"And as it is appointed unto men one to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:27,28)
THERE is a solemn point contained in the first verse of the text, that passage of God's word, which you have just heard me, my hearers, read. I am not going to dwell, important as it is, upon that portion of the passage, except to take a passing glance of it, and to give, it may be, a hint to you, and to myself, upon the stern fact, that it is appointed unto us (to you and to me), once to die, "but after this the judgment."
I was saying to my brother, when I entered his parsonage-house this evening, "How quickly these Tuesday evenings, once a month, come round." "Yes," said he, and I believe there are several anxiously expecting these Tuesdays to come." Well, my hearers, how quickly will the sand in our glass of life be all run out--with many of us, there may be but a few--there may be but one more dust to run, and tomorrow, you, or I, may be gone. And after death comes the tremendous event of judgment! Now, thus prefacing the subject, and which has been applied to my own mind with power, I shall pass on to the second verse in the text. And as I preach to you on the great subjects which this second verse contains, remember that death and judgment are at hand. Who can tell but that the mere announcement of the fact may have a blessed effect upon you. You Londoners, amidst that hurry and bustle of business, need a word of exhortation, and you may get a hint, perhaps, from a quiet countryman from this pulpit tonight.
Whilst we need admonition on these things in the quiet country hamlet, where, as we go through our parish, we scarcely meet a soul; you, in London, need in a ten-fold greater degree, amidst your passing thousands, and in the hurry of business, and of trade, such a hint as this. May God burn it into your hearts; and if you were not thinking of death and judgment as you entered the church door just now, may you go out of it contemplating this stern and solemn fact, and as you contemplate death and eternity, may your minds be carried on to Him "mighty to save." And with David, may you be able to say (as he does, in Psalm 104) "My meditation of Him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the Lord." I have the first verse; I take that merely as a preface--a kind of title page to what is coming; for the other verse contains within its short compass a "Bible in a Bible!" "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them who look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Now, my hearers, in the context the apostle is giving a description of the rites and ceremonies under the law, showing, prefacing (if I may so speak) that tremendous event the shedding of that precious blood, which only could save sinners. It was not possible the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins; the blood shed in type, under the law, set forth that wonderful transaction which in after ages was to be accomplished on the cross--when the GOD MAN was to suffer and to die, and by one offering, and that for ever, was to satisfy the justice, and to manifest the mercy and the love of God to the people of His own everlasting choice. These are the great subjects in the context. You can read that at your bed-sides tonight, and may it be blest to your souls.
I now come to the great, the vast point--"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Mark the fact; listen to those unmistakable words, "The sins of many!" the sins of all for whom He died. And here I pause, purposely pause, that you may entirely understand what I preach to you. On the authority of this Scripture, I proclaim Christ was "once offered to bear the sins of many." This cuts up the fashionable doctrine of universal redemption, a doctrine which is not scriptural; the false doctrine, that "God will save all men, if men will, and that men have only to come to God and He will save them." There is something catching in the sound. I know as well as any man, that if a man comes to God, God will save him. But a sinner never will come, never can come to God, unless God compels him to come: "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,--"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (1 Cor. 2:14,15) We can understand that. Now, my hearers, listen. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." I delight in that word "many;" it is antagonistic to the Arminian, Quakerish, and Popish word "all." The Arminian does not like such a text as that.--"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
Listen to it! In every time-state of the church, I believe, that spiritually the church is a "little flock;" but when the church is assembled hereafter in her moment of triumph; when the church, now militant, becomes then the church triumphant; standing round her conquering Lord--I believe what the Bible tells me, that her people then, her sons and her daughters, then, will be as countless as the sand upon the sea shore. I believe, too, that then there will be only one gigantic and all-seeing eye that will be able to count up the number of the people, whom His own precious blood has saved from the damning curse of sin, and a broken law. I believe that God's eye alone will be able to view the countless multitudes that no man can number. I may here refer to a verse in Kent's hymns, a verse that I shall never forget, no, not through all eternity; a verse that was blessed to me in a period of soul-exercise--Kent says in one of his hymns, speaking of the covenant arrangement of Jehovah--
"Grace had secured in Jesus then,
Millions untold of chosen men."
And the way in which those lines were blest to me was this: "That as "millions" were saved, and secured in Jesus, I might have a hope in my own soul that I was one amongst the millions secured in Christ. "Many," not all! If there is an free-willer here, let me say to him, in love, but let me tell him in unflinching boldness, that the doctrine which he holds, and which he cannot help holding, till he is brought out by the teaching of sovereign grace, that the doctrine of universal redemption, which he holds, is treason against my King and Master.
"Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many"--not all! Now comes the point, are you, am I among that "many?" There is only "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. And unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." (Eph. 4:5-7) The church is peculiar. I would impress it on the persons assembled here, that the church is a distinguished people, a purchased people, a people gathered from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south; composed (as our church expresses it) "of all sorts and conditions of men," high and low, rich and poor, redeemed by the blood of the everlasting covenant; and it is only those who have been died for, by the one Lord who receive from Him the one faith. There is no schism in the body; there is one faith, one baptism; that is the Baptism (mark me) of the Holy Ghost. "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." One God, who is above all, through all, and in you all. The church is one! We are children of the same family, entitled to the same privileges, heirs of the same everlasting home, we eat the same bread, and drink at the same fountain, the waters of everlasting mercy, life and love. Oh! what a family this to be a member of! Men, I know, pride themselves on aristocratic birth, and talk about their ancient pedigree; but the church of God, what a family is that, the oldest, the only aristocratic family after all; "born of God;" loved by Christ; chosen in Him; picked out from the havoc of the fall, and given to Christ, to be with Him, and to dwell with Him, for ever. And of all these, mark the pedigree, as written in John 1:13,14: "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." That gives the death-blow to proud Arminianism. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." "Who is above all, and through all and in you all." And mark this! CHRIST is in every new-born man, in every elect man. I may go further than the new birth--I may go to election--Christ was in the church, and the church was in Christ, in the everlasting purpose of God; she was in Christ, and Christ was in her, in purpose, covenant and decree; and for her He was content to die! Listen to me--
"'Tis His own, He dearly bought her,
What she cost he only knew;
Through the pains of hell he sought her,
Paid in blood her ransom too."
What words are these for a poor uneducated man, formerly a laborer in the dockyard at Plymouth. See how God can teach an uneducated man! how he can teach a man like Kent to proclaim truth. "What she cost He only knew." What she did cost, no one can ever know, but the living GOD-MAN who died for her. "He that spared not His own Son"--(as my brother in the desk was reading these words, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" they struck me very forcibly, Is He for you? then defy the devil, then defy self, defy all enemies. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;" that is, for all the church, not for all mankind. Paul is addressing the church in Rome, beloved of God, called saints;" not all the inhabitants at Rome, not all the people there. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32) "All things!" everything--from His "own elect" He withholds nothing.
I know the trials of the pathway; if I did not, I should never be able to preach, I should be useless in the pulpit; nobody can preach to feed the church, but a tried man. God tries us to make us preach; we must have trials, in order to ascertain whether or not we are one of the "many" of whom my text speaks; and the "many" consist of "the few." In every time-state of the church, God has said, and God will do it, my hearers. He has said it, that with His own Son, he will freely give us all things. "He that spared not His own Son!"--one can hardly control the sound of the tongue in proclaiming such a word as that--"He that spared not His own Son!" There is love! O! to see by faith that Son die; to see that Son suffer the death of the cross, the agony,--when He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken ME?" And then, to see Him, the holy, sinless Christ, led away like a felon to execution, and to death; Himself, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." (Heb. 7:26) "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." Do I succeed in preaching these words into your hearts? Now mark! "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
But to keep to the words of my text. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Now the next point is, what He bore. Listen to me! that which Christ bore was, "the sins of many." Then do you think that a just God will call you to account for your sins, when they have been all atoned for and all cancelled by the death of His Son? My debt (supposing I am a Christian man) is paid. You men of business will understand me: if you get into difficulties; if a writ is served against you, you must put in an appearance; but if you get a bondsman, you may defy the sheriff's officer; you may say to him, "What business have you to detain me? touch me if you dare; do it at your peril: you have no authority now, all you want is the money; my bondsman is responsible; he will pay my debt for me."
Now, then, let me carry out my text--"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." The debt is all paid: our Lord preached this Himself, in the seventh chapter of Luke. "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." What can you do with a poor man who has nothing to pay? you may take the bed from under him; you may shut him up in prison; but what good is that? It may be all very well in a commercial country like this; we must, perhaps, have recourse to these things. But look at the gospel--"And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." "Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most?" (said Christ to the pharisee). "Simon answered, and said, I suppose he to whom he forgave the most. And He said unto him, thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore, I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven." (Luke 7:43-48)
Now, my hearers, I have got more text than I can preach out fully. Pulpiters are often tried and harassed with having too much text, and I have too much here. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
We read in Zechariah's prophecy, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." (Zech. 13:1) There is a restriction, "to the house of David, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem," that is the saving part of it. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." I looked at my Greek Testament today, and I find that the meaning of the word "once," in the Greek, as it stands in our text, may be rendered "once for all." Let me read it in this sense, "So Christ was offered, once for all (that is 'out and out'--'for ever') to bear the sins of many!" We can do nothing--creature merit, or works, are all unavailing--GRACE, and grace only, saves the elect. Remember the case of Uzzah and the ark. The ark was shaking in the cart which the oxen drew: and Uzzah put forth his hand, as he thought to preserve the ark, and God struck him dead upon the spot. So, if you attempt to bring anything in your hand, it is an evidence against you, that you are dead in trespasses and sins. Augustus Toplady says:--
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling."
"Once for all! Christ was offered to bear the sins of many." I must leave that part of my subject--a most important part of my text is now to come. "And unto them that look for Him, shall He appear a second time without sin unto salvation." Christ then is coming again. You believe the fact, my hearers, that He has been once; you are an infidel if you do not believe that. But whether you believe it or not, I proclaim from the pulpit that He has been; and that He has died as the all-sufficient atonement on the cross of Calvary, entirely pacifying the anger of God against sin and elect sinners. Mark! "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it;" (Eph. 5:25) he loved her from all eternity. "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3) That love was evidenced by that death on the cross. "And unto them that look for Him shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation." He is coming again. Hear what the apostle says to the church at Thessalonica: "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Or, as it is in the Greek, "Exhort one another with these words."
I am not going to enter upon the second advent of our blessed Lord, except to proclaim the fact from the pulpit, that he is to appear again: that he is coming from heaven, preceded by his herald archangel: and the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and the elect shall be gathered from all quarters of the earth, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. And the man in this pulpit, the man in the desk, and the people in those pews shall then be there--and who shall stand when he appeareth? That is the solemn point. You in London, have much outward distraction; and so have we, comparatively quiet people in the country; Satan is very busy everywhere.
Death is a solemn announcement to us all. I cannot imagine a more startling declaration of truth and fact, amid the distraction, and hurry, and bustle of a London life, than to be told you must die. Neither can I imagine anything more seasonable amid the solemn stillness of this house of prayer, than to be told from the pulpit, that you must die--that you and I must stand at the judgment-seat of God; and that Christ is coming again to gather His own people, then comes the mighty fact--
"How stands the case my soul with Thee?
For heaven are thy credential clear?
Is Jesus' blood thy only plea?
In he thy great forerunner there;
"Is thy proud heart subdued by grace,
To seek salvation in His name;
There's wisdom, power, and righteousness,
All cent'ring in the worthy Lamb."
But mark the point--"Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time." Now I have sufficiently dwelt upon that part of the text: I have insisted on the doctrine that he is coming again--the second time. Now, then, look at those words, "Without sin." What are we to understand by that? He never had any sin! He was the holy God! It was proclaimed to the highly-favored virgin, from whose womb the Saviour was to come--"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that HOLY THING, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the SON OF GOD." (Luke 1:35) The sinless Christ, the only man without sin. The sin-bearer of His elect family--himself "without sin, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate (as Paul says) from sinners; without sin, though in union with chosen sinners, in a way in which he, and they never can be separated.
What is the meaning of that--His coming again "without sin?" My hearers, it is impossible to understand it in English; we get at it more intelligibly in the Greek. I believe I am not staining the passage, in rendering it thus "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without blood unto salvation." That is, without having to shed any more blood, as an atonement for sin.
Now I purposely pause here, because I feel this to be a tremendous subject for sinners to reflect upon.
Do not suppose I pique myself on a mere knowledge of Greek: the teaching of the spirit of God is what we want: and the Holy Ghost can teach any unlettered man, who has never been to school, and who cannot read a word even of English, much less of Greek, to understand the Truth, contained in God's word. I want you to understand this in the way in which I put it before you, because it may simplify the subject to you in some degree: that "to them that look for him, shall he appear the second time, without having to shed blood" again, by way of atonement. Thus salvation's work is "finished"--the salvation of the church is accomplished! In a passage in Daniel, it is written, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin; and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision, and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." (Dan. 9:24)
That has been done when He came first. Calvary's cross has registered the fact--the name of every blood-bought sinner is registered in the BOOK OF LIFE--and a battalion of devils, and innumerable sins, can never blot one name out of that book which has been everlastingly written there. And is not this good news? Is it not a blessed proclamation to hear from the pulpit, and on the authority of God's HOLY WORD that salvation's work is finished, accomplished, done! and all this by the precious blood of the Redeemer.
"That blood which can remove my guilt,
That blood which the great Saviour spilt;
That blood which cleanses me within,
That blood which pardons all my sin."
Is that blood to you a token? Remember the Passover, and its history in Exodus--the blood seen upon the lintel was the sign to the destroying angel. Again in Ezekiel 9:4, "And the Lord said unto him, God through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." But for what did they sigh and cry? A man may sigh and cry for many things--he may be discontented and peevish, and fretful carnally--ill-tempered because of worldly difficulties--cross from family cases, and domestic annoyances--but this is not the sigh, nor the cry which obtains the mark. Listen, "Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof."
"Let the sighing of the prisoner come before Thee; according to the greatness of Thy power preserve those that are appointed to die." It is the poor prisoner under the conviction of sin, and law, and conscience, that only sighs and cries so as to obtain the mark; carnal sighs and carnal groanings will not avail with God. It is that sigh which proceeds from a broken heart, under an inward sense of abominations, under a felt knowledge of your own corruption, depravity and sin. Bear with my plain speaking.
I am understood, I trust, my hearers, on this point, of Christ's appearing the second time, without having to make any more atonement, to shed any more blood--for sin!
To do justice to such a subject, is quite impossible; we cannot preach it; we cannot fully declare such a glorious subject; it beats, it masters the power of any human tongue. Christ's blood has "once"--"once for all"--atoned for all the sins of the church. This is TRUTH--all else is Popery. Christ has absolved the church from the guilt of all sin--in Him is our salvation. The only absolution which the poor sinner wants,--"the absolution and remission of our sins" by God Himself. Neither he nor I wish, neither do we dare to assume the office of absolvers; the only absolution, and the only pardon of sin, and for sinners, is that which has been effected on the cross by the eternal HOLY GOD MAN! O that cross!
"Jesus, the God, extends his arms,
Upon a cross of love and dies."
"O! wondrous cross, O! bleeding Lamb,
I'll sing thy love, and tell thy fame;
And taught to feel my sin and woe,
Will to thy wounds for shelter go."
That is the one only shelter. The sinner made sensible, often needs a shelter; and when the rain falls heavy, and the wind beats high, we need a shelter. It was so; I was told here, in Brick Lane, the other Sunday, No shelter to be had; you could not run into the houses. So, Christ is the only shelter. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." (Prov. 18:10) The Christian is continually pursued by enemies, like the hunted animal which is followed by the pack of hounds. There is but one refuge, but one shelter for safety, and that refuge is the Lord Jesus Christ; and when the sinner is made sensible of his sins, and is enabled to look to Christ, he runneth unto Him, and is safe from all evil. In Him is salvation! in Him is a strong tower of defense against the world, flesh, and the devil, and against all the wickedness, and wretchedness of self.
And here I come to the experimental point in the text; and the time reminds me that I should stop; but listen to me--"And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Here is a word for every poor, hungry, trembling sinner in this house of prayer. I should be grievously disappointed were I deceived in the hope I feel that there are several here who are "looking unto Jesus"--looking for --looking at Him! Here is the point! Such as are looking for Christ--exercised about Him--seeking for evidences of their own personal interest in His precious blood--such as are tried, and ask, Am I one whom His precious blood has redeemed? Am I a vessel of mercy afore prepared for glory? Such long to know their "election of God." "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." (Song 2:15)
It is one thing to be a professor, it is another to be a possessor. And men may talk of ministers, and that they can only hear such and such preachers; but the reality of hearing is when Christ is heard through His ministering servants. Ministers can only preach with power, as God bestows that power; I can only preach as I am taught of the Lord--it is His work, and it is His special teaching; it is one thing to preach what is called a sermon--another to preach CHRIST'S GOSPEL.
"From such apostles, O! ye mitred heads,
Defend the church! and lay not careless hands
On skulls that cannot teach, and will not learn."
It is a tremendous office to be a messenger to the church--to be the bearer of God's word to poor hungering, thirsty sinners. But the point I am preaching on is this, "To them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Now, that looking is the sign, the evidence of a new heart; not a change of heart as the so-called "evangelicals assert. There is no such thing as a "change of heart," it is the "new heart." "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." The scriptural word is "a new heart," and that new heart will be looking for and after Jesus!
"I thirst, but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share;
Thy wounds, Immanuel, all forbid,
That I should seek my pleasures there.
"It was the sight of Thy dear cross,
First wean'd my soul from earthly things;
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings.
"I want that GRACE that springs from Thee,
That quickens all things where it flows;
And makes a wretched thorn like me
Bloom as the myrtle or the rose."
Can you say that? Do you know that want? then you have an evidence "a token for good!" You want something--so did the repenting prodigal, when he had spent all--as Englishmen say, when he "had sown his wild oats,"--rebellious, riotous, wasteful! then, when "he had spent all he began to be in want." He wanted something, and that something was only to be found in his father's house. An O! the mercy! his father saw him, had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
None could be worse! But O! the love! Listen. "But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put on him; and put a ring of his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring forth hither the fatted calf, and kill; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." (Luke 15:22-24) Mark! "the best robe!"
Now, are we in want? and looking to Jesus, convinced of our personal guilt; and knowing that "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; are we looking to Him as our ALL? What is faith? we hear much about it; but what do we know of a living faith for ourselves? In this epistle to the Hebrews, we have a definition of faith, "But we see Jesus"--that is faith! Have we seen Jesus? A valued Christian friend of mine, once said to me, "I have done with all other sight-seeing, since I have seen the Lord." "Seeing, then, that we have a great High Priest, that is passed in to the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:14-16)
But this looking for Jesus; "And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." The Christian must look for and to Jesus--necessity compels the Christian. Toplady insists that every new-born man is a "necessitarian." The apostle Paul was a necessitarian--"Necessity is laid upon me; yea! woe is me if I preach not the gospel." He was forced to preach it! God made him preach the Gospel! We are necessitarians in the pulpit; you are necessitarians in the pews--I speak of Christians. I wish not to be a popular preacher; but I do desire to be made a useful one. The members for your city must be popular--ministers of the gospel must be faithful. A gospel minister will only be popular with the poor--not poor as to circumstances--I use not the word poor in that sense--but "poor in spirit." A duke may be a poor man. If the earl of Derby--the Premier of England were here, I should preach to the noble Earl that the test of his Christianity must be the same as I insist on to you and to myself--poverty of spirit--being a really poor man. It is the poor "that flock as the doves to their windows." And in Zeph. 3:12, "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." Such is the church! and there is none other! Talk not of this church or the other--of the church of the baptist, or of the church of the independent. The church of the living God is composed of the poor--"an afflicted and poor people"--of poor churchmen and poor nonconformists. Christ, the head of the church, was a poor man--"a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." (Isa. 53:3) And are we looking for Him? that is the point. There is a remarkable scripture in the 42nd Psalm. I was told by a hearer of mine some time ago in the city who heard a minister preach on that scripture, "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks." It is only the poor hart that is hunted, that pants; it is not the deer that lies at ease, under the shade of the spreading oak, in the lordly park; it is the poor hart that is picked out by the huntsman, and turned out to be hunted, that pants. "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God." And I pant when the devil tempts and pursues me, when sin besets me. Do you know what temptation is? Have you never panted? If I may use the expression--Do you know what it is to sweat under the power and pressure of sin? "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13) The poor hart may be caught and may be devoured by the stag-hounds: but the soul which that figure typifies is immortal--because saved! Tempted we may be! tried we shall be! but damned we never can be! One word and I will stop. There is another point in the text, the words, "He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him; and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him, even so Amen." He is coming again, "without sin unto salvation." I understand by this, that He is coming again to realize to His people the reality of salvation. O! what a subject! what a thought! Salvation! everlasting blessedness in heaven? Faith is too feeble to paint the picture; we can only sketch its mere outline--eternity alone can fill it up. Then this earth will have been burnt up.
O! what a text have I set before you tonight, my London hearers; what words for a sinful man to find his own tongue proclaiming to his fellow-sinners, amid the stillness of this house of God. And then the fact that we shall--that we must realize personally that which the first verse in the text declares--"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment;"--but O! mark what follows--"so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation." And now the solemn point is, are we each looking away from self and creature merit in every way, to Him "mighty to save!"
Such a subject, if applied with power, unctioned in the heart, and hope kindled within us, makes the soul leap (as it were) for joy. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation."
Christ then is coming again--a second time--not to shed blood again, but to "appear without sin unto salvation"--to appear for the everlasting blessedness of His people--of those who know what it is to be waiting, looking for Him. The weakest believer, the poor trembler, can surely come in here--"Them that look for Him," and have hope, and feel hope kindled in the soul.
God grant that the great and mysterious truth in the tremendous scripture I have been preaching on, may be, above all, blest to you and to me--"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation."
May God bless His Gospel to you and burn it into your hearts, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen! Amen!