“The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 146:10)
This royal proclamation is the summing up of a very beautiful Psalm, though concise, in which the Psalmist gives some of the first lessons of instruction and caution to be found in the work of God. He opens the Psalm in the same strain in which he closes it, assigning his reasons in the verses between. “Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I must be in the choir; my voice must rise as high, if not higher, than all the rest, to praise Jehovah’s name. While I live will I praise Jehovah's name. While I live will I praise the Lord." As though it is not worth calling life if it is not a life of gratitude, if it is not a life of praise, if it is not a life of thanksgiving, if it is not a life of devotedness to Jehovah’s name. “While I live will I praise the Lord; I will sing praises unto my God.” Ah! that is a blessed claim-“I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.” If He is not your God, do not worship Him; because I do not want any people to mock Him; I will sing praises to my God while I have any being.” The Psalmist goes on to caution the people of God against false confidence. Princes, vain mortals, man that returns to earth; in the very day that he passes from our view his thoughts perish; put no confidence there, place no trust in men, respecting spiritual things especially, whether princes or peasants. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is not help.” What a truth! “In whom there is no help.” He is not only helpless in himself, with regard to any matter of salvation, but he can get no help from his fellow-men. If all the ministers on earth, and all those perjured fellows that call themselves priests, with all the Cardinals and Popes that ever existed, could conspire to help me, they could help me no more than a blow-fly, which is the most offensive thing in my view; they could help me no more than a moth, which is crushed with a touch. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” I grant that mortals may help one another as regards the bread that perisheth, and minister to each other in all good things in matters pertaining to the comforts of this life; and so we ought to be helpers of each other’s joy and bearers of each other’s burdens; but in the matter of salvation, there is no help but in God. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,” but it is in thy God alone that thy help is to be found. Then the Psalmist goes on to speak of the peculiar happiness of God’s people. “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (Ps. 146:5) You see He keeps to the claim of relationship very closely. Now these are happy men; they may be tried men, they may be heavily afflicted men; but these are happy men after all. “Happy is the man that hath the God of Jacob for his help.” I candidly confess, that with all my sufferings—and they have certainly been indescribable—that with all the sufferings I have passed through for some months, I would not change my position and my happiness for that of the man of the greatest ease, being a worldling, being a man of the greatest wealth, and an utter stranger to grace; I would not change positions with him for a thousand worlds. “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God; who can say, “The Lord that made the heaven and the earth is my God.” Then the Psalmist, in order to raise the shout of hallelujah and the royal proclamation (which is presently to engage our attention) a little higher, goes on to state what the Lord has done and is doing: Which executeth judgment for the oppressed.” You that find yourselves oppressed lay the matter before the Lord, and He will execute judgment for you. “Which executeth judgment for the oppressed which giveth food to the hungry.” Ay, He will give it to them, even if the ravens have to come and feed them. “Which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners.” Even those that are the devil’s prisoners, led captive by him at his will; He liberates those that are bound, as regards sensible enjoyments of the liberty of the gospel; yea, “the, Lord openeth the eyes of the blind.” And well it is for you and me that He does, for we were born blind, and should have died so if the Lord had not opened our eyes. “The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous.” There is the secret of it. No, let us ask, what is there for the pretending priest to do? What is there for proud free-will to do? It seems to say here that the Lord does it all. “The Lord executeth judgment for the oppressed; the Lord giveth food to the hungry; the Lord looseth the prisoners; the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind; the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down.” What is man to do, with all his pretensions about doing? Why it is all done, beloved; and if any man had the ability which he is foolish enough to boast of, and which he is proud enough to vaunt himself in, he has nothing to do; there is no room for his doing anything;, there is nothing to accomplish; all is done; the work is the Lord’s from beginning to end. Yea, “the Lord preserveth the strangers; He relieveth the fatherless and widow.” Now, ye bereaved sons and daughters of Zion, think of that: only carry every case to the Lord, and be sure He will relieve both the fatherless and the widow. But what else? “The way of the wicked He turneth upside down.” You ungodly sinners, that fear not God, depend upon it my God will turn you upside down. I pray to Him to do so by His grace; and if He do so by His grace you will be glad enough of it; but if He does it not by His grace, He will do it in vengeance, and will turn you into hell headlong. “He turneth the wicked upside down.” Oh! Beware of Him who saith, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” Now, after giving all these reasons why Jehovah is to be adored, the Psalmist sums up with a royal proclamation, just as the prophet Isaiah does when he talks of opening the prison doors, and proclaiming liberty to the captives, and giving sight to the blind, and giving a message for the servants of God of deliverance respecting the Lord Jesus Christ. He says, “Say unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.” So the Psalmist seems to say here, “The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, 0 Zion.”
I did not intend to detain you so long in our exordium; but the Psalm seemed so sweet and so full, that I could not withhold it. Now let us look, as the Lord shall help us, at four things suggested by the words of my text:—The King that is proclaimed; the interest of His kingdom; its never—ending duration; and the glory brought to Jehovah by it—hallelujah, praise ye the Lord. A word or two upon these, as the Lord shall give us strength.
I. The King to be proclaimed. We have heard of an enthusiastic loyalty relative to earthly monarchs, and I would fain join with them. Tribute to whom tribute is due; honor to whom honor; fear to whom fear. But if so much is due, and justly due, to a beloved earthly monarch, what shall we say to the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jehovah Himself—Jehovah, the Triune, self-existent God? As the prophet Isaiah sang concerning Him, “The Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king, and He shall save us.” What blessed, believing expressions of assurance are these! There were some of old, beloved-if the present meager race of Christians do not know much about it—there were some of old who knew what quietness and assurance meant. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were greatly oppressed, but they were quietly assured, not caring to answer the king in this matter. Daniel was most cruelly persecuted, but He knew what quietness and assurance were, even in the den of lions. My hearer, nothing will look a lion in the face but the faith of God’s elect; and that will look a lion in the face, ay, even the “roaring lion, that goeth about seeking whom he may devour.”
Now the King we have to proclaim is Jehovah, the Triune God. And I beseech my hearers to pause, with solemn awe and fixed attention, while we dilate for a few moments upon the glories of that Being we profess to worship. I admire that portion of Dr. Watts—
“Rehearse His praise with awe profound,
Let knowledge lead the song;
Nor mocking with a solemn sound,
Upon a thoughtless tongue.”
I fear this is too often the ease. Let us look for the grace to enable us to avoid it this morning; that while we attempt to speak of the Glorious King, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, we may enter a little into all that is revealed of Him in His precious work, and which He has condescended to make known of Himself.
Now the first view, which I take of this glorious Majesty, this “King of Zion,” “thy God,” is, that the Persons of the Deity are included and pointed out as the joint-covenanters for Zion’s salvation. Some of the wisest and soundest of our old divines, when speaking of the Trinity, used to accustom themselves to call them “the sovereign covenanters.” I only change the phrase a little for the sake of order, and call them the joint covenanters for Zion’s salvation; and in this first sense there is a peculiar beauty and glory in love, settled, arranged, and gained them entire salvation; thy God, who registered and recorded not only the terms, and the plans, and blessings of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, but also the names of all the election of grace, to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. That is, “thy God, O Zion.” Zion cannot worship a god that knows nothing of a Trinity—a god of absolute existence only—Zion cannot worship a god who has no mediator in the very constitution of his existence—Zion cannot worship a god with whom she can have no communication—and Zion must have communication with Jehovah only in the name of a Mediator. How can Zion know a Mediator but by the Holy Spirit’s teaching? For “no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor. 12:3) This is the God that reigns, as we shall by-and-by have to say a little of; this is Zion’s God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—the “Three that bear record in heaven;” which Three are One. And I hesitate not to affirm, that whosoever talks of the existence of a God at all, whosoever pretends to worship an unseen God at all, and acknowledges not the doctrine of the Trinity, is an Atheist; he denies the existence of a God altogether. I would use stronger language if I could muster it; but in my old age I get feeble, and you must put up with the best I can muster. Now each Person of the Triune Jehovah, each Person of whom is solemnly engaged in covenant for the salvation of all the election of God, are the joy and confidence of all the sons and daughters of Zion. They will not put their confidence in princes; they will not put their confidence in the “son of man, in whom is no help;” they will not put their confidence in that wicked old usurper free-will; they will not put their confidence in the efforts of mortals, or in the merits of men, nor in any contingencies or uncertainties. The confidence of the Lord’s family is in the Lord Himself—the confidence of the ends of the earth; and, glory to His name, it is only in union with Him that quietness and confidence is possessed and enjoyed, that quietness and assurance ever is realized.
There is one point I want particularly to invite your attention to with regard to this glorious King proclaimed; that is, that He is the avenger of Zion and the judge of their cause. He is Judge in all the earth, and consequently He is judge in the cause of Zion. Now if we mortals could judge of Zion’s cause, that judgment would go according to carnal wisdom or carnal caprice. We have heard of judgment being pronounced upon certain cases of theology in latter days. I do not think that poor mortal men ever showed greater ignorance of God’s law since the world was created, than they did in that worse than stupid subject, that libelous and diabolical subject—baptismal regeneration; and yet we have lawyers, and counselors, and judges, to summon up all their wits and ingenuity to judge of God’s cause, to judge of the doctrine of God. They are no more fit to judge of it than they are to judge of the way my house is to be ordered, or how I shall dress myself; they have nothing to do with the matter. But when I come to the judge of Zion’s cause, He knows what baptism is, because He is the great baptizer; when I come to the judge of Zion’s cause, He knows that it is never done with material water; He knows what is regeneration, because it is the Holy Spirit’s exclusive work and it does not belong to a priest to do it; He is judge of His people’s cause, and of all the truths of His word. So also if Zion is oppressed, the Lord is the judge of her cause and her avenger. Moreover, if she is robbed or plundered, He is her judge, and He knows how to make the enemies recompense her. Moreover, if she is hunted and persecuted, the Lord knows how to judge her cause, and declareth Himself that whoso toucheth her toucheth the apple of His eye. Moreover, He is her avenger; and my blessed Lord puts this in a very strong light, when He had been giving a parable of the poor widow who besought the unjust judge, and could get no redress; she importuned Him, as we should commonly say, she was almost ready to torment Him out of His life; she would not take “No” for an answer, but kept on importuning and importuning. “Oh,” says He, “I will get rid of her;” and He avenged her of her adversary, just for His own ease, not for the sake of justice. “Now,” says My Lord, “hear what the unjust judge saith.” If He would avenge this poor widow (in whose cause He was not at all interested, but just for His own personal ease), shall not God avenge His own elect, though He bear long with them? I thought of this avenging wonderfully in the portion which many of us read this morning; and I could not help saying, that had I been in David’s place, with his armed men about him, when that dead dog Shimei, as Abishai called him, cursed David when fleeing from his son Absalom, I would have said, “My lord, let me go and take off his head.” If I had been there, and the Lord had not restrained me, I should certainly have said, go and cut off his head; and I should have said, the sooner it is off the better, then he will not curse any more. But hear what David says—he knew that God was to avenge His own elect, and he said, “Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him. It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that He will requite me good for his cursing this day.” And you will find in the sequel of that poor wretch’s history, that he came to an untimely end by the hand of justice—the hand of Solomon—and it was his own doing after all. Now this is in accordance with the spirit of the gospel. “Dearly beloved, says the apostle, “avenge not yourselves.” Surely we need not take God’s work out of His hands in that sense any more than in another. No; let us not take the work out of His hands for our justification, and pardon, and acceptance. Do not let us take His work out of His hands even for the avenging of His elect—“Shall not God avenge His own elect?” Zion’s sons and daughters see how these are described; they are those that cry unto Him day and night. There is another sweet portion to this effect in the 18th chapter of the Apocalypse, in which, when Babylon (that is, mystic Babylon—Popery) is to be thrown down and utterly destroyed, the merchants shall bewail the matter! But the cry from angels and glorified saints shall go forth, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” God is the avenger as well as the judge of His people’s cause. Let us leave it to Him, and , if we must touch it at all--if we must have anything to do with the matter with regard to avenging, only let us just put a few coals of fire on the enemy’s head; do not set fire to them, God will do that. “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” This thought, I confess, has been somewhat an instructive, and reproving, and comforting one to my soul.
Now just go on to mark how this glorious King whom we proclaim is endeared to Zion by His affinity. There is such an attachment, such an affinity, that it cannot be destroyed. There may come an Adonijah against the king of Israel, and attempt to usurp the throne belonging to Solomon; there may come other enemies attempting to be monarchs and rulers; but they have no affinity with us. It was this that endeared David to the men of Judah, that he was of their own kin, of their own bone and flesh; therefore they were glad to bring him back, after Absolom’s death, and restore him to his throne. Now our King is near akin; and that, too, in every Person of the Deity. Only think of the three words, of the three appellations employed to describe the Trinity—the Father, the Brother, the Comforter. We might take many more, but for brevity’s sake let us just glance at these. Is not Jehovah endeared to us when we can say, “Our Father?” Is He not endeared to us when we can add the “doubtless,” which Isaiah has put in: Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not.” (Isa. 63:16) Is it not comforting, refreshing, and endearing to our souls when we can go to Him in the spirit of adoption? when we can ask for the blessings of His covenant and the promises of His work, which are those of a Father’s store, laid up on purpose for His children?
Go to Him and lay the hand of faith on every promise, and on any and every privilege, and say, It is mine, because it is my Father’s; it is mine, because my Father has given me all things, having given me His dear Son. And when I come to look at the precious Person of Christ, the second Person of the glorious Trinity, and hear Him say He is not ashamed to call us brethren, and that He is a “brother born for adversity,” that He is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” is He not endeared to us? Now if paternal love is enthroned in royalty, and must be sovereign; if a brother’s affection, a brother’s tenderness, a brother’s kindness is enthroned to be King of kings and Lord of lords, is it not the more endeared to us because it is brotherly? And if the Holy Ghost the Comforter be the absolute sovereign, and “quickens whom He will,” and ever reigns over all worlds, and over all this congregation; that He will break that heart when He pleases, and open those eyes when He pleases, and humble that proud sinner when He pleases, is He not the more endeared to us because He is our Comforter, our undeviating witness, our Divine testifier of Jesus?
Moreover, every office He sustains endears the glorious Trinity in unity to Zion’s sons and daughters; because those offices are held for their sakes. If He be Advocate; if He be Mediator; if He be Substitute; if He be Surety; if He be a Reconciler; if He be the Captain of our Salvation; if He be the fullness of grace, from whence all the supplies, as from one grand store, are derived for the entire family of God. In every office He sustains He is the more endeared to our hearts, especially when we view Him as King, and see the kingly sovereignty exercised in all those offices. If I look at the three common hackneyed expressions (if I may use the term here) Prophet, Priest, and King, and put sovereignty on them all, and see Him related to us in them all. A Prophet whom our Lord hath raised up like unto His brethren, and Him shall we hear; we know His prophecy to be the truth, and we know His instruction to be infallible. And if we view Him as our Priest, we learn to despise all others, and cannot for a moment suffer that He shall be robbed of His sacerdotal character; that He shall be robbed of His priestly office and efficiency; that He shall be robbed of the glory due to His perfect work, as Priest for His Church, after the order of Melchisedec, because we view it under the Father’s appointment. And then if we view Him as a King whom the Father has set up—“I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion, and He shall declare the decree” (Ps. 2:6,7)—then at once we have the decretive enactments of God my Father, the Sovereign of all worlds; then we have the absolute sovereignty of God my Saviour under paternal appointment and fixed decree for the sake of Zion; and then we have the sovereignty of Jehovah the Spirit bearing testimony of Him, and crowning Him too in the hearts of all His people down to the very end of time. This is Zion’s King, and this is our God.
But there is one point more that I must touch upon, however long I detain you upon this first head, and that is, the eternal union that is here set forth; and I name this, because it is offensive. “Oh,” say you, “why not avoid offensive words?” If I were to avoid offensive words, so that the offence of the cross should cease, I had much better leave off preaching altogether. No, I rather study them if they are correct; and therefore I use that frightful expression, eternal union. There are not a few thousands who pass for Christians, who will not hear one word about union with Christ, until that union is manifestly vital by a living faith, and the soul one with Christ, is deriving life and grace from Him, and so making it manifest. I tell such fastidious hearers, that if there had been no eternal union, there would never have been any vital union; the vital union is consequent upon the eternal. Eternal union is in the settlement of the Father’s love in the engagement of God the Son, who says—and if that is not union I do not know what is—who says to His Zion, “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19,20) Now this is eternal union, in which according to covenant engagements and the settlements of peace between the persons of Deity, Christ and His Church were always eyed as Head and members inseparable. I have more than once insisted, and will repeat it this morning, that Christ was never seen and eyed by Jehovah as Christ but in union with His Church; that the Church was never seen as the election of grace but in union with her Covenant Head, everlastingly inseparable. This eternal union is mutually owned, as Christ said in John 17., “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they also may be one in us.” And again, “Thou hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me.” And how long was that? “Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” Then thou lovedst them in Me before the foundation of the world. So also His own Church must be brought sooner or later to own this eternal oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ. And if any of my hearers are not disposed to own it, I tell you, you are not happy, and you cannot be happy. I pronounce it to be an utter impossibility for any child of Adam to enjoy quietness and assurance until a consciousness of eternal oneness with Christ is acknowledged, and felt, and owned.
II. Now let us hasten on, and I must be very short on the other parts of my subject; but this one proclamation of my glorious Lord and King seemed so to absorb my soul, that I could not get away from it. Now a word or two about the interests of His kingdom. I will only just mention them. And the first is, the safety of all His subjects, because they are His own peculiar care. Now you know an earthly monarch, that is very benevolent, and very gracious, and very kind, and very condescending, may give direction to officers and persons under authority, down to the lowest grade of society, that such and such care and attention should be paid to such and such descriptions of necessity and of sorrow, and much of that is done; but where is the monarch on the face of the earth that can make every subject’s case his own; that can make every subject’s case his own especial personal care? “He careth for thee; then cast thy care upon Him is the argument He uses. Blessed be His precious name, He takes such care of them, that He holds them all in His hand, and he says, “None shall ever pluck them out of my hand.” Nay, more, He takes such care of them, that He says if any of them are weak little timid ones, the lambs of His flock, He will carry them in His bosom. What think you of that, you young Christians? Nay, more, He takes such care of them, that when He found them in a desert land He led them about and instructed them, and kept them as the apple of His eye, and took them and bore them on eagles wings, and brought them to Himself. What a special care! Yea, such care does He take of all the subjects of His grace, that He says that whoso toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye. What special care does God take of His people! I do not wonder that the apostle says, “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God.” God cares all about it.
Now then, again, I may notice in the interests of His kingdom the undivided allegiance of His subjects. I have chosen this phrase because it has been abused. We hear of the ungodly wretches that are trying to usurp England into their possession for Antichrist, talking about a faithful allegiance--that they can be faithful and bear true allegiance to our beloved monarch, and yet can be faithful and bear true allegiance to the most detestable, abominable, and devilish wretch who ever wore a triple crown. And yet they say they can be faithful to both, that they can be faithful in their allegiance to both. They know it is all a lie, and a willful one too; they mean no such thing. It is the diabolical treachery of Popery that has so easily deceived Englishmen. Now, however, other people may give way in listening to such abominable lies as that among mortals, I will not allow a moment’s giving way to a divided allegiance to King Jesus. “Why,” say you, “was it ever attempted?” Yes it was, and I stand in doubt of some of you whether you have not a divided allegiance. Pray, do not you give as much sovereignty to that old pope, free—will, as Nicholas Craftyman would give to the Pope of Rome? Do you not give as much sovereignty and allegiance, if not greater sovereignty and allegiance to free-will than you do to King Jesus? You are a traitor; then. I own none to be loyal subjects of King Jesus but those who have yielded to him an undivided allegiance; He must be all in all, or nothing at all. “My son, give me thine heart,” He says; and if He has the heart I know He will have the life. He is to be loved, and trusted, and adored His scepter is a scepter of righteousness, and a right Scepter that must be bowed down to and obeyed; and the weapons of our warfare shall never be laid aside until they have been made successful by His own strength in bringing every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ. We will have no divided allegiance; we will not allow old free—will to share in the sovereignty of Christ; we will cry him down as a traitor and rebel to the last breath we can utter, and insist that Jesus must reign till He has put all enemies—and old free—will is the very worst of them—under His feet. I cannot believe that the advocates of free-will can be Christians. There may be a kind of philosophical play, like boys and girls playing at Christianity; but they know nothing of its reality in their hearts, if they did, they would know that it was the sovereign grace of Christ—the sway of His scepter alone, that must subdue their hearts, and bring them to His feet.
Moreover, the statutes and laws of His kingdom are inimitable and immutable. They are so inimitable, that there are none like them; they are so immutable, that there never was seen occasion to change them. There is no repealing of Acts of Parliament in the kingdom of Christ, and there are no new enactments made. The decree has been made, and has gone forth; and how think you it runs on the head of His statute book? “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Not an “if”—not an “if thy will;” but “I will have mercy. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” That is the heading; and all the pages of Jehovah’s statute-book are in perfect accordance with that heading. It goes upon the ground of His absolute sovereignty; and no law is to be admitted into the Church of Christ but what is of His own enacting. He is our Lawgiver, as well as our Judge and King. I will receive no laws from Sanhedrims. I will receive no laws from cardinals or councils—the chairman of most of which was the devil. I will receive no laws from human authority pertaining to my conscience and the worship of God, unless they are in accordance with God’s holy word; and I will receive no laws from any class of men under heaven that affect my salvation, or my worship of the living God. I must come to His own statute-book—His own precious word—His own infallible inspiration, and from this learn all His mind and will concerning me; and when I meet with others, I will say to them, “To the law, and to the testimony. If they speak not according to this ward it is because they have no light in them."
III. Now, having run through this as rapidly as I could, I would lead on your attention to its never-ending duration--”The Lord shall reign for ever.” For ever! No abdication. He is no dying monarch. He “dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.” There is a peculiar beauty in that description, which the Holy Ghost gives by the apostle to Timothy, in an ascription of praise to our eternal Monarch. He says, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible.” There is the never-ending duration of His kingdom. The kingdom itself is eternal. It can know no overturning; it can know no end. It has suffered no variation in the revolution of ages; it is not in danger of wearing out; and the King is in no danger of being assassinated. He can never be crucified again. We may, indeed, sing of Him, as they were accustomed to do in the vain honors ascribed to earthly monarchs of old, “O, King, live for ever.” And live for ever He shall. Blessings on His name for immortality. “Who only hath immortality.” It is the very same text from Timothy. The King eternal, immortal, hath spoiled death, and taken away his sting; and He has removed its terrors, and for ever put away the second death, so that none of His subjects can by any possibility suffer it, or enter upon it; for on such the second death hath no power. They are blessed and holy, having been made partakers of the first resurrection from the death of sin to a life of righteousness. And because our King is immortal, and dieth no more, and lives for ever--cannot grow old--without beginning of days, or end of years, so are all His subjects; for I hear Him thus proclaim for their encouragement, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19)
Blessings on His dear name, that He is invisible also. “The King eternal, immortal, invisible.” Why the devil cannot find Him; He is invisible. The world would crucify Him over again, but He is invisible; they would turn Him out of my heart if they could, but He is invisible there. Though I can feel and enjoy Him there, He is an invisible King. Glory to His name, that while He is present in our midst, in that aisle, and in that pew, and in that believer’s heart, and in that waiting soul, and is manifesting Himself, He is invisible to all around. Blessings on His name, that He is present also to myriads of His worshipping saints at the present moment, and is manifesting Himself to them as He does not to the world. Infinitude is His own proper sphere. We are poor finite beings; an inch or two of space is enough for us; we cannot see a day before us, nor an hour before us; we cannot occupy two spaces of a yard square at the same moment; we are so limited, and so circumscribed in our littleness compared with infinitude. But neither time nor space shuts Him out; He is the infinitely glorious, self-existent Jesus. Infinitude is His own proper sphere.
IV. I cannot enlarge more here, but I would just lead on your attention for a few moments to what enraptured my soul as I mused upon this portion yesterday. The Psalm closes, and this proclamation of our King closes, with “Hallelujah,” for that is the word which we translate “Praise ye the Lord.” Now we have heard of marvelous effects being produced upon men’s nerves, of all their self-possession being lost, and their being raised to an ecstasy of enthusiasm beyond description, on hearing a hallelujah chorus sung by mortal. Well, I can easily suppose, especially among the devotees of music, that the effect would be most enchanting and overwhelming; but what is all that to the singing of a hallelujah to our glorious King? Ought not every power and faculty of our souls to be fully nerved, tightly strung, wound up to the highest pitch, putting forth its utmost sounds to echo “Praise ye the Lord,” hallelujah to Zion’s King? The voices of angels and glorified spirits are in harmony upon it—not a jarring note. We read in the Apocalypse several ascriptions of praise which are sung by the redeemed; and it is said again they sing hallelujah; and again they sing it. What! and not tired of it yet? Millions of ages roll away, and they are not tired of singing, “Praise ye the Lord.” The hallelujah chorus is the chorus of heaven, and you and I expect shortly to enjoy it. The hallelujah chorus will not need Handel’s music to help it. There we shall hear better and more harmonious sounds, though I find no fault with that as it is. But there every harp and every voice will be in melody and in tune; and if there be a rivalship at all, it will be who shall sound the hallelujah loudest in the ears of King Jesus.
Let us begin now; let us try with all the strength and all the spirituality we possess now. I want my feeble life, if any longer time is permitted to me, to be devoted to praise, to glorify, and honor my King, and to glorify Him with my body and my spirit; to employ every energy to exalt His dear name. And I cannot help here acknowledging that there is one point that greatly troubles me, and has done for years, and it is, that when I am musing upon His glorious name, His official character, and His perfect work, and what He is set forth to be in His precious word, for the purpose of holding Him up to your view, I am ashamed, and grieved, and humbled, and abased before God, that thought is too limited, that language is so impoverished, that energy seems almost to faint and die, instead of being put forth to vie with the angel hosts and glorified spirits. Oh for more exalted strains! Oh for stronger language! Oh for a fuller vocabulary, and boundless ideas to be thrown forth as with a cataract, and without reserve, to glorify, and honor, and exalt the precious name of Jesus; for all the voices in heaven are thus employed. And how should this encourage the subjects of His grace on earth! I want you now, for a moment, just to pause here, and ask whether you have sworn allegiance to my King, whether you have touched the top of His scepter. I would rather ask, Has He ever touched you? If you were left to your choice, who should be king over you? Who should rule over you and in you? Whom would you choose? Where would you fix your election? Would you say with the proud Pharisee, “Who is Lord over us? we will be our own Lord.” That has been Adam’s fall; that has been the ruin of Adam’s race. You recollect it was that which brought sin into the world. The devil wanted to be a Pope in heaven, and God would not let him, and he was hurled out with his apostate angels. Now, said he, if I cannot be a Pope in heaven, I will try and be a Pope in paradise, and set up my popedom there. He goes into paradise, and succeeds, and sets up his popedom in Eve’s heart: “Ye shall be as gods,” there is no Lord over you; “ye shall be as gods.” The quintessence of Arminianism at the present day—we will be as gods, we will repent when we like, we will believe when we like, we will pray when we like, we will do what we like, and give no account of our matters. I tell you, poor sinner, if there is such an one here this morning, your religion is as sure to plunge you into hell as there is a hell to go to, if you live and die in your present state.
Nor can it be possible that a man can reach the realms of bliss with out being subdued by omnipotent grace to Jesus scepter; and then touching its top, that you may live, and know the King of kings and Lord of lords, to the glory of God the Father. Ah! methinks I hear some conquered rebel, some renewed soul, some repenting sinner, crying out from the secret recesses of his heart, “0 Lord, other lords have had dominion over us, but henceforth by thee only will we make mention of thy name.” (Isa. 26:13) While the Jews cried out in their blasphemy, “We have no king but Caesar,” we will cry out, in the ecstasy of our souls, We have no king, in a spiritual sense, but Jesus. He only is our sovereign Lord; to Him, in all things pertaining to salvation, we will bow, and we will bow to no other authority. We will give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and we will give to God the things that are God’s.
One thought more and I will close. The salvation is here ascribed to the sovereignty of the King; and He only, as its author and finisher. Now the great question existing, and which has made so much stir among Christians for so many years, as long as I can remember, and I believe for a great while longer, is simply this, Shall I have a salvation of certainties, or a salvation of contingencies? Shall I accept of a salvation, the sovereign gift of Jehovah, or shall I look out for some contingencies that shall secure at least half the honor to me? If the latter be your choice, you are on the road to eternal destruction, and I am clear of your blood. If the former be your choice, you are resting entirely upon King Jesus; in His royalty, in His priestly character, in the perfection of His work, in the glory of His name; in His union with His Church, to your everlasting salvation; and I shall assuredly meet you in heaven, and we will sing it out in hallelujahs to all eternity. Amen.
" Glory to God above—
His precious truth we love,
Proclaim’d to men;
From the inspired pen
We learn thy will, and then,
Believing, say, Amen,
"Glory to God on high—
Amen, the saints reply,
We join the strain;
Glad tidings unto men,
Our ears have heard again,
Our hearts respond, Amen,
"Glory to God we sing
Proclaiming Jesus King,
And He shall reign
As far as faith can ken,
His Church to perfect—when
Their song shall be, Amen,