I HAVE been for the last two Lord's Days upon this subject from the 8th verse, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." It will do you no harm to hear the things again; as Paul says, "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe." (Phil. 3:1) My course is nearly run out on earth.
"A few more rolling suns at most,
Will land me on fair Canaan's coast."
If you were as sure of eternal happiness as your poor afflicted minister is, you would go home joyful. I would not exchange with an angel in heaven. Angels will not sing of redeeming love as I shall to all eternity. I have had a heavy cloud over me, but God has lifted up my head above all my enemies. Last night I went to bed as a dying man, and I thought it would be impossible for me to come forth this morning, but God is the lifter up of my head. In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen, God's attributes and perfection, his mercy and truth, all shining forth in such a sinner as I am; and all harmonizing together. I shall be seventy-three next Wednesday, if I live so long. It is no light thing to have death set before you, and no hope of an eternal interest in Christ. I have been in that state, but it is not so with me now. "The upright love thee." "The upright shall dwell in thy presence." God's justice was as much honored in the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, as his mercy was in saving his people. King Agrippa was almost a Christian. This will not do. Paul said to Agrippa, "I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds." I have the same desire, but I do not wish you to have the afflictions that I have had for the last twenty-four years. I have (in my feelings) been in heaven, as Paul was, as he says of himself, "caught up to the third heaven;" and I have been in hell, as David and Jonah were. "The pains of hell gat hold upon me," said David, and Jonah "cried out of the belly of hell." My ear tries the words that I speak. I don't think I have a more criticizing hearer in the chapel than myself. I can trace for forty-three years past how the Lord has led me, and caused me to depart from iniquity, and to watch his kind hand both in providence and grace.
Noah prepared an ark by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. That is the only faith that will carry you to heaven. If you have one spark of real genuine grace in your hearts, you are beloved, and you may go with Abraham to the mount, and there set up your Jehovah-jireh. The Lord hath provided, and he will provide. I can see all this now, and yet, perhaps, tomorrow I cannot trust the Lord for the smallest thing. I have been more tried in providence than any in this chapel. Many professors in the present day require to be brought up to the trial. Mr. Huntington and Mr. Jenkins were men that did this.
I have spoken on the 8th verse. We are exhorted to look unto Abraham. "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him." There is not a character in the whole Bible that I can more pleasingly follow than Abraham. We are to go forth in the footsteps of our father Abraham. When Christ was on earth many said to him, We are Abraham's seed. (John 8:33) "Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children ye would do the works of Abraham." (John 8:39) "The rich man lifted up his eyes in hell, and cried, Father Abraham, send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool my tongue." Here is the professing seed of Abraham in hell. Abraham in answer calls him son--not a son by regeneration. The cry in hell is of no avail. If we are the children of Abraham, we shall be with him in heaven. Temporal blessings without spiritual blessings may help to damn you, but never to save you. If you can find the temporal things sanctified to you, it is a different thing. "And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham," or, as in Heb. 11, tried him. "These things" are set forth in the preceding chapter. The Lord did unto Sarah as he had said, and at the set time--that very time, but not earlier or later--she bare Abraham a son. Ishmael came thirteen years too soon. There must be no over-driving, or the cattle will all die. In a spiritual sense that is equally true as in a natural. I would not daub you with untempered mortar. God looks with delight at that poor sinner who trembles at his word. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac, and when he was weaned he made a great feast. Then Ishmael crept in and began to mock. Sarah could not endure this, and she said, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." (Gen. 21:9,10) Well done, Sarah. She would have no Hagarene. She was provoked to jealousy, and no wonder, when she had been the means of all this trouble, by persuading Abraham to take Hagar. This was a grievous thing to Abraham, but the Lord approved of Sarah's words. Abraham said, "Oh that Ishmael might live before thee." I know what this exercise is. Never judge ministers. God may fill them with bitterness, as we see in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Many would say they come forth in a bad spirit. Not one in fifty know what a bad spirit and a good spirit is. I compare myself to Job. His friends were good men that rose up against him. I have had the same. And after these things God said unto Abraham, "Abraham; and he said, Behold, here I am." His ears were open to hear all that God said. "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering." (Gen. 22:1,2) He did not make any objection, but rose up early in the morning, and showed the obedience of faith. God puts great honor on some, and this tries others. It pleased him to put a greater honor on Joseph, and therefore his brethren envied him. I have been envious at the foolish. This will show you what sort of a nature you have. You will perceive that you have something besides love.
If a man knows himself he knows something of others. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man." Abraham did not yield the obedience of sight and sense. If any person consults flesh and blood and carnal reason, they cannot go in Abraham's steps here. Abraham took the ass a little way, and also the servants, but they could not go up the mount, only the son could go there. And he took the wood, and the fire, and the knife. He saw the place afar off. Who can enter into his feelings at that time? Now Isaac spake to him and he said, "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering." I think that Abraham had a sweet view of Christ here, and that nothing less than his sacrifice would do. "A body hast thou prepared me." (Heb. 10:5) Abraham and his son went and conversed together. All this is to show the greatness of the trial. His darling son, in whom the salvation of all the world seems to rest, is commanded to be offered up. "And Abraham built the altar and bound Isaac his son, and stretched forth his hand and took the knife" (not "to take it," as is often quoted, but he took it). How long God sometimes lets the trial go on before he appears. Long trials are heavy. If you are kept in doubtful suspense whether you are a child of God or not--shall I after all be lost or not?--it is a trial. It is just where my poor boy Benjamin now is--death staring him in the face at the same time. I can sympathize with him. I think the principles of grace are in his heart. Who can tell the trial it is to be kept till the last moment, like Abraham in this case of Isaac, to catch at every twig to save you. You have one before you who can go with you in all this. I have been in black despair, and then God appeared. You may get into this place, with David, but, He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters." He lets down his hand from above, as he did to Peter when sinking in the sea, crying, "Lord, save, or I perish," even at the last moment. If God's love is set upon you, he will have you and bring you from the lowest depths. If I could have seen in that despairing place as I do now, I should have known my safety. In Christ's agony in the garden, angels appeared and ministered to him. The angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven. Should you not like to escape the trial? The dear Saviour did the same. "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." But the deliverance is in the trial. "Abraham, Abraham, and he said, Here am I." And the voice said in effect, Don't touch the lad, he is the apple of mine eye. Then Abraham saw the ram, and found that God had brought him to the last pinch, and then made a way to escape. This blessing is through Christ bearing the curse, and suffering the just for the unjust. (The Ram took the place of Isaac). I hope to show you next Sunday six particular blessings of Abraham. I have prayed that God would make it manifest to me what this blessing is. You may find this subject in Romans 4, Gal. 3, and Heb. 6. Paul says to the Ephesians, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 1:3) Here is a cordial for you if you can receive it. I have been looking through this subject to see if I could get a little food for you, and it all opened to me in the six particulars I have referred to. I am often looking up my evidences. If you are poor, you are forced to look at your money by the time the creditor calls, and if you have just enough then you go on another week. "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5)
I will endeavor to show you six particular blessings whereby you may know whether you are the seed of Abraham, or rather of Jesus Christ. I have spoken of going up to Jehovah-jireh. I spoke a little last Sunday by way of introduction. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:29) I will endeavor to set these things before you, but I have passed the age of man. Now that my bodily and mental strength fails, I am greatly afraid of advancing anything contrary to God's truth. This is my prayer, "Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not, until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come." I have just heard of the death of my greatest earthly friend, Mr. Hannington; and I believe the little church at Brighton have lost a father. He always left all company and all business to come to the meetings at the chapel. He has stood by me more than forty years, and never took the offence when others went away. He has been a check-string to some of my enemies. He has suffered great reproach on my account. I have seen the evil of my wicked heart in leaning a little on one friend or another. "Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." I desire to esteem all my friends, however small they may be. I came forward in the ministry under this word, "Freely ye have received, freely give." (Matt. 10:8) Now for the six blessings--I do not mean to bring in temporal blessings, though I don't despise them. Ishmael and Esau had them. I want spiritual blessings; do not rest on any others. If you can find God in temporal things, worship him. Dr. Everhard said you can find ground to worship God in a blade of grass. He is to be worshipped in spirit. You can form no likeness of him; if you do so, you are an idolater. The Papists want something to look at. This is spiritual wickedness in high places, and is the place where people are ensnared. "All that dwell on the earth shall worship him whose names are not written in the Book of Life." (Rev. 13:8) I humbly believe that my name is written in heaven, and that is the ground of my rejoicing. "Rejoice not in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20) I hope the Lord will make me faithful, with affection. If you cannot pray for persons, do not meddle with them. Many talk of their faithfulness when they cut off others. There are plenty of such faithful professors. Let it be so with us, that we, "speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ." (Eph. 4:15) "And to thy seed, which is Christ." (Gal. 3:16)
The 3rd chapter of Gal. is a key to my text, and to the passage connected with it. Every spiritual blessing comes to us through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." This is clearness of truth. That chapter (Eph.1) I do prize almost beyond the whole Bible. "Blessed us," that is, God's children. "Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us." (Eph. 5:1,2) The promise is to the seed. "All the promises of God in him (Christ) are yea, and in him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us." (2 Cor. 1:20) You must not go one inch beyond this bound. I never could pray for the world, nor did Christ. He said (John 17), "I pray not for the world." I read that there is no way to heaven but the narrow way. The rich man in the parable had his portion in this world. I hope you are not in the way with him. I love all, whether rich or poor, who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says, "Do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ," (Gal. 1:10) that is, if either I seek to please men, or my ministry is flesh pleasing, I am not Christ's servant. I have not sought to please men. By the blessing of God my late friend was made rich both in providence and grace. The least of God's own children is as much beloved as Paul or John. "The least believer is a saint." Christ showed the most affection to babes. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." (Ps. 8:2) "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Matt. 11:25,26) "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye." (Zech. 2:8) Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." Take my lambs first--the sheep come after. If there were a possibility of God's love being on one more than another of his children, it would be on babes; but John 17 shows us that there is no difference: "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." (John 17:23) If you can get in here, you will be safe, though you may be only a babe.
I spoke last Tuesday on the resting place in the day of trouble. "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him." Rest in the everlasting love of God, and in the covenant of God. Can you rest in anything which is liable to change? "I am the Lord, I change not." (Mal. 3:6) Rest in the unchanging love of a triune God. These are some of the quiet resting places. "And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." (Isa. 32:18) "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon." (Songs 1:7) In the middle of the day of temptation, adversity, trouble, and death.
I mention these things for my poor country folks, who may perhaps get a word. "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him?" Now what is the first spiritual blessing that you receive from God? Do you not look at that? I will not set forth one spiritual blessing that I am not a partaker of. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things." Ministers must know these things for themselves. No one branch of experience have I knowingly advanced that I have not been led into myself. "That which we have handled of the word of life, declare we unto you." (1 John 1:1) Paul says, "Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8) I always take this to be the first spiritual blessing--Divine life. This will land you in eternal glory. "As the dew of Hermon and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." (Ps. 133:3) No where else but in Zion; and "the blessing," as if there were no other. "I give unto them (my sheep) eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28) Thus we see that the New Testament confirms the Old, and this is like driving the nail through and clenching it. See the case of the eunuch, who was a great man brought down to be a little one in Zion. "The expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever." God sent his servant Philip to preach a sermon to this one man. "The needy shall not alway be forgotten." (Ps. 9:18) The Scriptures cannot be broken. "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich in that he is made low." (James 1:9,10) This was the character of my late dear brother, Mr. Hannington. Has God bestowed that blessing of divine life on you and me? In 1802 he raised me from death in sin to newness of life. If you have this it will secure your everlasting happiness. "I give unto them eternal life," etc. "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30) See the security of every one that has this blessing. "And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2:1) Some may say, I have many fears whether I am quickened. There must be indeed a quickening. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) But I did not know at first that I had divine life. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) I knew indeed that I was under some particular influence. I was not brought up under the sound of the truth, for my parents knew not the Lord. I thought I was to do as well as I could, and God would do the rest. That I learned at church. Have you divine life? How shall you know it?
Now to show you some of the effects of divine life. There will be feeling, some feeling of your sin, and that God knows your thoughts, words, and actions, and that you are under his eye. Then you cannot go on as you did before. This proves another blessing to be yours, the fear of God. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 9:10) Then you cannot act craftily, nor go on to practice iniquity in the dark. You have some sense of the omniscience and omnipresence of God. A dead person has no sense of this. You will feel more or less that sin is a burden to you. You will find a burden that you had not before. At first I had a deeper sense of original sin than of actual sin, for God dwelt very gently with me. "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways." (Ps. 128:1) The Angel said to Abraham, "Now I know that thou fearest God." My preaching began in this fear, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." "It shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him." "A book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." (Mal. 3:16,17) If the beginning is right, the end cannot be wrong. Another effect of divine life is divine breathing. "Hide not thy face at my breathing, at my cry." If you see that a child breathes, you are sure that it is a living child. Can you not trace that from a certain time there has been a breathing after God? That is the breathing of the Spirit. The next effect will be spiritual hunger--desires after the word of God. That was one reason why I could not continue in the church. I went to a church at Lewes where I heard plenty about virtue and vice, but it did not come to me. Afterwards I went into a little chapel near Lewes, where horror seized my mind, and no wonder, for I had got among Unitarians. The preacher was denying the Trinity. I think they are worse than devils, for they do not deny the divinity of Christ as these do. I knew nothing at that time what a Unitarian was. In the evening I went to another church, where I heard Mr. Dale preach, and I rather think he was a good man. This was his text, "And Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man." His words and his whole manner and appearance dealt conviction to me. Afterwards I heard two men conversing together, one was a hearer of Mr. Dale, and the other of Mr. Jenkins. I thought the hearer of Mr. Jenkins carried the greatest weight, and I was led to the same pastor. The first sermon I heard him preach was from this text, "Let them hear, and say, It is truth." (Isa. 43:9) It cut me down, but still I said, It is truth. That is one step towards heaven. The next effect will be to lead you to secret prayer. "I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth all things for me." (Ps. 57:2) "God be merciful to me a sinner." Paul began here, "Behold he prayeth." "I found trouble and sorrow, then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee deliver my soul." If you have this blessing, you cannot miss of heaven; God will carry on and complete his work. "Being confident of this very thing that he, which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6) Toplady says,
"Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is given:
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven."
The earnest is divine life. The second blessing is faith. "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." He received divine life, and living faith. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." This is living faith, though it be ever so small. Christ never rejected small or weak faith when he was on earth. I am speaking of the principle of that faith which will make you come out and be separate.
"It lives and labours under load,
Though dampt it never dies."
This is faith at the bottom. Now the poor sinner cannot go into those things that he did before. The third blessing is a good hope through grace. "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and stablish you in every good word and work." (2 Thess. 2:16,17) You have not this good hope before you have faith. Faith believes, and hope expects the blessing. Hope is a firm expectation of all the promises. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3) There is life in the hope. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." (Prov. 13:12) Here the poor soul gets into some little trouble. He comes into feelings that he knew not before. Abraham had faith in God's promise, and against hope believed in hope. Suppose you feel yourself to be a lost sinner, and you come to hear, and a word drops into your heart, hope will spring up in your soul. It must do so. Perhaps you say, I cannot tell how it was, but something raised me up to hope. "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death." (Prov. 14:32) You will live in expectation of going to heaven, if you have these blessings; you will not die in despair. The wicked are "driven away" from the earth. They would never go, if they could stay here. If you have these three blessings, you will come to the place where Paul was, "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ."
Our blessed Lord said to his disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." (John 6:12) I hope to do so this morning, having already spoken of some of these blessings. I have been this week reading again Mr. Huntington's sermon, called "The Dimensions of Eternal love," and I recommend it beyond any other book, except the Bible. I know that the Lord will save me, whoever may be given up to destruction. This is a strong expression, but it is said, "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life." (Isa. 43:4) True faith is to believe that God will save you personally, whatever becomes of others. "Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee." (Hos. 8:2) That is the spiritual Israel. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Gal. 6:15) "They shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer. 31:34) The Scriptures cannot be broken. We are going into a day that will try every one of us; not one individual shall stand whose name is not written in the Lamb's book of life. I have this evening to preach the funeral sermon of the greatest earthly friend I ever had, but still I have a friend above him.
"My soul, thou hast (let what will ail)
A never-changing friend:
When brethren, friends, and helpers fail,
On him alone depend."
There is a sermon, if you can get no further. God will take care of his own. "The least believer is a saint." It is not the tall professor like Saul, who was head and shoulders higher than others, for I would rather be a myrtle tree in a valley than a tall tree on a hill.
I proposed to speak of six spiritual blessings. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed which is Christ." (Gal. 3:16) "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:29) "They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (Gal. 3:7) I think Hart in his hymns enters more into the sufferings and sorrows of Christ, than any book I ever read. See his hymn called "The Wish." What a sweet hymn that is. Paul says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing 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." (Eph. 1:3,4) "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14) I told you the first blessing is eternal life.
"We cannot act before we live,
And life proceeds from grace."
The Lord infused into me the spirit of life. This is the grand criterion, as we see in Ezekiel's vision (chap. 37) There was a noise and shaking among the bones, and a beautiful skin came upon them, but there was no breath in them. If there is no life, it is only what the late Mr. Burrell (now in glory) called a stinking carcase. "As the dew of Hernon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hath given him," (John 17:2) that is, to every one that forms his portion. "The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." (Deut. 32:9) None but the elect are made partakers of divine life. Have you that blessing? "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2:1) Can you trace the living Spirit of God within you? Is there any feeling sense of sin and breathing after Christ? A spiritual hungering and thirsting, an inward appetite, an aching void that nothing can satisfy but Christ? "As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." (1 Peter 2:2) When that is the case, you will not be satisfied with the mere outward hearing. If you have divine life all is yours.
"All is ours in earth and heav'n;
We are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
A dear old man once told me, that his grand trial was whether God began with him, or he began with God. We must know the Lord personally and experimentally for ourselves. It would only be aggravation to see that others are saved, when we are lost. Are you crying after a manifestation of Christ's precious love? Can you say it is profitable to hear without an application to your own soul? The inward ear of the soul listens for a still small voice to speak personally to us. My judgment may be fed with the doctrines while the soul is starving. We want to find a sweet savor.
The second blessing I mentioned was living faith. "They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham," whether it is a little or great faith--a weak or strong faith. "Blessed is she that believeth, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." (Luke 1:45) "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord." (Jer. 17:7) We cannot trust in him without faith. The weak in faith is not to be despised. "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." (Rom. 14:1) The Syrophenician woman came to the Lord, and met with three rebuffs, but still went on. She had great faith, like Jacob when there wrestled a man with him, and he said, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." He overcame the angel. This is the trial of faith. Poor Jacob worked many ways to appease his brother, but all in vain as he feared; for he learnt that Esau was coming with four hundred men to meet him. Then Jacob was distressed beyond measure, but that was not bad enough. No, he must be brought into a deeper trial still; he must come to the last extremity, with Abraham, when he took the knife to slay his son. God will bring his children into such places, that they can neither go backward nor forward. I was engaged yesterday tracing back my life. "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness." I employ a good part of my time in looking back at my trials and deliverances, but not to make a Saviour of them.
The third blessing is a good hope through grace. "We are saved by hope." "This is my comfort in my affliction; for thy word hath quickened me." (Ps. 119:50) "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope." (Ps. 119:49) Whether the preached or written word is accompanied by Divine love to the heart, it will raise a hope there. Sometimes hope is raised without the word, as Paul says, "Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope." (Rom. 5:3,4) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope." (1 Peter 1:3) "Call to remembrance the former days, in which after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions." (Heb. 10:32) The Lord says, "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals." (Jer. 2:2) God takes particular notice of these early days. It often happens that Christians have more love and earnestness in their youth than afterwards. Perhaps in later times you have desired to see one of the days of the Son of man, and have not done so. How often have I desired to see one of my early days. We may forget the savor and love of those days, but the Lord never forgets them.
The fourth blessing is pardon of sin. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
"What is it to be blest indeed,
But to have all our sins forgiv'n?
To be from guilt and terror freed;
Redeem'd from hell, and seal'd for heav'n."
Have you and I that blessing? Has God spoken pardon and peace to us? "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)--from the guilt of all sin, but not from original sin. The worst burden that I ever found was the guilt of sin. Then we are like the poor honest man who cannot face his creditor. When guilt lies heavy on the conscience, we cannot face God; but when he removes it as far as the east is from the west, then we can--then we have a knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins. I think David felt the guilt of sin more after he was pardoned, than he did before. If you have felt the guilt of sin, and have cried to God and found peace, then hath he removed your transgressions from you.
The fifth blessing is love.
"Love all defects supplies,
Makes great obstructions small;
'Tis prayer; 'tis praise; 'tis sacrifice;
'Tis holiness; 'tis all!"
This was in that great sinner, the poor woman who went to Jesus, while he sat in the Pharisee's house. She was broken down with guilt and sin, and could not face the Lord, but went behind him in a modest manner, and began to wash his feet with her tears. The Pharisee could not bear to look at this poor woman because of her sin. I never saw a worse sinner than myself. The Pharisee said within himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner." The self-righteous set at nought the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ. Now the Lord speaks to the Pharisee by a parable. See what a difference there is between Christ and Simon. Does the Lord spurn the woman because she was a sinner? No. He came into the world to save sinners. He said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much." (Luke 7:47) To have the pardon of sin is worth a million worlds. Did you not find your heart melted down at such a time? If sin is removed, love flows into the heart. When the Lord spoke these words to me, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow," then I wept, and blessed, and praised him.
"A sinner may repent and sing,
Rejoice, and be asham'd."
Can you come into these spiritual blessings? Can you set to your seal that these things are true? Have you loved much because much was forgiven? Mr. Huntington once spoke on these words, "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve." (Jer. 50:20) He was speaking of the free pardon of sin, and I shall never forget it while I live.
The sixth blessing. Perhaps you say, Can you bring forward another? My work is to draw water for the flock. It is peace. "The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace." "My peace I give unto you." "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." The Lord gives strength to believe in Christ, and power to receive him. Then his people find not only pardon, but peace will flow unto them. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1) Has God spoken pardon and peace to you? Have you found joy and peace in believing? Christ made peace by the blood of the cross, but to enjoy peace it must be brought home to your heart. These are earnests and foretastes of eternal glory. If you can enter into them with me, we shall spend an eternity together with Christ. I am just in my element among these sweet blessings. I know them by heart experience. Abraham's blessings may be summed up in the spirit of adoption. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal. 4:6) "How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? And I said, Thou shalt call me my Father; and shall not turn away from me." (Jer. 3:19) "Ye have not received the spirit of adoption, whereby again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Rom. 8:15) Here, my dear souls, are spiritual blessings. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings....Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself....to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Eph. 1:5,6) What a word is that! And it is added, "In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance." (Eph. 1:13,14) Have you that earnest? It secures the whole. See if you can trace out these blessings in your own soul. If so, you are in a better state spiritually than angels--they are not so near to Christ as we are. The church is the bride, the Lamb's wife, and his delight is in her. Has God in any measure blessed you with these spiritual blessings? Then rejoice in him.