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They are disgusted with the practices of those they were formerly accustomed to esteem, and they go to their own company and enjoy fellowship with the saints of God.
Before I proceed to the third particular of my subject, let me beg of you to come to close examination on this point. Let me again ask the question, because I am fully bent upon discrimination of character, if God spares me through the whole of this week. Let me ask, now, what sign, mark, or evidence you have that God has separated you? “Oh," say you, “I dare not presume on covenant transactions; I dare not presume on predestinating purposes.” I do not ask you, but will you presume to decide whether you have been apprehended by Almighty grace, and could not get away? Will you presume, if presuming you call it, to decide whether the Lord Jesus has conquered your stubborn heart and brought you to His feet? Will you decide whether He, by the mighty power of His arm and the operations of His Spirit, has made you " willing in the day of His power," to accept of salvation as His own gift, and Himself to be received in vital union with Him? Will you presume to decide whether He has taught and enabled you to relinquish all confidence in the flesh, being regenerated with newness of life, a capacity to enjoy God, so as to look for nothing in old Adam nature but sin, pollution, and corruption, and to look for everything in Christ as the Father's gift, constituting the covenant fulness, and securing all that relates to your salvation ? Now this will give evidence of God having separated you manifestly; and then if you can come to the other point, and enter into a review of what God has wrought in your soul since He regenerated you, of the way in which He has called His grace into exercise, admitting you into His presence, filling you with a sweet satisfaction that you stand related to the Most High, that He is your Father, and loves you as His child, that you are welcome to ask everything you need at His hands, satisfied that you are “accepted in the Beloved," and never can come into condemnation -if God has brought you to this point of experience, surely you may exult that He has separated you from the world. And if He has separated you from the world, surely you may come to the conclusion that He separated you for His eternal inheritance; and so coupling and linking everything together which God Himself has coupled together in the grand scheme of redemption, you may look forward to the “glory that shall be revealed,” for God has separated you to be His inheritance.
III.-This brings me to make a few remarks upon the last particular of my text. “Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth to be thine inheritance.” A wonderful phrase, marking wonderful condescension : “to be thine inheritance." What! has not God a sufficient inheritance without a parcel of poor sinners, the worms of the earth when the heavens have been the Lord's from eternity, and all Divine perfections His own, all the myriads of created angels His own, and fly at His bidding, all the attributes of Deity His own, all worlds His own, the “cattle upon a thousand hills His own ?" Is not this inheritance enough but He must have a “multitude which no man can number" of poor, wretched, ruined, depraved, lost sons and daughters of Adam, and claim them for His own inheritance, and cultivate them for His own use? Oh, wondrous condescension! I remember some years back, when I was much younger in the Divine
life and experience, as well as in years, that I used to stand amazed at that one passage of the apostle's writings, and thought it must, in some way, be paraphrased, in order to understand it—“That we should know the exceeding riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” I used to think, in my early days, that if it had been written that we should know the exceeding riches of the glory of the saints' inheritance in Him, I could have understood it; but when I came to look at it as it stands in the precious book of God, I wondered, until God opened my eyes to see it, what it could possibly mean. Now I see that the Lord hath set apart His people from among all the people of the earth to be His inheritance; and this inheritance in the saints is exceedingly rich and glorious, because He makes it so. He takes them up from the ruins of the fall as His jewels. He arranges, qualities, appoints, and calls them all for His own use. Just as a man would go to some wild waste or desert, and separate a portion of it for his own inheritance. He fences it round. He builds his habitation upon it. He cultivates every spot, and provides himself with the best seeds and plants that he can get, that he may make it in all points fit for his residence. So with God and the election of grace. He fixes on the whole number. He separates them from among the sons of men. He calls them by His grace. He sets a hedge around them, as he did Job, with His own hand. It must be God's inheritance, and therefore He makes it fit for Him to dwell in, even in this poor dying state. “ This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it, saith the Lord.” “Know ye not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost that dwelleth with you ?" Know ye not that the mystery now made manifest is Christ in you? Have you not read that the Father of mercies bath sworn, “ I will dwell in them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God?” This constitutes the dignity of the Church on earth; Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, taking up an abode in the midst of His people. You will recollect how beautifully this was typified under the Mosaic economy, when inju ons were given so strictly, and repeated so often, that there should be no uncleanness in the camp, and every possible precaution was taken, and every direction and command was given that all things should be pure, because " the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy; that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” And may I say to the Christian Churches, See that all is clean; see that the corruptions of the world are absent, rejected, and destroyed amongst you. The Lord thy God dwelleth in the midst of thee. The Lord thy God walketh in the camp of Israel. The Lord thy God hath chosen the living Church for His inheritance. Here He fixes His throne. Here He spreads a “ feast of fat things," and rules and governs according to His infinite wisdom and everlasting sovereignty. Talk they about believers falling from a state of grace, of their being lost, and of Satan plucking them out of the hands of Christ. Why, they have forgotten that it is God's own inheritance. Let us use a familiar simile here. If any of you should have taken very great pains in the selection, the enclosure, the planting, and the cultivation of an inheritance to dwell in, and had comfortably taken up your abode therein, I wonder if you would allow thieves to come in the night, and pluck and destroy the choicest fruit trees you had planted, if you could avoid it. Why, there is not a man upon earth who would
allow it; or, if he allowed it, it would be only because he did not know of it, or had not the power to prevent it. Nov, according to the Arminian system, this inay be done in the garden of the Lord. But if so, then He can be no longer God. Is He a God? Then His will is immutable. Is He a God? Then His power is omnipotent, and not all the powers of darkness, or their agents on earth, shall ever pluck one vessel of mercy from Christ's hands, or one tree of righteousness out of His garden and His inheritance. They shall stand, and grow, and thrive, and bring forth fruit eternally, to the glory of His
Just mark, further, that His inheritance is not only God's dwelling, where He manifests Himself, and holds communion, and imparts special blessings, dispenses royal favours, and takes special care of His own, but eternity shall witness the people of the Most High dwelling with Him, and glorified with Him." I have more than once said, that I conceive the main difference between my present and my eternal state to be just simply this:-Whilst I am here my
God comes down and dwells with me, and when I go home I shall go up to dwell with Him. His presence makes my heaven now, and it will constitute my heaven to all eternity. Oh, amazing bliss! May you, and may I, and may the weakest, most helpless, most ignorant, and stumbling child of God, that is able to grasp the promise as his own, draw this conclusion: God apprehended me to take me home to glory. God apprehended me to regenerate me. And He regenerated me to make me capable of enjoying Himself. And having regenerated me, and brought me to the knowledge and enjoyment of acceptance with Him, now my beloved is mine, and I am His;" ere long I shall be with Him, be like Him, and see Him as He is. Ere long His own declaration shall be carried out and published, " Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” Ere long I expect Him to give His corimission to the pale messenger,
« Fetch" home that child of mine, redeemed with precious blood; fetch home that heir of bliss, renewed by God the Holy Ghost; fetch home that jewel for my crown. I will have it, wear it, love it unto eternity ; fetch home that soldier of the cross; he has fought and conquered, and now shall reign with me in bliss unknown on high; fetch home that gift my Father has bestowed; dear to my heart—more dear to my heart than all the blood I have shed. I will have him to sit with me on my throne.”
And shall a soul, with such a prospect in view, amalgamate with the world? Shall a soul, expecting such glory, stoop to beggarly elements ? Shall a soul, that is on the “ tip-toe of expectation," if I may so speak, to be glorified with Christ, grovel in time, as if the miser's portion were good enough for him, whereas it is but “ sordid dust," a cumbrous load of clay ? May God raise our affections above.
And may He command a blessing on these few hints, and His dear and precious name shall have all the praise. Amen.
A Discourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sanday Morning, Jaly30, 1848.
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
Mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God."
Rom. xv. 19. One of Satan's artifices, in his perpetual war against the kingdom of Christ, is to induce men, and men of mind and literature, to attempt to reduce the precious gospel of the Son of God to a mere system, a mere science, something within the reach of human intellect; and in this attempt they have gone far to deny and reject everything supernatural in the gospel of God and in vital godliness. Just in proportion as this artifice of Satan succeeds, the waters of the sanctuary will run low, and vital godliness will decline, and real Christians will be despised of men as enthusiasts. But so long as we have the precious Book of God in our hands, and so long as we have the power of the Spirit of God to accompany its hallowed truths, we shall dare, at least attempt, to trample upon those Infidel-like tainperings with the gospel of God, and insist upon that gospel being “the power of God unto the salvation of every one that believeth.” If the mere doctrines of God's grace, or the mere exhortations of His Word, or the mere promises contained in the Divine oracles, are set forth as a theory, and men are spoken to as if there were a theory proposed or offered to them to make use of by dint of human powers, natural free-will, and fallen intellect, God the Holy Ghost is virtually denied. The statements in the precious Book of God ai. contradicted; precious souls, by thousands and millions, are deceived ; Jesus is crucified afresh, and those agents of the prince of darkness, however sanctimonious their appearance, are doing all they can to destroy eternally the whole human race.
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Paul, under the Divine inspiration, always advocated the old. fashioned doctrine of the prophet Zechariah, “ It is not by might or by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zech. iv. 6); and opportunities enough offered, if the pride of his fleshly nature had been permitted to seize them, in which he might have worn great honours, and have set up a popedom, himself being the Pope. But no; whenever such opportunities were offered him, he rebukes and rejects them, and says, si We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God ” (Acts xvi. 15). Yet Paul's ministry was in those days questioned, and hence he was obliged sometimes to assert and defend his commission from the Most High. Possibly you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me. Mark, then, what the gospel ministry is. It is Christ speaking in His minister, and it requires a proof. Since ye seek a proof," says he, "of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you" (2 Cor. xiii. 3); yet he is brought again and again so to state so much of the Lord's dealings with him, and the success of his ministry, as to say, Forgive me this boasting; ye have compelled me to it, in order to advocate this grand truth, that everything successful in the preaching of the gospel is by the power of the Spirit of God:” and this is my subject for to-day. God, assist me.
First of all, let us throw out a hint or two upon the success of Paul's preaching; for he certainly was a very successful preacher. Secondly, a word or two upon the efficiency with which he acknowledged that he taught-it was by the power of the Spirit of God. Then, thirdly, the triumphs in which he so freely indulged. It is a matter of rejoicing to his soul that God condescends to make use of him. Hence I hear him exult, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Again he says, " I who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.' “ For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” All asserting that, in his own experience, as well as in the experience of those to whom he preached, everything was of God, from first to last.
I.-Let us, then, in the first place, glance at the success of Paul's preaching the gospel. And here I am met at once with the important and unavoidable inquiry, "What was Paul's preaching? Of what description was it?" He himself says, in the closing language of the verse, the former part of which I have taken for my text, “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Rom. xv. 19). “Fully.” Then, whilst we dwell upon the success of Paul's preaching, we must insist that it was a pure gospel. He himself was so tenacious on this point, that he says, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any
other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (1 Gal. viii. 9). He doubles the anathema. Mark, then, the preaching of Paul which was so successful, was pure gospel. He did not mix law and gospel together. It is true that he gave the statements of the law, and slowed what they were; but he never mingled them with the gospel. He