It pleased the Lord my God on Friday evening to revive his work again in my poor soul, and how glad I was to find a little rest and peace at his dear feet. God's favor is the life of the soul. Oh! that ever it should please him to reveal his dear Son in us, and grant us that faith that worketh by love, and purifieth the heart! But he has designed that grace shall be tried, especially the grace of faith. Yet, "though bleak winds the boughs deface," the leaf of our profession languish, the fruits of the Spirit decline, still,
And "more shall grow again." "Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet, through the scent of water, it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant." (Job 14:8,9) You see, poor child of God, "The rooted stock shall yet remain." Though, to outward appearance, there are no leaves or fruit, yet there is life in the root, life in the Lamb and union with him; and when it pleases him to turn and have compassion, (for there is no other way) and thus to revive his work, call to remembrance his past mercies, and enable us to walk and talk with God in peace, "through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant." Now Hart says,
That dear man knew all about it. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12)
"Let us resolutely strive
To work God's work with full intent."
And what is that work? To believe on him whom he hath sent. "This is the work of God that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29) And what a mercy for God to turn himself and have compassion, and cause more fruit to grow again, and the leaf of our profession to become green, and rest to flow into our souls. Oh! what a mercy to have the root of the matter,--union to the Lamb: there is nothing like his favor; it is the earnest of the rest that remaineth. How I felt on Friday that God my Father had powerfully revealed his dear Son to me; and what he has done is done for ever. How few have a desire for these things,--are on the look out for them! And how few receive them! What I felt on Friday made me think,
"How high a priv'lege 'tis to know
Our sins are all forgiven!
To bear about this pledge below,
This special grant of heaven."
It is a special grant. And oh! that you and I should receive it at God our Father's hand through Christ!
Oh! to have something to look on God's favor through Christ!
"When sunk in fears,
While each repeated sight
Like some reviving cordial cheers,
And makes temptations light."
As I have told you for many years, the divine manifestation of Christ to my soul was so vivid, so great, so overpowering that it never enters my thoughts but I know there is a God and that he is my God.
"Oh! what is honor, wealth or mirth,
To this well-grounded peace,
How poor are all the goods of earth
To such a gift as this!"
"This is a treasure rich indeed,
Which none but Christ can give;
Of this the best of men have need,
This I, the worst, receive."
I lie not: my God keeps me daily sensible that I am the chief of sinners. And oh! to feel his abundant mercy, that he should put his hand again to the work, causing me to love him, his saints and his ways out of a pure heart fervently. And, if these cordials are so sweet, and yet there is an impossibility of our drawing them forth, how it shows that all stands in the power of God! Oh! sinner, sinner, that ever he should feel sovereign love and pity toward us, grant foretastes of future bliss to us; revive his work in mercy, and bring peace into the conscience. The stock thereof may die in the ground; yet, through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant. Is it not marvelous that we should get helped, revived? Eternal life, the gift of the Shepherd to the sheep is there; and, if he will but touch it, it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant. You see, a dead profession is not opposed; but a heaven-born soul will have to fight with the world, the flesh, and the devil, inch by inch: and the power of temptation, of indwelling sin is astonishing.
"O could I but believe,
All things would easy be;
I would, but cannot, Lord,
I would, but cannot, Lord, relieve,
My help must come from thee."
Now I proclaim the word of God to be true: I have not only preached Christ but had an overwhelming manifestation of him to my soul: I could no more give it up than cease to live; and yet there will be a doubt. The devil comes in with, you are on earth, and what do you know of heaven? Look at the imaginations of your heart. Can you be right? The poor sinner is tempest-tossed: and then, Oh! for God to turn again and favor us to walk and talk with him, having our fellowship with the Father and his Son, by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. Night comes on, the beasts come forth, there's the cloud between our God and us; and yet we cannot give it up: "the rooted stock shall yet remain."
"Leaves may languish, fruit decrease,
But more shall grow again."
It is but for the Lord to return, manifest his favor, shed abroad a Saviour's love, and "more shall grow again." We "revive as the corn and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." (Hos. 14:7)
"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God." (Heb. 7:19) It is a mercy, sinner, to be in the right way, and under the right teaching in the soul. I have been thinking of the various notions of men: but very few will receive the love of the truth. I tell thee, sinner, man never can believe he is what he is, a fallen sinner, except the Holy Ghost teach him: self-ignorance is the ground of all error: and what can save thy soul but the way of God the Father through Christ. There are very few made heartily willing to be less than nothing that God in all things may be glorified through Christ: there are very few swept out.
"Nor can we expect to be perfectly saved,
Till we find ourselves utterly lost."
Oh! sinner, sinner, I know what it is deeply and daily to feel the plague of my heart, and I am fully persuaded that salvation from first to last in all its bearings, is by and through Christ alone. As I thought in the past week, it is free grace alone, from the first to the last, from all eternity to all eternity, that hath won my affections and bound my soul fast. If that is not your language it is mine. "Be not carried away with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace." (Heb. 13:9)
"Free grace to every heaven-born soul
Will be his constant theme:
Long as eternal ages roll,
He'll still adore the Lamb."
"The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God." Oh! that ever thy soul and mine should be favored to draw nigh to God! As you have been singing,
"Worship God then in his Son,
There he's love, and there alone:
Think not that he can or may,
Pardon any other way."
It is impossible. And where Christ is the hope, the Refuge, the salvation, the father of lies may assail thy soul with direful temptations against the Deity of thy Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord. The great bulk of the regenerate are bound down with an evil heart of unbelief. They know that, if not found in Christ, they must be found in hell: and Satan worries. Hence the inquiry, "Can he love me, will he manifest his mercy to me?" Well then, when the poor soul thus digs deep and lays the foundation on a Rock, when the flood arise, and the winds beat vehemently, it will not shake the building. "I shall not be greatly moved." It is harassing to have doubts about the reality of everything: but, though the waves beat against the house, it could not be shaken: it was founded upon a rock. In foul weather, none but Christ; in fair weather, none but Christ. How I felt that, however assailed about Christ, I have no other hiding place: if this can alter all must fall. "Could not shake it because it was founded upon a rock." (Matt. 7:24-27) There is no such thing as moving it from Christ. We might be perplexed; but the house is founded upon a rock, grounded upon Christ, the Eternal Rock: the root remains, and, when God revives his work, the fruit will appear. The more thou art tossed, go to the bottom, sinner, and the language of thy soul is, "None by Christ." And, in fair weather, "Let the inhabitants of the Rock sing; let them shout from the top of the mountains." (Isa. 42:11)
"By the which we draw nigh unto God." Oh! that ever thy soul, through Christ, by the anointing of the Holy Ghost, should draw near! For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. (2 Cor. 5:19) This epistle to the Hebrews sets forth the abundance of God's grace to the church, through Christ, beyond all the ceremonies under the law and all the sacrifices on Jewish altars slain.
Think of our short text. And oh! that ever we should be bound up in it! "For the one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." By his one offering: do you ever think of it? "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14) It shows amazing depth of the fall that the Son of God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, (I speak it with all reverence) could not remain in heaven and reach us. I never said anything to you about the fall but what I have sorely felt. I daily and deeply feel the fall. And then think of the love and compassion of God the Father from eternity, to set his love upon us, and give his Son, and send him to bleed and die to obtain eternal redemption for us. (Heb. 9:12) There is necessity that the co-equal, co-eternal Son of God should become man, taking our nature into union with his divine nature by the over-shadowing of the Holy Ghost,--that the seed of the woman might bruise the serpent's head. (Gen. 3:15) And when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son made of a woman, (Gal. 4:4) made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:21) How sovereign, full and free!
"By one offering." Oh! sinner, think of it, God in our nature, Immanuel, God with us, and yet a necessity for his death. "I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." God, our Heavenly Father collected the debts,--would not leave it in the hands of another. (John 10:11) "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. 53:6) Salvation is of God,--perfect in all its bearings from eternity to eternity, and all Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, never to be ashamed or confounded world without end. (Isa. 45:17) If one sinful desire, one thought of foolishness (which God declares to be sin) were left out of the account, redemption's work could not be complete. But oh! sinner, think of it; God the Father collected the debts; he laid them to the charge of his Son, our Husband, our Surety, our Mediator between the Father and us. He laid the debts to his Son's charge. The Husband became responsible: our creditors came to him for payment and got it. "By one offering." "Awake, O Sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." (Zech. 13:7) Moses, bring thy rod, smite the Rock: water shall come out that the people may drink. "Yea, he loved the people: all his saints are in thy hand; and they sat down at thy feet: every one shall receive of thy words." (Deut. 33:3) "Awake, O Sword, against my Shepherd, against the man that is my Fellow."--the Man Christ Jesus, God's Fellow--"and the sheep shall be scattered."
"Soon as the Chief to battle led,
That moment all the soldiers fled."
"He trod the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with him." (Isa. 63:3)
Think of the numberless sins collected by the Father, all the sins, past, present and to come, ever committed or to be committed by the children of God from Adam to the end of time, and all laid to the Surety's account. And what did Jesus say? "I will ransom them from the power of the grave," (Hos. 13:14)--I will be their redemption;--Here am I; send me, (Isa. 6:8)--"I delight to do thy will, O my God." (Ps. 40:8) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death," cost what it may;--I will take their sins by imputation, bear the curse in their stead, open a fountain in my atoning blood, make an end for sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness. (Dan. 9:24) One said, "What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." (Zech. 13:6) "Bind the sacrifice with cords even unto the horns of the altar;" (Ps. 118:27)--the Altar of indwelling Deity,--bind the sacrifice with cords of everlasting love.
Think of millions of hells in a torrent, without mercy, bursting on the Surety, Jesus Christ the righteous. Deity held up his sweating humanity. "He is not a man that he should lie, neither the Son of man that he should repent." (Num. 23:19) "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isa. 53:7) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes."
"By one offering,"--when he offered himself for all his elect saints. Poor sinner, here is body for body, soul for soul, life for life, blood for blood. He said with his dying breath, "It is finished:" and he ever liveth to make intercession for all the elect.
"How precious blood did once atone
And now he pleads before the throne."
You may ask me, "Have you had this Christ revealed?" Yes. "By God your heavenly Father?" Yes. "Powerfully, unmistakably?" Yes. None but God could have produced what I experienced. And yet the devil is the devil; blind unbelief is blind unbelief.
"He hath perfected for ever." What pointed language! And it is true: it is the condition of the elect from eternity to eternity. The Lord never saw iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel. (Numb. 23:21) God ever accepted his elect in his Son; and took millions to heaven before he shed his blood on the tree.
"He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14) "Do you mean," say you, "that all the elect are perfectly redeemed from sin, death and hell?" I do. "He is the Rock; his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." (Deut. 32:4) I tell thee, my text is true and will stand true to all eternity.
"Them that are sanctified:" they are perfectly redeemed from sin, death and hell: they shall be, to all eternity, body and soul, entirely and for ever saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. All the elect shall be perfectly justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
"Never shall Satan have to tell
He has got part of Christ in hell."
The souls and bodies of the saints shall be perfectly saved, and perfectly glorified.
"By one offering he hath perfected for ever." Say you, "Do you believe you have an interest in this?" I do: "he that believeth hath the witness in himself." (1 John 5:10) O! poor sinner; is it not marvelous? "If God be for us who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) None. "By one offering," when he offered himself, "he perfected," in God's account, "them that are sanctified." "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." (Songs 4:7)
"Them that are sanctified." "Sanctified by God the Father." "What! set apart in his eternal purpose? Yes. What! chosen in his Son before the world began? Yes: all blessings to thy soul and body for time and eternity, flow from the fountain of the Father's electing love through Jesus Christ, his Son.
"He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
"And lest the shadow of a spot,
Should on my soul be found;
He took the robe the Saviour wrought,
And cast it all around."
And God will say, and does say, "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." The church is accepted in his Son, and shall shine forth in his righteousness when the world is in a blaze. What a mercy to be sanctified by the blood of Christ! There is no peace with God but through blood: we can only enjoy peace through the blood of sprinkling. Peace by Jesus Christ is the kernel of true religion: and there is no other bulwark to save thy soul but the atoning blood of God's dear Son.
And what a mercy to be sanctified by the Holy Ghost, separated for a holy use, as vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory. (Romans 9:23) "For this is the will of God even your sanctification." (1 Thess. 4:3) Is there this proof of the Father's having to be a follower of Jesus in the regeneration to the kingdom of God and his Christ? "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
I had some solemn things on my mind in the past week about some of you: and something said, keep it in: but I want to live and die clear of all men's blood. I thought of some of you: as you get older, you might get more covetous and proud and self-sufficient and self-important; but, as to your little religion, it will dwindle, and your light will go out in obscure night: and the nearer to death, the more destitute will you be of the signs of godliness: the longer you live, the more will you be swallowed up in pride: you may have judgment in your head, but, "If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." (Matt. 6:23) And the nearer to death the freer you will be of the symptoms of godliness.
But may God enable me to speak comfortably to all his children however bitten by sin they may be. Poor sinner, eternal life is eternal life: and you can never perish, neither can any man pluck you out of the Father's hand. (John 10:28)