Monday, November 16, 2009
A HOLY GOD AND HIS PEOPLE ISRAEL
Preached at the Baptist Chapel, Ford Street, Coventry.
By Willam Tiptaft
"But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
How many among you present have prayed that God might bless my speaking this evening? The Lord's people are a praying people. Who would like to be cut off by death as a prayerless man or woman? A man that dies prayerless, dies Christless, and if we die out of Christ, we rise to everlasting shame and contempt. Those that die in Christ are happy and blessed. They rise to have pleasures at God's right hand, even pleasures for evermore; so the word tells us. What a mercy to be made fit for that great change, to he made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, made fit for heaven, to be amongst a prepared people, for whom mansions are prepared, of which our Lord has given us a particular account! Those are highly favored people whom he hath made so, blessed with godly fear and a good hope through grace, more especially because of our never-dying souls. This is a work of grace.
What a mercy to be able to describe a work of grace, that by the teaching of the Holy Spirit we may be enabled to know whether we are possessors of this,—not destitute of this knowledge! Now the question with me is, As I have to die as well as you, how responsible is my office! What an awful state that minister is in who is destitute of grace, who is ignorant of a work of grace! How can such a one describe what grace is, and its effects upon the soul of a sinner? He who knows nothing of a work of grace upon his own soul cannot describe it. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation teacheth this lesson, that the kingdom of God stands not in word but in power. Paul said, "I would know not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power." And wisdom is justified of her children. We, then, who have been led to see the difference between power and mere speech may solemnly put this question: "Who maketh thee to differ?" O! It is all of grace that we are made to differ; which we may see in these words: "Who gave himself for us." Paul, in writing to Titus, said, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." "Which people signify elect souls, zealous of good works,—redeemed, the people whom he hath chosen: "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord;" and if we experience this divine teaching, it is an evidence we are called with a holy calling. Some may say they know nothing about divine calling. But all the children of God, sooner or later, are brought to know this, that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. And another thing they know by the teaching of his Spirit, that God brings his saints to repentance. He teaches us out of his law. He teaches us what vile wretches we are. He makes us know how we are to be saved, if saved at all. He strips us of all our supposed goodness, everything of our own in which we trust for life and salvation; so that, being brought to a stand, we know not what to do, and are obliged to flee to the Saviour. We are led by his Spirit to see that nothing but his grace will do for us. We are obliged to embrace this Rock for want of a shelter. He takes the poor from the dust, and the beggar from the dunghill, and sets him among the princes of his people. The Lord, by his law, brings them to book, brings them low, makes them feel and see their guilty, lost state, their ruined condition. They are called the true circumcision. They are witnesses for the truth, and always contend for the power of true religion.
There is something in real religion more than notion; and those who are the subjects of it will always contend for a feeling sense of it. I do not know if there are many in this town who know something of a work of grace in the soul. I trust there are a few, scattered about, who know something of that light and life, produced or wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit. We may go to church or chapel, and yet be ignorant of the gospel, not know what repentance and saving faith are. If taught by the blessed Spirit of God, we shall not be ignorant of this sort of religion,—we shall be able to tell what God has done for us; and to this we must come.
Now let me ask you this question: What has God done for you? I would rather hear, if only for five minutes, what God has done for you, than five hours of your doings for him. It is only as he makes his truth known in our souls that we shall go right, be brought to a sense of our lost estate, a sense of sin, of our vileness, and utter unworthiness of his goodness and mercy. Though, when brought into this state, we draw this conclusion, that we know nothing, yet this is the way the Lord teaches his people; and none teach like him. He makes them see their ignorance. Sometimes they seem as ignorant and helpless as a child, and being brought to see the dark as well as the light, what their condition is by nature as well as grace. This is through the enlightening of the Spirit. The more the Lord teaches you by his grace, the more you will prize it and declare it.
When the Lord taught me what grace is, what the gospel is, and the true ground of repentance unto life, I then appeared as a witness for God. Bless the Lord, then, for a right experience of the dark parts as well as the light. Bless him that he ever brought us into these places by which we are made to learn something of the anointing of the Spirit, so that we can enter into the dark parts as well as the bright places. Some persons say nothing of the dark parts. They have no desire to hear that. They want a smooth religion, are always on the rejoicing, the triumphing side. From this it is evident they never have had a felt sense of their lost, perishing condition. They know nothing about the path of tribulation,—no cross, all smooth. They have no need of the oil of joy for mourning. They are not in trouble as other men. The Lord has promised "the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." This has been the solemn experience of the Old Testament saints as well as the New. If we come to read their experience, there is enough to put us to the blush,—how the Lord inhabited their praises: "O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." Isaiah gives us his testimony. He sings: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." Then again in the epistle to the Hebrews we have stronger language, where the saints sealed the precious truth with their blood. They were destitute, afflicted, and tormented; worthies of whom the world was not worthy. What we read about faith and its effects would put us to the blush. So that when things go smooth, faith is strong, but when they seem to go contrary, we act as if there was no God.
O! It is a good thing to have a religion that will do to die by, to have that faith that is of the operation of the Spirit, that faith which is
"The life of God.
Deep in the heart it lies,
It lives and labours under load,
Though damp'd, it never dies."
Like the palm-tree, the more weight is laid upon it, the more it grows.
What a mercy to have a religion of the right sort—that which brings us to the desired haven! Remember, this will not prevent you from having trouble, affliction, and bitter distress. Trouble we shall have in various ways; yet, blessed with grace, you shall be favored with a good hope that it shall be well with you in life, well in death, and well when you stand in the presence of God. The consideration of this ought to be enough to stop our murmuring and complaints. As the Lord Jesus said to his disciples, "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." "Whatever, then, may be the ground of complaint, to have this hope is worth more than a million worlds, if there were so many.
These are the people who are highly favored and truly blessed. However tried they may be, the Lord will lead them in that way that they shall say it was a right way, proving that "all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." David said, "Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me." This is a low, disconsolate state. It is evident from his language he was in trouble; and this causes his cry to God. Had he never been in trouble, he would not have been led to write this psalm, a psalm which has been so blessed to the church of God. Had he not been in the depths, he never would have been led to write the psalms, which have been such a comfort to the Lord's tried family. How the Lord listened to his prayers in his distress: "From heaven did the Lord look, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are appointed to death." Though the Lord seemed to him afar off, when he says, "My God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not, and in the night season, and am not silent; but thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered. They trusted in thee, and were not confounded." However dark we may be, we are brought to know the heavens are not pure in his sight, and the Lord will make his people know that he searches the heart and trieth the reins, that he is the rein-trying and heart-searching God; and when he makes a discovery of these things, he makes us know our vileness, our guilt, and pollution, that we are in our own eyes as a beast before him, not worthy of the least of his mercies. We are brought to know and say feelingly with Job, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; therefore I repent in dust and ashes. Yea, with self-abhorrence I repent in dust and ashes." What a low place he was in; yet he made his prayer to God, and he answered him.
Though the poor soul may be little in his natural capacity, and despised by natural men and professors of religion for his ignorance, the Lord will not despise him, nor leave him in their hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. Whatever there may be about his religion that men despise, the Lord will answer his prayer. He is one highly favored, and greatly blessed; because by prayer he brings down the divine blessing. The promise is: "To that man will I look, that is of a humble spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, and that trembleth at my word." The Lord made him to know what was in his heart ere he answered his prayer. Real heartfelt prayer is a great deal better than lip service.
The Lord teaches all his people what vile wretches they are. They are led to exclaim, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" "But if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God." God sees and knows all things, how we stand in his sight. When the Lord shines upon us, we have a deep sense of his kindness and mercy towards us, though vile, guilty, and polluted as we are; yet such is the love of God, he sent his dear Son to die for us, the just for the unjust. All the sins of his people were laid to Christ's account, and he was willing to bear them; therefore, "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."
By one man's act, we were all made guilty sinners. God is a holy God; and whosoever is found dying in his sin, that sin will sink that man's soul to hell. Every one is in this awful predicament. "How, then," say some, "are any to be saved?" Only those who are washed in the blood of Christ, and clothed in his righteousness. He therefore died the just for the unjust, that he might present a glorious church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Yea, Christ says you are comely in his comeliness, holy in his holiness, righteous in his righteousness. "He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." "But ye are washed, ye are justified, ye are sanctified;" ye are completely accepted. If you did not stand complete, you would sink to rise no more. Therefore it is what Christ is to you. If Christ died for you, he who is the Friend of sinners is your Friend, and my Friend. He is the only way to heaven. He presented the church to himself without spot. In this way, and no other, our sins, which are scarlet, become white as snow, and we experience this comfort, which Christ by the mouth of the prophet declares: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God; say unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received at the Lord's hand double for all her sins." The sins of the church were laid upon Christ: "He hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all." He laid the sins upon the head of the scapegoat, and they were taken away into the land of forgetfulness. God sees all our sins, he knows what we are; but he looks upon our Surety, who is the Lord Jesus, who died the just for the unjust, a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour.
Those things that typified this were the shadows. When Christ came, he was the substance. He came to finish the work, to make an end of sin; and with his expiring breath cried out, "It is finished!" Therefore, if he died for you, you will be with him in heaven. Members you are of his mystical body, both Jews and Gentiles, making one body, all to be gathered together in glory.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." As a holy God, a heart-searching God, he knows everything. He brings his people to confess what vile wretches they are. Though he is very merciful, who can stand before a heart-searching God when he comes with, " Adam, where art thou?" Then your sins find you out. The blessed Spirit convinces you of sin. He discovers your state,—that you are in unbelief, that because you believe not on him you shall not have life. That you can bring no acceptable offering only through the Lord Jesus, that it is through him we offer spiritual sacrifices and are made acceptable. Therefore the Lord shall enable a simple worm, like myself, though weak in heart and conscience, a sinner of deep dye, to offer spiritual sacrifices, and stand amazed at his grace, when many who have not committed half the sins are in everlasting torments.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." Do we belong to those who cried, "O God, redeem Israel out of all his troubles," set forth to us by inhabiting the praises of Israel,—those to whom God made a promise first after the fall, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head? Also the promise to Jacob, that he would be with him, that he would not leave him till he had done all that he had spoken to him of? What a manifestation he had of the goodness of the Lord,—that revelation that he made to Jacob that his seed should possess the land of Canaan, that he would be with him and the church in the wilderness, that they should be brought safely through the Bed Sea, and their enemies all drowned. They sang the song after their deliverance; then they had troubles and afflictions; then again, when delivered, their language is, "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and his wonderful works to the children of men." So that when they came to the winding up, we are told, "not one promise had failed." "Our fathers trusted in thee, and were delivered. They cried unto thee; thou didst appear for them; they trusted in thee, and were not confounded." Though they had special miracles wrought in their favor, and saw all his wonderful works, yet what unbelievers, what infidels in heart. Though they were reproved and rebuked for their unbelief, again and again, yet we have no stone to throw at them, for we have enough in us. Even Moses was not free; for when the people murmured for flesh, and the Lord promised they should have it for a whole month, Moses replied, "The people among whom I am are six hundred thousand footmen, and thou hast said, I will give them flesh that they may eat a whole month. Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them to suffice them?" He could not see how they were to be supplied. The Lord brought them into desperate circumstances, so that they cried out of their necessity and distress. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not." The Lord appeared for them in their trouble: "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, to magnify his holy name. Our fathers trusted in thee, and were delivered."
"O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." When brought out of Egypt, Israel praised him for the deliverance he wrought. They had been captives to Pharaoh; they had no power to help themselves or obtain deliverance; they were under the oppression of Pharaoh and his taskmasters; therefore the hand of God must be put forth for their deliverance. So it is with his church and people now. When in bondage to the powers of darkness, if ever they are delivered, the Lord must do it, as Paul speaks of the deliverance God had wrought for him. He says, "Who hath delivered us from the powers of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." How could they be delivered, only by the power of God? They had no power of their own to deliver themselves. Their deliverance was through what the Lord Jesus had done; as the apostle says, "having redemption through his blood," all things are so overruled by the Lord for their good that they shall be brought to this place, to praise him for their affliction,—that in their trouble they called upon him, and he delivered them.
So his people praise and bless his name. We have this set forth in Ps. 103: " Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." So God inhabiteth the praises of Israel. I have been brought to praise and bless the Lord for all his goodness, when such sorrows and distresses have come upon me that have caused sighs and groans to go out of my heart to him; yet afterwards I have been enabled to bless him that I have been so led, that though these things were painful to flesh and blood, yet they have been of real substantial good.
Have you ever praised him for spiritual mercies as well as temporal,—that he has not cut you off as a cumberer of the ground,—that you have been this night walking about this earth, this 18th of October, 1869, on praying ground? Who can tell what God has in reserve for you? Some may say they have nothing to thank God for. Have you not? Then I tell you this; many that have not committed half the sins you have are cut off, and you are spared. You do not know what the Lord may do for you before you die. Who would have thought Saul was a vessel of mercy, when he was going to Damascus,—a man who was a forerunner and ringleader in persecuting the saints? But the Lord cut him down, brought him in check, stopped him when in full course, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Like the rest of the world, following the giddy multitude,—the Lord brought him to a sense of his guilt, and then showed him mercy and kindness. He then could bless and praise him that inhabiteth the praises of Israel. So the poor soul who has been delivered from the power of sin and Satan,—that has been brought to see hell was his desert, but instead of this the Lord has appeared for and delivered him,—is made to praise him. A new song is put into his mouth.
It is a great mercy to be a sensible sinner, to have been brought low, to have had the law brought home, to feel trouble and sorrow, to be brought to say, "I found trouble and sorrow; yet called I upon the name of the Lord." "I cried in thy hearing, I beseech thee, O Lord, deliver my soul." How many are there in Coventry that never pray for their soul's deliverance? They go to church and receive the Lord's supper, yet know nothing of the work of the Spirit. They conclude they are all right, yet know nothing of true repentance, of true saving faith, of coming in by the door, or being in the footsteps of the flock. Christ has given us an example of true faith, that it works by love and overcomes the world.
A babe in grace, who has been taught by the Spirit to see what he is by nature,—that his religion will never please God, brought to see and feel his vileness and the mercy of God in his leadings and teachings,—when speaking of these may be confused; when he tells out what God has done for him, mere professors treat it with contempt, call it fanaticism and enthusiasm. We must be brought to know what Christ has done for us, whether people call us enthusiasts or no.
In Ps. 103 the Psalmist says, "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases." Also in the Song of Solomon: "Set me as a seal upon thine arm." The earnest desire of the soul is to be as a seal upon Christ's arm, whose love is so rich, so precious to him, who delivers from all trouble. If a man would give all the substance of his house for this love, it would utterly be contemned. Nothing can ever dissolve the love of God manifested towards his people. It is stronger than death.
When Christ manifests himself towards us, we enjoy communion with him. We bless and praise his name. We are not ashamed of speaking well of his name, not ashamed of being called Baptists, not ashamed of his people, not ashamed to look our enemies in the face, to bare our breast to the truth. No covering up, no hiding. We have something to say in favor of Christ; therefore he in this way inhabiteth the praises of Israel.
Are you a true Israelite? Then you have something to say in favor of Christ, to his honor, his love, mercy, and truth. He knows who they are that honor him. He says he will honor them that honor him. We are not ashamed of coming to a chapel like this. "We are not ashamed of such men as Huntington, Gadsby, and Warburton. Those who contend for a work of grace and the power of godliness, in opposition to a form, we are not ashamed of such, though we meet with sneers and opposition from the formal professor. For he that is born after the flesh persecutes him that is born after the Spirit.
Thus he inhabiteth the praises of Israel. God dwells in Zion. He calls his people his inheritance: "This is my inheritance; here will I dwell, for I have desired it." We praise him for all he has done for us. He has promised to dwell with the humble and contrite, dwell there, rest there. Then we rejoice in his testimonies. They are our inheritance. His favor is full of spiritual blessings. We esteem his testimonies more than all riches. Christ appears to us the chief among ten thousand, that we can speak of his love being shed abroad in our hearts. The Lord so favors us with his Spirit that we praise him for all that is past.
The Lord inhabiteth the praises of Israel. We praise, bless, and glorify him for all the troubles and trials he has brought us through; and for the deliverance he has wrought. Here is something causing us to praise. The fatted calf is killed, and the wine on lees is well refined; therefore we can make merry with our friends. This is the tried soul, whom the Lord hath blessed with spiritual enjoyment. Those on the opposite side, who are taken up with the world, prospering in worldly things, have a lean soul; but the language of one whom the Lord has blessed is:
"Let worldly minds the world pursue,
It has no charms for me.
Once I admired its trifles too;
But grace has set me free."
The soul has found something better and more congenial; has turned his back upon the world, and his face is towards Zion. He is brought to that state, willing to part with right hands and right eyes for the sake of Jesus.
The apostle prayed that the Romans would present their bodies a living sacrifice before God,—that they could from their hearts praise God for the word of his grace, for the gospel, for repentance unto life, for a spirit of prayer, for a good word, for that blessing he had bestowed in bringing them into that place to see they were nothing, and blessed them with a religion that would do to die by.
Do not you, then, find fault with the way, you that have been brought to feel yourselves destitute of every good, convinced of your lost state. This is worth more than all Coventry, a million times twice told. The sinner who has thus been made poor does not in this race run at an uncertainty. His victory is sure, because he does not go at his own charges. God has devised the covenant of grace, and in that covenant all is secured; that salvation is not only certain, but full and free.
On the contrary side, those who sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, while they that sow to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
It is a good thing to be jealous over your state, exercised about it, whether your religion is of the right kind; so that you are what you profess to be in the sight of God. The apostle says, Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; see that you are right in doctrine, right in experience, and right in practice. A man who has been set right by the Lord did not come there all at once. I bless God for what he has done for me, I glory in his only name, and I so highly prize it that I would not part with it for gold or silver; for I am fully persuaded of this, that when he blesses my soul, all is right. When the promise comes with sweetness, power, and love, then we can offer praise. Though we are called to endure persecution, seeing we are in the footsteps of the flock, we are enabled to make our boast in God. Our language is, "Help me to magnify the Lord, and let us exalt his name together." "Trust in the Lord, all ye people; pour out your heart before him. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and be glad. He hath brought me up out of the horrible pit and miry clay, and has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God." He has made me to know that he has come into his garden, and eaten his pleasant fruits. Bless and praise his holy name, that I shall be found in Christ without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel!" Bless God for his goodness, his grace, and his mercy from first to last. Exalt the Saviour, the sin-atoning Lamb. He had on his head many crowns. He shall have all the crowns, for he is worthy. All his people will sing his praise. Certain I am of this, that there is no hope for you unless you are washed in Christ's blood. There will be no mercy if you are not pardoned. The fountain is opened for sin and uncleanness. He has promised to pour upon his people a spirit of grace and supplication. He that died for our sins, who has risen for our justification, will surely bring us safe. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" He hath given us grace and will give us glory. "All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Though some may start aside and give way, yet the child of God will acknowledge the way the Lord has led him is a right way, however painful it has been to flesh and blood. The Lord will so teach his people, he will strip them of all their fleshly wisdom, and make them to be willing to be saved in his way; which way excludes all room for boasting. We are brought to see we are so poor, vile, and sinful in his sight that we find there is no other way; therefore we are compelled to accept the way the Lord chooses; all to the praise of the glory of his grace. Paul said (though some are displeased at this doctrine; and yet he came to a right conclusion when he said), "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness." The reward is of grace, not of debt; so to him that worketh not, is the reward reckoned not of works, but of grace. How many in Coventry are working for life? All those who are perfectly saved are brought to see they have no hope of salvation by the deeds of the law; because, so strict are its demands that, were they able to pay all but one farthing, not being able to pay that would send them to hell. "He that offends in one point is guilty of all." Notwithstanding all this, so gracious is the Lord that he brings all his own people safe to glory. Therefore they magnify his name, not only for temporal but spiritual deliverances. "My soul shall magnify the Lord."
We are led by the Holy Spirit to magnify the Lord for his leadings, teachings, and dealings with us, that he has led us in a right path, as in Ps. 107., where the children of God are compared to mariners. When in their trouble and at their wits' end, the Lord delivers them; so that, out of the gratitude in their hearts, they exclaim, "O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." Therefore he inhabiteth the praises of Israel. He comes into his garden to eat his pleasant fruits.
It is a good thing to render praise to God for his goodness to us, whether in spirituals or temporals. When we have temporal losses, we feel the worth of them. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib. My people do not know; Israel doth not consider."
The apostle tells us "to be careful for nothing; but by prayer and supplication to let our requests be made known unto God." How prone we are to forget the mercies of God! When we look at his goodness, we must confess how unthankful we are.
When real prayer, indited by the Spirit, is poured forth, then the Lord inhabiteth the praises of Israel; so that we give him all the glory and honor for his loving-kindness, more than all the free-willers in their lifetime. You may ask how this is. The reason is, because these poor creatures are like the pharisees, dead in trespasses and sins. If Christ inhabiteth the praises of Israel, it is not from pharisees, not from dead professors; but sensible, living souls, sinners who are brought to see how lost and undone they are. When brought to see where the remedy is, that it is in a precious Christ, they have a new song put into their mouths. They praise God for his rich, free, and sovereign grace.
When I first came into Warwickshire, the people never asked me; they had no voice in the matter. I preached at Trinity Church, about the year 1826; and I think I paid another visit at Christmas, 1832. I preached twice and administered the Lord's supper. I seemed quite destitute of grace. How dark I was! Yet, here I am, standing up in a Baptist chapel, to disavow infant sprinkling. How unlikely it seemed at that time! I little thought such would be the case, that I should raise my voice against infant sprinkling, that it was contrary to the word of God, though agreeing with the prayer-book. I can say in some measure I was like Abraham, when the Lord called him. He went out not knowing whither he went. The Lord brought me out of that, and put a new song into my mouth; so that I could praise him for his great goodness. And you know the word says, "He that offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him will I show the salvation of God." When people have a sweet sense of Christ's love, they have something to pray about, and something to sing about. Then the dear Lord comes into his garden and says, "Here will I dwell, for I have desired it."
Have you ever been favored with a sealing testimony of the pardon of sin? Have you ever felt this blessing,—called, and sealed? Can you say, "Thou hast made me glad with thy testimonies?" Have you ever been so blessed in your own soul as to have joy and peace in believing? Have you ever been favored with sweet meditation, upon the Lord's goodness to you? Though you have been in trouble, and had guilt upon your conscience through your sin, yet have been brought through all? That he has brought you to his feet, forgiven your sin, and blessed your soul; so that you could sing of mercy and judgment? This is to be truly blessed.
How awfully destitute must those people be who stand up, time after time, thinking they are going to heaven, when they know nothing of their own vileness, sinfulness, and depravity, or of the pardon of sin! They had better break stones upon the road than stand up on the Lord's day, whole hearted, all right in their own estimation, yet ignorant of the way of peace. They are deceived. Though they think it all right, they know nothing about the two mysteries,—the mystery of iniquity, and the mystery of godliness. The mystery of godliness is, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received into glory. What a mercy if we are not so ignorant that we know for ourselves that he died for us. This being the case, we praise him for his goodness that he has manifested himself to your soul. You are his.
Ah!" say some, "I wish I could say this. I am not so sure that I am right, though I seem to have such trouble on account of this." There is, my friends, something in religion beyond nature. If you are thus exercised, and in deep trouble, and, like the children of Israel, are brought to that spot to sigh and cry, then hear what the Lord says: "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Deliverance will come; and when it comes, you will praise and bless God for the deliverance. So that he iuhabiteth the praises of Israel.
Though I am alive and have to die, and know it, I should never have praised the Lord had he not sought my soul, given me true repentance and a right faith, made my heart honest, prepared my heart to seek his face, and led me to see that I am in the footsteps of the flock; that through much tribulation I have been led to watch and to wait upon him, and cry to Him for deliverance; and I trust he has heard my prayer. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in deep waters, see the wonders of the Lord. The Lord brings them up, and then are they glad because he bringeth them to their desired haven.
The Lord will keep the feet of his saints. May he comfort and strengthen your hearts; and remember, though you may have sharp trials,
"Gold in the furnace tried
Ne'er loses ought but dross;
So is the Christian purified,
And better'd by the cross."
"Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be all the praise."