Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

were

and "

by right, so He effects it by power. Pharaoh only yielded to to superior force. The other lords" submit only after the same manner.

The devils “ went out” only because they

" cast out.” He that is stronger than the strong, enters the strong man's palace, binds him, and then spoils ħim. To speak of the Holy Ghost as ineffectually striving with any withholding power, or of the Lord Jesus as knocking at the door of man's heart, and vainly seeking to enter therein in the fulness of his saving excellency, is miserably incorrect divinity, and a gross misrepresentation of the dignity and power of the Divine Majesty. ** I will work, and who shall let it?” Thus God speaks ;

as we have heard” him speak, so we have seen

» him act. Further, God enforced upon the children of Israel themselves his claim to them. “I,” said he, “ am the Lord your God;" and this enforcement has its analogy in the calling of his elect. As he wrought in the Israelites, so he works in his elect to will and to do of ( for the sake of, in order to carry into effect,) his good pleasure. As those were, so these are made willing in the day of His power. From the point of view that in the Divine calling a lost man is saved, it may seem strange that he should need to be made willing. But if it be held in mind that the man is by nature ungodly, that he is of the earth earthly, that many congenial associations must be broken up, many friendships dissolved, many sacrifices made, much self-denial practised, and that he must make a delivery of himself to be crucified to the world, the sense of strangeness may well be abated. If, indeed, our religion required no distinction of character from the world, and no separation from it in spirit and life, we might not need to be made willing. But if we are imperatively required to come out from the world, and to be transformed from it; if in some cases grievous losses must be sustained ; if the cutting off a right hand or the plucking out a right eye will represent the sacrifices

of others; if in other instances household friends become household enemies; and if there must needs be a separation in sympathy and habit from those who are related by the nearest and dearest and most hallowed of natural ties, ties that can only be sundered by death, it will appear that to be made willing is a term which in relation to our religion is neither unmeaning nor surprising. At all costs, however, God's claim is enforced. “ Hearken, O daughter, and consider, forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him." Everything must be left that is not in harmony with discipleship to Christ. The soul's self and its all must be consecrate to God. But if this claim is enforced with seeming rigour, it is effected under a relation which makes it a question whether the power or the sweetness in producing the effect is the most eminent; a relation which makes every sacrifice necessary in order to the consummation of the claim a joy, and which assures a compensation for every loss of “ manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

Third, a pledge given. God lifted up his hand to the children of Israel, What a coming down to man's weakness is this awful lifting up of God's hand! So surprising a glory as God pledged and indebted to a creature by promise dazzles us by its brilliance. But He has done more than given us many exceeding great and precious promises. Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, 0 earth, God has lifted up his hand to confirm His word to us by an oath! Cover thy face, put thy mouth in the dust, and be hushed into awe, O my soul, in the presence of the Infinite lifting up His hand and making oath of fidelity to thee, and binding Himself under its tremendous sanction. But for what was this surpassing solemnity ? God lifted up His hand to the Israelites in Egypt to bring them out. He redeemed the awful pledge. He lifted up His hand to

bring them in. He did as he swore. See here, believer, as in a glass, your Redeemer. He has brought you out. He will bring you in. His hand is lifted up. He is under the obligation of His oath and cannot be relieved of it, until you reach the better country promised. Think of this when your hands hang down, and your knees are feeble. Think of this when your enemies are lively and strong, when fightings are without and fears are within, when dangers appear imminent, and when your alarmed soul is ready to urge the terrified cry,

· Why withdrawest thou Thy hand, even thy right hand ? pluck it out of thy bosom.

Think of this, when from the multiplicity, depth, and strangeness of your griefs, it may appear to you that God has arrayed Himself with them that hate

you,

and when the groundless charge is ready to gush up from your agonized heart, “ With thy strong hand thou opposest Thyself against me." Think of this when in overwhelming trouble you vainly say to stony-hearted men, • Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for thở hand of God hath touched me.” Through the whole way across this waste howling wilderness, when running with the footmen, when contending with horsemen, and when coming to the swelling of Jordan, think of this. In every danger and distress, in every weakness and fear, in every stumbling and backsliding, everywhere and always, think, O think, and let thine heart be stayed on the uplifted hand of Jehovah the Elohim of Israel-your God pledged thus under the solemnities of an oath to bring you in " to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."

scripture, is beset with many difficulties; but it strikes me that as the mission of Jesus was to show His power, not only over the physical, but also the spiritual world, it is very, probable that He allowed the evil spirits to have a special license during His abode with men, that He might be able to show forth His

power over Satan.

Ho has much power now ; but what an encouragement it is to the Christian to know and to see how totally subject even devils were and are to Christ! Oh, how many buffettings, conflictings, and strivings there are continually in the soul of every Christian ! The name of the devils with which the demoniac was possessed was Legion, a name given to, a certain division of the Roman army, consisting of a great number of soldiers. In considering our text, we notice two main points, namely, 1st. That grace brings a man into a right state. 2nd. It brings him to the right place.

1st. It brings a man into a right state. Sin has put all out of joint; dislocated everything ; fixed a great chasm between the Creator and the creature. It is a very striking passage where we read, that after man had fallen, he was driven out of the garden, and a flaming sword fixed to keep the way of the tree of life, and without a Mediator there is no way of return ; but by Jesus there is a way opened, and it is well said that

“He fixed our standing more secure

Than 'twas before we fell.”

We notice in the account before us that the man was naked. Adam strove to clothe himself, but could not succeed until God made them coats of skin.

Where did these skins come from ? they belonged to slain beasts ; this teaches us that sacrifice was even then offered. God had taught them.

Sin and Satan had stripped this

AT THE FEET OF JESUS. "They came to Jesus, and found the man out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clotbed and in his right mind.”—Luke viïi. 35. THE subject of possession by demons, like many other things spoken of in

man.

Sin strips a man of good naturally as well as spiritually; let us look,

ness

among them

was

onᎾ

66

for example, at the drunkard's home, the home of the lazy, the haunts of vice and infamy: see what wretched

is there, what want, what strife. Here you can trace the origin to sin; but see when grace enters. What a change ! how altered is everything! Grace soon turns out the dirt and filth, changes the beggarly rags for more decent clothing, and supplies the table with necessaries. I have seen with my own eyes a verification of that promise, even naturally: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose,” &c.

Grace strips the soul and reveals to the man his poverty and wretchedness; but it not only shows this, it covers him with the robe of righteousness and adorns him with the garments of salvation.

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.
“ Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully, through Thee, absolved I am

From sin's tremendous curse and shame.” He was clothed! Where did the clothes come from ? Jesus provided them Himself. We here

see the imputed righteousness of Christ. God never puts that righteousness

our filthy garments. When Joshua stood before the High Priest, he had his filthy garments taken off him, and then he was clothed so that even Satan could find no fault in him. There are some vile professors who make a cloak of religion to cover their wicked life. God's

people have been washed in that fountain opened for sin and uncleanness to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and oh how they rejoice in this!

Then He also brings them to a right mind. There is no such madness, there is no such infatuation as that of the sinner. We see this strongly illustrated in the case of the prodigal. He spent all he had, and

began to be in want, and then we read he came to himself: Grace brings a man to himself, and when it triumphs, the soul says, “I will arise, and go to my Father.”

Grace brings a man from bondage to liberty. How illustrative this man is of the sinner! No one could bind him but God himself; but how soon He bound him! He binds to make free. I have read of a Quaker who went to a slave auction; the auctioneer was extolling the qualities of the various slaves to be sold, and

fine young negro. The English Quaker bid for him. The negro saw it, and, with eyes flashing with indignation, he cried out against the quaker for having anything to do with so detestable à traffic as to buy his fellow creature—he who was an Englishman, from the land of the free. However, the quaker took no notice, but went on bidding until he was knocked down to him. The quaker then said to him, “I have bought you to give you your liberty.” The poor negro sprang to him, saying, leave you, massa ! me never leave you, massa !”. No more he would ; he was ever his seryant as a debt of love. So it is with regard to Christ and the Christian. The power of forgiveness is greater than that of force. We are by nature bound, but Jesus makes the prisoners free. He brings them from the bondage of death, sin and Satan to the glorious liberty of the children of God. How does the matter stand with you and me? Do we recognise Him our Lord and Master ?

2nd. He is brought to his right place : “sitting at the feet of Jesus.” Not under His feet. No! He never will put you under His feet, poor, weak trembling soul. He will not break the bruised reed. If you do, not know Him, and are not brought to confess Him in time, O, my hearers, you will surely be put under His feet in the day of judgment. May God avert it! Mary sat at His feet. What a difference between being un

Me never

over

as

der and sitting at His feet. Christ said the most severe things He ever uttered to the Pharisees,—the self-righteous—to those who never felt the need of Him. He never said a hard word to any poor, needy, or distressed soul. Look at the scene at the house of Simon. Jesus says to Simon : “See ye this woman; see what she has done." He did not mind recognising her and owning her as one He loved.

At His feet! It is a safe place. It is a happy place.

Perhaps some may be asking, How can I come to His feet? I would say-1st. The Church is the place of His feet. 'Tis here He takes His walks among His people-hence He says, “I will make the place of My feet glorious."

They took the poor lame man to the Beautiful gate. Why, they did not take him to the theatre, or to the places of flesh-pleasing entertainment. Because it was not there that he was likely to get that help he wanted. We find this demoniac did not want to leave Jesus Christ. Oh no; he had tasted the sweets of His company, and he wanted ever to be in His society.

Wherever the footsteps of Jesus are to be seen, grace brings the Christian to trace them out and follow in them.

He also sits on the throne of grace. This is a very sweet thought, that sinners may here approach His feet. This is the seat of majesty—the seat of royalty: and who is the sovereign that occupies the throne ? Grace personified. Grace brings the soul to His feet, and the cry wells up, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

This case is illustrative of every child of God. If you know what it is to be born again, you have experienced what it is to be brought to His feet.

To sit at His feet is to acknowledge His sovereignty ; is to_acknowledge our unworthiness. Here faith confesses all the truth respecting Christ, and yields obedience to Him.

3rd. The place of His feet is at the great white throne.

John saw this, and gives a glorious description of it. He saw the Lamb in the midst of the throne with the multitudes around, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, and ascribing Salvation to the Lord. We shall see that throne, and those elders—we shall see Him there.

But who shall come to His feet there? Those who have been brought to His feet here. They sing the song of the Lamb above, and we sing the same song below; but the time will come when the song will be united. Our right place is at His feet in the Church, and at His feet at a throne of grace.

Now and hereafter our right place will be at His feet before the throne; and what an encouragement it is that He will not spurn the humble suppliant-80 that here is encouragement for the seeker, and here is warning to the wicked. May the Spirit help you who know Him to rejoice, and you who know Him not to tremble and seek Him, for Christ's sake. Amen. — From Notes by J. Harris, of a Sermon preached

by Mr. ANDERSON, at Mount Zion Chapel, Hill-street, April 14, 1872.

Expositions, Essays, &c.

CHURCH AUTHORITY. By W. J. STYLES, Keppel Street Chapel. “For there are set thrones of judgment,”—

Ps. cxxii. 5.
THE psalm before us was penned by

some godly Jow, in prospect of the speedy recurrence of one of the great annual festivals. True religion and true nationality, as a rule, go hand in hand. Piety and patriotism are in the fullest accord. Israel, moreover, was God's nation; and in the bosoms of its favoured subjects, the current of loyalty was often swollen into a full torrent by the gracious contemplation of their glorious God and King. These mingled feelings find expression in the glowing utterances before us.

One phrase only demands our attention. Other nations were cursed with social injustice. Bribery and corruption affected the issue of all cases in which redress was sought. Not so, however, in Jerusalem. A bench of judges had been instituted, under the direction, and subservient to the authority of the king (cf. Isa. xxxii. 1.) Through their offices the poor were sure of kindly consideration; nor would the cause of the oppressed suffer. This fact claimed grateful notice when the blessings of the favoured city were under review. “For there were set thrones of judgment.”

The typical character of the psalm is obvious. The literal and local city

an emblem of “the Jerusalem which is above;", and it may also be safely used as an illustration of

every true church of Jesus Christ. In this sense it has endeared associations. Many, with some little Bethel, or Zion, or Ebenezer in view, have sung with full hearts“ Peace be within this sacred place,

And joy a constant guest!
With holy gifts and heavenly grace

Be her attendants blessed.
My soul shall pray for Zion still,

'While life or breath remains;
There my best friends, my kindred dwell,

There God my Saviour reigns.” There, also, in a sense to be explained, are set thrones of judgment."

Every true church is invested with authority. It has, indeed, no legislative power. It can make no laws for its constitution and guidance. Its members are admitted; its worship ordered ; its ceremonies observed; in accordance with the authoritative injunctions of its royal Master. Its power is delegated by Him, and must be exercişed in accordance with His

preceptive will.

Here the parallel between the literal meaning and the spiritual import of the psalm is striking. The bench of judges in Jerusalem “ derived its authority from David ;"* and from Him who is the “Root and Offspring of David,” is derived all church authority. No local gathering has power to alter, abrogate, or ignore a divine rule, though it may seem of secondary importance. What the Bible enjoins, a church must do at any cost, or it will incur the peril of disloyalty to Christ Jesus. He has “set” the thrones; we must bow to His decision. Church power, is, therefore, not legislative, but executive. We have but to follow the Master's revealed will.

The church, moreover, has no power of penal judgment. All such judgment is committed by God to His Son ; and the Church of Rome has usurped an authority wholly unwarranted in her treatment of those whom she has punished for so-called heresy.

Each church, has, however, the right to exercise its collective powers of discrimination, and to publish the results of its deliberations.

For the exercise of this duty ability has been graciously bestowed upon the followers of the Lamb by the Holy Spirit. On believers, as spiritual persons, there has been bestowed « the spirit of love and power, and of a sound mind.” “He that is spiritual judgeth” -has it in his power to judge rightly on—"all things” that relate to the kingdom of God, as far as his knowledge may extend. Such “have an unction from the Holy One,” through i cich their acquaintance with spiritual matters is reliable.

When such persons are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus, how weighty should their thoughts bé!

“ In the multitude of counsellors there is safety,” while it is expressly promised that the Spirit shall “ lead them into all truth,” and the Wonderful Counsellor Himself undertakes to be one in their midst.

was

* A. R. Fausset, A.M., to whose instructive comment the author is much indebted,

« ElőzőTovább »