"That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11)
Is this the sound that echoes through the realms
Of bliss? Are these the strains put forth by those
Whom God has glorified within the veil?
Do all apostles, prophets, ministers
Of God, and saints of olden time, unite
In this one cry, "Let God be glorified?"
Do angel hosts, who form the outer circle
Round the throne, enclosing God's beloved
Family, unite, and echo this sweet strain,
That God in all things must be glorified?
And do I catch the echo from celestial plains,
To thrill through all the powers of this immortal soul,
Resounding back in strains of gratitude, "Let God
Be glorified in all. Let me be nothing;
Let creatures sink; the toys of time depart;
Events of Providence move on as God
Shall will--only let God be glorified.
This sweet Scripture dropped upon my spirit in the midst of most agonizing pains, which I have had to endure night and day through the week that is past, save and except the last night, when I begged and prayed that God would grant me a night of repose; and He has done so. He has given me the best night I have had for a long while, on purpose to strengthen me a little today. But this sweet Scripture said, I must glorify God in the fires, as well as elsewhere, in all things--all troubles--all cares--all trials--all brokenness of spirit--in all things. What an extensive sweep does the language of my text take--"That God in all things might be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Do you mark the strain of the apostle's argument leading to this conclusion? Having reminded them that the end of all things is at hand, and exhorted us probationers on earth for a while to keep one thing in view, he says, "Use hospitality one to another without grudging; for the end of all things is at hand, and God must be glorified in you." That speaks a volume of reproof to the covetous. "Use hospitality one to another without grudging." The word charity often signifies love--especially in the Epistle to the Corinthians; therefore it cannot always be applied to this point. But the word hospitality cannot be mistaken. "Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I would that Lady Huntingdon's acknowledgement were the acknowledgment of all Christians, especially of those who are in affluent circumstances, that they possess nothing of their own. When Lady Erskine, I think it was, saw her give away sixpence, saying, "That is more than God ever gave me," she reproved her, and Lady Huntingdon replied, "God never gave me anything; He only lent it me; He gave it me as His steward." The believing family of God ought always to bear that in mind--they have nothing of their own, nothing that they can really call theirs, but that all has been received from God in stewardship; and, as good stewards, they are to make use of it, that God in all things may be glorified. What! Glorified in money? What! Glorified in business? Yes. What! Glorified among connections and associates in the wilderness? Yes--this one point, that God in all things may be glorified. Then, "if any man speak, let him speak according to the oracles of God;" and woe to the thousands in these days who pretend to speak, and not a few who tell us that they are the only authorized ministers, but who never speak according to the oracles of God. Every sermon they deliver is a rivet in their damnation. "When any man speaks, let him speak of the oracles of God." "If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth. I suppose he means the same thing as hospitality, ministering to the necessity of the saints. "If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth." (1 Pet. 4:11) Then follows my text. You see the advice all along is towards practical godliness--towards the walk and conversation of the believer, to imitate Christ, and so to glorify God. I want this impressed on the minds of my hearers this morning, because we are frequently charged with caring nothing about practical godliness; and if this be my last sermon, I hope it will be recorded as a testimony that I am an advocate for practical godliness. I will give place to no man with regard to doctrinal godliness. I must have the whole truth of God out and out, and I will not dispense with, nor part with, a single iota of the grand doctrines of God's grace; nor can I part with a single atom of experimental godliness. Mind you, I do not mean the experience of old Adam--the stirring-up of his corruptions. Those that love that may have it; I wish to have nothing of it in the pulpit. But I mean real, vital godliness--the work of the Holy Ghost in the soul. I cannot part with this, because I have no evidence of interest in the doctrine of God's grace, nor the grace of the doctrine, unless that grace possesses my heart. I want, in addition to that this morning, a testimony for practical godliness. I suppose some of my hearers may charge me with preaching an Arminian sermon. Very well. Perhaps if you put it alongside some of my strongest doctrinal statement sermons, they may weigh pretty even in the balance together.
Well, first of all, I wish to invite your attention to the grand business of the Christian's life--that in everything he says or does God may be glorified. In the second place I shall speak of the official medium--"through our Lord Jesus Christ." And then I shall detain you a few minutes upon the ascription of praise--"to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever." I pray the Holy Ghost, who has given me to enjoy my meditating on this portion of holy writ, to give you as much enjoyment in the reception of the truths contained in it, as I have had in meditating upon them. I wish once more to remind my hearers, that I am a decided enemy to what may be called harum-scarum sermons, random-shot sermons, rambling sermons, that have no connection with the text at all. I could not sit to hear any man twice, be he who he might, who preached such sermons as that. No; David said, "I cannot offer to God that which cost me nothing;" and if a preacher is honest before God and to His people, every sermon will cause him to feel the "burden of the word of the Lord." Some do not understand what the burden of the word of the Lord is. I know it has sometimes bowed me down to such an extent, that I have scarcely known how to lift up my head, or eat a morsel of food, or give a person a rational answer, I have been so absorbed in the things of God. But I will endeavor to set before you what I think the Lord has set before me from this verse--"that God in all things may be glorified."
The first thing I shall mention, that to me appears of the highest moment, is the gathering in of God's elect; and that must be in such wise as that God shall be glorified. "But," say you, "what have we to do with that? If you were preaching a sermon to ministers only, or giving a solemn charge to one at an ordination, as Paul commanded Timothy and Titus to ordain elders in every city, this might be a suitable address." "Sent forth," I believe the Church of England folks say in their ordination service. Of course there is much in that which I cannot approve of, but this I do, "Go and gather," I think the phrase is, "Christ's sheep that are scattered abroad." Now, you know, the ministers themselves have no power to gather any one. It is true, that God puts forth His ministers prominently, and makes use of their declaration of Divine truth for that purpose; it is true the Psalmist's declaration is carried out to the very letter, and to the full extent, "Then will I teach transgressors thy way, and sinners shall be converted unto thee;" (Ps. 51:13) it is true that the apostolical and pastoral labors from that day till now have been prominently owned of God, for the conversion of sinners and the edifying of the body of Christ; but we must include all the saints in the regenerated family of God, male and female, young and old, among the gatherers; and if this be not uppermost in your souls, I tell you, beloved, you fall short in the very first instance in the glorifying of God in all things. This is the glorifying His name. Why, there is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth; and do you think that does not glorify His dear name there? If you are not gifted for the ministry, if you are not called to public labors, have you not around you carnal relatives, children, servants, acquaintances, those with whom you are accustomed to associate in wilderness cares and toils, who know not God? And do you care nothing about them? I know what the flippant, loose professor will say, "Oh! If they belong to God, He will find them out; if they belong to God, He will bring them to Himself in His own time." Well, you have no ambition to be an instrument; you have no idea of the honor of being employed for God. How many have been the instances in which a short sentence, dropped by a parent, a guardian, a friend, an intimate acquaintance, in the hearing of another, has been owned of God to the saving conversion of those in whose ears it has been dropped! This is glorifying God. I think that every believer in Jesus should come to this point: "Is there any door open? Is there any way in which I could be employed? Is there an any sick bed to visit? Are the rising generation coming under my immediate notice and care? That I seek not applause for the wonderful feats that I may have done, but that I may seek that God may be glorified in gathering here one and there one of His elect to the fold of Jesus Christ." Oh, my hearer, make this the business of life, and you will have little else to do; make this the business of life, and you will have plenty of employment. Mind you, I steer quite clear of reproach on this ground from the charge of Arminianism, because I do insist, that neither hearers, nor preachers, nor any human beings, neither priests, nor popes, nor bishops, nor cardinals, have any more power to break a sinner's heart than they have to create a world; but as God condescends to employ the weak things of the world to bring to nought the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence, (1 Cor. 1:28,29) you and I should be busily employed, as far as time and strength are given. You see that God is glorified in this one object.
Now, then, we will pass on to a point of more personal moment. This is giving a public idea of how God should be glorified in all things. Now I want Him glorified in my soul by a life of faith. The apostle Paul gloried in this, and glorified God with it, when he said, "I am crucified"--poor creature, he was not much glorified there--there was no creature glorying--"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I"--he renounced his life, he gave it up as crucified and mortified--"but Christ liveth in me." Now, mark, "and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20) I beseech you, look well to what the life of faith is; for I know we are said in the word of God, not only to live by faith, but to walk by faith, and to work by faith, and to war by faith; and all these are included in the life of faith, and in them all God is glorified.
First of all, in the light of faith, because it is in God's own light that faith discovers the light of salvation, the light of justification, the light of merit and sanctification--the light of salvation in its publicly organized and arranged form and character. It is in Jehovah's light that faith discerns what the world cannot see--the spirituality of the law, the freeness and fullness of the gospel, the total ruin of man, the perfection of the work of Christ, the immutable honor of Jehovah in this grand scheme of grace and salvation, in which not one of the attributes of Deity can by possibility be violated; faith discerns all these by a spiritual, supernatural, heavenly light. Then, again, the life of faith includes the life of work. The apostle speaks of works of faith and labors of love. They always go hand-in-hand. When faith is at work it does a great deal of pulling-down work, a great deal of building work ("built up in our most holy faith"), and a great deal of ornamental work, for it receives and appropriates all the graces of the Spirit, and puts them on, and wears them. Moreover, it exhibits the glory of God, and glorifies Him in all things--in its warfare, for it wars against sin, it wars against the world, it wars against Satan and temptation, aye, and overcomes too, "for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4) This is the way in which God is to be glorified. Let me take one concentrated view of it--of all the actings of faith which glorify God; and that view I give you in one word--confidence. Now the life of faith, in addition to all that might be said in the way of illustrating the things I have just named, the life of faith consists in a confidence immovable and unshaken, abiding and permanent, in the covenant love and faithfulness of God the Father, in the covenant work in perfection of God the Son, and in the covenant offices and operations of God the Holy Ghost; and while your faith can rest with confidence there, there will be but little occasion to warn you as the apostle did, "Cast not away the confidence which hath the great recompence of reward." (Heb. 10:35) I am sometimes thrown back, as most of you well know, in the midst of my distresses upon my principles in this matter, to say I may be wrong, but my Father cannot be; I may be mistaken, but He cannot; I may be varying and fickle, but He is "the same yesterday, today, and for ever;" I may be utterly helpless, but my Saviour is mighty to save; I may be carnal, and sold under sin, as Paul once said, long after his conversion, but the Holy Ghost takes care to carry on and perfect the work He has once begun. All I have to do in the confidence of faith is to fall back, away from creatures, away from self, away from all that pertains to the world, and say, with the apostle, "Henceforth I shall know no man after the flesh," (2 Cor. 5:16) but shall be looking for the shedding abroad of paternal love in the heart, with renewed application of atoning and forgiving blood to the conscience, and the quickening operations of the Holy Ghost in personal experience, to fan and keep alive the spark of grace He hath at first bestowed. I do not know how it is with my hearers, but I am candid to confess with myself, when unbelief gets rampant, when unbelief stirs, and seems wrong; and that when faith is in lively exercise, and the confidence of faith is maintained and preserved, He may hide His face, He may hedge me up with thorns, He may frown, He may cast a cloud over the face of His throne, aye, He may slay me, but the confidence of faith says, "It is all right; though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." (Job 13:15)
Moreover, if God is to be "glorified in all things," it must include obedience to His will. Now here is large scope, much more extensive than I can allow myself to indulge in; but I hope you will amplify in your closets. Obedience to the will of God. You know that it is expressly stated that the gospel is to be "preached to every creature" under heaven, for the obedience of faith. Well, what is the will of God to which faith becomes thus obedient? Why, says the Holy Ghost by the apostle, "This is the will of Him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, shall have everlasting life." (John 6:40) And the obedience lies, first of all, in believing, as we have just hinted at, in the life of faith, taking God at His word, trusting Him for all He has promised, and looking for the fulfillment of His promises in personal experience. Then we read again, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification"--a sanctity sensible and experimental--a sanctity public, and a manifest obedience to the will of God. Then there will not be a principle laid down in the word of God,, but the soul will receive it; for we read that "God is about to appear to take vengeance on them that know not God" (and mark) "and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now where there is disobedience of an orthodox, or rather of a heterodox, kind, there is disobedience to the principles of God--rebellion against the Author of those principles. For instance, if God says in His word, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," but Arminianism steps in with its usual Popish effrontery and impudence, and says, "No, it shall not be so; thou shalt have mercy when I please to ask for it; thou shalt have mercy when my will is disposed to turn and accept it," that is not obedience--it is rebellion against the gospel of God. Socinianism, Arianism, Arminianism, Sabellianism, and many other "isms," are awful rebellion against the gospel of God, and God will come and take vengeance on them that obey not His gospel. Now it is for you and for me, if we would have God "glorified in all things," in the way of obedience, to look at the principles of His gospel as He has laid them down, and we shall find that they come to these two or three points--man is utter wretchedness and ruin--the immutable spirituality and unchangeable authority of the law of God--the manifest sovereignty of God in His dispensations, and then the fullness and freeness of the gospel, without money, without price, without conditions, without creature doings, bestowed upon man, and a will created in him to receive it. Not if your stubborn heart will not bow down to that, you will go to hell; and I make no apology for this coarse expression. If your stubborn pride will not bow down to that, you cannot possibly obtain eternal life. There is no such thing as coming between. God will have no compromise; He will not meet the sinner half way. It is, "I will," and "thou shalt," all through His grand economy; and obedience to the first feature of it is a bowing down to His mode of saving sinners.
Now take another view of glorifying God, and that is in the way of obligation; for if God has thus, in the most sovereign manner, subdued our hearts to obedience to the principles of the gospel, and brought us to surrender to His mode of saving sinners, we shall feel that we are under everlasting obligations to Him--we shall understand what the apostle meant, "Ye are not your own," (1 Cor. 6:19,20) but bought with precious blood, adopted by paternal love, and conquered by omnipotent grace. Ye are not your own; ye are not the devil's--ye once seemed to belong to him. He ruled in your hearts, but ye are not your own, nor His. What then? Ye are bought with a price, and that price is nothing less than precious blood--the precious blood of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8) Now follows His argument--"therefore glorify God in your bodies and in your spirits, which are the Lord's." (1 Cor. 6:20) A real believer in Jesus having a right understanding of God's ordinances, must obey Him as we hope to do the next Lord's day and the following Lord's day. A believer in Jesus, understanding the mind and spirit of Christ, will be sighing after and praying over that exhortation, "Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:5) We want to be like Him. Ah! My hearer, I beseech you to stand in your watch-tower against any spirit but the Spirit of Christ. There must be an imitation of His pattern, a treading in His steps, a bearing the contradiction of sinners as He bore it. Oh, look at the Lamb of God! See Him when led to the brow of the hill, on which their city stood, by the dragging power of ruffians, to be cast down headlong to be destroyed. Instead of casting them down, as He might easily have done, He quietly walked through the midst of them, and went His way, and by His secret, silent omnipotence, only withheld their hands. But He did not touch a hair of their head. And when some of the villagers of the village into which they were about to enter refused to admit Him and receive Him, the apostles said, "Let us call down fire from heaven to consume them," "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of," (Luke 9:54,55) is His answer. Oh, beloved! The solemn language with which the chapter before us opens, should be duly weighed by the followers of the Lamb. "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the like mind." (1 Pet. 4:1) The Christian is never so well armed as when he is armed with the mind of Christ. You may arm him with swords, and daggers, and bludgeons, and blunderbusses, and all his weapons are of no use to him. They are "weapons which are carnal." But arm him with the mind of Christ, and he is more than a match for earth and hell; arm him with the mind of Christ, and his victories over every enemy are as sure as they will be when he is in heaven; arm him with the mind of Christ, and he is ready to obey, to prison, and to death, confessing the dear name of his beloved Lord, even unto the end. This is the way in which we want God to be glorified in all things.
Now this may be followed out by you in your private meditations with regard to all the objects of your pursuit, even in matters of business, in matters of controversy, in matters of merchandise, in matters of occupation among fellow-mortals. The only one question to be decided is, whether this will glorify God. "All things." The apostle carries it so far as to say, "When ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, that God may be glorified by you. (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17) Oh! My hearers, I hope you will see that we have hardly begun to live a Christian life yet--that we have hardly begun to discover what it is to live after the pattern of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Follow on a step further. If you would "glorify God in all things," it is probably most fully done, as dear Dr. Hawker repeatedly represented in his writings, by trusting simply in His love. Now if we come to this point, God is glorified. You know it is said that He "rejoices over His people with joy," and that He will "rest in His love." Now if the child of God can come to rest where God Himself rests, he certainly glorifies God. In whatever is contrary to nature and the desires of flesh and blood, he comes strictly to this point--Well, but my Father loves me; well, but my Saviour loves me; well, but my Divine Preceptor loves me; well, but the Triune Jehovah love me. Cannot He carry out His love? Cannot He accomplish for me what His love dictates? Cannot He prevent what love would forbid, and what I dread? Cannot He supply what I want, according to the abundance of His love? Why, He is omnipotent; and being my omnipotent, Almighty Father, and saying, for my encouragement, I have loved thee with an everlasting love," (Jer. 31:3) and Jesus saying, "Those whom I once loved, I love to the end," and the love of the Spirit glowing like a heavenly flame within the soul, I can rest there, and lie down embosomed in Deity, and be satisfied with what God does. Will He take away, will He sacrifice, will He withhold this supposed good or that supposed comfort? Will He allow me to feel the devil's malice, or the world's hatred? My Father loves me. Oh! beloved, if you and I can rest there--if we can but get on that easy couch, if we may so speak--if we can but recline on that bed of down--if we can but become embosomed in the affections of the Triune Jehovah, the world may be turned upside-down, the mountains may be cast into the midst of the sea, and the waves roar with the swelling thereof; but the stream that "makes glad the city of our God," (Ps. 46:4) will continue to flow, and there we rest. Let us remind you that there is no other resting-place. Attempt to rest in frames and feelings, and your weight will no sooner be felt on the bed, than you will find it filled with briers and thorns; attempt to rest on creature attainments, and you will find them all filled with snares; attempt to rest in creature caresses, and they will pierce you through with sorrow; attempt to rest in self-confidence or anything pertaining to the creature, and you are sure to meet with disappointment; but he who rests in the love of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, rests in its immutability, in its sovereignty, in its condescension, in its fullness, in its supplies, and in the power to accomplish all that it dictates, will have a sure resting-place agreeably to what the prophet Isaiah was commissioned to say by the Holy Ghost, "My people shall dwell in quiet resting-places." (Isa. 32:18)
One word more on this part of our subject, and perhaps it will be a severe one. If you "glorify God in all things," idols must be abolished. "Now, gently," say you. No, no; I will deal with them as violently as Gideon did, when he cut down the grove, and burnt the images, and scattered the dust to the four winds. A very severe and heavy work going on, to be sure. Now we are exhorted, in the precious word of God, to flee from idolatry; and idolatry assumes such a variety of shapes, that we shall have to flee again and again before we shall get away from it. In some instances it assumes the shape, and appearance, and character of superstition. For instance, if I find rites, ceremonies, and external forms, borrowed partly from Paganism and partly from Popery--those which the Puseyites set up instead of the simplicity of God's worship--it is idolatry. Nay, it is what the apostle calls "abominable idolatry;" and it must be cast away; it must be abolished, or God cannot be glorified. If God is in all things to be glorified, not a ray of that glory is to be left for wax candles, or bowing of images, or genuflexions. Sometimes it is as the apostle describes. "In that day," says he, "many shall cast away their idols of gold and silver, and of wood and of stone, which they have made, to the moles and the bats." (Isa. 2:20) There are not a few in the day in which we live, who make their wealth an idol, and glorify themselves, or perhaps their ingenuity in attaining it. That must be abolished. Moreover, there are not a few who make idols of children, and relatives, and so on. Be sure of this, God will make him a coat of many colors to decorate him with, so as to make all his brethren jealous, he shall be torn from him, and in bitterness of soul he shall have to say, "What mean ye? To bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave?" I want to reach the experience of Dr. Watts, if I can arrive at it--
"Whatever idols I have known,
However dear they be;
Help me to tear them from thy throne,
And worship only thee."
Be sure of this, that whatever becomes an idol will sooner or later become a snare. Whether it be creatures or creature things, the idol must be abolished if God be glorified. Well then, we are left destitute. Yes, we are left utterly destitute and naked. We are stripped and forlorn that God may be "all and in all." Then we come to the point--He shall be glorified for His paternal love; He shall be glorified for the substitutionary character He has appointed His Son to fill, and which His Son has so wonderfully and gloriously filled in the behalf of His whole Church; He shall be glorified in His special invincible operations of grace; for the Third Person in the glorious Trinity, without asking my leave, begun them in my experience, and shall carry them on to the day of Jesus Christ. Now, what think you, beloved? Just glance at this view of the grand business of a Christian's life. Rise in the morning with this first thought--Lord, how can I glorify thee today? Go forth into business, on a journey, among friends, amidst relatives, every where with this question--how can I glorify God in this? How can I most exalt and honor Him? I tell you, you have lost sight of your business, of your main employ, of the grand design of your being, if this is not the first inquiry of your soul--that God in all things shall be glorified.
Well, now let me lead on your attention to the other parts of our subject as briefly as I can. I wanted to detain you on this part as the principal part of our subject, that you might at least have some understanding of what I mean by vital godliness; that every motive, every design, every pursuit, every effort of life have this ultimate tendency, that God may be glorified in all the persons of His self-existence, and all the perfections and attributes of His nature.
Now then, a word or two about the official medium, through Jesus Christ. Yes, and in that medium only. And therefore, those who will not own Jesus to be their Lord to the glory of God the Father, never glorify God at all. They will obtain nothing at the hands of the Creator. Why, no man can come to Him but through Jesus Christ. Jesus told us so; no man can have access to Him, but by His merits and righteousness. No other name is to be pleaded before the throne but His. "There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby ye can be saved." (Acts 4:12) Now, two things I will detain you upon a few minutes here. "Through Jesus Christ." That is, through His perfect work, which is meritorious. I never like to deliver a discourse without developing this grand fundamental principle somehow or other--through His finished work--because the greater part of the divinity of the present day speaks of the work of Christ, as if it were not a finished work, as if it were not complete, as if something were left for the sinner to do. Then God is not glorified, nor will He accept of it. If you could perform all the Pharisaic deeds which the Pharisees of olden times practiced when they counted themselves exceedingly righteous, and fit for heaven, and capable of doing God service, as Saul himself said, still God would not be glorified, but rather dishonored. You must go through this one medium--a perfect obedience, a full satisfaction, a finished victory by the Lord Jesus Christ; and God will accept of nothing but through that medium. It is declared by the Son of God to be the Father's will, that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father; and "he that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who sent him." (John 5:23) Then, if I approach Jehovah in any of the senses I have been naming in the former part of our discourse, so as to glorify him, I must bring with me, to plead before the throne, that perfect obedience; that satisfactory atonement, the victory over sin, death, and hell, accomplished by my glorious Lord in His suretyship character, as the covenant Head of the Church; and there plead all the merit that Jehovah can demand, that justice requires, that the law enacts, and that Deity itself could welcome and receive by pleading His perfect work, His finished salvation, I cannot fail of glorifying God, and cannot fail of acceptance with Him.
Moreover, His intercession through Jesus Christ our Lord. Have you never read with soul-thrilling delight that expression, that "He ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Heb. 7:25)--that "if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1) And is He now exalted on His great white throne, yea, sat down with His Father on His throne, having overcome on purpose to plead the cause of His Church? Is the "Father, forgive them," yet dropping from His lips? Is the "Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am, to behold my glory," (John 17:24) repeated and resounded in the ears of the Father? Then He will hear Him; as He said, "I know that thou hearest me always?" (John 11:42) And we will venture through His intercession; and when we come to His throne loaded with guilt, burdened with care, pressed down with sorrow, and perhaps agonizing with bodily pain, we will have nothing to offer, nothing to plead of our own; but we will say, "Behold, O Lord, our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed." (Ps. 84:9) We have no purity to present--He has all purity there already. He has entered once for all within the veil, with His own blood as our forerunner; and He has made the Church's cause His own so emphatically, that we would say at all times, with regard to everything that is done or left undone concerning His Church, "Forasmuch as ye have done it" (or not done it) "unto me." Even now hath He left in His record, that he that toucheth the apple of His eye; (Zech. 2:8) and with all this on record, can we for a moment doubt that all His influence, and all His merit, and all His powers, if I may so speak, and all His righteousness, and all His speaking blood, "which speaketh better things than that of Abel," (Heb. 12:24) are advocating the cause of His Church before the throne, and that answers to them must come down in God's own time? But there is one mistake into which I have detected myself as falling, and that is our impatience, almost amounting to unbelieving suspicion, because God does not send the answers to my time. When pleading again and again for special mercies, and they are delayed, there is sometimes disposition in my poor wicked heart to quarrel with God. I have asked for so and so, and I have not got it; I have pleaded so long for it, and it has not come; and I was assuredly reproved by those words of our Lord, by the apostle, the other day, "Your time is already present, but my time is not yet come." (John 7:6) I could not help saying, "Lord, give me patience to wait thy time; it must come--give me patience to wait for it."
Now having just glanced at these points, we will say a word or two very cursorily about the ascription of praise. It ought not to be overlooked. "To Him be praise and dominion for ever and ever, Amen." Praise always; all praise is His due. Praise alway. He is exalted above all possible praise. All the glorified spirits around the throne praise Him. To Him cherubim and seraphim continually do cry. "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts," is the chorus of heaven; and the angels delight to echo it. But we will not allow that the praise is to be limited; for I am told--and the Psalmist expressly affirms that He is to be glorified by all saints--that He is to be adored in His essentially glorious character as everlasting God over all; that He is to be praised by all His saints, and must be so in His mediatorial character as God and Man; and He is to be praised for the responsibility under which He has laid Himself on behalf of His Church. He is to be praised in the public assemblies of His saints; and I wish they would all come in time enough to praise Him in the first hymn, and not stop till it is sung, as if they did not like to praise Him, and stayed away till it was over. Now do take that hint, and be in time to praise Him in the first hymn. He is to be praised among all His saints in His assemblies. He is to be praised in all the families of the Lord's inheritance. He is to be praised in all the assemblies of the followers of the Lamb; and, above all, we will join with the Psalmist, "Bless Him, and praise Him, O my soul; praise the Lord, O my soul: as long as I live," saith the Psalmist, with a solemn vow, "I will praise the Lord." It is the delight of the followers of the Lamb, in their songs of praise, to exalt Him, to set forth His name, to speak of His excellencies, to proclaim the perfection of His work, to view with sacred delight His offices and names, and put them in tune, while they, with one accord--
"Rehearse His praise with awe profound,
Whilst knowledge leads the song;"
But be sure you beware of the other two lines--
"Nor mock Him with a solemn sound
Upon a thoughtless tongue."
Moreover, with the praise of God in our mouth, and a two-edged sword in our hand, we will go forth as the terror of devils--as the victors over the world. We may go forth as the Spouse that was seen in the Canticles, "terrible as an army with banners." We may go forth to the celebrating the praise of Him we love to laud as "King of kings, and Lord of lords;" and so, while honoring and exalting Him on earth, to be looking forward to the period when we shall join the high praise and eternal hallelujahs which He is receiving on His throne from the myriads that He has redeemed with His precious blood.
Just glance at the other word, "dominion." "To Him be praise and dominion." Why that is what all the word of God ascribes to Him. And what is entrusted to His care? Dominion over all worlds; therefore He claims it in the 17th chapter of John. He says, "Thou hast given Him power and dominion over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." (John 17:2) Angels fly at His command; they are under His dominion. As ministering spirits, they go forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation. The powers of darkness are cast out by legions at His word; they are all under His dominion. The tempter is to be bruised under the feet of His saints, for he is under His dominion, and has been bruised already by Him. Even the cares and sorrows of saints may all be cast on Him, for He has dominion over all; and if it be a fact, or, rather, since it is a fact, that "the hairs of our head are all numbered, and the bounds of our habitation are all fixed," (Acts 17:26) and every event of life settled, and managed, and ordered according to His map; every trial, and sorrow, and care, weighed and measured before it is allowed to touch us, then we may well ascribe dominion to Him, and rejoice that all dominion is His--that He is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and powers, and principalities, and dominions, and all that pertains to man's assumed greatness, must be laid prostrate at His feet. And when, as the last act of His dominion, He shall summon His holy angels to appear as His attendants, He takes His seat on His cloud-built throne, and stretches forth His hand to wrap up the heavens like a scroll, breathes a spark of fire to set creation in a blaze, and the earth and all the things therein shall be burnt up, then it shall be that His ransomed shall be gathered to Him, to enter into the joy of their Lord, to receive tokens of His love eternal under the dominion of His manifest sovereignty, in which they have rejoiced and acknowledged whilst on earth.
Oh, that the Spirit of Jehovah may put forth His power with these few hints; accept thanks for the strength given to deliver them, and cause your souls to examine diligently whether God is "glorified in all things" that appertain to your life and experience. May He command a blessing on His word, for His name's sake. Amen.