"And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:8)
EVERY circumstance relating to the incarnation, sufferings, and triumphs of the precious Christ of God, demands the minute attention of every child of God: and every phrase or word employed by the Holy Ghost to set forth His Person, His official character, and His perfect work, will be found, upon close and prayerful consideration and meditation, to be full of meaning and instruction. All the characters He assumes--all the names and appellations given to Him--all the figurative expressions employed respecting Him, have in themselves something extensively important and instructive; and we do well to meditate upon them, without allowing the idea of their sameness for one moment to cross our minds; for the variation of every single word, descriptive of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, demands the closest investigation.
I am led to this remark at the opening of my discourse by the impression made upon my own mind in the reading of this verse, by the word "fashion," "being found in fashion." I could not help diverting my attention for a moment unto the foolish use made of this word and contemplating what apes and fools persons make of themselves spending almost their last sixpence to follow what they call the fashion of the day. And then we are frequently told that some great personage who has set a fashion that He will never allow to be changed. And if you do not go to heaven in the fashion I am about to describe, you can never get there at all. It is the fashion Jesus Christ Himself was found in, not merely as a man. We must go a little into particulars about it, and if you think I am likely to be a man of fashion this week, I shall plead guilty to it, and not shrink from it. But mind you, I am to keep the fashion before me.
Moses was a man of "fashion." He was commanded to make everything relative to the tabernacle after the "fashion" shown to him. So also the people of the living God, as they pass through the world, are directed not to fashion themselves according to the former lusts in their ignorance. Moreover, even the prospect of glory is put into these words: "He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body." (Phil. 3:21) And so I shall have to tell you this morning, that he that is in "fashion" with Christ on the earth, shall be in fashion with Him in heaven, and have a body "fashioned like unto His glorious body," to wear in His presence to all eternity.
This will suffice by way of exordium, although I could say some very severe things about the followers of worldly "fashion;" but it is of no use; for sure I am that unless the grace of God teaches them with regard to their appearance before the world, and the circumstances in which they move, no argument of mine will do it. I shall, therefore, at once come to the subject, and, first, dwell a little on the "fashion" in which Christ was found; then on the obedience and suffering He endured in that "fashion;" and, thirdly, upon His rendering that "fashion" permanent and unchangeable.
I. Let us keep to old-fashioned things, as this is the "fashion" set before us. First, let us offer a word or two about the "fashion" in which Christ was found; "being found in fashion as a man," sinless humanity was his "fashion"--sinless humanity, pure, holy, harmless, undefiled; and yet it was a perfect humanity, body and soul, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, not ashamed to call us brethren. Nay, more, it is emphatically stated that He was made in all things like unto His brethren, yet without sin. (Heb. 2:17; 4:15) There is the "fashion." Our precious Redeemer would not have been competent to His work, had this not been the case. There were thousands of sinful men on the earth, who had been made the recipients of God's grace, many of whom had been employed as prophets, seers, and priests, under the Old Testament dispensation; and many of them were sent of God for the accomplishment of His all-important work. But not one of them, nor all of them together, would do for a mediator--not one of them, nor all of together, would do for a surety, a substitute. There was not one without the taint and corruption of Adam's nature, the blood of his fallen state running through all their veins. It follows, therefore, that the glorious Personage found in this sinless fashion was Himself sinless. "A body hast thou prepared me." (Heb. 10:5) A body prepared in the ordinary way of generation would not have done. The Holy Ghost overshadowed the virgin: as it is written, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35)--as sinless in His manhood as in His Godhead--as incapable of sin in His human nature as in His Divine. From His birth to His death, the world, and Satan, and the scribes and Pharisees, looked with eagle eyes, but found nothing in Him. His own challenge ran, "Which of you convinceth me of sin." (John 8:46) The Father's testimony even of His human nature was, "I am well pleased." This was the prophet whom the Lord God had raised up, as Moses predicted, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. Him shall ye hear." (Acts 3:22)
In the first place, mark the perfection of the manhood of Christ. One taint in Jesus' blood would have destroyed the whole of His work. The capability of as much as a sinful thought in Christ, would have rendered entirely abortive all He had come to accomplish on the earth. It must be a perfect sacrifice, a perfect obedience, and required a perfect being to perform it. When I have dwelt a little in my secret musings on this point, and contemplated with holy joy the perfections of our Brother born for adversity, I think of that perfect manhood assumed and dwelt in by every attribute of the Deity. This is the "fashion" Jesus assumed for the purpose of redemption, which we shall presently show. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." (Col. 1:19) What fullness? "Why," says the apostle, "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhood bodily." (Col. 2:9) So that all the attributes and perfections of the Godhead were veiled within the manhood that obeyed and suffered for the redemption and salvation of the Church.
Right views of the person of Christ lie at the bottom of everything in theology, and the errors (most, if not all) that are abroad in the world, take their rise from erroneous notions about the person of Christ. For instance, Arminianism is very near akin to Socinianism, for if it believed in the Godhead of Christ, it could not reject His sovereignty; it could not reject His omnipotence, His omniscience, His immortality; and consequently could not reject the perfection of His salvation. I therefore look on the Arminian system as nearly allied to the Socinian, for although it does not in words deny the essential Deity of Christ, it denies it in effect; for if He be a God, how is it that they make Him to disagree with the Father, and with the Holy Ghost, by atoning for more than either of the other Persons in the Trinity would love or save? If there is this disagreement between the Persons of the Deity, there ceases to be a Deity. I take this only as a sample. Such things serve but to forward the cause of Atheism. Let us come to the precious Word of God, which avows, that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) Then, if it be at once admitted--and admitted it must be by every Christian--that He who traveled the land of Judea, and went about doing good--that He who worked at His reputed father's trade as a carpenter--that He who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief--was God, and that the great mystery of godliness lies in His being manifest in the flesh--then the "fashion" in which He was found, will be found to be the only fashion that can save a sinner, and glorify God. O beloved, all the glorified spirits in heaven are in love with this fashion. They will never change it. They owe their glory to it, and would not go into any other.
But mark--our precious Christ was found in fashion as a man, yet that man assumed, and dwelt in, by all the perfections of the Deity rendered him capable of performing all the work of salvation and redemption. I put "salvation" first, because the Word of God does so. He hath saved us and redeemed us--my salvation and my redemption, my Saviour and my Redeemer; so that the omnipotence of Christ is called forth in the midst of all the work--the omniscience of Christ pervades in the hearts of those who are saved--the Mediator is honored--the eternity of Christ is asserted. "Before Abraham was, I am;" (John 8:58) and the everlasting glory He shall maintain with the Father is contained in His closing prayer, "O Father, glorify Me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." (John 17:5)
Now mark further; this precious, glorious Jesus, appearing in this fashion, as a man, is the living Head of His living Church. I could not pass over this, because it brings us to the view of His official standing in this fashion--His official character, the living Head of His living Church. Be not deceived, be not mistaken upon this point, for our precious Christ was not a mere promiscuous public sufferer, not a mere promiscuous, conspicuous prophet, or teacher. All He did, and all He said, was official. I shall dwell a little explicitly upon this point, because I think it is generally overlooked and lost sight of.
When our precious Christ entered into the covenant, it was officially on the part of a covenant people, whom I styled just now the living Church of the living God. When He gave forth the promise to bruise the serpent's head, it was on behalf of His covenant people, His own seed. When He set forth all the types and shadows under the Mosaic economy, it was officially for a covenant people; and although some persons seem to deny this, their denial amounts to nothing but falsehood, for we know from Scripture, that the atonement was to be for all Israel. Moreover, when He is pointed out by the prophets, His coming is on behalf of His covenant people. And when He came into the world, He says, "I came to search for my sheep;" "I lay down my life for the sheep;" "I know my sheep, and am known of mine." There is a connection, an official union, a special purpose pointed out in these scriptures, and many more--a design to be accomplished--that the election of grace, chosen in the council of peace, distinct from the world, adopted as His family, and registered in the Book of Life; when fallen, and ruined, and lost, enslaved and vile, should be brought back, should be redeemed, should be forgiven, should be saved, and that Jesus should be the doer of it. He was the official covenant Head; He engaged to enter into the work, and go through with it, and complete it, which He did when tabernacling here below; and, consequently, the whole Church, in connection with Himself from everlasting, are identified in all that He did, and all that He suffered as the living Head of His living body, the Church.
That is the fashion in which our precious Christ was found. I know very well that some people do not like the fashion. I know there are some people who would have it torn and tattered in pieces, to put in a fashion more like their own nature, in order to accommodate proud free-will. And the fashion in which Jesus is sometimes set forth, in this day of awful rebuke and blasphemy, is sometimes like the following:--That He came from heaven to complete a great work, and suffer an immense suffering, for no definite object; that is, merely to put man into a salvable state, that sinners might be told much was done, and that there is mercy in the heart of Jesus--that He is able to save them, but that it was to be left to them, left for their own final veto, left for their prayers, and repenting, and believing, to make that complete, which Jesus had only partly done. I cannot bear that. It is worse than the paltry fashions in which people dress up in our day; it is worse than the sweep's fashion on May-day; it is utterly worthless and contemptible. I could not bear the fashion. Now the fashion in which I find Jesus doing the great work, is that of a perfect sinless man, truly and properly God, immutable, eternally the same, in the union of His Godhead and manhood, the living Head of His living Church, under everlasting responsibility to accomplish, bring about and perfect all that was designed and planned in the covenant of grace, before all time. That is the fashion--my fashion--the fashion I admire.
II. Now let us pass on, after these few cursory remarks, to glance at the obedience and sufferings of the saviour. "Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." He humbled Himself. Where am I to find any pretext for human pride? Where am I to find a single palliation of it? The worst of all sins, the greatest of all sins, the parent of all sins, the first of all sins, was pride, that hurled the apostate spirits from their seats in glory. 'Twas pride that prompted our first parents to eat the forbidden fruit, and thereby ruin all the human race. "Ye shall be as gods." Pride snapped at that promise immediately. It was pride that set them sewing fig leaves together; it is pride that has driven mankind to excesses of every description; it is pride that keeps men from accepting the free grace salvation that is in Christ Jesus; it is pride that bids the stubborn sinner stand erect, and refuse to bow to the scepter of Jesus as an absolute Sovereign; it is pride that rejects the doctrines of grace; it is pride that spurns a full salvation, and will have it part and parcel of man's work, instead of being entirely the work of God.
But "He humbled Himself." Oh, that God may hide pride from our eyes, and especially from our hearts! The proudest man is the man most unlike Christ. "He humbled Himself." The proudest man is the man that has run as far as he can from God--the proudest man is the man that has nothing of Christianity but the name. "He humbled Himself." See what lessons of humanity He has left; although He might have commanded Herod's throne--and Herod was mightily afraid of it--although He might have commanded every monarch's scepter on the earth--and the Israelites were simple enough to expect that He came for that purpose. He might have fixed His position in what are called circumstances of reputation, with plenty of this world's good's at His command, for "the cattle upon a thousand hills" are His--"The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts." But He took on Himself the form of a servant--made Himself of no reputation. I never read of His possessing a house; but He says, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." Oh, when I find Christians fretting and pining, because they cannot grasp as much as they would, to gratify the flesh, I am horrified at their unlikeness to Christ! He rejected it all. Cold nights upon the mountains did He voluntarily suffer, hunger and thirst did He endure, when "the cattle upon a thousand hills," He could have commanded as His own.
"He humbled Himself." Nay, even among His own disciples, He humbled Himself. He had heard their contentions about who was to be the greatest, the common pride of man's heart; and towards the close of His ministry, when He knew that all the power in heaven and earth was given into His hands, He took a basin of water and a towel, and girding Himself, proceeded to wash His disciples' feet, the very business of slaves in those days. Peter was astonished at the descension of His Lord and Master, and said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." "He humbled Himself:" He did not sit down in a lordly style, and command His disciples to wash His feet; but He says, "If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet."
"He humbled Himself." Mark, how He humbled Himself still further, in the presence of Pilate, His false accusers, the chief priests, and scribes, and the Roman soldiers, with their cruel mockeries. When smitten, buffeted, blindfolded, crowned with thorns, falsely accused, He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, He opened not His mouth, rendered not reviling for reviling, but "He humbled Himself." I have sometimes perused these features of my blessed Lord's conduct, till I have stood ashamed and confounded at the petty pride of my own heart. Oh, that I were more like Jesus! "He humbled Himself." Nor shall I forget the impression made in my mind, when reviewing, the other day, the contrast between the Master and the servant. We see how Christ stood before the august tribunal, to be condemned by Pilate, and how meek, and humble, and lowly, and speechless He was. Paul, His beloved servant, in similar circumstances, finds the old Adam nature ungovernable; and when smitten on the cheek unjustly, burst into a piece of the old Adam-temper, and said to the High Priest, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall." But when reproved, he says, "I stand convicted: this is not like my Master--this is not being humble as He was;" and Paul was immediately humbled too.
Now I dwell upon these points more definitely, because I know that there is a prodigious mass of inconsistent pride among many of God's people, and in my own heart. Oh for grace to subdue it! I confess I have here deviated a little from the course I intended to pursue; but these things were laying on my heart. I must now invite your attention to the obedience of Christ.
"He humbled Himself" in the very fashion as a man. Although He was a perfect man, a sinless man, a holy man, and truly and properly God dwelling in the manhood, yet He humbled Himself, the least of all; and through that species of humiliation, He became obedient--obedient to the Divine law, obedient to His Father's will, obedient to His covenant engagements, which were of a voluntary nature; obedient to the ordination of Providence, for which He was marked during His ministry on the earth; obedient unto death. And in that obedience do not lose sight of the fact that He was the living Head of the Church, performing that obedience for you and me--performing that obedience to the Divine law, that it might have no demand upon His people--performing that obedience to His Father's will, because He knew that none would do that will to the full extent if He did not--performing that obedience to the circumstances of Providence, through which He passed, without complaining, without murmuring, without a fretful enviousness of those who stood around Him faring sumptuously every day. No; He was obedient to the circumstances through which He was called to pass while administering the affairs of His Church, and at length obedient unto death. And although in the sight of men, and in point of fact, His death was murder, He bowed obedience to it; although it was cruel and ignominious, He was obedient unto it. And, even when He felt its bitterest pangs--(Oh, my Lord, endear thyself to me by these things!)--even in the midst of its bitterest pangs, when His humanity cried out, "Oh, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" His inflexible obedience made Him exclaim, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt. 26:39) Yea, that very obedience is described after the last of His sufferings, in the last moment. It is said, He bowed His head in acquiescence--bowed His head and gave up the ghost--bowed His head, as if He would say, "My engagements are fulfilled, the kingdom of heaven is opened, righteousness is wrought out and brought in, my Church is eternally safe"--He bowed His head, in token of obedience, and gave up the ghost.
Shall I dwell a moment longer on these sufferings of His human nature, just to remind you that they were vicarious? He stood forth as the representative of His Church, in her name and on her behalf. Oh how I loathe those who would change the word vicarious for promiscuous. Oh how I loathe the wickedness that would strip this precious God-man, found in this fashion, of His responsibility. Oh how I abhor the blasphemy that would rob Christ of the certainty of seeing the travail of His soul. Oh how I shrink from the very approach and company of those who would presume to be sharers with Christ, in the way of merit. May God keep you and me eternally from such collision? It was vicariously that He obeyed, and that He suffered. The law saw all your debt and mine cancelled by His obedience. Justice acknowledged all the vengeance due to you and me, as members of His mystic body, to be exhausted and poured out upon the glorious victim, who stood forth as the responsible Surety for His people. All the attributes of Deity were glorified, exalted, and honored, when He obeyed and suffered on behalf of His Church. Neither the truth of God, nor the holiness of God, nor the justice of God can demand payment, when all is paid. And Jesus having paid the mighty sum, having removed the enormous load, having put away sin from the Church, by the sacrifice of Himself, in this precious glorious work, when found in fashion as a man, His Church is exonerated, redeemed, emancipated, secured, and will be preserved and saved with an everlasting salvation, on account of what He did and suffered by His death.
Moreover, His obedience and sufferings were, and are, acceptable. They were acceptable to God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost, as the stipulation of the covenant fulfilled. They were acceptable to all the glorified spirits gone to heaven before these sufferings took place, all of whom held their seats I should say precariously, if they had not known Him to be faithful to His engagements. Had Christ failed in His engagements, failed in His obedience, failed in His sufferings, failed in His merit, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with all the Old Testament saints, must have been hurled from their seats to the bottomless pit. They sat gloriously. They saw how acceptable the precious work of Christ was. While the Father was pleased, they could not well be otherwise; and well pleased they were, because the bond was honored, on account of which they obtained their seats in glory.
Let me follow this thought a little further. The obedience and sufferings of Christ are acceptable to all on the earth who are taught by the Holy Ghost. Mark that. There are a great many who pass for Christians, who are not taught of the Holy Ghost; and to these the precious and perfect obedience and sufferings of Christ are not found acceptable. They will not accept of them. "We will not have this man to reign over us," is the cry; but to all that are taught of God, the doing and dying of Jesus is most acceptable. And shall I tell you why? It reaches their case, it comes down to their ruin, it brings them all they want, it gives them all they need, it takes hold of them without consulting their wills, it holds them fast amidst all opposition; it secures to them life Divine to be enjoyed on the earth, and life eternal beyond the grave; it brings heaven down in participation, and secures them for the enjoyment of heaven in its consummation. It is very acceptable to them, because the obedience and sufferings of Christ include all that is requisite for full salvation, and bring the consummation of all that complete salvation in the presence of God.
I should like my hearers to pause, and ask whether the doing and dying of the suffering Jesus is acceptable to you. All the grace, all the Divine merit, are the work of one Person. All who fear God, are to be personally accepted--all who have their names written and engraven on His heart, have the will to accept it created by the Holy Ghost. So that all the glory, from first to last, must and shall redound to its Divine Author. That is the acceptableness of it. I candidly acknowledge that for forty years past, and more, this fashion has been so acceptable, that I could not bear to have its shape altered in any way; this fashion has been so acceptable to me, that I cannot assume any other, that I cannot endure any other to be introduced--this fashion has been so acceptable, that I have allowed no interference with it. Well, may we not have a little adornment? None at all. You may adorn your doctrines, if you please, so far as respects your life, but to adorn the fashion of the obedience and sufferings of the Saviour is impossible. It is all over glorious, the admiration of heaven, the terror of hell, the joy of the whole Church upon the earth, and that which brings the entire revenue of praise and glory to all the attributes and perfections of Deity. I will not have this fashion altered.
One thing more. The doing and dying of Christ in this fashion, so completely, so perfectly, so entirely, was triumphant, as well as acceptable: so triumphant, that the apostle says concerning it, "And Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly," (Col. 2:15) triumphing over them upon the cross, and then the prediction was fulfilled: "O death, I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy destruction." (Hos. 13:14) The ancient promise was carried out and performed, that He should bruise the serpent's head; (Gen. 3:15) and He has never lost the bruise to this hour. It is true, he put forth his most formidable resistance, employed all his Pharisee sharp-shooters, and all the traitors he could thrust into his camp, and the powers of darkness seemed to muster every possible engine and effort, for the purpose of vanquishing this precious God-man, found in fashion as a man, for the purpose of redemption. And what was the result? They mustered to be conquered, they mustered to be vanquished; to push the old serpent in the vanguard, to get his head bruised, and meet the power of the all-glorious Captain, as suspended on the cross, who took that very cross, and inflicted such a blow on the old serpent's head, that the traces of it will never be obliterated. He must wear it for ever. According to God's declaration, therefore, Christ's dying and suffering were triumphant.
Now, would it not be the greatest of all absurdities to imagine the complete triumph of a conqueror, and then that he should lie down, go to sleep, and let his enemy return, and carry off the spoil? It would not only be an absurdity, but madness. Would any officer, any general, any field marshal, ever do such a thing? I never heard of it. But here is the abomination. Free-will says, "Jesus did die, did conquer, and did triumph, and then retired from the field, and left the dead, the wounded, the groaning, and the spoils to the caprice of man, and the devil may come and take them back, if man does not prevent him." A pretty Captain, truly! I would not own Him as the Captain of my salvation, if He had done this. Glory to Him, every soldier of the cross is saved, every wounded inflicted is healed, all the spoil won in the battle is secured, the entire triumph is preserved, the victors with laurel wreathed, and the glorious King of kings honored thereby.
III. Now let us say a word or two, in the third place, relative to His rendering this fashion permanent. I was amazingly struck with this. It is a fashion which never changes. It is immutable, it is infallible, it is invincible, it cannot know any change. I trust you will forgive me, if I detain you a moment, with a contrast of the monster that pretends to this. Popery pretends to immutability and infallibility, and frequently we hear the most ignorant and besottedly superstitious amongst them, catching up this saying, technically, from their priests, "Our religion is unchanged and unchangeable." What a lie! It changes every day, it changes to every shape, it changes to suit the customs of every nation, it changes to everything barbarous and horrid. Look, what is the fashion of Popery in Italy? The fashion of the nightmare, a dark incubus, sitting with a morbid crushing power upon the intellects of its inhabitants. That is the fashion there. Is the fashion the same in Spain? Until very lately, the fashion there was a barbarous inquisition, racking human invention, for the tortures of God's saints. What is the fashion in France? Scoffing Infidelity, for after performing what they call the mass, they turn round and laugh, and are humbugging the people. What is the fashion in Germany? The fashion of rag-fair, where an old coat is exhibited, forsooth, as a holy coat. Popery changes its fashion everywhere, and yet they tell us it is "unchanged." What is the fashion in Ireland? The midnight assassin. What is the fashion in America? Libertinism. What is the fashion in England? A coquette, seducing all that it can possibly win with its fascinating charms. There is a changeful thing. Is it like our fashion? No! I could mention twenty other fashions, all as vile as he who invents them. But I merely give these as a contrast to the glorious old fashion of Christ's work, the fashion of obedience, the fashion of His perfect salvation. It is immutable, precisely the same thing every day. It is perfectly infallible salvation, for it was never known to fail any poor sinner who confided in it. If it could fail in any, it could fail in me, but, blessed be God, it saves to the uttermost. It is infallible, it is an invincible salvation, for it comes right home to the sinner's heart and conscience, pierces him through and through, kills him and then makes him alive. I cannot find such another fashion of religion in heaven, earth, or hell. He was found in fashion as a man: I love His fashion. My Bible is a fashionable book: I love my Bible which declares my salvation in Christ, my covenant Head, to be secured by the immutable decrees of the Deity.
Just mark, further, that this is the only fashion in which salvation can be found. I borrow this from my book of fashion again, this precious book: Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven, given amongst men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Jesus, and Jesus only--His perfect work--and that in His official character. I cannot help exhibiting a contrast here, for a moment. I find the Papists saying, "There is no salvation out of their Church." Now, if you give me leave to change one word, I agree with them. That is coming very near, say you. That "there is no salvation out of the Church," is the truth; but for them to say, "there is no salvation out of our Church" (which, by-the bye, is not a Church at all, but a conspiracy against God and man)--that is false. How near a falsehood may come to the truth! Now there is no salvation out of the Church of God, out of Christ, who is the Head of the Church, and all living members of the Church are one with Him; having His life, dressed in His righteousness, and possessing His merits, to plead before the throne of God. They are declared to be saved in the Lord; not in themselves, not in the priests, not in their doings, not in their prayers, no, nor in their believing; but saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. Oh the blessedness of having a right view of this important point. We cannot allow this fashion to be changed for a single moment. We go according to the fashion shown to Moses in the mount--we go according to the fashion of our precious Christ, and when salvation is received and accepted, we shall go very far by the mighty power of His grace, to the imitating of this pattern.
Oh, let it never be said of us, beloved, according to the words I read at the commencement of our service, that "all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." God forbid. Rather let it be our anxious concern to imitate His pattern, to tread in His steps, and prove we are emulous of His likeness, and Spirit, and mind, believing and confiding in His perfect work.
I hasten just to remark, once more, that none go to God but in this fashion. I presume you all know, that in this country, persons about to be presented at court, or who have been frequently allowed to go there, study the fashion in which they ought to appear, and whether they would be likely to be rejected by the porters or door-keepers. I well remember reading one instance of a person going to court, who is named in a parable of our Lord. He was not in the fashion. He went in an old fashioned rag. I suppose he had been to Treves and bought an old coat. He had not got the fashionable dress. And what said the king? He would have the fashion: are you in the fashion? The fashionable dress at court is imputed righteousness. What was the result? What said the Saviour? How camest thou here? take him away, he will disgrace the whole court. He dishonors even the name of the monarch. "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness." That sentence will go forth against you as sure as I am now preaching, if you attempt to approach heaven without Christ's righteousness on. You must have that fashionable robe, which has been the fashion in heaven from the day Adam and Eve went there, to the present. It is the unvarying fashion of Christ, and will be the fashion to all eternity. It is the robe in which all the king's daughters are clad, and every vessel of mercy must be found at court in the righteousness of the Son of God.
Let me remind you, before I close, that you cannot go to court, even now, with any hope of success, unless you go in fashion. You must go to court in the name, and pleading the merits and obedience, the sufferings, the doing and dying of this precious God-man, who was found in fashion as a man; and unless you go so, all your prayers will be shut out. Nay, they would be sin. To go not thus, you will never get an answer. If you go not thus, vain will be all the eloquent strains man can learn. Nothing will be acceptable in the ear of Jehovah, but that which is presented in the proper fashion, the fervent cry of a believing sinner, pleading the merits and righteousness of the Son of God. I can find no acceptance otherwise, even now--I can find no comfort, no joy in reading, without this even now: I therefore resolve to put it on, and wear it at once, and when I cross the river Jordan, and quit the wilderness, and enter the world of spirits, I expect to be found, as Paul says, "Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3:9) Angels will admire it, the glorified spirits will hail my brotherhood, as I approach their ranks, the Father of Mercies will smile at my wedding dress, and welcome me, the Holy Ghost will perfume it with unction from on high, and Christ will acknowledge that He dyed it with His own blood, and that it is the same He wears.
Such a prospect should cheer our hearts, such a prospect will bear the closest examination and investigation, and I entreat my hearers who are coming to the Lord's table this evening, to take up this fashion. They may say, not as is the world's fashion, who shall have the preference in dignity? But come there in this fashion. It is he who stoops the lowest who is most in fashion; it is he who pleads most earnestly the blood and righteousness of Christ, who is the most in fashion; it is he who has the strongest faith in Christ, who is the most acceptable; and therefore be men and women of fashion, at the Lord's table this night, abhorring and spurning the world's silly notions; and putting on the righteousness of Christ, adorned with all the Spirit's graces, girt with the girdle of truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and thus approach the table of the Lord as welcome guests. What a contrast between those, and the rejecters of Christ and His righteousness! I do humbly hope that my hearers will retire from the house of God, adoring this precious Christ for His humiliation, for His obedience, for the fashion He assumed, and the work He did, and the triumphs He won, and blessing and praising Him, that He will not allow the fashion of saving sinners to be altered.
May the Holy Ghost fasten these things upon the hearts of my hearers, and conform them more and more to the image of Christ, for which the family of God were predestinated, and Israel's covenant God shall have all the glory.