GRACE TRUTH MINISTRIES
We are a ministry declaring God's Grace in Truth.





PRINCELY LINEAGE

by JOSEPH IRONS

Delivered in Ebenezer Chapel, Camden Town, on Wednesday Morning, September 4th, 1850

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth." (Psalm 45:16)

ARE there not thousands of fond parents who would be thankful indeed if they could receive this Scripture in the confidence of faith, literally? What would every godly father say, if he were sure that God would raise up the offspring of his body to enjoy the same precious things, and to promulgate them, and to stand in his stead when he shall have finished his course? Alas! alas! this is not the case. But this is not a subject which I can trust my self upon, only just to remark that it is not the sense in which we are to understand the text. The question arises, "Who are addressed?" Certainly the Church of the living God--the living Church--is spoken of all through this Psalm. And when the Church of the living God is thus addressed for her comfort, she learns this important lesson, that her line of succession can never be broken. "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children." There is a great deal of contention in our day, and a great deal of foolishness uttered, about what people are pleased to call a line of succession. One set of beings will have it in a priesthood, in robes, and want to rob Christ of His glory. The priesthood belongs only to Him; and that is a dishonest man, be he who he may, that wants to rob Christ of His priesthood officially. Some tell us of a line of succession for kings. I am sure I do not wish to dictate at all on that subject. I am very well contented as I am in that respect. But passing from all these lines and successions, whether in business, or commerce, or connections formed amongst mortals, they may be all very well in their place; but there is a line of succession of infinite importance, in which the honor of God is concerned--the existence of the Church, the existence of a line of succession that frustrates all the devil's devices, and overcomes all the hostility of the world, and which never can be removed, for "instead of thy fathers shall be thy children." But mark what sort of succession it is. It is princely--"whom thou mayest make princes." Believe me, beloved, there is something very dignified in our holy religion. It is a princely Christianity. And this brings me to the point which I have been upon all the week, for I do not know how it is with others of my brethren, but I am something like a spinner, when he gets spinning a yarn or a rope to any length, as long as his stock lasts he gets almost out of sight, and keeps on in a famous way. We have been dwelling all the week on this princely dignity. We commenced on Lord's Day morning with the appellation given to Christ, "The Prince of Life," and being our ordinance day we showed how they barbarously killed Him. They "killed the Prince of Life." Then, in the evening, we followed out that sacred and encouraging truth, that our Prince will neither abdicate His throne, nor yield His scepter, nor be vanquished, but He is, according to the statement we dwelt upon, "the Prince of the Lord's people for ever." Then we dwelt, last evening, upon that which will introduce our present text, that the Lord's own servants--the Lord's own sent people--I mean poor praying sinners--are all princely. Just according to the new name which was given to Jacob, whose original name was "a supplanter" (which we dwelt upon), but by his wrestling with God, and prevailing with God and man, it was said, "Thou shalt no more be called Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince, thou hast had power with God and with man, and hast prevailed." Now that might have died with Jacob, if we were not a little tenacious about the line of succession, for which I shall contend a little. It did not, however, die with him. There have been more princes since Israel prevailed with God--there have been more princes since Israel got hold of the God-man, and said, with all the effrontery of the confidence of faith, if you will allow me so to call it, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." O beloved, there is nothing like getting fast hold of God by faith in prayer! "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."

Now we want this description of character, if God will, to be multiplied. I should be very delighted if I thought God would surname every one of you Israel this morning--if He would give you a princely character, a princely disposition, a princely prevalence, a princely power with God and with man. With this humble hope in view, I will invite your attention to three things which arise from the language of my text. The first is the sacred succession announced, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children;" the second is the elevation to which they are brought, "whom thou mayest make princes;" the third is the extent, "in all the earth"--when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Hab. 2:14) A word or two upon each of these particulars, as the Lord shall give me liberty.

I. First of all, the succession I have hinted in our exordium, that there are successions which I despise, and some which I do not understand; but I bless God that I both understand this and enjoy it, and therefore I may speak of what my own soul has enjoyed. And this succession--mark the phraseology of my text--is children, instead of fathers. "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children." Now we hear amongst the sticklers for the devil's succession in our day, a wonderful deal about the fathers, and their being the children of the fathers, and receiving the same doctrines as the fathers, and they are often quoting the fathers. It is downright deception. They do no go back to the fathers. They go to some mongrel clowns that were neither men nor boys, but between the two, in the middle ages. There was nothing fatherly, nothing manly, in those dark, stupid beings that were sunk under the Papal yoke in the middle ages of the history of the world. Now I would go back to the fathers, such, for instance, as Father Abraham, and Father Isaac, and Father Jacob, and Father David, and Father Hezekiah, and Father Isaiah. They are fathers; but the poor, circumscribed, nut-shell beings, who have no mind, cannot go back so far, and therefore they must talk of fathers a little over their shoulder, the authors of the most absurd mass of stupidity that was ever put upon paper. But if I go back to Father Paul, and read his doctrine and experience, I find a work worth looking at--I find a father worth having succession from. And if you go further back, you will find them all in harmony in doctrine, in God's method of saving; and I challenge all the cavilers in the world to bring me a single Scripture that is not in harmony with the message of God's salvation, which I have been accustomed to set forth for the last forty years, and which I mean to do as long as I live, God helping me.

Now what of the children? "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children." I shall give a threefold description of them. They are, first of all, children of heavenly birth. They are, in the second place, children of orthodox principles. They are, in the third place, children that are witnesses for God, and they are witnesses alike with regard to everything essential.

They are, in the first place, children of heavenly birth. Just as the evangelist was directed by the Holy Ghost to set it down. "When Jesus came to His own, His own received Him not, but to as many as did receive Him to them gave He power (right, privilege--we have all three words) to become the sons of God." (John 1:11,12) But how are they described? Why, they are "born not of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God." A heavenly birth! Our precious Christ preached this doctrine first of all. Instead of attending to Nicodemus' compliments, which he meant as such, when he said, "Good Master, we know that thou art a teacher come from God," to fill Him up, as it were, with some fulsome adulation--"Tell us whether it is lawful to give tribute to Caesar?" and so on--what does our Lord do? Instead of regarding any of Nicodemus' nonsense--for such it was--the Redeemer takes another subject at once, and begins to preach to him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Why, any common reader would say that is no answer to what Nicodemus has been saying--it does not take in the same subject at all. No, no, that was quite beneath Him. But when our blessed Lord has something to deliver from His Father, and in His Father's name, it is something of importance, and therefore He comes at once to the point. "Except a man be born of water, even of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:3,5) Well, then, all these children that have come up instead of the fathers, according to the promise of my text, are of heavenly birth.

Now if you would know the marks, and proofs, and testimony of their heavenly birth, I tell you they are born with the life of God--they are born in the likeness of God, and they are born with the love of God. In their new nature, their heavenly birth, they are born with the life of God. I entreat you to bear this one thing in mind, if you forget all I say besides--that there is no such thing as real religion in the world, without the life of God in the soul. You may be Pagans, you may be Papists, you may be Jews, you may be Mahometans, you may be mock Protestants, as thousands are in the present day in England, and not be Christians after all; nay, you may pass from one to the other, and be all these in profession one after another, and die an Infidel, and be damned for ever all. My hearer, there is no Christianity without a heavenly birth, and a heavenly birth is always with the life of God; in fact, it is nothing more nor less than a communication of life of God to the soul--an implanting of the Divine nature--as we are said to be partakers of the Divine nature.

Just mark further, that these heaven-born children are born in the likeness of God. You know it is written, "As we have borne the image of the earthly, so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49) Moreover, "the first man was of the earth earthly, the second man was the Lord from heaven; the first man was made a living soul, the second Adam a quickening spirit." (1 Cor. 15:47,45) So that the poor sinners that are born of the first Adam, are born ruined--are born like him, with a living soul, but are conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; whereas, all the children that are to be instead of the fathers that have gone before them, are born in the likeness of God, spiritual and heavenly. So that they are known and distinguished from the world; just as the prophet Isaiah was commissioned to set it down, "All that see them shall take knowledge of them, that they are the seed which the Lord has blessed." (Isa. 61:9) I have often thought, with deep interest, of the decision which Gideon came to in his victories over Zebah and Zalmunna, and the rest of the enemies that he had coped with. When he had to deal out a little retribution towards them, he said, "What manner of men were they whom ye slew?" And they answered, "As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king." There is the likeness. Now I want my hearers to be very tenacious about this point. Is your experience, your conduct, your deportment, such as to resemble that of the children of a king? Let us have none of your beggarly Arminians, groveling in the dirt, and looking more like kennel-rakers than children of a king. We want the princely dignity which we shall speak a little about by-and bye, to be tenaciously maintained by the followers of the Lamb. They are born in the likeness of God, they stand complete in Christ, they wear His image, and they possess even His mind; "For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His, but we have the mind of Christ." (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 2:16)

Moreover, these children that have come up in a constant line of succession instead of the fathers, are born with the love of God in their hearts. "For "God is love." I know they want it fanned to a flame--I know they want it increased with new supplies--but I also know that no new nature can exist where there is no love of a spiritual and supernatural description, supremely to God, and ardently to all who are like God. Love is said to be the fulfilling of the law, and love is the quintessence of the gospel. But the former was demanded, by the law, of the creature--the latter is communicated and bestowed by mighty grace in the new birth. So that by this shall all men know that we are His disciples--and hereby shall we know ourselves to be passed from death unto life, and really heaven-born--that we love the brethren. Put this a little home to your consciences here, and ask what amount of love you have to the brotherhood. Now you know, that by the brotherhood, I do not mean you are to love them because they worship in the same place, or wear the same colored clothes, or hold the same technicalities as regards matters of discipline. No, I have a wider notion of brotherhood than that, although I am far from being a Latitudinarian; and I mean to be, but I will have none for brethren and sisters in the Lord, but those who can give evidence that they are born from above, and wherever that evidence is observable--if the life of God, the likeness of God, and the love of God are bestowed--I am compelled to love the man--there is a mighty, drawing, attracting, knitting together principle, that wins one's heart, and constraining one to love him for Christ's sake. I am not obliged to love their inconsistencies, but I am obliged to love them in the face of them all, for Christ's sake.

Moreover, these children that are to be instead of the fathers, have, as I have said, orthodox principles. Aye, say you, that is an everlasting subject, because what one man calls orthodoxy another calls heterodoxy. Well, then, look at the fathers. I have no objection to go back to the fathers. Mind you, not the Popish fathers--I have nothing to do with them--I must go back to the Bible fathers, and will square my views of Divine things with Paul, and Peter, and James, and John, and Christ. I have no objections whatever to square my views of Divine things with the prophets, the Psalmist, the godly kings, and the old patriarchs. And, without attempting to enumerate them, or even give a list of their names, I have two or three things to say about their orthodoxy. All the fathers that I can read of in the precious word of God were agreed about man's ruin. They were all agreed about mediatorial responsibility, and they were all agreed about the ministry of the Holy Ghost; and if you have got these three things, you have got orthodoxy enough for me, for I can trace all the rest from them. The fact is, that nine-tenths of the people that pass for Christians do not believe man's ruin. What! say you, not believe the fall? No; they think man is very lame, and very ill, and very hood-winked, and near-sighted, and the like, but they will not believe that he is blind, and dumb, and deaf, and dead. Now I do believe all that; and because men do not believe the doctrine of the fall, as a consequence they will not believe the doctrine of grace. No man will receive the doctrine of grace, or the mediatorial character of Christ, until he is brought under a full conviction of man's utter ruin under the fall. Do men believe, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die?" Mind you, half-way Arminianized, nominal Calvinist, it is not said, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt be very ill--in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt be visited with a fever--in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt be very lame, or the like; but, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" is the phrase. Well, is God true, or is He not? Is man by nature dead in trespasses and sins, or is he not? If he is not, then set him to work, kick him about, and drag him about as you please, and let him set to and make a Christian of himself as soon as he can. But, if a man is dead, would you not think yourself worse than brutalized if you were to go to a church-yard and dig up a corpse, and kick it about, and try to make it walk, and talk, and work? People would say, that you were either brutalized or deranged. I think so. Now when people talk to dead persons about performing living acts, I am brought to think according to the simile which I have employed. I come, therefore, to the orthodoxy of the fathers, that man is "dead in trespasses and sins;" and though he has an animal life and a mental life, yet he has no spiritual life. He has an animal life that can walk, and move, and speak, and eat, and drink, and he has a mental life, that can think and study upon literary things, or upon science; he may pursue these things with avidity, and make astonishing proficiency in them, but with all this he has not an idea of spiritual life--he has not an idea of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

Now are you some of the children that shall be instead of the fathers? Do you really believe in man's total ruin under the fall? Then go on just to ask what you know of the fathers' sentiments on the mediatorial character of Christ, and His substitution under it. "The Lord your God shall raise you up a Prophet like unto me; Him shall ye hear." (Acts 3:22) Abraham believed in the doctrine of substitution when he was about to offer up his son Isaac. By faith he did so; and he saw Christ's day, and saw it and was glad. The Psalmist sang of Him in beauteous strains. Isaiah represents Him as having the iniquity of all His sheep laid upon Him, and standing forth as a substitute. The proclamation is given, "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow. Smite the Shepherd." (Zech. 13:7) What for? For what the sheep have done. "Smite the Shepherd," and the sheep shall go free. Just look at the expressions in the New Testament concerning His mediatorial character. "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree." (1 Peter 2:24) The Lord deals with Him as a sinner, as a culprit, as if He had committed all the transgressions, though He had committed none, but in the behalf of His people stood in their place. This is what I call orthodoxy. If you do not believe it, I leave the matter between God and your own souls; only with this solemn warning, that I will confront you with it at the day of judgment. If you do not believe in the mediatorial substitution and responsibility of Christ you will perish, and I shall be clear of your blood.

One thing more on my view of orthodoxy, and that is the ministry of the Holy Ghost. I mean to insist, that dead sinners, ruined under the fall, can no more quicken themselves than they can atone for themselves--can no more give themselves spiritual life than they can give themselves a justifying righteousness. They can do neither. They must have their justifying righteousness from their Divine Mediator, Substitute, and Surety, and they must have their life Divine by the quickening operations of the Holy Ghost. I know very well that God sees fit to put an honor on the ministry of the gospel for this purpose, but whatever honor He may put upon it, employing poor laborers in His vineyard, there is not a man of God upon earth who will dare claim the efficiency as his own--there is not a sent servant of Jesus Christ who will dare assert that by his own power or holiness (as Peter disclaimed) he has done this for any poor, ruined sinner. He will be ready enough to admit, "I am but the king's messenger--I proclaim, to the best of the information He has given me, His message, His own work, His own truth to His scattered sheep. I could not melt the heart, I could not open the understanding of a sinner, to accept of the truths I am delivering, but while I am publishing the precious things of God, the Holy Ghost descends, as it was said when Peter was in the house of Cornelius, 'While he yet spake the Holy Ghost fell upon them that heard the word.'" Now one of the best wishes that I have for myself, my dear brother, and all my brethren in the ministry here is, that when we are speaking God's truth the Holy Ghost may fall upon our hearers. I have seen something of it very blessedly during the last forty years; and I shall never have sufficient strength, to all eternity (as we have been singing) to praise God sufficiently for it. But now, that I am growing old, I am more and more convinced, that I have no more power to break a sinner's heart, and make him accept Jesus Christ and His salvation, than to create a world. I will tell my errand as far as God gives it to me, but I know that the Holy Ghost is essential to the awakening, quickening, transforming, converting every sinner for whom Christ died. Nor is this all. The ministry of the Holy Ghost is so essential, that even those that are quickened, even those that are created anew, even those that are born from above, cannot call a grace into exercise, cannot put forth the hand of faith to touch a promise, or take a step in the Divine life, but as the Holy Ghost is constantly ministering in them, and upon them, and for them. We are dependent for all our progress in the Divine life on His mighty ministry. Now this is orthodoxy, and, notwithstanding all the Arminianism and Socinianism, and Sabellianism, and all the rest of the isms which the devil has invented, "Instead of the fathers shall be the children" of this sort, and all the powers of darkness cannot prevent it--all the persecutions that shall come forth to murder millions more than the Papists have murdered in times bygone, cannot prevent it. "Instead of the fathers shall be the children."

One word more. These children that are to come up instead of the fathers are to be witnesses for God. "Ye are my witnesses," said the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples. Now there is something very important attached to the character of a witness. Generally you know they are sworn--and they are sworn in our courts to "speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." I have often admired that form of words, and I have thought that I should like to have every minister sworn on that oath. I think I should show a little energy if I had to administer the oath. I should insist upon it--"Speak out, my brother; no mumbling, no reservation--I will have you swear that you will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and then you may add, 'So help me God,' and look for His help, and confidently rely upon it." Now in doing this to witnesses we must have respect to their creed, and then to their confidence, and then to their conduct, and we must have them bear witness in all these respects.

We must have them bear witness in their creed. No ambiguous phraseology, no keeping back part of the price, but a telling out in a straightforward manner, without reserve, all the doctrines of God's eternal grace, so as to be able to say with the apostle just before he left the world, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:27) The counsel, say you, do not tell us about counsels and decrees, they are secret and hidden things--we do not want to hear about them. No, but we are told to declare all the counsel of God, and we insist on His secret counsel, and we insist on His revealed counsel, and we insist on His internal counsel, and sing concerning them all, "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory." (Ps. 73:24)

So also, we must have these witnesses witness with confidence. If we take a witness in one of our courts, and he is equivocating--if he has a question or two put to him by a counselor, and he hesitates, and changes countenance, and trembles, and by-and-bye stammers out, "I do not know"--a pretty witness he would be. I do not want such witnesses for God as that. I want them to say with the apostle, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." (John 3:11) Now John was one of this sort of witnesses. He says, "That we have seen and known, that which we have tasted and handled," that which we have looked upon (such a witness is worth something in court, is he not? on any important trail, to stand forth before the jury and say, "I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, I handled it with my hands, and therefore, I could not be deceived, and I readily give my oath on this subject.") Now, I want every doctrine of the grace of God, every privilege of His family, every promise exhibited as yea and amen in the volume of revelation, and I want my hearers to come to the point, "I am confident that it is mine; it is written and engraven in my experience; it is the word of the living God; I can confide in it with positive assurance, and am confident that it will all be fulfilled in His own time!" This is something like a witness for God.

Moreover, I want this witnessing in conduct. Every step the Christian takes, every act of his business, and every act of his life, at home or abroad, must be witnesses for God. Just so it was said of the disciples. Men took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. How was that? Why, they were obliged to own that they were regenerate men. They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. They had caught His spirit, they had learned His phraseology, they had imitated His pattern, they had trodden close at His heels, and they were so enabled to tread in His steps, that they could say, "As Christ was so are we in this world." I want every Christian to be a living epistle for Christ, a living witness of the preciousness of Christ to his own soul.

Moreover, if we look at these witnesses as coming up instead of the fathers, we turn back to the line of succession I have just named, and I read numerous portions of Scripture in which they were all ready to witness for God in fiery furnaces, in dens of lions, amidst scenes of persecution, under the impious tyranny of monarchs, in every state of sorrow and distress--ready to witness for God, and own His name, and glorify Him with their bodies, and with their spirits.

II. Now let us hasten, in the second place, to say a word about the elevation. I have detained you too long under this first head of discourse--we will be as brief as possible with the rest. The elevation! "Whom thou mayest make princes." I have been saying a good deal about princes last evening and on the Lord's day, and really, I seem to have got such a love for this princely dignity, that I do not like to pull my coat off, I do not like to take off my robes, I do not like to lay aside a single jewel, I do not like to part with one of my attendants, I do not like to be robbed of my revenue. Oh, the princely dignity of the real child of God. I mean to urge upon you here the vast importance of maintaining it before men. Mind you, I do not mean the pride of intellect, and the pride of attainment--I do not mean the pride of natural birth, and the pride of station of life--but I mean that which we have been describing, and which we are now going a little further to describe--princely dignity. Christ is "the Prince of Life." Royalty is the idea belonging to the "royal family," the members of the household of the King of kings, really in profession (bear with the phrase) of royal blood--shed for them, applied to them, confided in by them. Now, if you will look at princely dignity for a few moments, you are to mark, it is generally accompanied with a revenue suited to the rank of the prince. Very generally that comes from the people--but that I do not touch upon this morning. Princely character must have a princely revenue. That is the idea. Now what is our revenue, if we are princes? Exceeding great and precious promises, worth more than all the promissory notes in the Bank of England; it is all the stores of grace treasured up in covenant, the apostle thus speaks in the language of assurance to his brethren and sisters in his day, "My God shall supply all your need" (now royalty, you know, needs a great deal); "my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19) So in the Old Testament language, we read, "I will cause them that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures." A perpetual revenue of grace, sufficient for every day, an inexhaustible store, the very fullness of that abundance of peace spoken of expressly by Isaiah, is to be bestowed upon the whole family of God. What wealth! Enough to pay one's way all through the wilderness. We do not want to pay Peter with it, as the Papists say. I once went to see a poor dead old woman, and when the coffin lid was removed, some one dropped a piece of money into the coffin. When I asked what that was for, I was told that it was to pay Peter with at the gate. I do not want anything of that kind, for Peter would not have the money if I could give it to him. But all that is requisite for the present hour, all that is requisite for the dying scene, all that is requisite for the day of judgment, all that is requisite for the acceptance with God, all that pertains to our princely revenue and need--all laid up in Christ so securely, that we cannot be robbed of it, that we cannot spend it, that we cannot gamble it away. If I were an Arminian gambler, I should be afraid of gambling it all away before night, and forfeit all the grace I have. But we cannot do any such thing--it is secured for us in Christ from one eternity to another--a revenue enough for a prince to live on to all eternity.

Moreover, these princely children that are constant line of succession are admitted to court and are accustomed to court etiquette. Their admission to court is an every day occurrence. Their going thither with all their wants, and all their prayers, and all their praises, and all their loving interchanges with their covenant God and Father. But mark how nicely they are taught the matters of court etiquette. I might say a good dear here that might appear rather severe about court etiquette among mortals--it is quite enough for me to say that I despise it, because it is generally hypocritical from first to last--but there is such a thing as court etiquette that is of vast importance. One feature I understand is that of admission to the sovereign. You and I are admitted to Him every day; we go right into His presence and we do not want any Popish mediators and intercessors, and if the Virgin Mary were to stand before me, I should say, "I do not want anything to say to you, I want to see the King, and therefore I will have nothing to do with you--I will go right to the King." Well, I am told that another feature of court etiquette is that you must never turn your back upon the monarch. I wish all Christians would follow this, and never turn their backs upon the Monarch--on His directions, on His drawings, on His invitings, on His smiles, but look Him full in the face with holy confidence of a child of God, saying, "Doubtless, thou art my Father."

Moreover, genuine humility and an errand to go with are of the utmost importance. I hope you will possess these two things. Moreover, proper attendants, servants suited to the occasion. Why, do you know, beloved, they are already provided for us, for the angels are said to be "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that are heirs of salvation"--and pray who can be heirs but the "princes in all the earth?" Again, mark that they must be invested with suitable robes. If a man were to go to court with a working dress on, though it should be tolerably clean and decent, he would not be admitted. He must have suitable apparel, and be in character. My hearer, believe me--let one word suffice for all here--you will have the door shut against you, you will never get the ear of the Sovereign, you will never have intercourse with God, nor any success at court without the imputed righteousness of the Son of God. That is the court robe, and all that wear it not will go to hell. They will never be admitted to court without the wedding garment. One thing more. A little education is certainly necessary, so as to know how to address one's-self to the monarch, or else we shall not go very suitably to Him, or tell our tale very correctly. What a mercy it is set down in our statute book, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord," and then, great shall be the peace of thy children." (Isa. 54:13) I know their education goes on sometimes very slowly, and there are some who ought to have advanced further, for the time they have been at school. One can only just mutter, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner;" another is hard by, and yet he thinks he ought to go to court, and he says, "Lord, I am vile." A third goes in between them--a pretty trio to go to court--and they cry, "Unclean, unclean." Up comes a fourth, and he cries, "Abba, Father." Is his right questioned by his companions alongside of him? "Doubtless, thou art my Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not." He is well taught, is he not? Now it is in this manner that I want you to realize the character of princes, according to the language of my text, "Whom thou mayest make princes," thus claimed, thus introduced, thus accepted of God to go to court.

III. Now let us hasten, in the third place, to say a few words about the extent--"in all the earth." "Whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth." Oh! beloved, look at the intention there. It cannot surely mean that all the inhabitants of the earth can be princes. No, it still stands on record in the Bible, that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." What then can it mean? I think it means just what I told a very strong advocate for the universal-redemption system the other day, who was contending very warmly with me for the practice of holding out what he called universal offers and invitations to poor sinners as such. Well, Scripture after Scripture was cited, such as, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden," etc. to all of which I replied, "There is a description of character--dead men never complain of being weary, and heavy laden, and the like." After citing many Scriptures, he said, "Well, here is one in which there is no description of character; it is simply an invitation, 'look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.'" "Now," I said, "if you will look at the context you will readily perceive who are addressed. The Lord is speaking, in chapter 43, to His Zion, and saying, 'I will gather thee from the east, and bring thy seed from the west; I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back.' Mark, there are the four ends of the earth. 'To bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.' And in this chapter 45, he says, 'But Israel will be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.' I have no objection if you invite them in Scripture phraseology after that manner." These are the very persons to whom my text refers--God's sons and daughters--His princes scattered all over the world, to the very ends of the earth.

Now just mark here that spiritual blessings are thus announced and promised by our covenant God to be extended all over the earth; and wherever an elect vessel of mercy is found, the blessings of the covenant of grace must be sent--whether by the missionary, or by the wind, or by private individuals, or by the bringing of the person from the ends of the earth under the sound of the gospel; and any way that God chooses, the blessings must reach him. They are given to him in Christ Jesus, and he shall be made a prince in whatever part of the earth he is--"Whom Thou mayest make princes in all the earth."

Oh, how delightful is this to my mind amidst all the tumult and clamor of the present day about men's doings and their talk of converting all the world, that my God is steadily and constantly carrying on His own work, and finding out His own elect from the very ends of the earth, according to His own promise, "I will go and search for my sheep, and seek them out from all places whithersoever they are scattered, in the cloudy and dark day." (Ezek. 34:12) If He finds some at Rome, others at Madrid, others in the remotest corners of Russia, others among the European nations--in any and all of these directions He will find them out--I am not in the least afraid of any one of God's elect perishing. I do not preach because I fear sinners would perish eternally without my preaching--just the reverse--I preach God's truth because I know it is His own appointed means for the gathering of His elect.

Just mark once more that experimental godliness is the same thing everywhere. If I were to converse with the Christians of either of the before-mentioned corners of the earth, I might not be able to understand their language, but if I could read in theirs I should find that the three features of orthodoxy I have mentioned were embraced by them all, and I do not believe a man is a Christian without. That is very censorious, say you. No, it is not--it is according to the word of God. He is not a believer if he does not believe in man's total ruin, in the mediatorial responsibility of Christ, and in the ministry of the Holy Ghost, and I cannot own him as a Christian. But I should find all through the earth to its remotest bounds that wherever the soul is taught of God, these three things are sure to be received as part of his creed. Well, then, he is my brother. Moreover, experimental godliness is the same everywhere. What is that say you. Why, if I might epitomize it, I should say it consists in emptying the creature and filling him with Christ. Carry that away with you, and bear in mind that while the creature is filled with self, he has not much room for Christ; but when he is emptied from vessel to vessel, according to the Scripture statement, "Overturn, overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right it is," we have some hope of that man--that when he has been thoroughly emptied of self, so that he has nothing to cling to, or boast of, before God, but lies prostrate at His feet as an empty vessel, he is ready to be filled with the fullness of Christ, filled with His grace, filled with His love, filled with His spirit; and this constitutes the princely dignity in personal experience "in all the earth."

One word more. Be it remembered that the destiny of all the royal family is the same. I know they may drag on through a great variety of vicissitudes as they go through the wilderness--but here is the comforting doctrine that their destiny is one. "Him that overcometh," says Jesus, "shall sit with me on my throne." (Rev. 3:21) Well, you cannot wish for anything more princely than that--"him that overcometh shall sit with me on my throne, even as I also have overcome, and have sat down with my Father on His throne." Mansions prepared, crowns to be bestowed, laurels of victory to be waved, and the inner circle of the throne to be occupied with angelic hosts, as ministering spirits; Jehovah glorified, and all His elect family glorified with Him; seated in the realms of bliss and peace to go no more out for ever.

Oh, beloved! I hope these few hints delivered in your hearing this morning will be favored of God to inspire in your souls an ardent longing for that destiny, and especially for that princely dignity with which I want the followers of the Lamb to be characterized on their way to the Father's house above.




BACK TO MAIN PAGE