"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:19,20)
The Apostle begins this Epistle with his common address of salutation to the church; and, addressing the saints at Ephesus, thanks God, at verse 3, for the spiritual blessings they had received--"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Mark, my hearers! Paul thanks God not for all the people at Ephesus, but for those whom God had everlastingly chosen in His Son before all worlds--"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." And here we have set forth--the Person in whom the elect are chosen--"according as He hath chosen us in Him," in Christ; and then the period of that election--"before the foundation of the world;" and here we have doctrine enough for the whole evening!
The Apostle proceeds to point out their adoption as children; and summing up this vast subject declares that he "ceases not to give thanks for them, making mention of them in his prayers;" and in these striking terms declares--"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." What a wonderful Scripture!--"the glory of His inheritance in the saints." Christ's vested interest is in you, if you are His! for His inheritance is in the saints! Then comes the passage I am endeavoring to preach on--"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."
First of all, dear hearers, the expression before us, "the exceeding greatness of His power." Mark the words, and hence observe, that man has no power, that man has no free-will, no desire, that he cannot turn to God until God gives the power. And hence see that blessed passage in Isaiah 65:1, "I am sought of them that asked not for Me; I am found of them that sought Me not: I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name."
Now this power! We read in the Psalms, "Power belongeth unto God;" all power is of God. Power external, power internal. "The powers that be" even, "are ordained of God." The power of our Sovereign, the power of our government, the power of magistrates, is all of God. But it is of His special and eternal power--it is the wonder-working power of His Divine grace in the heart--it is of that earthquake--of that turning upside down and inside out--of that entire and vast change in the chosen sinner's heart and soul, and that effected by the unasked for power of the Holy Spirit of God--it is of this, that I desire to attempt to preach. There are those--and very busy they are--unscripturally calling on the dead in sin to pray: 'if you pray,' say they, 'God will hear;' 'if you repent;' 'if you believe,' and so on; but what saith the Word of God? "I am sought of them that asked not for Me; I am found of them that sought Me not: I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name." Grace! free-grace effects this in man. Have you that grace? Have I, in my own soul? Have we each got the power of God in a broken heart? Here is distinction, here is discrimination! But mark, deeply mark, the wording of this Scripture, see the force of the adjective in it, "what is the exceeding greatness of His power."
I will turn to that wonderful account, that striking passage in Acts 16, and portray before you that wondrous scene. It was at midnight, amidst the darkness and stillness of that lonely hour, within the dreary cells of that "inner prison," that solemn prayer and praise was heard. Two captive saints were there; it is written--"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." They prayed, they sang praises, and that to God! The other prisoners heard them. The sudden earthquake now comes on (O what a night was that!); the foundations of the prison was shaken; the doors are opened; all the bands were loosed! But, now, mark the power of God. "The exceeding greatness of His power," and instanced here in the new creation of the jailor's soul; that just before hard-hearted man now touched by the appeal of his prisoner, Paul, and, wrought on by the power of God, now becomes a babe in Christ: a striking instance of God's new-creating power! O, what an earthquake we see here in that poor sinner's soul! Have we experienced the same thing? "What is the exceeding greatness of HIS POWER?" I cannot preach it to you! and what follows it in the text? O that I may touch your hearts! "to usward who believe." Now this brings the thing into a focus, for it is "the exceeding greatness" of GOD'S POWER to a particular portion of men--"to usward who believe!"
When our blessed and glorious Head was about to ascend up where He was before, and after the wonderful transaction of the third day, as He was about to depart, and leading them out as far as to Bethany, He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And, e'er He departed up on high, declared those memorable, never-to-be-forgotten words--"All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." And this He said not merely to those around and with Him, then, but to each and all His people; and though especially addressed to His faithful ministers, yet in one sense to all the church--to some of you, some of us, to you, to me, here in St. Augustine's Church, tonight, and that, too, to comfort, to cheer us amidst the trials of time, the troubles, temptations, darkness, and dreariness of this time-state dispensation; to support and strengthen us amidst the doubtings, fearings, tremblings, yea, at times, despondencies, and sometimes amidst the blackness of despair, when under trial and temptation, the "enemy coming in like a flood," the soul seems sinking, like the poor shipwrecked sailor, on a tempestuous sea, and so is driven to clutch hold on the only plank that he can see to save him from destruction. But the power of God comes into the soul at the right time, and saves the sinking Christian; and then he can feel
"Those feebles desires, those wishes so weak,
'Tis Jesus inspires, and bids you still seek;
His Spirit will cherish the life He first gave;
You never shall perish if Jesus can save."
"The exceeding greatness of His power!" I speak it reverently, but I speak it firmly, that it is as impossible for an elect soul to be lost, as it is impossible for God to fail in the fulfillment of His promises.
Now, let me ask, Have you faith? and has your faith been really tried? I would not value anyone's faith unless it had the test of trial. Peter speaks of "The trial of your faith." Peter knew well what he was speaking about. There is no portion of the Bible sweeter to my soul than Peter's two Epistles. When I look at Peter's eventful history, when I consider his wonderful love and devotion to his Master, when I hear him, under the constraining influence of that love, declare, and that, too, with integrity and full purpose of heart--"Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. Peter said unto Him. Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee. Likewise also said all the disciples." And, then, when afterwards I behold Peter, under the withdrawal of that power of which I am preaching to you, turn coward, and not only denying Christ, but denying Him with curses and with oaths, I exclaim, "Lord, What is man?" And here am I as vile as Peter, as rash as Peter, as weak as Peter, except as I am held up, and held on, by that exceeding power that saved and upheld him.
"Poor child, maternal love alone
Preserves thee, first and last;
Thy parent's arms, and not thy own,
Are those that hold thee fast."
Do you understand anything about that? But Peter's trial of faith! that is what I was speaking on. How he lays stress upon "the trial of faith." "That the trial of your faith (says the experimental apostle, and I would not give a straw for the preacher that is not experimental) being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire," (have you been in the fire?) "might be found unto praise, and honour and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Now mark, my hearers, "at the appearing of Jesus Christ," that is an experimental term. True, it refers, in one sense, to when He shall appear again; but is there no such thing experimentally as Christ appearing to His Church after hiding His face? Is there no meaning, in the experience of it, in that wonderful statement in the gospel of John, "but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice?" Why, who can tell anything of that, but the man who has been experimentally, really under the hidings of God's face? "Thou didst hide Thy face," (says the Psalmist) "I was troubled;" so say I, and I cannot preach it to you; but I know it experimentally. I have learnt it by experience, and so God has taught me--"Thou didst hide Thy face, I was troubled." (Ps. 30:7) And when that face is hid, where do you and I get to? There is not a sin, there is not a vice, that would disgrace the greatest sinner in Billingsgate, there is not a sin that you and I, as Christians, should not, and could not fall into; (for we are capable of anything naturally and carnally,) and we are only kept out of it by that hand which alone has the power.
It is a great subject I am speaking on, "the trial of your faith." "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:7) And, again, at the end of this same Epistle, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1 Pet. 4:13) Faith must be tried--a faith that has had no trials is a very suspicious sort of thing; a mere notional faith is very different from that Heaven-born faith which is the gift of God. "For 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) Observe! Faith is but the eye, grace saves, not faith. Faith is that gift of God to a gracious soul, by which salvation is seen with personal interest, and seen, too, to be all of and by grace alone! Herein is the power! "The exceeding greatness of His power." Have you faith? Faith in the Living God? Have you received that power by which alone any sinner can believe savingly? Is it tried faith? Remember, "the devils also believe and tremble!" and so, also, the mere professor boasts of a faith; but, mark me, it is only the poor, the harassed, and afflicted church of God that have, and that know "the faith of God's elect." True faith is so characterized by Paul! and Paul also tells us this--"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Rom. 5:1-5) Hence we see what follows in the soul experience of every justified sinner--tribulation working patience; then patience, experience; and then experience, hope! "and hope maketh not ashamed!" because of that love of God which is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Thus, then, mark the effects, the signs, the tokens of being in a justified stake, even this, "tribulation, patience, experience, hope," and hope that takes away shame! Mark why, "because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." To preach this is impossible! No human tongue can do so. But mark, it is "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe." My hearers, there is a crowd, a large crowd here assembled before me, tonight. Do you each and all believe? or is it but a mixed multitude? I would search and try your spirits. Paul charged the church at Corinth--"Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves." The sum and substance of all preaching is this--to bring sinners to see their lost, undone state by nature; and whether they are each personally interested in that salvation which is in, through, and by Christ alone. The time is coming--it may be near to some, and not far from us all,--when we must stand before God! When we must appear in the presence of the Eternal Jehovah. How sweet to know in anticipation of that tremendous time, that there is one Friend who loveth at all times. That "there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother." (Prov. 18:24) O! thus to be able to meditate on Christ; so to know Him, and so to hope in and believe in Him! This, this is "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe." Do you know, my hearers, anything of that great text in Job, a deep experience is in it: "Will He plead against me with His great power? No! but He would put strength in me." And are there any persons here who do not believe? I cannot open your hearts to receive the TRUTH--"Power belongeth unto God"--but this I tell you, that if there is one man here dead in sin, if there is one man here a mere professor, however noisy and red-hot in that profession you may be, any here who have notional faith, or a doctrinal faith, but who has not got the faith of God's elect," I tell you that that faith is God's gift, and that it is only by understanding in our heart's experience the text I am speaking on, that we can derive any solid comfort, or any real hope, and this by "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe."
When I saw, the other day, Sir Fitzroy Kelly, and heard him, in his own peculiar and masterly style, pleading in the Court of Chancery, and the two judges listening to His argument, I was struck with the way in which that celebrated and learned counsel, every now and then, turned appealingly and with confidence to the Statute; and neither judge, nor lawyer could gainsay or contradict that! And O! in a ten thousand times higher and holier sense, I would, pleading here before you, only refer to the statutes of this blessed Book before me--the unchanging Word of the Eternal and Living God! And O! if anyone, or more of you came in tonight at that door "without God, and having no Hope," may you be convinced of the Truth now as I am preaching; and, though "the exceeding greatness of His power," believe to the salvation of your soul. And when does any man begin to believe aright? When power is given. When he begins to see and believe in his own felt-sinnership. When he sees his own undone and ruined state by nature, and the fall. When he views his own picture in that masterly touch of Isaiah's pencil--"From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores." (Isa. 1:6) And when under a feeling sense of personal corruption, guilt, and sin, he seeks salvation and pardon, and forgiveness in the blood of Christ. And then again, dear hearers, you old Christians, for there must be some such here (and I believe there are;) you who have long been in the "narrow way;" you well know that nothing can give you peace, that nothing can bring home to your hearts the blood of Christ with application and comfort, but that power which is exceeding great "to usward who believe;" that power is of God alone, and you will only value it and desire it, in proportion as you see more and more the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of your own deceitful heart; yea, till you see that it is blacker than blackness, and viler than vileness. And, then, when you so view self--yourselves so--then you will value, then you will prize "the blood of Jesus Christ, that cleanseth us from all sin."
There is a remarkable passage in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 13:38,39) to which I will turn--"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren;" observe here how discriminately the apostle preached--"Men and brethren;" there is a marked, an emphatic distinction here, and the preacher who does not discriminate and separate in his preaching is useless. "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren"--that is the way the apostle preached, and in preaching do you not think that he desired to be the means of bringing out some of "men" into the ranks of his "brethren?" To be sure he did, as it is now my desire to do so amongst you tonight. And O! if I am suffered of God, my Master, to throw the gospel-net on the right side, and tonight enclose only, if it be only, one fish, nothing can describe the joy I should experience. "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (1 Cor. 4:15) But I must pass on; the apostle proceeds--"that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38,39) Those Ten Commandments cannot save you; but if they have come to you with power, they, through grace, will have driven you to Christ, as the Law fulfiller for, and of all, "His own elect."
"The law revealed my desperate case,
And down my Babel fell."
"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."
And now I would lead you to meditate on Calvary, and its touching and eventful history. Let me point your minds to the once agonized Redeemer; let me show you the dying Christ. Listen to the Scripture--"Then came Jesus forth wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe, and Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man!" "Behold the Man!" Behold Him on the Cross! View those outstretched arms; that tortured body dying the death of the Cross. Then see Him laid in the new tomb; and then, on the eventful third day, see Him accomplishing the fulfillment of that vast Scripture in John 10--"No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself." I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father." What can Socinianism, and what can infidelity say to this? How the God and the power of God is manifested here--"God was manifest in the flesh." (1 Tim. 3:16) Mark the wondrous words--"I have power to lay it down." Pilate could not else have delivered Him up to be crucified! The purpose of God is here seen! "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts 2:23) Thus He had power to lay down His life, and He had "power to take it again," and He did "take it again!"
He was laid in the tomb of Joseph (of Arimathaea!) Behold Him, on the eventful third day, rising from the grave with power! The sturdy Roman sentinel in vain stood there to guard that tomb! The sealed stone was all in vain. Nothing could detain Christ there. He rose triumphant, and with power, accomplishing that mighty word--"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes." (Hos. 13:14) And then His ascension up on high, where, in the exercise of that power of which I am attempting to preach to you, He is now in glory.
The next point in the text is--"according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." Observe here that the very same irresistible power that raised Christ up from the grave, is that which raises a sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, from a state of carnal security and death. It is this same power, the power of God, which quickens the dead in sin in the first instance. It is this same power which, in all other instances, raises up the sinner, as in the case of a poor backslider, one who has fallen into sin! And remember the word--"My people is bent to backsliding from Me." It is this same power which restores and raises the poor backslider that is down. Power applies the word: "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you; and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion." (Jer. 3:14,15) And why? What is the plea--"for I am married unto you"--union, everlasting union! Have you that ring on? It is an emblem of eternity! O! what a God, what a Husband is ours! "Though thou hast played harlot with many lovers, yet return again to Me, saith the Lord." (Jer. 3:1)
"Though your sins be red as scarlet,
White as snow I'll make them be;
Though thou oft hast played the harlot,
Fond of others more than Me."
Listen to me! Does this find you out? Am I getting into your hearts? Oh! that is an evidence that a preacher is sent of God, when he gets in to the hearts of the people--
"Though thou oft hast played the harlot,
Fond of others more than Me."
Come friends! who has not done so? Do not answer me, but answer my Master. Answer this in your own consciences, and then listen!
"Yet I love Thee;
Thou art still my undefiled."
"Though thy sins be past recounting,
Like the sand the ocean laves,"
(Is that your case?)
"Jesus is of Life the fountain,
He unto the utmost saves."
Now Paul says, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." And here I would refer to the Scripture so perverted by Arminians and infidels--I speak it not uncharitably, but for the glory of God--"that Scripture I mean, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12,13) And they say, that this is a command, and a proof that man is to do something to effect his own salvation; but, they say falsely, for they should go on to the following verse, where it is said, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." And then again, the "fear and the trembling," they know nothing about. And thus, in the same way, they mangle that blessed passage in John 6:37, taking only a part of the verse and not the whole of it, "him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." And so, such persons will insist on the free will of man. But they omit the former portion of the verse, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." As also that other sovereign Free Grace word, "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." (John 6:44) But I was speaking of that word, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." It is a blessedly experimental Scripture, and I understand it thus; it has been burnt into my heart, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," that is, get at your evidences that you are saved, that Christ's salvation, finished by and in Him alone, is "your own salvation," that He has saved you individually, personally. Work it out! as a boy at school has work out a sum in arithmetic, set him by the master, to get at the sum total, and the answer, and then to prove it to be right.
And is it not so with the Church? O! yes, it is, "Work out," et at your evidences. This is the exercise and the pathway of all gracious souls, and it is done "in fear and trembling." But all this God Himself works in and for His people. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do, of His good pleasure." "Both to will and to do." Put the crown on the right head! Oh be not usurper, nor a traitor! The Queen of England possesses by inheritance the crown of Britain--it would not be a rightful crown on one who would usurp it; so those who have not submitted by Sovereign power to Jesus Christ for salvation, and who do not look alone to Him for it, are usurpers!
And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe according to the working of His mighty power" (or, as it is in the margin, "of the might of His power") "which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead!" Can you have experienced these things, and not be conscious of it? of this mighty power! You might as well tell me that you could have your arm cut off, and not feel the pain. The power of chloroform would stop that pain; but chloroform cannot stop the agonizing sensations of a broken heart. That is a reality felt and known. And here mark the union between Christ and His church! As I was just now speaking of the trials of Faith, this passage came sweetly to my mind in John 15, "I am the vine, ye the branches." "Abide in Me, and I in you." "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." There is the trial of Faith! "He purgeth it!" In the Greek--He prunes it, cleanses! and so in the church--pruning, cutting down!
I feel there are some here before me who understand this firework--you must be tried! you must be in the fire! It is this that gives union; yea, union between Christ and His church! Union with each other!
"When is it Christians all agree,
And let distinctions fall?
When, nothing in themselves, they see
That Christ is all in all."
That unites us, gathers us in one! Unites us on the plain ground by the simple bond, and hence is felt and known a union of heart, a union in doctrine, a union in experience, a union in desire, a union in want, though we may often fail in a union of practice. David exclaimed, and David felt, "Thy law is my delight," by that law he means the gospel! That which James calls, "The perfect Law of Liberty." (James 1:25) O! "what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." "The working of His mighty power!" It is a continual working, a work never stopping, always going on. The working of the Father in the child; yea! and that the same mighty working of Almighty power which was "wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead." We read, in John 6:63, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." "The flesh profiteth nothing!" Mere forms and services bedews the soul, then it is life. You remember that when the Shepherd of the one flock came up from Jordan, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him; and then the heavenly announcement--"Lo! a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17)
Listen to me, while I declare to each poor sinner before me, who is "accepted in the Beloved," in Christ the Redeemer that though in yourself you are as black as hell, that "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Remember, friends, also, this great subject, that He is coming again, and we must all appear before Him! Who amongst us shall stand when He appeareth? This is the end of all preaching! How stands the case with your soul? Have you ever thought of that? I have, and it has made me tremble, sometimes when faith has been weak, love cold, and hope almost gone. O! listen! "When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment." (Matt. 22:11) Now listen! "and he saith unto him, Friend" (mark that word!) "Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? and he was speechless." He was thus brought, as Huntington says, in another sense, 'to the stopping of mouths;' the man was speechless; he was self-condemned. "Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Now, my hearers, have you a wedding garment on? Remember the parable of the ten virgins! five wise, and five foolish; and it is said, "While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." (Matt. 25:5) Observe, "they all slumbered and slept!" All careless, all sleepy, all in a state of slumbering carelessness! sleepy indifference! But five had OIL in their vessels, five had not. It was the oil, not the mere lamp; and thus the five with oil were ready and prepared for the bridegroom. Have you any oil? It may be very low at times, but the Fountain from whence it comes shall never dry up. "Thou hast anointed Him with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." (Ps. 45:7) The oil is treasured up in Christ.
The true end of all preaching is the anointing of souls with fresh oil. There is so much coming and going, so much preaching and hearing, but what is the great end of all this!
What is a school for? what is education? To train up the child, to educate it, so that it may be fitted for, and take its proper place in society, that it may rank becomingly with its equals, and properly occupy the station which, in after life, God has appointed it to fill. And what is the ministry for? What is our office? We are to prepare the church for the appearing of the Master! You know the parable of the laborers and the penny a day. And if there is a poor, cast down, desponding soul here tonight, I would point you to that parable. As I was mentioning, in my own pulpit the other day, that wonderful parable, and those words, "they received every man a penny," (Matt. 20:9,10) cuts up root and branch, the abominable doctrine of salvation by works. And yet if there be a gospel hater before me, who may be come here to spy out the nakedness of the land, let me emphatically say to such an one, go not away with the notion, neither say that I said a word against good works. I merely renounce them as, in any degree, meritorious. Salvation is by grace! not by works! But while I declare this, I also, at the same time, with zeal and earnestness, charge the church, as the apostle did, with these blessed words--"This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men." (Titus 3:8) And, again--"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10) So that, you see, on the authority of God's Word, even the good works we may do are those which "God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." O what a God is our God! and as David says, "This God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide unto death." (Ps. 48:14)
And now, my hearers, in finishing this great subject on which I have endeavored to preach to you, it will be your mercy if you know really anything about it, or if you know what it is to be exercised on the same. This shows power, power to usward. May you thus leave this church exercised in soul about these things. "Shew me" (says the Psalmist) "shew me a token for good, that they which hate me may see it and be ashamed, because Thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me." (Ps. 86:17) And another sweet Scripture is now flowing into my soul; may it comfort some as I repeat it to you--"That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord." (Ezek. 16:63) A pacified God! Jehovah reconciled! Is there not reality in that? Does it not confound us, and stop our mouth? Is it not melting; does it not melt us down under a sense of God's lovingkindness?
"He saw me ruined in the fall,
Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate;
His lovingkindness, O how great!"
"He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel." (Num. 23:21) "Who is blind but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent; who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord's servant." (Isa. 42:19) May the power, the exceeding greatness of GOD'S power have been felt and known here tonight. May souls have been comforted under the gospel! May waiting souls, through the working of this "mighty power," have seen, as the venerable Simeon did see, the salvation which he so longed for; and may the dead in sin have been touched and quickened into life. May we have each experienced the mighty power, so that inwardly and savingly we may trace and know the power of God in our own souls; and, meditating in my text, experience a blessing--"And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places"--where He is now in glory, our Redeemer, GOD, and LORD! May God command a blessing upon the gospel for Jesus Christ's sake.