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with the Persons in the Deity for the salvation of the Church-union among saints on earth in all things essential to salvation; union in hell against the Church of God, and consequently all are at war with the followers of the Lamb. Do not let us wonder, then, that a few fiery darts are hurled at us; do not let us wonder that the powers of darkness are so busily employed in beating up for recruits, and employ every agent come-at-abie to distress, discourage, and disturb those whom they cannot destroy. Do not expect to pass through the wilderness unmolested. The prince of darkness is as hostile now as when Moses led the children of Israel through the desert. The agents of the prince of darkness, call them by what name you may, are on the alert; one will allure, another will menace, another will tempt, another will frown, another will lay schemes, and plans, and plots, and conspiracies for every description of mischief against the followers of the Lamb; but He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh at them—"the Lord shall have them in derision.” I wish I could laugh at them as my God does, and hold them in as much contempt and derision. But I must leave them with Him; it is His own will.
III.-Let us pass on, in the third place, to say a word or two about the triumphs of Christ's doctrines. I begin to feel them glow already, I must acknowledge. The triumph of Christ's doctrine : “ It is mine, and it is my Father's,” He says. The first feature of triumph I shall mention is that of the transforming power that goes forth with these doctrines. I know very well that silly men, who would fain be in the priest's office, insinuate that the preaching of the doctrine of Christ may serve to gratify mere dry critics, but has no tendency to the conversion of souls. A wilful falsehood, a foul libel upon Christ's preaching! Instead of this
, I am prepared to show that the preaching the doctrine of Christ in its fulness, experimentally and practically, is honoured of God with inore transforming power upon the souls of sinners than any other doctrine ever broached among men. They were astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with power.” Again, says He, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” The gospel was preached by the apostles with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and we know what gospel they preached-they preached just the one I set before you this morning—the doctrine of Christ. The very first sermon we read of, which was Peter's, was a simple statement of the doctrine of substitution by Christ, according to the eternal appointment of the Father, it being the determined council and foreknowledge of God. We have got our doctrine in one sermon, and that one sermon especially contains the three things epitomized of which I have been speaking. And while he was simply delivering the doctrine of Christ, the Holy Ghost descended, and by His transforming power created three thousand souls anew in Christ Jesus, by one sermon. Did you ever know such a thing done under an Arminian sermon? Never. It is a doctrine upon which God puts His honour, because it honours Him; and therefore the soul-transforming power which goes forth with the doctrine is to be esteemed one of the triumphs of Christ's gospel.
Think for a moment, beloved, what effects have been produced upon you by the doctrine of grace. I sometimes solemnly apprehend that my thirty years' ministry among you will only serve as one long-continued testimony for the eternal condemnation of some, hardened, unmoved, unregenerate, living and dying strangers to God. Wherever the grace of God goes forth with the doctrine of Christ, there, be it
observed, the soul is so transformed, as that having borne the image of the earthy, it bears the image of the heavenly, having been the servants of sin, you are transformed to the servants of Christ; having been in bondage and slavery, you are transformed to freedom and liberty; having been alienated from God by wicked works, you are transformed into the most endearing, affectionate, and close intercourse with Him. Oh, the blessedness of the soul-transforming power of the doctrine of Christ!
Then, among the triumphs of this doctrine, you must include the happiness and holiness—I put them together for brevity's sake-the happiness and holiness of its recipients. I do not believe there is a happy man to be found upon the earth, but the man who has embraced this threefold view of Christ's doctrine; the glorifying of all the perfections of the Deity, the interests of the Church dear to the heart of Christ, and His substitution of His own person to effect both. They are our standard of orthodoxy. The man who rejects them and adopts contingencies, who would argue carnally against their harmony, is not a happy man, nor yet a holy one. A happy man is he that knows there is now no condemnation-a man who can say that “my beloved is mine, and I am His "-a man who goes on singing, “I know whom I have believed." He is a happy man who is free from Satan's bondage, who is at war with sin, and in union vital with Christ, accustomed to hold conversation in heaven, and thence looking for the Saviour,who is dead the world, and the world dead to him; crucified, yet living by faith in the Son of God, putting on a perfect righteousness, decked with all the jewels of the Holy Spirit's graces, and waiting the marriage
supper of the Lamb, to sit down with Him in the realms of glory. This is a happy man, and moreover this will be a godly man.
Some profess to argue the reverse—if argument it can be called that when a man knows he is free from condemnation, this doctrine will make him careless, will make him licentious, will make him trifle and parley with his known duties, both moral and Christian. Now we know that the reverse is the fact; for most certain it is, that the higher the believer in Jesus climbs, the nearer he gains the summit of believing confidence, the farther he is from the mud-pool, the dirt-heap, the dust and the muck of the wilderness state ; the purer the air he inhales, the brighter the prospect he attains, and the more spiritual and holy his ordinary desires from day to day.
One triumph more, and I close. The triumphs of the doctrine of Christ may be summed up in one word, salvation—not the offer of it. not the chance of it, not à condition about it, not a query concerning it;---salvation itself, perfect, full, free, finished, everlasting salvation; salvation from sin, curse, law, death, and hell, from all pharisaic pride and worldly influence; a salvation that brings down the participation of glory to present enjoyment, as pledges and earnests of their future salvation; a salvation which enables the recipient to live in constant anticipation of eternal glory; a salvation which cannot be revoked, cannot be destroyed, cannot be forfeited, cannot be warred against with success by any of his enemies; which cannot fail to realize in its recipient's experience more than eye has seen, or ear beard, or hath entered into the heart of man to conceive, until in the immediate presence of the Eternal Jehovah, the God of salvation, the whole ransomed family, the entire election of grace in the general assembly, shall burst forth in one eternal, unceasing shout,—“Salvation unto our God!”
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
“ As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper."
2 Chron. xxvi. 5. The great Eternal has mercifully and wisely coupled the means with the end in all the blessings He bestows; and though the means are not the procuring causes, they are the appointed channels of communication; and God puts a peculiar honour upon them, especially that of prayer. Prayer never purchased a blessing; but prayer has fetched many from heaven that were given by the love of God our Father. Prayer never earned a mercy; but prayer has held forth the open hand of faith to receive multitudes of mercies promised in the present world. Prayer confers no benefit upon God. It is God's appointed medium for conferring infinite benefits upon man. And therefore He has condescended, in every age, to put a peculiar honour upon the sacred exercise, upon the holy privilege of intercourse with God; and not a few are the instances in which, while the spirit of prayer is kept up in the souls of the Lord's family, their visible and manifest prosperity goes on perpetually increasing; whereas, when the spirit of prayer is withheld, the spirit of the world creeps in, and neglect of the throne of grace, of a most culpable description, is not merely tolerated, but even extended and increased in the careless heart of the backslider. Where then is prosperity—where then is advancement—where then is soul-comfort and enjoyment—where then is confidence in God—where then is the assurance of faith ? they have all fled, because the door has been shut
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through which they come. The channel has been clogged or left unemployed, through which Jehovah condescends to communicate these mercies; and consequently even the believer, who is loved of God, and gets safe to heaven, goes pining, lean, impoverished, and dejected, if unbelief is not conquered, even to the casting of him down.
There is a solemn example of this in the case of King Uzziah, from whose history I have taken our text. It is said that he reigned over Judah fifty-two years, that he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to that which his father, Amaziah, had done, and that he sought the Lord, and lived according to the directions which were given unto him by his minister all the days of Zechariah. This Zechariah, who seems to have been his minister, it is said, “had understanding in the visions of God.” Now let us pause a moment here to make one observation. It is a very great mercy for exalted personages to have good chaplains about them, and especially so if they are faithful and honest. It is a very great mercy for godly people to have godly pastors who have “ understanding in the visions of God," especially when they are enabled to take their advice and listen to the precious truths of God's everlasting gospel from their mouths; but, though God prospered King Uzziah during the ministry of Zechariah, and as long as he sought the Lord, yet in this same chapter we read, that afterwards, “ when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God." His heart was lifted up to his destruction-even to the destruction of his kingly dignity, so as to lead to his being deposed therefrom. If you read the chapter at home, you will find also that he was not only deposed from the throne, and was “a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper;” but a regency must be appointed, and accordingly his son Jotham governed in his stead, and at his death reigned over the kingdom as his successor.
Now what had King Uzziah been guilty of that he was thus “thrust out?” Why, of that very crime which is the curse of nations, even to the present hour-monarchs meddling with spiritual things. The curse of the world was Uzziah's crime. Would that all kings would read it. Not content with the government of his kingdom, and the prosperity with which the Lord had favoured him, his success in arms, and the great prosperity which attended him in time of peace, he must needs meddle with the priestly office, which God had forbidden him to do. It appears, in fact, as if Uzziah had ambition enough to aspire to be a Pope, and to aim at spiritual as well as teinporal dominion; and therefore " he went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” But “ Azariah, the priest, went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord that were valiant men, and they withstood Uzziah the King.” Then Uzziah was wrath, and would have taken vengeance upon them; but in the midst of his wrath God smites him with leprosy, and “they thrust him out,”. “ yea,
himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him.” Now this was Uzziah, and this was his fall, even though during the greater part of his fifty years' reign he had sought the Lord, and God had made
I have given you this long exordium that you may have a right view of the vast importance of being kept near to God'unto the endkept living upon the fulness of Christ-kept living in the holy habit of seeking the Lord; for I am sure that if you and I, although we have
him to prosper.
been kept and prospered of the Lord all these thirty years by gone, and have been kept near to the Lord more than that in our personal experiences, yet if we are left to ourselves, we are likely to do as Uzziah did, and bring the smiting hand of God upon us, and have all our peace destroyed, though not our souls. Therefore we need cry unto the Lord, " Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe ; and do not suffer me to be like King Uzziah, who, when he grew strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.” “These things are written for our learning;' and having given you an outline of this history, allow me to invite your attention, in a more spiritual point of view, to the three things which follow :- First, the seekers of the Lord are to be described. Secondly, their experience of prosperity. And, thirdly, the extension of that prosperity, as long as he sought the Lord.”
1.–We will endeavour to deal faithfully and honestly with these statements, and may the Holy Ghost put His power and influence into them that they may be to the joy and peace of your souls. First, then, a word or two respecting those seekers of the Lord, “as long as he sought the Lord. I cannot for one moment believe that it was a mere act or effort of nature-that it was the mere practice of formality -that it was the mere round of duty, for that would not amount to seeking the Lord; and I commence, therefore, by insisting that every real seeker of the Lord must be a heaven-born soul. The promise of my blessed Lord runs thus, “Every one that asketh receiveth, and every one that seeketh findeth.” Well then, if every one that seeketh findeth, the seeking must be such as God approves, and such as He inspires; and if He has inspired a disposition to seek His face, according to the declaration made by the Psalmist, He is sure to hear, to answer and be found, and sure to manifest Himself to all real seeking souls. The Psalmist expresses himself in these words, “ When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said, 'Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” Thus you see that it is heart-work; and it is heart-work accomplished by Jehovah's sovereign command; it is His word which speaks to the heart, it is His power put forth, creating a new life, and giving to the soul which is born from above, an earnest, praying, seeking disposition.
Dwell a moment upon the phrase I have employed—a heaven-born soul. I am exceedingly anxious that the manner of explaining away things, which has become so common in the day in which we live, should be guarded against by all my hearers; for when we speak of regeneration, or the new birth, or to use the Saviour's declaration to Nicodemus, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” there are Infidels enough in priestly disguise who will tell us that that was done with a little water, that that was done at our baptism, and that if we do not sin away our baptismal grace, it would be all very well. Now they get that from Rome; I am sure they do not get it from the Bible. I am, therefore, exceedingly anxious that you should understand what the heavenly birth is. « Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." “Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth.”. These are the plain declarations of the precious word of God concerning it. It is the bestowment of a Divine