This was according to the ancient purpose and settled decree of God the Father, in the council of peace. But the people always appear to have proceeded in direct contrariety to Jesus' special commands to them. He often enjoining upon them to tell no man. How contrary to fallen human nature; for perhaps there is nothing in the world that fallen man so much thirsts after as fame. The warrior will hazard his life and sacrifice the lives of thousands of his fellow-mortals for the fame of having won a victory. The miser will sacrifice his time, his strength, and his soul, will ruin both body and soul for ever, for the fame of being a wealthy man. And so of other grades in society. The man's talent, the man's attainment, the man's knowledge, the man's position in society, frequently prompt him in the pride of his heart to look for fame on this or that account; and most fame-hunters lose their object; and, if they attain to it, it is only to be a curse, and a plague, and a snare to them. Our precious Christ, on the contrary, carried out the prediction concerning Him, that He should not cry, nor cause His voice to be lifted up or heard in the streets, that He should be so meek and retiring, and attempt so much to hide Himself, that a bruised reed He would not break, and the smoking flax He would not quench. And yet He was to do the work which the Father gave Him to do. Certainly He was not seeking fame when He was in the temple at twelve years of age, hearing the doctors, and asking them questions, and astonishing them all. Instead of making use of their astonishment, and the success with which He had conversed with them, for His fame He took the rebuke from His parents, went down to Nazareth, and worked with them for eighteen years at His reputed father's trade. He sought not fame when He came forth to His ministry at thirty years of age, and went about doing good. And when they would make Him king, He would not have the fame, but quietly retired into the wilderness and went into a mountain to pray. And yet with this retiring disposition, which marked the deep humiliation to which the Lord Jesus bowed, His fame could not be obstructed--it must reach all worlds--it must be published and noised abroad. Angels, men, and devils must help to spread it; and when it is said of Him that He sought to secret Himself, and to retire from the observation of the multitude, it is said that "He could not be hid." He went forth to accomplish the great work which the Father had given Him to do, and that work must not only establish but spread His fame long as time and eternity are moving on. Oh what a contrast between the poor, proud, puny hopes and expectations of worms to be famed, and some of them expecting to be famed for the most paltry things that can be conceived, and the meek, and lowly, and humble, and self-denying spirit of the Son of God. He would not occupy a splendid house or mansion that He might be famed for His residence. He had not where to lay His head. He would not claim Herod's position though the Jews tried to represent Him as his rival. He had not the common comforts of life. He would go to a fig-tree for fruit when He was hungry--He would go to Simon's house for a meal, but never was He known to aspire after high things in the world's view of the matter. He was the meek and lowly Lamb of God. And yet, though He would not cause His voice to be heard in the streets, but manifest the pattern and exemplification of humility to His Church, yet His fame spread in every place through all that country, aye, and through all the world.
Well, now, it becomes us to look, first of all, a little at this fame which pertains to our precious Christ, and which interests out souls. Then we will glance at the agents that are employed to spread it--"the fame of Him went into every place of the country round about." And then we will glance at the results of His fame being made known.
I. Now, you will plainly perceive, that my drift is as usual this morning. I do not want to spend half an hour or three quarters of an hour to publish the fame of old Adam's corruptions--I am plagued enough with them every moment. It is a filthy, fulsome, offensive gospel that goes on in that strain. I want all my time, and strength, and power to spread the fame of Jesus in every place throughout the country. Well, then, we will notice three or four things in which He is and must be famed. First of all, for the majesty of His person--"fairer than the sons of men"--famed above them all. Secondly, for the offices He sustains, essential for the Divine glory, and for the salvation of sinners. Thirdly, for the relative titles which He owns, in the most condescending manner assuming them on earth, and maintaining them now He is in heaven. And then we will glance at the extraordinary works that He did, which spread His fame abroad. Just a word or two upon these particulars under the first head of discourse.
First of all, His fame is spread abroad with regard to the majesty of His Person. And I place this foremost, because a right apprehension of the Person of Christ will lead to a right apprehension of all that pertains to His work; and if we have not right apprehensions of the Person of Christ, we can be right nowhere in the whole range of theology. And I beg of you to mark this in the memorandum of your hearts, and let the sentence I have just dropped be engraven as with the point of a diamond--that wrong views of Christ's Person leave the poor wretched sinner wrong everywhere for time and for eternity--but right views, Scriptural views, believing views, of the Person of Christ will be the key to open, and give access to, all the mysteries of His character, of His undertaking, of His mediation, of His redemption, of His entire work, and of His present employment. Now if we look at what is stated concerning Him by mortals who would fain be dubbed divines, there are the most incongruous things said that human ingenuity or Satanic art could invent. Some say that He is only a man, and yet a good man. What a paradox! A good man telling lies all His life. I cannot understand that. Some say that He is a demi-god, as the Arians to wit, but somewhat inferior to the Father. That is an awful falsehood, for He said, "I and my Father are one;" and that glory He had before all worlds with His Father, according to His own prayer, "Glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5) How His inferiority can be asserted, I do not know, except with the most arrant foolishness, as well as the most hostile wickedness. Another class represent Him as a poor helpless Saviour, who does the best He can to save all the world, but who cannot do it unless poor sinners help Him. I am sure I would be an Arian, or Socinian, as soon as an Arminian, for if He cannot carry out His designs without creature assistance--if they will repent, and if they will pray, and if they will persevere--I would as soon be one as the other. But I reject them all. There is enough in these systems to make an Infidel of me outright, if I knew nothing better. But passing by all these partial saviours, which are no saviours at all, neither gods nor men, potent to save, but not so potent as man, for man must decide after all whether God shall save the poor sinner. Persons can have no right apprehensions of the Person of Christ who thus speak of Him. Now I speak of Him as essential, self-existent Deity. I begin there; and if He be not essentially, self-existent Deity, He might as well not have come down to earth at all, and I would not give a straw to read a word about Him in the book before me, or in any other book; without His essential Deity, the Bible is a cunningly-devised fable--and He has no power to save you or me--He has neither merit nor righteousness to give--for if He were a creature, He would want all His righteousness for Himself, and would have none left for you or me. But when I come to the all-important fact that all worlds acknowledge Him to be God, not only on His own claim, but on the Father's acknowledgment of Him--for when He brought Him into the world at the incarnation, He commanded all the angels of God to worship Him, I bow, adore, and love.
But go on just to mark, that He is humanity pure and sinless. We must look a little at this, in order to have right apprehensions of His Person. Humanity--bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh--in all things made like unto His brethren, and yet without sin; the body which the Father prepared Him and the soul to inhabit it which He poured out unto death. So that we view the man Christ Jesus as perfect man, sinless man, acquainted with all the sinless infirmities and weaknesses of man, without guile, without the possibility of a sinful thought existing in Him, or finding its way to His heart--as pure, and holy, and sinless in His manhood, as He is in His Godhead, or else He could not have been sacrificed in His human nature for sin. For you will recollect, in the types under the law, it was strictly enjoined that nothing that was unclean, or that was in any way defaced or defective, could be offered in sacrifice. All pointing to the perfection and sinlessness of our precious Lord, who, when He gave His soul an offering for sin, gave a soul which had no guile in it, no sin, no depravity. All the sins of His Church laid upon Him, but none found in Him. Mark this distinction, just the reverse of the position in which we stand--none laid upon us, but an awful amount of them within us, which He has promised in the end to subdue. With Him all were laid upon Him, but none were found in Him. "The prince of this world came and found nothing in Him." He is an eagle-eyed old serpent too. Pilate found no sin in Him--the Sadducees were challenged to convict Him of sin if they could--but He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;" and yet His manhood so mysteriously and yet so inseparably connected with the Godhead, that the apostle speaks of it as "the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh." The Godhead did not become humanity, and the manhood did not become Deity, and yet the manhood, in its sinless form, was so united, so emphatically one with the essential Godhead, that all the glory, and all the merit, and all the value, and all the virtue of His eternal, self-existent Godhead, was imparted to the manhood when He obeyed and suffered. And, therefore, His blood is said to be the blood of God. "Feed the Church of God, which He (God) hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28)
Moreover, He is famed for the offices which He sustains. Here a multitude will rush on my attention, but I will limit myself to the three which are well known and constantly dwelt upon.
He is far-famed as a Prophet. And I pass by the fact of His being the sum and substance of all the writings of the prophets--He is the great Prophet, and on this account it was that He met with Elias as the representative of the prophets, along with Moses, as the representative of the law, on the Mount of Transfiguration, to converse with him on this great subject. But I pass this by just to glance at His own predictions--what He said of Himself during His three years' ministry on earth. See, for instance, what He said to His disciples--that they should be hated of all men for His name's sake--that their names should be cast out as evil--that they should be treated as He was by the enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ; and the prediction has been found true down to the present day. Then, mark His prediction relative to the destruction of the temple--how it was to take place, what scenes of dreadful horror and outrage should be witnessed on the occasion, and how one stone should not be left upon another that should not be cast down. This was literally carried out, positively fulfilled; so that when the wretched general, the vile Infidel, declared that he would make Jesus Christ a liar, and ordered his soldiers to leave a piece as a sort of ruin for the purpose of contradicting Christ's prophecy, yet the fury of the soldiers was such that they carried out Christ's prophecy, and did not leave one stone upon another. So again, with regard to His prediction of His death. "After three days the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners." He even points out with the son who it was that should betray Him. There was no sign before this that it was Judas. "He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop He gave it to Judas Iscariot." He knew that the devil had put it into his heart to betray his Master. Then, when He was delivered over to the Gentiles to be executed, the grave could not retain Him an hour beyond his appointed time. So of all His prophecies in His resurrection, His appearing again to His disciples, in the spread of His gospel--"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" it is going on, and proceeding, and at one time or another has been preached all over the world, for even desolate Africa once had its bishops and its churches, though it has been desolate for many ages, and attempts are being made to visit it with the gospel again. So with all the rest of the world; and we look to our precious Christ as failing in no one prophecy which He uttered. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away." All must be fulfilled. His fame then is far and wide as a Prophet.
And is He not famed as a Priest? You know we have recently dwelt upon this, and I hope it will appear shortly before your eyes; we have dwelt upon it on various occasions, and we cannot dwell upon it too often, because the devil hates His office as a Priest, more than he does as a Prophet. I rather think the devil would be content to let Him be Prophet and King, if it were not for His being a Priest. But he well knows that while his black majesty from the infernal regions can keep up a phalanx of Baal's priests it will rob him of his fame. I tell you His priesthood is of a distinct order--after the order of Melchisedec, and not after the order of Aaron. He is so famed as a Priest, that while all other priests demand offerings to be brought to them, He brings it Himself, and becomes it Himself--that while all other priests must have an altar, He becomes an altar in His humanity. He is far-famed as a Priest. Moreover, He is far-famed for absolution. He never gave it in the way of mockery--He never told lies about it--He never sells it to the poor creature that comes to have his sins forgiven as man-made priests do. No; when He absolves, He seals forgiveness to the poor soul, and shows him that God has blotted out his iniquities for His own sake, and will not remember his sins any more. He is offering incense continually--not the sacrifice of the mass, or any other invention of men, which is an abomination to the Lord, and brings down a curse upon the heads of those who offer it, and on the heads of their poor dupes also; but our Priest offers the incense of His own merit, and always has a censer full of it before God, which ascends to Jehovah, and is acceptable in His sight.
Moreover, He is far-famed in His office as a Potentate. I chose this word for many reasons. Earthly potentates are fond of it. And the apostle Paul has it, "Who is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords." (1 Tim. 6:15) Other potentates may have their little spheres, and act the part of tyrants or otherwise, as the God of providence may order and permit; but here is the Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords, who has that very name written on His vesture and on His thigh, who never was despotic, who sways His scepter of love and mercy, peace and grace, in the hearts of His people, who supplies the whole of His empire from His own personal revenue, who sends out from His own stores, like His type Joseph in the land of Egypt, provisions to supply all the wants of all the subjects of His realm. So that He is far-famed in His official characters, which He condescends to sustain, outshining all that poor mortals can assume.
But we hasten on just to mark, that our precious Christ is famed in the relative ties which He condescends to own. He is not ashamed to call His Church brethren. Without multiplying particulars, just glance for a few moments at His headships, at His husband-like affection, and at His brotherly tenderness.
As the Head over all things to His Church--the Head of life, the Head of influence, the Head of order, the Head of comfort, the Head of His body the Church, the fullness that filleth all in all. He is far-famed in this. Nay, more, He is the living Head that can never die. So famed that He was the Head of His Church as far back as Abraham and Noah's days, and He is the Head of His Church now, and shall be till time shall be no more. Moreover, in this headship there is a union that can never be severed. "I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38,39) And, consequently, while the living Head hath life in Himself ("as the Father hath life in Himself so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself," and to give eternal life to all the members of His mystical body) while the union lasts, while the oneness is perpetuated and maintained, while Jesus keeps up His request which he offered in the 17th of John, and now offers before the throne, "That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one is us" (John 17:21)--what is to sever the union? And if nothing can sever the union between Jesus and His Church, nothing can destroy a member, nothing can kill a child of God, nothing can remove or take away the life Divine that is imparted by union with Christ. It must be consummated in life eternal.
Moreover, if we view Him as the Husband of His Church, we may give the challenge to all the husbands in the world to find such an one. Was such an one ever known among mortals? We can happily fix upon some that are very affectionate husbands, some that are very faithful husbands, some that are very attentive husbands, in whom there seems enough for the wife to say, "There is everything in him that I want as a husband." I wish from my heart that there were more such among mortals. But you cannot find one who ever put up with the frowardness and wandering, and treachery and distrust, and rebellion and far-strayings of the wife as the Lord Jesus Christ does. He is her Husband, and though she is froward and treacherous in every one of her members, He is a faithful Husband still. "Thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name." And He is such a Husband that He hateth putting away. No crime under heaven can make Him put away His bride. He is such a Husband for wealth, that there is not a want she stands in need of but He opens His fullness to supply; He is such a Husband for affection, that He not only maintains it towards his Bride, but He imparts it to His Bride to constrain her to love Him. "We love Him because He first loved us." He is a Husband ever faithful, ever at hand, so that He will never leave nor forsake His beloved Bride. And is He not far-famed as such?
Go on to observe that He is far-famed as a Brother, even a Brother born for adversity. This is the very description given of Him. And when His reputed brethren and kindred after the flesh came to the temple where He was preaching to the people, and could not get in for the crowd, and one told Him, "Thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with Thee," "Who is my mother and who are my brethren?" He asked. He did not mean to treat them unkindly in regard to the relation in which they stood to Him literally--but He turned and looked on His disciples and congratulated them, saying, "Behold my mother, and my sister, and my brethren"--adding to confirm it, "Whoso doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother." I beseech you to mark here the passage I have just cited which predicted what relative He would own. "Not ashamed to call them brethren," for He was a "Brother born for adversity." I think there are two senses in which that description of Christ ought to be understood. The first is, that He was born to suffer all the adversity which their crimes had brought upon themselves--all the poverty, all the curse, all the sorrow, all the care, all the labor that was brought upon them by sin, both original and actual. "Born for adversity." And His life was a life of adversity. During all the time He was working at the trade of His reputed father, was it not adversity? Earning His bread by the sweat of His brow--"the sweat of His face," it might be read. Was He not a Brother born for adversity as soon as His brotherhood was discovered? "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." Nor was this all--He went through persecution, and scoffing, and derision, and was at last murdered for His brethrens sake. "Him have ye taken, and with wicked hands have crucified and slain." There is another sense in which He was born for adversity, that when He finds any of them in adversity, it is His to administer comfort to them, to sympathize with them in their distresses, feeling that He is emphatically the Brother born for adversity, and that whoso toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye. He is so emphatically the Brother born for adversity, that He bears our sorrows and our sicknesses, and is even now "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." What a Brother! Is He not famed above all others? Where will you find a brother that will or can extend His brotherly affection to such a length as this? He is our precious far-famed Jesus in all these senses.
But let me just touch upon the extraordinary works which seem to have been the cause of the expression--"His fame was spread in every place of that country round about." What had He done? He had cast out devils, He had raised the dead, He had restored Simon's wife's mother from the fever, He had removed the uncleanness of those who were possessed by an unclean spirit, He had wrought prodigies and miracles, and yet though He had done so many mighty works among them, the enemies believed not on Him. And yet this caused Him to be far-famed. And you will mark--to keep up the idea we dropped in the exordium--it was not His own seeking, for in some instances He told the person upon whom He wrought to tell no man. As in the case immediately after our text, He charged them that they should tell no man, but that they should only pursue the course commanded by Moses in the law. But it is added, "they went and published it so much the more;" yea, and such was their publishing of His fame, that He could not even enter a city because of the crowd that thronged about Him, and though He charged them not to speak, but hold their peace, yet they cried out, "Thou art the Son of God." His name and fame spread in every direction.
Moreover, His fame was not only to be published on account of the mighty works which He had done, but they were only typical, though real in their instances, of the greater work pertaining to His errand upon earth. And here I must limit myself to three things He does for sinners, that has spread His fame down to this hour, and shall do it while I have a voice to utter it, and to all eternity. He has redeemed sinners, He has rescued sinners, and He has received sinners, and all these acts publish His fame. He has redeemed sinners, having bought them with His blood, having paid the ransom stipulated for in the covenant of grace--having put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself--having vanquished the accuser of the brethren, and taken the lawful captive from the mighty--having satisfied justice, magnified the law, and laid down His life for His Church. Now, I know this is grievously perverted, and I should not say it redounded much to His fame--nay, not at all--if I could for a moment admit the Popish notion of universal redemption--for it is abstract Popery. If I could admit that, I should say where is His fame, and what is it worth? To redeem souls and let them go to hell afterwards! "Aye, but because they will not believe!" Did not He know that? Was He not Omniscient, the eternal God? And in the face of that knowledge, that He should not give them faith, that they never would believe, am I to believe that He redeemed those that He knew were going to hell, and whom He never meant to take to heaven? Preposterous absurdity! The most God-insulting scheme next to Infidelity itself, ever broached upon earth. My hearers, when I speak of the redemption of Christ Jesus which makes Him far-famed, I speak of it as the apostle did under Divine inspiration when He said, "Having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. 9:12) How could it have been eternal if it is not consummated in glory? How could it have been eternal if the persons redeemed are only redeemed for a little while? What men tauntingly and hypocritically call making an offer of mercy to them. My hearer, these terms are not in Scripture--they are not according to the word of God. It could not be eternal redemption if there were not a certain price paid, and that price accepted without the conditions, that the poor sinner should repent and pray, and improve the grace given to him and the like. But we insist on eternal redemption for all the election of grace, for all the Church of the living God. And Christ is famed for this. Why, beloved, He is famed in heaven for this very thing, "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood" is their song. (Rev. 5:9) And they spread His fame through all the sacred scenes of bliss, where glorified beings are eternally adoring Him. And He is famed on earth for the same thing--for we will publish His redemption as a perfect one, a complete one, worthy of Himself, as that which God cannot reject or refuse, or the sinner be robbed of for whom it is effected.
Moreover, He is not only famed as a Redeemer, but He is famed as one who has rescued His redeemed. We hear sometimes of redemption (really it is a mockery of common sense), but we do hear of it sometimes, in which Christ has paid the price for the poor sinner, that is suffering under a foreign yoke in a grievous prison, in order that they may be liberated, but He puts forth no power, He does not demand their rescue. Now it is not redemption, unless they are rescued, unless they are brought forth out of the hand of their oppressors. "Thus saith Jehovah, The prey shall be taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive shall be delivered, for I will contend with them that contend with thee, and save thy children." (Isa. 49:24,25) He is far-famed for this; for every sinner for whom He shed His blood is, sooner or later, rescued from the grasp and tyranny of sin and Satan, and brought into the enjoyment of the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Moreover, He is famed as a receiver of sinners. The Pharisees in His day, when He was upon earth, could not understand this, and therefore they threw it in His face as a reproach. "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." (Luke 15:2) Ah! Beloved, it is your mercy and mine that He does; for if He did not receive sinners I should despair of going to His footstool--I could not preach Him in any other character. And if sometimes I am indulged with the privilege of approaching His throne in the spirit of adoption, as a child, as, blessed be God, I am, yet there are other seasons in which Satan would dispute my sonship, and rob me of the spirit of adoption, though He cannot rob me of the adoption itself. What am I to do? If I am afraid to go to Him in the spirit of adoption, I approach Him as a receiver of sinners, and say, "Lord, I am vile." I go to Him as I did at the first moment that I went to Him, as deserving nothing but hell, meriting eternal wrath and destruction, therefore I say, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner," to this hour--embracing those moments with which He is pleased to favor me when I come to Him in the spirit of adoption, and commune with Him as a son. I tell the guiltiest, the vilest, the blackest sinner in this house of prayer, the most deeply-stained of all Adam's posterity, "If He hath but convinced you of sin, if He hath but made you willing to be His child, He is as willing to receive you as He was to receive Paul or John--as willing to receive you as He was to receive me; and I cannot describe to you how tenderly and affectionately He received me when first brought to His feet. Is He not famed for this? It is a far-famed Christ whom we preach.
II. Now let us glance, in the second place, at the agents employed to spread His fame.
I cannot help mentioning, in the first place, His kindred, when He was sought for among His kinsfolks, and could not be found. And so in many other instances of His literal history which we now pass over to come to the point spiritually. It is His kindred that publish His fame. That is those who are allied to Him by grace, those who are partakers of the Divine nature, those who have passed from death unto life, those who have the mind and Spirit of Christ, those who are born from above, those who are regenerated by the power of the Holy Ghost, and made to bear the image of the heavenly, having in their unregeneracy borne the image of the earthly. Now, if I were to stop one moment parenthetically, just to glance at the word regeneration, I should just say, we know nothing of regenerated persons until they bear the image of the heavenly. In their unregeneracy they bore the image of the earthy, and yet, if men will tell me that they have become regenerate by the application of a little or much water, I look them in the face, and say, "I do not believe you, and will not believe until I see some manifest proof of it." Let me see that they have something of the mind and Spirit of Christ, that they are truly spiritual persons, and then I will believe that they are regenerated. But I will not believe any Popish nonsense about regeneration but what produces its result.
Moreover, I beseech you to mark that no partaker of life Divine can consider it a matter of little importance in his life, that the fame of Jesus should be spread by him. And if you are doing nothing or saying nothing to spread the fame of Jesus, do not tell me you are related to him. I will not say you are not, because I know not the secrets of eternity; but I will say that you have given me no proof of it. If you tell me you belong to Christ, and are really the household of faith, really His brethren and sisters, let me ask, do you come to the point that Paul did, when he made a vow that Christ should be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death? Have you reached that standing in experience, to be able to say, "To me to live is Christ?" We know that to every real child of God, "to die is gain;" but I am a little more disposed to scruple with regard to many of them, whether they live to Christ, whether His glory, His fame, His precious Person, His official character, His perfect work, His exaltation upon His throne, and in the hearts of His people, is the object of their attainment. Is every effort of life turned that way? Is every power you can grasp, all the influence you can command, every faculty with which you are endowed, put forth and employed under the Holy Spirits mighty power, to spread the fame of Jesus? Is it possible for any worldling, however bitter his hatred, to look at you through any one day, and not be obliged to say, "This man has been with Jesus--this man honors Jesus?" Do not wonder at any calumny if this is not the case; for it is written, "Them that honor me I will honor, but them that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."
But not only do His kindred spread His fame; even His enemies must do it. I put this in contrast. You will recollect the apostle Paul rejoiced in this; "There are some that preach Christ of good-will, and some that preach Christ out of envy and strife." What did he mean by their preaching Christ in this way? He did not mean publishing His glories and excellencies, as I am attempting to do this morning; but he meant making Him known. That even their revilings and persecutions, yea, and their leading Him to the brow of a hill to cast him down headlong; yea, and all the evil that they heaped on His name, and all the reproaches they cast on Him, all made Him more known, all spread His fame: so that what the devil takes so much pains to do, to reproach Christ, spreads His fame, though not intentionally. But passing from these more cursory statements, let me tell you He has His nuncios, or messengers. And I choose the word because Antichrist has plundered it; I believe it is hardly ever employed except to signify a messenger to the Pope, or the devil, for they are very nearly allied. The word simply means a messenger. Now I mean to insist that all Christ's sent servants are ambassadors, are His nuncios, His messengers, sent for the express business of spreading His fame. I do not know that I have many preachers before me; but if the congregation were made up of preachers, I should like to dwell upon this at length. Your business and mine is to spread the fame of Jesus. Not to induce the people to say, "What a fine preacher!" But "what a precious Christ!" Not "what an eloquent man!" But "what a glorious Saviour he set forth!" The business of the Lord's sent servants is expressly this; and therefore the apostle Paul, as one of the leading men, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, says, "I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2) And he says in another place, that he would glory in nothing else; "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Jesus Christ my Lord, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14) And if you will read his sermons and epistles, you will find that he was incessantly at this point, the exaltation of Christ, the spreading His fame everywhere, speaking of Him as the glorious only-begotten of the Father, "able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him." (Heb. 7:25) True, the audience did not know much of what they were hearing about. They said it was something about one Jesus, who had died, and whom Paul said was alive. As if they said, "Who is this Jesus that he talks so much about?" Paul said, "Never mind;" they may persecute him, they may scourge him, he may be in perils by land and in perils by sea; on he goes, always and in every place Jesus must be exalted, His name, His offices, His work, His relationship to His Church, His present employment at the right hand of the Father, and the eternal security of His Church in Him must engage Paul's attention; and that man is not sent of God to preach who does not make it his primary business to exalt a precious Christ.
Further, mark that this precious glorious far-famed Jesus is exalted, and His fame is spread by the objects of His attention, for whom He wrought so much. We have already glanced at this, and therefore shall not have to detain you long with it here; only just mark that whoever He healed always besought Him that might go with Him; and if they were not allowed to go with Him, away they went and spread His fame far and wide, and set forth the miracles He had achieved on their behalf. Now, beloved, has Jesus done anything for you? Has He opened your eyes? Perhaps some people will say, He is a sinner, as the Pharisees said to the poor blind man. "Give God the glory," said they. Like all hypocrites; they all talk of giving God the glory. "We know that this man is a sinner." "Whether He be a sinner or no"--it is quite evident the poor man did not personally know Him--"whether He be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see;" and I appeal to your common sense whether He could have wrought such a miracle if He were not of God. Now these poor wretched beings, just like Puseyites and Popish priests, could not attempt to answer this plain question, and therefore they turned round and said, "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?" And they cast Him out of the synagogue. We see this going on every day, when men assume an office which God has never called them to. Oh the vast importance of coming to a point! What has He done for you? Has He opened your eyes? Has He humbled your heart? Has He stripped you of your filthy rags? Has He clothed you with His own robe? Has He healed all your diseases? Has He forgiven all your sins, and can you refuse to spread His fame? If some medical man had wrought a wonderful cure (or had the credit of working it), you would tell all your friends and neighbors what a wonderful cure he had effected, and yet it might be a mistake after all. Then will you not publish the fame of your precious Christ? Will you not wish for the loftiest mountain upon earth as a pulpit? Will you not wish for the canopy of heaven only to be your sounding-board? Will you not wish for a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, that you might proclaim to earth's remotest bounds, "Jesus Christ saves sinners, and He has saved me as one?" Ah, beloved, has Jesus done anything for you? Then I know you will not hesitate to spread His fame.
III. But I must hasten to a close with a word or two relative to the results. And I will only mention two--the results among the wicked surrounding Him, and the results among the objects of the Father's love given to Him.
In the first, scoffing, rejection, and reviling. And as it was so it is now. Jesus Christ is reviled, and scoffed, and misrepresented, and despised among men. Now every sinner of Adam's race that is not found at His feet as a humble penitent, is a rejector of Christ--every sinner of Adam's race who will not own Him Lord to the glory of God the Father, is a rebel and traitor to Him--every sinner of Adam's race that does not bow before His scepter, to touch the top in order to obtain a free pardon of all His transgressions, is yet a slave of Satan, in love with sin, in the broad road to destruction, and consequently will treat Christ and Christ's followers, and Christ's ambassadors, as they were treated in olden time.
But now one word by way of close concerning the number that the Father hath given Him. "All that the Father hath given me shall come to me" He said when upon earth, and these are attracted to Him, are wondering at His authority, and say by Him as the Queen of Sheba did by Solomon when she had heard of his fame. She came from the uttermost parts of the earth to recognize it, to be well satisfied, and convinced that it was not exaggerated, and exclaimed, "the half was not told." And our Lord says concerning Himself, "A greater than Solomon is here," (Luke 11:31) and His fame is greater and more lasting. They came to hear that fame--they came to hear His wisdom--they came to hear the gracious words proceeding out of His lips--His greatness, His glory, the majesty of His Person, the preciousness and adaptation of His offices, the perfection of His work in redemption, yea, and the relative ties He condescends to own, saying, "I am thy salvation." And these demand of me that with all my powers, with all my time, and to the extremity of my little lease as tenant at will upon earth, I shall exert my energies for no other purpose than to extend the name and fame of my glorious Christ. Moreover, whenever the poor soul is brought to discover and to become satisfied that He has saved him and called him with an holy calling--saved him in Himself with an everlasting salvation, and that that salvation will never be destroyed nor He be ashamed of it, world without end--that Jesus not only saved Him, but that He is the salvation itself--"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust Him, and not be afraid"--then surely he will as long as he stays on earth be desirous of spreading the fame of his precious Lord.
"Oh! For more pow'r while here on earth to tell
The wonders of His never-dying love;
Speak out the preciousness of blood Divine,
With eloquence (if God would grant it me),
And bid the world with holy awe draw near,
And listen to the fame of Christ my Lord.
If some will scoff at Him, why scoff they must;
All the election must and shall be sav'd,
In life, in death, in resurrection, yea,
To all eternity, they shall proclaim,
The fame of their all-glorious precious Christ."
May He command a blessing upon these few hints, for His name's sake.