"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
It was said to me, just now, before I came to church, that on one occasion, when Dr. Hawker was occupying a pulpit as I am now doing before you, with his little Bible in his hand, for he never carried a pocket sermon; he gave out these words--"the blessing of Abraham"--and from them set forth the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ. This idea dropped sweetly and with some degree of unction into my heart; and O! That now, this evening, as I am preaching to you, may my prayer go up that a special blessing may be vouchsafed, and may God's Holy Word be so realized, that "there shall be showers of blessing."
Now, my hearers! In the words that I have just read out of this blessed Book, the Bible, we have the statement, descriptive of Him who is the Church's Husband, the Church's Saviour, and the Church's only Friend--"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." Now, I will stop there. I know not whether I shall be able to get any further on with the text. You will observe, that the first three words in this passage are words of no common meaning--'Father, I will!' We have here our blessed and glorious Christ occupying the position of a suppliant; but a suppliant commanding with authority and power! We see Him here petitioning God as His Father! And then Himself as God commanding! "I will!" Thus we have God and Man--the God-Man set before us here--and I know no subject more important for Christian persons to contemplate, than that one expressed in the compound word God-Man! Our Athanasian Creed, one of the most blessed pages in all the Book of Common Prayer, has these striking words, "It is also necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the INCARNATION of our Lord Jesus Christ." Now I wonder amongst the people whom I see before me--speaking in a degree to many strangers--I wonder how many amongst all the occupants of these pews, really rightly, scripturally, and by God's teaching (for there is no other effectual teaching,) understand this great, this glorious, this cardinal doctrine! God-Man! Christ "equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood." And here comes in the great reality of the text--for it is here that we see the Eternal, the glorious Son of God as man! Let me pause and ask, Why did He become so? Why born of the Virgin? Prophecy declared--"for unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given?" (Isa. 9:6) And, Why all this?--in order that He Himself should make a full, perfect, and sufficient atonement for the sins of that special people, THE CHURCH, for whom He came and for whom He died; and hence the force of those three words, the dying words of our illustrious and glorious Head--"IT IS FINISHED!" (John 19:30) These words settle the whole thing; and hence the great and blessed truth, that saved sinners can do nothing for their salvation! Mind that! Mark it deeply! The enunciation of the Bible is this--"By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8,9) O! if we had anything whatever to do with obtaining our own salvation, there would be a boasting spirit in us immediately, but Christ has done all, and finished all, and accomplished all for us, and we are but receivers of that salvation settled and decreed before all worlds. Now, I wish to keep you to this thought with an eye to Jesus! The Apostle Paul says--"By grace ye are saved," not shall be, but "are saved." Nothing can eternally damn THE CHURCH; no sin, no transgressions could ever plunge God's people into hell, and why? Because the punishment of all their sins has been inflicted on the Surety! It is the idea of a godly man, who once ministered the gospel in the Church of England, now above two centuries ago, and I say it is his idea--(because I am very tender of being a pilferer in the pulpit)--it is the statement of Dr. Crisp, and a very sweet one it is, and was a great comfort to me when I saw it--He draws a distinction between God's afflicting Believers, and punishing Believers for sin; he says, "Afflictions are not punishments for sins, or in a way vindictive wrath for them, but they are in love, and for the good of God's people; they are Fatherly chastisements for sins, in order to take them away or preserve from them. God in afflicting believers does not intend to punish them as now laying on them the desert of their sin, (for that is laid upon Christ) but He does afflict them in part to be a help to preserve them from sin. I say, all afflictions to believers are to keep them from sin, rather than punishment unto them for sin."
Christ has borne the punishment of His people's sins, and with a Just and Holy God there can be no such thing as punishment a second time! God's chastening hand is always in love to keep his people from sin. Those who hold and teach this may be called Antinomians! and the Arminians of our day may say, that these are the licentious few in the Church of England who do so much harm! and this, simply because we teach and preach what the Word of God enjoins--"By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Thus they raise the hue and cry against us--"Antinomians! Antinomians!" But to the humbled child of God, to the really poor sinner who feels his sin, to the man and to the woman who can say, "I am poor and needy," I can do no good thing--to every one who experimentally knows this, how blessed it is to know, believingly to know, that all things necessary to salvation have been done, and all done for them by that blessed, gracious, and glorious Saviour who was called Jesus! simply and only because--listen to the word--"Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21) Devils cannot hinder, the world cannot hinder, sin cannot hinder, nothing can hinder your salvation; you! I mean who have received the grace of God into your heart, who have been effectually called by the Eternal Spirit, and who have been set apart in the eternal purpose of the Everlasting God! Your sins cannot damn you; and when I state this, I afford no loophole for sin. Mark me, you will, you do, you must feel your sins, and feel them as a sore burden, but the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered in the flesh; He has also paid the full, the entire penalty; He has made an end of sin; He has brought in an Everlasting Righteousness! (Daniel 9:24) But what, my hearers, what is the besetting sin of the professing church of the day? CREATURE-RIGHTEOUSNESS! Self Righteousness! O! 'we must do something!' is the false cry. O! yes, so said Paul, and there is a great deal to be done--but! Nothing to be done in a way of merit! Allow me to read you a stirring passage--a passage that is the best answer to the cry falsely raised against us. "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Cor. 15:10) Paul "labored more abundantly than they all," yet it was Grace in Paul. This is putting the crown on the RIGHT HEAD; but, O! in this awful day of profession how much treason there is against the King!
My hearers! contemplate with me these sweet words--"Father, I will!" Here is our petitioning Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ offering up His Intercessory Prayer for His people! and here also is our God commanding that the petition should be granted in that sovereign word--"I will." O! that you may take those words home, and at your bed sides meditate upon them--"Father, I will!" In them you have the petition, in them you have the command!
The time will not allow me to go over the touching points embodied in this sweet prayer in the 17th chapter of John. The prayer of love poured forth from the very heart of the adorable Redeemer at that eventful moment when all His approaching sufferings, His violent death, with all its torturing agonies were staring Him in the face! And yet so devoted was His love to His people, that apparently forgetful of His own intense sorrows, He breaks forth in this petition and this prayer, and cannot, and will not die till the commanded supplication had been sent up to God--"Father, I will."
My hearers, it is a great mercy to be taught by the Holy Ghost--(and none else can ever teach it to any man)--that we have no free-will of our own, that "it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) Paul writes thus--"work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Now the Arminian reasons on this--(they have told me so again and again)--and says, 'There, you see, you must work out your own salvation.' But they "wrest" this Scripture! they pervert it. The meaning is this, to some of you before me, I have explained this formerly at St. Augustine's Church; it means simply this--"work out," that is get at your evidences; the same for instance as a boy at school, you give him a sum in arithmetic, and tell him to work out the product! to prove the sum; so here, in this word, examine, try, prove your own selves! Are there none before me now, no exercised souls, who know what that "working out" means? None who know what it is to lay panting, crying, groaning, at the foot of the cross for acceptance and for mercy? None who feel their beasthood before a Holy God? None who can cry out in Mr. Hart's sweet words--
"Help each poor trembler to repeat,
For me He died, for me."
O! here in these experiences is the reality of the work! He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." The word 'chance' is blotted out of the Christian's dictionary! There is no such thing, everything is according to covenant ordering! Not "a sparrow even can fall on the ground without our Father." (Matt. 10:29) Now it is the will of God to save His Church! Hear His own Word--"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:3-7) Mark that! "In whom we have" it, not in prospect! but in possession! we have it! and what have we got? "Redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace!" O! there is a bank that never stops payment! What a mercy it is to have a "new heart" and a "new spirit." What a mercy it is to have been brought out of nature's darkness. To be made "to differ!" But O! How many are the enemies of the Gospel! and these are all around us. But consider a few that are within, enemies within! blindness of heart! carnal security! false peace! human pride! and human righteousness! These are each and all enemies of the Gospel! Man is born blind, and none can open man's eyes but the living God! And none can make a Christian but He who made the worlds! Now, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature!" (2 Cor. 5:17) "Behold! I make all things new." Some people talk of 'a change of heart,' but that is not saving. Saul had that. God gave him 'another heart.' But mark what I say--it is the new heart which tests the Christian, not a mere change of heart, this would open the door to Arminianism! but grace never touches the old man. Augustus Toplady, once a brilliant star in the Church of England, and now, as I believe, a star in glory, he preached that "the Old Adam never can be a saint." O! no, old Adam! nature remains as black, as vile as ever! but "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." For instance, if it be in the case of a minister of the gospel, he preaches the full free doctrines of distinguishing grace, he proclaims the truth, he scorns to fawn to, or to flatter man, knowing under the power of the new creation by grace in his own soul, that if he "yet pleased men he would not be the servant of Christ; (Gal. 1:10) he strives to win souls to his dear Master's cross, and declares the whole counsel of God, and carries out in fact the meaning of the words--"Father I will." And O! what a mercy it is that it is our heavenly Father's will, His decreed and absolute will, "that not one of His little ones should perish." (Matt. 18:14) How many of His "little ones" are before me here? O! it is to you, to such as you that I long, that I desire to preach, even to Christ's little ones! And in preaching to you, in ministering to babes, I feel that I shall profitably speak to many "old men," and "fathers" in Christ. I believe that the average number of God's people in this time state consist mostly of little children. Those that are tremblers in Sion, those that are often full of fears, those that are intensely earnest to get at their own evidences, those, as I said just now, who can feelingly sing Hart's words--
"Help each poor trembler to repeat,
For me He died, for me."
The blessing is this; to know, to believe, to have a hope that Christ died for me. What blessing can it be to me that Christ died for every one of you, unless I can say, and saying feel it, that He died for me individually? And I can only say this, and believe this, by the mercy of that Sovereign Power, that was commanded into the heart of Thomas, as recorded in John's Gospel! O! how faithless the disciple was till the power came, till the power was given. "The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20:25) Now how honest he was in this assertion! "I will not believe! But afterwards, when the command came! "Be not faithless, but believing--then Thomas immediately exclaimed, "My Lord, and My God." Here, in that you have a practical evidence of the force of those three words I am preaching on--"Father, I will! It was the will of God that at that particular moment Thomas should believe and Thomas did believe! But who can give a sinner faith? There is a remarkable Scripture in Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." It is then by "the Word of God!" And deeply mark here the statement of the Apostle Paul--"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" And who can send a minister? The Holy Ghost said--"Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." (Acts 13:2) The Spirit is the only sender. And, my brother, let me tell you, that whenever the Holy Ghost--(and there are those before me who can sympathize in what I am going to say, and which I have myself experienced)--whenever the Holy Ghost separates a man for the work of the ministry, Satan immediately will attack, worldlings will set at him, a host of enemies will surround him; but despite all this, despite men and devils, he will assuredly conquer all, for the Lord Jehovah is on his side. Let me read a passage in Jeremiah 1:10, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build up, and to plant." And also (verses 18,19)--"For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee." O! Mark Jehovah's sovereignty! "They shall fight against thee;" we cannot escape it! and when they do so fight against us, it is a blessed evidential test of our faithfulness! But mark! "They shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee." O! there is the secret--"I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee!" And I know this as well as Jeremiah did.
And now a word about serving--serving God! I have preached just now that salvation is all of grace, and "not of works," that as a merit they have nothing whatever to do with man's salvation, neither are they in any way a procuring cause. But we are to serve God! and we are delivered to serve! Have those words ever struck you in Luke 1:74--That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear." The free man can only serve God! and where is it we get liberty? "Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for Thou shalt deal bountifully with me." (Ps. 142:7) There was the cry! David was in the deep, and in prison! he cried for deliverance--"Bring my soul out of prison; and why? "that I may praise Thy name;" and then the hope he had when in prison, and as he cried--"the righteous shall compass me about," that is, the RIGHTEOUS ONE! as I understand it! even Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Men, carnal men, and professing men may call this enthusiasm or Calvinism, or what else they will, but it is the real experience of every child of God! I know it, I have realized it, and I can therefore preach it! and then follows the words--"For Thou shalt deal bountifully with me." I think that word occurs three times in Psalms: first, as a prayer, Psalm 119:17--"Deal bountifully with Thy servant;" secondly, as a past experience, in Psalm 13:6--"He hath dealt bountifully with me;" and then as an anticipation of mercy when the soul was in distress and bondage, "for Thou shalt deal bountifully with me." Now, some of us may be able to go back to what God has done in days gone by in bountiful dealing; others may be now pleading, "deal bountifully;" and some energized by grace in faith exclaim--"Thou shalt deal bountifully with me." These are some of the realities which none know but genuine Christians! To trust our God when and where we cannot trace Him! and though tried and harassed, how sweet to be able to say--"But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Also--"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God." Our evidences must be tried. O! you must be burnt out of all false hopes, and carnal security, and experimental truth must be burnt in. And look at those solemn words in Matthew 25: see how reprobates can adopt the tone of even real prayer--"Lord, Lord, open to us!" There was the sound of prayer! But O! it was carnal prayer! There was profession--the vessel and the lamp, but there was no reality, no possession, no oil! They were ten virgins, all virgins! All professors, but not all possessors; five of them were wise! Five of them were foolish! And where does true wisdom come from? "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30) Christ is our wisdom! but we must be in ourselves fools! or we can never experimentally know the reality of wisdom! "We are fools for Christ's sake."
The text goes on--"Father, I will, that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." Thus we see that Christ could not die; that Christ cannot be happy! (I speak it reverently) unless His people be with Him! Now, in reference to this, their being with Him in eternity, the mercy is that Christ and "His own elect" are inseparable, as sure as that I am now standing in this pulpit, as certainly as that I am preaching before you, so is it certain, yea, fixed from before all worlds, that each one of you, if chosen in Him before the foundation of the world shall be therefore with Him in eternity! Ah! I may be called narrow-minded, and a bigot, it may be, and it is said that I preach only to the elect, and I insist upon it Sunday after Sunday, in my own pulpit, that the Elect alone are saved; and this is quite true; but I take up the challenge, and I fearlessly meet the charge; and I say now to you, as I tell my own home flock, that I will not allow one man in this church, whether he be an avowed infidel, or as carnal as possible, though dead as the stones in the street, though now "having no hope," "and without God in this world," and (if there can be such a case,) though now denying the very being of a God at all, I will not allow that man even to say that he is non-elect. There is a "blind people that have eyes," and each to be brought forth; there are those now dead in sin, who may yet be quickened; there is a set time of favor, and such may one day shine the brightest in the Redeemer's triumphant crown! Remember Manasseh! and forget not Mary! Were not they elect? Were not they made willing in the day of Jehovah's power? (Ps. 110:3) And hence with such encouraging realities before me, whether I preach the gospel here, in St. Thomas' Church, or at St. Barnabas', or at All Saints', or at any other Church, I delight to proclaim the glad tidings of great joy, and to obey the command--"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) But, it must be "THE GOSPEL! the full, free gospel. Not "offers and proffers," not indiscriminate and general invitations to all mankind, but the FREE GRACE GOSPEL to poor needy, hungry, and thirsty sinners! This is the gospel, and there is no other. The Arminian has got his creed! the Quaker has his, and the Socinian has also his, and I through distinguishing mercy have got also mine, the gospel! learnt in the school of God, and burnt into my heart by My blessed Master!
And here will you allow me to read you what was accompanied with a blessing, I hope in my own church the other day--it is the statement in verse, of the Christianity of a man who sat some years under the ministry of a faithful servant of God. I think that, on one occasion, when I was preaching at All Saints' Church, I quoted a very striking passage in one of Augustus Toplady's sermons, about the elegant lady attired in her white muslin gown, fresh from her toilet, and her unseasonable encounter with the black chimney sweep, who rushing against her, blackened her dress. And, now I would bring before you an interesting account of another black chimney sweep; and I would read these verses, because they, to my mind so strikingly proclaim one of the most wonderful instances of the almighty power of God, of the marvelous way in which He works, and the amazing grace by which He calls the (to us) most unlikely persons, and makes them receive the gospel. Now listen to me--
"A chimney sweep, how black the skin,
Blacker far it is within,
This secret then the sweep doth know,
Tho' black as hell, he's white as snow.
Water will wash or cleanse the skin,
But O! 'tis blood must cleanse within,
That blood that ran on Calvary's tree,
Tho' but a sweep, 'twas shed for me.
Whilst thro' the street, 'tis sweep,' I cry,
But oft within a heavy sigh,
A smutty sweep! but O! within,
A den of unclean beasts is seen.
Tho' but a sweep, I ofttimes weep,
That Christ should own me for His sheep,
And on the cross should bleed and die,
For such a smutty wretch as I.
What matters it, dear LORD, to me,
Tho' I a chimney sweep should be,
If thro' THY BLOOD I'm freed from all,
The sin that issued from the fall?
A chimney sweep of low degree,
Yet lov'd by all the SACRED THREE,
Electing love! what tongue can tell,
Tho' lov'd of God deserving hell!
I envy not the rich man's gold,
If I on Christ but lay my head,
There's something more I seek to win,
'Tis Christ in me and I in Him!
Tho' but a sweep, can I forget
The words that my dear Jesus spoke,
When on the brink of hell I stood,
'I have Redeem'd thee by MY BLOOD.'
'Tis all of GRACE, the sweep must say,
That he was led to Christ 'THE WAY,'
If ever one has cause to bless,
Sure 'tis the sweep thro' sovereign grace!
In by gone days, with venom foul,
I've called damnation on my soul,
Then who has greater cause to say,
'Tis Christ, 'the TRUTH, the LIFE, the WAY.'
Let none despise the smutty sweep,
But rather with him let them weep
That Christ should own me for His son,
And for my life lay down HIS OWN.
Tho' black without 'tis worse within,
'Tis nothing but a mass of sin,
Yet after all I'm white and fair,
More comely than the roses are.
Comely I am thro' GOD'S DEAR SON,
He has on me HIS ROBE put on,
Which makes the sweep, when let to see,
Ofttimes to say--'Why me! Why me!"
There, in those verses--there, in the instances of that black smutty sweep, we have a most remarkable instance of the way in which Jehovah works His own purposes and designs--one, humanly speaking, so unlikely! And yet made to receive converting Grace! But listen to Scripture--"and such were some of you." O! I can well enter in to the feelings of the astounded Ruth, when she dropped in the corn fields of Boaz, and said--"Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?" (Ruth 2:10) But the prayer of our blessed Christ, our glorious Lord is--"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am." In John 14:2,3, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Here then we have the purpose of God set forth: and in the Old Testament, Malachi 3:6, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." You and I are fickle, and uncertain as a weathercock! You and I are changeable, and changing every hour! but the Lord changeth not! His love, His purposes are the same, eternal, like Himself! He acts "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:11) A Christian in his old nature is as wicked, as vile as ever; but it is the new man that is perfect and sinless! So in 1 John 4:4, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them"--(speaking of the enemies of the church!)--"because greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world." And in that wonderful passage of Paul's, in 1 Cor. 11:32, "But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." Mark the words! "That we should not be condemned with the world." Thus then, the world is condemned; but I think I am correct in stating that the expression, "judged," "when we are judged!" signifies when we are discriminated, or "discerned," as Paul says in another place, "he that is spiritual judgeth all things," (1 Cor. 2:15) "DISCERNETH ALL THINGS." A worldling cannot understand what the Christian knows where the worldling is, for he occupied the same place himself when in nature's gross darkness. Discoveries have been made to the one and not to the other! Now listen to the text--"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." That they, "His own elect," not only should be, and shall be with Himself, but also that they "may behold My glory." Here is love! and the power of it. Talk of creature love! I suppose that the strongest love of which the human heart is susceptible is that of a mother for her sucking child! And yet listen to the Word of God, it portrays a love stronger than a mother's heart can know. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb, yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me." (Isa. 49:15,16) O! those words--"Yea! they may forget, yet"--"yet," O! listen to the gracious declaration--"Yet will I not forget thee." Is there a man or woman here--Is there one in this church now, really interested in that everlasting love? If so, may my simply referring to that love do you good. Kent, in one of his hymns, sweetly expresses it.
"Lov'd with the dateless love of God,
And blessed by the great sacred Three!"
"DATELESS LOVE!" Amazing expression for a poor man unlearned in human lore, uneducated, and in a dockyard.
But O! he knew that in all the power and unction of it! The greatest scholar of our age, unless taught in the school of God, could never fathom that. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) Observe--"I have loved thee," and "therefore have I drawn thee"--and O! "drawn with loving-kindness!" Hence the reason why any one is "drawn." None can come except drawn! Some persons imagine they can come in and by their own power, but it is a vain imagination! None can come but everlastingly loved ones, and they can only come when drawn. "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) And again--"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) And how do they come? "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them." "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou has given Me, for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
And now, before I finish, I would refer you to that striking experimental passage in Jeremiah 31:18,19: "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth." Jehovah here declares that He has heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, writhing under chastening, crying in prayer, and calling on God; and then the confession, and the deep contrition of soul, the work of grace. First the being turned, then the repenting, and when taught, then the smiting, and the shame, and the confusion, and the reproach. This is what every new born child of God in Christ must, and does, and shall feel, and experience! You and I understand something of these things! O! the reproach, the smarting of reproach under a sense of personal guilt and individual sin! O! how this often like a fog in the marsh thickens on us and distresses us! And O! how blessed is he whose sins are pardoned. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." (Ps. 32:1) Covered so! that Jehovah cannot see it; and surely it is a sweet evidence of our being pardoned when we feel, and grieve for, and are confounded and ashamed because of our guilt and sin. Now in the 20th verse of this 31st chapter of Jeremiah, we have a blessed reality set forth, and the word "is," which is printed in the Bible, and is in italics, is not in the Hebrew, and so, I take it not as asking a question, but as descriptive of God, (having heard the confession of Ephraim's sin, and drawing him like another repenting prodigal to his home,) acknowledging him thus--"Ephraim my dear son! a pleasant child! for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him saith the Lord." My hearers, have you realized any of these things in and for yourselves! "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7) Or as we may render that word "if," "when we walk in the light as He is the light," then it is that we have fellowship one with another, that is, communion with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and then, mark me well; then is the time when experimentally, "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Troubles, trials, temptations, distress of mind, darkness of soul, these are all means in the school of God by which He teaches, educates His people. There are some now present who know this, that these things are so; some in deep distress of soul now; some for whom I at times pray at home that God would remove your burden, dissipate your trial, cause the light to arise, and speak peace, sweet peace into your souls. O! this is a reality, mere profession will not do.
"No big words of ready talkers,
No dry doctrines, will suffice:
Broken hearts, and humble walkers,
These are dear in Jesus' eyes.
Tinkling sounds of disputation,
Nated knowledge, all are vain;
Every soul that gains salvation
Must and shall be born again."
Now, my hearers, with this great subject in the text before us, may we be enabled to anticipate the blessed prospect when we shall be with the Lord in Glory! O! how this makes this poor vain world dwindle away into its own nothingness and insignificance! There is then a period in reserve for all the "election of grace," when they shall each and all, every one of them see that glory set forth in the text! O! how touching the thought that Christ did leave His glory for a time, and fulfilling the declarations of prophecy concerning Himself, became "a man of sorrows!" and was acquainted with grief!" See then the prospect before the church! The blessedness she has in view! Many before me may be deeply tried here in their circumstances, in their families, your fairest hopes, and happiest prospects all blighted blasted, gone! But look! See what is looming in the everlasting future! Remember Israel of old, harassed, worried, terrified, perplexed! Pharaoh and his army pursuing! impassable mountains on either side! and nothing but the fearful sea before them in front! How could they escape? What could the trembling Israel do? The command to Moses was--"Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward." The sea and destruction seemed to stare them in the face! But O! when they neared, the mighty and the affrighting waters, the waves receded at Israel's approach and became as a wall on either side of them. When, however, the pursuing enemy came down, Pharaoh and all his host, those same waters became the grave of Israel's enemy! O! that we may under all our trials and exigencies realize the protection of our God, and anticipate a sight of His glory!
But I must now finish. I may have been too long preaching, but it is not often that I come to London to preach, and I trust that the word which in "weakness, and fear," and (in one sense,) "in much trembling," I have proclaimed here amongst you, may be blessed to the comfort and edification of "the poor in spirit," and the broken in heart, that you may have gleaned something in the Master's cornfield! And now let me read my text once more, it may prove to you, as my hearers sometimes say to me at home. 'Your text was better than all your preaching.' I like that, for it keeps us from being puffed up! And may this text be a comfort to you, a strengthener in the time of temptation, and trial, and need. I will finish with the word--"Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."