Monday, August 5, 2013

Protestant Distinctives and History Audio Lessons by R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner


Justification By Faith Alone (15 lessons)


What Is The Gospel? (2 lessons)


Understanding The Gospel (12 lessons)


Making Of The Protestant Reformation (2 lessons)


Meaning Of The Gospel (2 lessons)


Book Of Galatians Lessons (11 lessons)


What Is Reformed Theology? (2 lessons)



Heros Of The Christian Faith (10 lessons)


Handout Church History (teaching series by John Gerstner, 39 lessons)








Ready to post in Blog Comments

Justification By Faith Alone (15 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/justification_by_faith_alone/?filter=free">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/justification_by_faith_alone/?filter=free</a>

What Is The Gospel? (2 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/what_is_the_gospel/?filter=free&page_series_list=2">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/what_is_the_gospel/?filter=free&page_series_list=2</a>

Understanding The Gospel (12 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/understanding_the_gospel/?filter=free&page_series_list=2">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/understanding_the_gospel/?filter=free&page_series_list=2</a>

Making Of The Protestant Reformation (2 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/making_of_the_protestant_reformation/?filter=free&page_series_list=2">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/making_of_the_protestant_reformation/?filter=free&page_series_list=2</a>

Meaning Of The Gospel (2 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/meaning_of_the_gospel/?filter=free&page_series_list=3">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/meaning_of_the_gospel/?filter=free&page_series_list=3</a>

What Is Reformed Theology?
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/what_is_reformed_theology/?filter=free&page_series_list=1">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/what_is_reformed_theology/?filter=free&page_series_list=1</a>

Book Of Galatians Lessons (11 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/galatians/part-4-3408/?filter=free&page_series_list=2">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/galatians/part-4-3408/?filter=free&page_series_list=2</a> 


Heros Of The Christian Faith (10 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/heroes_of_the_christian_faith/?filter=free&page_series_list=4">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/heroes_of_the_christian_faith/?filter=free&page_series_list=4</a>

Handout Church History (teaching series by John Gerstner, 39 lessons)
<a href="http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/handout-church-history/?filter=free&page_series_list=3">http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/handout-church-history/?filter=free&page_series_list=3</a>

Friday, June 28, 2013

BiblicalTraining.org

BiblicalTraining.org has many world-class educational resources for use within the community of the church.
  • Over 900 hours of instruction (73 classes), and constantly growing
  • Wide range of topics, from new believers, lay and elder training, to seminary-level classes
  • Top professors from 14 schools
  • Broadly evangelical, not tied to any one church, denomination, or theological tradition
  • We value holistic education (head, heart, hands) delivered in community in mentor/apprenticeship relationships

HERE'S THE LINK TO THE WEBSITE: HTTP://BIBLICALTRAINING.ORG

 Here are some of the classes:

Discipleship
TH101     52 Major Stories of the Bible     Dr. Bill Mounce
TH150     Dynamics of Christian Spirituality     Dr. Glen Scorgie
NT110     Essentials of Biblical Hermeneutics     Dr. Mark Strauss
WM201     Essentials of World Missions     Dr. Timothy Tennent
CM151     Essentials of Worship     Dr. Gary Parrett
NT102     How to Study Your Bible     Dr. George Guthrie

BiblicalTraining Institute 
TH710     Advanced Worldview Analysis     Dr. Ron Nash
NT201     Biblical Greek     Dr. Bill Mounce
NT510     Biblical Hermeneutics     Dr. Robert Stein
TH601     Christian Apologetics     Dr. Ron Nash
ET501     Christian Ethics     Dr. Ron Nash
CH502     Church History I     Dr. Gerald Bray
CH503     Church History II     Dr. Gerald Bray
EM502     Educational Ministry of the Church     Dr. Gary Parrett
NT203     Greek Tools for Bible Study     Dr. Bill Mounce
NT538     Hebrews     Dr. George Guthrie
TH620     History of Philosophy and Christian Thought     Dr. Ron Nash
WM646     Introduction to Buddhism     Dr. Timothy Tennent
WM645     Introduction to Hinduism     Dr. Timothy Tennent
WM647     Introduction to Islam     Dr. Timothy Tennent
NT511     Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts     Dr. Craig Blomberg
NT512     Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation     Dr. Craig Blomberg
NT520     Life of Christ     Dr. Darrell Bock
CH643     Martin Luther     Dr. Gordon Isaac
NT521     New Testament Introduction     Dr. Ben Witherington
NT502     New Testament Survey – Acts to Revelation     Dr. Robert Stein
NT501     New Testament Survey – Gospels     Dr. Robert Stein
NT504     New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation     Dr. Thomas Schreiner
NT575     New Testament Theology     Dr. Frank Thielman
OT500     Old Testament Survey     Dr. Douglas Stuart
OT590     Old Testament Theology     Dr. Paul House
PR600     Preaching     Dr. Bryan Chapell
DMS506     Principles of Effective Leadership     Dr. John Johnson
NT666     Revelation     Dr. Robert Mulholland
NT620     Romans     Dr. Douglas Moo
TH503     Systematic Theology I     Dr. Bruce Ware
TH504     Systematic Theology II     Dr. Bruce Ware
WM601     The World Mission of the Church     Dr. Timothy Tennent
TH610     Theology and Practice of Evangelism     Dr. Robert Tuttle, Jr.
DMS501     Theology of Ministry     Dr. John Johnson
WM602     Theology of World Missions     Dr. Peter Kuzmi?
CM551     Worship     Dr. Gary Parrett

Leadership 
LD225     Biblical Eldership     Dr. John Piper
BT201     Biblical Theology     Dr. Craig Blomberg
LD415     Desiring God     Dr. John Piper
EM152     Essentials of Christian Education     Dr. Gary Parrett
OT190     Essentials of Old Testament Theology     Dr. Paul House
LD425     Future Grace/Battling Unbelief     Dr. John Piper
LD615     Gravity and Gladness on Sunday Morning     Dr. John Piper
PR100     Introduction to Public Speaking     Dr. Bryan Chapell
CM100     Mentoring the New Believer     Dr. Bill Mounce
LD420     Prayer, Meditation and Fasting     Dr. John Piper
LD620     Sexual Complementarity     Dr. John Piper
EM153     Small Group Dynamics     Dr. Ron Pyle
TH250     Spiritual Formation     Dr. John Coe
LD220     Suffering for the Sake of the Body     Dr. John Piper
LD625     T.U.L.I.P     Dr. John Piper
NT120     The New Testament, its Basic Structure, Content, and Theology     Dr. Bill Mounce
EV327     Urban Church Planting     Dr. Don Davis
LD215     Why We Believe the Bible     Dr. John Piper
WM240     World Religions     Dr. Timothy Tennent

Seminar 
SBO01     Breaking the Da Vinci Code     Dr. Darrell Bock
CH100     Church History     Dr. Gordon Isaac
TH201     Essentials of Christian Apologetics     Dr. Ron Nash
ET101     Essentials of Christian Ethics     Dr. Ron Nash
TH220     Essentials of Philosophy and Christian Thought     Dr. Ron Nash
OT100     Essentials of the Old Testament     Dr. Douglas Stuart
TH310     Essentials of Worldview Analysis     Dr. Ron Nash
CH201     History of the English Bible     Dr. Daniel Wallace
TH251     Spiritual Warfare     Dr. Gerry Breshears
CH243     The Essential Luther     Dr. Gordon Isaac
TH230     Theology of the Reformers     Dr. Timothy George

Foundations 
TH100     Life is a Journey     Dr. Bill Mounce

What Is Reformed Theology by R.C. Sproul





  1. Introduction
  2. Catholic, Evangelical, and Reformed
  3. Scripture Alone
  4. Faith Alone (Part 1)
  5. Faith Alone (Part 2)
  6. Covenant
  7. Total Depravity (Part 1)
  8. Total Depravity (Part 2)
  9. Unconditional Experience
  10. Limited Atonement
  11. Irresistible Grace
  12. Perseverance of the Saints

See also:
"The History and Theology of Calvinism" by Dr. Curt Daniel (Downloadable MP3 Messages)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Understanding What the Gospel Is with R.C. Sproul



What Is the Gospel?

1. The Good News of the Kingdom
2. The Good News is Christ Himself


Understanding the Gospel

1. The Gospel of God
2. Power to Save
3. Jesus: The Only Savior
4. Jesus: The God-Man
5. The Perfect Sacrifice
6. Resurrection and Justification
7. Imputation
8. The Righteousness of Christ
9. A Life-Changing Gospel
10. Saving Faith
11. Christ and Doctrine
12. Proclaiming the Gospel


Justification by Faith Alone





Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dust to Glory by R.C. Sproul


Dust to Glory is R.C. Sproul's popular introduction and overview of the entire Bible in 57 lessons. Here is the link to all the lessons.




The link doesn't list the lessons in the proper order. Here is the proper order if you're interested.

  1. Creation
  2. The Image of God in Man
  3. The Fall
  4. Covenant with Abraham
  5. Patriarchal Blessing
  6. Moses and the Exodus
  7. The Passover
  8. The Giving of the Law
  9. The Tabernacle
  10. Aaron and the Priesthood
  11. Old Testament Sacrificial System
  12. Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan
  13. The Cycle of Judges
  14. The Monarchy
  15. David
  16. Solomon and the Temple
  17. The Divided Kingdom
  18. Elijah
  19. Isaiah
  20. Jeremiah
  21. The Exile
  22. Ezekiel
  23. Daniel
  24. Ezra and Nehemiah
  25. Amos and Hosea
  26. Joel, Micah, and Habakkuk
  27. Characteristics of Wisdom Literature
  28. Psalms
  29. Ecclesiastes
  30. Job
  31. The Intertestamental Period
  32. John the Baptist
  33. The Birth of Jesus
  34. The Early Years of Jesus’ Life
  35. The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
  36. Jesus’ Inaugural Address and Public Ministry
  37. The Teaching of Jesus: Parables
  38. Interpreting Parables
  39. The Miracles of Jesus
  40. The Caesarea-Philippi Confession
  41. The Transfiguration
  42. The Triumphal Entry
  43. The Cross
  44. The Resurrection
  45. The Ascension
  46. Pentecost
  47. The Expansion of the Church
  48. The Conversion of Paul
  49. Romans
  50. I and II Corinthians
  51. Prison Epistles
  52. I and II Timothy
  53. Hebrews
  54. General Epistles
  55. Introduction to Revelation
  56. The Christ of Revelation
  57. The Glory of God

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof





I just found out that that most (of not all) of Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology is freely available online here:

www.biblicaltraining.org/book/export/html/7359
(recommended because it's the printer friendly version)

or here:

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/systematic-theology-louis-berkhof

Berkhof's Systematic Theology is without question one of the greatest Calvinistic Systematic Theologies every produced. It's regarded as a true classic among knowledgeable Calvinists.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis


This is considered by some to be one of the greatest sermons ever delivered. I agree. Along with Jonathan Edwards writings, and Lewis' other writings, this sermons was a major influence in John Piper writing his classic book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.

The above link will open up in a new browser











Here's a link to get to John Piper's most influential, revolutionary and paradigm shifting book Desiring God. It's considered to be one of the greatest Christian books written in the 20th century. I wholeheartedly agree!!!

The above link will open up in a new browser window.




Heaven by Edward D. Griffin




Monday, May 6, 2013

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul






The classic teaching series The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul is freely available at SermonAudio.com here:
http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?sourceonly=true&currSection=sermonssource&keyword=ligonier&keywordDesc=&subsetcat=series&subsetitem=The+Holiness+of+God


This is the extended series with all 15 mp3 audio files listed in order. I noted that the series is freely online in a previous post, but I posted it here again because it deserves it's own post since it's such a classic and essential lesson/sermon series that EVERY Christian should listen to before they die. Ideally, every new Christian should be given a copy of these lessons and required to listen to them.

Obviously, I recommend reading the book by the same title. I first read the book around 1994 and it changed my life forever. Highly Recommended reading.

Here is the proper order of the series:

  1. The Otherness of God
  2. The Holy Place
  3. The Fall of a Hero
  4. Blazing With Glory
  5. The Anthem of the Angels
  6. The Majesty of God
  7. Finding the Glory
  8. Here I Am, Send Me
  9. The Real God
  10. Who Is This Jesus?
  11. A New Perspective
  12. Covering the Shame
  13. A Hard Lesson Learned
  14. The Untouchable
  15. Justice and Grace

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Link to Lessons by Wayne Grudem


This link includes lesson series based on his books by the same title. They include Politics, Christian Ethics, and Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. The latter series on theology has nearly 120 lessons based on his book with 57 chapters.

Wayne Grudem's website also has various audio/visuals and articles available. www.waynegrudem.com

YouTube also has many videos of Dr. Grudem, just do a search. They include:



There are more videos in the series on youtube. This is just a link to the first lecture.



R.C. Sproul Lessons and Sermons

The following are links to various lesson series by one of my favorite Bible teachers, R.C. Sproul. Most of these lessons also have a corresponding book written by R.C. Sproul with the same title.

The Holiness of God
(the series seems to be in the proper sequential order)




Dust to Glory
(the series is clearly NOT in proper order)


Defending Your Faith


There are more lessons and series at the website. Just sort the lessons by series.


*****************************

R.C. Sproul's ministry can be accessed at www.ligonier.org. There one can listen to the daily and weekly radio broadcasts as well as purchase other audio/video materials and books.

Here's a link to the teaching series that can be listened to freely at any time:
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/?filter=free

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Submission


Submission

by Edward D. Griffin

"Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken."
2 Kings XX. 19.


Sometime after the miraculous destruction of the army of Sennacherib, king of Nineveh, who had come up against Jerusalem, Hezekiah was brought low by disease, and the sun was carried back ten degrees as a gracious token that he should recover. This wonderful change in the heavens was probably noticed by the astronomers of Babylon. Merodach-baladan, who had begun to aspire to that dominion which a few years after was transferred from Nineveh to Babylon, knowing the hostility which existed between the Ninevites and the Jews, and learning the reason of that strange phenomenon in the heavens, wished to cultivate the friendship of a prince whom he regarded, not only as an enemy to his rival, but as one who the God of heaven delighted to honour. Having heard of the sickness and recovery of Hezekiah, he sent ambassadors to him, with "letters and a present," "to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land." The good king, elated by this attention from a remote and distinguished potentate, was weak enough to make a display before the ambassadors of all the wealth of his kingdom. In this matter "God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart": and the trial proved that "his heart was lifted up." In this thing "Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him:... therefore there was wrath upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem." The prophet was sent to say to him, "Behold, the days come, that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons which shall issue fro thee,...shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." This was the humiliating and distressing message to which the penitent king made the reply in our text: "Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken." He "humbled himself for the pride of his heart," and with a chastened and subdued spirit consented that the will of the Lord should be done. Here was submission: here was a glorious triumph over a selfish heart here was, what every creature ought to render, a cheerful and absolute subjection to the empire of eternal rectitude and love. Shall I call your attention to the holiness and happiness of such a temper, and to the universal obligation on mankind to offer this homage to their God and King? In doing this I will,–

I. Explain precisely what the temper is; and,
II. Consider the holiness and happiness of it, and the universal obligation on mankind to exercise it.
I. I will explain precisely what the temper is.

It is a temper of universal and absolute submission to the will of God. There is a forced submission,–a yielding because we cannot help it; but this is not the thing required. There is an acquiescence in the will of God when that will sends prosperity; but this is only a consenting that another should make up happy. The only true submission is that hearty acquiescence in the will of God which arises from supreme love to Him. The reason why the wicked do not submit is that they love themselves and their own enjoyments most. While such a temper continues, they must of course value their own gratification more than the divine pleasure, and approve of the will of God only so far as that will is tributary to them. This selfishness is the root and core of all rebellion. The only cure, the grand catholicon, is that heavenly charity, the fruit of a new creation,–that pure and wonderful benevolence, which actually loves God better than ourselves, and wishes above all things that His will may be done; that a will which is benevolent and wise in all its acts, and which constantly seeks the best good of the universe, may prevail, whatever becomes of us. This is pure and supreme benevolence. This is the very spirit and life of true religion. This is the only spirit in the world that can produce universal, and absolute submission to the will of God; and this cannot fail to do it. When our own wishes and interests are less dear to us than that universal interest which is wrapt up in the divine will, what can tempt us to unsubmission? what is there for us to oppose to that will? what interest have we to maintain against the wishes of God? But so certain as we love another interest better than that which the divine will protects, we shall set up that interest against God, and resist whenever He lays His finger upon it. True submission then is the necessary effect of supreme love to God, and can arise from no other principle. It cannot for a moment be separated from it. It is the most certain test of supreme love; the want of it excluding all claim to that affection, the existence of it decisively supporting that claim. If we love God better than all other objects, we shall, for the time being, submit to Him under every circumstance; if we love another object better, we shall rise up against Him when that object is taken away. The submission then for which I plead arises from a supreme attachment to the divine will. It is a noble conquest over selfishness (the great disease of fallen man), and a benevolent subjection of our own wishes and interests to the will of the wise and holy Guardian of the universe.

In these remarks I do not confine my views to that submission which is produced by a sudden effort in the crisis of some great calamity, nor to that which yields under evils more common, but serious enough to be denominated trials. I have reference chiefly to that habitual delight in God which, in the thousand things of daily occurrence, is satisfied with His appointment, rather than with any arrangement which our wishes could have suggested; to that humble, sweet, subjected spirit which goes through each day rejoicing in the government of God, delighted to see the universe safe under the shadow of His throne, satisfied to be, with all our interests, in His hands, contented with the crosses and derangement of our plans which He appoints, be the instruments who they may, and generally, which carries about a choice that God should decide all events.

This submission is to be distinguished from that morbid inactivity and aversion to care, which, retiring from exertion, leaves God to be the only agent in the universe; which puts off burdens upon Him just as the indolent shift them off upon each other; which, instead of exerting a dependent agency with an eye fixed upon an overruling Providence, leaves God to perform both His part and ours. That may be called submission to a providential dispensation, which really is indolence shrinking from an effort to change the posture of affairs. Submission does not exclude a fetch of thought, a change of plans, a resort to various expedients, a laying of the mind down to invention, a course of vigorous and long continued exertions to avert an evil and to secure a good. It does imply a diligent use of all appointed means to obtain what God has commanded us to seek; for submission comprehends obedience. The opposite is rebellion. It is an essential part of God's plan, and for His glory, that creatures should obtain good by their own activity; otherwise there would be no use for their immortal powers. This activity He has therefore enjoined. "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," is the Christian's motto.

II. I am to dwell a little on the holiness and happiness of such a temper, and the universal obligation on mankind to exercise it.

To love the righteous will of God, in which are balanced all the interests of the universe,–which is perfectly wise and benevolent and right; to love that will better than our own interests, and to subject our interests and wishes to that; must be holy if any thing is holy, must be pure and sublime benevolence. How generous and noble is the temper! How infinitely superior to the littleness and meanness of a selfish spirit! And it is precisely what God commands. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." No one can doubt, after reading these texts, that God requires supreme love from all His rational creatures. If then holiness consists in obeying God, it consists in rendering Him that supreme love which will produce the submission in question. What can be holiness, what can be goodness, if it is not subjection to the will of eternal wisdom and benevolence? What temper in the universe can be better than that sweet and heavenly charity which subjects all our wishes and interests to that will? which is more anxious that a will should be done which protects the best interests of all worlds than for any personal gratification? This is the very essence of that benevolence which comprehends in itself all the right feelings that can exist in any world or relation. In its operations and fruits it is the complete sum of all moral excellence. It cannot fail to bring forth all that is lovely and right. It is itself the seminal principle of all.

This submission to the will of God, so far as it operates, necessarily excludes all evil passions and conduct. For instance, it excludes all discontent. For one who knows that the providence of God is universal, and extends to the most minute events, and who is willing that the will of the Lord in all things should be done, and delights in that will more than in any thing which that will can take away; what ground can there be for discontentment? If events are crossing to his feelings, still his supreme desire is gratified, for the will of the Lord is done; and though he may suffer, he would by no means change a single circumstance about which the divine will has been clearly expressed. This it was which taught the apostle "in whatever state" he was "therewith to be content." The slightest feeling of discontentment shows that the submission is not perfect. We may be dissatisfied with an arrangement which it appears to be in our power to alter, and about which we have an agency still to exert, because the divine will is not yet expressed. Thus the disciples did not cease their entreaties and say, "The will of the Lord be done," until they had exhausted arguments to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem. But when the pleasure of God is known, a particle of discontentment evinces a want of submission. With proper resignation we shall feel, under any cross event, that we have nothing to do, in mind or body, but to use the means which God has appointed to remove or support the evil. A ruffled mind, we shall know, is not one of those means. We may still suffer, as under the loss of a near friend or under bodily pain; but one may sweat blood without discontentment so long as he can say, "Not my will, but Thine be done." Submission will exclude every feeling of undue anxiety. In looking forward into the wide expanse of futurity, or in contemplating the issue of any particular event, the Christian knows that nothing can happen but what the will of God appoints. While that will engages his supreme regard, how can he be anxious? He may be concerned and careful about doing his duty in the use of proper means to prevent what he deems an evil; but with entire submission to the divine will, how can he be anxious about the event? All such anxiety proves that his submission is not perfect. Submission to God will exclude every angry and every impatient feeling towards men. There is a holy indignation against the wickedness of others which still remains; but all malevolent resentment and impatience (which arise from an unwillingness to have our own interests assailed), will give way when it is considered that, whoever are the instruments, God has appointed the trial. As soon as the heart is thus reconciled to the personal suffering, all resentment against the instrument will cease. Thus David, when Shimei cursed him said, "Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him."


Every angry passion, then, every impatient feeling, proves that our submission is not complete. It follows of course that submission will exclude every complaining word, every angry or bitter word, every impatient word. When all discontent, anger, bitterness, and impatience are banished from the heart, they will leave the lips; "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Every complaining, angry, bitter, or impatient word, then, proves that our submission is not complete. Submission will cure all distrust of God. In every case of distrust we suspect God of not being sufficiently attentive to our interest. That is plainly setting up our interest against Him. The subjection of our interest to His will is an effectual remedy against all this. Submission will cure every inordinate desire after wealth, honour, pleasure, friends, ease, or whatever else we regard. An inordinate desire is an unsubmissive desire. The two phrases are, in mortals, perfectly synonymous. Simply to desire these things is no sin; the evil consists in desiring them disproportionately, in desiring them more than the honour of God, or at least raising them so near to a level with God as to obstruct an entire subjection to His will. This being the definition of inordinate desire, it is plain that submission is its precise and only cure. Submission is an effectual cure of all envious feelings towards our neighbour. Those distinctions at which envy grieves are of God's appointment. Complete submission to His will will do all the uneasiness away. Every envious feeling proves that our submission is not complete. Submission will prevent every unlawful assault upon our neighbour's person, influence, or good name. All these acts are attempts to change, by means which God has forbidden, that posture of things which God in His providence has appointed. Submission to His will would prevent all this: it would leave with God all those changes in the condition of men which we ourselves are not permitted to make. A remarkable instance of this fruit of submission occurred in the life of David. When he found Saul asleep, Abishai's advice was to kill him: but David answered, "The Lord shall smite him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall descend into battle and perish: the Lord forbid that I should stretch forth my hand against the Lord's anointed." On the same ground submission will prevent every resort to unlawful means to secure an object. By forbidding the use of unholy means, God has manifestly required us to submit to those evils which we cannot remove without such means. If then we are submissive to His will, we shall never make such a resort. It follows of course that submission will exclude every falsehood, and I may add, every transgression. The temptation to transgress is a desire for some object which we cannot obtain without going counter to a divine precept. Where the object is placed in this predicament by the providence of God, it is plain that submission to providence will take away all motives to transgress. I add finally, that submission, so far as it extends, must quench every evil passion, and thus extinguish the inward fire from which all outward eruptions proceed. If it suppresses every inordinate desire, every feeling of discontent, all distrust of God, every motive of impatience, anger, bitterness, and envy, every feeling which sets up a private interest against God, what is there left that can be pronounced evil? The heart is cleansed at once of everything that pollutes or offends, and is made entirely subject to the empire of eternal purity and love. Thus submission to the will of god, so far as it goes, excludes everything that is morally evil, and is the essence of that sublime benevolence which includes everything that is holy and good. Nothing is necessary but his principle to tranquilize the universe. If all rational creatures are submissive to the will of God, all are brought together and harmoniously united in one rule of action, in one supreme motive, in one single will, and that will nothing less than the will of infinite rectitude and goodness. Is not this a universe complete in order, beauty, and happiness?

Thus the holiness of this temper appears. And its happiness is no less evident. Submission to God, as we have seen, excludes all those uncomfortable passions which make the wicked like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. It clears away everything that can agitate or corrode the mind. And as its very life-blood consists in supreme delight in the will of God, it has always the happiness of knowing that its dearest object is safe; that the ground of its highest exultation and joy is secure; that the will of infinite wisdom and benevolence will in all things be done. This is the grand relief for all the miseries of man. It not only subdues great calamities, but gives a pleasant form to the numberless circumstances which hourly arise, and spreads a brighter hue over the whole web of life. Instead of all things going wrong, everything falls out as it should do. The happy shepherd of Salisbury Plain, when asked what sort of weather he thought it would be on the morrow, replied, "It will be such weather as pleases me, because it will be such weather as shall please God." That man was happier than a prince. O the serenity and tranquillity of the mind whose will is thus swallowed up in the will of God.

And in respect to the universal obligation, who can doubt that this is precisely the temper in which all moral agents ought to unite? The very definition of moral agents is, that they are under obligation to feel and do right and to avoid wrong. But in the temper under consideration, all the right feelings in the universe are involved, and by it all the wrong feelings in the universe are excluded. If then there are any such beings as moral agents, they are under obligation to exercise this temper. If rational creatures are not bound to feel thus, rational creatures are not moral agents; and then there is no such thing as moral obligation, no such thing as right and wrong, no ground for praise or blame, no foundation, but in a mistake, even for those emotions of resentment and gratitude which we feel towards our fellow-men. If you revolt from these conclusions, you must go back to the full admission that all men are under indispensable obligations to yield unlimited submission to God. Is He not our rightful King, and are we not His subjects? Is not His will perfect? Has not the Creator and Proprietor of all things a right to govern His own world according to His own pleasure? Has He not a right to extend His control to those numberless circumstances which rise up in our daily course? Has he not a right to come into our enclosure, our family, and touch those interests which we have been most accustomed to consider our own? Why should we fret against the dispensations of Providence? They are all the dispensations of God. His care extends to the smallest matters. He puts nothing out of His hands. Those things which vex us from hour to hour were as really appointed by Him as the ordinances of day and night. Why should we be disquieted by their occurrence? The will that appoints them is perfectly benevolent, and has nothing for its object but the best god of the universe. It is infinitely wise, and cannot fail to select the best means for this end. Is it not our duty to love supremely Him who is supremely lovely? Has He not fastened this duty upon us by the whole strength of His authority. Has He not expressly said to each one of us, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart? And are we still loving our little conveniences better than Him? Are we still setting up our petty interests in opposition to His will? Under all the appointments of His providence from hour to hour, and in respect to the most minute circumstances, we are bound to own Him as our sovereign King, from whose will neither there is, nor do we wish there should be, any appeal. That will make us proof against the vexations of disappointment and the uneasiness of desire. That will spread a heavenly calm over our minds, and render us serene and happy under every change of life.

This is the religion of the Old Testament and the New. Under the severest trials this resignation has all along been exemplified in the history of the Church. "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord," said Job when all his children and possessions were destroyed. "Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?" was his language when covered with one tormenting ulcer from head to foot. When the two sons of Aaron were swept from the earth by the vengeance of God, "Aaron held his peace." When the message came, denouncing the utter destruction of Eli's house and the death of his two sons in one day, Eli answered, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." When David was driven out from his royal city by the revolt of his kingdom and the rebellion of his son, he said to Zadok the priest, "Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again and show me both it and his habitation: but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, behold here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him." When Hezekiah heard that most humiliating denunciation, he said, as in our text, "Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken." When the Church was driven from her burning cities to Babylon, her language was, "Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?" When He who was set for our example sweat blood, he said, "Not my will, but thine be done."

In more general and common matters, the same acknowledgment of God and the same resignation to His will have all along been exemplified. A general acquiescence and joy in His government have always distinguished His true servants. All down the ages they have sung, "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof." Even in that part of His government which is directed against the wicked, they have solemnly acquiesced. "Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments." When John saw in Patmos the fall of spiritual Babylon, he heard a voice saying, "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her." He then reports: "After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, nto the Lord our God...And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped him that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Such was the animated jubilee which was held in heaven over the destruction of spiritual Babylon.

Such is the religion of the Old Testament and the New: not an imaginary submission in a case existing only in supposition, but a real, habitual submission under events and trials actually occurring; not a submission excited only now and then by some awakening calamity, but a practical and steady acquiescence in the divine government; not a submission yielded only in view of the merciful issue of events, but a holy approbation of the final destruction of the wicked. This is the religion of the Bible. Nothing short of this will be accepted of God. This is the religion which sound reason approves as the only homage due to the Sovereign of the world. This is precisely the religion which will unite and bind and harmonize the universe. This is a religion worthy to be the service of a God. Possess this religion, my dear hearers. Exercise it in profound, absolute, universal submission to the divine government: and it shall be well with you in ages yet to come, when the hopes of the wicked shall perish. While they eternally pine to see a God reigning without their consent, you will have a preparation for never failing joy; and under the shadow of that throne which your suffrages have supported you shall repose in everlasting safety and blessedness. Amen.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

This Is Not Your Rest

This is Not Your Rest

by Edward D. Griffin

"Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted."–Micah ii. 10.

The land of Canaan was called a rest. "Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest." It was given to Israel after their wanderings for four hundred and seventy years (from the time that Abraham left "Ur of the Chaldees"), as a permanent retreat from the world, where they might rest "under the shadow of the Almighty." But it was given on condition of their faithful obedience. That obedience they had failed to render. In the preceding verses the prophet had reproached them for their merciless oppression,–in our text he pronounces their doom. "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted" by your sins. You shall find neither contentment nor continuance here. One trouble shall succeed another, until you are swept away and removed to Babylon. Perhaps another idea may be added. Since the land is polluted and your doom is known, it is no longer lawful for you to seek a rest here. Arise and depart, for to rest in this place after you are forbidden to stay is pollution. Some have thought that the address was made to the oppressed, and was intended for a word of consolation. Arise and depart from this land of oppression: ye shall find relief in another country. Comfort your hearts, for the time of your deliverance is at hand. Tremble not at a removal to Babylon, for nothing but violence and injustice awaits you here. 

It is allowed by commentators that these words may be properly applied to the state of men in the present world. And I see not why they may not be applied in all the senses that have been mentioned. Let us expand them in the three-fold form.

First, this world would have been a rest had sin never entered it: but since it is polluted, there is neither contentment nor continuance here; neither solid happiness in the enjoyments it offers, nor an abiding city in any of its domains. It is no longer our permanent abode, but our passage to another country; our inn, but not our home.

Secondly, to attempt to rest in the creature after God has commanded us to give it up, is sinful. To rest in a connection with unrighteous men,–satisfied with a world corrupt through "divers lusts,"–is still more pollute. We are called upon to "come out from among them and be separate," and to keep ourselves "unspotted from the world." From resting in the creature, from resting in corrupt associations with worldy men, we are called away.

Thirdly, through the selfish passions and oppressive conduct of men, through the numerous troubles which beset this vale of tears, the pilgrim can find no rest on earth. It is a relief to think of departing to that world where "the wicked cease from troubling," and where "the weary" are "at rest." How cheering the sound, "Arise ye, and depart." Come, my children, enter into your everlasting chambers. Escape to that "rest" which "remaineth" for "the people of God."

From these different views we may consider ourselves called upon to turn our backs on the world and to set our faces towards heaven, by all the following considerations.

I. That this is not our home.
II. That the world cannot satisfy.
III. That an attempt to rest in it is sinful.
IV. That no alliance can be formed with the men of the world without hazard of pollution.
V. That no rest can be found in a world full of injustice and oppression. Nor yet,
VI. In a world inundated with the floods of affliction.

I. This is not our home. Our life is "as an hand-breadth." "Man that is born of a woman is of few days...He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not." In the morning he looketh forward to life as a little eternity; but before he is aware his head is covered with the frost of age, and he is tottering on his withered limbs. And then when leaning upon his staff and countering the graves of the companions of his youth, he can feelingly pronounce that life "is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away." It is transient "as a tale that is told." It is "as a dream when one awaketh." Regular and rapid, like the waves of the sea, one generation sweeps off another into the gulf of oblivion. Where are they who filled the world with noise and strife, with fame and folly, half a century ago? and where, half a century to come, will be those who now fill the whole circle of human vision? Before they are aware their places will be vacant, to be filled with another generation as transient as themselves. Thus passes off the glory of the world. And where does the wave sweep them? Into that state of conscious being which is never to end,–which is fraught with bliss or agony beyond the imaginations of this infant world to conceive. Through fields of light or through floods of fire, they will look back to the time when they spent a few moments on a little particle of dust called earth, which, millions of ages since, has sunk in the general conflagration. Even then their eternity will be but just begun. And when, from that remote point, they remember how attached they once were to this world, how they regarded it in a sense as their final rest, and placed it higher than that eternal state, how will they stand amazed at their folly. This is but the threshold of your being, and all before you is a boundless eternity. Why then are your affections lingering here? Why are your calculations bounded by the present world? Had not sin entered, this world might have been your happy home for many years, till exchanged by a translation to the empyreal heavens. But since the tragedy of Eden brought death into the world, how vain to linger, for a resting-place, about these mortal shores. A voice from heaven breaks in upon our frenzied dreams, "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest."

II. The world cannot satisfy. Never were the things of the world intended to fill the human mind. In the original formation of man he received a capacity which nothing but God could fill; and through by the fall he lost his relish for God, the same capacity still remains, and all creation cannot fill it now. While his mind remained pure, however, he was able to enjoy the good things of the world to a perfect degree. No restless longing, no perplexing care, no throb of envy, no collision of interest, no pang of disappointment, hung around the pursuit or possession of worldly good. His mind, kept in order by the dominant love of God, held the creature in its proper place, and could enjoy, without mixture, all that it contained. But since the creature assumed the place of God, it has become, as all idols must, an instruments of pain. Withered by the curse of God yet sought with inordinate desire and expectation, it turns to unsavoury ashes upon the palate, plants thorns of disappointment in the heart, and proves its name and its nature to be "vanity and vexation of spirit."

Many minds, broken loose from their centre, have wandered in search of rest in the creature; but none have ever found it. Wealth says, It is not in me; honour and pleasure say, It is not in me. Instead of rest there is wretchedness whenever the attempt is made. The man who surpassed in wealth, as he did in wisdom, all the other kings of Israel, had the fairest opportunity to try the experiment. He drained the creature to the dregs; and when he had drunk it off he wrote upon the goblet this label for the admonition of future ages, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit." The most effectual way to turn the sweets of creature comforts into wormwood, is to seek to draw from them, what must be derived from God alone, the supreme happiness of an immortal mind.

Thus sin and the curse have ruined that enjoyment of the creature which was originally intended. Why then search for satisfaction where it is not to be found? "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted."

III. An attempt to rest in the creature is sinful. The first command is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." To make a god of any thing, is to set the heart supremely upon it and to attempt to rest in it as a chief source of happiness. To love "the creature more than the Creator" and to look to that for our chief comfort, is to idolize the creature, and is a breach of the first and great command. Hence the declaration, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." We may value the creature for the purposes for which it was given us; but there is not a man on earth who does not love the world too much. The chief current of selfishness sets this way: for inordinate self-love chiefly consists in overvaluing the happiness which results from the gratification of worldly propensities. While selfishness remains, the love of honour, wealth, and pleasure will hold too high a place in the heart; and we shall seek them with undue desire and reckon on them too much as essential parts of prosperity; our minds will too earnestly cleave to them and be too distracted with care about possessing them. This it is to rest in the creature; and this, in whatever degree it is indulged, is idolatry. It is the ruin of worldly men, and it is the besetting sin of Christians themselves. The only cure for it is to give a larger proportion of the heart to God: and this can be effected only by deep contemplations of God and earnest applications to Him for the Spirit. The evil consists in overvaluing our own separate happiness, in seeking a gratification which does not make a part of the general prosperity of God's kingdom, in searching for it out of God, in detaching ourselves from the universe and building ourselves up as a unit. Until men have taken an everlasting leave of the world and shut themselves up in a convent or in hell, the love of the world is the principal way by which they stray from God, the principal affection which takes the place of love to Him. It is the great road to perdition: or if the gate of hell is shut by the grace of God, it is the great road to darkness, temptation, and distress.

To attempt then to rest in the creature is to seek a guilty rest. It is to lie down in pollution. Wherefore then are your heart-strings so entwined about the world? Why cast yourselves down to sleep in the jakes? "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your" lawful "rest: because it is polluted."

IV. No alliance can be formed with the men of the world without hazard of pollution. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." A great part of the feelings, opinions, conversation, and customs of the world are opposed to the genuine spirit of the Gospel. They are such as are dictated by a heart under the supreme dominion of selfishness, unrelieved by anything better than the social affections and the faith and conscience of devils. Under the refining light of religion and science, the coarser excrescences may be lopped off and the form may be polished. Even an attitude may be taken to protect some of the general principles of Christianity. But after all, the life and soul of religion is excluded, and that with more overwhelming influence than though this garnished body had never been baptised. This is the world in its most imposing shape. In all other forms it is the open enemy of all religion, if not of all decorum. With such a world what alliance can be formed without polluting our minds and hazarding our salvation? A voice from heaven says, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate,...and touch not the unclean thing." Ye "are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." "The friendship of the world is enmity with God: whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." I know an attempt is sometimes made to prove that the character of the world is changed by the introduction of Christianity, and to render a considerable part of the Bible inapplicable to the present day. But this arises from sheer ignorance of the character of man and the nature of regeneration. All who remain the world, in distinction from the truth Church, are the same in heart as though no Gospel had been sent. If they do not love God supremely, they are supremely attached to themselves, and of course are His enemies. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other." "He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." Those then who have not been raised to the supreme love of God remain as fully His enemies as though no Gospel had been given to men. Those of course who are the world, in distinction from the Church, retain still the character ascribed to the world in the New Testament. With that world it is hazardous to form any alliance. Conformity to them is death. Heaven itself has said, "Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Why then are you resting on the opinions of worldly men? Why are you so eager to catch their smiles? Why yielding yourselves up to those habits of pleasure which their practice has sanctioned? Why reaching after associations with them to the neglect of humble Christians?

V. No rest can be found in a world full of injustice and oppression. The collisions of selfish passions keep the world in a flame and drench it in blood.

"My ear is pain'd,
My soul is sick with ev'ry day's report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fill'd.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart:
It does not feel for man.
*     *     *     *     *     *     *
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations, who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one."

 Not nations only, but individuals in all the departments of life, act out this detestable temper. The complaint of the prophet may be applied to every age: "Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth." In a world where selfishness forms the supreme law, where love is an exotic, thinly scattered and of feeble growth, where hard-hearted hate and hard-handed oppression repel and crush and grind the feeble, where churlishness and envy and rivalship and jealousies sever the bands of social life,–what rest can be found? But there is a world where rivalries never come, where selfish passion never sours, where envy and oppression and war can never enter, where a man finds a brother in every one he meets, where justice and honour and love and tenderness govern every heart, every action, every feature and look. Why will you linger so long among scorns and abuses? Why cleave to this hard-hearted world as though your feet grew to the soil? Come away, ye lambs of Christ, from the jaws of the lion and the bear, and enter into the heavenly fold. Will you seek to rest among enemies when there is such a world of tenderness to receive you? "There" your "best friends," your "kindred dwell, there God" your "Saviour reigns." Will you choose this for your home, where you timid spirits have only to tremble and weep? Turn your backs on this den of thieves, and enter the portals of that blessed city where all is the sweetest harmony and love.

VI. No rest can be found in a world inundated with the floods of affliction. Ever since sin entered, this world has been a vale of tears, a house of correction, to break stubborn spirits to submission, to drive wayward children to obedience by the rod, to humble the proud, and to discover God's severity against sin. It is appointed us "through much tribulation" to "enter into the kingdom of God." "In the world" we "shall have tribulation." This is the suffering time of the Church, the wilderness through which they must pass to the heavenly rest, the long, tiresome desert full of serpents and enemies, and in which is no water. Here "moth" corrupts and "thieves break through and steal." Here they have to drag about a weak and aching body. Here their heart-strings are often broken in the dying chambers of their friends.

"Why should this world delight us so?
Why should we fix our eyes
On these low grounds where sorrows grow
and every pleasure dies?"

Are we confined to this? Has infinite love provided nothing better? Has God prepared no habitation in His wide domains more worthy to be the object of our aspiring hopes? Lift up your eyes and see.

"There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.
*     *     *     *     *     *     *
Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand drest in living green:
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between."

Why then should we wish to continue here? Why should we thrust ourselves down among the briers and thorns? Why are we so unwilling to go away to everlasting peace? Do we not know that these afflictions were introduced by sin? The world is full of trouble because it is unclean. This argument too is pressed home by the same voice from heaven. "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted."

To these arguments, drawn from the text, it may be added, that Christians themselves are distressed with many sins. And will you seek a rest among your own pollutions? Before you lies a world of everlasting purity. Will you not arise and reach after that? Here the face of your heavenly Father is but little seen, and you are frequently called to mourn an absent God. But there you will see Him face to face without an interposing cloud to eternity. Will not this thought break your slumbers? Will you not from this hour take your hearts and hopes from earth and lodge them in the heaven of heavens? You do not belong here: you are citizens of another country. Break loose from this enchanted ground. Direct your eye immovably towards your inheritance, and press towards that glorious mark. Soon will you be far away from earth and enter among the glories of the upper world. Forget your idols, forget your father's house, and bend all your thoughts to immortality. And then your "light affliction, which is but for a moment," shall work for you "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Amen.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

By Whom Shall Jacob Arise?

By Whom Shall Jacob Arise?

by Edward D. Griffin

"By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small."–Amos vii. 2.

This was an appeal to the heart of God at a time when the judgments of heaven were bringing the chosen people to ruin. "When" the locusts "had made an end of eating the grass of the land" and were about to fall upon the corn, then said the prophet, "O Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The Lord repented for this: It shall not be, saith the Lord." When the fire was let loose to consume the earth, the prophet again interceded: "O Lord God, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord God."

"By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." This is a question which might well have been asked in every age which the Church has yet seen. Her numbers have always been small in comparison with the ranks of the wicked. Near two-thirds of the world are Pagans; a fifth part are bending at the tomb of Mahomet; and only a sixth part are nominally Christian. Of that sixth, by far the greater part are buried under Greek and Romish darkness. And even in Protestant countries, to how small a compass is the true Church reduced! The men of the world swarm on every hand, while few are on their way to Zion. How small a proportion in every city, in every village. Amidst the countless multitudes of nations, languages, and tongues, the Church, to this day, is but a drop in the ocean.

And she is weak as well as small; wholly incompetent to her own salvation; with no strength commensurate to the difficulties and enemies she has to encounter, and no ally this side of heaven.

When we look abroad over the world we behold a race of men dead in trespasses and sins, given over to the dominion of the selfish passions, chained down in ignominious servitude to the world; whom no motives can conquer, no means reclaim. To form such beings into materials for building up the Church, they must be made to undergo a thorough and wonderful transformation. Who shall accomplish this mighty change? Who shall turn back the current? Who shall drive back Jordan to its source? Easier to make any other change in the dispositions of men. For easier to make the coward brave or the miser liberal. No two states of the natural affections are so far apart and so opposed to each other as supreme selfishness and holy love. Nothing against which native selfishness is so rancorously fixed as God and His holy law. You may turn demons into seraphs as easily as by your own power you can mould men into saints. And yet if Zion arises there must be as many such transformations as the number of her sons.

The transformation must not only be begun, it must be continued and perfected. After men have set out in the heavenly course they still have to contend with their original corruptions, and with a world full of objects fitted to inflame them. All these corruptions and temptations stand in the way of the growth of the Church. And then there is another world full of enemies, deeply practised in their arts, urged on by demoniac malice to obstruct the salvation of God's people; who spread snares through all their way, and having learned the various avenues to their hearts and all their weaknesses, watch incessantly to undo them.

Besides all these innate difficulties and invisible foes which every individual Christian finds in his way, the Church as a body has to contend with a world in arms. Every  natural man is her foe. If not a foe to the social and civil order which she subserves, at least an enemy to the real spirit which constitutes the Church. The whole bent of the natural heart in every age and country, in every family and individual, is against it. The Pagan and the Mahometan raves; the Jew gnashes his teeth; the Papists reduces the whole to rites and forms, and contends for the privilege of doing this with fire and faggot; the Socinian embowels religion and presents nothing but a garnished corpse. The men of the world with one heart are arrayed against this heavenly stranger. All the aims of ambition, all the lust of wealth, every appetite and passion which reaches after pleasure, is her foe. The habits, principles, and calculations of the world are her enemies. Even "the friendship of the world" is deadly hostility. The civil arm has beaten her down with fierce and bloody persecutions. Courts have excluded her, or taken her in only to corrupt her. Learning has sought to change her nature and mould her into an easy thing to favour the pride of intellect and the epicureanism of science, and to leave the selfish heart still to reign. In a war against the genuine spirit of religion, against its self-denial and its soul-humbling doctrines, all other enmities are swallowed up, all other rivals are compacted into firm allies. Herod and Pilate bury their animosities here. All corrupt sects which in various ways have perverted the Gospel, when pure religion takes the field will coalesce into the firmest alliance against her. The combinations of wealth, learning, and power; the obstinacy and artifices of disputers; the substitution of other natures under her name; the prejudices and the passions, the arts and the arms which assail her; constitute a phalanx more formidable than was ever arrayed against any other cause.

Nor is there any need of this outward pressure to keep religion down. Leave man to himself for a single generation, and with all the means of civilization and grace, the Church would become extinct. Were she as prosperous as in the days of her primitive glory, the withdrawment of the Spirit from one generation would banish her from the world. All that has been gained in past ages is nothing without a continued operation. The process must be repeated upon every generation.

And now with all this task before us to raise up children to God from the stones of the street against all the resistance of two worlds, we may well exclaim, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." Our strength is wholly incompetent to preserve the Church a single hour, to add one to the number of her sons, to produce a religious impression on a single heart. If no other helper is found, we must sit down in tears and give up all for lost.

Such are the complaints which befit every period of the world. But our text was uttered in a time of special discouragement, in a time when religion was at its lowest declension, and when the hand of God was stretched out, not to revive His work, but apparently to bring the Church to ruin. It will be in exact accordance with the spirit of the text to apply it to a day of declension and judgment.

When we look abroad on the community and see errors and dissipation and vice abound in every form; when the children of the streets who can scarcely walk are filling the air with the names of the eternal God; when the idea of a change of heart and of experimental religion is hooted from society; when sinners are groping their way to perdition through darkness that may be felt, as stupid as though they had no souls; when our poor children are coming forward among dangers like these, and most of them are on their way to eternal death; is it not high time for every one to cry out with trembling and tears, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." By whom can he arise? He is fallen, and there is none to lift him up. He is brought low by his own sins, and has no strength to help himself. He is fallen in the midst of his enemies, and has no ally this side of heaven. By whom shall he arise? By whom shall our children be awakened and brought to salvation? Who shall remove this dreadful stupidity from the people? Who inquire who? but no one answers. We search through the world and find no arm competent to the task. Must we then sit down in despair? Must we give up these immortal souls to eternal death? Must we resign our children to everlasting woe?

The everlasting God is our hope. On Him our eyes fix when every other helper fails. it was God that began this great work. He laid the plan in the ages of eternity without the aid or counsel of creatures. He selected the Church for His own favourite interest, for the chosen means of spreading His glory before all worlds. From the beginning to the end of time He is pursuing this object with no dependence on any but Himself, resting no issue on the self-determining power of man. In propelling the mighty machine, His hand is behind every wheel to originate the first motion. Every man has his interest, in which his heart is wrapt up, and in attention to which he finds his chief employment. The Church is God's interest; and in managing her concerns and making all things subservient to her advancement, He finds His principal occupation from age to age. For this purpose He created the heavens and the earth; for this purpose He preserves and governs all things; for this purpose He brings about all the changes in the natural and moral world. This is the core of all the works of God. For this ages revolve; for this empires rise and fall; for this the world has stood and all its operations have been carried on for six thousand years. God has no other interest on earth, no other end for which He preserves and governs all. This is the grand interest on which His divine eye is immovably fixed. Whether seasons revolve or empires rise or fall, this is the only object which He has in view. This is the only interest of the world. This interest God has not committed to men; it is His own, His only portion. He has taken it into His own hands. He has set Himself down to manage it Himself. If it does not succeed it is because He has not sufficient skill and power.

In this character God is determined to be acknowledged. The great end which He proposes to Himself in all His work, is to bring out to view the riches of His nature, that creatures may see and acknowledge Him as He is, and for ever enjoy Him. That His works may be understood to be such a manifestation of Himself, His fixed design is to be known and acknowledged as the first cause of all things. It is the natural course of unbelief to put Him out of view. Ignorance has gone after its thousand deities. Learning has stopped at second causes and paid its devotions to nature. All this atheism God is resolved to confound. He is determined to be acknowledged as the author of all things, but especially as the author of salvation. This is His best and greatest effort to spread abroad the glories of His nature, to reveal to creatures what He is and what He is to them, to unite them to Him in the most perfect love, gratitude, and confidence, in the sweetest and sublimest communion. Of this great work He is fixedly determined to have all the glory. Of this glory He is the most jealous of all. This He will not give to another nor divide with another. He is resolved to be acknowledged as the sole author and finisher of the whole.

For this reason He studiously constructs the dispensations of His grace in a way to convince His people that it is "not by might, nor by power, but by" His "Spirit" that the Church is enlarged. Was He careful, in the demolition of Jericho so to shape the means that His hand alone should be acknowledged? Did He use the same care in the conquest of the Midianites in the days of Gideon? and in the overthrow of Goliath by a stripling with a sling and a stone? Much more care has He taken to secure all the honour to Himself in the business of man's salvation. The whole scheme is obviously designed "to stain the pride of" human "glory" and to attach all the honour to His throne. Among other expedients for this end, He has committed the Gospel to "earthen vessels,"–to poor, feeble, sinful men, who, so far from being able to save others, have no power to help themselves. The word in their polluted lips is made "mighty...to the pulling down of strong holds." And when the captives are released under hands incapable of breaking their own chains, they cannot doubt to whom they owe their deliverance. To make His own power more visible in this select thing, He interrupts the order of second causes and goes in the way of supernatural operations. He allows difficulties to increase, as He did on Carmel when He would prove Himself the God of the rain; and when the sacred fire descends, it consumes the wood and the stones and licks up the water in the trench. He leaves His people to come into great straits, as He did at the Red Sea. He sets impassable mountains on either hand and lets a pursuing enemy thunder in their rear; that in the moment when they give up all for lost He may open a passage through the sea. He leaves sin and error to abound, darkness and strife to overspread a region, and makes the hope of His people to fail, just before He appears in His glory to build up Zion. And all this to render His interposition more manifest, and to put His people to the greatest distance from ascribing any part of the glory to instruments. His voice is constantly heard from the highest heavens, saying, "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." He detests the system of drawing in a crooked worldly policy to support His magnificent cause. He would lead His people forth with both their eyes fixed on the heavens, saying as they go, "My soul, with thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him."

This is the proper attitude in which to stand when our anxious souls inquire, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." To this then we have come: our only hope is in God. I know that not another soul will ever be converted in this congregation unless it be accomplished by the power of God. Let all other dependencies be given up; the Church must rise by God alone. There is no other helper; there is no other hope. This is our consolation in the darkest times. We never wish to see the Church in any other hands. We never wish her to have any other protector, any other ally, or that any other should share in the glory of her salvation. We know His love. We have heard Him say, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." In all ages His faithfulness has been made to appear. He has "been our dwelling-place in all generations." Abraham trusted in Him and was never forsaken. David always found Him a friend in time of need. Daniel and the three children were not abandoned to their enemies. Thousands have acknowledged, When father and mother forsook me the Lord did take me up. Why need we look for any other helper, for any other substantial and faithful friend? "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

In the dark times of Pharisaical pride and Sadducean blasphemy, Simeon and Anna, as they waited for the consolation of Israel, often inquired, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." When they pressed the infant Saviour to their heart, the question was solved: "My eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." The Waldenses, shut in among their native mountains during the long papal night, often inquired, "By whom shall Jacob arise?" God answered them in His august providence. They saw Him come. They saw the throne of judgment set. They saw spiritual Babylon arraigned. They saw those great Reformers like angels flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to every nation. Our fathers, when they hid themselves in woods and secret chambers for the sake of worshipping God, often inquired, with breaking hearts, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." God prepared His own answer. He opened to them this beautiful land; He raised up churches through all this howling wilderness; and on this ground erected one-half of Zion. In this day of blasphemy and rebuke, we may look abroad upon the sepulchres of our fathers and the wide spreading ruin of our offspring, and ask, with streaming tears, "By whom shall Jacob arise?" The God of our fathers will presently answer. These temples and streets shall be full of prayer and praise. Already is His hand brushing away the darkness from a thousand lands. The signs of better days are springing up through all the earth. I hear Him say from the fleecy cloud on which He is riding through the world, "The day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come."

But we return and look upon the ruins still around us, and our tears flow afresh. We raise a beseeching look and cry, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." Well, then, my dear brethren, you know what you have to do. Amos urged this question in the form of an intercession to move the heart of God. This is your remedy. "Arise, cry out in the night; in the beginning of the watches pour out" your "heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up" your "hands towards him for the life of" your "young children that faint for hunger in the top of every street."

But mark the order in which the prophet proceeds. His first prayer is for pardon: "O Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." He prostrated himself like David, and acknowledged the sins of his people and sued for pardon, before his intercession could avail. He saw sin to be at the bottom of the trouble, and therefore concluded that the pardon of sin must be at the bottom of the deliverance, and prayed for that in the first place. Whatever calamity we are under, the pardon of sin should be first and most eagerly sought. Till this is obtained no intercession will avail. "We have transgressed and have rebelled," said the captive Church; "thou hast not pardoned;... thou hast covered thyself with a cloud that our prayers should not pass through." When a church has long been praying for a revival religion, and has not been heard, it is because God has not pardoned. Cast yourselves then on your faces, my beloved brethren, and humble yourselves in the deepest dust, for all your coldness, ingratitude, and neglect. Prostration is your first duty, and the first step towards deliverance. This done, besiege the throne of grace with many tears. And take for your encouragement the success marked in the context. Twice the interceding prophet pleadingly inquired, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." Twice "the Lord repented," and said "It shall not be." Twice a stop was put to the judgment by making supplication to the Judge. Thus Moses stood in the breach and turned away wrath from Israel. Thus Elijah proved that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Could you, with deep humility and deep dependence, go forth in a body, and pour your fervent cries into His ears, the blessing of hundreds ready to perish might come upon you. "The Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear." He might pour down such a flood of blessings that there would not be room to contain it. You would have no longer to say, "By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small." Your sighs would be turned into songs. And will you lose the blessing when it is brought so near? Will you be poor when it is so easy to become rich? Will you leave at your door, despised, all that God has to give? "Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."



Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Christ Deserves From God and Man

What Christ Deserves From God and Man

by Edward D. Griffin

"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."—Rev. i. 5, 6.

This was the exclamation of the beloved disciple, who had lain on his Saviour's bosom, who had seen Him die, who had just sunk at His feet in Patmos, and who was then rapt by the inspiration of God. With what inexpressible emotions did such a man, at such a time, utter this bursting praise! Could the veil of unbelief and the rock of insensibility be taken from our eyes and hearts, we would utter with the same emotions—
"Jesus is worthy to receive
Honour and power divine."

And the time is coming when "every creature.. in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them," shall be heard saying, "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." This beloved apostle, in the view which he took, saw and felt that Christ was worthy, not only of all gratitude and praise from the redeemed, but of all "glory and dominion" from God. His wish, as expressed in this burst of feeling, was, that He might be honoured by the obedience and adoration and thanks of all holy creatures, and by the kingdom and inheritance conferred by the Father. I am ready to think that you, my friends, who have so often seen Him on the cross, will echo this wish from the bottom of your hearts: and in order to lead your thoughts where such a wish would carry them, I will consider,—
I. What Christ deserves from God; and,
II. What He deserves from the redeemed.

I. What He deserves from God. And here I am not certain whether the term deserves is well applied. Viewing Him purely as Mediator, holding an office under God (without reference to His original equality with the Father, or any claim which He may be supposed to have as one of the eternal Persons in the Trinity), His title rests solely on the promise which God made to the obedience that He performed while a servant under law and bound to obey. Considering Him simply in this light, He could, in strictness of speech, deserve nothing from the Father; that is, He could not as a servant add any thing to God and lay Him under obligation upon the principle of commercial justice; as when a man has done a day's work for another and has a just claim for wages. No creature or subject can lay such an obligation upon God. "Who hath first given to him and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" Gabriel has no other claim than that which rests on a gratuitous promise. And Jesus, viewed as a mere servant under law, could establish no other. All that His obedience could do was to render Him a fit object of God's approbation, and a fit subject of a reward intended to encourage obedience, but due on no other ground than that of a promise sovereignly made. If we go back to the time when the covenant of redemption was formed, and consider Him as one of the original Persons in the Trinity, standing on an equality and contracting with Him who in the economy of redemption is known as the Father; if we can consider those two Persons of pure Godhead as so far two that one can have a claim on the other; and if the second Person in the eternal Godhead (I call Him so for want of another name, though second belongs to the scale of redemption), if the second Person in the eternal Godhead can be supposed so far interested in the rewards of the Mediator (for all the rewards are conferred on the Mediator—a character wholly formed by the covenant of redemption), as to have a claim to them in His own proper and original personality; then the second Person may deserve from the first all that good which to the Mediator is a reward, just as one man may deserve from another what is due to him by a fair and equal contract. But these are points too deep and mysterious for us to pronounce upon. It is enough for us to know that the rewards are all conferred on the Mediator, once the servant, now the Vicegerent of the Father, who, as holding the rights of the Godhead, is acknowledged in them all as the original Proprietor and Giver. "Ask of me, AND I shall give thee," is the tenor of all the promises to the Son. Viewing the matter in this light, we cannot place the claims of the Mediator on any other ground than those of Gabriel, and must rest them on a sovereign promise made to His obedience. And when we speak of His deserts or merits, we must mean only His fitness for rewards which express the Father's approbation, and His claims to them on the score of a divine promise.

Such merits the Redeemer has completely made out. His unvarying obedience under circumstances so difficult and self-denying; His acting out the perfect love required in the divine law, under all the abuses and insults of His murderers; His submission to the Father's will while sweating blood in the garden; His yielding to such dreadful agonies of body and soul for so many hours without one impatient feeling or recoiling wish,—are altogether such an exhibition of obedience as makes heaven and earth amazed; such as never was and never again will be made in any part of creation; such as was fit to constitute a title to all the inheritance of the Son of God.

This is the ground on which His inheritance is conferred. In that memorable account of the inheritance of the Son of God and Heir of all things, contained in the first chapter of Hebrews, the ground o the whole is expressed in these words: "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." For one under law to love righteousness and hate iniquity, is to obey. The whole then is awarded to His obedience. Some other parts of this chapter, as throwing light on His inheritance, I will quote: "God..hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things:.. who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they: for unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?.. Of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." Here the inheritance by which Christ is raised to the title and honours of the Son of God, is made to include His exaltation to the kingdom. All this is again expressed in the Epistle to the Philippians: "Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross: wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," [to wit, the name of the Son of God;] "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, .. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

In His inheritance are included all the positive blessings ever intended for Adam's race in both worlds; whether those which are extended to mankind indiscriminately as adapted to a state of probation, or those which are offered and promised and conferred as a gracious reward, or the sovereign gift of regeneration to the elect. All issue from Godhead as the reward of a perfect obedience; all are given to Christ for the use of man; all are held by a mediatorial claim, and drop upon our world as a part of the mediatorial estate. Not a salubrious breeze, nor a delightful prospect, nor a pleasant relation, nor a crumb of bread, but belongs to the mediatorial estate, and comes to us because first given to Christ. In this sense all are grounded on the righteousness of the Redeemer, and in no other sense come to us through Him, and in no other sense can be asked for His sake.

In His inheritance is included the highest visible throne in heaven, with all the personal glories which surround Him there, and universal dominion, accompanied with the submission and worship and thanksgiving of all holy creatures. So far as the power of enjoyment and the right of control imply possession, He possesses the whole universe, and certainly has authority to press everything into the service of His Church. As elsewhere, so on earth He is the only God that governs. All the power that is ascribed to God in the preservation, supply, and government of the world, and in the production of new generations of creatures, is exclusively exercised by the Mediatorial King. He said after His resurrection, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." The apostle speaks of him as "upholding all things by the word of his power." He was the God of the Old Testament, and has been the only Governor from the beginning. It was He that appeared in Eden; it was He that appeared to Abraham, and said, "I am the Almighty God"; it was He that appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." It must have been He, for "No man hath seen God" [meaning the Father] "at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." It was He that went before Israel in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, and was tempted or provoked by the rebels. Hence the warning of the apostle: "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted and were destroyed of serpents." In speaking of the Father in the first chapter of Hebrews, the apostle says, "Unto the Son he saith" [quoting from the forty-fifth Psalm], "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." He then quotes the language of the inspired David to the God of the Old Testament (who of course was no other than the Mediatorial King), as the continuance of this very address of the Father to the Son: "And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Whoever looks at the hundred and second Psalm will perceive that these words were addressed by David, under the Spirit of inspiration, to the God of the Old Testament,–the only God known as such: but here the apostle declares that they were addressed by the Father to the Son. As the Father had the original, undelegated claim to the Spirit, what is said by the authority of the Spirit to the God of Israel, the Mediatorial King, is ere alleged to have been said by the Father to the Son. The Son then must have been the God of the Old Testament.

In His inheritance is included the Church itself–the seed to serve Him, and the whole body of the elect before their conversion, together with the ways and means necessary to bring them to the knowledge of the truth and to conduct them to heaven; in short, the whole assembly of the redeemed in heaven and earth. His Church is one day to fill the whole world; and to all the nations then on the face of the earth He has a covenant claim. He has received by charter "the heathen for" His "inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for" His "possession." Every conversion is in pursuance of the promises made to Him, and a part of His stipulated reward. Every effusion of the Spirit is this on a larger scale. Every mission to the heathen is a partial fulfilment of the covenant made with Him. All thi mighty movement on earth is the promised reward of the Sufferer of Calvary, and is brought about on purpose to give Him a glorious triumph in the world where He obeyed and died. Who will not contemplate revivals and missions with new interest after this is known? Let them proceed. Let Him have His kingdom who died for wretched men. If all others sink, let the glorious Son of God be honoured. Go forth, ye heralds of the cross. Arise, ye nations, and "crown him Lord of all."

This leads me to consider,–

II. What He deserves from the redeemed. The ground of His claim against them is His dying for them and purchasing for them an inheritance. It is true that His obedience to His Father's law, as it constituted His excellence (His whole excellence, inasmuch as it involved all the love that struggled in His heart,) lays claim to the complacency and supreme respect of all creatures. But the special claim which He has against the redeemed is founded on the amazing love He bore them, and the unspeakable benefits He procured for them by bearing their sins and purchasing their inheritance. He loved them to such a degree that, rather than they should perish, He came down to all the humiliations of the manger and the prætorium; He endured that awful agony of soul for the greater part of four and twenty hours; and for six hours, with His life unbroken within Him, He hung suspended on the torturing spikes. All this to raise them, not from trifling calamities, but from everlasting fire, and the fury of rendering passions, and the company of raging devils, and from infinite despair. He came down to all the submission and toil of a servant, that by the most difficult and self-denying obedience He might purchase for them the blessings of this life, and glory for ever enduring and for ever increasing. This was love. This was conferring benefits on a scale worthy of the Son of God. If ever obligations were created by kindness, here are obligations as ponderous as the universe and as endless as eternity. And now what do the redeemed owe to their Deliverer?

1. They owe Him love and gratitude and praise. They owe it to Him to feel just as the beloved disciple did when His soul went out in this burst of affection: "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever." They owe it to Him to feel just as the redeemed in heaven do when they sing that new song: "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests." Among all the objects which engage our daily attention, the Saviour of the world ought to stand pre-eminent. We ought to ponder upon His infinite excellence in descending so far, in doing and suffering so much, to support the energy of a holy government and to snatch a world from death; to hold out to view "the image of the invisible God" irradiated as by a thousand suns; to fill the universe with a knowledge of the glory of God, and to give complete and everlasting empire to holy order. We ought to ponder upon His immeasurable tenderness and compassion towards a wretched race, towards a world of enemies, towards the tigers who hung Him on the spikes and laughed at His agonies. We ought to ponder upon Him as the only ground of pardon, as the only ground of our present and eternal comforts, as having received (as His own reward and His own estate) the whole sum of good intended for us in both worlds. We ought to ponder upon Him as the most exalted, the most holy, and the most compassionate King, raised up to suppress all insurrections, to quell all disorders, to subdue all His enemies, and to extend a sceptre of righteousness over a composed and peaceful kingdom; raised up "to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins," to penetrate the mountains after the lost sheep, and to bring them home upon His shoulders rejoicing, to gather the lambs in His arms and carry them in His bosom; to extend the shield of protection over His people, to take care of all their interests, to supply them with every comfort, to support them when weary, to cheer them when faint, to wipe the tear from their cheek, and with a tenderness which another never felt, to carry forward and compete their salvation. This wonderful Personage, who is the grand subject of the Old Testament and the New, who fills the whole field of vision (not indeed so as to hide God the Father behind the Mediator, but in a way to present the only face in which God is seen), this glorious Sufferer, Saviour, and King, ought to be the object of our highest love, gratitude, and praise. The dearest earthly friend should give place to Him. It was not too much when He required us to hate father and mother and life in comparison with our love Him. And as to gratitude, no attentions of the kindest mother can put in their claims by the side of His. The highest gratitude that ever throbbed in the most affected heart should make Him its aim and scope. Every hour of the day, as often as the mind has leisure to direct an eye to Him, this gratitude ought to spring forth. And praise, sweet as the breath of love, and deep as the consciousness of our woes, and loud as the echo of His fame, should sound through the earth. The strain should be prolonged, and die away at last on our faltering tongue, only to burst with new raptures in another and better state.

2. We owe it to Him to believe in Him and to embrace Him, to approve of the way of salvation by Him, and to accept Him for our Saviour. Not to do this is to do all in our power to make it true that He died in vain. To do this is to give Him, as far as we have influence, all the reward which He ever sought. Surely after the Son of God has descended to the manger and the cross for our salvation, it is the least that we can do to allow Him to be our Saviour.

3. We owe it to Him to escape from sin and to obey all His commands. One principal end of His mediation was to save His people from their sins; and if they refuse to escape from sin they counteract His great design. The happiness which His benevolence sought for them is that which is bottomed on holy order, and connected with a union to Him in character and heart; and if they refuse to be like Him they frustrate the very end He had in view. In reward of His labours in our service He is made King of Zion, with authority to exercise dominion over all creatures: and how ungrateful for us not to submit to an authority thus acquired. If God will make Him a King for what He has done for us, will we refuse to own Him for a King? Will we deny Him that dominion which is His recompense for laying down His life for us? After all the benefits which the Son of God has conferred on us, will we not render Him the respect of our obedience? Has He not deserved this at our hands? After all the miseries which our sin has caused Him, will we still roll it as a sweet morsel under our tongue? Has not Calvary furnished a lesson to wean us for ever from sin? Can we see the anguish which it cost His holy soul, can we see its horrid nature as there depicted, can we hear the firm determination of God to punish it as there pronounced,–without fleeing from it as from a pestilence?  without panting with insatiable desires after universal holiness?

4. We owe it to Him to rejoice in the kingdom which He has received, and in everything which brings forward the grand consummation when He is to reign over all the earth. What friend of Immanuel, after following Him through His poverty and toils, and trembling at the insults and tortures which He endured from men, does not rejoice that He has found a throne? does not leap for joy at the decree pronounced when He escaped from Pilate and the Jews and rose from the sepulchre? "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion... Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Who does not rejoice to know that on this earth where He wandered an exile, not having "where to lay his head," he is yet to reign the beloved and universal Monarch, and with a splendour of dominion which no potentate ever before attained? Not the splendour of Persian gold and Indian gems, but the splendour of immortal love and holines waving its triumphs over sin and misery subdued. Under His benignant sceptre I see the wretched prisoners burst their chains and walk forth disenthralled and redeemed. I see the throb of misery quelled and composed, as water quenches the flaming brand. I see the triumphs of the new-creating Spirit changing the face of the valley of death, and pouring upon anguish and despair His lights and consolations. I see the wretched Hindoo leaving his religion of obscenity and blood and coming up to the dignity and blessedness of a worshipper of Jehovah. I see the poor African dropping his gregrees to lay hold of the skirt of Christ. I see the South Sea islander mountng the scale of existence from the neighbourhood of vegetative life to a standing among immortal spirits. I see the poor Jew dropping the veil and tearing the rock from his breast, and weeping as he looks on Him whom his fathers pierced. I see, from nation to nation, the angry passions hushed, the rancour of the heart extracted, the empire of crime broken, the sword beaten to a ploughshare, the night of ignorance dispersing, pardons everywhere sweeping away the sentence of death, and the general moan of misery changed to universal exultation and praise. These are fruits which everywhere grow up under the tread of a Saviour's feet. These are the triumphs of the Redeemer's reign. Who that sees these things in prospect does not rejoice that the kingdom was given to Christ? Who that has any other than the heart of a devil does not rejoice at this mighty movement which is taking place on earth? does not shout for joy at the sight of every new mission sent to the heathen? Go, ye messengers of Christ, gather to Him the promised seed from the wilderness; enlarge His kingdom among the children of the forest, and translate His praises into tongues which never before contained His name. While ye go my soul shall thank you and rejoice; yea, it shall leap for joy that He who wore the platted thorns is to wear the many crowns.

5. We owe it Him to devote ourselves to His service, and to consecrate all that we are and have to the promotion of His kingdom. "Ye are not your own," said the apostle, "for ye are bought with a price." "Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men." That is, have but one master; be not in subjection to the opinions and customs of the world; attempt not to serve God and mammon; keep your eye single; have but one ultimate end; remember that you are not your own, but belong exclusively to Him who purchased you with His blood. O what a sacred bond would a deep sense of these words impose! "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." If a man has bought a criminal from prison and from death that he may be his servant, how reasonably bound is that man to devote all his time to his benefactor, and never to feel himself his own. Had it not been for the bitter sufferings of our divine Master, we should have been spending all these years in hell. Surely then we are not our own but His. And nothing that we call our own is ours. "Holiness to the Lord," should be inscribed on everything that we are or have. Our only business on earth should be to promote His Kingdom and glory. Our time and talents should have no other appropriation; our exertions should have no other aim; all our habits and expenses and amusements and business and calculations should be brought under this law; every particle of our property should be disposed of in a manner which we conscientiously believe most calculated to honour Christ, and should be held ready to be given up without a struggle as fast as He calls for it, even to the uttermost farthing. We should rack our invention to contrive ways of doing good, and be constantly occupied in this study and work, as far as health will permit. We should be sure to bring to pass as much as possible every day. And when we find a clear opportunity to do or give something to promote the kingdom of Christ, we should rejoice in it more than in great riches. This is certainly the least that can result from feeling ourselves not our own, but bought with a price: and all this we manifestly owe to Him who left the heaven of His glory to die for us on a cross. Say, ye redeemed of the Lord, is this too much? Ask John, while that burst of gratitude is breaking from His heart, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood," and would he say that I have placed the standard too high? My brethren, we have divided the interest with Christ long enough. Hereafter let Him have the whole. Let us look through our hearts and families, through our neighbourhood and world, and see what we can give or do for His kingdom, and cast in our prayers, our efforts, our property, our all, to advance that great and only interest of the world. And when that kingdom shall be completed in heaven, we shall find enough in it to constitute our eternal portion, without the husks which we gave for its advancement. Let that be my portion, and let sinners take the rest. Amen.