Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the army of Jesus Christ in the present day who are afraid of our going too far or taking too much. Now I have no such fear; and if God gives me prosperity, I must take possession of all the milk and honey I can find in His word-all the comforts and consolations, all the ripe grapes and olives, and all the anointing oil that we may obtain therefrom; in fact, my soul cannot rest without laying the hand of faith upon all I find in Christ, all I find in His word, and all I believe to exist in the covenant of grace.

"All that He is, and has, and does, I claim,

To all His promises He writes iny name;
All that He suffers to be done must be

Ruled by His everlasting love to me.”—CARD TRACT, No. 1, Then there is the beating down of the foe, the vanquishing and overcoming the enemy. I never hear of Joshua talking of making an Israelite of one of the old inhabitants of Canaan, or of Paul making a Christian grace of any one of the corruptions of old Adam nature. No; they are to be vanquished and subdued; and so the spirit and religion of the world must be warred against and overcome; also the powers of darkness, with all their doings and intrigues; “for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” So that the believer who is prospering in the Divine life is trampling down his own strength -the believer is crucifying the flesh in its affections and in its lusts— the believer is crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto him; and he withstands and wards off all the fiery darts of the wicked one by the shield of faith, rejoicing in the assurance that the Captain of his salvation has given to him the promise that the enemy shall be brought under his feet.

One thing more. To prosper in warfare is to obtain spoils from the vanquished foe. My hearers, are you a stranger to this? Have you never learnt the most valuable lesson from some of the heaviest calamities that have befallen you? That is taking spoils. Have you not obtained clearer views of Christ, and a sweet assurance of His grace, in some of the sharpest conflicts that you were ever engaged in with the powers of darkness? Would you ever have known the sweetness of that declaration, “ The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” if He had not delivered you? If He had not delivered you out of temptations, who would have delivered you? If I have inore life, and confidence, and blessings, out of the fulness of Jesus, and more acquaintance with the hatefulness, and emptiness, and vanity of everything in this world, I am taking spoils, and am ready at once to hold up the trophies, and exclaim with Job, that they are spoils won in battle. This is prosperity in Divine life. Go on a little further. You will find some mercenary men who will say that prosperity consists in the increase of riches; but we can put in our claim here also. Hath not God“ chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom?” And when the souls of the Lord's disciples prosper, they accumulate so much that they don't know how to make use of it in the way of ready money, and therefore the Lord Jesus has told them where they are to bank it. All that faith obtains and realizes, and is favoured to receive, is laid up in heaven. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Moreover, the apostle James exhorts those who are rich in this world not to be deluded thereby. Let them take heed that they are rich in good works. So that real soul prospe

rity includes riches increasing, of faith, and good works. Find me a man whose faith is getting stronger and more active every day, and whose faith works by love, so that he is rich in good works, and I will show you a prosperous Christian. But mark, all this comes from God. It is God who made him to prosper. And the prosperous Christian is, therefore, one who grows in grace daily, who tramples down his foes and triumphs over them—who is receiving grace for grace, and consequently becomes rich in good works. Now if you would have us believe that you are rich in faith, I pray you give us evidence that you are rich in good works also; for I shall be very hard of belief respecting the one if you do not show me the other. If your faith is active, your love to the saints of God will be conspicuous in exertions for their comfort and interest. “While he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.' Would you, then, prosper in every sense that can be included in spiritual advancement, let me remind you that importunity at the throne of God is His plan—that it does not purchase the blessing—that it is not the first cause, but God's plan of communicating it, as one of our poets expresses it:

Prayer was appointed to convey

The blessings God designs to give;
Long as they live should Christians pray,

For only while they pray they live."
Life is nothing worth without prayer.

III.—Look now, in the third place, at the extension of prosperity, in connexion with seeking the Lord in prayer—" as long as he sought the Lord.” Now, as soon as Uzziah began to fancy that his strength was in himself, his heart was lifted up to his destruction. I have no objection whatever to see the Christian show forth his strength, but then it must not be strength in creature attainments, in creature doings, or in any supposed good quality of his own. Paul exhorts Timothy to be strong; but, said he, "let it be in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” And if you are strong, it must be in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” which leads me to remark, that the perpetuating, the extension, the preservation of soul prosperity, is by the operation of the Holy Ghost. We need the efficiency of His constant ministry to preserve us in the spirit of prayer, and with the spirit of prayer the prosperity of soul, which I have attempted to describe. I pray you, beloved, be not deceived upon this point. Your set seasons of retirement with God are well in their place, and so also your public seasons, such as prayer meetings. I would they were better attended, that your souls may be made to prosper thereby, and by the public proclamation of God's truth and the fervent prayers which precede it. But, after all, it must be the operation of the Holy Ghost within the soul, as the spirit of grace and supplication, that must teach us how to pray and what to pray for. The book of God may be ours, but the spirit of prayer is His to give. I know it by both painful and pleasant experience. I have known seasons when the bending of the knee and the prostration of the body, and the offering of the petition, have been irksome beyond all description; and painful seasons these are. But I know seasons, also (and blessed be God for them), when heaven is open, and the throne clearly in view, when the open hand of Jesus is stretched forth, the whole of the blessings of the covenant of grace reached down, and access to the bosom of the Father, in the Person and righteousness of the Son by the power of the Holy Ghost, is realized, so as to commence heaven on earthly ground. Oh! let us seek, and wait for more of this. We follow Jesus at too great a distance. Other objects urge their demands upon our affections with too much success. We get sometimes half drowned either in earthly troubles or earthly joys, instead of being absorbed in the preciousness of Christ, and filled with the fulness of God. Oh! for more soul prosperity in answer to a constant seeking of the Lord.

Once more let us remark how the Holy Ghost, in His ministry, nourishes the life of God in the soul. It is fanned into a flame; it is called forth into lively exercise; communications of grace for grace are handed down, and hence the believer's cry should be, “More grace, more grace, Lord;”. and the promise to encourage it runs that " He giveth more grace.” Oh! the importance of a life of holy intimacy with God. My soul lies at His feet bemoaning my distance, lamenting that I have not a firmer bold, longing, aspiring, wrestling, agonizing, to get closer to the throne, to lean upon the bosom of Christ, to be filled with the fulness of God, to be reclining in the paternal arms, in the spirit of adoption, in holy joy and unbending confidence. Then shall I not be laughed out of, or talked out of, any sweet assurance which the Lord bestows upon me in such seasons, but shall say, without a stammering tongue, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; and with one glimpse of the precious Christ of God cheering my waiting spirit, I shall sing, with the spouse in the Canticles, « This is my beloved, and this my friend, o daughters of Jerusalem!” Oh! that your souls may be found in constant importunity with God. We live but a meagre lifeeven those of us who have most soul prosperity. We live beneath our privileges, as if this were our home, and we had nothing better to exist for. Oh! for more quickening grace from above, for it is only while we seek the Lord that we can realize this prosperity in our personal experience. “ As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper."

One thought more before I close. It is in answer to prayer, constant, fervent prayer, that Christ is gloriñed in the life of the Christian. You know that I am always urging this one point upon your attention; and I like to close my sermons with it, that Christ must be “glorified in your bodies and spirits." There is enough in old Adam nature, whatever our attainments may be, to disgrace His name every hour of the day, if left to itself. Therefore we have need to seek the Lord continually to prevent this. And here was king Uzziah's failure. He went on a long time seeking the Lord and obtaining strength from God. He pulled down idolatry, built towers, fortified Jerusalem, vanquished his enemies, and his arms were everywhere, and always suc- ! cessful, until he became strong, and his heart was lifted up. Of all the evils that can befal the real Christian, I pray God to preserve you and me from this. “ His heart was lifted up to his destruction." “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” and this you may see in multitudes of instances. And though a Christian cannot fall from heaven finally and fatally, because his “ life is hid with Christ in God," yet he may fall so as to break his bonies as it were, to dirt his clothes, and give occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme. May God Almighty prevent it; for if you would glorify God in your bodies and spirits, which are His, it must be by

living near to God. We want supplies of grace every hour. The enemy is always upon the look-out, perpetually upon the watch, and if he sees any of the Lord's people or ministers more prosperous than others, and growing in grace daily, against these he directs his most powerful forces, plies his most fiery darts, and uses the most cunning devices. And if we are off our guard for one moment, we are sure to be tripped up, wounded and thrown down, though we rise again, by God's grace.

May God keep you and me ever near to Him, ever wrestling in prayer at the throne. Thus we shall be able to press onwards in a life of spiritual prosperity, until we reach the climax of experience, the consummation of God's word, and the full enjoyment of Him who is all in all, and be for ever seated in undisturbed rest at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

May the Holy Ghost fasten these things upon our hearts and memories, and so secure a revenue of praise to our Triune Jehovah.

HYMN.

No. 412, GROVE CHAPEL HYMNS.

LORD, thou hast bid us pray

To thee for all we need;
We come in thine appointed way,

Upon thy grace to feed.

Our hungry spirits crave

In children's bread to share;
Within thy courts a place to have,

And see thy glory here.

While high seraphic lays

Sound through thy courts above,
Stoop down, and listen to our praise,

And fill our hearts with love.

Meet every waiting case,

On every soul now shine;
Make us the subjects of thy grace;

And be the glory thine.

[graphic][subsumed][graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

A Discourse,
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Tuesday Morning, Jaly 18, 1848.

BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
THE TWENTY-NINTH ANNIVERSARY.

Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts ; My cities, through

prosperity, shall yet be spread abroad, and the Lord shall yet comfort

Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.—Zech. iii. 17. Jehovah's tender care of His living Church seems to be a prominent topic with the prophet Zechariah : indeed it should be a prominent topic with all the Lord's sent servants, that if Jehovah had not exereised a tender care, and manifested an eternal, immutable interest for His Zion, and in His Zion, she had been destroyed long ago—she had been vanquished by her enemies; nay, even her own perverseness would have vanquished her. It is true, indeed, that on account of Zion's departures and Zion's degeneracy, in many instances, solemn punishments, grievous captivities, awful privations, and almost threatening destructions, have been known among the professing followers of the Lamb; and the history of Israel, under the Old Testament dispensation, affords ample and solemn proofs of this statement, that "it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against God ;” and so far from the Church of the living God escaping punishment, escaping chastisement, I should rather say there is, on account of her security in her covenant Head, and standing complete in Him, the very reason assigned why she shall not escape; for Jehovah has set it down in these words, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Sin against fellowmortals is offensive in any instance, although these mortals be strangers; but when it comes from the most endeared relationship, it

Published in Weekly Numbers, id, and Monthly Parts, price 5d. к

« PreviousContinue »