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the grace of Jesus Christ. I knew a young woman, several years ago, in this neighbourhood, who had some powerful impressions of a religious nature: but she drew back from God, and went again into the world. She was laid upon a sick, and apparently, dying bed, and sent for me to visit her. All her impressions revived, and she then concluded that there was a real work of grace in her mind. Contrary to expectation she recovered, and after a time again went back into the world. Again she was ill; again she sent for me ; again her convictions returned: but she died. Could I state the latter repentance to be more effectual than the former? The survivors of such persons must always stand in doubt as to where they are gone. Religion is nothing but a total change of character-is the death of sin in the soul, commencing in a painful conflict, and leading on to a general and habitual victory.
How much is there in this subject to reconcile all Christians to the sufferings of the present life! It is one great end of those sufferings to reduce sin within us. This regulates the time, and the measure, and the duration of their infliction. “ Hath he smitten Jacob,” says
says the prophet, “as he smote those that smote him? or is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin.” AMiction is called a fiery trial for Christians; and it is to purge sin out of them by the co-operating grace of the blessed Spirit, as the fire purges the dross out of the metal. They serve to detect the sins in which we are living, as fire detects the presence of dross. They do it by leading us to consideration, and to inquiry after the cause whence they are sent upon us : and they do it by putting our boasted piety to the test. When we are in prosperity we think that we are trusting in God, that we have faith in things unseen; that we are not looking to the creature for happiness. But affliction comes and takes these things from us, takes away the prop on which we have been leaning: and then, by the misery we feel in consequence, we learn how sadly our hearts have departed from the Lord. Our hearts are like gardens, which require not only a general attention at all times to keep things in order, but which calls for different seasons to foster the growth of some plants, and to nip, and check, and destroy that of others. And when the Christian reflects on his liability to depart from God,
on his tendency to rest on worldly good; when he thinks how apt he is to turn aside without checks, or not to go forward without strokes; can he wonder that those checks and strokes will come? As well might the sick man, in a state of convalescence, be surprised at the visit of the physician anxious for his perfect recovery, or at the reception from him of an unpleasant draught. And since there is so nuch sin in us, notwithstanding all our suffering, what would there have been, had we been entirely free? Be reconciled, my brethren, so the sufferings of the present life, by the consideration of this their great design. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Christians may learn from this subject to rejoice in the prospect of a better world. One great feature in the representation of that world is, that it will be without sin. The body which the Christian at death lays down, is to be divested of all its animal instincts and appetites, and shall be raised up again in a state adapted to a very different class of objects; and shall have no evil desires to be excited, and no objects without to excite them. The soul of the Christian at the very moment of death will have been cleansed from all inherent and remaining impurity. It will be taken to dwell with “ the spirits of the just made perfect,” with“ an innumerable company of angels,” with “God the Judge of all,” with “ Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.” There it will remain till the morning of the resurrection; and after that long state of purity, it will come, at the arrival of that great day, to take possession of its body, restored by Jesus Christ, and fashioned like unto his own glorious body. It will not fear to take possession of it again; but will embrace it as Adam did his Eve, when presented to him adorned with every grace from the hand of her Creator.
"My purer spirit shall not fear
To put that body on :
Its lusts and passions gone."
Then will commence the conqueror's song. The groans of the Christian here, under the body of sin and death, will then be exchanged for praise, and the weapons of conflict for palm-branches of victory; and every trophy be laid at the foot of Him through whom we were more than conquerors.
Christians! be animated by this prospect. Remember that you must fight in order to reign; you must wrestle here with flesh and blood, and principalities and powers,
would be more than conquerors. Remember, that if you depart not out of this world in the attitude of combatants, you must be denied to mingle in the joys and congratulations of victors. Christian! dost thou complain of the combat? In order to conquer thou must fight. Flesh and blood, earth and heaven, are thine enemies ; faith, and hope, and love, and every Christian grace, are thine armour: angels are thy witnesses ; and Christ is the captain of thy salvation, conducting thee from one victory to another; and he will at last give thee the reward. On that day, thou shalt say, “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of glory, which God the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all that love his appearing.” Yes, from the height of that glory to which He is exalted, He now looks down on this congregation ; and to every Christian combatant in the assembly, he says (0! let us hear his voice), “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit down with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne.”
And shall the empire of sin flourish in any of us?
“ Lord, crush that empire with thy breath !
Its cursed throne must fall.
Fly! for I hate you all."
A SERMON TO SUNDAY-SCHOOL CHILDREN.
REV. J. SHERMAN,
SURREY CHAPEL, NOVEMBER 21, 1836.
Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”
PSALM xxxiv. 11.
Now this is the encouraging language of David to children in his age. It was the language of all the prophets, and it was the language of Jesus Christ, when he came in the flesh; he said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not." This was his language just before he left this world to go to the Father : “ Feed my lambs ;” take care these children are instructed. It was the language of the apostles too, for they instructed Timothy and others, and were glad to see children surrounding them, to learn the way
of the Lord. And whenever religion flourished, this was always the language of good and holy people; they were very anxious to instruct children. And whenever religion did not flourish, this was not their language; children were forgotten and passed by. And I can very easily, I think, make this plain to your comprehension; When a person does not care about his own soul, he does not care about the souls of others; and just in proportion as we care for the welfare of our own souls, we are very anxious for the souls of children and those that surround us.
Now about a hundred years ago there were no Sunday-schools in England; there was very little religion in this country, and therefore people cared very little about children, and about training them up in the fear of God. But it pleased God to raise up Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Wesley, two holy men, and others associated with them, who went about the country, and preached in all the towns and villages in all the kingdom. And then people began to feel some little concern about their souls. And as soon as they began to feel concern about their own souls, they began to feel concern about others' souls. They found their souls very precious, and then they began to think that other people's souls were as precious. And then, at last, they thought, that children's souls were as precious as
the souls of grown up people, and they began to be concerned about them.
Now it is not a hundred years ago, 'when Sunday-schools were established. No; it is little more than fifty years ago. On September the 14th, 1831, we had a jubilee, and that was to commemorate the rise of Sunday-schools in England. Now we have a jubilee to-day, and that is to commemorate the rise of Sunday-schools in Southwark. And how did that happen? Why, about fifty years ago, there was a gentleman of the name of Raikes, who lived at Gloucester; and this gentleman first began to teach children on the Sabbath. A gentleman of the name of Stock, a minister, assisted him. And this was the way they began to do it-On a Sunday afternoon, they used to see idle and troublesome children all about the streets, thinking nothing about the Sabbath, or God, or eternity; and a good thought rose up in Mr. Raikes's mind, “I might do some good with those children.” So after the morning service was over, he spent the afternoon in teaching those children. First only a few came, and then a few more, and then a few more, till at last he was obliged to have assistance, because so many came.
And then he published his plans all over the kingdom, and recommended others to try the same course. Dear children, these books came into the hands of Mr. Hill; and he found there was good rising out of these schools, and, therefore, he was the first, it is supposed, to establish them in Southwark, if not in London. There was one established at Hoxton, I believe, a little while before, and they had their jubilee last year; but he was a year after; and we have one venerable friend, I believe, here to-day, who assisted in the formation of those schools. A great joy it must be to him, to notice the difference between the first little assembly and the vast number met here to-day, of which my eyes never saw the like.
Well then, these good people used to say to the children, “ Come, yechildren, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord ;?" hearken, and from this book we will teach you how to fear God, and go to heaven. Now it is just about this time fifty years ago, that a Sunday-school was established in this place; and so we keep a jubilee.
And what is a jubilee? Why a jubilee was a very celebrated day among the Jews; it was a great day, and a day of rejoicing. How did it begin? Why, on the morning of the day, the priests used to blow the horns ; and when these were blown, what think you followed? Why, every man that was in debt, his debts were all