The Hymn, "Salvation to the Lamb," had been sung, and Mr. Vinall said, Is he our heavenly meat? Do we feed on him in all our afflictions? This is what I desire to preach upon this evening. He was roasted in the fire of God's wrath; in the fire of temptation; in the fire and rage of men and devils. Was all this for us? "Unto you that believe he is precious." Have you ever found this so as to make everything else to sink in comparison with it? Where is the spot or the outhouse in which it has been revealed to you?
"When his kind visits make thee see
He's precious, thou art vile;
Then mark the hand of God with thee,
Thy husband gives a smile."
Job said at that time, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." None but a child of God can have this experience. What is the use of talking about religion? What is the use of having anything in a foreign country? It must be at home. Job was much afflicted, but afterwards his captivity was turned. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." This is the incorruptible seed of grace sown in your hearts. Where this is, you will doubtless return again with rejoicing, and bring your sheaves with you.
"He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied; but his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." (Isaiah 53:11)
HE was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Our trespasses, our sins, were the procuring cause of all Christ's sufferings. This ought to lay us low before him. "He bore our sins in his own body on the tree." (1 Pet. 2:24) "We have turned every one to his own way." (Isa. 53:6) There are many ways that natural men take, but they are all contrary to God's ways. There is a way of self-righteousness. This is the way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. 16:25) My way was to seek after pleasure. "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." I knew no more of religion than a Hottentot. God made me religious or I should have remained in that way all my days. My way was to follow all kinds of gaming. "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," that is, of all the elect--not all the world, as the Wesleyans or Arminians say. Christ says, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." (John 17:10) "The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." (Deut. 32:9) You say, Then you hold the doctrine of election? No, my friends, the doctrine of election holds me. The Lord hath predestinated me to this inheritance. "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." (Eph. 1:4) There is no other holiness than this. Will the doctrine of election lead to licentiousness and sin? No. My Bible reads quite otherwise. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children. To the praise of the glory of his grace." (Eph. 1:5,6) Get into the experience of this, and you shall have peace. I enjoy solid peace though afflicted all the day. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." There is joy and peace in believing. Have you this experience? Christ "opened not his mouth" in murmuring and complaining, and self-pity as we do; but he opened his mouth in prayer. Sometimes he retired to a mountain to pray. "Being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground." This is more than any man can conceive. He
"Bore all incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough, and none to spare."
If you and I think rightly of Christ's sufferings, we cannot think lightly of sin. "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief." This was all the act of the Father. It was the curse of God's law. "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. 3:13) But "He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." This promise is to all the seed. When all our sins were laid on him, and the wrath of God and all the powers of darkness came upon him, who can describe the travail of his soul? Not I. There must be soul travail before he sees his seed. "A seed shall serve him: it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." (Ps. 22:30) What was the joy set before him? That he should have a seed that should be for ever with him. For this joy he endured the cross and despised the shame. Paul says, "Ye are our glory and joy." As it was with the Covenant Head, so will it be with his members. "In all labour there is profit." (Prov. 14:23) If you have this travail of soul, you shall see your seed, or the fruits and effects of it, and be satisfied. "Ask now, and see whether a man doth travail with child. Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail." (Jer. 30:6) If you are begotten again by the word, your labor will begin, and continue more or less to the end. When did your soul labor begin? I can tell you when mine began. After God had shown me my sin--actual and original. The Lord says, "Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth?" (Isa. 66:9) Were you ever convinced of sin and wrath? "The children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth." (2 Kings 19:3) This is a child of God brought to a desire for deliverance; sometimes a little discovery of it is made to him, and he hopes the time is now come; but the labor pains go off again, and there is no coming forth. Then perhaps you get into an easy, and there is no coming forth. Then perhaps you get into an easy, indifferent state, and all goes back again. A poor sinner cannot bring on these labor pains again. The Lord must do that, who has said, "The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him." The same Lord also has said, "I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him," (Ps. 91:15) and "I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them." (Isa. 42:16) Here is a staff for you. The Lord will help such a poor soul. The Spirit of God must bring you forth. He sends a precious word into your heart, or perhaps through the ministry of his servants he brings this deliverance. On the 9th of July, 1805, I heard Mr. Huntington preach from these words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." When he described the pure in heart my bonds were broken, and my poor soul came forth into perfect love, which casteth out fear. This is the infusion of the grace and spirit of Christ into the heart, and it brings the poor soul into liberty. When you long for this, then the children are come to the birth. They who have been delivered from spiritual darkness shall be brought into the spirit of adoption--when the set time comes to bring them forth into liberty, and shed abroad the love of God in their hearts. A child of God goes through this again and again.
"The needy know--
It must be so--
It is the way."
I find it to be the case with myself, though now I have a blessed assurance of my interest in Christ, which at the first I had not, and I was filled with fears; but "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." (Ps. 50:15) When God has begun to deliver a poor soul, he will go on delivering him till he lands him in glory. "Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." (Isa. 42:1) "I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul." The Psalmist wanted deliverance again. Be sure of this one thing. If there is a cry to God in your heart to deliver you, he put it there and will fulfill it. "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses." (Ps. 107:6) I don't ask you what your troubles are--whether they are troubles in Providence or spiritual troubles; a sweet deliverance from the Lord will perfectly satisfy you. You will say afterwards, I am glad I was put into this trial, now God has shown himself faithful to me. His people shall be satisfied with his goodness. I believe I shall have cause to bless God for every affliction and for every bearing pain I have. Justification is by faith in the righteousness of Christ. If you wish to know whether you have this righteousness, you may trace it thus: "The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." (Isa. 32:1) "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1)