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The world's great sermons, Volume 3 by Grenville Kleiser

Part 3 out of 3

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prison, Mercy came and stood at the gate, and wept over the melancholy
scene, exclaiming--"Oh, that I might enter! I would bind up their
wounds; I would relieve their sorrows; I would save their souls!" An
embassy of angels, commissioned from the court of heaven to some other
world, paused at the sight, and heaven forgave that pause. Seeing
Mercy standing there, they cried:--"Mercy! canst thou not enter? Canst
thou look upon that scene and not pity? Canst thou pity, and not
relieve?" Mercy replied: "I can see!" and in her tears she added, "I
can pity, but I can not relieve!" "Why canst thou not enter?" inquired
the heavenly host. "Oh!" said Mercy, "Justice has barred the gate
against me, and I must not--can not unbar it!" At this moment, Justice
appeared, as if to watch the gate. The angels asked, "Why wilt thou
not suffer Mercy to enter?" He sternly replied: "The law is broken,
and it must be honored! Die they, or Justice must!" Then appeared
a form among the angelic band like unto the Son of God. Addressing
Himself to Justice, He said: "What are thy demands?" Justice replied:
"My demands are rigid; I must have ignominy for their honor, sickness
for their health, death for their life. Without the shedding of blood
there is no remission!" "Justice," said the Son of God, "I accept thy
terms! On me be this wrong! Let Mercy enter, and stay the carnival
of death!" "What pledge dost thou give for the performance of these
conditions?" "My word; my oath!" "When wilt thou perform them?" "Four
thousand years hence, on the hill of Calvary, without the walls of
Jerusalem." The bond was prepared, and signed and sealed in the
presence of attendant angels. Justice was satisfied, the gate was
opened, and Mercy entered, preaching salvation in the name of Jesus.
The bond was committed to patriarchs and prophets. A long series of
rites and ceremonies, sacrifices and obligations, was instituted to
perpetuate the memory of that solemn deed. At the close of the four
thousandth year, when Daniel's "seventy weeks" were accomplished,
Justice and Mercy appeared on the hill of Calvary. "Where," and
Justice, "is the Son of God?" "Behold him," answered Mercy, "at the
foot of the hill!" And there He came, bearing His own cross, and
followed by His weeping church. Mercy retired, and stood aloof from
the scene. Jesus ascended the hill like a lamb for the sacrifice.
Justice presented the dreadful bond, saying, "This is the day on which
this article must be canceled." The Redeemer took it. What did He do
with it? Tear it to pieces, and scatter it to the winds? No! He nailed
it to His cross, crying, "It is finished!" The victim ascended the
altar. Justice called on Holy Fire to come down and consume the
sacrifice. Holy Fire replied: "I come! I will consume the sacrifice,
and then I will burn up the world!" It fell upon the Son of God, and
rapidly consumed His humanity; but when it touched His deity,
it expired. Then was there darkness over the whole land, and an
earthquake shook the mountain; but the heavenly host broke forth in
rapturous song--"Glory to God in the highest! on earth peace! good
will to man!"

Thus grace has abounded, and the free gift has come upon all, and the
gospel has gone forth proclaiming redemption to every creature. "By
grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is
the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." By grace ye
are loved, redeemed, and justified. By grace ye are called, converted,
reconciled and sanctified. Salvation is wholly of grace. The plan, the
process, the consummation are all of grace.

"Where sin abounded, grace hath much more abounded." "Through the
offense of one, many were dead." And as men multiplied, the offense
abounded. The waters deluged the world, but could not wash away the
dreadful stain. The fire fell from heaven, but could not burn out the
accurst plague. The earth opened her mouth, but could not swallow up
the monster sin. The law thundered forth its threat from the thick
darkness on Sinai, but could not restrain, by all its, terrors, the
children of disobedience. Still the offense abounded, and multiplied
as the sands on the seashore. It waxed bold, and pitched its tents on
Calvary, and nailed the Lawgiver to a tree. But in that conflict sin
received its mortal wound. The victim was the victor. He fell, but in
His fall He crusht the foe. He died unto sin, but sin and death were
crucified upon His cross. Where sin abounded to condemn, grace hath
much more abounded to justify. Where sin abounded to corrupt, grace
hath much more abounded to purify. Where sin abounded to harden, grace
hath much more abounded to soften and subdue. Where sin abounded to
imprison men, grace hath much more abounded to proclaim liberty to
the captives. Where sin abounded to break the law and dishonor the
Lawgiver, grace hath much more abounded to repair the breach and
efface the stain. Where sin abounded to consume the soul as with
unquenchable fire and a gnawing worm, grace hath much more abounded to
extinguish the flame and heal the wound. Grace hath abounded! It hath
established its throne on the merit of the Redeemer's sufferings.
It hath put on the crown, and laid hold of the golden scepter, and
spoiled the dominion of the prince of darkness, and the gates of the
great cemetery are thrown open, and there is the beating of a new
life-pulse throughout its wretched population and immortality is
walking among the tombs!

This abounding grace is manifested in the gift of Jesus Christ, by
whose mediation our reconciliation and salvation are effected. With
Him, believers are dead unto sin, and alive unto God. Our sins were
slain at His cross, and buried in His tomb. His resurrection hath
opened our graves, and given us an assurance of immortality. "God
commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us; much more, then, being now justified by his blood,
we shall be saved from the wrath through him; for if, when we were
enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more,
being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

"The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law
of God, neither indeed can be." Glory to God, for the death of His
Son, by which this enmity is slain, and reconciliation is effected
between the rebel and the law! This was the unspeakable gift that
saved us from ruin; that wrestled with the storm, and turned it
away from the devoted head of the sinner. Had all the angels of God
attempted to stand between these two conflicting seas, they would have
been swept to the gulf of destruction. "The blood of bulls and goats,
on Jewish altars slain," could not take away sin, could not pacify the
conscience. But Christ, the gift of divine grace, "Paschal Lamb by God
appointed," a "sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they,"
bore our sins and carried our sorrows, and obtained for us the boon
of eternal redemption. He met the fury of the tempest, and the floods
went over His head; but His offering was an offering of peace, calming
the storms and the waves, magnifying the law, glorifying its Author,
and rescuing its violator from the wrath and ruin. Justice hath laid
down his sword at the foot of the cross, and amity is restored between
heaven and earth.

Hither, O ye guilty! come and cast away your weapons of rebellion!
Come with your bad principles and wicked actions; your unbelief, and
enmity, and pride; and throw them off at the Redeemer's feet! God is
here waiting to be gracious. He will receive you; He will east all
your sins behind His back, into the depths of the sea; and they shall
be remembered against you no more forever. By Heaven's "unspeakable
gift," by Christ's invaluable atonement, by the free, infinite grace
of the Father and Son, we persuade you, we beseech you, we entreat
you, "be ye reconciled to God"!

It is by the work of the Holy Spirit with us that we obtain a personal
interest in the work wrought on Calvary for us. If our sins are
canceled, they are also crucified. If we are reconciled in Christ, we
fight against our God no more. This is the fruit of faith. "With the
heart man believeth unto righteousness." May the Lord inspire in every
one of us that saving principle!

But those who have been restored to the divine favor may sometimes be
cast down and dejected. They have passed through the sea, and sung
praises on the shore of deliverance; but there is yet between them
and Canaan "a waste howling wilderness," a long and weary pilgrimage,
hostile nations, fiery serpents, scarcity of food, and the river of
Jordan. Fears within and fightings without, they may grow discouraged,
and yield to temptation and murmur against God, and desire to return
to Egypt. But fear not, thou worm Jacob! Reconciled by the death of
Christ; much more, being reconciled, thou shalt be saved by His life.
His death was the price of our redemption; His life insures liberty to
the believer. If by His death He brought you through the Red Sea in
the night, by His life He can lead you through the river Jordan in the
day. If by His death He delivered you from the iron furnace in Egypt,
by His life He can save you from all perils of the wilderness. If by
His death He conquered Pharaoh, the chief foe, by His life He can
subdue Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, the king of Bashan. "We
shall be saved by his life." Because He liveth, we shall live also.
"Be of good cheer!" The work is finished; the ransom is effected; the
kingdom of heaven is open to all believers. "Lift up your heads and
rejoice," "ye prisoners of hope!" There is no debt unpaid, no devil
unconquered, no enemy within your hearts that has not received a
mortal wound! "Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory, through
our Lord Jesus Christ!"




Friedrich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher, German theologian and
philosopher, was born at Breslau in 1768. He was brought up in a
religious home and in 1787 went to the University of Halle, and in
1789 became a Privat-Docent. In 1794 he was ordained and preached
successively at Landsberg and Berlin. The literary and philosophical
side of his intellect developed itself in sympathy with the
Romanticists, but he never lost his passion for religion, a subject on
which he published five discurses in 1799. We find in them a trace
of the pantheism of Spinoza. His translation of Plato, accomplished
between 1804 and 1806, gave him high rank as a classical scholar.
In 1817 he joined the movement toward the union of the Lutheran and
Reformed churches. As a preacher he was unprepossessing in appearance,
being sickly and hunchbacked, but his simplicity of manner, and his
clear, earnest style endeared him to many thousands. He died in Berlin
in 1834.




_As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we should walk in newness of life._--Romans vi., 4.

It is natural, my friends, that the glorious festival of our Savior's
resurrection should attract the thoughts of believers to a far remote
time, and that it should make them rejoice to think of the time when
they shall be with Him who, after He had risen from the dead, returned
to His and our Father. But the apostle, in the words of our text,
recalls us from what is far off to what is close to us--to the
immediate present of our life here. He takes hold of what is the most
immediate concern, of what we are at once to share in and which is to
form us, even here, into the likeness of Christ's resurrection. We are
buried with Him, He says, unto death, that as He was raised from the
dead through the glory of the Father, we also might walk in newness of
life. And this new life is that which, as the Lord Himself says, all
who believe in Him possess even now as having passed through death to
life. The apostle compares this with those glorious days of our Lord's
resurrection; and how could we more appropriately keep this feast--a
feast in which, above all others, many Christians draw renewed
strength for this new life from the most intimate union with our
heavenly Head--how could we better celebrate it than by endeavoring to
receive this directly for ourselves from the words of the apostle?
Let us then, according to the teaching of these words, consider the
resurrection life of our Lord, as the apostle presents it to us, as a
glorious, tho it may be unattainable, model of the new life in which
we are all to walk through Him.

1. This new life is like that of our risen Savior, first, in the
manner of His resurrection. In order to appear to His disciples in
that glorified form, which already bore in it the indications of the
eternal and immortal glory, it was necessary that the Savior should
pass through the pains of death. It was not an easy transformation;
it was necessary for Him, tho not to see corruption, yet to have the
shadow of death pass over Him; and friends and enemies vied with each
other in trying to retain Him in the power of the grave; the friends
rolling a stone before it, to keep the beloved corpse in safety, the
enemies setting a watch lest it should be taken away. But when the
hour came which the Father had reserved in His own power, the angel
of the Lord appeared and rolled away the stone from the tomb, and the
watch fled, and at the summons of omnipotence life came back into the
dead form.

Thus, my friends, we know what is the new life that is to be like the
resurrection life of the Lord. A previous life must die; the apostle
calls it the body of sin, the law of sin in our members, and this
needs no lengthened discussion. We all know and feel that this life,
which Scripture calls a being dead in sins, pleasant and splendid as
may be the form it often assumes, is yet nothing but what the mortal
body of the Savior also was, an expression and evidence of the power
of death, because even the fairest and strongest presentation of this
kind lacks the element of being imperishable. Thus with the mortal
body of the Savior, and thus also with the natural life of man, which
is as yet not a life from God.

And this our old man must die a violent death in the name of the law,
such as the Savior died, not without severe suffering and painful
wounds. For if the body of sin dies out in a man of itself, through
satiety of earthly things, and because no excitement can any longer
affect his exhausted powers, that is a death from which we see no new
life proceed. The power of sin must be slain in a man by violence; a
man must go through the torture of self-knowledge, showing him the
contrast between his wretched condition and the higher life to which
he is called; he must hear the cry, and accept it as an irrevocable
sentence; that an end is to be put to this life; he must groan and
almost sink under the preparations for the execution of that sentence;
all his accustomed habits of life must cease; he must be conscious of
the wish that he were safely through it all, and it were at an end.

And when he has yielded up the old life to a welcome death, and the
old man is crucified with Christ, then the world, which knows nothing
better than that previous life, if it only goes on well and easily,
uses all kinds of efforts to hinder the rising up of the new life,
some of them well-meaning, others self-interested and therefore
hostile. Some, with good intentions, like those friends of the Savior,
consult together, and try all in their power, keeping away all
extraneous influences, to preserve at least the appearance of their
friend from being defaced, and tho no joyful movement can ever again
be awakened, to preserve the form of the old life. Others, seeking
their own interest and pleasure in a way by which they almost
certainly accuse themselves, try to prevent an abuse being practised
in this state of things, and also to guard against the gay, merry life
which they lead, and into which they like so much to lead others,
being brought into contempt by a question of a new life arising after
this dying off of the old man, when, as they think, there is really
nothing else and nothing better here on earth and when it is a vain
pretense for some to assert that they know this new life, and a
mischievous delusion for others to attempt attaining it. Therefore
wherever they perceive such a state of things, they have their spies
to watch against every deception that might be practised about such
a new life, or at least at once to discover and publish what kind of
delusions prevail in connection with it.

But when the hour has come which the Father has kept in His own power,
then in one form or another His life-bringing angel appears to such a
soul. Yet how little do we know about what part the angel had in the
Savior's resurrection! We do not know if the Savior saw him or not; we
can not determine the moment at which he rolled away the stone from
the tomb and the reanimated Savior came forth; no one witnessed it,
and the only persons of whom we are told that they might have been
able to see it with their bodily eyes were smitten with blindness. And
in like manner, neither do we know how the soul, lying, so to speak,
in the tomb of self-destruction, is wrought upon by the angel of the
Lord in order to call forth the life of God in it. It arises unseen in
that grave-like silence, and can not be perceived until it is actually
present; what is properly the beginning of it is hidden, as every
beginning usually is, even from him to whom the life is imparted. But
this is certain, as the apostle says, that the Lord was raised from
the dead by the glory of the Father, and thus also, according to the
words of the Savior, no man comes to the Son except the Father draw
him; that same glory of the Father, which then called forth the Savior
from the tomb, still awakens in the soul that has died to sin the new
life, like the resurrection life of the Lord. Indeed, among all the
proofs of the Father's glory in heaven and earth, there is none
greater than this, that he has no pleasure in the death-like condition
of the sinner, but that at some time or another the almighty,
mysterious, life-giving call sounds in his ears--Arise and live.

2. And, secondly, this new life resembles its type and ideal, the
resurrection life of Christ, not only in being risen from death, but
also in its whole nature, way and manner. First, in this respect, that
tho a new life, it is, nevertheless, the life of the same man, and in
the closest connection with his former life. Thus, with our Savior;
He was the same, and was recognized by His disciples as the same, to
their great joy; His whole appearance was the very same; even in
the glory of His resurrection He bore the marks of His wounds as a
remembrance of His sufferings and as the tokens of His death; and
the remembrance of His former state was most closely and constantly
present with Him. And just so it is with the new life of the Spirit.
If the old man has died in sin, and we now live in Christ, and with
Him in God, yet we are the same persons that we were before. As the
resurrection of the Lord was no new creation, but the same man, Jesus,
who had gone down into the grave, come forth again from it; so in the
soul before it died the death which leads to life in God, there must
have lain the capability of receiving that life when the body of sin
should die and perish; and that life is developed in the same human
soul amid the same outward circumstances as before, and with its other
powers and faculties remaining unchanged. We are entirely the same
persons, only that the fire of the higher life is kindled in us, and
also that we all bear the signs of death, and that the remembrance
of our former state is present with us. Yes, in manifold ways we are
often reminded of what we were and what we did before the call to new
life sounded in our hearts; and it is not so easy to efface the scars
of the wounds, and the numberless traces of the pains under which the
old man had to die that the new man might live. And as the glad faith
of the disciples rested on the very fact that they recognized the Lord
as being, in the glory of His resurrection, the same person that He
was before; so also in us, the confidence in this new life, as a
permanent and now natural state with us, rests only on this--that we
recognize ourselves in it as the same persons that we were before;
that there are the same faculties, lower and higher, of the human
soul, which formerly served sin, but are now created anew as
instruments of righteousness. Indeed, all the traces of that death,
as well as of the former life, make us more vividly conscious of the
great change that the life-giving call of God has produced in us, and
call for the most heartfelt gratitude.

And as the Savior was the same person in the days of His resurrection,
so His life was also again of course a vigorous and active life;
indeed, we might almost say it bore the traces of humanity, without
which it could be no image of our new life, even in this, that it
gradually grew stronger and acquired new powers. When the Savior first
appeared to Mary, He said, as if His new life had been, as it were,
timid and sensitive, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my
God and your God." But after a few days He showed Himself to Thomas,
and bade him boldly touch Him, put his hand in the Master's side, and
his fingers into the marks left by the nails of the cross, so that He
did not shrink from being touched even on the most sensitive spots.
And also even in the earliest days, and as if the new life were to be
fully strengthened by doing so, we find Him walking from Jerusalem to
Emmaus, and from Emmaus back to Jerusalem, as well as going before His
disciples into Galilee, and leading them back to Jerusalem, where He
then ascended to heaven in their sight. And as He thus walked among
them, living a life with them, human in every part, and exercising a
human influence on them; so also His most important business was to
talk with them of the kingdom of God, to reprove and rouse them up
from their slowness of heart, and to open the eyes of their minds. Now
so it is, my friends, with our new life--that is like the resurrection
life of the Lord. Oh, how very gradually it gains its faculties in us,
grows and becomes strong, only bearing still more than the new life
of the Lord the traces of earthly imperfection. I can appeal on this
point to the feeling of us all, for assuredly it is the same in all.
How intermittent at first are the manifestations of this new life,
and how limited the sphere of its action! How long does it retain
its sensitive spots, which can not be touched without pain, or even
without injurious consequences, and those are always the places in
which the old man has been most deeply wounded in his dying hours! But
in proportion as it becomes stronger, this new life ought the less to
give the impression of being a mere fantom life,--the impression the
Lord's disciples had when in the first moments they thought in their
fear that they saw a spirit, so that He was obliged to appeal to the
testimony of all their senses, that they might perceive He was no
spirit, but had flesh and bones. And thus if our new life in God
consisted in mere states of feeling and emotions, which were not in
the least capable of passing into action, or perhaps did not even aim
at doing so; which were too peculiar and special to ourselves to be
actually communicated to others or to move them with good effect, but
rather might touch them with a chill sense of awe; what would such
a life be but a ghost-like apparition that would no doubt excite
attention, but would find no credence, and would make men uneasy in
their accustomed course, but without producing any improvement in it?
No, it is a life of action, and ought to be ever becoming more so; not
only being nourished and growing stronger and stronger through the
word of the Lord and through heart-communion with Him, to which He
calls us, giving Himself to us as the meat and drink of eternal life,
but every one striving to make his new life intelligible to others
about him, and to influence them by it. Oh, that we had our eyes more
and more steadily fixt on the risen Savior! Oh, that we could ever be
learning more and more from Him to breathe out blessing, as He did
when He imparted His Spirit to the disciples! Oh, that we were more
and more learning like Him to encourage the foolish and slow of heart
to joyful faith in the divine promises, to active obedience to the
divine will of their Lord and Master, to the glad enjoyment and use of
all the heavenly treasures that He has thrown open to us! Oh, that we
were ever speaking more effectively to all connected with us, of the
kingdom of God and of our inheritance in it, so that they might see
why it was necessary for Christ to suffer, but also into what glory He
has gone! These are our desires, and they are not vain desires. The
life-giving Spirit, whom He has obtained for us, effects all this in
each in the measure that pleases Him; and if once the life of God is
kindled in the human soul if we have once, as the apostle says, become
like Him in His resurrection, then His powers are also more and more
abundantly and gloriously manifested in us through the efficacy of His
Spirit for the common good.

But along with all this activity and strength, the life of the risen
Savior was yet, in another sense, a secluded and hidden life. It is
probable that when, in order to show Himself to His disciples, He went
here and there from one part of the land to another, he was seen by
many besides them, who had known Him in His previous life. How could
it be otherwise? But the eyes of men were holden, that they did not
recognize Him; and He made Himself known only to those who belonged
to Him in faithful love. At the same time, however, He said to them,
Blest are they who do not see, yet believe! And what was the little
number of those who were counted worthy of seeing Him, even if we add
to them the five hundred whom Paul mentions, compared with the number
of those who afterward believed in their testimony to the Lord's
resurrection? And thus it is also, my friends, with the new life in
which we walk, even if it is, as it ought to be, strong and vigorous,
and ever at work for the kingdom of God; yet it is at the same time an
unknown and hidden life, unrecognized by and hidden from the world,
whose eyes are holden; and he who should set himself to force
the knowledge of it upon them, who should hit upon extraordinary
proceedings in order to attract their attention to the difference
between the life of sin and the resurrection life, would not be
walking in the likeness of the Lord's resurrection. As the people
in the time of Christ had opportunity enough to inquire about His
resurrection, in seeing how His disciples continued to hold together,
so our neighbors also see our close alliance, which has nothing to do
with the affairs of this world; and if they, because of this, inquire
about what unites us, the answer will not be lacking to them. But our
inner history we will as little thrust upon them as the risen Christ
thrust His presence on those who had slain Him, and who had therefore
no desire to see Him. Instead of this, as He showed Himself only to
His own, we also will make known our inner life only to those who are
just in the same way our own; who, glowing with the same love, and
cheered by the same faith, can tell us in return how the Lord has
revealed Himself to them. Not by any means as if we followed some
mysterious course, and that those only whose experiences had been
entirely alike should separate themselves into little exclusive
groups; for even the days of the Lord's resurrection present examples
of various kinds of experience, and of one common inner fellowship
connected with them all. And not only so, but even those who as yet
have experienced nothing at all are not sent empty away. Only they
must first become aware, by what they see without our thrusting
it upon them, that here a spirit is breathing to which they are
strangers, that here is manifested a life as yet unknown to them. Then
will we, as was done then, lead them by the word of our testimony to
the foundation of this new life; and as, when the word of preaching
pierced men's hearts, when to some of them the old man began to appear
as he really is, and they felt the first pangs that precede the death
of the sinful man, there also sprang up faith in the resurrection of
Him whom they had themselves crucified; so will it always be with the
knowledge of the new life proceeding from Him who has risen. Therefore
let us have no anxiety; the circle of those who recognize this life
will always be widening, just because they are beginning to share in
it. And as soon as even the slightest premonition of it arises in a
man's soul, as soon as he has come only so far as to be no longer
pleased and satisfied with the perishing and evil things of the world,
as soon as his soul absorbs even the first ray of heavenly light, then
his eyes are opened, so that he recognizes this life, and becomes
aware what a different life it is to serve righteousness, from living
in the service of sin.

3. And lastly, my friends, we can not feel all these comforting and
glorious things in which our new life resembles the resurrection life
of our Lord, without being at the same time, on another side, moved
to sorrow by this resemblance. For if we put together all that the
evangelists and apostles of the Lord have preserved for us about His
resurrection life, we still can not out of it all form an entirely
consecutive history. There are separate moments and hours, separate
conversations and actions, and then the Risen One vanishes again from
the eyes that look for Him; in vain we ask where He can have tarried,
we must wait till He appears again. Not that in Himself there was
anything of this broken or uncertain life, but as to our view of it,
it is and can not be but so; and we try in vain to penetrate into the
intervals between those detached moments and hours. Well, and is
it not, to our sorrow, with the new life that is like Christ's
resurrection life? I do not mean that this life is limited to the few
hours of social worship and prayer, glorious and profitable as they
are; for in that case there would be cause to fear that it was a mere
pretense; nor to the services, always but small and desultory,
that each of us, actively working through the gifts of the Spirit,
accomplishes, as it were, visibly and tangibly according to his
measure, for the kingdom of God. In manifold ways besides these we
become conscious of this new life; there are many quieter and secret
moments in which it is strongly felt, tho only deep in our inmost
heart. But notwithstanding this, I think all, without exception, must
confess that we are by no means conscious of this new life as an
entirely continuous state; on the contrary, each of us loses sight
of it only too often, not only among friends, among disturbances and
cares, but amid the commendable occupations of this world. But this
experience, my dear friends, humbling as it is, ought not to make us
unbelieving, as if perhaps our consciousness of being a new creature
in Christ were a delusion, and what we had regarded as indications
of this life were only morbid and overstrained emotions. As the Lord
convinced His disciples that He had flesh and bones, so we may all
convince ourselves and each other that this is an actual life; but in
that case we must believe that, tho in a hidden way and not always
present to our consciousness, yet it is always in existence, just as
the Lord was still in existence even at the times when He did not
appear to His disciples; and had neither returned to the grave, nor as
yet ascended to heaven. Only let us not overlook this difference. In
the case of Christ we do not apprehend it as a natural and necessary
thing that during those forty days He led a life apparently so
interrupted; but each of us must easily understand how, as the
influence of this new life on our outward ways can only gradually
become perceptible, it should often and for a long time be quite
hidden from us, especially when we are very busy with outward work,
and our attention is taken up with it. But this is an imperfection
from which as time goes on we should be always becoming more free.
Therefore always go back, my friends, to Him who is the only fountain
of this spiritual life! If, ever and anon, we can not find it in
ourselves, we always find it in Him, and it is always pouring forth
afresh from Him the Head to us His members. If every moment in which
we do not perceive it is a moment of longing, as soon as we become
conscious of the void, then it is also a moment in which the Risen One
appears to our spirit, and breathes on us anew with His life-giving
power. And thus drawing only from Him, we shall attain to having
His heavenly gifts becoming in us more and more an inexhaustible,
continually flowing fountain of spiritual and eternal life. For this
He rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, that we should be
made into the likeness of His resurrection. That was finished in His
return to the Father; our new life is to become more and more His and
the Fathers return into the depths of our souls; there they desire to
make their abode; and the life of God is to be ever assuming a more
continuous, active and powerful form in us, that our life in the
service of righteousness may become, and continue even here, according
to the Lord's promise, an eternal life.




John Mitchell Mason, the eminent divine of the Reformed Presbyterian
Church, was born in New York City in 1770. He completed his studies
and took his degree at Columbia College and thence proceeded to take a
theological course at Edinburgh. Ordained in 1793, he took charge of
the Cedar Street Church, New York City, of which his father had been
pastor. In 1807 he became editor of the _Christian Herald_, and in
1821 was made president of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
He died in 1829.




_Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever_.--Heb. i., 18.

In the all-important argument which occupies this epistle, Paul
assumes, what the believing Hebrews had already profest, that Jesus of
Nazareth is the true Messiah. To prepare them for the consequences
of their own principle--a principle involving nothing less than the
abolition of their law, the subversion of their state, the ruin of
their city, the final extinction of their carnal hopes--he leads them
to the doctrine of their Redeemer's person, in order to explain the
nature of his offices, to evince the value of his spiritual salvation,
and to show, in both, the accomplishment of their economy which was
now "ready to vanish away." Under no apprehension of betraying the
unwary into idolatrous homage by giving to the Lord Jesus greater
glory than is due unto His name, the apostle sets out with ascribing
to Him excellence and attributes which belong to no creature.
Creatures of most elevated rank are introduced; but it is to display,
by contrast, the preeminence of Him who is "the brightness of the
Father's glory and the express image of his person." Angels are great
in might and in dignity; but "unto them hath he not put in subjection
the world to come. Unto which of them said he, at any time, Thou art
my son?" To which of them, "Sit thou at my right hand." He saith they
are spirits, "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them
who shall be heirs of salvation. But unto the Son," in a style which
annihilates competition and comparison--"unto the Son, he saith, Thy
throne, O God, is for ever and ever."

Brethren, if the majesty of Jesus is the subject which the Holy Ghost
selected for the encouragement and consolation of His people, when He
was shaking the earth and the heavens, and diffusing His gospel among
the nations, can it be otherwise than suitable and precious to us on
this occasion? Shall it not expand our views, and warm our hearts, and
nerve our arm in our efforts to exalt His fame? Let me implore, then,
the aid of your prayers, but far more importunately the aids of His
own Spirit, while I speak of the things which concern the King: those
great things contained in the text--His personal glory--His sovereign

His personal glory shines forth in the name by which He is revealed; a
name above every name: "Thy throne, O God." ...

Messiah's throne is not one of those airy fabrics which are reared by
vanity and overthrown by time: it is fixt of old; it is staple, and
can not be shaken, for it is the throne of God. He who sitteth on it
is the Omnipotent. Universal being is in His hand. Revolution, force,
fear, as applied to His kingdom, are words without meaning. Rise up in
rebellion, if thou hast courage. Associate with thee the whole mass of
infernal power. Begin with the ruin of whatever is fair and good in
this little globe. Pass hence to pluck the sun out of his place, and
roll the volume of desolation through the starry world. What hast thou
done unto Him? It is the puny menace of a worm against Him whose frown
is perdition. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh."

With the stability which Messiah's Godhead communicates to His
throne, let us connect the stability resulting from His Father's

His throne is founded not merely in strength, but in right. God hath
laid the government upon the shoulder of His holy child Jesus, and set
Him upon Mount Zion as His King forever. He has promised and sworn to
build up His throne to all generations; to make it endure as the days
of heaven; to beat down His foes before His face, and plague them that
hate Him. "But my faithfulness," adds He, "and my mercy shall be with
him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. Hath he said it, and
will he not do it? Hath he spoken it, and shall it not come to pass?"
Whatever disappointments rebuke the visionary projects of men, or the
more crafty schemes of Satan, "the counsel of the Lord, that shall
stand." The blood of sprinkling, which sealed all the promises made
to Messiah, and binds down His Father's faithfulness to their
accomplishment, witnesses continually in the heavenly sanctuary. "He
must," therefore, "reign till he have put all his enemies under his
feet." And altho the dispensation of His authority shall, upon this
event, be changed, and He shall deliver it up, in its present form, to
the Father, He shall still remain, in His substantial glory, a priest
upon His throne, to be the eternal bond of our union, and the eternal
medium of our fellowship with the living God.

Seeing that the throne of our King is as immovable as it is exalted,
let us with joy draw water out of that well of salvation which is
opened to us in the administration of His kingdom. Here we must
consider its general characters, and the means by which it operates.

The general characters which I shall illustrate are the following:

1. Mystery. He is the unsearchable God, and His government must be
like Himself. Facts concerning both He has graciously revealed. These
we must admit upon the credit of His own testimony; with these we must
satisfy our wishes and limit our inquiry. To intrude into those things
which he hath not seen because God has not disclosed them, whether
they relate to His arrangements for this world or the next, is the
arrogance of one vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. There are
secrets in our Lord's procedure which He will not explain to us in
this life, and which may not perhaps be explained in the life to
come. We can not tell how He makes evil the minister of good; how He
combines physical and moral agencies of different kind and order, in
the production of blessings. We can not so much as conjecture what
bearings the system of redemption, in every part of its process, may
have upon the relations of providence in the occurrences of this
moment, or of the last. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us: it is
high, we can not attain it. Our Sovereign's way is in the sea, and
His path in the deep waters; and His footsteps are not known. When,
therefore, we are surrounded with difficulty, when we can not unriddle
His conduct in particular dispensations, we must remember that He is
God--that we are to "walk by faith"; and to trust Him as implicitly
when we are in the valley of the shadow of death, as when His candle
shines upon our heads. We must remember that it is not for us to
be admitted into the cabinet of the King of kings; that creatures
constituted as we are could not sustain the view of His unveiled
agency; that it would confound, and scatter, and annihilate our little
intellects. As often, then, as He retires from our observation,
blending goodness with majesty, let us lay our hands upon our mouths
and worship. This stateliness of our King can afford us no just ground
of uneasiness. On the contrary, it contributes to our tranquillity.

2. For we know that if His administration is mysterious, it is also
wise. "Great is our Lord, and of great power; his understanding is
infinite." That infinite understanding watches over, and arranges,
and directs all the affairs of His Church and of the world. We are
perplexed at every step, embarrassed by opposition, lost in confusion,
fretted by disappointment, and ready to conclude, in our haste, that
all things are against our own good and our Master's honor. But "this
is our infirmity"; it is the dictate of impatience and indiscretion.
We forget the "years of the right hand of the Most High." We are slow
of heart in learning a lesson which shall soothe our spirits at the
expense of our pride. We turn away from the consolation to be derived
from believing that tho we know not the connections and results of
holy providence, our Lord Jesus knows them perfectly. With Him there
is no irregularity, no chance, no conjecture. Disposed before His eye
in the most luminous and exquisite order, the whole series of events
occupy the very place and crisis where they are most effectually to
subserve the purposes of His love. Not a moment of time is wasted, nor
a fragment of action misapplied. What He does, we do not indeed know
at present, but, as far as we shall be permitted to know hereafter, we
shall see that his most inscrutable procedure was guided by consummate
wisdom; that our choice was often as foolish as our petulance was
provoking; that the success of our own wishes would have been our
most painful chastisement, would have diminished our happiness, and
detracted from His praise. Let us study, therefore, brethren, to
subject our ignorance to His knowledge; instead of prescribing, to
obey; instead of questioning, to believe: to perform our part without
that despondency which betrays a fear that our Lord may neglect His,
and tacitly accuses Him of a less concern than we feel for the glory
of His own name. Let us not shrink from this duty as imposing too
rigorous a condition upon our obedience.

3. A third character of Messiah's administration is righteousness.
"The scepter of his kingdom is a right scepter." If "clouds and
darkness are around about him, righteousness and judgment are the
habitation of his throne." In the times of old, His redeemed "wandered
in the wilderness in a solitary way; but, nevertheless, he led them
forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation."
He loves His Church and the members of it too tenderly to lay upon
them any burdens, or expose them to any trials, which are not
indispensable to their good. It is right for them to go through
fire and through water, that He may bring them out into a healthy
place--right to endure chastening, that they may be partakers of His
holiness--right to have the sentence of death in themselves, that they
may trust in the living God, and that His strength may be perfect
in their weakness. It is right that He should endure with much
long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; that He
should permit iniquity to abound, the love of many to wax cold, and
the dangers of His Church to accumulate, till the interposition of His
arm be necessary and decisive. In the day of final retribution, not
one mouth shall be opened to complain of injustice. It will be seen
that the Judge of all the earth has done right; that the works of His
hands have been verity and judgment, and done, every one of them, in
truth and uprightness. Let us then think not only respectfully but
reverently of His dispensations, repress the voice of murmur, and
rebuke the spirit of discontent; wait, in faith and patience, till
He become His own interpreter, when "the heavens shall declare his
righteousness, and all the people see his glory."

You will anticipate me in enumerating the means which Messiah employs
in the administration of His kingdom:

1. The gospel, of which Himself, as an all-sufficient and
condescending Savior, is the great and affecting theme. Derided by the
world, it is, nevertheless, effectual to the salvation of them who
believe. "We preach Christ crucified: to the Jews a stumbling-block,
and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them who are called, both Jews
and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." The
doctrine of the cross connected with evangelical ordinances--the
ministry of reconciliation; the holy Sabbath; the sacraments of His
covenant: briefly, the whole system of instituted worship--is the rod
of the Redeemer's strength, by which He subdues sinners to Himself,
rules even in the midst of His enemies, exercises His glorious
authority in His Church, and exhibits a visible proof to men and
angels that He is King in Zion.

2. The efficient means to which the gospel owes its success, and the
name of Jesus its praise, is the agency of the Holy Ghost.

Christianity is the ministration of the spirit. All real and
sanctifying knowledge of the truth and love of God is from His
inspiration. It was the last and best promise which the Savior made
to His afflicted disciples at the moment of parting, "I will send the
Comforter, the Spirit of Truth; he shall glorify me, for he shall take
of mine and shall show it unto you." It is He who convinces the world
of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: who infuses resistless
vigor into means otherwise weak and useless. For the weapons of our
warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, God the Spirit, to the
pulling down of strongholds. Without His benediction, the ministry of
an archangel would never convert one sinner from the error of his way.
But when He descends with His life-giving influence from God out of
heaven, then "foolish things of the world confound the wise; and weak
things of the world confound the things which are mighty; and base
things of the world, and things which are despised, yea, and things
which are not, bring to naught things which are." It is this
ministration of the Spirit which renders the preaching of the gospel
to men dead in trespasses and sins a reasonable service. When I am set
down in the valley of vision, and view the bones, very many and very
dry, and am desired to try the effects of my own ability in recalling
them to life, I will fold my hands and stand mute in astonishment and
despair. But when the Lord God commands me to speak in His name, my
closed lips shall be opened; when He calls upon the breath from the
four winds to breathe upon the slain that they may live, I will
prophesy without fear, "Oh, ye dry bones, hear the words of the Lord";
and, obedient to His voice, they shall come together, bone to His
bone--shall be covered with sinews and flesh--shall receive new life,
and stand up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. In this manner,
from the graves of nature, and the dry bones of natural men, does the
Holy Spirit recruit the "armies of the living God," and make them,
collectively and individually, a name, and a praise, and a glory to
the Captain of their salvation.

3. Among the instruments which the Lord Jesus employs in the
administration of His government, are the resources of the physical
and moral world.

Supreme in heaven and in earth, "upholding all things by the word of
his power," the universe is His magazine of means. Nothing which acts
or exists, is exempted from promoting in its own place the purposes of
His kingdom. Beings rational and irrational, animate and inanimate;
the heavens above, and the earth below; the obedience of sanctified,
and the disobedience of unsanctified men; all holy spirits; all damned
spirits; in one word, every agency, every element, every atom, are but
the ministers of His will, and concur in the execution of His designs.
And this He will demonstrate to the confusion of His enemies, and the
joy of His people, in that great and terrible day when He shall sit
upon the throne of His glory, and dispense ultimate judgment to the
quick and the dead.

Upon these hills of holiness the stability of Messiah's throne, and
the perfect administration of His kingdom, let us take our station,
and survey the prospects which rise up before the Church of God.

When I look upon the magnificent scene, I can not repress the
salutation, "Hail, thou that art highly favored!" She has the prospect
of preservation, of increase and of triumph.

The long existence of the Christian Church would be pronounced, upon
common principles of reasoning, impossible. She finds in every man a
natural and inveterate enemy. To encounter and overcome the unanimous
hostility of the world, she boasts no political stratagem, no
disciplined legions, no outward coercion of any kind. Yet her
expectation is, that she shall live forever. To mock this hope and
blot out her memorial from under heaven, the most furious efforts of
fanaticism, the most ingenious arts of statesmen, the concentrated
strength of empires, have been frequently and perseveringly applied.
The blood of her sons and her daughters has streamed like water; the
smoke of the scaffold and the stake, where they won the crown of
martyrdom in the cause of Jesus, has ascended in thick volumes to
the skies. The tribes of persecutors have sported over her woes and
erected monuments, as they imagined, of her perpetual ruin. But where
are her tyrants, and where their empires? The tyrants have long since
gone to their own place; their names have descended upon the roll of
infamy; their empires have passed, like shadows over the rock--they
have successively disappeared, and left not a trace behind.

But what became of the Church? She rose from her ashes fresh in beauty
and in might. Celestial glory beamed around her; she dashed down the
monumental marble of her foes, and they who hated her fled before her.
She has celebrated the funeral of kings and kingdoms that plotted
her destruction; and, with the inscriptions of their pride, has
transmitted to posterity the record of their shame. How shall this
phenomenon be explained? We are, at the present moment, witnesses of
the fact; but who can unfold the mystery? This blest book, the book of
truth and life, has made our wonder to cease. The Lord her God in the
midst of her is mighty. His presence is a fountain of health, and his
protection a wall of fire. He has betrothed her, in eternal covenant,
to Himself. Her living head, in whom she lives, is above, and His
quickening Spirit shall never depart from her. Armed with divine
virtue, His gospel, secret, silent, unobserved, enters the hearts of
men and sets up an everlasting kingdom. It eludes all the vigilance,
and baffles all the power of the adversary. Bars and bolts, and
dungeons are no obstacle to its approach. Bonds, and tortures, and
death can not extinguish its influence. Let no man's heart tremble,
then, because of fear. Let no man despair, in these days of rebuke and
blasphemy, of the Christian cause. The ark is launched, indeed, upon
the floods; the tempest sweeps along the deep; the billows break over
her on every side. But Jehovah-Jesus has promised to conduct her in
safety to the haven of peace. She can not be lost unless the Pilot
perish. Why, then, do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a
vain thing? Hear, O Zion, the word of thy God, and rejoice for the
consolation. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,
and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt
condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their
righteousness is of me, saith the Lord."

Mere preservation, however, tho a most comfortable, is not the only
hope of the Church; she has the prospect of increase.

Increase--from an effectual blessing upon the means of grace in places
where they are already enjoyed; the Lord saith, "I will pour water
upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour
my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offering; and they
shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses."

Increase--from the diffusion of evangelical truth through pagan lands.
"For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness
the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be
seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to
the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see:
all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall
come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then
thou shalt see and flow together, and thy heart shall fear, and be
enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto
thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee."

Increase--from the recovery of the rejected Jews to the faith and
privileges of God's dear children. Blindness in part has happened
unto Israel; they have been cut off, for their unbelief, from the
olive-tree. Age has followed age, and they remain to this hour spread
over the face of the earth, a fearful and affecting testimony to the
truth of God's word. They are without their sanctuary, without their
Messiah, without the hope of their believing ancestors. But it shall
not be always thus. They are still "beloved for the father's sake."
When the "fulness of the Gentiles shall come in," they too shall be
gathered. They shall discover, in our Jesus, the marks of the promised
Messiah; and with from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto
God; it must make you meet for the inheritance of the saints, or it
shall fearfully aggravate your condemnation at last. You pray, "Thy
kingdom come." But is the "kingdom of God within you?" Is the Lord
Jesus "in you the hope of glory?" Be not deceived. The name of
Christian will not save you. Better had it been for you not to
have known the way of righteousness; better to have been the most
idolatrous pagan; better, infinitely better, not to have been born,
than to die strangers to the pardon of the Redeemer's blood and
the sanctifying virtue of His Spirit. From His throne on high He
calls--calls to you, "Look unto me, and be ye saved; for I am God, and
there is none else. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye
upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and
he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly

On the other hand, such as have fled for refuge to lay hold on the
hope set before them, are commanded to be joyful in their King. He
reigns, O believer, for thee. The stability of His throne is thy
safety. The administration of His government is for thy good; and the
precious pledge is, that He "will perfect that which concerneth thee."
In all thy troubles, and in all thy joy, commit thy way unto Him. He
will guard the sacred deposit. Fear not that thou shalt lack any good
thing. Fear not that thou shalt be forsaken. Fear not that thou shalt
fall beneath the arm of the oppressor. "He went through the fires of
the pit to save thee." Sing, then, thou beloved, "Behold, God is my
salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my
strength and my song; he also is become my salvation."

And if we have "tasted that he is gracious"; if we look back with
horror and transport upon the wretchedness and the wrath which we
have escaped, with what anxiety shall we not hasten to the aid of our
fellow men, who are sitting in "the region and shadow of death." What
zeal will be too ardent, what labor too persevering, what sacrifice
too costly, if, by any means, we may tell them of Jesus, and
the resurrection, and the life eternal? Who shall be daunted by
difficulties, or deterred by discouragement? If but one pagan shall be
brought, savingly, by your instrumentality, to the knowledge of God
and the kingdom of heaven, will you not have an ample recompense? Is
there here a man who would give up all for lost because some favorite
hope has been disappointed, or who regrets the wordly substance which
he has expended on so divine an enterprise? Shame on thy coward
spirit and thine avaricious heart! Do the holy Scriptures, does the
experience of ages, does the nature of things justify the expectation
that we shall carry war into the central regions of delusion and
crime, without opposition, without trial? Show me a plan which
encounters not fierce resistance from the prince of darkness and his
allies in the human heart, and I will show you a plan which never came
from the inspiration of God. If missionary effort suffer occasional
embarrassment; if impressions on the heathen be less speedy, and
powerful, and extensive than fond wishes have anticipated; if
particular parts of the great system of operation be, at times,
disconcerted; if any of the ministers of grace fall a sacrifice to the
violence of those whom they go to bless in the name of the Lord--these
are events which ought to exercise our faith and patience, to wean us
from self-sufficiency, to teach where our strength lies, and where our
dependence must be fixt; but not to enfeeble hope nor relax diligence.
Let us not "despise the day of small things." Let us not overlook,
as an important matter, the very existence of that missionary spirit
which has already awakened Christians in different countries from
their long and dishonorable slumbers, and bids fair to produce, in due
season, a general movement of the Church upon earth. Let us not, for
one instant, harbor the ungracious thought that the prayers, and
tears, and wrestlings of those who make mention of the Lord, form no
link in that vast chain of events by which He "will establish, and
will make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." That dispensation which
is most repulsive to flesh and blood, the violent death of faithful
missionaries, should animate Christians with new resolution. "Precious
in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." The cry of
martyred blood ascends the heavens: it enters into the ears of
the Lord of Sabaoth. It will give Him no rest till He rain down
righteousness upon the land where it has been shed, and which it
has sealed as a future conquest for Him who "in his majesty rides
prosperously because of truth, and meekness and righteousness."

For the world, indeed, and perhaps for the Church, many calamities and
trials are in store, before the glory of the Lord shall be so revealed
that all flesh shall see it together. "I will shake all nations," is
the divine declaration--"I will shake all nations, and the desire of
all nations shall come." The vials of wrath which are now running, and
others which remain to be poured out, must be exhausted. The "supper
of the great God" must be prepared, and his "strange work" have its
course. Yet the missionary cause must ultimately succeed. It is the
cause of God and shall prevail. The days, O brethren, roll rapidly on,
when the shout of the isles shall swell the thunder of the continent;
when the Thames and the Danube, when the Tiber and the Rhine, shall
call upon Euphrates, the Ganges, and the Nile; and the loud concert
shall be joined by the Hudson, the Mississippi, and the Amazon,
singing with one heart and one voice, "Alleluia, salvation! The Lord
God omnipotent reigneth."

Comfort one another with this faith and with these words.

Now, "Blest be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous
things. And blest be his glorious name forever: Let the whole earth be
filled with his glory. Amen and amen."


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