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sobriety mark us with an unmistakeable mark for God's people already ?
You must answer the question for yourselves. But be not deceived-to have a good hope of Heaven, and of being happy there, we must already be practising—as far as we know of it—the life of Heaven. For a man to lead a life of worldliness and sin, leaving God out of all his thoughts, and then at its close, to be transferred to the pure atmosphere of Heaven, is simply impossible. Could it be, he would not be happy there—he would feel himself out of his place amidst the blessed company of the saints of God!
Therefore, brethren, again let me urge it on you allTake steps betimes, while the day of salvation lastethWalk worthy of God, Who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory! Make it appear more and more plainly that your heart is set on Heaven—that your hope is indeed laid up there, by cultivating in your souls the growth of all heavenly things, and weeding out what may offend the eyes of your Heavenly Father-weeding out selfishness, weeding out sensual lusts, weeding out all conceit of your own worth, and cultivating all you can the graces of your Saviour's Gospel, of which the sum and chief are these two—Charity out of a pure heart, and faith unfeigned ! TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
JEREMIAH XXIII. 5, 6.
Behold, the days come saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a
righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment, and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The Epistle for to-day—of which these are the two first verses, is chosen, you may have observed, not from any part of the New Testament, not from the writings of the Apostles, but from the Old Testament, from the prophet Jeremiah.
And the reason of this unusual selection no doubt is, because the passage before us contains matter admirably adapted for our meditation at this time, the last Sunday after Trinity, the nearest to Advent Sunday, because it speaks to us, of what should now be occupying our thoughts, of the Lord Jesus Christ-of His coming-of His kingdom of His saving health—of the Name by which He should be called.
And these are the subjects on which I would touch this morning.-May God bless our consideration of them! May they awaken in us a deep sense of God's goodness to us, and of our debt to Him! and so “stir us up” as we have prayed, to bring forth more abundantly fruit unto our Lord—fruit answerable to our promise-such as He looks for in us—such as will serve to recommend His Gospel, and to spread His glory wider and wider in the earth!
The epistle opens with the first words of my textBehold the days come saith the Lord that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Behold the days come~Jeremiah lived about six hundred years before the birth of our Lord—and yet how clear is his vision of that day! He sees it is close at hand. Behold the days come! Would, brethren, it were so with ourselves! Would that we looking forward to a greater day-to the coming of Christ to be our Judge-were ever to regard it as close at hand! For so should we live more prepared for it-so should we be occupied more diligently in our Master's business, and not run hazard, as I fear we many of us do now, of being surprised by His coming, taken unawares, found by Him unfaithful !
But observe next the language in which Jeremiah describes our Lord—1 will raise unto David a righteous branch.
A righteous BRANCH-the word is very commonly
applied to Christ in the Bible.—Thus in Isaiah-In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious. -and again, chapter xi.-There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow ont of his roots. —so also in Zachariah-Behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.
And there is great fitness, and great beauty in the term. For just as a branch will often shoot forth out of the root, after a tree has been cut down, so the Lord Jesus Christ came forth out of the family of David, when that family and its fortunes were fallen in Israel. Then it was that God remembered His promise and raised up a mighty salvation for us in the house of His servant David ! Then it was that there sprung up in Bethlehem, David's own town, a branch of the Lord's own plantingthe work of His hands, that He might be glorified !
And note another thing about this word branch, as applied to our Lord. It sets forth the spread of His religion.—That religion was, when first preached, like a little seed sown in the ground, and now it has become a great tree and shot out its branches over many parts of the world. These branches are the several Churches, which throughout the world, profess the faith of Christ crucified. Their life—if they have any—comes from one, and the same stock-from their being rooted to Christ Jesus. Once separated from Him-once ceasing to be refreshed by His Spirit, they must wither and die.
Yes, and so it is, with every member of those churches - with every single individual Christian-with every one of us, brethren. Our life—our spiritual health and vigour-our power to think and do anything good-our power to please God at all depends on our close union with our Saviour. “He is the vine,” we are the branchesas the branch cannot þear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can we except we abide in Him. He that abideth in Christ, and Christ in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; but without Him we can do nothing!
But again—other titles are given to our Lord in the Epistle, and what we have next to consider is, His title of King, and not only His title of King, but the blessed effects of His rule. And a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth, in His day, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.
Who can doubt but that we have here a true prophecy of how it will be in the latter days—in those days when Christ is acknowledged, as He surely will be, King over the whole earth-when oppression, and violence, and hatred, and variance, and emulation, and strife shall be no more-when men shall dwell as one great brotherhood, in love and peace together—when they shall neither hurt not destroy in all God's holy mountain !
True, brethren, for I anticipate your objection-we are as yet far off from that blessed day, that peaceable kingdom of the Branch. True that, as things now are, we cannot reckon to see the reign of universal love begunnor can we afford as yet to beat our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into pruning-hooks. True and sad, that look where we will, there are wars and rumours of wars. Yet for all this I do affirm that Jesus Christ is King—and that proofs are not wanting, that His mild and beneficent rule is being exercised amongst us.