"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord. My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." Isa. 59:21
The Lord promised his people eternal life before the world was; all his promises were made to them in Christ Jesus before the world began; as Paul says, "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began." They are called Christ's seed as they lay in the womb of the promise before all worlds. Hence the Lord asks this question: "Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? Shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb?" That is, of the promise. Shall not all the holy seed of a precious Christ be brought forth? Shall they not all enter into the liberty of the gospel in this life? Shall they not all triumph over the powers of darkness and all hindrances whatsoever, and be meetened for heaven? "Shall I cause to bring forth and shut the womb? Saith the Lord." Certainly not. He has opened the promise, and it will continue open till all the election of grace get to heaven. He will never shut it now it has once been opened,
"Till all the ransom'd church of God
Be saved, to sin no more."
Then all the seed of Christ will be gathered in to the substance and bliss of the promise, and enter into glory for ever and ever.
First, I want to say a few words about repentance; it is such a blessed part of the gospel. In fact, where there is no repentance, there is no foundation to build upon. We must not patch a new piece on to an old garment, or sow one field with divers kinds of seed. "The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob." Until there is repentance and a turning from transgression, the gospel has no place in a man's heart. Look at the words: "That turn from transgression." Certainly a man will never turn from what he does not hate. You cannot make me believe he will. Ah, then the Holy Ghost in his gracious life and power has discovered to him the hateful nature of sin, and its fruits, death and damnation. That is what turns the heart. Many say now there is no eternal punishment. Though all the world said so, if the Holy Ghost opened it up to a man, he would believe it. He convinces his people of sin; and when he does this, he gives them godly repentance. One said, "I will be sorry for my sin." "I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord." How many in this chapel have had a little of this blessed turning by sovereign grace? You may turn from outward sin; but it is more than that. It is turning from all ungodliness. You know a prayerless man is an ungodly man; a man that fears not God and does not reverence his holy Word is ungodly. Repentance turns a man from all that, to fear and reverence God, at times to tremble before him, to mourn over his heart sins, his hard, unprofitable heart, and cry, "Have mercy on me for thy name's sake, O Lord. Deliver me from all my transgressions."
We read John the Baptist came preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and he says, "Now is the axe laid to the root of the tree; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire," all that is not of the Holy Spirit is cut down. Hence he said to the Pharisees who came to him, "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? I never have; the axe was never laid to the root of your profession. You bring forth fruit on the old stock. 'Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father.'" Thus the Holy Spirit by John and the prophets digs deep for a foundation to build on. He says, "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people," none else; we must not preach comfort at random. The gospel is such a discriminating thing, and Jesus is such a glorious Head of the gospel, "his eyes are as a flame of fire," and, "his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace;" showing us his feet never stand on unholy ground, and when his eyes look on us with any degree of power, sin cannot abide; we perish at the rebuke of his countenance. "He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap." Hence repentance is an essential thing, and all that have it are under the same blessed covenant of grace of Jacob, beloved of God. No others ever turn from transgression. In that covenant Jesus is exalted, "to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." Till there is repentance, there is no remission of sins, no liberty.
The law never works repentance, but wrath, hardness, rebellion, and all manner of concupiscence. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." You may have convictions by the law under the common operations of the Spirit, and not know the spiritual nature of sin, reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart. I believe many are in this state; they have had convictions which have gone off under the truth; something short of the blood of atonement has smoothed the conscience down, and it is a counterfeit from beginning to end. These are subject to all sorts of influences and errors from the spirit of Satan, not being savingly convinced by the Holy Ghost. His convincing operations are to be highly prized; do not despise them. Rather cry,
"Convince me of my sin;
Then lead to Jesu's blood,"
Not only once, but all through your life. "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults."
Spiritual repentance you may know by this. It springs from a touch of God's holy love and mercy. Till that is felt, you will never have an honest spirit of confession; but one touch of his love towards you will bring it directly. Whenever gospel repentance is given to a poor sinner, he begins to feel with the prodigal, "I am not worthy of thy mercy, Lord. It is all of thy mercy I am not in hell. Thy long-suffering kindness has kept me till now." As soon as ever his love touches us, our unworthiness springs up; and the more his love and mercy strike our eye,
That is the very foundation where all repentance and humility spring from. It is not a, "voluntary humility," of human will; you can no more furnish your heart with it than you can fly out of trouble. It is a grace of the Holy Spirit, and one touch, one glimpse of his long-suffering kindness will produce it. That was what influenced the returning prodigal. "Make me as one of thy hired servants." He was willing to be in a servile situation in his father's house, to choose the lowest room; and so will you be.
This spirit of repentance, then, is a free grace gift, bestowed on the true Jacobs; and it brings, (I). An honest confession of sin to the bottom. There are no secret corners lurking, not brought out. And, (II). There is a loathing and an abhorring of yourself on account of it, an abhorring of the principle of it, and a turning from it in your heart. It may be several here have had a measure of this turning; but the Redeemer in his glory, love, and pity has not yet come to you. And perhaps some of your could go to certain spots, or know the time, when you did turn to God and say, "I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight;" and in God's good time, Christ has come into your heart with all his love, pity, and grace, and set up his kingdom there. O what a heaven you have had! And you that have thus spiritually turned and have not realized this blessing, you will. "The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob."
By Zion in the strictest sense I understand those who have been brought into the liberty of the gospel, united to the Lord Jesus and married to him by a living faith, who can really and truly say, "My Lord and my God." So we read, "Thy Maker is thy Husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; the God of the whole earth shall he be called." They have been regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, taught out of God's holy law, wrought upon by the spirit of repentance, and have had pardoning love revealed and the Spirit of adoption to seal them. That is Zion, I mean, experimentally.
Now the church is from Christ, and Christ is from the church. Hence she cries, "O that the salvation of God were come out Zion!" "He is before all things...and he is the Head of the body, the church;" and Zion in the Revelation is called a woman and said to bring forth a man Child. All the salvation of God is to come out of Zion. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ." All the promises were made to Christ, the Seed of the woman, and to the church in him. This shows the unison and harmony in the purposes of a holy God to bring about this wonderful grace which angels desire to look into, which was hid from ages and from generations, and is revealed in the gospel. The most eloquent prophet or angel can never dive into a millionth part of the ever blessed gospel. Now we know in part, we prophesy in part; now we see through a glass darkly; but faith believes what we cannot comprehend to the full extent.
There are two points to glance at in the text: "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth." I. The Spirit. II. The words.
I. The Spirit. To make no mistake it is said, "My Spirit that is upon thee." We read of lying spirits and the influence of Satan over Ahab's prophets, over Saul, the mad Gadarene, and others; and all these wicked spirits cannot go but as God suffers them. Satan could not touch Job till God said, "All that he hath is in thy power." We are exhorted to try the spirits, whether they be of God. The Spirit that was on his own dear Son was of himself, "my Spirit," and the promise is it, "shall not depart," from him or from his seed from henceforth and for ever. It shall continually be perpetuated in this people down to the end of time. Hence Christ speaking to his church says, "O my dove!" "Let me see thy countenance; let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."
We read that this Spirit was poured on the Lord Jesus out of measure. "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." And to show it was really so, in his baptism the Spirit descended like a dove and abode upon him, and a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." By this it was revealed to John, "The same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost;" and he saw and, "bare record that this is the Son of God." Thus we see even the Lord Jesus, as the Head and Representative of the church, her Mediator, Redeemer, and Intercessor with God, had this gift bestowed upon him in his office; and if the Head received it from the fullness of the Father, rest assured all the seed must receive it from him too. You cannot reach it or obtain it; it is the gift of the Father. The Lord told his disciples, when he was taken up, to tarry at Jerusalem till they received the promise of the Father.
Then this same Spirit is on Jesus and his people. We may say if that is true, certainly they will be one with him. They will have the same reverence and awe of the Father of all mercies as he had; the same dependence on him for all supplies. It is said he went up into a mountain and continued all night in prayer to God. He trod the path of prayer, and so do all his seed. We read when Peter went into the house of Cornelius, being anointed with the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word; and Peter said, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" These are the seed.
Now we will look at the effects wrought by the Holy Ghost in a sinner's heart. You cannot have the principle without the effect.
He opens up the blindness and unbelief the man is in by nature; opens his eyes to see and his heart to feel he is really a sinner before a holy God. He never teaches a soul dead in sin, but quickens him. It is promised, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord," no others. His teaching is essential to obtain real, spiritual wisdom. He discovers the majesty of God, also the unbelief, hardness, sensuality, pride, and vain boast of the hearts of men. "Surely every man walketh in a vain show." He shows him where all the world walk, that all is vanity from beginning to end, and that he has no power to remedy his own state, change the heart, or make it holy, that he cannot produce a holy, gospel thought if he could have heaven for it. This man is taught his poverty, as you were singing:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
Who their native vileness see;
They are all taught sin's demerit,
Gladly own salvation free;
And from Sinai
To the wounds of Jesus flee.
Stripp'd of all their fancied meetness
To approach the dread I am,
They are led to see all fitness
Centering in the worthy Lamb,
Sing his Godhead, blood, and name."
The divinity of Christ by this Spirit is discovered, his glorious ability to redeem, pardon, and deliver. Hence the leper came to him, beseeching him, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." And Jesus answered, "I will; be thou clean." The thief saw him by the same Spirit, and cried, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Jesus answered, "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." Again, the poor woman who had that terrible plague 12 years said within herself, "If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole;" and she was made whole from that hour. All this was by the Spirit of Christ making known his majesty and divinity.
The Lord Jesus under the same blessed Spirit said, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Mark, we find this particular feature in his Spirit. There will be times and seasons when it will enable us to say honestly, "Not my will, but thine be done," and to feel,
"Finish, dear Lord, what is begun;
Choose thou the way, but still lead on."
See how his teaching harmonizes with the holy will of God. "When ye pray say, Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done." See it in Paul. When there was given him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him, and the Lord answered, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Then says Paul, "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in mine infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong." This is the Spirit that shall not depart out of the mouth of Christ nor of his seed from henceforth and for ever. "Well," say you, "according to that, God will have a loyal people on earth as long as it remains." Certainly he will. The great thing to us is, has sovereign grace subdued our hearts, conquered our wills? Have you had God enthroned in your affections at times with power? If you have, it is through a precious Christ.
Again. This holy and ever blessed Spirit put upon a precious Christ and his seed, as he illuminates and quickens us, animates us in the knowledge of the love of Christ; as Paul says, "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling;" and David, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." His unction withers up all earthly attainments, and brings us to know what this means: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." "For ye are dead, and your like is hid with Christ in God." I say under this holy, blessed unction, O what a fragrance God's truth, ways, and ordinances leave on the soul! Now his name is as ointment poured forth, and the fragrance of the blessed gospel attracts, allures the soul. The poor sinner feels, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth." "As for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy; and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." This is the Spirit the Lord has promised in covenant love to put on his seed for ever.
Again. He will take of the atonement, sprinkle the heart from evil conscience, and wash the body with pure water. Hence the Lord Jesus says, "O my dove!" "Thou hast dove's eyes within thy locks." In this Spirit all anger, wrath, and malice are gone. "The cow and the bear shall feed, and their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." The Holy Spirit will bring of his unction, and
"Teach us all good,
Touch with compunction and sprinkle with blood."
This is the very essence and vitality of religion. Ah, it will save a man in this world, I mean, from himself and his own sin. That is very different from being saved from other people's. It is the crowning mercy of all. Where there is no sin, there is no condemnation; then there is justification. And the Holy Spirit seals the soul, sets the broad seal of adoption upon it. "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." What an important thing to be a recipient of this Spirit!
II. The words. "My words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed." When the Pharisees went to catch him in his words, they said, "Master, we know that thou teachest truly and respectest not the person of any;" he did not turn about and change his doctrine; his enemies knew that. These words put in his mouth were the glorious words of his covenant promise in the gospel, the eternal, living, holy truth, which Paul says, "at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." These words put in his mouth came from his heart. You recollect when he was at Nazareth, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and read in the prophet Esaias: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor;" and he began to say, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." "And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth." Now look at God's covenant promise and his condescending love to the church. "My words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord," what a confirmation is in his name, "from henceforth and for ever." So that God's blessed gospel in the words of truth and holiness will be perpetuated down to the end of time. What an unspeakable mercy that is!
The apostle says, "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith, which we preach." And again, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for," and, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." And the church, having received these words from the lips of Jesus, is called, "the pillar and ground of truth." His words shall not depart out of her mouth; that is, gracious words, sound doctrine, words of truth and soberness. Therefore God grant you may never despise her, or cast any reflection upon her. You say, "She is not perfect." If she were, she would not want redeeming blood. She is perfect in her Lord, not in herself. She is a company of poor, wretched sinners united together in the gospel and the spirit of faith; and thus she is a city of dignity, majesty, and glory; for God's power is to be seen in her weakness, his love in her poor, untoward state, his holiness in her sin; as we read, "In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he bare them and carried them all the days of old." Then let none cast a reflection on the church of God. It is not from the Spirit of Christ if you do so; Christ never does. He says, "Feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Look at the order in the text: "My Spirit that is upon thee and my words which I have put in thy mouth," the Spirit first, then the words. Not the letter of truth first, but the Spirit. We must keep that order all through our lives; there is a great meaning in it. Where the Spirit and his words are in the least measure, we may say there is holiness certainly. This is the substance of the holiness of the church. Christ says, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee." The great thing is to be recipients of the Spirit and the words of the Lord Jesus; and, "this honor have all the saints." Praise ye the Lord.