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cleft and a riven rock. Do you wonder to see our Lord in the garden, sweating, as it were, great drops of blood, exclaiming, If it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" If he had not felt it he had not been man; if he had repined he had been a sinful man: but because he felt and acquiesced he was a holy man ; and there is not the slightest murmuring in one thought of his heart. Do I wonder to see him fainting beneath the weight of his cross? Do I wonder to hear that bitter cry-" My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Do I wonder to see him "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?" Do I wonder to see his couch wetted with his tears? Do I wonder to see his countenance marred so that they thought him an old man, yet he was not forty years old? Do I wonder at these things? No. I can wonder at none of them when I think what that tremendous work was in which he was occupied, and that dreadful fight which he was called upon to wage. Had our Lord been any thing else than what he was—had he not the in-dwelling Deity to support the humanity-were he not as truly God as he was truly man-had he not been infinite as well as finite-had he not been the Creator as well as the creaturehe must have sunk beneath the intolerable burden never to have risen more: he must (awful thought!) have been drinking out, drop by drop, to all eternity, the bitter cup of God's wrath; and never would it all have been drunk: he must have ever been satisfying, and never satisfied, always doing the work, and never accomplishing it. O think of this, ye who are thinking of going to heaven without him; who have your backs turned toward him, who are living in your sins, who are living in the world, who are living in the region of self; think of these awful words-that had he not been God as well as man, he must have been drinking, drop by drop, to all eternity, out of that cup of God's wrath, and never could have come to the last of it. And this he did because he was God: in one draught he took it up, he satisfied God's wrath, he quenched the flames of his justice, he magnified his law, he crucified sin, he dethroned Satan, he enthroned the living God in the hearts of his people: but that wondrous wonder of wonders, that great, that stupendous glory of his, that work that had for its support in-dwelling Deity.
But I must observe, thirdly, that IT REQUIRES THE SAME ALMIGHTY POWER TO APPLY THAT PARDON TO THE CONSCIENCE OF THE SINNER. I sometimes talk with some who appear as if they thought every man is convinced of sin. I wish I could see it. Every man convinced of sin! "O," they say, wants but to have the remedy put before him." I must say, in answer to this, that I talk with but very few convinced sinners. I can hear men talk of sin, and reason of sin. Does not the drunkard, do you think, know something of the bitterness of drunkenness? See his trembling hands, and his parched lips! What is the woe that the Holy Ghost describes? "Who hath woe?" Why the man that goes on in sin; and this is one sin, which frequently finds out the man by the bitterness of it, even in this world; yet he is as spiritually ignorant of it as a corpse; as spiritually ignorant of it as the rock on which he stands. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to make a man sensible of his need of pardon: it seems but trifling with the sinner to say, "Why do you not believe in Christ?" Why the reason is, because he believes in himself. But our first concern is, not to sow amongst thorns, not to build among rubbish. The Holy Ghost taketh down before he buildeth up; he layeth a man's hopes in the dust
before he unfoldeth the true ground of hope, which is in the Lord Jesus Christ I therefore believe, it is the Spirit's great work, his own work, a work requiring Omnipotence to achieve it, to bring the poor sinner to that state that he taketh his iniquity, and standeth just where the publican stood-" God be merciful to me a sinner." But when the soul is convinced of its inward plague, who can bring in a ray of hope to that poor convinced soul? We can talk of the promises; we can give them "Clarke on the Promises;" our tongues can run over the sweet promises of our God; but who is it brings it home to the heart? Who is it makes it as sweet music to the ears? Who is it causes it to distil as the dew upon the new-mown grass? The word of God says, I create peace; peace to them which are afar off, and to them which are nigh." He speaks of it as a work of creation; he speaks of it as as great a work as that when he said, "Let there be light, and there was light." And so it is, and we are told the truth of this continually. We reason with burdened souls; we reason with troubled consciences: we see how much legality, we see how much self-righteousness, how much depth of despair there is to be found in their souls. We place before them the various reasons; we are convinced they are incontrovertible, unanswerable; yet they pass over their minds, just as the feeble breath over the polished mirror. But when the Spirit of God brings the word to the heart, how sweet and blessed is the change; when the freeness and fulness of the grace of Christ are placed before the sinner; when he rises up out of his region of misgivings, doubts, and uncertainties, and sees a free, a full, and finished salvation in the person and work of the Lord Jesus; that there is a free welcome to all comers; that there is in the Gospel that which reaches the poorest, the meanest, and the vilest, that come; a table spread, and broadly spread; and for whom? For paupers, for those who have nothing; not who bring nothing, who offer nothing; but who have nothing; and they know they have nothing, and they come and take what the Lord freely gives. O my beloved, it is as great a work to bring home peace to the conscience, as it is to quiet the soul under heavy affliction, as at the first moment when God said, "Let there be light, and there was light."
Does not the Psalmist so speak in the fifty-first Psalm: "Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." He speaks of it as a great work, as a new creation: he speaks of it as another new creation, when the soul is revived, when the spirit is cheered, when the blessed truths of the Gospel are brought into the heart by the omnipotent agency of God the Eternal Spirit. And who is it the Apostle speaks of as bringing in justification, sanctification, and the true washing? "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, bnt ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. vi. 11.) My brethren, how true it is that not one sanctifying truth can ever be applied to our hearts, but by the same blessed Spirit that quickened us from a death in trespasses and sins; that all the effect and sanctifying tendency of the truths of the Gospel, are as much the effect of his power as regeneration itself. It requireth the same divine energy to speak peace to my conscience, and to fill my heart with the love of God, as at the first, when he said, "Quicken that dead sinner," as to say to Lazarus, "Come forth."
There are some important truths which seem to present themselves from this subject.
If infinite power was demanded in the great work of our pardon, then what a rock you and I have for our souls, if we are settled on the Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work! Every thing else may change; every object around us may vary. How much of our own enjoyments may vary, I need not appeal to the hearts of God's saints to answer. But here lies the strength of our confidence, that if through the grace of God our souls are built, not upon ourselves, not upon our experience, not upon our notions, not upon mere opinion, but freely and truly upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, heaven and earth may pass away, but that man's hope shall never pass away, because his foundation is on a rock. O blessed truth-indwelling Deity the support of your souls! True you say, “Never were sins more to be deplored than mine are to be deplored." I so believe that, my brother, that I do not conceive thou knowest a thousandth part of the evil there is in thy sins. But this I tell thee, if God be true and his word be true, and thou hast been led by the eternal Spirit to build thy soul's hopes upon the Lord Jesus Christ, heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word shall never pass away; he that buildeth upon that rock buildeth for eternity. Infinite strength is in it; Omnipotence keeps it firm the storm may beat, and the tempest may howl, and all the changes of season may assail the rock and thee; but inasmuch as the inwrought work, by which thou art led to build thy soul's hopes upon the Lord Jesus Christ is of God, and the work itself is God's work, it standeth, and will stand, when all that we now exhibit of poor dying mortality shall be seen no more, and when these hands shall be mouldering in the dust, and this tongue shall be silent in the grave, and this voice shall be heard no more, and you that hear me, and I with you, shall be swept away like the early dew-yet building upon this rock, blessed be God, we build on heaven, and we build for eternity.
Remember, too, that there is a power in God concerning forgiveness, which I have hardly yet touched upon; nor shall I enlarge upon it, lest it should lead me from my main subject. It is, that God has the only right to forgive; it is his peculiar power that he exercises forgiveness, and he exercises it as a God. You and I forgive as men. If we are renewed we forgive as renewed men. But God forgiveth as God, in all the magnificence of his own nature. He forgiveth too, not by halves, not grudgingly, not coldly, not with secret misgiving, as if he said, "I will remember thee for this by and bye, in years to come :" he forgiveth absolutely, he forgiveth freely, he forgiveth gloriously, because he is God.
Now, so convinced am I of the true nature of this truth, with regard to its holy tendency; that I could suppose a poor creature to have been brought within these walls to-day, heavy laden, grieving, mourning, desponding; but such a man thinking that God is at peace with him, that God pardons him through God's rich grace, having a rich view of the atoning blood, and the Spirit of God put forth in his power in sprinkling that blood upon his conscience, he shall go home another man. And perhaps his wife may say to him, "How art thou changed! Thou comest home meek, lowly, pure in spirit, gentle and tender; thou comest home as if thou art a new man." He has seen and known God's forgiving love in Christ Jesus. You ask me how is this application made? It is a very solemn question; but I would endeavour thus to speak:
Is there any one on earth whom you have offended, and who you think beareth
This great putting forth of God's power will more slay a man's sins, more crucify him to the world, more lift him up in principle, more act as a mighty lever to give him spirituality of mind, deadness to himself, deadness to sin, and more quicken you as it regards the true standard of real holiness, than if you were to study all the precepts beneath Mount Sinai for a thousand years. I remember one word of that dear good man of God, Owen-" One real going forth of the soul in communion with God, through a view of the atoning blood, will more crucify a man to sin, than all the power of self-resolution for a thousand ages." I believe it as I believe God to be true.
But the subject has a holy influence in this respect: Does the Holy Ghost put forth his power in thus applying the truth? Remember it is your privilege and my privilege, to be always waiting on him. Remember it requireth omnipotence to apply divine truth; that it requireth the putting forth of God's own power on our own hearts, the divine energy of God, the Eternal Spirit, to bring home that truth with power to our hearts and consciences. And what does this say? It admonishes us to be men of prayer; to be men of reading of God's word; to be men that turn over the page of conscience; to see God's power in God's way-the administration of God's power in a way that God's wisdom has appointed; and thus being found secretly waiting and hoping in God, your souls shall not be found stripped of all that was laid against them.
What a word of sweet encouragement it is to us in remembering, that God's power is engaged in all that concerns us. O had I time and had I power I would enlarge on this truth. How often have I found myself throwing blame upon circumstances! How often have I thought, “O if I had but a small congregation in the country; and delivered from the pressure of that load on the heart in town; where I could more easily and quietly be with God! All this comes from Satan; for when God places us in any situation, there is grace enough in Christ for that situation: and there is enough of power in God's Eternal Spirit to make a man a gainer by his losses, and stronger in his weakness. So that in vain do you say, "O that I were more removed from the centre of my occupation; that I were delivered from that pressure that is my every-day curse!"
Let me say, by way of parenthesis, do not make your own pressure; do not make your own crosses; do not run into temptation, and then say, "Lord deliver me;" do not run into the fire, and then say, God, save me from the effects of it:" but look well and see if it be God's way you are walking in.
Then, thou wouldst be a loser, and not a gainer, if thou wast taken out from thy present circumstances; for the very circumstances that press thee nearer to God are the very circumstances that God sanctifies to our real good and spiritual welfare. O, then, is God almighty? Walk before him; walk as in his eye; walk as under his heart: "Walk before me," says God," and be thou perfect; I am God Almighty." Enough for all things terrestrial; enough for all things bodily; enough for spiritual; enough for life, and enough in death. The words are words of deep solemnity, as they bear on the men that hear me who are strangers to God. O you despise the great exhibition of the power of God; I am sure you do. Creation shews much; I acknowledge it: Providence shews more; I acknowledge it: but the work of all works that displays the power of God, is the work of redemption, the law magnified, justice glorified, the soul sheathed, sin dethroned; and yet thy whole life is one act of contempt. Yes, you ask me, Who they are that despise it? Why all careless sinners; all prayerless sinners, all lovers of the world, and lovers of pleasure, and lovers of sin-cursers, swearers, blasphemers, fornicators, sabbath-breakers, and liars-they all despise the power of God. I tell it you as before the eternal majesty of God, I tell it you as with my eye fixed on the eternal world, I tell it you as before his eye-I care for your dying souls; and I say, Can you forget that this God is an omnipotent God? Canst thou arm thyself against him? Who art thou that despisest the power of God? O that as thou goest to thy home thou mayest think this: "If that power is not put forth in my salvation, that power is the axe that will be my destruction throughout an endless eternity." Go, then, to thy home; humble yourself under the Almighty hand of God. It is an awful thing to trifle with God; and thy whole life hitherto has been one act of despising God.
May the God of all grace, the Father of all mercy, give unto us to know more, and feel more, the power of this blessed truth in our hearts, "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this: that power belongeth unto God. "