"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah." (Jeremiah 33:14)
God would have us take particular notice of and consider what He says. Hence He begins in my text with, "Behold!" Look to, mark well, and see if I have ever deceived you in any thing, or ever will. What a mercy to have such a God to do with,
"Whose promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet."
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord." Our time is always ready. Let God speak in any way to our souls, we expect the answer directly; we cry out, "Why tarry the wheels of His chariots?" (Judges 5:28) We forget that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Pet. 3:8) The Son of God told His disciples, "Your time is always ready, but My time is not yet;" but His word will never fail. We may say, "Make haste, O God, make haste;" unbelief is always in a hurry, when faith is in exercise she is willing to wait, but we have not faith at our fingers' ends; we are more subject to doubt, fear, and unbelief than faith. We find God is not so quick in His movements as we are in our expectations. He told the Jewish church, "For a small moment have I forsaken you," (Isa. 54:7) that was seventy years. What did they think? "Our hope is lost, God hath forsaken us." But He said, "I will bring you up out of your graves, O My people." (Ezek. 37:13) If you look into God's Word, and into the experience of His people, you always find, however they have feared, and failed in their feelings, they have always had to speak well of God, that He has never failed them. Joshua told the Israelites, "There has not one thing failed of all the good things which the Lord your God promised you, but all are come to pass." (Joshua 21:45) David said at times, "Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" He said in haste, "All men are liars;" and he said, "I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul;" but when he had waited a little longer, he said, "Goodness and mercy hath followed me all the days of my life. (Ps. 23:6) God hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure." (2 Sam. 23:5) If ever you can get God, by His Word and Spirit, to persuade you in your heart He will do you good, heaven and earth will pass away, but that never will. "Well," say you, "I remember some years ago, when seeking the face of God by prayer, I had such a persuasion that God would save my soul, that at times there was a good thing in my heart towards the Lord God of Israel, that not all the devils in hell could have persuaded me out of it. I have had many dark days since then, and fears that it sprang from my flesh, and that because I desired those things I worked myself into those feelings, so I am afraid that it will never come to pass." "Behold, the days come." That promise is coming; God will never bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth; you will as surely realize what the Holy Ghost has persuaded you of, as God is true. I have known what it is for God to promise, and give me intimations of things, then I have thrown it all up; but this has been a help to me a good many times, "Though we believe not, God abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself." (2 Tim. 2:13) If He had not meant to do it He would not have given intimations of it; if it had not been in His heart He would not have told you of it: "The thoughts of His heart are to all generations." (Ps. 33:11) With all your unbelief and questionings, you would not like to lose that promise, you would not like to abandon it. Are you not glad at times that there has been a persuasion in your heart that there is a good thing towards God? "Yes, I am," say you, "I have often looked to that place where I had it." That is faith telling you to hold out, it is not willing to let go. It is coming, and you will be able to say one of these days, "Faithful is He that has promised, who also has done it." At times after God has persuaded us there is a good thing in our hearts, He is pleased to make things work contrary and opposite, to make it more clear, and to show the truth of His promise; then how it shines out. It is like the background of a picture, it brings out the other parts clearer.
"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain."
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised." God need not have promised anything, but, as He has done so, we have got His bond; now, so to speak, we hold Him fast; I speak it with reverence. Here is Thy bond, with Thy hand and seal. God has promised many "good things" to His people, and none of these things have ever failed. His people have tried Him in many ways, but they always have found the promise sure. But this promise in my text is the great promise, "I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah." This is the greatest thing of all. Hundreds of good things God has promised, and is fulfilling them every day, but this is the promise of all promises; in this promise all other things were promised, and all flow out of it. You can see they all flow out of this, "It has pleased the Father that in Him (that is, Christ) should all fulness dwell." (Col. 1:19) This "good thing" God promised is no other than the gift of His Son. Whatever God might have given, if He had not given us His dear Son we had been miserable creatures. Let God shower down upon you all the blessings and comforts of this life, let Him give you health and life for a hundred years to enjoy them, with all blessings of a temporal nature that heaven and earth can bestow, yet what a miserable wretch you would be without Jesus Christ, because they must come to an end. But if God gives us His Christ, then we have everything in Him; we have the Father's love, we have everything that can make us happy in this life, and we have heaven at last. Christ is the true philosopher's stone, that can, and does at times, turn everything into gold. He can make a man that has not a shilling in his pocket contented and sing; He can make him stand in the flames of martyrdom, and feel it is a bed of roses; He can make him play with lions. You can see what a "good thing" that is. All other things are good in their places; we have reason to be thankful and grateful for the bread we eat and the water we drink, for by sin we have forfeited all. We have reason to be more grateful and thankful than we are for the mercies we are surrounded with, but all these are as nothing to the promise in my text, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing." When God says it is a "good thing," you may depend upon it it is good; for what we call good God thinks nothing of. I dare say all of us would call a lump of gold a good thing, or if anybody was to make us a present of a handsome estate, we should call that a good thing; but God calls all these things "thick clay." We should not think much of it if any one was to come and plaster us with thick clay, we should think it a nuisance. Then if what we think good God thinks nothing of, what must that be which God calls good? It must be a superlative good, and so it is. That good is His dear Son. You can see He had promised it to our first parents. What a while it was coming! How slowly the wheels seemed to move, how they seemed loaded with lead for four thousand years. How they kept looking out for Him. Poor Eve thought she had got the promise quickly; she said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord," but she made a mistake. Sometimes we think we have something good, then we find out it is not so good as we expected. Have you never been deceived in what you thought was a good thing? Have you always found it sweet? Have you not found there was not that in it which you expected? I have no doubt you have, as well as I have, but in this "good thing" there is no deception. Let this come to us, we shall find it above all we looked for or expected, according to the scripture, "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think." (Eph. 3:20) Now this was "that good thing:" "the Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." (Gen. 3:15) The Son of God saith by the prophet, "From the bowels of My mother hath He made mention of My name." (Isa. 49:1) Now, as I said before, this set all those whose hearts God had touched looking for it. You hear the Church crying out, "O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion." (Isa. 46:13) Their hearts were big with expectation. Abel rejoiced in it. Abraham had a glimpse of it. The Church in the Song cried out, "O that Thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find Thee I would kiss Thee." (Songs 8:1) You hear her crying out again, "Unto us a Son is born, unto us a Child is given." (Isa. 9:6)
"Behold, the days come." It is such a short time in God's reckoning. So in Jeremiah's days, "I will perform it," God says. Then you find God says by the prophet Ezekiel, "I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; and he shall be a prince among them." (Ezek. 34:23) Daniel is so much in expectation of it that he says, "After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself." (Dan. 9:26) Malachi sums it up, and says, "Unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings, and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall." (Mal. 4:2) One would have thought it was just at hand; it was four hundred years after. Now all is dark and miserable, all hope of the promise being fulfilled seems gone; the Church thin and few, and no prophet to speak about Him. Then John appears in the wilderness; he came to herald forth the promise, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17) "Behold, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (Luke 3:4) Then, "in the fulness of time God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Gal. 4:4,5) Then we hear an angel proclaiming Him, and a multitude of the heavenly host bursting through the gates of heaven, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." (Luke 2:14) "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) Now the promise is fulfilled, now the days have come! Therefore Peter says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward." (2 Pet. 3:9) While men may say, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (2 Pet. 3:4)
"The promise may be long delayed,
But cannot come too late."
This is the "good thing" that God has promised. In what way? Peter says, speaking of David, "Of this man's seed hath God raised up Christ to sit on His throne." (Acts 2:30) That was the "good thing"--a Saviour. What! To be saved from sin, to be saved from hell, to be saved from destruction! That is a "good thing" indeed. Therefore the angel said, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21) What was the promise? "I will send them a Saviour, and a great one, and He shall deliver them." (Isa. 19:20) "Through this Man is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins, that all that believe may be justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38,39) What better thing could you have? What greater thing could you ask God the Father to give you? Hearken to what the Son of God saith, speaking by the prophet Isaiah, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." (Isa. 63:1) What better thing could you have than that ? What greater thing could you ask? You read, "God so loved the world, that He gave"--what? Heaven? Earth? Kingdoms? Crowns? O no! "God so loved the world;" so to speak He had such a burning love, such everlasting love, such a love that knows no bottom nor bound. "God so loved the world--I will give you the greatest thing that was ever seen--He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but should have everlasting life." Now I ask, what greater or more glorious thing could God give than His Son to save us? We read that
"A Saviour must be one that can
From sin and death release us,
Make up the breach 'twixt God and man,
Which none can do but Jesus."
Now, poor sin-bitten sinner, cursed by the law, damned by your sins, held fast by the devil, and claimed by justice, to have a Saviour to save you, One to pick you up, pardon your sins, and present you to God blameless and faultless, what greater thing could God promise? "The days" have come, the promise is fulfilled. "Unto them that look for Him"--Are you looking for Him? Is this what you want? Is sin your burden, trouble, and distress, and do you want to be saved? Say you, "O if He would but save me! I could bear anything, suffer anything, only to feel in my soul that I shall be saved; what a happy man I should be." You are just the man; there is everything in this Saviour to do that. "O, when I look at myself," say you, "and see what I am, the evils of my heart, my shortcomings, my misdoings, and the lump of sin that I am,"--why, you have the more need of it, poor creature. Do you think for a moment, poor, anxious, earnest, sighing man, or woman, that Adam's sin could sink us lower than what Christ could save? Shall Adam ruin us more than Christ can bring us out of? Can we sin deeper than His blood can cleanse? Does this mean anything, "Mighty to save?" Has it not heights, lengths, depths, and breadths to meet thy case and condition? What "good thing" would this be, "I will send them a Saviour, and a great one," if He could not save us from the hell in which sin would plunge us? What comfort would it be to our poor distressed souls? While the Son of God is the Physician, and His blood the plaster, you may depend upon it it will go to the root of the disease. Just to show us this, He says, "Walk about Zion;"--you feel what you are as a poor ruined sinner--"mark well her bulwarks, consider her palaces," (Ps. 48:13) that you may see that "this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our Guide, even unto death." (Ps. 48:14) What do I understand by these bulwarks and towers? These are sinners He has raised up, that we may look at them, and see there is nothing too hard for Him to do. He would have us look at these towers. Look at Adam, what he did. Look at Manasseh, what he was. Look at Magdalene, what she was. Look at Rahab, what she was. Look at Bathsheba, what she was. These are the towers that you may know that "this God is our God." This is the "good thing" He has promised; now Christ is revealed in His suitability and sufficiency as "mighty to save." He would be no Saviour unless He could save us completely. Paul says, "Wherefore also He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him." (Heb. 7:25)
"What's thy sin to His great grace,
That cancels all the sum?"
I can tell you that I have had minutes in my room, on my knees, alone with God, when I have had such discoveries of the beauty, sufficiency, and of the sin-cleansing blood of the Son of God, that I have felt, base devil as I am, had I all the sins of this parish laid upon me, I could believe He could save me out of and from them all; nor should I fear to have it. Therefore, poor thing, here is a "good thing" He has promised. Now bring thy sins. I will tell you what they will do for you; in the hands of the Spirit your sin and guilt will show God's great salvation. If you have got a feeling sense of sin, know the vileness of it, feel the filth of it, want to be saved from it, you are the man that will prize Jesus Christ; you will look out for His coming. "Will he come? Will He save me? It looks so dark, so dismal; I am so cast down and discouraged." So were they of old, but He came. As Paul says, "He will not only give me a crown of righteousness, but all them also which love His appearing." (2 Tim. 4:8) If this is what your soul is after, if you can say, as you were singing,
"O come, Thou much-expected Guest,
Lord Jesus, quickly come;
Enter the chamber of my breast,
Thyself prepare the room;"
if this is really your feeling, as sure as God liveth He will perform that "good thing" to you. The days will come when there will be a jubilee trumpet in thy soul, "Behold, thy salvation cometh; go ye out to meet Him." That is what God has promised you. "Promised me?" Say you. O yes. God promised it to those of old; it was a long while before it was fulfilled. You can see that He promised it to you. The Son of God said, "When the Holy Ghost is come, He shall convince the world of sin." (John 16:8) He has done that. "O yes," say you, "whether the Holy Ghost has convinced me or not, I am a sinner, I know. I cry out, 'God be merciful to me.' I am so convinced about it that not all the world could persuade me out of it. If I were to die now, I should say before God, 'O Lord God, I am a sinner.' That is a matter of fact. I am as sure of it as I am I am a living man. If there is not another sinner upon earth I am one; I am convinced painfully; sorrowfully I know it." See whether God has not promised you a "good thing." Where art thou looking for salvation? Where is thy little hope and faith flying? "When the Holy Ghost is come He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you," says the Son of God. You can find this feeling in your spirit, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." (Ps. 121:1) You are satisfied that Christ only can save you, whether He will you have thousands of doubts about; but that He can save you if He will you do not doubt. Is not thy faith fastening there? Say you, "None but Jesus is of any use to my sin-bitten soul. Save, Lord Jesus, or I perish." If God had not promised it to you, you would not look out for it. You cannot say, with all your fears, "I have no expectation that I shall be saved." "O no," say you, "I could not say so." It is promised to you. Therefore, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing." You will have it, and you will feel, "This is my God, I have waited for Him, and now He is become my salvation." Blessed are all they that wait for Him, for they shall never be disappointed.
In the morning we took a little notice of how God would have us mark and consider, in the word "Behold," the things He promises to do, that we may see how faithful and true He is to His word. We noticed, too, how certainly He fulfilled the promises He had spoken, and though we might wait for years for the accomplishment of it, the thing was certain; in the end we should have to declare the righteousness of God. We then noticed the "good thing" that was promised. We noticed there were many good things promised in God's blessed Word to men and women that fear Him, but we found the "good thing" in my text was something above them all; it exceeded all others as far as heaven exceeds hell for height, and light exceeds darkness; for we found this "good thing" was no other than the gift of God's dear Son. We noticed it was promised to Adam, and all through God's Word till the fulfillment of the promise, how the people were looking out for it, knowing that it was the greatest thing God could bestow, that heaven was in Him, and that all their hearts could wish or desire was in Him. Therefore what earnest desires there were for Him till He came. Then we may say, so to speak, all was outdone when He came. God said, "I will send them a Saviour, and a great one, and He shall deliver them." We found that He was indeed able to save; no matter how great the sins, or the number of them, or how high, how deep, how broad, or how long, He was "able to save." Nothing would stand against the blood of God. We found that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sins," it sank sin like lead in the mighty waters; that when the sins of Judah were sought for there should be none, for God would pardon them whom He reserved. Therefore the angel told Mary, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." We found indeed what a Saviour He was; this was a "good thing" promised. He could "save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him." No sins could be too many, too deep, too black in their defilement, but what His blood could reach, purge, cleanse, and purify. Not only did we find He was able, but that He was also willing to save; hence He says, "Come, let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." (Isa. 1:18,19) Such is the willingness of His heart that He says, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." (Isa. 55:1) "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the Fountain of the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17) This is a "good thing," that He should not only have power, but that He should be so willing. How does He stand in thy estimation? Is this the Saviour that you want? Is this the "good thing" that thy faith is looking after, thy expectation has been raised up for, that thy hope anchors in, and that thy soul is at times crying out for, "When wilt Thou come unto me?" Will no other Saviour do? Will nothing less than His blood satisfy thy guilty conscience, and make thee happy? If it be so, "Behold, the days come;" you will find this Jesus you are looking for, waiting for, longing to realize and enjoy, will come to you. He shall come to all that "look for His appearing." Hearken: Anna spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Israel. The Scriptures declare "there is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved." Thy soul will echo, if God the Holy Ghost has made thee feel what thou art, and given thee a glimmering of what there is in the Christ of God, "I want no other." Then God and you are agreed, and can walk together. It is only those that the Holy Ghost convinces of sin to whom He reveals the suitability and sweetness there is in God's dear Son; therefore these shall surely find Him. Now we will pass on.
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel, and to the house of Judah." Not only did He promise us a Christ to save us, but He promised us in Him a righteousness to justify us; for it is said, "This is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our righteousness." (Jer. 23:6) Paul tells us that is the blessedness of it, for says, "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness." (1 Cor. 1:30) That is a "good thing;" I have no doubt some of you feel and think so. You sensibly feel, I have no doubt, that all your righteousness are as filthy rags. (Isa. 64:6) You feel,
"Can sinful souls, then, stand unclad
Before God's burning throne;
All bare, or what is quite as bad,
In coverings of their own?"
I will venture to say, if God the Holy Ghost has shown you what you are, you would not be found in your own righteousness for all the world. You sensibly and truly find that, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." (Titus 3:5) Therefore this is a "good thing," that He wrought out a righteousness. It is said respecting His spouse, "She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework." (Ps. 45:14) He has wrought out a righteousness "which is to all and upon all them that believe." This made the apostle Paul say, "That I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3:9) This made David say, "My tongue shall speak of Thy righteousness all the day long." (Ps. 35:28) It is called the righteousness of God because it was wrought out by God's dear Son.
"A sinner clothed in this rich vest,
And garments dyed in blood,
Is rendered fit with Christ to feast,
And be the guest of God."
The Son of God opens it up in the parable of the prodigal son. When the poor wretch came home ragged, tattered, and miserable, the father said, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him." Dr. Watts says,
"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."
Therefore the Son of God says, "Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:20) I dare say there are many here whose righteousness does not come up to the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, yet, poor hoodwinked men and women, you believe you are going to heaven. The Son of God said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites;" with all their religion. How do you keep the Lord's day? They were particular about that. They tithed anise, mint, and cummin; what do you do for the cause of God? They prayed many times a day; how many times do you pray? They fasted; what do you mortify yourself in? "Eh," say you, "what will become of us all?" I tell you honestly, by God's Word, unless you have a better righteousness than this, you will all be damned. Perhaps some may say, "I wish I had not come here tonight." It may be you may have to bless God for it. You may go home, and turn it over, saying, "Good God, what will become of me? I do not observe the Sabbath, deny myself, or do anything for the cause of God. As to prayer, sometimes I just mumble out something at night, but I am too busy in the morning." Why, man, your righteousness does not come up to the righteousness of those that the Son of God pronounces damnation upon! Now may God make you fly from that, and look out for something in which you may stand in the burning day of God; for "unto them that look for Him He will appear without sin unto salvation." Here is a "good thing," seeing all our best is nothing worth, and that all our righteousness are as filthy rags, that Christ has wrought out and brought in an everlasting righteousness. For what does He say? "He that has two coats, let him give to him that has none." (Luke 3:11) Blessed be His holy name, He has two; He had a righteousness as God and a righteousness as Man. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." (Heb. 7:26) Then He wrought out a righteousness for sinners; thus He had two. "As by the disobedience of one many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19) To him that believeth God imputeth righteousness without works; for it is said how the Lord justifies the ungodly: "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Rom. 4:5) "O," say some before God, "I do rejoice in the blessed truth. It has made me sing many a time, and made my heart as full as it could hold, feeling that Christ is made righteousness to me; and that, 'what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.'" (Rom. 8:3,4) Are there some before God who sensibly see and truly feel that they can do nothing? They have tried hard, labored hard, charged their eyes, charged their tongue, charged their heart not to sin against God, but to do the works and commands of God, walk in His ways, keep His law, love and serve Him, yet have never gone one day right. They have fallen down under the guilt of it, and have tried again the next day to see if they could not work something wherein they might appear before God. They have prayed hard, and striven hard, and God has brought down their hearts with hard labor. Are there such here? "Yes," say some. Then says the Son of God, "Hearken to Me, ye that are far from righteousness, I bring near My righteousness; it shall not be abolished. I will place salvation in Israel for My glory." (Isa. 46:12,13) Are you not glad to hear that there is a righteousness wrought out complete, whereby God can justify thy soul, and that faith will put it on? You have not a finger to put to it, not a thought, word, or deed of your own; it is given freely, lovingly, and graciously by God. Hearken: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23) Is not that a "good thing?" It does not matter how bad you are, you can only be bare. This covering is for those that have none; it will hide all their defilement from view. In this righteousness you will be "brought unto the King in raiment of needlework." Whenever by faith you are enabled to lay hold of this righteousness, and wrap yourself up in it, go to God in it (I know what I speak now.) He will smell the smell of your raiment, and will surely bless you. It will be in substance, though in a more glorious way, as Isaac said to Jacob, "The smell of thy raiment is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed, therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth: let thy brethren and thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee;" (Gen. 27:27-29) and with corn and wine he sustained him. That is what you will find. Many times I have known what it is to be covered with guilt, shame, confusion, and trouble, and I have known what it is for the blessed Spirit to take of the things of Christ, and reveal them unto me, and He has worked faith in my heart, so that I have laid hold of Him, and I have gone to God, and have been smiled on and kissed by the Father of heaven, and have feared neither death, hell, nor condemnation. Nothing pleases God like going in the righteousness of His dear Son. May the blessed Spirit therefore work faith in your heart. "What! Do nothing?" Say you. No, you would spoil it. I will tell you what the blessed Spirit has to do with us; He has to take us, and throw us aside like lumber. This does not suit our proud nature. This righteousness wants nothing of our doings, it is wrought out by the active and passive obedience of God's dear Son; it sparkles with His merit, it perfumes the nostrils of God by His obedience. The Lord "will perform that good thing" in bringing this righteousness near, and putting it on us. Therefore may God stop you from working, and bring you to "lift up your eyes to the hills from whence cometh your help," and to "embrace the Rock for want of a shelter," and come to this blessed Son of God that He may clothe you, the same as He did Joshua the high priest. "I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." (Zech. 3:4) What a "good thing!" If Christ had not wrought out a righteousness not one of us could have stood before God, from Adam the first to the last that shall exist in this world. God tells us by the prophet Ezekiel, "I thoroughly washed and clothe thee." (Ezek. 16:9,10) In this we can stand complete before God; yea, stand higher than angels, draw near to Him, come into His heart, and be embraced by Him. The angels' righteousness is only a creature righteousness, but we stand in the righteousness of God, more glorious and blessed than they. If you have been driven out of yourself, if you have ceased from working, and your cry is, "O to be found in Christ!" If this is thy cry, thy panting, and what thou desirest, "Behold, the days come," God will perform it, you will have it, and you shall sweetly sing, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)
Again. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah." Another "good thing" He has promised is, that Christ shall be our sanctification. Some of us are willing to acknowledge with the great Apostle, "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." (Rom. 7:18) Apart from God's grace, there is no more holiness in us than in the devil himself. David knew this; he said, "I was conceived in sin, shapen in iniquity." (Ps. 51:5) God speaking about us says, "From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot ye are full of wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores." (Isa. 1:6) "The carnal mind is enmity against God." (Rom. 8:7) That which is flesh is flesh, you will never better that flesh. You may take nitre and much soap; I was going to say I have taken as much as most people, perhaps more than most, but mine iniquity is marked before God; in me dwells no good thing. I painfully and grievously know that "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, and an evil eye," (Matt. 15:19) and that the imagination of man's heart is only evil from his youth up. "Why, that was said before the flood," say you. But flesh has not altered, the Holy Ghost says to the last, "It is sown in corruption." What makes the great Apostle say, God "will raise this vile body?" What makes it vile? There is nothing vile but sin. The child of God knows that. I have no doubt there are some here who truly know it; if they do not, I do. Unless Christ is made sanctification for us, and God has made Him a High Priest before Him, I should have no more hope of going to heaven than the devil has. None but God knows what I feel, none but God knows what I sigh, grieve, and groan about from day to day. I cry out, "O God, I would be holy; create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me; (Ps. 51:10) keep me from evil that it may not grieve me." None but God knows, my friends, how I groan, sigh, and grieve from day to day, under the evils, abominations, and sinfulness of my wretched heart and flesh. What could a poor creature like me do without Jesus Christ? O, eternity will not be too long to praise, adore, and magnify the Christ of God for saving a filthy wretch like me. How do you feel? Is it a "good thing" to you which God has promised? We can see wherein Christ was typified in days of old, and the Holy Ghost sweetly opens it up and reveals it. It is said respecting the high priest, he only was to go in to the "holy of holies." He was only to go with holy garments upon him; with a holy mitre on his head, in the front of which was to be a plate of pure gold, inscribed, "Holiness to the Lord;" (Exo. 28:36; Exo. 39:30) by which he should bear away the iniquity of the holy things of the children of Israel. (Exo. 28:38) When he went into the holy of holies he was always to have on a breastplate of gold, set with stones, engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel. While they were without in their sin and filth, he went in with his mitre and breastplate; he was accepted of God, and they were accepted as a holy people in his person. What does the great Apostle say? "Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. 9:11,12) Now he says, "If the blood of bulls and of goats sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, 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) Now He is in the holy place as the High Priest of our profession. As Paul saith, "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Heb. 4:15) Therefore he says, "Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) Now we have an High Priest before God, not with a plate of gold on His forehead, but as the angel told Mary, "That holy thing shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) The Son of God has passed into the heavens, there to make intercession for us. Now all our sinfulness, all our vileness, all our filth and pollution, in thought, word, and deed, that we may grieve about, and fear what the end will be, our High Priest is within the veil to put away:
"'Tis He, instead of us is seen,
When we approach to God."
We are accepted in the Beloved, the eyes of the Father are upon His holy Son: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." See what that sanctification does. "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth." (John 17:17) "For this cause I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." (John 17:19) "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one." (John 17:23) "By His one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," (Heb. 10:14) and has gone into heaven for us. Therefore, "as it is appointed unto all men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him" (Heb. 9:27,28)--are you looking for Him? "unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Here is our sanctification. This made the Church say, "I am black as the tents of Kedar, fair as the curtains of Solomon." (Songs 1:5) How she laid hold of it by faith! What does the Son of God say respecting His spouse? "Thou art all fair, My love, there is no spot in thee." (Songs 4:7) Is not that a "good thing," that you stand in Christ without spot, blame, or any such thing? While we are walking here below, full of everything that is hateful in ourselves, He is our sanctification. While in us there is no good thing, we are accepted in Him; the Father is smiling on Him, regarding us in Him, looking on the face of His Anointed; He accepts our persons, regards our prayers, smiles on us, and says, "I have not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither have I seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." (Num. 23:21) If it were not for this, what would become of us? I will venture to say, if you take cognizance of yourself, there is not a day without some defilement. I think no one knows this verse better than I do,--
"Daily to feel thyself undone,
Will make thee haste to kiss the Son;
And on thy knees for pardon sue,
And praise, and bless, and love Him too."
O, my friends, mine is an everyday religion, I have not to go months or years back to find it. I can tell you how I blessed God in the week that is past that Christ is my sanctification. Stinking in my own nostrils, I could draw near to the Majesty on high, with the sweet feeling that the High Priest is before the throne. Therefore I could say indeed, when the words of the text came dropping in my mind, "O Lord God, what should I do without Christ for my sanctification?" Seeing that our flesh will never be better. All the corning in the world will not keep it from rotting. If the blessed Spirit has thus turned your inside outside, and you have tried all things to wash and purify you, and you feel you cannot move the spots of the leopard, you will say, "What a 'good thing' that Christ has holiness to justify us all." This will cause you to bless God, praise Jesus Christ, and entreat the blessed Spirit to reveal Him more to your heart.
There is another "good thing" that God has promised: "Thou Bethlehem-Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel." (Micah 5:2) We have got such a King as this. God promised Mary, "The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; He shall sit and rule upon His throne, and of His kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32,33) It is a "good thing" that we have got such a King to rule and manage for us all through life, bring us through death, and give us a kingdom at last. May the blessed Spirit give you to see, realize, and feel, more and more, what God hath done for us in the gift of His dear Son, and so bring you in heart, in faith, and in love, to feel, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."