does the providence of God thus illustrate and confirm the word of God! What household or what friendships have not thus had confirmation within their own little circles of the great, the solemn, fact, that “this is not our rest,” that “here we have no continuing city ?”
Oh, I do pray that the Lord may be pleased most mercifully and graciously to sanctify this so sudden calling away of one so near and dear to me, to your spiritual and everlasting advantage, as well as to my own and my dear children's present and eternal good. May each of you, dear people, say to yourselves, “It might have been I called instead of her whom we shall see no more on earth. Our place might have been vacated instead of hers."
Next, this thought may well suggest the inquiry, "Had I thus been called away from earth, what hope have I beyond the grave ? Can I say, as the departed could, 'I know whom I have believed ?'
Have I a saving acquaintance with Christ? Is He all my salvation and all my desire ? Have I been brought, as a poor helpless, guilty sinner, to His feet? Have I placed my polluted soul in His hands? Has His blood washed away my sinful stains ? Does His righteousness cover my poor naked soul? Can I really say from my heart what I so often sing with my lips
“ Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
With joy shall I lift up my head'p”
Spirit of the living God, to put each to your own heart and conscience; and, if at present you are in doubt and uncertainty as to whether you have really any part or lot in the matter, may the Lord never allow you to rest satisfied until you can, upon scriptural grounds, say, “He lovel me, and gave Himself for me;" “I am my Beloved's, and His desire is towards me.”
Thus brought, dear friends, to realize the blessings of salvation in the life that now is—the favour of God-freedom from the guilt and condemnation of sin a right and title to that glorious inheritance which is “incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away;" oh, then with what comparative indifference may you regard all the trials and cares and vexations of this poor fleeting world! How short their duration! How limited their extent! How certain their issue! All appointed in infinite wisdom, regulated by consummate skill, and operating in perfect consistency with that gracious assurance, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to Elis purpose.”
You will remember, my dear hearers, the portions of the blessed word from which I last addressed you—the former of which was the last to which my loved one listened. On Sunday morning, the 20th October, the text was Psalm lxxxiv. 7, “They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” In the evening, Phil. iv. 19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." I appeal to you, dear friends, has not the Lord fulfilled His word ? Deep and bitter and anguishing as have been the lessons set before me, especially since I spoke from these last words, oh, I am bound to testify to the faithfumess and the goodness and the mercy and the all-sufficiency of a covenant-keeping God. Yes, that word has been much upon my mind, during my recent affliction and subsequent bereavement, “ Though He hath chastened me sore, He hath not given me over unto death."
Finally, dear friends, I would ask you to remember me and mine with increased earnestness and fervour before the throne of grace. The Holy Ghost enable you so to do, Pray that the Lord would speedily restore me to my wonted health, and again bring me among you " in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ." So prays, dear brethren and sisters,
Your affectionate friend and pastor, December, 1867.
DAVID A. DOUDNEY.
In word and deed and thought,
And with a thankful heart proclaim Proclaims this truth anew.
The blessings Thou hast wrought. This earth, wherever we may roam, Prepare us by Thy sov'reign grace, Is not our resting-place,
For all Thy righteous will, We're pressing onward to our Home, | Oh, let us see Toy lovely face, As sinners saved by grace.
And hear Thy whispers still, Then let us, while we sojourn here, Till changing scenes and passing years Sit loose to all below,
Can vex our hearts no more, And, with a filial, godly fear,
But one eternal song of praise, Our heavenly course pursue.
Shall sound from shore to shore! Birmingham.
E. B. M.
Sermons and Notes of Sermons.
“MIGHTY TO SAVE." SUBSTANCE OF A SERMON BY THE REV. J. A. WALLINGER, PAVILION CHAPEL, BRIGHTON, “ Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel
acknowledge us not : Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy name is from everlasting. O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our heart from Thy fear ? Return for Thy servants'
sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance." -ISAIAH lxiii. 16, 17. This chapter opens with a glorious discovery of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, mighty to save-mighty to appear on behalf of His Church, His Zion, His spiritual Israel; and in so doing mighty to destroy His enemies and their enemies, which will be the last scene enacted on the theatre of this world, the display of covenant mercy to save, and of covenant power to destroy. The chapter opens with a display of His power as coming from Edom, glorious in apparel, travelling in strength, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save. The prophet then goes on to show that those who have tasted covenant love will tell it out. “I will mention the lovingkindness of the Lord” (ver. 7). Oh, blessed experience of covenant love received at the hands of Judah's mighty Lion, who comes to comfort the hearts of His blood-bought people by revealing His “lovingkindness!" Has He revealed it to you ? The chapter goes on to show that notwithstanding the Lord's lovingkindness His people are often in troublous circumstances, often in low places; but not left utterly: for does He cease to feel for His people? We may have no fellow-feeling for one another. Not so Jesus; He has a fellow-feeling for His people, who are cast in a waste howling wilderness world. He has felt their temptations, He knows their trials, He has been before them in their sufferings—"was tempted in all points like as they are, yet without sin.” And why? To succour the tempted, to sympathize with the suffering ; and so we read at ver. 9, “ In all their afflictions He was afflicted.” Ay, afflicted in His people's afflictions. He loved them to pour out His blood for them. He loved them to die for them; but He cannot let them escape
afflictions that are for their good. This is a sweet subject, Jesus' sympathy with the sufferings of His people. He will not stand unmindful by, as you and I sometimes pass a poor object in the street without pity or concern, because we think they are making a trade of it, and are not what they appear. The Lord knows what is feigned and what is false : and, as He cannot be deceived, He sympathizes truly with the sorrows of His family. But the chapter goes on to speak not only of Israel's sorrows, but of their sins; and thus intimates that their sorrows sprang out of their sins. Yes, you can lay all your sufferings to the door of your sins. You can wonder you are out of hell; if not, you have more or less of pharisaism in you, and so you need to see more of those vile birds that inhabit the cage of thy vile heart. A sight of them will take your pharisaism out of you. But God's Israel are found not only in affliction, but in sin; as we ad, “But they rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit, and He fought against them." Did He destroy them? No. He fought to subdue them; for it is added, “ Where is He that brought them up as a shepherd doth his flock ?” As much as