« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
human performances, which are a stench in the nostrils of Him whom thus she has the hardihood to insult; where supernatural light has not been given, and divine grace has not been implanted, to counteract her influence and authority; she has advanced to bolder steps-has occupied higher ground; and, out of what is termed the Church of England, has talked of works of charity ; has instituted societies of a diversified description, which effect a certain amount of moral good, but which, being conducted upon free-will, human-merit principles, turn that into evil which had the appearance of good. Nor is her influence confined to the outer pale of the Church establishment; in the very seat of power—in the highest authorities of this self-same establishment, have men of talent--men of boasted human intellect-been employed by Satan, the projector of this infernal machinery, to carry out certain views, in order to bring about the same disastrous object; this is now carried on under the character of High Churchism, in which the intentions of its founders are abused by the closely literal adherence to the rights and ceremonies enjoined, to the almost total exclusion of their spiritual and higher signification.
Watchman! what of the night ? · Contention-discussion-division, upon points of minor consideration, between the real church of the living God; a running to and fro in the mystic darkness; a want of recognition ; a suspicion ; a lack of union ; a misconstruction.
Watchman! what of the night ?
Many of the virgins slumbering ; sunk into a state of listlessness and indifference; having “ forsaken their first love," and departed from the simplicity of the truth, and being taken up with novelties ; others being called to encounter sore privation and trial, walking in darkness, and having no light ; languishing under a famine of a full and free Gospel proclamation ; whilst a third class have gone to their habitations, “to mourn in sackcloth and in ashes ;” “ have retired to their closets, shut their doors about them, and hid themselves for a little season, until the indignation of the Lord be overpast.”
Watchman ! what of the night ?
“ The night is far spent—the day is at hand !" Yet a little season of still thicker darkness and the day breaketh ; the day-star shall burst from behind yon dark cloud ; the Sun of Righteousness--the glorious Immanuel—the God with us, indeed !- shall arise ; scattering the clouds, dispelling the darkness ; destroying, with one stroke of his Omnipotent hand, the Babylonish whore; entering, by his Spirit, with Almighty power and illuminating grace, into the sons of the prophets, whom he is now tutoring for his work; proclaiming, by their mouths, with energy divine, a full and a free salvation ; clothing his church with gladness ; lightening up her countenance with unutterable joy; and giving her a sweet-a blessed foretaste of that infinity of delight and satisfaction which awaits her beyond the reach of time.
CRUMBS FROM ELMLEY OF SEPT. 5th, 1841. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners ; of whom I am chief:
1 Tim. i. 15. We are to consider these words as from the apostle's own experience. Had this subject been learnt by him only from the letter of the word, or by mere outward teaching, he had not spoken upon it in this experimental way. Paul, like the Apostle John, had heard, seen, looked upon, and handled the Word of Life. He set forth what he had experimentally known for himself of the Gospel. When the Holy Ghost touches the chord of our experience on any divine or spiritual subject, that subject immediately fills our heart ; and then out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Thus it is with ourselves, as the sent ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ; thus it was with the apostle, when he penned the word of the text ; while it was this which made the tongue of David as the pen of the ready writer, when he would speak of Jesus and his church (Ps. xlv. 1). The words of the text are their own witness to this having been the case :- they contain
I. A summary of the Gospel, “ That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
II. A testimony from the apostle to its validity, “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.”
III. The competence of the apostle to bear this testimony, in his confession of being the chief of sinners " Of whom I am chief."
I. The apostle's summary of the Gospel, “ That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This was the end for which the Lord came into the world. The coming of Christ into the world, as here spoken of, includes all that which depended on his coming into the world, for its being acted by him; the whole course of his life on earth, all he did, said, and suffered— his death as well as his birth, together with his burial and ascension. In everything thus consequent upon his becoming incarnate and sojourning as man on earth, he had one unceasing regard to saving sinners. He did not come to save any but sinners; not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He came to seek and to save that which was lost-lost to himself in the fall, as having been given to him of the Father, and espoused by him in eternity. The apostle does not say, that he came to save all sinners-only sinners; he does not draw any line of distinction as to any particular description of sinners. Sinners, as sinners, were what Jesus Christ came to save; every description and character of sinner, not all sinners individually, but all sorts of sinners. He leaves no room for any to exclude themselves, when made sensible of their own true character as sinners, on the ground of the heinousness, aggravatedness, greatness, or number of their sins. He draws no line here. He came, the apostle says, to save sinners. He does not here set forth, any more, that some are to be saved, because they are not such sinners in their
own estimation, as others; all he speaks of are sinners. Remember sin is an inherent principle in our fallen nature, alike in all. Sinful actions are only the fruits or productions of this evil nature. The difference which is found between one sinner and another, in this respect, is of the supreme dominion of Jehovah over man and all his actions, as a fallen creature. The Lord Jesus, when he was in the world, drew a line through the whole race of sinners, respecting those he came to save ; this line is not distinguishable by us, now, in looking at the whole world and its conduct; it tells us, though, that Jesus Christ came to save a particular people, not the whole human race, that were in, and fell in, the first Adam. What Christ said, was this —" I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." The sinners Christ Jesus came to save, are those of the house of Israel. And who are these ? all the spiritual seed of Abraham ; all, to whom, as their spiritual seed, came the promises in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the children of promise—the children represented by Isaac as the son of the freewoman; and of whom it was said, that with him the children of the bondwoman should not be heirs. Christ came to save these, as sinners-no sin in these can possibly ruin them ; Christ Jesus came that these should not perish, but have everlasting life. Christ came to save them from the law—from its curse, as they were sinners—from its demands, as they were originally created under it—and from its power, as they were by nature subject to it. He came to save them from the dominion, and evil consequences, and guilt of sin—as an inherent principle, of which their nature consisted, as fallen - and from the power of Satan ; “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts, v. 31). This he did in the way of representing them, and undertaking for them ; hence the benefit to them of all Christ did, suffered, &c. when on earth. And here we may see much of what is implied in what the apostle says, “ That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” But there is one thing needful to being thus saved, and that is union to Christ-mutual union-Christ in us and we in him, and this of eternity. Where this exists—Christ representing and undertaking for his people, is indeed an invaluable truth ; Christ taking all our sin on himself, while his righteousness is imputed to us, with all the benefits of his blood-shedding and obedience to the law.
We are to remember that the appropriation of the Gospel to ourselves, “ That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," is not in believing that Christ came to save all mankind, and that we form a part of all mankind ; that if we do such and such things of our free-will, and of ourselves, we shall merit, and have a right to, and may lay claim to, the salvation of Christ. The appropriation of this Gospel to ourselves, is in the exercise of a supernatural, spiritual grace of faith, which we receive in regeneration, and which is styled the faith of God's elect; of the operation of God, and is the faith by which we are declared to be the children of Abraham and the children of God, heirs and joint heirs with Christ. All this the apostle knew experimentally, through the appropriation of the Gospel to himself. Thus he bore the testimony of the text to its validity—“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," which is our second subject. The testimony of the apostle amounted to thisthat this summary of the Gospel was real or true, and also efficacious or suitable. It was faithful and worthy of all acceptation. This testimony of the apostle, is the experience of all spiritual believers ; such say with the apostle, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation." I know it to be so from my own experience. It is a faithful word. It has nothing but faithfulness in it. God is faithfulness to himself in it, to Christ, and to the people of Christ. It proclaims, also, the faithfulness of Christ to his Father, and to his own betrothed ones ; " " Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins” (Isa. xi. 5). “I will betroth thee unto me for ever, yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord" (Hosea, ii. 19, 20). “ To Him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts, x. 43). “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ” (Isa. liii. 5, 6). “In these days, and at that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none ; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found, for I will pardon those whom I reserve” (Jer. 1. 20). Surely this agrees with the apostle's testimony to the validity of his summary of the Gospel, “ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." “ The Lord hath brought forth our righteousness; come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God” (Jer. li. 10). When these things are known by us experimentally, and in their appropriation to ourselves individually, and we go forth to declare what the Lord has done, both for our souls, and in our souls ; then, like the apostle, we are fit witnesses to the faithfulness of God in his Gospel, and the suitableness of its provisions for poor helpless sinners. Then we sing its faithfulness, and declare around, in our own experience, it is worthy of all acceptation. Then we go to our God, covenant God in Christ, we speak of that we have seen, heard, handled, and felt of the word of life ; “Who is a God," say we, “ like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage ? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” When the power of sin is experienced by us ; when cast down, agreeing in a testimony with the apostle as to the validity of the saying of the text, we then say in the hope of our cast-down spirit, “ He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities, and will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (Micah, vii. 18– 20). And what is the answer of God to such appeals from his people to his Gospel ? “Thou art my servant, O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins ; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee” (Isa. xliv. 21, 22). “ Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Is there not a suitableness in all this to a poor, helpless, hell-deserving sinner, who cannot save himself; who can do nothing of himself, but sin ; who, of his own carnal, fallen nature, is always sinning, and will be always sinning, on this side the grave ? When we are sensible we can do no good thing of ourselves ; when we know that our carnal mind is enmity against God; that it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be-when we feel this, is that not suitable to us, which tells us, as in Col. i. 21, 22, “ And you, that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight ?" Then again, chap. ii. 13,—" And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." When you know for yourselves, that such effects as these have followed upon your own souls, and in your own experience, the coming of Christ into the world to save sinners; then you know something of the validity of the summary of the Gospel, set forth by the apostle, and of that experience which the apostle had in these things. But, my friends, where was the competency of the apostle to speak thus upon this subject; to bear this testimony to the validity of the sayings of the text, or summary of the Gospel which it contained ? Our third subject, -it was here :-In that he knew himself to be, and was enabled to confess it-the chief of sinners. If the apostle had not known this if he had not so known this, as to have been obliged to confess it, he had been ill fitted to speak upon the Gospel at all; either to set forth what it was, or to pronounce any opinion as to its faithfulness or unfaithfulness, its suitableness or unsuitableness, to meet the case of sinners. It was as a sensible sinner, to whom the Gospel salvation had been appropriating this faith, that the apostle spoke thus in the confidence of experience. What he did as a Pharisee, he did in ignorance and unbelief; what he did as an apostle of Jesus, he did as a believer, and as professing an experimental acquaintance with the truths of the Gospel, in their divine power in the soul. Here was his competency to bear the testimony of the text to the Gospel. But how did he attain to this competency ? Through regeneration! He was quickened of God the Holy Ghost, and the power of Christ, as his Saviour. He was then made sensible of his awful state, as a fallen sinner, in the first Adam ; whose whole carrying on, as a professor of pharisaical, or in modern terms, of Arminian religion, had been enmity, hatred, malice, and persecution against Jesus and the church of Jesus ; blaspheming the incarnate, but eternal, coequal, and only begotten Son of God. Paul describes himself in his unconverted state, Eph. ii. 3, and then