rss

CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Specify Alternate Text

Divinity of Christ

Divinity of Christ

John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

WHAT astonishing majesty and dignity are displayed in these brief but comprehensive words! The other Evangelists commence their histories at the period of our Savior’s incarnation: but St. John carries us back to eternity itself; and informs us, not only what Christ did and suffered, but who he was. He calls him by a very peculiar name; “The Word;” and, in other places, “The Word of Lifea;” “The Word of Godb.” This name, as applicable to the Messiah, was not altogether unknown to the Jewsc: and it seems peculiarly proper to the Son, because it is by the Son that God has in all ages revealed his mind to man. And perhaps this very explanation of the term was intended to be conveyed to us by St. John, when he says, within a few verses after my text, “No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of his Father, he hath declared himd.”

But, without dwelling upon matters of conjecture, let us consider,

I.    The testimony here given to the Lord Jesus Christ—

The beloved Apostle, speaking of the Lord Jesus, here declares,

1.   His eternal existence—

“In the beginning was the Word,” even before the creature existed, either in heaven or on earth: and from him every created being derived its existencee. So St. Paul also informs us: “By him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things; and by him all things consistf.” Though he was born into the world in time, yet in his divine nature he existed from eternity: “He was the same yesterday, to-day, and foreverg:” “His goings-forth were of old from everlastingh:” “He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the lasti.”

2.   His distinct personality—

From all eternity “he was with God;” “having a glory with him before the worlds were madek;” and having a perfect participation of all that the Father possessed, whether of wisdom and knowledgel, or of authority and powerm. This appears from the council held, as it were, between the Father and the Son, respecting the formation of mann; and man’s consequent expulsion from Paradiseo; and the confounding of the projects of man’s apostate race by changing their language at Babelp. Hence the Lord Jesus is said to have “come forth from Godq,” even “from his bosom,” where had been his everlasting abode. The importance of this truth is marked by the repetition of it by St. John, in the words following my text, “The same was in the beginning with God.”

3.   His proper deity—

“The Word was God,” even “the mighty Godr,” “the great Gods,” “God over all, blessed for evert.” “He was in the form of God; and thought it no robbery to be equal with Godu;” and was therefore rightly “named Emmanuel, God with usx;” and is with truth declared to be “God manifest in the fleshy.”

Now, that this is not a mere speculative subject, I will proceed to shew, by pointing out,

II.   The deep interest we have in it—

On the very face of the question, “Whether our Savior be God, or only a created being?” it cannot fail of appearing a subject of extreme importance. Know, then, that Christ is truly God, as well as man: and on this truth depends,

1.   The efficacy of all that he did and suffered for us on earth—

Had he been only a creature, he could only have done what was his duty to do; and therefore he could have merited nothing at the hands of God: or, at all events, could have merited only for himself. But being God, his whole undertaking was gratuitous; there was no obligation lying upon him, to do any thing, or suffer any thing, for us. What he did and suffered, therefore, may well be put to our account; more especially since it was so concerted between him and his Father, when he undertook to redeem our ruined race. His sufferings, though only for a season, may well be regarded as equivalent to the eternal sufferings of man; and his obedience to the law be justly considered as if all mankind had obeyed it. On both the one and the other his Deity stamps an infinite value; so that, “he having been made sin for us, we may well be made the righteousness of God in himz.”

2.   The efficacy of all that he is yet doing for us in heaven—

There is our adorable Savior seated at the right hand of God; and all judgment is committed to him, that he may complete for his people the work which he began on earth. He is appointed “Head over all things to the Churcha.” But supposing him to be a mere creature, how can he attend to all at once, and supply the necessities of all, in every quarter of the universe, at the same instant of time? But there is no room for such a question as that, seeing he is the omnipresent, omniscient, Almighty God. “Our help is, indeed, laid upon One that is mightyb,” upon One that is Almighty, “in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodilyc.” We need not fear, therefore, however great our necessities; but be fully assured, that “he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by himd.”

Behold then, brethren,

1.   How inconceivably great is the condescension of our God!

I wonder not at the unbelief of those who call in question the Divinity of Christ: for if it were not so fully revealed, as that it is impossible for a truly enlightened man to doubt it, I should be ready to doubt it myself; so inconceivable does it appear, that God should become a man, and make himself the surety and substitute of his own rebellious creatures. But he is God, and therefore can do it: he is God, and therefore cannot be judged by the finite capacity of man. In doing what he has done, he has acted like himself. He is God, and therefore I believe all that he has done for sinful man. Though himself eternal, he has been born in time: though eternally with God, he has come down and tabernacled with man: though himself the true and Living God, he has become a man, yea, and died for man upon the cross. I believe it, because he has revealed it. I believe it, because nothing less than this would have been adequate to my necessities. And were this not true, I should most gladly take my portion for ever under rocks and mountains.

2.   What unbounded consolation has he provided for sinful man!.

This doctrine meets my every want. I have guilt, which nothing less than “the blood of God” can wash awaye. I have corruptions, which none but the Spirit of God can subdue and mortify. I have wants, which none but the all-sufficient God can supply. But, having Jehovah for my friend, my surety, my righteousness, my all, I fear nothing. I hope in him; and believe in him; and glory in him; and make him “all my salvation and all my desire.” Trusting in him, I will defy all my enemiesf: and, “believing in him,” I will anticipate in my soul all the glory and blessedness of heaveng.[1]

 

 

a 1 John 1:1, 2.

b Rev. 19:13.

c See Bishop Pearson on the Creed, pp. 117, 118.

d ver. 18.

e ver. 3.

f Col. 1:16, 17.

g Heb. 13:8.

h Mic. 5:2.

i Rev. 1:8, 11.

k John 17:5.

l Matt. 11:27.

m John 5:17.

n Gen. 1:26.

o Gen. 3:22.

p Gen. 11:7.

q John 16:27, 28.

r Isai. 9:6.

s Tit. 2:13.

t Rom. 9:5.

u Phil. 2:6.

x Matt. 1:23.

y 1 Tim. 3:16.

z 2 Cor. 5:21.

a Eph. 1:22.

b Ps. 89:19.

c Col. 2:9.

d Heb. 7:25.

e Acts 20:28.

f Rom. 8:31.

g 1 Pet. 1:8.

[1] Simeon, C. (1833). Horae Homileticae: Luke XVII to John XII (Vol. 13, pp. 186–189). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

Specify Alternate Text

Security of Christ's Sheep

Security of Christ's Sheep

John 10:27, 28. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

WHILST we acknowledge with gratitude the powers of reason in investigations of a speculative or temporal nature, we must be very jealous of its conclusions in matters that are purely spiritual or practical. In whatever relates to God and to the soul, its decisions are apt to be biased by prejudice, or interest, or passion; and it yields, or withholds, assent, not so much according to the weight of evidence adduced, as according to the dispositions which are called forth into exercise. This was peculiarly manifest amongst the persons who attended on the ministry of our Lord: some were so wrought upon by the greatness of his miracles, and the impressive wisdom of his discourses, that they could not but receive him as the Messiah; whilst others were always complaining of want of evidence, and always caviling at his words. In the preceding context we are told, that “the Jews came round about him, and said, How long dost thou make us to doubt? if thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you; and ye believed not.” He then informs them what the source was of their unbelief; “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep:” you are destitute of those gracious qualities which would have fitted you for receiving my word: had you been given to me by the Father, and possessed the dispositions which characterize my sheep, you would have both believed in me, and reaped all the benefits of that faith: “My sheep hear my voice; and I know them, and they follow me,” &c.

In these words, our Lord refers to a conversation which he had recently had with them respecting his sheep; and goes on to declare,

I.    Their character—

This is delineated with great simplicity:

1.   They hear his voice—

Sheep that are well attended, are always observant of the shepherd’s voice: so is the Christian also of the voice of Christ. Christ speaks to us in his word as truly as ever he spake to his Disciples in the days of his flesh: and it is the delight of all his people to hear and obey his word. The inspired volume is to them a source, an inexhaustible source, of comfort: they read it, they meditate upon it, they pray over it, they “esteem it more than their necessary food.” When they open it, they look up to their Divine Master, and say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth;” “Open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy law.” Directions, warnings, invitations, promises, are all alike acceptable to them: everything that conveys to them the mind and will of their good Shepherd, is received with implicit faith, and unreserved obedience.

2.   They follow his steps—

In the written word they behold the path their Savior trod; and wherever they see the traces of his feet, they endeavor to follow. They inquire not whether the way be arduous and self-denying, or perilous and beset with enemies; all that they desire is, to ascertain precisely the path of duty; and then to walk in it with steadiness and perseverance. They plainly see that their Shepherd is gone before them towards Zion, regardless of all dangers, indifferent to all the things of this world, and intent only on executing the will of his heavenly Father; and thither they direct their steps, cultivating in everything “the mind that was in him,” and endeavoring “to walk as he walked.”

In proportion as they pursue this path, they augment,

II.   Their happiness—

The Lord Jesus Christ regards them with approbation—

It is true that he “knows them” all by name; nay more, he knows everything relating to them, their wants, their weaknesses, their fears, their trials, their exertions, their desires. But the word in our text is intended to express the approbation with which their Shepherd notices their well-meant endeavors. And what can afford them greater happiness than the enjoyment of his favor? “In his favor is life; and his loving-kindness is better than life itself.” Is it asked, How be conveys to them a sense of his favor? I answer, by “the witness of his Spirit,” by “the testimony of their own conscience,” by “shedding abroad his love in their hearts through the Holy Ghost.” It is a certain truth, that “he will manifest himself to them as he does not unto the world:” and he “will give them the white stone, wherein is a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth itb.” In this sense of his love, they have a “peace that passeth all understanding,” and “a joy with which the stranger intermeddleth not.”

He loads them with his richest benefits—

Whatever he bestows upon them in this world, it is but a taste before the banquet, a drop before the shower, a pledge and earnest of infinitely richer blessings in the world to come. “He gives unto them eternal life:” he has prepared other pastures for them in heaven, where all his sheep from the commencement to the end of time shall be collected, and form “one-fold under one Shepherd.” If their “joys” even here are sometimes “unspeakable,” who shall declare the happiness reserved for them against that day? Never for a moment will they lose sight of their Beloved: they will hear his voice day and night: they will follow him incessantly without any weariness or difficulty: the richest images that can be borrowed from earthly things are incapable of conveying the smallest idea of the felicity that awaits them. And all this is given them; it is given them freely; it is given them now: it is said in our text, not, “I will give them,” but, “I give them:” the very moment that they are brought home to his fold, he bestows it on them: they have instantly a right and title to it; and when they go hence, they go and take possession of it, not as a new gift which shall then be conferred, but as an inheritance, which by the surest of all titles, they have before been enabled to call their own.

Their ultimate possession of these benefits is insured to them in such a manner, as warrants us to affirm and to rejoice in,

III.  Their security—

Nothing shall be permitted to rob them of their inheritance—

Sheep may perish either from internal disorders, or from outward enemies: and it should seem that the sheep of Christ also may fail of attaining eternal blessedness either through the corruptions of their own hearts, or through the assaults of their spiritual enemies. But against both these dangers their Shepherd has engaged to protect them: “they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand.” It is here taken for granted, that they are exposed to things, which, without the intervention of Omnipotence to prevent it, might terminate in their destruction: and every one of them feels that this is really the case. But Jesus guarantees, if I may so say, their safety: he has himself begun the good work in them, and he undertakes to perfect it: he “has laid the foundation in their hearts, and he will finish it, and bring forth the top-stone:” he has reserved heaven for them; and he will keep them for itc.

For this Jesus pledges his own veracity and his Father’s power—

It is not asserted here, that they shall never be tempted: nor is it asserted that they shall never fall: but it is asserted that they shall never perish, nor be plucked out of their Redeemer’s hand. What shall we say then? That they are at liberty to live in sin? No; there is no such license allowed them. The way in which they shall be kept from perishing, is, by giving them “grace sufficient for them,” by enabling them to “mortify the deeds of the body,” and by sanctifying them throughout “in body, soul, and spirit,” and by “bruising Satan under their feet.” In this way they shall be made “more than conquerors through Him that loved them.” And, because Jesus was about to leave his Disciples, and to commit the keeping of them to his heavenly Father, he pledges himself, that his Father also, who was infinitely above all created Powers, yea, and greater than he himself also, as man, and as Mediator, should effectually preserve them; and that no enemy should prevail against them, unless he should first overcome Jehovah himself. This then being secured to them by a promise that cannot fail, and by a power that cannot he overcome, we may congratulate the sheep of Christ in the words of their good Shepherd; “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Now because of the singular importance of this subject, we shall,

1.   Guard it against abuse—

By referring the final issue of our warfare to the veracity and power of God, rather than to the faithfulness and diligence of man, it may be thought that we open a door for licentiousness of manners, or at least for carelessness and indifference in our spiritual concerns. But if it be recollected what has been stated as the character of Christ’s sheep, (that “they hear his voice” and “follow his steps;”) and what has been declared as to the manner of perfecting in them the good work, (that God enables them to mortify sin, and to vanquish Satan;) what room can there be for the objection of its tending to licentiousness? If however there be any man disposed to say, ‘God will not suffer me to perish, therefore I will be careless about my walk and conduct,’ he needs nothing more to prove that he is not one of Christ’s sheep; he has not the smallest resemblance to his sheep; he is altogether deaf to the voice of Christ; he walks in a way directly opposite to his; and, instead of vanquishing sin and Satan, he is overcome by them. Whatever therefore he may call himself, he is no other than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. To imagine that he can attain the end without the means, is absurd; for God has ordained not only the end, but the means, and the end BY the means. See how clearly this is stated by St. Paul: “God,” says he, “hath from, the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truthd.” To what hath God chosen us? to enjoy the means of grace? to possess heaven, if we can earn it by our good works? No; he has chosen us to salvation, even “to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But has he left it to our choice in what way this end shall be attained? No: he has appointed “sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,” as the way to it: and if we are not proceeding in that way, it is in vain to think of ever attaining that end. If we choose to walk in sin, we may; but it will infallibly lead us to perdition: holiness is the appointed path to heaven; and “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” To those, therefore, who would take the comfort arising from this subject, we recommend, that they judge of their state by their character and conduct: if they resemble Christ, and are walking truly in his ways, let them confidently trust in Him who “is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy:” but let them never entertain the thought of reaching heaven in any other than the appointed way: for, if they resemble “the goats,” it is in vain to hope that they shall have their portion with “the sheep.”

2.   Defend it against objections—

Many are the objections confidently urged against the doctrines here maintained: and I most willingly acknowledge that these mysterious truths are to be stated with extreme caution, and that they should occupy only such a space in our general ministrations as they appear to occupy in the Holy Scriptures. Yet we must not keep back any part of divine truth; but, when occasion offers, must “declare the whole counsel of God.” It is true, that many pious men cannot receive these doctrines; and therefore we should, as much as possible, avoid such a statement of them as may wound their minds: still, however, we are not called to suppress the mention of them, but only to concede to others what we claim for ourselves, the right of forming our own judgment, and of being treated with respect and candor by those who differ from us.

It is said that the doctrines before stated are contrary to Scripture, to fact, and to the interests of morality.

The Scripture, it is said, abounds with warnings and exhortations to obedience; in many of which our final enjoyment of God’s favor is actually suspended on our perseverance in his ways. All this is true; and we are grieved, when any, from an undue attachment to human systems, attempt to deny it: but is it not also true that the Scriptures abound with passages of like import with the texte? The great fault of those who adopt human systems is, that they will be wise above what is written, and, instead of receiving God’s word as little children, will presume to reject everything which they cannot reconcile with their own favorite opinions. Who could ever reconcile God’s fore-knowledge with the free-will of man? but who will venture to deny either? So, we may not see how to reconcile God’s determination to keep his people, with his cautions against the danger of apostasy; and yet God’s determinations may exist, without superseding the need of fear and caution on our part; nay, I am persuaded, that they are carried into effect by means of that very fear which his warnings inspire. And this is, I apprehend, the true solution of the difficulty, as far as it can be solved by man. God’s precepts teach us what we ought to do: his exhortations put us upon making every exertion in our power: his threatenings humble us for our short-comings and defects: his promises incline us to look to him for strength: and his covenanted engagements encourage us to “hope even against hope,” and to renew our exertions in an assured expectation of ultimate success. View the different portions of Scripture in this way, and, whatever the heat of controversy may lead men to urge against each other, there will be found no real opposition between them, but a perfect harmony in every part.

But, it may be said, it is contrary to fact that the Lord’s people are so preserved; for the inspired records inform us of many who “make shipwreck of their faith,” and “whose end,” in consequence of their apostasy, was “worse than their beginning.” This also is true: but it disproves not one atom of what is asserted in our text.

Hear what St. John says to this very point: he acknowledges that some had apostatized from the truth: but, says he, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of usf.” To this it may be replied, that, if apostates are disclaimed as having ever really belonged to Christ, it is impossible to tell who do really belong to him. I readily acknowledge, that no man can know either that he himself belongs to Christ, or that any other person does, except by his works, or in any degree further than he is warranted by his life and conversation. If a man have the mark and character of Christ’s sheep, he may have a good hope that he belongs to Christ; but the very moment that he declines from that character, his evidences of relation to Christ decay, and, together with them, his hope of ultimate acceptance with him. “The foundation of God standeth sure; the Lord knoweth them that are his: but let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

As to the objection that these doctrines are contrary to the interests of morality, it has been already answered, when we were guarding this subject from abuse. The doctrine that asserts that we shall be kept in the way of holiness, can never be inimical to the interests of holiness. But we would further ask, What must be the effect of denying these doctrines? Will not men be tempted to trust in an arm of flesh? and will not that issue in disappointment? and will not repeated disappointments tend to create despondency? People are apt to dread the idea of despondency as connected with the doctrines of grace: but we will venture to affirm, that, for one instance of despondency arising from a view of the sovereignty of God, and of our entire dependence upon his power and grace, a hundred instances arise from want of just views of this subject. What is the answer which we uniformly receive when we exhort men to walk in the steps of Christ? Is it not this! ‘We cannot: You require more of us, than we are able to perform?’ Of course, in these persons exertion is discouraged; and they remain bond-slaves of Satan, because they conceive it impossible that they should be delivered from his power: whereas, the person who believes that God is all-sufficient and faithful to his promises, is encouraged to renew his application to him from day to day, and, even under the most distressing circumstances, to expect a happy termination of his conflicts. A view of God, as “able to keep us from falling,” and as engaged to “perfect that which concerneth us,” will be a cordial to the drooping soul: and will enable us to adopt the triumphant language of Christ himself; “He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together; Who is mine adversary I let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn meg?” And what the effect will be of such a cheering hope as this, I leave you to judge. Only see it realized in the Apostle Paul, and we have no fear about any conclusions that shall be drawn from ith.

3.   Improve it for your encouragement—

What unspeakable encouragement is here afforded to those who are yet ignorant of Christ! Who can hear this saying, and not wish to be numbered amongst his sheep? Methinks the hope of obtaining such security should induce everyone to return from his wanderings, and to put himself under his guidance and protection. Where shall we find any such promise made to those who are at a distance from the fold of Christ? Where has God said to them, “Ye shall never perish?” To them belongs rather that tremendous threatening, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” O that all who are going astray might consider this, and “return immediately to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls!”

To you who have fled to him for refuge, here is indeed strong consolation. You are sensible of manifold corruptions, any one of which is sufficient to destroy your souls. You feel your weakness too, and your utter inability to withstand that roaring lion that seeketh to devour you. What then would you do, if you were left to preserve yourselves by the unassisted efforts of your own strength and resolution 2 To you it is no little joy to be assured, that you are in the hands of an Omnipotent Being, against whom neither earth nor hell shall ever be able to prevail, and who engages in your behalf, that you shall never perishi. Learn then to “cast your care on Him,” and to commit the keeping of your souls to Him in well-doing, as into the hands of a faithful Creatork.”[1]

 

 

b Rev. 2:17.

c 1 Pet. 1:4, 5.

d 2 Thess. 2:13, 14.

e Job 17:9. Isai. 54:17. Jer. 32:40.

f 1 John 2:19. See this also confirmed by facts, Luke 22:31, 32. John 17:12.

g Isai. 50:8, 9.

h Rom. 8:33–39.

i 1 John 4:4.

k 1 Pet. 4:19.

[1] Simeon, C. (1833). Horae Homileticae: Luke XVII to John XII (Vol. 13, pp. 511–519). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

Specify Alternate Text

Repentance Urged

Repentance Urged

Joel 2:12–14. Now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments; and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meat-offering and a drink-offering unto the Lord your God?

THE season of Lent has, for many centuries, been set apart in the Church of Christ, for the purpose of promoting in the minds of Christians a deeper humiliation before God, and of preparing them for a more profitable celebration of those mysteries which we commemorate in the Passion-week. The utility of consecrating that season to the end proposed was felt by the fathers of our Church at the time of the Reformation; and they have enjoined on all the members of our community to employ it in a more than ordinary course of penitence and prayer. But, unhappily, the superstitions of the Church of Rome, from which we separated, have excited such disgust in the minds of the generality amongst us, that we have run to a contrary extreme, so that at this day we put scarcely any difference between this season and the other parts of the year. Our Church expresses a regret that she is not able to enforce the rites of penance on offenders, as the custom of earlier ages had sanctioned: and if, in the stead of penance, we put penitence, I can most cordially unite in that sentiment. For, so entirely are the duties of this season neglected, that it will appear to many strange that we take such a subject as that before us, unless indeed on that day with which the season commences, and which is still observed amongst us as a public fast. But, in reality, the exhortation before us is suited to all seasons: and therefore, without apology, I will call your attention to it, and set before you,

I.    Our duty—

All acknowledge, in general terms, the duty of repentance: and here we are led to contemplate it,

1.   In its outward expressions—

“Fasting, and weeping, and mourning,” are the proper expressions of penitence in the soul. But “fasting” is grievously neglected amongst us; and all are ready to excuse themselves from it, as unprofitable to their souls. But why should it not be as profitable to us as it was to the saints of old? Or why should our blessed Lord have given us directions for the performance of this duty, if it were a matter of indifference whether we performed it or not? The truth is, that we are as far from observing those other duties, of “weeping and mourning,” as we are that of “fasting:” and hence it is that “fasting” is so little in request amongst us. Do but call to mind your state before God, my Brethren; and see how rarely, if ever, you have wept on account of your sins; and how rarely, if ever, you have so “looked on Him whom you have pierced by your sins, as to mourn and be in bitterness, as one that is in bitterness for his first-borna?”———Yet these, so to speak, are only the outward expressions of repentance. Let me call your attention to it,

2.   In the inward experience of the soul—

“To rend the garments,” however passionately it were done, would be a small matter, if we did not at the same time “rend the heart.” But O! what an idea does this convey! We can easily conceive, and see as it were before our eyes, a garment rent: but who can conceive of a heart torn, and rent as it were to pieces, by distress on account of sin? Yet this is the experience of one who is truly penitent and contrite: this is what God requires of us; and anything short of this he will utterly despiseb.

Further than this, God says to us in my text, “Turn ye unto me with all your heart, even turn unto the Lord your God.” And how shall I represent to you this duty? Methinks it would occupy a long space of time to enter particularly into this part of my subject. But I will set it before you, so that you may comprehend it perfectly, and in an instant. Who amongst you has ever seen a river that is affected with the tide? At one time you have seen the waters flowing with majestic force towards the ocean; and a few hours afterwards you have seen them returning with equal copiousness towards their fountain-head. This shews how all the powers of the soul have been engaged in the service of the world; and how they are to be employed in the service of our God. It is no partial change that will suffice; it must be entire: and all our faculties, whether of body or soul, which have been used as instruments of sin, must become instruments of righteousness unto Godc.”

Now think of this, my Brethren: dismiss from your minds those partial views of repentance with which you have hitherto been satisfied; and address yourselves to this duty in its full extent.

And that I may prevail with you, let me proceed to set before you,

II.   Our encouragement—

This arises,

1.   From the general character of God—

See God in his own essential perfections: “he is merciful and gracious,” and delights altogether in the exercise of mercy towards sinful men. See him also in his dealings with us: how “slow has he been to anger!” Against whom amongst us might he not have broken forth in anger a thousand times, just as he did against Korah and his company, or against Dathan and Abiram, or Ananias and Sapphira, whom he struck dead upon the spot? View him, also, when ready to execute upon us his wrathful indignation: how often has he, in his answer to the intercession of his dear Son, returned the sword to its scabbard, and “repented of the evil that he thought to do unto us!” And are these no encouragements to repentance? Can you willingly go on to insult so gracious a God, and to provoke him, till his anger break forth without a remedy, and “burn to the lowest hell?” I pray you, Brethren, “run not thus on the thick bosses of his buckler,” and defy him not thus to his face; but fall before him with the deepest self-abasement, and “seek his face whilst yet he may be foundd.”

2.   From the hope which this character inspires—

God, in the preceding context, has threatened to send an army that should lay waste the whole land of Israel; and so destroy it, that the very worship of God should be set aside for want of an offering to present to him. At this day, also, he often visits sin with temporal calamities, till he has reduced us to the greatest imaginable distress. And, in reference to these visitations, it is uncertain whether God will remove them from us on our repentance, or not. David, though pardoned as to his soul, was visited with severe trials in his family. And so may we be visited: nor can we be certain, that, “though God forgive us our sins,” he will not “take vengeance of our inventionse.” Yet may we hope for the removal even of these judgments: and “who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him,” even such a blessing as shall bring you into a state of sweet communion with your God?

But if the question be put in reference to the remission of sins, and the ultimate enjoyment of heaven, I will undertake, with reverence and humility, to say, “I Know.” Yes, the whole word of God declares that he will return in mercy to the contrite soul; and “blot out our iniquities as a morning cloud,” and “remember them against us no more forever.” Even though he had given the command for our destruction, yet would he revoke it, even as he did in reference to Nineveh, if he saw us, in penitence and faith, returning to him: and though we had not an hour to live, he would hear our prayer, and take us, like the dying thief, to be with him in Paradise. This hope is founded on his perfections, as set forth in the Holy Scriptures, and on the word of promise which he has given to returning penitents. And therefore I cannot but urge and encourage every one of you to humble yourselves before him, and to “seek at his hands the blessings which he is so ready to bestow.”

And now let me ask,

1.   Is not this repentance necessary?

Yes, for every one amongst you. I readily grant, that many of you are free from any thing that comes under the character of gross sin: but who amongst you has not grievously departed from God? Who has not shamefully slighted our blessed Savior? Who has not resisted the motions of the Holy Spirit? Who has not lived for time, rather than for eternity; and to himself, rather than unto his God? Here, then, is reason enough for every one of you to weep and mourn, and to rend your very souls to pieces before God. I entreat, therefore, you who are young, and you also who are moral, to reflect on these things, and to turn to God without delay; yea, to turn unto him with your whole hearts.

2.   Are not the considerations with which the duty is enforced sufficient encouragements to the performance of it?

I might have enforced the duty with far different arguments, and “persuaded you rather by the terrors of the Lord” to turn unto him. But I greatly prefer the views of God, as he is exhibited in the text. It is in this light that he is revealed to us in the Gospel; even as coming down to this earth to seek and save us, and to reconcile us unto himself in the person of his dear Son. And these considerations have a far greater tendency to humble the soul; which, if terrified for a moment by the threatenings of the law, is ready, like fused metal, to return in a little time to its wonted hardness. “Let, then, the riches of his goodness and long-suffering and forbearance be duly regarded by you; and let the goodness of your God lead you to repentancef.”

3.   Will not the mercies offered you amply compensate for all the efforts which you may make to obtain them?

Truly, if there were but a “peradventure” that you should find mercy, it were worth all the labor of ten thousand years to obtain it. Think only what it must be, to be monuments of God’s righteous indignation to all eternity; and what it must be, on the other hand, to be everlasting monuments of his grace and love. Can you contemplate this alternative, and duly estimate its importance? No: you must go down to hell, and taste the misery of the damned, and be exalted to heaven, to enjoy the blessedness of the saints in glory, before you can form any just idea of what is before you, either to be suffered or enjoyed, according as your state shall be found before God. I pray you not to trifle with your souls; but now, while the opportunity is afforded you, “flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on eternal life.” Could you ask of Manasseh, or David, or Peter, or any of the saints, whether they wept too much; you can easily conceive the answer that would be returned you by them. To every one amongst you then, I say, “Begin, without delay, to sow in tears; and then expect, without a doubt, to reap in joy.”[1]

 

 

a Zech. 12:10.

b Ps. 51:17.

c Rom. 6:13.

d Isai. 55:6.

e Ps. 99:8.

f Rom. 2:4.

[1] Simeon, C. (1832). Horae Homileticae: Hosea to Malachi (Vol. 10, pp. 168–172). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

Specify Alternate Text

God the Only Source of All Good

God the Only Source of All Good

Jam. 1:16, 17. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

THERE is much evil in the world. But people are little aware from whence it proceeds. We forget that at the first creation there was no such thing as evil, either natural or moral, in the whole universe. God, it is true, could have prevented the existence of it: and so he could have prevented the existence of the world itself, which only came into being through the operation of his sovereign will and of his almighty power. It is not for us to inquire, why he permitted evil to exist. Doubtless he will ultimately be glorified in all that he has done, yea and, on the whole, in all that he has permitted, though we cannot exactly say how that glory shall accrue to him. All that we, in our present state, are called to, is, to feel and to maintain that he does all things well: that, however he may permit, he does not do evil; but that, on the contrary, all good, and nothing but good, is to be ascribed to him.

Now it is of great importance that we should, at least as far as regards ourselves, have just views of this matter, since for want of them we greatly err. So, the Apostle evidently intimates in the words which we have read: from whence I will take occasion to shew,

I.    The true character of the Deity—

He is here declared to be the only, and the unchanging source of all good—

1.   He is the only source of all good—

The sun in the material world may properly be called “the father of lights,” because there is no light but what proceeds from him. The moon and stars only reflect the light which they receive from him. Thus is God to the whole creation the only source of light and life. There is no “good and perfect gift,” but proceeds from him. In nature, all the worlds were framed by him, and everything in them was fitted for its peculiar use, and for the benefit of the whole. In providence, everything is ordered with unerring wisdom to sub-serve the designs of God, and to accomplish his holy will, yea, and ultimately to further the welfare of all his chosen people———In grace this appears in a still more striking point of view. Every good disposition is formed by him in the heart of man, which, without the agency of his Spirit, would continue one entire and unaltered mass of corruption through all eternity. If we either will or do anything that is good, it is in consequence of his electing love and sovereign gracea———

2.   He is the unchanging source of all good—

If in the communication of good he in some respects resembles the sun, he in other respects differs widely from it. The sun, though the fittest emblem that we have of immutability in dispensing good, has yet its changes, both annual and diurnal, and at different seasons of the day and year, casts its shadows in a widely different form, according to the quarter in which it shines, and to its position in our hemisphere, as more vertical or horizontal. But not so Jehovah, the Father of all heavenly lights. There are no changes with himb. “With him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” To his believing people he is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for everc.” True, his light may be intercepted by a cloud: but he himself remains the same: and let only the cloud be dispelled, and he will shine as bright as ever on the believing soul———

Now that you may see how important this view of the Deity is, I beg you to notice,

II.   The errors we run into for want of duly adverting to it—

We err exceedingly,

1.   In a way of self-vindication—

This is the precise point to which St. James directs our attention. After saying, “Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man: but every man, when he is tempted, is drawn away of his own lust and enticed;” he adds, “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning:” Evil is from yourselves, and from yourselves alone: good, and only good, is from God.

Now you cannot but know, that, like our first parents, we are ever ready to exculpate ourselves, and to cast the blame of our sins, either on the tempters that led us to them, or on the propensities which God himself has implanted in us. But in both of these cases we do, in fact, cast the blame on God, as either immediately or remotely the cause of the evils we commit. But beware of all excuses, be they what they may. The fault is all your own, and nothing but humiliation and contrition will become you to the latest hour of your lives———If ever you perish, you will have none but yourselves to blame.

2.   In a way of self-dependence—

We are ever prone to look for some good in ourselves, instead of seeking all good from God alone. But it is in vain to rely on any wisdom of our own to guide us, or strength of our own to support us, or righteousness of our own to justify us. Satan himself may as well look for these things in himself as we: and it is on this account that God has been “pleased to treasure up in his dear Son a fullness of them, that we may receive them all from him” from day to day, and from hour to hour. Know ye this, that in yourselves “ye are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;” and “from Christ alone can ye ever receive raiment to cover you, or gold to enrich you, or the eye-salve” that shall administer healing to your organs of vision. “All your fresh springs must be in God,” even in God alone———

3.   In a way of self-applause—

We are no less prone to take to ourselves credit from what is good, than to shift off from ourselves blame in what is evil. But “if we differ from others or from our former selves, who is it that has made us to differ? or what have we that we have not received from God himself?” As well might the earth boast of its fertility independently of the sun, whose genial rays have called it forth, as we arrogate to ourselves honor on account of any good that we have ever done. If you would see what the earth would be independent of the sun, go to the polar regions in the depth of winter. And, if you would see what you yourselves would be independent of God, go down to that place where God never comes by the operations of his grace, and where the damned spirits are left without control. If there be any good in you, it is from Christ that you have received it: for “without him you could do nothing.” If you have attained to anything more than ordinary, you must say, “He that hath wrought me to the self-same thing is God.” Even if you equaled the Apostle Paul in holiness, you must say, “By the grace of God I am what I am;” and in reference to every individual act, “It was not I, but the grace of God that was with med.”

Application—

Do not err then, my beloved brethren”—

Be aware of your tendencies; and remember how to correct them. You never can err in taking shame to yourselves: nor can you ever err in giving glory to God. But if you arrogate anything to yourselves, you will rob God: and, in robbing him, you will eventually, and to your utter ruin, rob yourselves.”[1]

 

 

a Phil. 2:12, 13.

b Mal. 3:6.

c Heb. 13:5, 8.

d 1 Cor. 15:10.

[1] Simeon, C. (1833). Horae Homileticae: James to Jude (Vol. 20, pp. 32–35). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

The Word of God Quick and Powerful

The Word of God Quick and Powerful

Heb. 4:12. The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

THE state of a Christian’s mind should be alike distant from slavish fear and from presumptuous confidence. He is authorized to entertain a confidence, because he has Omnipotence for his support, and the veracity of God pledged to supply him with all that is needful for his spiritual welfare. But he has need of fear also; because he is in the midst of temptations, and has a deceitful heart, ever ready to beguile him. In the view of his privileges, he may rejoice: but in the view of his dangers, he should tremble. In a word, he should, as David expresses it, “rejoice with trembling.” This frame of mind is supposed by many to be unsuited to that full liberty into which we are brought under the Christian dispensation. But St. Paul continually inculcates the necessity of it in order to a safe and upright walk: “Be not high-minded, but fear:” “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” But in no place of Scripture is this mixture of diffidence and affiance more strongly insisted on than in this and the preceding chapters. We are taught the indispensable necessity of “holding fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of hope, firm unto the enda;” and yet we are again and again warned by the example of the Israelites, who were excluded from the promised land, lest we also should “fall after the same example of unbeliefb.” It is in this view that the declarations in our text are introduced. There is an abruptness in them which renders the meaning of the Apostle somewhat difficult at first: but when the connecting link is supplied, the sense of the passage is clear, and very important. It speaks to this effect: The Israelites thought they had sufficient grounds for their unbelief; yet it ruined them. You also may be deceived by an evil heart of unbelief: but, however you may vindicate yourselves, that word, which you now disobey, will judge you in the last day; and will both expose your self-delusion, and justify God in passing against you a sentence of exclusion from the promised land.

The scope of the passage being thus explained, we propose to consider,

I.    The description here given of the word of God—

Many able commentators have given it as their opinion, that, by “the word of God,” we are to understand the Lord Jesus Christ, who is frequently called by that name in the Holy Scriptures. But St. Paul never speaks of Christ by that name: nor is there any mention of Christ in the context. On the contrary, the word of revelation is mentioned, as that which the Israelites would not believec; as that also which excluded them from the promised restd; and as that which speaks to us precisely as it did to theme. And the different things spoken of it in the text are far more suited to the written word, than to the Lord Jesus Christ. To that, therefore, we limit the description before us. Its properties are set forth,

1.   In figurative terms—

It is “quick,” that is, a living word. Our blessed Lord represents it in the same view: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are lifef.” And it is the very same term which Stephen also makes use of, when he calls the Scriptures “the lively oraclesg.” The word is not a mere dead letter, that will soon vanish away: it lives in the mind of God: it lives in the decrees of heaven: it liveth and will live for ever: nor will millions of ages cause it to be forgotten, or in the least enervate its force. All besides this shall wax old, and decay: but this shall endure, without the alteration of one jot or tittle of it, to all generationsh.

It is also “powerful.” ear the appeal which God himself makes to us respecting it: “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord: and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in piecesi?” Yes: there is nothing that can resist its force.

But in the text it is compared with “a two-edged sword,” which, how sharp soever it may be, cannot penetrate like that. Frequently is it characterized by this image, especially as proceeding from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christk. Yet does that image give but a very faint idea of its power: for a sword, though it may inflict a mortal wound, would be utterly incapable of dividing, with accuracy, the almost imperceptible organs of the human frame: but the word can “pierce to the dividing asunder the joints and marrow, yea, and the animal soul also from the rational spirit.” By this is meant, that there is nothing so hidden, which it cannot detect; nothing so blended, which it cannot discriminate.

This the Apostle proceeds to set forth,

2.   In plain language—

The word is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Of the unregenerate man it is said, that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continuallyl.” The regenerate are “renewed in the spirit of their minds.” But still they are not so renewed, but that some imperfection cleaves to all which they do: there is something in every thought and every purpose of the human heart, something which still shews that man is a fallen creature, and which cannot stand the strict scrutiny of God’s all-seeing eye. If he lay judgment for a line, and righteousness for a plummet, there is not anything in which there will not be found some obliquity. Such a perfect standard is the word of God: “it will discern between the good and evil that is in the most holy thought of the most perfect of men.” In the hand of “the Spirit, whose sword it ism,” its power is infinite, even though it be wielded by the feeblest arm. In the hand of the prophets, it “hewed” the hypocritial Jews in piecesn. In the hand of the Apostles, it pierced thousands to the heart at onceo. In the hand of ordinary ministers, it has still the same power, and can so detect all the secret thoughts of men’s hearts, as to evince that, it is indeed the very word of God himselfp,———and through him is still, as much as ever, “mighty to the casting down of the most haughty imaginations, and to the bringing of every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christq.”

But that which gives to this description its force, is,

II.   The end for which it is adduced—

The Apostle means to say, that, however secret the workings of unbelief may be, they will all be detected and condemned by the word in the last day. Now,

Unbelief is a most subtle sin—

It has ten thousand pleas and pretexts by which it clokes its malignity, and justifies to the mind and conscience its operations. See it in the Jews, whom it deceived to their ruin. There was always some great trial, some apparently insuperable difficulty in their way. They supposed that God would make all their way easy, and that they should have nothing to try their faith and patience. Hence they construed every difficulty as a violation of God’s promises, and a prelude to his final dereliction of them. Hence also they made their appeals upon this subject with as much confidence, as if their conclusions were undeniable: and the chastisements which they received for their impiety only increased their complaints, as though, in addition to the disappointments of their legitimate expectations, they were treated with undeserved cruelty. Thus it is with us: we hide from ourselves, or rather we justify to ourselves, the workings of unbelief. Its operations all seem to us to be founded in truth and equity. If we look at God’s threatenings, it cannot be that they should ever be executed, because such a procedure would be inconsistent with the Divine perfections, and an act of injustice towards man. If the promises of God be the object to which our attention is turned, they are too great, and too good to be performed; or at least, that they are not intended for such sinners as we. Besides, they are so far out of our sight, as to have, in our conceptions, little or no reality, in comparison of the objects of time and sense. Other sins we excuse as acts of frailty: but this we justify, as an act of wisdom.

But, how subtle soever our unbelief may be, the word of God will discover and condemn it—

The word of God is so comprehensive, that there is not in the whole creation a thought or purpose that does not come within its ranger: and it is so minute, that there is not the slightest “imagination of a thought,” of which it does not take cognizance. It is spiritual, even as the Author of it himself is spiritual; and, when it is brought home with power to the soul, it convinces a man of sins of which he had before not the least conceptions. As by a chemical process the constituent parts of material bodies may be discovered, so by the application of the word to our souls in the last day will every thought be decompounded, as it were, and its every particle of good or evil be disclosedt. The fire that will try us will search the inmost recesses of the soul, and determine, with infallible precision, the quality of the most latent imagination thereu. Of this we have an earnest in the events which happened to the Jews in consequence of their unbelief. Thus, God addresses them by the Prophet Zechariah: “our fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the Lord of Hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with usx.” And the very same confession will, assuredly, be made in the last day by the most confident unbeliever in the universe: “His sin shall surely find him outy;” and it shall then be seen, “whose word shall stand, God’s or hisz.” The counsels of every heart shall then be made manifesta;” and God be justified before the whole universe in the sentence that he shall passb.

From hence we may see—

1.   How attentive we should be to the word of God—

Would we but inspect it with humility and care, it would be as a glass to reflect our own image, in a way that nothing else can doc. And, is it not madness to neglect the opportunity it affords us of learning our true character, and of ascertaining, beforehand, the sentence of our Judge? To what purpose is it to deceive our own souls? Will that word be altered? Will any other standard be brought forward whereby to estimate our state? Or shall we be able either to dispute its testimony, or avert its sentence? Dear brethren, remember the description given of it in our text: think how unavailing all your pleas and excuses will be, when its voice shall be raised against you: and now, ere it be too late, take it as a light to search all the secret corners of your heartsd, and to guide your feet into the way of peace.

2.   How fearful we should be of unbelief—

As there is no grace which so honors God, as faith, so there is no sin which so dishonors him, as unbelief. Other sins, though they oppose his authority, do not deny his right to command: but unbelief questions the very existence of his truth. Hence does St. John so frequently speak of it, as “making God a liare.” Ah! little do the sceptic and the unbeliever think what guilt they contract: and little do they imagine what chains they are forging for their own souls! How, I would ask, will any man get his sins forgiven? it can only be by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and by a living faith too: for it is not a dead faith that will suffice; but such a faith as unites the soul to Christ, and derives out of his fulness all that grace, and mercy, and peace which we stand in need of. Most awful is that declaration of God, that “all the fearful and unbelieving shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second deathf.” Whether we believe this or not, it will prove true in the end: and the sentence, once denounced against Israel with an oath, shall again be repeated against all that abide in unbelief; “I swear in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my rest.”

3.   How earnestly we should pray to God for the gift of his Spirit—

It is by the Spirit of God alone that we can either “be convinced of unbeliefg,” or be enabled to exercise a living faithh. O! beg of God to give you his Spirit. Seek it in earnest; and you shall not ask in vaini. It is the Spirit’s office to “take of the things that are Christ’s, and to shew them unto youk.” It is his office to make the word effectual to your souls: for it is then only effectual, when “it comes in demonstration of the Spirit and of powerl.” Read not then, nor hear, the word in dependence on your own strength; but cry mightily to God to bring it home to your hearts “with power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurancem.” Then shall you experience its life-giving efficacy, and find it “the power of God to the salvation of your soulsn.”[1]

 

 

a Heb. 3:6.

b ver. 1, 11.

c ver. 2.

d Heb. 3:7–11.

e ver. 7–9.

f John 6:63.

g Acts 7:38.

h 1 Pet. 1:23–25.

i Jer. 23:29.

k Isai. 49:2. Rev. 1:16.

l Gen. 6:5.

m Eph. 6:17.

n Hos. 6:5.

o Acts 2:37.

p 1 Cor. 14:24, 25.

q 2 Cor. 10:4, 5.

r Ps. 119:96.

s Rom. 7:9, 14.

t John 12:48.

u 1 Cor. 3:13.

x Zech. 1:5, 6.

y Numb. 32:23.

z Jer. 44:28.

a 1 Cor. 4:5.

b Ps. 51:4. with Rom. 3:4.

c Jam. 1:23, 24.

d John 3:19–21. Prov. 20:27.

e 1 John 2:22. and 5:10.

f Rev. 21:8.

g John 16:8, 9.

h Eph. 2:8. Phil. 1:29.

i Luke 11:13.

k John 16:14.

l 1 Cor. 2:4.

m 1 Thess. 1:5.

n Rom. 1:16.

[1] Simeon, C. (1833). Horae Homileticae: 2 Timothy to Hebrews (Vol. 19, pp. 204–210). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

Specify Alternate Text

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember Also Your Creator

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NKJV)

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, ESV)

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NKJV)

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years approach when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NASB 2020)

“Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NLT)


As Ec 11:9, 10 showed what youths are to shun, so this verse shows what they are to follow.

Creator—“Remember” that thou art not thine own, but God’s property; for He has created thee (Ps 100:3). Therefore serve Him with thy “all” (Mk 12:30), and with thy best days, not with the dregs of them (Pr 8:17; 22:6; Je 3:4; La 3:27). The Hebrew is “Creators,” plural, implying the plurality of persons, as in Genesis 1:26; so Hebrew, “Makers” (Is 54:5).

while … not—that is, before that (Pr 8:26) the evil days come; namely, calamity and old age, when one can no longer serve God, as in youth (Ec 11:2, 8).

no pleasure—of a sensual kind (2 Sa 19:35; Ps 90:10). Pleasure in God  Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 413). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. (Public Domain)

INSTRUCTION may profitably be given in a variety of ways: indeed, in order to be effectual, it must be accommodated in some measure to the dispositions and habits of the persons addressed. To one who is wayward and self-willed, the pungency of irony may be well applied; whilst with the tractable and docile, the more simple and direct way of affectionate exhortation may be of more avail. Both these methods are adopted by Solomon in the passage before us. In the verses immediately preceding our text, he addresses a young man whom he supposes to be bent on the prosecution of his evil ways: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will call thee into judgment.” Then, after a serious admonition to avoid the evils which ungovernable passions will bring upon him, he affectionately exhorts him to devote his early life to the exercises of true piety.

It is observed by some, that the word which in our text is rendered “thy Creator,” is, in the original, in the plural number, “thy Creators:” and the passage in that view is supposed to mark the concurrence of the three Persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, in the formation of man; according to what is written in the book of Genesis, “Let us make man in our imagea.” But without drawing your attention to any observations of a critical nature, I shall endeavor simply to shew you,

I.    What is implied in “remembering our Creator”—

Of course, it cannot be supposed that it is a mere act of the memory which is here recommended, but such a remembrance as befits the relation in which we stand to him as his creatures. We should remember then,

1.   His authority over us—

As the work of his hands, we have received from him all our powers, whether of mind or body. It is of his bounty alone that we have been endowed with the faculty of reason, which elevates us above all the rest of this lower world, and brings us into a near conformity with that higher order of created intelligences, the holy angels. But for what purpose has he thus distinguished us, but that we might render him services worthy both of our present state, and our future destinies? “He has formed us for himself, that we might shew forth his praise.” This is the end for which we are to live: nor is anything on earth to divert us from the course which HE has marked out for us. Obedience, it is true, is due to our parents, and to all others whom the providence of God has placed over us: but the authority of the creature must always be regarded as subordinate to that of our Creator; and, if at any time the will of man stand opposed to the will of God, we must then reply, “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” Whatever solicitations we may have from without or from within to violate any part of God’s revealed will, we must withstand them manfully, and resist them even unto death. Knowing that “we are not our own, but God’s, we must glorify him with our bodies and our spirits, which are his.”

2.   The commands he has given us—

We will not here enter into the different commandments of the law, but draw your attention rather to that great commandment of the Gospel to believe in Christ: “This is his commandment,” says St. John, “that ye believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christb.” This command should be had in constant remembrance. It is addressed to every child of man. There is no one so innocent, as not to need a Savior; nor any one so guilty, but that he may, through penitence and faith, obtain an interest in that Savior, whom God has provided for a ruined world. Do not imagine, my young friends, that you are not concerned in this, or that it will be time enough for you to attend to it, when you shall feel a greater need of mercy. You all are sinners: you all have a consciousness within yourselves that you have done many things which you ought not, and left undone many things which you ought to have done: you therefore have in your own bosoms a witness that you need a Savior: and as in the presence of the Most High God, I declare unto you, that there is no mercy for the young, any more than for the old, but in the name, and through the mediation, of Jesus Christ: “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ.” Go then to this Savior, and implore mercy at his hands. Look to him as dying for your sins, and “as reconciling you to God by the blood of his cross.” Let every one of you from day to day wash in the fountain of his blood, and clothe yourselves with the robe of his unspotted righteousness, and live altogether upon “his fulness, receiving out of it” continual supplies of all needful grace.

3.   His continual presence with us—

“God is in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” and wherever you are, you should see, as it were, this inscription written, “Thou God seest mec.” This is a point which you should never forget for one single moment: for it is only by bearing this in mind that you will be kept from the indulgence of secret sins. When no human eye is upon us, we are apt to think that we may give a greater latitude to our conduct: but we should remember that the darkness is no darkness with God, but the night and the day to him are both alike: “there is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” Oh, if you bear this in remembrance, you will never do what you know to be wrong, nor utter what you know to be false: you will act in all things as in the immediate presence of your God, and will do nothing but what you believe to be good and acceptable in his sight.

4.   His determination to judge us in the last day—

God “has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained, even by his Son Jesus Christ.” In that day all shall be summoned to his judgment-seat, the old and the young, the rich and the poor: not one that has ever been born into the world shall then be absent: the child that died in the birth, as well as the man of a hundred years old, shall be summoned to receive his everlasting doom, according to what they have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. To those who die before they have attained the knowledge of good and evil, we doubt not but that the mercy of God will be extended: but to those who have lived to your age, judgment or mercy will be dispensed according as you have remembered or forgotten God. Most awful is that declaration of the Psalmist, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget Godd.” If you have forgotten his authority over you, and especially his command to believe in his Son Jesus Christ; if you have forgotten that his eye was always upon you, inspecting your most secret thoughts, and noting them down in order to his future judgment; and if you have lived without any concern about the sentence that shall then be passed upon you; it will indeed be an awful day to you, a commencement of such misery as no words can describe, no imagination can conceive. Remember then that God marks down in the book of his remembrance your every act, and every word, and every thought; and that it is your wisdom so to live, that, whether called at an earlier or later period of life, you may give up your account to him with joy, and not with grief.

Such is the duty of all without exception: but the text requires me more particularly to shew,

II.   Why we should thus remember him in early life—

It were easy to accumulate reasons on so plain a point: but we shall content ourselves with assigning a few of the most obvious;

1.   This is the most favorable time—

It is of the nature of sin to harden the heart and to sear the conscience: and therefore the less we have been habituated to sin, the more hope there is that a good impression may be made upon our minds. We cannot agree with those who represent the hearts of youth as a sheet of white paper, on which you may write either good or evil: for, alas! there is evil, not merely written, but inscribed there in a most abundant measure, and in characters that are almost indelible: but we cordially accede to this truth, that the young are as yet only like plants sprouting from the earth, pliable and easy to be trained; whilst at a more advanced age they become like trees, which retain their form, unyielding, and unmoved. From the very employments too of men in more advanced life, there arise many disadvantages: being drawn to a more vigorous pursuit of earthly things, they are, not unfrequently, so oppressed with “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust of other things, that the good seed which has been sown in them, cannot grow up unto perfection.” But from these things young people are comparatively free. Besides, at this season they have an express promise from God, which they cannot plead in future lifee: and therefore in a variety of views they may well consider this as “the most convenient season” for piety that can ever occur.

2.   It may, for aught we know, be the only time that shall be allotted us—

The youngest and the healthiest amongst us may be speedily removed. Let any one survey the monuments that surround him, and he will see that multitudes have been cut off at his age, though once they appeared as likely to live as any who have survived him. And what if disease or accident arrest you before you have truly devoted yourselves to God? Will you have any opportunity to repair your error in the grave? “Is there any work or device there,” by which you can accomplish what here was left undone? No: “as the tree falleth, so it lieth:” and as you die, in a converted or unconverted state, so you must remain forever. “To-day then, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts,” as the generality, alas! are but too prone to do.

3.   No other thing in the universe can so contribute to our present happiness—

It is quite a mistake to imagine that happiness can be found in the vanities of time and sense. From infallible authority we can declare that everything under the sun is mere “vanity and vexation of spirit.” But in the service of God there is real joy: his ways are all, without exception, “ways of pleasantness and peace:” and “in keeping his commandments there is great reward.” Ask any one whether he ever regretted that he had given himself up to God too soon? We have heard of men, even of good men, as Job and Jeremiah, cursing the day of their birth: but whoever cursed the day of his new birth? At every period of life this is a subject that will bear reflection and impart delight: and in proportion as we grow in piety will our joy in God be increased.

4.   There will certainly come a time when we shall wish we had sought the Lord in early life—

The text speaks of “evil days as coming:” and sooner or later they are coming to all. There is a time of sickness or old age coining, “wherein we shall have no pleasure” in earthly things: and shall we not then wish, that we had sought the Lord in our youth? Shall we then look back with pleasure on the sins that we have committed, or on the vanities that have kept us from God? Nothing but the consolations of God will then be of any avail to make us happy amidst the evils, which, from pain or debility, we shall have to sustain. But there is a time of death also which we must meet: and what will be our thoughts at that period? Then it will be of little moment to us what joys or sorrows we have met with in our former life. All our anxiety will be about the future. Oh! with what force will that question press upon the mind, “Am I ready? Am I prepared to meet my God?” How different will our feelings then be, according as we have given up ourselves to God in our early youth, or put off the work of our souls to a dying hour! and what an unfit season will that be to begin that work! Go one step farther: follow the soul into the eternal world: view it standing at the judgment-seat of Christ: What will be its feelings at that day? I need not say: your own consciences will tell you. At this moment, even though you choose not to live the life of the righteous, you are saying inwardly in your hearts, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” Then, as these times must come, let us work while it is day, knowing assuredly, that the night is coming when no man can work, and when we shall bitterly lament, that ever we lost this day of our visitation, and neglected the things belonging to our everlasting peace.

Address—

1.   The younger part of our audience—

You are now going to take upon you the vows that were made in your behalf in baptismf. “Now” therefore more particularly “remember God.” Remember, that he sees the way in which you perform this duty: he sees whether you endeavor truly to approve yourselves to him, or whether you only mock him by a thoughtless compliance with an established form. Go to him, and surrender up yourselves wholly to him, as “the first-fruits of his creatures,” and you will have reason to bless God to all eternity that ever you were called to perform this solemn service. But, if you go without any sincere desire to devote yourselves to him, you will only harden your own hearts, and increase the guilt you have already contracted. “Let me however hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” Yes, dearly Beloved, we will hope, respecting some of you at least, that we “have not bestowed upon you labor in vain.”

2.   To those who have grown to man’s estate—

Every argument used with the young, presses with additional weight on you, and says, with greatly augmented force, “Remember NOW thy Creator.” If in your earlier days you were led to comply with this advice, I will venture to ask, Do you repent of having done so? Is not the chief matter of your regret, that you did not give yourselves up to him at a yet easier period, and that you have not adhered more steadfastly to the engagements you entered into? If you have, on the contrary, advanced in the Divine life, and grown from babes to young men, or from young men to fathers, does not that afford you matter of very exalted joy? Go on then, “forgetting what is behind, and reaching forward to that which is before:” and know that, “when the days arrive in which you shall say, you have no pleasure in them,” you shall experience “a joy with which the stranger intermeddleth not;” which this world can neither give nor take away; and which shall be to you a pledge and earnest of everlasting felicity in the bosom of your God.[1]

 

 

a Gen. 1:26.

b 1 John 3:23.

c Gen. 16:13.

d Ps. 9:17.

e Prov. 8:17.

f Confirmation.

[1] Simeon, C. (1833). Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI (Vol. 7, pp. 409–415). London: Holdsworth and Ball. (Public Domain)

Circumstances of Prayer

Circumstances of Prayer

1.      Kneeling, humiliation.

         He kneeled down and prayed.  Luke 22:41.

         He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed. Matt. 26:39.

         My soul is brought low, even unto the dust, my belly cleaveth unto the ground.

2.      Sinking the head, shame.

         Drooping the face.

3.      Smiting the breast, indignation.

4.      Shuddering, fear.

5.      Groaning, sorrow.

         Clasping of hands.

6.      Raising of eyes and hands, vehement desire.

7.      Blows, revenge.

3-6 2 Cor 7:11

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 4–5). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Places of Prayer

Places of Prayer

In all places where I record My Name, I will come to thee, and I will bless thee. Exod. 20:24.

Letb Thine eyes be open towards this house night and day, even toward the place of which Thou hast said, My Name shall be there; that Thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant shall make towards this place. 1 Kings 8:29.

Thou that hearest the prayer
unto Thee shall all flesh come.
The fierceness of man shall turn to Thy praise,
and the fierceness of them shalt Thou refrain.

As for me, I will come into Thy house
even upon the multitude of Thy mercy,
and in Thy fear will I worship
toward Thy Holy Temple.

Hear the voice of my humble petitions,
when I cry unto Thee;
when I hold up my hands
towards the mercy-seat of Thy Holy Temple.

We wait for Thy loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of Thy Temple.

1. Among the faithful and in the congregation. Ps. 111:1.

2. Enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. Matt. 6:6.

3. They went up into an upper room. Acts 1:13.

4. He went up upon the housetop to pray. Acts 10:9.

5. They went up together into the Temple. Acts 3:1.

6. We kneeled down on the shore, and prayed, Acts 21:5.

7. He went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden. John 18:1.

8. Let them rejoice in their beds. Ps. 149:5.

9. He departed into a desert place and there prayed. Mark 1:35.

10. In every place lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. 1 Tim. 2:8.

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 2–4). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Times of Prayer

Times of Prayer

Always. Luke 18:1.

Without ceasing. 1 Thes. 5:17.

At all times. Eph. 6:18.

Samuel among such as call upon His name. Ps. 99:6.

God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, and shewing you the good and the right way. 1 Sam. 12:23.

We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4.

He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Dan. 6:10.

In the evening, and morning, and at noon day will I pray, and that instantly, and He shall hear my voice. Ps. 55:18.

Seven times a day do I praise Thee. Ps. 119:164.

1. In the morning, a great while before day. Mark 1:35.

2. In the morning watch. Ps. 63:6.

3. The third hour of the day. Acts 2:15.

4. About the sixth hour. Acts 10:9.

5. The hour of prayer, the ninth. Acts 3:1.

6. The eventide. Gen. 24:63.

7. By night. Ps. 134:2.

At midnight. Ps. 119:62.

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 1–2). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact Us

  • Address:
    PO Box 449, Veradale, WA 99037-0449

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

  • Email: Office@cmfhq.org

Webmaster

Book Offers