"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19)
Paul had been writing to his son Timothy respecting the various errors and heresies that abounded in his days, and were likely to follow. He tells him of some characters, Hymeneus and Alexander, "whom I have delivered unto Satan," he says, "that they may learn not to blaspheme;" and he also tells him of Philetus, who denied the resurrection, and so overthrew the faith of some. Notwithstanding all this, he says, let Satan sow his seed as he may, let men's hearts be as devilish as they may, and prone to receive any lie; let what may be written, "the foundation of God standeth sure." Whether men are Atheists or Deists, whatever lies they may hold or false doctrines they may preach, however Satan may seem to carry all before him, "nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure." What a mercy, my friends, that there is no uncertainty in the things of God. After men have preached all the lies they may, and Satan has been so busy in sowing all sorts of seeds, so that both men and devils have conspired to overthrow the truth of God, and to make it of none effect, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the most High has them in derision," (Ps. 2:4) and says, "'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure;' I have purposed it, who shall disannul it?" (Isa. 46:10,11) So the child of God runs at no uncertainty; if God has a purpose towards him, there is no fear that he will miss or come short. It matters not among what infidel company he may live, or how his nature may have imbibed the grossest errors, and how he has been steeped in things contrary to the truth of God, "hitherto shalt thou go, and no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." (Job 38:11)
What a mercy it is to have to do with such a God! As far as regards myself, I do not feel as if I could preach unless I knew I have a God that can and will fulfill every iota of His Word and what He has promised. Therefore in preaching I am at no uncertainty. I know it will accomplish that which He pleases; I sow the seed according to the ability God giveth me, and I know the result will follow according to His will. This made Paul say he did not run at an uncertainty, neither did he beat the air. However men may be opposed to the truth, "the foundation of God standeth sure." I know one foundation is this, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 3:11) When God is speaking by the prophet, He says, "Behold, I lay in Zion a foundation," that was His dear Son, as the ground of our hope, and the certainty of our salvation: but I do not think that is the foundation that the Holy Ghost means in the words of my text, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His." The Holy Ghost, speaking by the psalmist saith, "If the foundations be removed, what shall the righteous do?" I know that magistrates are sometimes called the foundation, to administer justice, and to stand fast for truth, hence you read, "All the foundations of the earth are out of course;" that is, men were bribed, so that justice and equity were not carried out. But my text refers to something else.
"The foundation of God standeth sure;" this foundation is nothing less than God's election. The Son of God saith, "Behold, in the last days there shall come all sorts of errors, to deceive, if possible, the very elect." (Matt. 24:24) Paul saith, "The children being not yet born, neither having done either good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger." (Rom. 9:11,12) Therefore it is said, "we have obtained an inheritance, according to His eternal purpose, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 1:11) Hence Isaiah says, "Unless the Lord had left us a very small remnant we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah" (Isa. 1:9). So says Paul, "There is a remnant according to the election of grace." (Rom. 11:5) He says again, "Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will;" (Eph. 1:11) "for who He did predestinate, them He also called." (Rom. 8:30) Peter tells us they are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." (1 Pet. 1:2) When Paul writes to Timothy, he says, "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Tim. 1:9) Now if the foundation of election, on which the Church of God is built, is not a Bible truth, then my friends, there is no certainty in what the Son of God has done, or in the work of the Holy Ghost; then God may come short in His goodwill and purposes, and fail in His designs; then it would be like this, "That man began to build in his purpose and pleasure, and was not able to finish," he came against an army of twenty thousand, and had only ten thousand. Not so. "I will work, and who shall let it?" Wherever God's people may be, north, south, east or west, however they may be swallowed up in the world, or far off from the truth, God's election is sure to find them out. Hearken, "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me;" (Heb. 2:13) not one of them is lost, but the son of perdition." (John 17:12) God, when speaking respecting the certainty of their being looked after, saith, "I have engraven thee on the palms of My hands, thy walls are continually before Me;" (Isa. 49:16) and to tell us upon what a foundation His people do stand, He says, "I will be their God, and they shall be My people;" (Jer. 31:33 Heb. 8:10) there is no if, may be, nor peradventure in it at all. "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" (Lam. 3:37)
"He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be."
He will do all His pleasure. Now it is likely that there are some before God who at present know nothing savingly of God or Jesus Christ, who have no love to God's Word, and do not purpose to leave their sins and their pleasures till they come to die; this is their thought, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." (Luke 19:14) Now whose purpose stood, God's or yours? "The foundation of God standeth sure." The devil thought he was sure of you. The world, sin, and the devil had hold of the poor wretch, yet he talked about being a free man; the devil had got his will, sin had got his heart and affections, and the world held him fast by its allurements. The Son of God says, "If the Son make you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36) That is true. "His servants ye are to whom ye obey." See what election did for Manasseh; you can see it is utterly impossible for a man to die without finding God to be his God, if called by grace. How bent was Manasseh that he would not serve the God of heaven; he would shut up His house, and so insult Him that he would put an idol in His house, and make people bow down to it; he would worship the devil sooner than bow his knees to the God of heaven; but the foundation of God stood sure. God took Manasseh among the thorns, and brought the hardened wretch to bow at His feet, and make supplication to that God in whose face he had spit, and done so vilely to; "then Manasseh knew that the Lord He was God," (2 Chron. 33:13) and thus he learned the truth of my text, "The foundation of God standeth sure." You can see it again, you will hear it come out of the mouth of the blessed Son of God; it is said, "He must needs go through Samaria." (John 4:4) It was the will of God the time was settled and fixed; He sits upon the well, and there comes along a poor adulterous wretch, ignorant of God and Jesus Christ. The foundation of God stood sure, so we find He opens her heart, drops in the seed of eternal life, and thus displays the riches of His grace. Again, you may see in the case of Saul of Tarsus that the "foundation of God" is the eternal purpose and will of the great Jehovah, who knows no change, nay, nor the shadow of it. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" "Who art Thou, Lord?" "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." "What wilt Thou have me to do?" "Go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." What did God say to Ananias when He sent him to him? "He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name unto the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake." They are all chosen to eternal life, "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the foundation of the world." (Titus 1:2) So we find "the foundation of God standeth sure." Let us glance for a moment on that solemn, awful, and tremendous hour when the heavens are clothed with blackness, the earth is quaking, rocks are rending, when the angels are astonished and the devils about to rejoice, and there hangs by the side of the eternal Son of God two vile sinners, whose wickedness had brought them to that accursed place; they sneer and jeer at Him, saying, "If Thou be the Christ save Thyself and us." How sure was the devil of his prey! How hell was opening her mouth to receive the poor wretches! But we find that, according to electing love and the purpose of God, the Son of God cannot give up the ghost till He fulfills the will of the God of heaven, and by His grace snatches one of them from the cross, and takes him with Him safely to Paradise. Was it of works? Paul says, "If it be of works, then is it no more of grace, but if it be of grace it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace." (Rom. 11:6) What is grace? It is the eternal love, goodwill, and purpose of God towards a number that no man can number. However solemn it is, it does not alter the matter; the rest are blinded, they have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not; that is their state and condition. Grace is the free flowing out of the heart of the great Jehovah towards sinful, sinning men. That is the foundation. Then say you, is it not possible for one of these chosen, wherever they may live, north, south, east, or west, to miss or come short? No, the foundation stands so sure, "the Lord knoweth them that are His," and He knows where they are; that is a mercy.
Again, "The foundation of God standeth sure," not only in election but in effectual calling. Election is according to the will and purpose of God. I cannot say, you are elected, or, you are called; the elect are not marked on their backs. No doubt there are some here that are not yet made manifest, but God will as surely call you by His grace as He is in heaven; neither the devil nor the world will be able to hold you when He calls. That is a mercy. I feel it to be so in preaching. I should have no more hope of any man or woman being saved and getting to heaven, if it were not for the purpose of God, than I should of the devil himself; but knowing it springs from God's eternal love, will and purpose, I am as sure that every elect vessel of mercy will be called, saved, and get to heaven, as I believe the Bible is true. "Whom He did predestinate them He also called." "The Lord knoweth them that are His," so He will make it manifest. It is said the Son of God "went up into a mountain, and called unto Him whom He would, and they came unto Him." Martha went and called her sister Mary, saying, "The Master is come, and calleth for thee;" she soon went. The Son of God says, "He calleth His own sheep by name (so particular and distinguishing), and leadeth them out." See how particular is the call. He said to His disciples, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He knew them, you see. It is said again and again, "This He spake of Judas Iscariot, being one of the twelve." All that are in the will and purpose of God are called with an effectual call, it is as sure as this, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." "My people shall be willing in the day of My power." (Ps. 110:3) Now then, my friends, has God laid hold of your heart by His grace, has He called you? If God's Spirit has laid hold of your heart, and thus made known the secret will of the great Jehovah, you have got a religion that you cannot lose or get away from, and your will is bent to God's will, it is just this in your spirit, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Whatever your thoughts, purposes, or inclinations were before, you say now, Lord, here is my heart. See if it is so. I will tell you one thing; you are as willing and anxious to be saved as God is willing and determined to save you. I have no doubt there are some before God say, "O, if He would but save me, how willing I feel to let anything go, or give up anything, if He will save my poor soul." Now see what He has called you from, and see what He has called you to, how He has called you from your former ways and practices, and called you to Himself. If He has called you, I am sure you have said, Lord, save my poor soul, work in me to will and to do; do bless me with grace, and have mercy upon me: Lord, I am willing to let everything go that is wrong, and cleave to that which is right; work in me more grace, Lord. "Look unto Abraham, your father...I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." Hearken, "I have loved thee," He says, "with an everlasting love;" now for a proof of it, "therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) Sometimes you have called upon God and sought His face, and seemingly have not got on one step, so in your feelings you have come to this conclusion, I will give it up, I do not want to deceive myself nor anyone else; then, after you have come to that conclusion, you have begun again. If you can give it up God has not called you. Sometimes we get into such a spirit as this, we say we will have no more of it, we had better follow after other things, and if God has got a purpose towards us He will call us and make it manifest, but then you cannot follow out your own way, you find this to be true, "I will hedge up their way with thorns, so that they shall not find their paths." (Hosea 2:6) However determined you are at times to give it up, you can no more do so, or turn your back upon God and religion, than you can cease to exist. Hence Paul says, "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God: for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." (1 Thess. 1:4,5) Now I will appeal to you, with all your fears and feelings, is there not something in your heart that you cannot root out or get out, and that holds and keeps you at times in spite of yourself? "The foundation of God standeth sure." We are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Peter 1:23) God has got hold of your heart by effectual calling, and He will keep it, and He will bring you to loathe yourself at times in your own sight, and bring you over to Him again in confession. "The foundation of God standeth sure." He is as sure to call them as His Word is true; He employs all sorts of ways, He has a thousand ways, so to speak, to call them; "He calleth His own sheep by name." "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold," He says. Shall they miss? "Them also I must bring, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd." (John 10:16)
Again. "Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure," in spite of all opposition. Then there is final perseverance. Toplady seemed to know about that when he said,
"Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven."
He died happy; he believed it in his life, comfort followed in death, and he is now rejoicing in it in glory. John says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us." (1 John 2:19) As sure as God calls a man or woman by His grace, you can see where it will end; "Whom He called them He justified, and them He also glorified." Hence Paul says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? Shall life, death, things present, or things to come? Nay, I am persuaded that we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." (Rom. 8:35-37) When he is writing to the Philippians, he saith, "I am confident" was he hasty? O no; hearken, "What was written aforetime was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." (Rom. 15:4) Now hearken to something else, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" (2 Tim. 3:16) God's breath, God's Spirit, God moving the man to write His eternal thoughts, will, and purpose. Did the Holy Ghost move the heart and direct the pen to write? Did God acknowledge it? Then hearken, final perseverance. "I am confident that He that has begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6) "It is hard to kick against the pricks." (Acts 9:5) I was bent, in days past, that I would not believe the doctrine. I stamped with my foot and said I would never believe it. I was bitter enough against it, and opposed to it, but now,
"To perseverance I agree,
The thing to me is clear,
Because the Lord has promised me
That I shall persevere.
"Election! 'tis a word divine,
For, Lord, I plainly see,
Had not Thy choice prevented mine,
I ne'er had chosen Thee."
Now what an unspeakable mercy "the foundation standeth sure." Can you trace out (unbelief will try to blind your eyes, but look close, and see if you can trace) the finger and work of God in any way in calling you by His grace? Is there any green spot in your heart (so to speak) that you can see God has made you to differ from others, and that a change has passed over your soul? You have not much faith or love, you cannot boast of much spirituality, you have a deal to complain and mourn about yourself, but with all this there is something in you towards God, Jesus Christ, and His truth, whereby you have been encouraged to believe you are in the right way. Yes, say you, I can honestly say I am far from what I would be, yet I cannot say that I am dead in my sins; I cannot say there is no reality in my heart; I cannot say there are no real desires in my soul for God and His Christ, or to be saved; I cannot say that I never repented or was grieved for my sins before God; I cannot say I have never felt God's Word come with power and feeling into my heart, nor can I say I am destitute of some of these things. Then you may depend upon it, to heaven you will go. Peter says, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." The thing is certain, that it is, "there is a good thing in your heart towards the Lord God of Israel, and you will come to your grace in peace." You will find that
"Grace will complete what grace begins,
To save from sorrows and from sins;
The work that Wisdom undertakes,
Eternal Mercy ne'er forsakes."
Hearken: "I will give grace" (and you are enabled to say you have that in a small measure), "and I will give glory." Let God be true, and all that contradict or oppose Him liars. Amen I say to that, say you. God be praised, God and you are of one mind; now hearken to what He says, "I will never leave nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5) Does He mean it? Is it a lip of truth that has spoken it? "Israel hath not been forsaken of the Lord, nor Judah of his God, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel;" "Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David, his seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the stars before Me: My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of My lips." (Ps. 89: 35,36,34) What is that? "Israel shall be saved with everlasting salvation, ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end." (Isa. 45:17) Then Paul may well say, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure," in spite of sin, the world, error, and all other things, "having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
In the morning we noticed that, notwithstanding all the errors, heresies, lies, and deception there was in the world, either sown by Satan, or found in the hearts of men, God would search out His sheep in the cloudy and dark day. (Ezek. 34:12) We noticed, too, that the foundation was so sure, it was the free, eternal, electing, and unchangeable love of God; this would bring out His elect from all places where they had been scattered, and however they had been drawn away by or sunk in error, for the Son of God declared that the time was coming, and then was, when the dead should hear His voice, and they that heard should live. (John 5:25) We noticed, too, that the foundation was sure in effectual calling, hence the Son of God declared, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." (John 6:37) You know what Bunyan says, at least many of you do; you all think Bunyan was a good man, and if he were alive you would like to hear him; now what he saith will agree with Scripture; when speaking that the sinner says, "I will not," but God says, "You shall," he says, "Shall come will make a man eat his own words." We noticed also this morning that the foundation was sure, that whom God predestinated, them He also called, He did not offer grace to them. The Son of God when on earth, "went up into a mountain, and called unto Him whom He would, and they came unto Him." We found it was an effectual call, it stood sure, there is no missing. We noticed another foundation upon which the Church of God is built, and all that get to heaven are secured by, this was final perseverance. We noticed God would perform what He had begun, sin should not have dominion over His people, for they were not under the law, but under grace; as He had given grace according to His free, eternal love and purpose, so He would give glory. Paul spake with such divine confidence, "I am persuaded." Who persuaded him? Did he learn it at the feet of Gamaliel? Where did Paul get his religion from? He tells us that he was "caught up to the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words, which are not lawful for a man to utter." (2 Cor. 12:1-4) He tells us that he had his religion by a revelation from God. "God, who separated me from my mother's womb, called me by His grace, and revealed His Son in me." (Gal. 1:15,16) Therefore he says, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38,39) Therefore when writing to Timothy, notwithstanding the errors that were then abroad, and which men and women were deluded by, and whatever errors might be promulgated in future, he says in the words of my text, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure." Sure in what way? That whom He calleth them He justified; all God's people are "justified freely from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39) Therefore the great apostle stands before God, and says, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth;" (Rom. 8:33) and from that time to the present none have been able to refute it. There have been numbers of liars, and preachers of false doctrines, they have twisted the Bible all sorts of ways, they have denied it, and they have trampled it under foot, but there it still stands. "The foundation of God standeth sure," that all God's people are freely justified; you can read in what way it is done; God laid upon His dear Son the iniquity of us all, therefore it is said, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:5) Therefore, "He died for our offences, and rose again for our justification;" (Rom. 4:25) so, "by His one offering He hath for ever (not partially) perfected them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14) All the quibbles that you may make, all the pulling away of your shoulder, and all the pride of your heart in kicking against the Word of God, is like kicking your feet against an iron spike. It is not what I say. I am not speaking my own words. I am speaking God's truth. If it is not truth, man, reject it; if it is not God's word, cast it behind your back; if it is not to be found in plain letters, so that he that runs may read, receive it not; but let God be true, and what He says stand fast. Hence it is said, "The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away, but the Word of our God endureth for ever." (1 Pet. 1:23,24) When the world is in a blaze, and terror seizes some of you perhaps, and fills you with dismay, despair, and consternation, the truth of God will shine out and blaze to the praise of Him that spake it; while it will be seen, I hope, in the salvation of many that are now here before God. When the Son of God died upon the cross, did He lie or did He speak truth? He said with a loud voice, "It is finished!" And gave up the ghost. Hence says the great apostle, "He died for our offences, and rose again for our justification;" so, as I just said, "by His one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Now what does God say? Is it true, or is it false? "I will pardon them whom I reserve." He has "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and taken it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." (Col. 2:14) Hearken again to what Paul says, "Whom He did foreknow, them He did predestinate; whom He predestinated, them He also called; whom He called, them He also justified," and cleared them from all charges. It is said, "He has cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, that when sought for they shall no more be found." (Micah 7:19) Is it true, or is it false? Again, "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none, for I have cast all their sins behind My back." (Jer. 50:20) "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." (1 John 1:7) Therefore Peter says, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold," nor bought in that way, "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead:" (1 Pet. 1:18-21) therefore he says, "Ye are bought with a price." What an unspeakable mercy this justification is; this is a foundation, for "who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"
"In guilt's dark dungeons when we lay,
Mercy cried, 'Spare,' and Justice, "Slay';
But Jesus answered, "Set them free,
And pardon them and punish Me."
As I said just now, the Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us all; He was the scapegoat that bare the sins of His people into the land of forgetfulness, drowned them in His own precious blood, and "brought in an everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24) which is to all and upon all them that believe;" then this justification is sure to all the seed. (Rom. 4:16) "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory." (Isa. 45:25) Then there is no fear of the man or woman perishing that is brought to believe in the Son of God. Hearken, "There is no condemnation," is it true, or is it not? "There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Rom. 8:1) That is the great thing, "no condemnation." If you have been called by grace you are sure to persevere, according to the Scriptures, and to be justified freely. Now are we justified? By faith; "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." If the blessed Spirit work faith in the Christ of God in your heart for five minutes, my friends, it will enable you to feel what God had declared of His people, "Thou art all fair, My love, there is no spot in thee." (Songs 4:7) I know what I say when I tell you that faith will justify the man in a minute. Hence you find the apostle says, "Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, that by Him all that believe are justified freely from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." Now if you are brought to believe in the Christ of God, your faith hangs there. None but Christ; He is your sanctification, righteousness, and redemption, and by faith you fly to His righteousness, and look alone to His merit, blood and obedience; that will justify you freely. As your faith brings the reality of it into your soul, you will be able to lift up your head without spot, and feel, Good God, I am clean. I should trust all of you could look at every policeman in the street without fear, as you walk along. Why? Because you have not been breakers of the law, you have not picked any man's pocket, knocked a man down, or committed murder; the law stands upon our side, the police would defend you. If anybody wrongfully accuses you, the law is on your side; so, my friends, Paul tells us, "As by one man's offence death reigned by one, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19) Hence he says again, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Rom. 4:5) So when death comes to take the man who believes in the Son of God from this world, there is nothing against him. Who is to lay anything to his charge? Christ has for ever put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; (Heb. 9:26) this made the great apostle say, "That I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3:9) If I were to put it home to you, and say, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? Could you answer, in simplicity, in truth, I do believe? So that your faith fastens upon Christ, you look to His blood to cleanse you, His righteousness to justify you, and His obedience to satisfy the law respecting you. If so, "the foundation of God standeth sure;" you will not die an unbeliever, nor be damned for your sins. You may say, "That is very easy, it is a very nice doctrine to preach, it will make folks sit down in carnal ease and false security;" but you will find, however you may sneer, jeer at, or oppose it, damnation is in every other way. Mind, as I read in the chapter, I preach the Word, whether men will hear it or no; you will find there is no other way to be justified, but by faith. If you notice, when they cried out in the days of the apostles, what shall we do to be saved? They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and ye shall be saved." The great apostle laid in the very belly of hell in his feelings, with his conscience stinging him, and the blood of the saints he had murdered, and the things he had done against the Church of God and Jesus Christ ringing in his ears. Ananias came to him, saying, "Brother Saul, the Lord that appeared unto thee in the way, hath sent me unto thee, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." That is the way--what a blessed way; there is no other way. Christ says, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life;" (John 14:6) and a blessed Way He is. "It hath pleased the Father," and I am sure it will please everyone that has faith in the Christ of God, "It hath pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell." (Col. 1:19) "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him." This is the foundation; we are justified by Christ. When He died on the cross, He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross," and brought in an everlasting righteousness to justify His people; this foundation standeth sure; His work is perfect. He has now sat down at the right hand of the Father, till His enemies be made His footstool. Therefore the Father says, "Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance." (Ps. 2:8) "If Thou wilt make Thy soul an offering for sin, Thou shalt see a seed, Thou shalt prolong Thy days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in Thy hand;" (Isa. 53:10) then said He, "Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of Me, to do Thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:7) All that are sanctified and justified will be eternally glorified, to the joy of their hearts, and to the dismay of all opposers of the truth.
"The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal." There is something done in the people, and for them, you see. What is the seal, or one of the seals? It is regeneration. The Son of God declares, "Unless a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) No. Now you all know that when the wax is warm the impression is made upon it by the seal, and that leaves its impression upon the wax. This is how it is wrought spiritually in the hearts of God's elect. God says, "I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh." (Ezek. 36:26) When the soul is hearing, or in affliction, or in any other way in which God is pleased to work, the Word enters, God melts the heart, takes away the heart of stone, and gives a heart of flesh, and he receives the truth in love. Such receive the Word in an honest and good heart. It is said of others, some seed fell by the wayside, some fell here, some fell there; but those that received it in an honest and good heart brought forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred. (Luke 8:4-15) This seal is the Word of God entering into the heart with divine power, under the melting power of the Holy Ghost it is impressed on the heart, and the man receives the truth in love. Now his ears are bored to the truth, and are open to receive the truth, saying, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." (1 Sam. 3:9) How have you received that truth I have just spoken? God says, when they hear the truth, "They shall say, It is truth." I expect all in this chapel have not received the truth in the love of it; I wish I could believe that they had. My object in speaking has been that you might fall under the truth of it, and say, "Lord, give me a mind to receive it, and a heart to believe it, and make me the object of Thine everlasting love;" that the weapons of your warfare might be thrown down, and that you might become like melting wax before the God of heaven, and feel, Good God, Thou art the Potter, I am clay, form me according to Thy will and purpose. God grant that that may be your case, or else, mind, if you die without that being the case, as sure as His Word is true that cannot be broken, He will say, "Take these Mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before Me:" He will surely break you in pieces like a potter's vessel, dash you by His truth, and say, "Go, ye cursed, with the devil and his angels." God grant that may not be your unhappy case, your sad and doleful end, but may He bring you on your knees to say, "What I know not, teach Thou me." I have no doubt there are some before God that are sealed. What a mercy to have the heart softened to receive the truth, and so to feel, "Thy Word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loveth it; teach me Thy statutes, lead me in a plain path; Lord, I am willing to learn." What a mercy to have the seal when you hear the Word spoken! "That is it," say you, you do not kick against, oppose, or resist it. When it speaks of Christ, His suitability and sufficiency, "This is it," you say, if so you are sealed; "if any man be in Christ he is a new creature." (2 Cor. 5:17) We are "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us." (Col. 3:10) "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." (Rom. 8:9) You can see this is the seal, because we are made partakers of His Spirit; you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if you have heard and learned of Him. Paul saith, "He which hath established us, anointed us, and sealed us, is God, who hath also given to us the earnest of the Spirit." (Eph. 1:14) Now you will see the seal will be more plain as we travel along. Paul says to the Ephesians, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30) You see the Holy Spirit is the seal, and our heart is the wax to receive the impression; as God says, "I will put My laws in their hearts, and will write them in their inward parts; I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people." (Heb. 8:10) Now when the Holy Ghost stamps His seal upon the heart there is a blessed impression left of holiness. Without holiness no man will see the Lord. Just the same as the wax receives the impression of the seal, and it remains there, so the blessed Spirit leaves His impression on the heart. "Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the living God?" (2 Cor. 6:16) The blessed Spirit stamps upon the heart the image of Christ; God's mystery among the Gentiles is, "Christ in you, the hope of glory;" (Col. 1:27) and "we are renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us." If you are sealed, your spirit loves holiness; now you say, Lord, I would be holy, sin is your grief, your plague, and your trouble, you can say with the psalmist, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me;" (Ps. 51:10) the Spirit's seal being stamped upon your heart, it will show forth. "His servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto holiness." Now at sin you grieve and groan, more or less, the greatest trouble you have is your bad heart; the sins of your lips, eyes, hands, and feet, what a plague they are to you. What do you want to get to heaven for? Say you, "To praise God as I would, love Him as I desire, and never to sin against Him. Now can you really come in to what I am going to say? I am certain you can. Say you, "How confidently you speak." I believe I have been in God's ways fifty years, so I am able to speak with some authority as to what the way and path is. If you have been sealed with this Holy Spirit of promise, the image of God and the impress of the Holy Ghost stamped upon your soul, this is your religion,
"O that my soul could love and praise Him more,
His beauties trace, His majesty adore;
Live near His heart, upon His bosom lean,
Obey His voice, and all His will esteem."
"Whether I get to heaven or not," say you, "that is my religion; not that I have attained to it, but they are the things I desire." I am glad to hear you say that, that I am. You hear David crying out, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." What a mercy it is thus to be "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us," and so raised up into that place from whence we had fallen; as we have fallen by sin, so God raises us up again. Paul says to the Corinthians, though they had committed such abominations and done such vile things, "But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God," (1 Cor. 6:11) "who hath also called us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Cor. 5:5) If you notice, sealing is mentioned a great deal in olden times, so the Holy Ghost uses the figure. When Jezebel wrote letters in Ahab's name, she sealed them with his ring. Also when Ahasuerus gave Mordecai leave to reverse the king's decree, he sealed the proclamation with the king's ring, that that writing no man might reverse. Again, when Jeremiah was about to go into captivity (with the rest of the people), he brought a piece of ground, then there was the evidence that was sealed, and that which was unsealed; that which was sealed was laid up in the treasury, and the other was open for them to read at any time; therefore he said it was to be laid in an earthen vessel for many days, that when they returned from captivity they might see he had bought that ground. When the Pharisees came to Pilate after the crucifixion of the Son of God, they said, "Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again." Then Pilate said, "Go your way, make the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch;" that they might know if that seal was broken something had been done wrong; so they did so. I only just quote these things to show that the seal was to make the thing certain and sure; so in my text, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal."
Now another seal is this, "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirits that we are children of God." (Rom. 8:16) Paul saith, "After ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." (Eph. 1:13) The blessed Spirit thus seals us. It is said of the blessed Son of God, "Him hath God the Father sealed." How did God the Father seal Him? With a voice from heaven, when He stood in the waters of Jordan, as the Dove descended upon Him, He said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him." (Matt. 3:17) What witness God bore to Him! What a testimony that He was the true, eternal, only-begotten Son of God! This sealing came upon the apostles, for the Son of God said to them, "Tarry at Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high," and, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you;" so it is said, "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And there came a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting;" and cloven tongues as of fire sat upon each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Now has the Spirit ever borne witness to your heart that you are a child of God? Has He ever enabled you to believe there is a good work in your heart? Has He ever given you a true token, as the great apostle says, "He which hath anointed us and sealed us, is God"? Has the blessed Spirit ever fastened divine truth in your heart, so that you can say, Surely God has done something for me? If so, my friends, you are as certain of heaven as if you were in it. Hear what the angel of God says, "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (Rev. 7:3) They are all sealed, all carry the mark; hence God says in another place, "Come not near any on whom is the mark," (Ezek. 9:6) though destruction swept away thousands. In the book of Revelation you read that the angel went forth and sealed so many thousands here, and so many thousands there; do not let anything overtake them till they are all sealed, that it may be made manifest who they are. Now I have no doubt at all, I am sure of it by the Scriptures, if God has made it manifest; "secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong unto us and to our children," (Deut. 29:29) if He has opened up His will and pleasure, and shown that you are one for whom Christ died, the blessed Spirit has set His mark upon you, there has been a saving change pass over your soul, you are a new creature. The blessed Spirit at times, perhaps once in a year, I will not be too close, I would not make the heart of any sad whom God would not have made sad, nor would I strengthen the hands of any wicked, but there have been times when the blessed Spirit has given you to prove there is a reality in your heart, that heaven is the desire of your heart, holiness is your aim, and to please God your object. Some of you have realized at times what it is for the Holy Ghost to bear witness, and you have had no question but that you are saved with everlasting salvation, and you have been enabled to say for a few minutes, "This God is my God;" "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and though after death worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another." (Job 19:25-27) At times when hearing God's Word, or in secret before Him, the Holy Ghost has so borne witness and testified to you that there is a reality in your soul, a good thing towards the Lord God of Israel, that at that time, if all the devils in hell had opposed it, you would have said, "I am right." You have got up from your knees perhaps, or wherever you may have been, and have felt sure in your soul, and could stand up before all the parish, or could have got up in the chapel, and have said, "I am persuaded now the Lord is my light and my salvation. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." You have felt that? O yes, say some before God, I have. Then you are sealed to the day of redemption. It is said, that the Holy Ghost has sealed us to the day of redemption; sin can never erase that seal.
"If once the love of Christ we feel
Upon our hearts impressed,
The mark of that celestial seal
Can never be erased."
God sees the finger of His own Spirit upon your heart. You know the seal between God and the Jews as a nation was circumcision; therefore it is said, "An uncircumcised child shall be cut off, he has broken My covenant." (Gen. 17:14) What was this a sign of? Paul tells us it is a sign of the righteousness which we have by faith, for he says, "Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised." (Rom. 4:11) Now this was a seal between God and the Jews that they were His people. What does it set forth in New Testament language? Paul says, "Circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." (Gal. 5:6) This agrees with what Moses says, "The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart to love the Lord thy God, that thou mayest live." (Deut. 30:6) So circumcision in a spiritual point of view is love to God. "The fruit of the Spirit is love." When the blessed Spirit comes and seals us, He stamps His image on the heart; that image is love. Now the soul knows at times what it is to say, "Thou knowest all things, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." See whether you have got this seal. I will come a little lower. "Whom Have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth I desire beside Thee." There is this seal, you see; hence the soul can feel this,
"I love the Lord with mind and heart,
His people and His ways;
Envy, and pride, and lust depart,
And all His works I praise."
Now mind, if ever that seal has been impressed upon your heart, time will never erase it; it will be on thy soul to all eternity. Hearken, "Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (1 Cor. 13:13) Love for ever remains; the soul carries the seal of the Spirit with him into heaven.
There is no finger of the Spirit of God nor sealing there. As the Son of God sweeps all the millions of the damned to the pit of destruction, He says, "Depart, ye cursed, I never knew you." (Matt. 7:23)
Having this seal." Have you got this seal in your hearts? What, do you love the Lord? Love Jesus Christ? Love His saints? Love His truth? Is that impressed upon your soul? Charity never fails, it never can be swept out, death cannot blot it out. Say you, "I trust I do know what it is to have it stamped on my soul." Then you are sealed to the day of redemption; you will hear the voice of God say at the last, "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world;" (Matt. 25:34) you will carry this seal with you into heaven, and will sing, "To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His blood, to Him be glory, might, majesty, and dominion." (Rev. 1:5,6)