« PreviousContinue »
Mr. Skelton's Farewell Sermon at Aldringham.
MY DEAR BROTHER,--Having been ear-| glorious gospel of the blessed Gud, and nestly requested by constant readers of on which they stand as between the the Earthen Vessel, to furnish you with living and the dead, as a mouth for God my last discourse in the Aldringham in the midst of the people, as those who pulpit, for insertion in the Vessel, I have to give an account of their stewardhave endeavoured to fulfil their request, ship to God who searcheth the heart and and leave the full execution of their wish trieth the reins, and therefore is fully acwith the Lord, and with you, stating quainted with the motive from whence that as the present communication is the every action springs, whether the same effect of remembrance, and not a copy be in his sight evil or good; and accordfrom previously arranged, and written ing to the words I have read among you notes, I cannot be responsible for its for our meditation this afternoon,
the being a verbatim statement of the apostle Paul was most eminently, and original ; yet am fully persuaded it con- most blessedly favoured to enjoy and tains in substance what was then and realize in his soul's feelings the sweetthere declared in the name of the Lord, ness, satisfaction and consolation arising and I pray that by the Lord's blessing, from a clear and honest conscience in it may be rendered useful to the encour- connexion with filling the office of an agement and stimulation of the Lord's apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. servants, who may be called to endure
Previous to my attempting to disopposition from those who have a mere course in the words before us, let us name in the churches where the Lord trace out and consider the circumstances has called them to stand with a face like which gave rise to the declaration found a flint in the declaration of his whole in the text; and we find by their contruth. Let me have a place in your nexion the apostle had been by the space prayers at a throne of grace, as you also of about three years labouring in the have in mine, and believe me,
word and doctrine among the church at Your's in much love, for Christ's sake. Ephesus, in the course of which time he
WILLIAM Skelton, S.S. had not ceased to warn them night and Wherefore I take you to record this day with tears, for his was a felt religion, day, that I am pure from the blood of all and therefore he warned them from a men, for I have not shunned
to declare unto felt sense of his own infirmities, while he you the whole counsel of God.” Acts xx. mourned over his own felt depravity, and 26, 27.
his being a feeling and experimental There is surely something most sweet, ministry, he warned them constantly with satisfactory, and consolatory in the poso many tears, while it was his to mourn session of a clear and honest conscience with them who mourned over their own in connexion with whatever matter of plague sore within, and to weep with business a man may have been, or yet those who wept, from a conscious sense may be engaged in, and this will extend of their proneness to evil, as the subject of to all grades of society, and to every their sorrow and grief ; but now it had station in life it may please the Lord to been revealed to him that the will of the call a man to occupy or fill, from the Lord was that he should leave them, conearthly monarch who fills a throne, to the sequently in the midst of his voyage to scavenger who, as another man's ser- Jerusalem, where he determined, if posvant, is engaged in sweeping the streets, sible, to be on the day of Pentecost, he and in a superlative degree, is the truth sends from Miletus, and calls the elders of this portion seen and felt in the case of the church at Ephesus, and makes of those who are constituted and declared known to them the poignant feeling, and to be stewards of the mysteries of the holy sentiments of his soul, and in his kingdom of heaven; ambassadors for solemn appeai and declaration recapituChrist, messengers of the churches, and lates circumstances which had taken the glory of Christ, servants of the most place during the period of his ministrahigh God, and dispensers of the word of tions among them, prophecies of things life, in that ministry which is committed which should take place in their midst unto them, as a dispensation of the after his departure, exhorts them to take Vol. IV.-PART XLIV.--Sept. 1848.
heed to certain things which should prove Son, he exultingly exclaimed, by the grace of for the edification and real prosperity of God I am what I am.' Such was the charactheir souls, and be declarative of the glory ter he sustained, and for office he was of Christ, commends them to God and the called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by good word of his grace, and finally prays with the will of God, and that by an inward them allandallthis because of the holyunion special call by the Holy Ghost, and thereby which had taken place between them and he was constituted an ambassador for him, for Christ and his truth's sake : and Christ; a divine commission being issued the blessed communion they had together and given unto him, Acts xxii. 15; in the in the unity of the bonds of the gospel of midst of which he was found a steward of peace; and so, in their parting, there was the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, a an holy and a most blessed understand, dispensation being committed unto him to ing between them, although they should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable see each other's face in the flesh no more, riches of Christ, such was his office; and on which account they sorrowed the most very certain I am that no man ever yet was, of all, and in the midst of these things is or ever will be sent by Jehovah to preach found the words of my text, 'Wherefore I his gospel previous to his having been made take you to record this day, that I am pure to receive that gospel into his own heart for from the blood of all men ; for I have not shunned himself, in an individual way and manner, to declare unto you the whole counsel of God,' whereby he is enabled to declare the things in which words are three things expressed: which he hath tasted, and handled, and
First : An holy statement and unreserved felt of the good word of life, and where this testimony, 'I have not shunned to declare is blessedly realized, the effects of it are seen unto you the whole counsel of God:'
in that such are endued with the boldness Second : That therein and therefore he and courage of a lion, the patience and per: was pure from the blood of all men.
severance of an ox; the aspiration and Thirdly: That he took the Church at soaring of an eagle, and the sympathy and Ephesus, among whom he had been found affection of a man, and in the realization of labouring in the ministry to record, or to these things, the man of God declares in be witnesses to these things, declaring the text, 'I have not shunned to declare 'Wherefore, I take you to record this day, unto you the whole counsel of God,' by that I am pure from the blood of all men, for which term he had immediate reference to I have not shunned to declare unto you the the glorious gospel, with all its fulness, the whole counsel of God;' and to these things same including, or embodying the whole proposed for our meditation, I shall add a mind and will of Jehovah, as he has refourth by way of conclusion, and which will vealed the same in that gospel of his dear be to follow the same line of things in my Son; the gospel of his people's salvation, leaving you as a church at Aldringham, as and which to them is made the gospel of the apostle was prompted to, and enabled to peace, the which contains glorious doctrine, take, on his leaving the church at Ephesus. blessed experience, and holy God glorifying
First, then, the holy statement and un- practice. And seeing that beyond doubt reserved testimony, 'I have not shunned to his preaching among them had been in declare unto you the whole counsel of God. strict accordance with the espistle which, And here I would call your attention to the by divine inspiration, he wrote them a few character and office the apostle sustained years after his departure, and also in perand filled, in that he is declared, by the fect unison with all those other inspired Lord himself, to be a chosen vessel unto epistles he wrote to the various churches in him, an eternally elected one by God the his day, and are left unto us as scriptures Father, an object of the love of God the Son, of truth; he undoubtedly had declared and therefore redeemed by the shedding of unto them the doctrine of free, sovereign, his precious blood, and a regenerated one, eternal grace, as displayed and manifested being quickened by the life giving power of in their behalf, even as they were found inGod the Holy Ghost, when dead in tres- terested in the love and choice of God the passes and sins, and therein and thereby Father, according as they were found in made to pass from a state of spiritual death, Christ, by an eternal union with him in and so was enabled to rejoice that the law whom eternal life, as the gift of God, was of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus had given unto them, inasmuch as they were made him free from the law of sin and eternally in him that is true, even in him death, and that through this law, he was who is the true God, and their eternal life. dead to the law, inasmuch as he was cruci- He preached unto them also that in Christ fied with Christ. Nevertheless,' said he, the beloved they were made accepted, that
I live, yet not. I, but Christ liveth in me, is acceptable unto God, and therefore in even in that spiritual life I have received him they were viewed by Jehovah with all and the life which I now live in the flesh, complacency and delight, in whom he also I live by the faith of the Son of God, whó bare testimony to their having redemption, loved me, and gave himself for me; and so and that through his blood, the free and having been eternally interested in the full forgiveness of all sins, past, present, choice of God the Father, redeemed by the and to come: and that according to the person and death of God the Son, and riches of Jehovah's grace, wherein he had called by the grace and power of Jehovah abounded toward them in all wisdom and the Spirit into the fellowship of God's dear / prudence, and had made known unto them
by the inward teaching of his Spirit in theme and subject connected with the their hearts the mystery of his will, accord- ministry of the apostle in declaring the ing to his good pleasure, that is his sovereign whole counsel of God, that through Christ, electing love, which he had eternally pur. Gentiles and Jews, as being interested in posed in himself, and in the declaration of Jehovah's electing love and sovereign choice these things of God on the behalf of his have access by one spirit unto the Father ; church, he shunned not to declare the so that poor gentile sinners are no more whole counsel of God in the matter of re- strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens probation too, to the eternal exclusion of all with the saints, and are built upon the one and every son and daughter of Adam, who same foundation with the apostles and are not in Christ, and therein establishing prophets, which is a covenant Jehovah Jehovah's sovereign right as the great Al- himself, Jesus Christ being the chief corner mighty potter, who has power over the clay stone, in whom all the building fitly framed of the same lump to make one vessel unto together, groweth unto an holy temple in honour, and another unto dishonour, while the Lord, and oh, blessed experience! to be he made known unto them in the declara- enabled to rejoice that in him we also are tion of the whole counsel of God that the among them that are builded for an habichurch elect in Christ had obtained an in- tation of God through the Spirit, by whose heritance, they being predestinated to indwelling it is we are an habitation of eternal life, to heaven, and everlasting God, seeing that according to the unity of bliss, according to his own purpose, who the divine essence, and the inseparable worketh all things after the counsel of his communion existing among the Three own will; and surely as concerning the Divine Persons in the one undivided almighty, all-glorious person of Christ, the essence of Jehovah, where the Spirit takes apostle in his ministrations set him forth up his abode, there Father, Son, and Holy as him who filleth all in all, who being Ghost reside and dwell; and that these raised from the dead and entered into his things formed a prominent part in the glory in their behalf, he having finished re- ministry of the apostle among the Ephe demption's work which was given unto him sians, is proved throughout the whole second todo, is set down at Jehovah's right hand in chapter of his epistle to them. heavenly places, far above all principalities Again, in the declaration of the whole and powers, and might, and dominion of a counsel of God among them, the apostle had delegated kind, possessing a name far been wont to insist on an holy practice; above every name that is named, not only for doctrine, experience, and practice are in this world, but in the world to come, and inseparably connected in the gospel of the all this in behalf of his body the church ; ever blessed God, so that were one is found and having all things put under his feet in the hearts of God's living family, the in his mediatorial kingdom and glory, the other necessarily exists. Thus, for inapostle, by the Holy Ghost, declared him in stance, where and when the love of God is bis preaching, to be head over all things, shed abroad in the heart, by the Holy the world, sin, satan, death, hell, and the Ghost, this produces that experience in the grave, to and for the church; now this was which we feel that we love God, because he the glorious doctrine the apostle fully and hath first loved us; and when and where fearlessly declared in his ministry among the soul is brought into and under the conthe Ephesians, to whom he immediately straining influence of that love, even the addressed the words in the text, 'I have not love of Christ, there flows out, or is brought shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel forth, through the power of the Spirit, an of God.'
holy gospel practice, evidencing that there Again, in connexion with a testimony is a divine reality in the work of God in the concerning this glorious doctrine, the apostle soul, and proving the words of Christ to be declared unto them that blessed experience true, wherein he hath said, ' Ye have not which is ever associated with, and realized chosen me, but I have chosen you, and in the reception of this truth in the heart ordained you, that ye should go and bring and soul, by the inward witnessing of the forth fruit; and herein is my Father gloriHoly Ghost, whereby the Lord's living fied that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be family are made to know in their expe- (manifestively) my disciples; or that your rience that they are quickened together light is made so to shine before men, that with Christ, that they are raised up to- they beholding your good works, may glogether with him, and are made to sit rify, not you, but your Father which is in together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, heaven.' And so we find the apostle, in the and to know (soul feelingly) that they are course of his ministry, declaring against all saved by grace, through faith, and that not the works of the flesh, against fornication of themselves, it is the gift of God; and oh, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, which blessed experience! the same being realized is idolatry; exhorting that it be not once by the teaching power and operation of the named among them as becometh saints; Holy Ghost in the reception of the truth in neither filthiness nor foolish talking, nor the love of it, to be enabled to rejoice that jesting, which is not convenient, but rather though once afar off from God by wicked giving of thanks, bearing testimony in an works, yet now in Christ Jesus, we are appeal to their own judgment and knowmade nigh unto him by the blood of Christ, ledge, that no whoremonger, nor unclean and this was also a grand and glorious person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, nor drunkard, hath any inherit-, links in a chain, or as cause and effect, and ance in the kingdom of Christ, (though are as a three-fold cord which cannot be such may talk largely about it) consequent- broken. ly living and dying as such, they cannot The apostle had not shunned to declare possibly enter into the kingdom of heavenly unto them the whole counsel of God in a glory; but contrariwise, must inevitably three-fold way and manner; first, accordand eternally be found in the torments of ing to the testimony of the written and inthe damned; for because of this thing, spired word of God; second, in accordance cometh the wrath of God on the children of with the teaching the Holy Ghost in his disobedience : and in his ministry, the own soul; and third, in being enabled to apostle was found exhorting the church not live out that gospel which he was engaged in to be partakers with them, but reminding preaching with his mouth, so he preached them of their having been sometimes dark- the gospel with his feet and his hands, as ness, but now they were light in the Lord, well as made proclamation of it with his he exhorts them to walk as children of the tongue, for it was in his heart as a fire shut light, proving what is acceptable unto the up in his bones ; and as I have oftentimes Lord, by and in the fruit of the Spirit, which expressed in this pulpit, a man may as is in all goodness, and righteousness, and easily expect to shut up a living coal of fire truth, and surely neither of these things in the midst of a barrel of gunpowder, as were ever yet found dwelling in our cor- to shut up the gospel of the grace of God in rupt flesh, for that is corrupt with its the heart where it has been received by the deceitful lusts, and depraved deeds; but unctuous power of the Lord, the Spirit; the fruit of the Spirit is made to abound in and, saith the apostle, “I have not shunned the new man, the inner man, the hidden to declare the same unto you notwithstandman of the heart, and through the grace ing all the opposition which has been maniand power of the Spirit, this is brought fested against it.” The Lord having blessforth in a real, holy, and heavenly conver- edly kept and preserved me from fearing sation and walk, to the praise of that grace the frowns of those, who being permitted, and power, which produceth such fruit, and can kill the body; neither have I shunned bringeth it forth to open view in the sight to declare the whole counsel of God for the of God, of angels, of devils, and of men, purpose of ingratiatingmyself into thefleshwhereby it is abundantly proved that the ly esteem and approbation of my fellow men, church, as Jehovah's workmanship, being or of you, by a keeping in the back ground created in Christ Jesus unto good works, those things which in their declaration are even such good works as he before (that is calculated to call forth the enmity of the eternally) ordained they should walk in, carnal mind, and by which reservation, the are made to walk in them as he is pleased smiles such as are at ease in Zion are to work all their works in them by his oftentimes obtained; but by manifestation Spirit; all things were insisted upon and of the truth, I have commended myself to declared in the ministry of the apostle, as every man's conscience in the sight of God, evidently appears by the testimony con- and therefore he could well say if our gostained in the three last chapters of the pel be hid, it is hid to them who are lost; epistles to the Ephesians, and without these and would to God that every man standing things there can be po open manifestation in the ministry were enabled, on his leavof a work of God in the soul; 'for by their ing the people among whom he has labored fruit shall ye know them. And those who therein, be the circumstances occasioning are born of the Spirit being translated from such removal what they may, to make such the kingdom of darkness and satan, into a solemn statement and bear such an unethe kingdom of God's dear Son, were made quivocal and positive testimony as found in to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in the my text; I have not shunned to declare unto midst 'a crooked and perverse generation, you the whole counsel of God. and are workers together with God, even [To be certainly concluded in our next. Necesas the water-mill wheel works with the stream of water, which, acting upon it,
sity compels us to defer it.] produces its revolutions, and causes the
Mr. John Foreman's Charge machinery to be set in motion, whereby a certain effect as a work, is the result; the TO MR. JOHN BUNYAN M'CURE, AT HIS same being declarative of the power by the ORDINATION, AT HADLOW, JULY 10, 1848. which such effects are made to exist; and confidently persuaded I am, that wherever In our last, we gave a brief outline of the the glorious doctrine and truths of the morning's 'service in connection with the gospel are received into the heart by the above interesting occasion: The following anointing power of the blessed Spirit, there is furnished by an esteemed brother in the will be a realized enjoyment and experience ministry, and which is calculated to be of the blessed things contained in those generally useful :truths, and through and by the same power “In the afternoon brother Foreman gave whereby these truths are revealed unto, and the charge to the pastor, in which he shewed brought into the soul, there will be a mani- himself a workman that needeth not to be festation of the same in the life, walk, and ashamed, rightly dividing the word of conversation of such who are led into all truth, and also an able minister of the truth by the blessed Spirit of our God; New Testament. His manner was fatherly these things are inseparably connected as' and faithful, and the address full of choice
matter and good counsel. The following everlasting, and ordered in all things and are a few brief extracts.
sure, while the covenant itself shews who "The text was Ephes. iv. 12, 'For the the persons are that are interested therein, work of the ministry,' which, after a very few and what things it contains; and by a knowwords, if I recollect right, he opened thus : ledge thereof all errors are detected, and 1. The ministry itself.
salvation found to be entirely by grace. 11. The gifts and qualifications. Its promise is that of a new heart; and a III. The work. And
new birth in any person is the fulfilment Iv, The ends and designs to be an- of that promise: and the child breathes, swered.
cries, eats, walks, and talks because he “And in the first part he shewed that lives. The second is the knowledge of the there were various ministrations, which, if Lord as a holy and just God; and from not distinctly handled, would bring much this knowledge arises a feeling sense of confusion; and hence it is that we have so sinnership. The third, 'I will be their much contradiction in the pulpits of the God, and they shall be my people. And day. . But of those ministrations, said he, fourth, 'Their sins will I remember no that is the most important which concerns more. me—which concerns us: and that is the “The nature of this ministration is difministration of life.
fusive; not to receive, but to bestow; not But first, there is the ministration of the to gather in, but to deal out, as it is written, covenant of works made with Adam, which 'Go stand in the temple, and speak all the is now of no use but to show man his con- words of this life. Go tell, how God was dition. In the hand of the Spirit it comes in Christ reconciling the world unto himlike a friend at midnight, while we are self-tell, how he has taken away the ohasleep, and breaks in our windows to awake struction between man and God-how us, that we may escape from our house, Christ has removed sin. Go as an ambassawhich is on fire. And for this reason, dor for God, and carry his word, which is (that is, its utility to convince) the believer the gospel. The mind of God is the matter loves the law; and the minister finds it of thought, thought the matter of word; very useful, to show up, by way of contrast, and by the word of the gospel is the mind the blessings of the covenant of grace.
of God made known. And this is the tale Secondly, there is the covenant made the minister has to tell out. He has to tell with Abraham, which also has its pecu- that God hath put sin away; not that sin liar ministry, and that, like itself, is is removed out of old nature, for this will natural and conditional. Its tenure was remain, and be as much opposed to the holiobedience by Abraham's seed, who on that ness of God as ever, but the life, the essence, ground were to hold and enjoy the land of the power is slain; so that now nothing is Canaan; but disobeying were to die-were to be seen round about the throne of God to be driven off their land, and their house but a rainbow, the sure token that God will left to them desolate; which death and be angry no more for ever. desolation was not eternal, but temporal, “This ministration is to preach Christ as implied in the saying of our Lord, Ye to the people—the necessity-the power, shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall the wisdom--the love-the greatness--thé say, blessed is he that cometh in the name preciousness—and the plenitude of Christ. of the Lord. And though the Jews said It to tell of his benevolence and all-sufthat the ways of the Lord were not equal ; ficiency; and that in him being treasured yet it is plain this was false, for if they had up all the fulness of God, it is the privilege not walked contrary to him, he would not of poor sinners to draw out of that fulness, have walked contrary to them. And this and receive grace for grace; and that he covenant though only natural, yet being having fulfilled all conditions, has all typical and figurative, is highly useful to power, fulness, right and authority. point out the blessings of the covenant of “The plan of his ministration I shall life.
show by three several instances : viz., the “Thirdly: there is the new covenant as prodigal, the man among thieves, and the spoken of in Heb. viii. And here the publican in the temple. In each of which speaker pressed on our brother carefully to we find that the plan is not to have mercy distinguish the covenants as laid down in upon the best, the whole, or the most rightethe letter of truth. And then he went on ous, but the worst, the wounded, and the to say that this new covenant was founded self-condemned. And the gospel of this on better promises than either of the above, ministration is found in all the books of and that it stood upon the righteousness the Bible, and is the everlasting gospel by and blood of the Lord Jesus, who also was and through which we are given to know its surety, so that it could in no wise fail that we have eternal life, and to enjoy felor be broken. And the ministration of lowship with God. this covenant is simply to tell out its truths “This ministry then, my brother, is a to the people; to declare the love, the great ministry; a rich, a diffusive, a quickrighteousness, the mercy, the power,' and ening ministry. It is both a ghteous the faithfulness of God in this covenant, ministry, and a ministry of righteousness. to make known how he remits sins, clears And here is a difference; the law is a the guilty, and justifies the pinner that righteous ministry, but not a ministration believeth in Jesus, and to testify that it is of righteousness, but of condemnation only.