Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There is nothing in us, or done by us, that we can plead before the LORD for His blessing. We, in the matter of our justification before God renounce everything but the person, blood and righteousness of Christ, so, in our approaches to the Majesty of heaven, we must renounce everything but the name, the blood, and righteousness of Jesus, who for our comfort said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you." (John 16:23).
We come before God, and look to ourselves, we tremble, and wonder the LORD does not cut us down, as cucumbers of the ground. When by living faith we are enabled to look to Christ, we feel something of that humble boldness Paul speaks of:
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter in the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh."
This new and living way which is Christ and Him crucified is the only ground upon which we can plead the promises of God, and look to Him for blessing; and Christ and Him crucified is the only ground upon which a just and holy God can meet and bless such guilty sinners as we are; for in Christ, "mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
By John Kershaw - 1834
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Preached at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, London, 1848 - By John Kershaw.
"But we see Jesus."
I would call your attention to three things arising from these words.
First, let us endeavour to describe the characters who see Jesus. Secondly let us take notice of the person seen - Jesus. And Thirdly I shall make a few remarks upon the place where He is to be seen. "But we see Jesus."
I. - In the first place, we have to take notice of the characters who see Jesus spiritually. Observe the term used, "We see Jesus." He is to be seen only by the eye of living faith. No man can see Jesus spiritually without he is made a partaker of the Spirit and grace of God. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2.14). But Jesus and the things of Jesus, are spiritually seen and discerned by God's spiritual people. Man in a state of nature without the quickening influence of divine grace in his soul, may see Jesus speculatively and nominally; he may see Him with a theoretical knowledge as He is set forth in the Bible as Saviour and Redeemer; but he cannot see Him spiritually without living faith. Balaam saw Him in a natural sense, and spake glorious things concerning Him; but Balaam did not see Him with the spiritual eye of faith as connected with the salvation of his soul. He had a consciousness of this; hence he says, "I shall see him, but not now. I shall behold him, but not nigh." His conscience told him that he should see Jesus as an angry judge, which made him tremble and desire that he might die the death of the righteous, and that his last end might be like theirs. But his heart bore testimony against him that he did not want to live the life of the righteous, nor have the grace of God in his heart as they do. He never saw by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Friend, nor as the Redeemer of his soul.
No man ever did, ever will, nor ever can see Jesus really and truly as He is, and enjoy His preciousness, but those who are brought to see and feel their need of Him. Sinners, naturally dead in sin, must be made spiritually alive before they can see Jesus. A sinner in a state of nature is in a state of darkness. Darkness covers the great deep of his heart; and gross darkness the minds of the people. "Once ye were darkness," says the Apostle, "but now are ye light in the Lord." While a man or woman remains dead in sin, in a state of darkness and alienation from God, though he or she may be a vessel of mercy, and may have a personal interest in the salvation of Jesus, yet they never can see the Person of Christ nor the glory of Christ till divine life and light is communicated. The Lord Jesus Christ is to them while in this state, as the Prophet Isaiah describes a root out of a dry ground: without form or comeliness; and when He is seen, there is no beauty in Him that He should be desired. (Is. 53. 2)
Here I remember my own case, and how it was with me in my own heart. I look back at the place where I was when God first arrested my conscience-the state I have been attempting to describe was my condition before the Lord. I was in a state of death, darkness, blindness, ignorance, carelessness, and indifference; seeing neither suitableness, beauty, nor glory in the Lord Jesus Christ why I should be concerned about Him.
"But we see Jesus." When the Holy Spirit takes possession of a sinner's conscience; gives him to see his sin, guilt, blindness, ignorance, and darkness, and causes him to feel what a rebellious, lost, ruined, and undone sinner he is; what a transgressor and law-breaker he is before the Lord; all hope and expectation of saving himself is at once cut off by God's holy law. Yet the poor soul, all the time he remains under these spiritual convictions, does not see Jesus as His Saviour and Redeemer; he is as Paul writes to the Galatians, "shut up unto the faith which shall afterwards be revealed." He now sees only his sin, guilt, and misery; he discovers only an angry God in a broken law: he knows himself only as a vile transgressor, an enemy, and a rebel. He feels that he has sinned against heaven, and in the sight of the Lord, and that he is not worthy of the least of God's mercies; and what to do, or where to go, he cannot tell. His soul is all but sinking into despair; so that at times he wishes that he had never been born, or that he was not possessed of a never-dying soul. Darkness is on his mind in reference to how God can be just, and yet the justifier of such a sinner as he sees and feels himself to be. But the Holy Spirit gives this soul a glimpse of Jesus; this inspires hope, and a ray of encouragement is communicated to his waiting heart.
The Holy Ghost never did, nor will He show such a sinner an end of perfection in himself and bring him into needy circumstances in his feelings before the Lord, and then leave him there. O no; that soul shall have an earnest and fervent cry put into his heart for help and salvation. The Holy Spirit will lead him to wrestle and plead with the Lord at the footstool of mercy for a discovery of Jesus to his conscience. When the Lord speaks by His Spirit in His word to this poor soul, He says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else". "A just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." The man may have been trying to save himself, but he could not: all he could do was to sink deeper into despondency and misery; so that at length he becomes afraid lest the pit should open its mouth on him, and swallow him up. Many in this state of mind have been so deeply exercised with these feelings that they have been afraid to close their eyes in sleep lest when they awake they should open them in the pit of perdition.
When the Holy Spirit leads the soul to see how the Lord Jesus Christ has espoused his cause in covenant and counsel, in the ancient purposes of His love; when He works faith in his heart to receive this glorious truth, and applies it with divine power to his soul, then he feels a happy liberty. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; and now the soul finds the truth of this blessed declaration, that "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." These are sinners who are sick of sin, who are sorrowing on account of it, whose hearts are full of despondency and disquietude, and who want the manifestation and revelation of the blood of Jesus to be applied to their wounded consciences. When the Holy Ghost enables the soul to look by faith to the ability, the willingness, and the all-sufficiency of Jesus to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him - what a blessed sight it is to him! what a heart-cheering, soul-ravishing, Christ-exalting view it is to his soul! Then he sees that the Lord Jesus Christ is the highway of holiness; that He is a glorious way; a way whereby God can be just, and yet the justifier of all those who believe in Jesus; a way in which sin is taken away with all its damning consequences, the law with its curse removed, justice satisfied, and hell and destruction everlastingly defeated. When the believer is led to see and feel these things, how he delights in Jesus! Jesus becomes precious and "altogether lovely" to his never-dying soul. This is seeing Jesus my friends. "But we see Jesus."
II. - We come to the second branch of the subject: the person seen - Jesus. "We see Jesus." The very name of Jesus to the eye and ear of faith has a blessedness and preciousness in it. It is the most sweet and blessed name given under heaven.
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds.
To a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fears.
The Person seen by the eye of faith is Jesus. When the angel announced to Mary that she should conceive and bring forth a son, it was told her that his name should be called Jesus. He is the promised Messiah - the Ancient of Days - the Bright and Morning Star - the Branch which should come out of Jesse's rod - the Sun of Righteousness that should arise with healing in his wings - the Seed of the Woman who should bruise the serpent's head - the Immortal Word that was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us - the Child born, the Son given, whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and upon whose shoulders the government of all things in heaven and earth is placed - the King of kings, and Lord of lords! This is He, at whom devils fear and tremble. O, this is the glorious Person seen - the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all fullness dwells, and who is head over all things to His body the church. Adored be His name, He is "over all, God blessed for evermore."
Why shall His name be called "Jesus"? There is a blessed and powerful reason why this name should be given to Him, and that is, "because he shall save his people from their sins. " Not make them an offer and proffer of salvation, if they will accept His mercy and His grace. O no, the Lord Jesus Christ went to the end of the law for righteousness for every one of His people. The Lord's testimony by the mouth of the angel was, that He should "save his people from their sins." The Father gave Him to the church in covenant counsel for this very purpose before the world began; hence He says, "All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them."
We see Jesus our Redeemer, then, as Saviour from sin; and a blessed sight it is to the household of faith to see Him in this glorious character. He is the Saviour of poor, lost, ruined, and undone sinners. There is nowhere else the sinner can look to for rest, peace, joy, or comfort to his soul, but to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of an elect world. The Holy Ghost leads every one of the chosen vessels of mercy to know something of what I am talking about.
Peter felt this in his heart and soul. There were many who followed Jesus only for the loaves and fishes; but He said to those characters, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:" and again, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. " But these mere letter professors of religion did not much like this doctrine of election and predestination; and therefore we read, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. "As though Peter should have said, 'There is no other Saviour but Thee, Lord; there is not another- name given under heaven whereby we can be saved but Thine. We have tried other refuges, O Lord, but they have all failed; and we have now followed Thee as a matter of necessity. We are deeply dyed and stained with sin, and we cannot save our own souls; but we look to Thy precious blood to wash our sins away. We have no worth or worthiness of our own to plead, but we look to Thy righteousness alone for justification. Such being our state and case, O Lord, to whom can we go? to whom can we look but unto Thee? For thou alone hast the words of eternal fife: Thou, and Thou alone, art exalted as a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins.'
Now this is seeing Jesus. Have you seen Him? If so, you have had a glimpse of His beauty: you have felt the need of His great salvation, and seen His suitability and preciousness to your case and circumstances: you have had pantings and longings for faith's view of His glorious Person. This is seeing Jesus: and such knowledge of Him is eternal life. These feelings are not wrought by nature, but they are all the effect of the grace of God in the heart. "But we see Jesus."
This Person is not only called Jesus; but the Holy Ghost calls Him also in the scriptures, "Jesus Christ," or "Christ Jesus our Lord. " Whoever sees Jesus high and exalted, sees Christ. In the constitution of His Person as God and man in union, He is Immanuel, the anointed of the Father; the Son of man whom He has made strong for Himself; mighty to help, save, and deliver guilty sinners who cry to God for salvation. When the soul feels himself so sinking and helpless, and so low that he cannot help or raise up himself or his brother, how sweet it is to have faith's view of this blessed and mighty Person. He knows that God's ministers cannot help or raise him up, only as God works by them. He rejoices that his help comes from a more blessed source; from the Lord of hosts, the great Creator of heaven and earth. This is the Christ of God, the Lord's anointed. That precious text, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty," has done my soul good many times, when I have felt myself so weak and helpless; to know that I have such a mighty Saviour, Helper, and Deliverer. This glorious Person is Jesus, the Christ of God, the anointed of the Father, the Redeemer of the church, who is strong and mighty to save.
The believer not only sees Him by faith, but he feels Him precious too. It is useless to see Him merely in the judgment, and never feel the life and power of His salvation in the soul. But whenever a believer enjoys the blessed influences of the Spirit in his heart, he more than sees Jesus; the sight lifts him out of his sin and wretchedness, raises him from his legal workings and gloomy fears, and gives him blessed evidence in his own soul that this person is Jesus, the Christ of God, by the might of God's grace, and the glory of His power.
"We see Jesus" when we see Him as Lord of all. "Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. " He is the Lord God omnipotent, who lives and reigns in the high court of heaven; whom angels worship and adore, and whom they delight to honour and obey. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, is worshipped and adored by ransomed spirits before the throne, who cast their blood-bought crowns at His precious feet, and crown Him Lord of all. He is worshipped and adored by holy and elect angels, who never left their first estate. His glorious Person is seen in that world of bliss and blessedness in all His beauty and immortal grandeur. Our Lord and Master is "King of kings, and Lord of lords." He is the blessed and only Potentate, by whom kings reign and princes decree justice. He has this blessed and noble appellation given to him, "Prince of the kings of the earth." (Rev. 1.5.) The Father says of Him, "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." He reigns also in the hearts of His children; grace reigns in them through righteousness unto eternal life. Wherever grace reigns in the heart, it will reverence and obey the Lord's precepts and commands. If He is your Lord and Master, you will delight to fear, reverence, and obey Him in all His appointed institutions.
Our blessed Jesus is seen and felt to be Lord of all by the children of God. He is Lord of all their afflictions and trials; He reigns over men and devils; and He has declared that nothing shall hurt or harm them; and that "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise up against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." When He sends forth His ambassadors to publish good tidings of peace upon the mountains of Zion, they are to say to His church and people, 'Fear not: thy God, thy Saviour, thy Redeemer lives and reigns.' Yes; bless His precious name, He not only reigns over all in heaven, but He reigns over all in earth, and over all the affairs of His church. This oftentimes enables us to praise Him with our heart and soul, that whatever events may transpire will serve to shew forth His glory in the salvation and spiritual welfare of His church and people, which made the Apostle to say, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
This is Jesus, the Christ of God, our Lord and Master, whom we worship and adore. Have you seen Him, my friends? 'Ah,' says one, 'I hope and trust I have seen a little of Him; but it is only a little.' Why, those who have seen the most of Him have had but a little sight of His majesty and glory; they have seen Him only through a glass darkly; but the time will come when they shall see Him in open vision without a vail between. Some one may say, 'I hope and trust I have seen a little of the beauty of Christ; I see my own need and destitution; I feel my lost, ruined, and undone condition. But I want to see more of the Lord, and to enjoy more of Him in my soul. I want to get nearer to His heart; and to love, honour, and glorify Him more.' Such a soul as this is made honest by the grace of God. He has seen Jesus to be his Lord and Master; he is drawn and attracted to Him as steel is to the loadstone, the Holy Spirit working in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. "But we see Jesus."
III. - In the third place, let us notice the place whereJesus is to be seen. "But we see Jesus." Though we may have spiritual eyes given us to see the Lord Jesus Christ, and be blessed with a very strong sight to see an amazing long way backwards and an amazing long way forwards; yet, if I may use a metaphor for illustration's sake, we cannot behold Jesus without a telescope is given us to see with. That telescope I hold in my hand - the word of the Lord! Jesus is seen by the eye of faith as He is set forth in the word of God's grace.
We observe in reference to the place where Jesus is seen that He is seen with the spiritual eye of faith in the secret counsels of eternity, in the vast covenant settlements of the eternal Jehovah. David saw Him in the everlasting covenant on his dying bed; and the sight of Jesus as his covenant Head cheered and refreshed his soul in the prospect of dissolution. He says, "Although my house be not so with God, yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure." Jesus is seen as the covenant Head of His church. The Father chose and ordained the church to life and salvation in Christ before the foundation of the world. The blood of Jesus is seen to the eye of faith to be the blood of the covenant; and His righteousness is the righteousness of the covenant.
Faith sees the Lord Jesus Christ as espousing the cause of His church and people by assuming their nature, in being made of a woman and made under the law, that He might deliver them from all their miseries and woes, and all the awful consequences connected with their fallen state. Faith beholds Jesus taking their sin and guilt into His own hands, and putting it away for ever. It assured them of their everlasting interest in Him, and that He will raise them up from the depths of sin and hell to the highest bliss in glory. Thus the believer sees how Jesus has espoused His cause in the counsels of eternity. It is a soul-ravishing sight, and it has done my soul good many a time, when by faith I have been enabled to see how Christ has united Himself to my person in the everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure; how He has taken my cause into His hands, and how He has established it on better promises than the old covenant. He will never fail. If He make a promise, He will be sure to fulfil that promise in the experience of His people. I seldom stand up to preach but what this comes to my mind: God says, "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth." (Isa. 42. 4.) He shall not fail in accomplishing the salvation of His people; He will finish the work which the Father gave Him to do.
"But we see Jesus." We see Him in the types and shadows, and in all the promises and prophecies made concerning His coming in the flesh. He is seen in His incarnation. Time would fail us in tracing the holy life and history of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us therefore call your attention to some of the most important places where Jesus is seen by the household of faith.
He is seen spiritually by a living faith. When a sinner is convinced of sin by the work of God's law on his conscience, he will generally be going about to establish a righteousness of his own. But when the Spirit of God brings him into bankruptcy, gives him to see his guilt, and causes him to feel its workings in his heart, then he wants to see Jesus who has redeemed him from it, and gone to the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Faith traces Jesus in His pure and perfect life from the manger to the cross; but beholds nothing but fire and destruction in God's holy and righteous law. Heaven is well-pleased for His righteousness' sake; He has magnified the law, and made it honourable. The soul sees in the Lord Jesus Christ a justifying righteousness. This righteousness is imputed by God the Father to him; and the soul receives it by precious faith, and glorifies in the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer is complete and accepted in Jesus; and he stands before the eyes of infinite Purity in Jesus all fair, without spot, blemish, or any such thing; and though in himself he is as black as the tents of Kedar, yet in the Lord Jesus Christ he is all comely and all fair. He sees that in Jesus he has a law-fulfilling righteousness; and as he beholds it, he sees such a glory in it, that he bursts out with the church of old, "Surely shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength." Or again, "My soul shall be joyful in the LORD; I will glory in the God of my salvation." It is here that you see Jesus is made your law-fulfilling righteousness.
Do you desire to see Jesus by precious living faith? Do you hunger and thirst after Him? Do you earnestly pray to be found complete and accepted in Him? If so, you have seen Jesus: and the sight of Him has done your soul good. When we see Jesus made sin for His church and people, we see Him in very solemn and awful circumstances. When by faith we view Jesus in His agonies and sufferings, we are able to enter into that prophecy, "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced." The Lord is determined that His people shall see Him in the garden of Gethsemane as a suffering Saviour, oppressed and labouring under the weight of their sin, and enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself; resisting unto blood, striving against sin. Jesus must be seen nailed to the accursed tree, expiring as a spectacle to angels, men, and devils.
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus must be seen lifted up and exalted on the cross. Look at the type. The Israelites were suffering under a dreadful malady in the wilderness, and were in dying circumstances. Moses is directed to make a serpent of brass, to erect it on a pole, and make this proclamation throughout the camp, that whosoever shall look to the brazen serpent shall be healed of his malady. The antitype says, "So must the Son of man be lifted up," that whosoever looks to Him by faith shall be saved from the malady of sin. Some may ask, "Why is the type used a serpent? It is contrary to the nature of the meek, lowly, and immaculate Jesus to be typified by a serpent. There was no guile found in His mouth, wherefore then should the antitype be prefigured by a serpent?' It is to set forth the evil and malignity of sin, and to show that it has its origin from the old serpent, the devil. It is a truth big with comfort to the household of faith, that when Jesus hung upon the cross He was a pure, holy, innocent lamb in Himself; but as He was suspended there, with the guilt and sin of His church and people imputed to Him, enduring the curse of the divine law, bearing their sins and transgressions away, and delivering them from Satan the old serpent, He was made a curse for them. Though Jesus was perfect innocence itself, yet sin and iniquity being imputed to Him upon the cross, He bore the tremendous curse due to sin, and atoned for it on the accursed tree.
As Jesus is seen by faith in His blood-shedding and sacrifice, in His solemn and awful death, enduring the curse of the law and bearing away the multiplied transgressions of His people; as He is seen exalted on the cross, making an end of sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness; while the soul is looking to Jesus by faith, and gazing on Him in His awful and solemn sufferings, he loses the burden of sin from his conscience; he loses his doubts and fears; he sees Jesus made sin for him, removing the curse of the law. While a sinner looks to Jesus thus by precious faith the devil flees away. The Devil cannot stand his ground when the soul is gazing by faith on Immanuel on the cross; he loses his chains and his fetters, and is brought into sweet and blessed liberty. He sees that He who was rich, for his sake became poor, that he through His poverty might be made rich; that He died the just for the unjust, to bring sinners to God; that He died for their offences, and was raised again for their justification. This is a most solemn sight, a most humbling sight; yet at the same time a most soul-comforting, heart-cheering, God-honouring, and Christ-exalting sight. Everyone who has seen Jesus thus by faith is sure of immortal glory.
O that we may see more and more by faith our Jesus suffering and dying on the cross for our sins, and rising again for our justification! O that we may have more fellowship with Him in His sufferings! O that we may look more and more unto Him; and in looking feel our burdens fall off, and enjoy sweet peace, pardon, and liberty in our conscience! Before we are enabled to look to Jesus, all is darkness and misery; but in proportion as we are looking to Him, we shall be delivered from our darkness and gloominess. The more Jesus is seen by faith, and revealed to the heart, the more will His beauty and preciousness be seen, and the more will the soul delight in Him as the altogether lovely, and the chiefest among ten thousand.
"We see Jesus. " He is seen in the tomb. When Jesus entered the grave, all the sins and iniquities of His church and people were buried in the tomb with Him to rise no more. Jesus was laid in the grave in death's cold embrace, the same as His people: but with this difference; we sleep to rise no more till the resurrection morn; but our victorious and conquering Head burst the barriers of the tomb on the third morning. He put away our sin, endured the curse, satisfied law and justice, vanquished death and hell, brought life and immortality to light, and rose triumphant over death, hell, and the grave. Our Jesus is seen in His immortal triumphs as conquering all our foes. He is the spiritual Samson, who has overcome all the enemies of His church and people. It is a blessed sight to see our risen and exalted Lord! He became the first-fruits of them that slept. As sure as Christ our covenant head arose from the dead in victory over all His enemies: so sure shall every elect vessel of mercy not only be raised from a death of sin and iniquity to live a life of faith upon the Lord; but when He comes the second time in His triumphant glory, all the members of His mystical body shall rise up fashioned like unto His glorious body, and live and reign with Him in blessedness for evermore. The resurrection of Christ is not only a "lively hope" to our souls; but it is "a good hope through grace," which we would not give up for a thousand worlds. Sometimes I see and feel such a beauty in it that I would not give it up for a million worlds. If we were to give that up, we should have no anchor for our vessel in the storm and the tempest. We can never give up our hope; it is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and it enters into that within the vail whither the Forerunner is for us entered. That hope lays hold of a precious Christ. We are saved by hope. We follow Him because we love Him.
Faith beholds our Jesus ascending up on high. God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Faith sees heaven's gate thrown open, the everlasting doors give way; and that very Jesus, who suffered, bled, and died on Calvary's tree the accursed death of the cross, now rising up to glory as Head over all things to His body the church, and sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens as Lord of all. Faith delights to see it, and to crown Him Lord of all! O how blessed it is to have faith's view of a precious Christ! To see Him in His covenant engagements; to follow Him in His incarnation, life, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection; and then to follow Him in His ascension to glory, and to behold Him for ever living there carrying on the cause of His church and people.
God Almighty bless the feeble efforts made to set forth a precious Jesus. The happiest moments I have is in lifting up Jesus on the pole of the everlasting gospel; in exalting, extolling, and setting Him up on high as the all in all in the salvation of His people. It is now more than twenty years ago since the Lord Jesus Christ, my sovereign Lord and Master, employed me in this blessed work of lifting up the stem of Jesse's rod, and crowning Him Lord of all. I can say it to His praise and honour, the longer I serve Him, the more I love Him, and desire to spend and be spent in His service.
The preciousness, the majesty, and the glory of our Lord and Master can never be told. His blessedness can never be fully described or known, till we wake up in His likeness, and see Him as He is!
Preached at Ford Street Chapel, Coventry, 1867 - By John Kershaw.
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
Beloved, holy men were inspired and directed by the Lord the Holy Spirit to give us a full and particular account of the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross, where He died for our sins and where He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. They spoke particularly, not only of His crucifixion, but of His death, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead, of His being the plague of death, and the destruction of the grave. We have a highly interesting account by the evangelists of His appearing after His resurrection to the women, to the two disciples going to Emmaus, and to the disciples assembled in an upper room.
As the great Head of the Church the Lord Jesus Christ gave to His ministers, whom He had appointed preachers of His gospel and founders of the gospel dispensation, their commission; that they were to stay at Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high, till the day of Pentecost; that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem; that they were to preach the gospel to every creature; and that "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." The Lord gave them their commission on the Mount of Olives, where we find the disciples and apostles assembled before Him. In giving the charge He lifts up His arms, blessing them, and saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." And in the very act of blessing them, He ascended up on high, led captivity captive, and entered the pearly gates of the celestial city. "He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." "He gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry."
Now in our text it is said of the apostles that they went forth according to the direction they had received from Him. "They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."
I would illustrate the text in the following order:
I. The characters that are said to go forth;
II. Their going forth everywhere;
III. The Lord working with them;
IV. Confirming the word with signs following.
I. The characters who are said to go forth. "They went forth." These were His ministering servants. The Lord has established -in His church a standing ministry of His word to the end of time. This is embodied in that precious promise He made to His ministering servants: "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." God's ministers, like the high priests under the law, by reason of death were not suffered to continue, only so long as- to finish the work He had appointed for them. He with whom is the residue of the Spirit, raises up, fits, qualifies, and sends forth others to fill their places; as it is written: "How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?" Our Lord has established a standing ministry as long as His church remains in a militant state, not only for the gathering in of the number of His elect that are scattered abroad, but for the comforting, edifying, and building up of His people. It is His prerogative to make choice of them. He has promised a succession of them. He has promised to give His church pastors after His own heart, that shall feed them with knowledge and understanding. (Jer. 3.15.) We look to Him for the fulfilment of this prayer: That the Lord would raise up and send forth more labourers into His vineyard; men to go forth everywhere to preach the glorious gospel of a free-grace salvation. We are looking up, then, to the great Head of the church for a succession of faithful, Godfearing, experimental ministers, thrust forth to labour among His people in word and doctrine.
We would here observe that no man can be said to be called, anointed, and sent out to go and preach the gospel, unless He is born again of the Spirit of God, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus. How can a man preach Christ Jesus for the comfort and edification of the family of God who has never felt the comfort and consolation of the gospel in his own soul? The ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, having felt that comfort, are able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith they are themselves comforted of God. Hence the command of God by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins." (40. 1.)
Be it also observed that not all those to whom God is gracious, not all who are born of God and taught by His Spirit, are called and sent forth to preach the gospel. Even those good and gracious men who, like the apostles, had been witnesses of the sufferings and death of Christ, were not to go forth till they were endued with power from on high. When the day of Pentecost was come, they received that anointing which fitted and qualified them for the work. They were then sent forth; and they went forth preaching the word, the Lord working with them.
Here we would contrast two things. First, - The child of God is concerned to prove that he really does belong to the family of God; that he is one of His chosen, predestinated family. How, then, is he to prove this? By his being effectually called by grace. How many of God's children, in reference to their personal interest in the finished salvation of Jesus Christ, spend much time in examination of themselves by prayer, supplication, and attending the means of grace, that they may have the Spirit's witness, and the assurance of the Holy Ghost that they belong to the Lord. What a mercy it is to know our election of God! This can only be known by effectual calling.
Second, - To draw the contrast between calling and going forth to preach the gospel take notice that every man called of God to go forth to preach the gospel has an especial call to the work. Paul says, when referring to the subject, "To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." The apostle had grace in Christ before the world was, as he was one in the covenant made with Christ, and was given to Christ. He means here that in time this grace was especially made manifest, when Christ revealed Himself to him. But he had also special grace given to him, to qualify, fit, anoint, and send him forth to preach the gospel.
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Many of God's ministers spend as much time, if not more, in earnest prayer, supplication, and wrestling with the Lord in reference to their call to the work of the ministry, than they do in reference to their call by grace. The minister in the pulpit before you, who has stood on Zion's walls more than fifty years, had more exercises and wrestlings with the Lord in reference to his being sent of God to preach the gospel than he had with respect to his effectual call by grace.
It is needful that a man who goes forth in his Master's service should have his master's commission, should know it, and should have His sanction and divine approbation. The apostles knew this, and they went forth. None could fit and qualify them but the great Head of the church, for that situation which the Lord had appointed for them. In accomplishing this, the Lord makes use of instruments. He lays the work of the ministry on the minds of such as He designs to send forth. Therefore with such there is a solemn groaning, sighing, and crying, a feeling of their unworthiness and insufficiency. They labour and do all they can to remove the impression. That God, however, who has begun the work, still stirs them up. They have no rest. His truth in them is like the word in Jeremiah, "as a burning fire shut up in my bones and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." Thus, being a child of God, he has no rest. The Lord lays it on the hearts of the brethren and sisters, who pray for him, and encourage him. He that spoke to the church at Antioch, as we read: "The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them," lays it on the minds of the brethren that the Lord has designed them for the work of the ministry.
The Lord also leads those he designs for public usefullness more deeply and solemnly into gospel truth. When such are called upon to engage in prayer in public, the people find a savour, dew, and unction attending their prayers. When they enter into conversation, or give their thoughts on a portion of God's Word for godly edification, there is a savour and power that enters the minds of God's people, draws their affections, and knits their hearts toward them. This so draws their minds forth that they encourage them and bring them forward. Thus, sanctioned by the Lord, and encouraged by the church, they go forth and preach everywhere, the Lord working with them.
Now if any man thrusts himself forward, you may rest satisfied he will not be a blessing to the church of God. We read of Moses and of Gideon; how backward they were, and what excuse they made. So it is with others of the Lord's family. Their language is, "Send by the hand of him whom thou wilt send; but do not send me. " They are fully impressed with the importance of the work, standing up before the living God to speak to the never dying souls of their fellow creatures. They come trembling; and the brethren and sisters, seeing this, pray for and encourage them; and they have the testimony of the Lord that their labour is not in vain. These "go forth" to preach the gospel, having the sanction of the great Head of the church and approbation of the brethren, who pour out their prayers and supplications to God. The Lord works with them.
II. The second branch of my subject is, "They went forth and preached everywhere." What did they preach? Not themselves. No, not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. Why did they preach Him? Because they were specially anointed to preach Him. And this was not the only reason. They had enjoyed the Lord in their own souls as their Saviour and their Redeemer, whose love had been sweetly shed abroad m their heart. They had been led to see that His righteousness alone would justify them. They had seen by faith His atoning sacrifice, to deliver them from guilt and condemnation, and His efficacious blood to cleanse from every stain. This has been made so precious and comforting to their souls, the Lord's power and ability to save so much felt, so powerfully impressed upon their hearts, that a necessity was laid upon them to preach. "Woe is unto me," said the apostle, "if I preach not the gospel."
"They went forth and preached everywhere." We see the example in reference to Saul of Tarsus. When called by grace, he preached in the synagogue that Jesus is the Son of God, proving it from the records of heaven. Peter was anointed to preach the gospel; he went everywhere preaching the Word. When mentioning the circumstance of the healing of the lame man who sat at the gate called Beautiful asking for alms, and when before the rulers in the face of the greatest opposition, when asked by what power or name they had done this, Peter replied; "Be it known unto you, and to all the people, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him, doth this man stand here before you whole. . . Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." By the precious blood alone of Jesus can we be saved from our sins and all the damning consequences of them. They preached that Christ was exalted to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.
When the disciples were scattered abroad on account of the persecution that arose, Stephen went out and preached Jesus. Wherever he went, he preached a precious Christ in the heart, the hope of glory. "They ceased not to teach and to preach," to exalt the Redeemer in His everlasting gospel; the Lord by them confirming the word in the souls of the people.
Again, when Philip went down to Samaria, he preached Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot. "He opened his mouth and preached unto him Jesus." They "went forth;" and wherever they went they exalted the Lamb of God, the sin atoning Lamb. They preached the Redeemer as the alone name whereby sinners can be saved; so that precious souls were comforted and satisfied. The Lord himself says, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else."
The ministers of Christ are never so happy as when they are under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, exalting the Lamb of God, encouraging law-condemned sinners to look by faith to Jesus, to believe on Him, and encouraging souls to commit their cause into His hands. There is no safety or security anywhere but in Jesus. They went everywhere, and not only preached Jesus, but preached Him as the only name whereby sinners could be saved; the only way whereby God can be just, and the justifier of sinners. "I am," says Jesus, "the way, the truth, and the life." No man can come to the Father or to heaven but by and through the rent vail of the Redeemer's flesh. This is the only way by which we draw nigh to God.
The minister who preaches Jesus exalts Him as the living way. He takes the stones out of the way, and lifts up the Lord as an ensign to the people, as the only way by which we draw nigh to God, the only way whereby we can be saved from sin, the only way of worship the Lord owns and blesses, and the only way to the realms of everlasting bliss and blessedness. There is no other way but this. The apostles were valiant for this truth. They maintained at all hazards that there was no way of access to the Father but by Jesus Christ. They went forth and preached this everywhere. The apostle is very explicit about this, He says, "For I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." He was determined to bring forward no other. He tells us this is the only foundation: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ," and he instructs others to build upon Jesus Christ, who is the sure foundation stone.
"They went forth, preaching everywhere," razing all false foundations, removing all false refuges of lies, and preaching Jesus Christ as the only ground and foundation of a sinner's hope. God's ministers, going forth preaching Jesus, can never lay the sinner too low, nor ever lift the Redeemer too high. This is sound speech that cannot be condemned: "Lord, lay me in the dust of self-abasement, poor, sinful, filthy and worthless. But when Jesus is preached, let Him be exalted and lifted up in His glorious Person as the incarnate God. Let Him be exalted in his covenant engagements, on the ground of His obedience, as the Lamb for His great atoning sacrifice, in the power of His resurrection, in the glory of His ascension to heaven, and in His preveiling intercession for the souls of His living family."
When Jesus is thus preached by His ministers, the Lord works by them. The word applied by the Holy Spirit produces feelings in the soul similar to this: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." Have you ever felt thus? "He is the chiefest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." "Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!" This is the language of the soul that goes forth preaching Christ. Paul says, "Some indeed preach Christ of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds; but the other of love, knowing I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, and will rejoice." What benefit or profit is there to a living soul if a minister comes preaching, if Christ is not the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of our preaching? However eloquent the language and beautiful the style, God's family is not comforted; the church is not edified.
III. The third part of the subject is "the Lord working" by or with them. If the Lord does not work by His ministers, their preaching will be in vain.
Before I come to dwell particularly on this point, it will be needful to make an observation lest the language of the apostle Paul might be taken in a wrong sense. I will put two passages together. "The Lord working with them. " Paul says, "We then, as workers together with God, beseech you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." From this portion some would tell us that we are co-workers with God in salvation matters. This will not do as it respects the work of salvation. Christ finished that work upon the cross. His own arm brought salvation, and of the people there were none with Him. Salvation belongeth to the Lord. The Lord is the Saviour of souls. He provided the way for us to heaven, and saved us from the wrath to come. What, then, is intended by "everywhere they went forth, the Lord working with them," and "they working with the Lord"? Not that we are co-workers with God in salvation matters. In the salvation of the soul the Lord Jesus is all in all. How, then, does the Lord work with them, and they work with the Lord?
"The Lord working with them. "God's ministers, the Lord's servants, do not want to move in the ministry of the word without consulting their blessed Lord and Master. They want His divine approbation, His direction, His instruction; and as He works with them, so they work in their preaching. Say you, "How so?" A sent minister of God, whether itinerating or settled over a people, enters into his closet, not to get his sermon from books. The apostles, in speaking upon this, said, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word."
The speaker before you has fallen down before his Lord and master many times for a portion of the Word to be impressed on his mind. He has given himself to prayer for a portion of God's Word to be laid upon his mind, and that the Holy Spirit would bring some particular portion with savour and unction to his heart. Thus, then, the Lord, working with him, takes forth His heavenly treasure, puts it into the earthen vessel, and brings forth desires out of the man's heart Godward, for the comfort and edifying of the household of faith. He, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is led to bring forth those precious truths which he feels savoury in his own soul, and which he has experienced. Thus he commends the glorious truths of the gospel. "The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." The time comes for the labourer to go forth from his closet. A door is open, he ascends the pulpit, trembling at the idea of standing up before the people of his Lord and Master without His presence. His language is, "O Lord, I am going forth to preach Thy gospel. Thou hast said in Thy Word, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.' Lord, be with me. Lord, be with me. Make my heart to indite a good matter, and my tongue the pen of a ready writer. Enlarge my heart, give a door of utterance, clothe Thy word with power, that it may reach the hearts and consciences of Thy people, and that sinners may be converted unto Thee."
The Lord, thus working with them, confirms His word by the signs that follow. Paul was very sensible of the inability of the without the Lord's presence. Paul may plant, and Apollos may water in vain, unless God give the increase. In vain is Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or anything that man can do. It is by the Lord, and the Lord alone, working with His ministers in the preaching of the blessed gospel that sinners are converted and saints comforted. It is not by the minister's might and power, but by the might and power of the Lord. The Lord works with them. They have this treasure in their earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of them.
The Lord works by the ministry of the word, in enabling the man to preach the truth, and so to divide the word that each has his portion in due season. A portion is given to seven and also to eight. The lambs of the household, as well as the sheep, in the church of God, are edified, comforted, and built up. The minister not only wants to have it in his own knowledge and experience, but, when preaching, that the life and power may be felt in the souls of the people. Then, as Paul said to the Thessalonians, and which my soul longs to see and feel more of, "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but in power." We ministers preach the gospel in word only when we are dry, shut up, and straitened. Then, there is no going forth; all seems dry and barren. What is this for? To teach us our own insufficiency. We cry to the Lord for His power, His blessed influence, to work by and with us, that some good may be done. We want the power. "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.
IV. "Confirming the word with signs following." That is the confirmation of the word in the souls of them that hear it. How is it confirmed? One portion of the Word says, "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." What is this law? The Word of God, the blessed Bible. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." If any man stands up to speak contrary to this, there is no light in him. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ." He is to minister as of the ability that God gives, not as man gives.
Take examples from the good ministers in the days of old, who proved all they said from the Word of God. The Bereans of old "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so;" whether they were in accordance with the Word of God. When this is done, the Lord is working by them; what they do is according to the law and the testimony. God's ministers have their sermons from the Word of God.
We sometimes sing hymns composed by Mr. Medley. We had in our church 40 years ago, a dear saint of the most high God, who heard Samuel Medley, who mentioned the following anecdote. A number of ministers were assembled for instruction, and Medley was present. An old minister who sat opposite to him in the room kept his eyes fixed upon him. At last, walking towards him, he took hold of his button, and said, "Samuel, I have heard that you have begun to preach." Medley replied he had stood up sometimes to give a word of exhortation. The minister, who had been a long time in the work, said he would give him a word of advice. Medley said he would be glad of any advice from him. "Then my advice is this. Let the Bible guide you. Never attempt to preach to the Bible. Never try to make the Word of God say as you say. Go to the Lord, to a throne of grace, and what God gives from His Word, His blessing and approbation will be sure to follow." Thus God works with His ministers, confirming the word with signs following. To the law and the testimony. This is sound speech that cannot be condemned.
"The Lord confirming the word, with signs following." How is this done? Thus. The minister of God, in preaching His word, shows the sins and transgressions of His people, comes to their real state and condition as law-breakers, and shows the awful consequences of sin. The Lord works by him. The various portions of the Word the man of God brings forward are sealed home by the Spirit as a nail in a sure place. He describes the state and condition of a sinner; his weak, helpless, undone, lost state; the many vows and resolutions he has made and broken; so that he is brought to feel that if his salvation depended on his goodness, alas he never could be saved. He tells him from the Word of God that it is not works of righteousness he has done that will save him. He knows that if it depended upon his being saved by the law of works, he is utterly undone. Thus the word is confirmed. His mouth is stopped. He is brought in guilty before the Lord.
The invitations are, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." "Whosoever will, let him come." "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." These blessed truths are sealed and brought home with power; and the sinner's heart is fixed and encouraged. Thus the Lord works with His ministers, confirming the word with signs following. This is the confirmation these spiritually heavy laden and thirsty souls want; this sealing testimony of the Holy Ghost.
What are the signs following? When the preacher declares we are altogether in ourselves unclean, our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, the child of God says, "I know that is true what the dear man of God preaches." He then goes on to show that Jesus Christ is made unto us wisdom and righteousness; that He has wrought out and brought in an everlasting righteousness that will justify the sinner; that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to the believer; and that this righteousness that Jesus Christ wrought out, God the Father imputes to the sinner. He brings forth Scripture to confirm it; and the Holy Ghost seals it home that Christ has done this for me, a poor guilty sinner: "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Thus the Holy Spirit applies the word, the Lord works with them, His ministers confirming and sealing the word spoken by the man of God.
Christ is the only sacrifice. No blood would atone for sin but the blood of the dear Redeemer.
Not all the blood of beasts,
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
His blood is of a nobler and richer name than that of bulls and goats.
Thus the minister preaches the precious blood of the incarnate God as the church's redemption; the church redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. The Holy Ghost seals it home to the poor guilty sinner. The words are: "Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom." The atoning blood of the Lamb is the ransom: "By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." These are God's prisoners. They are delivered by the application of the blood of Jesus. The words of the minister are confirmed and sealed home. The child of God rejoices. These are the signs following.
When the man of God speaks of the efficacy of the blood of Christ, that it was not only the redemption price, but also a fountain to cleanse, as it is written: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness," the guilty sinner feels the efficacy of the blood of the dear Redeemer, which. applied by the Spirit, purges his conscience, and sins of a scarlet and crimson-like dye become white as wool. The atonement is sealed home and confirmed; and Christ becomes exceeding precious to the child of God. Thus God confirms the word by signs following.
Where God's ministers speak, the Lord causes the arrow of conviction to pierce the heart and conscience. No sooner does the sinner really feel the wound than he falls down, like Saul of Tarsus, with the cry, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" What were the signs that followed the preaching of the gospel on the day of Pentecost? The Lord working with them, thousands were converted to God. When they went down to Antioch, the hand of the Lord was with them, and signs followed. Sinners were effectually called by divine grace. The Lord opens the ear. He gives the hearing ear, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart, as He did Lydia, so that she attended to the things spoken by Paul. The signs that followed Paul's preaching were that sinners were converted to God and effectually called by grace out of darkness into God's marvellous light. The Lord makes bare His arm in the gates of Zion, so that inquiring, seeking souls, with their faces Zionward, are encouraged. They are effectually called by God's grace, and born again of the Spirit: "Born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God."
We have great reason to be thankful that Zion is favoured with the gospel preached by His poor unworthy servants. We want to see more crying mightily to God to arise and build up Zion, that He would appear in his beauty and glory, and that His gospel may have abundant success.
"The Lord working with them, confirming the word with signs following."
What are the signs? I trust I am speaking to some this evening who, like myself, have been long bending their steps Zionward, who are far advanced in years. Our stay here will not be long. Then may we shine as lights in the world, so live that God may be honoured and glorified by our walk and conversation, remembering that we are not our own, but bought with a price, and therefore we should glorify God in our bodies and spirits which are His. We should shine as lights in the world, as a city set on a hill, that cannot be hid. "Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven." Such are some of the signs that follow the preaching of those whom the Lord has called to the work of the ministry. Amen.
Preached at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, London, 1845 - By John Kershaw.
"There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God."
I shall first take notice of the Church of God under the metaphor or title of a "city". In the second place I shall speak of the "river" by which this city is made glad. In the third place I shall enumerate some of the "streams" that are connected with this river.
1. The first branch of the subject is that the church of God is compared to "a city. " Now cities, or at least some of them, are built on an eminence or conspicuous place; and hence they are typical of the Lord's church, which is said to be "a city that is set on a hill," and which "cannot be hid."
Cities generally were walled around, and they had their walls and bulwarks for their safety and defence. So the church of God says, "In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks."
On the walls of these cities there were anciently, and still remain in some places to this day, towers, and in these towers watchmen were placed, both to give an alarm in time of danger, and to fight on the approach of the enemy. So in Zion, the city of the living God, the city of the great King, He has His watchtowers and watchmen; and these watchmen are His ministering servants, who are continually on Zion's walls. The Lord says, "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night; ye that make mention of the LORD. keep not silence... till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."
We read also in the sacred scriptures, that these watchmen, the Lord's ministering servants, are not merely to stand upon the walls, but they are also to go about the streets and highways of the city to seek the Lord's people. Hence the church says, in the Song of Solomon, when she was seeking her Beloved who had withdrawn himself from her, "The watchmen that go about the city found me." God's ministers go about the city of Zion, and into the abodes of the brethren, to see how they were, and to enquire after their soul's welfare; as Paul and Barnabas did, when they said, "Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do." Thus God's ministers enter into the different stages of the experience of the citizens as in so many of the various streets in Zion, in order to meet their cases, and describe their feelings, by pointing out who they are, and where they are.
Again, cities have their chief and principal men. So, in reference to Zion, "the city of the living God," it is called "the city of the great King," King Jesus. "I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion," the church of God. Jesus Christ is King in Zion; and the church is His city. His habitation, and His dwelling-place. He says, "This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it." The inhabitants of this city of Zion are heaven-born and Spirit-taught souls, for they are all born in the city. But in reference to citizens literally, they are not all free-born, for some have to purchase their freedom. In the case of Paul when they were about scourging him, he being a Roman and uncondemned, the chief captain said to him, "With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free-born." So the inhabitants of spiritual Zion, the people of God, are all free born citizens. When the Lord makes up the number of His people, it shall be said, "this and that man was born in her." Jerusalem is said to "travail in birth," and "to bring forth;" and she is said also to be "the mother of us all."
In Jerusalem God clothes His word with almighty power and sinners are converted; here they are born again of the Spirit and brought into newness of life; and, as Peter says, are "begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." So that all real spiritual citizens of Zion, are heaven-born and Spirit-taught souls, and constitute the church and "city of the living God."
Time would fail me were I to attempt to point out the marks and evidences of these spiritual citizens and heaven-born souls. We find the King of the city says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" and "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Every true citizen, therefore, must be a converted character and will be brought to feel himself as a little child. But in what sense of the word does the true citizen of Zion become as a little child? I would direct your attention to the new-born babe, described by the prophet Ezekiel, who was cast out into the open field in a state of destitution and wretchedness. That was a little child in very indigent and pitiable circumstances, emblematical of a heaven born soul. How weak, how helpless that child was! - but yet no more weak or helpless than the heaven-born soul is made to see and feel himself to be. That little child could do nothing at all for itself: it could not wash, feed, dress, nor clothe itself; neither could it protect or defend itself; it must have everything done for it. So heaven-born souls, regenerate by the Holy Spirit, feel that they can do nothing for themselves, but add sin to sin; they must have everything done for them. And blessed be the name of the King, He has done it all. As the Captain of our salvation, He has finished redemption's work. There is everything in the Monarch of this city that its citizens stand in need of. Glorious things are spoken of the city, and of the King of the city, and of the treasures and supplies that He has laid up to meet the wants and necessities of the citizens. It is out of His fullness that they are said to receive, "and grace for grace." Under the same metaphor of a babe, Peter speaks of every regenerate soul; "as new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word." These heaven born souls, who are begotten of God in this spiritual city of Zion, have an earnest and hearty desire for God's truth and its ministration, that through it they "may grow thereby." Real citizens, who are born again of God, bear these marks and evidences, and many more also.
Now, in reference to the government of the city, there is the monarch, and there are the laws and regulations of the city. In an English city you have your Lord Mayor, aldermen, and common councilmen; and these sit and deliberate on all the affairs of the city. So, as it regards Zion, "the city of the great King;" He governs it, for "the government is upon his shoulders." It is said, "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." But for the ordering of the city, and the execution of the laws of Zion's King, He raises up His ministering servants, who are not only to preach the glad tidings of salvation, but to bear rule in the church of God in the name of the King. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." There is to be no lordship nor authority in the city; this belongs only to the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. "Ye call me Lord and Master; and ye say well, for so I am." But for the order and regulation of the city, the officers of the church of God are to see that the laws and statutes of King Jesus are properly attended to; and the word of the Lord has given directions to accomplish this end. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." So then, this city of the King of kings, and its inhabitants, spiritual men and spiritual women, are built upon Christ, the Rock of Ages. In this blessed city, they are swayed and governed by Jesus Christ, and here He rules over them by a holy sceptre, even the sceptre of His love and righteousness.
II. - Let us now come to "the river. " "There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God."
1. This blessed river is the love of the triune God, the everlasting electing love of Jehovah. We read of it in the sacred scriptures as "a pure river of water of life... proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." It runs all through time and will flow on in an unfathomable ocean throughout a never-ending eternity. Wherever there is an elect vessel of mercy, covenant love will be sure to find him out; it will discover him by regenerating grace in the appointed time, and arrest him in his conscience. One of our hymns expresses it-
"Almighty love arrest that man!"
The Lord loved Saul of Tarsus; and as the effect of that love, He arrested him in his conscience. So, in a similar way, He will arrest every one whom He has loved from eternity, and bring him to His blessed feet; He will begin in him the good work of grace, carry it on, and land him at last safe in immortal glory. Thus God's covenant love, His everlasting electing love, is a river springing up into eternal life. It began in Jehovah's eternal counsel and purpose; it runs on through time, and flows into eternity, making glad all the objects of His love and choice. This is the river, God's electing love, "the streams whereof make glad the city of God."
The Prophet Ezekiel, speaking on the subject of this river in its manifestations to the children of men, describes it in its first flowings forth as only "up to the ankles." Now, might not this represent the patriarchal dispensation? for in that dark period, very little of the glory of God, or the covenant love of Jehovah, were discoverable. Then, in the next place, he speaks of it as being "up to the knees." Might not this represent the Mosaic dispensation, in which there was a multitude of rites and ceremonies, and all pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ? And when he goes on to speak of the river as still rising higher, and coming to "the loins" - might not that represent the prophetic age, in which holy men spake more explicitly of the breakings forth of God's covenant love and mercy? At length we find the river so increased, that it is represented as "waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over." O, God's covenant love bursting forth in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a river so broad that there is no swimming over it! "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And the manifestation of this blessed love by the Holy Spirit to the souls of His people - this also is a river that never, never can be crossed: yea, God's covenant love is a boundless, bottomless sea to the inhabitants of this city.
Paul says, in writing to the Ephesians, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ." Yet, the Apostle Paul knew that neither the breadth, length, depth, nor height of the love of God could be described, for he says, it "passeth knowledge." William Huntington's sermon entitled, 'The Dimensions of Eternal Love' is one of the best discourses on God's covenant love I have ever seen.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ is particularly spoken of as a river. We cannot well separate God's covenant love from our Lord Jesus Christ, nor our Lord Jesus Christ from God's covenant love; for His glorious Person is the blessed channel through which the love of Jehovah's heart, and the love of His own heart, flow towards guilty sinners. The prophet Isaiah is directed to speak of it in this beautifully figurative language: "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Our Lord Jesus Christ is this "river of water in a dry place."
Is not the church of God in herself a dry and barren land, without this blessed river? I hope and trust I am one of the citizens; but what hardness, dryness, and barrenness do I often feel in my soul! How I need this blessed river, the Lord Jesus Christ, to flow into my soul, to water it and make it fruitful in every good word and work! The same prophet, speaking of Christ, says, But there the glorious LORD will be unto us as a place of broad rivers and streams;" so that our Lord Jesus Christ is a place of broad rivers and streams to His citizens. We have this illustration both in the type and in the antitype itself. The children of Israel travelling through the wilderness, were typical of the Lord's family travelling through this world. They were in a desert land, and wanted water to drink; Moses smote the rock at Horeb, and there flowed from the smitten rock a river, a fountain, a stream of water; and wherever God's Israel went in all their turnings and windings, this river flowed after them, to supply their wants and necessities. The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, mentions this very circumstance. He says, "They all drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ." The water flowing from that rock is typical of the stream that flows from the Redeemer, and supplies the wants and necessities of His people in this time state. And do we not need the Lord's love, and His precious atoning blood, to follow us like a river that so we may drink of the brook by the way, and obtain joy and peace to our precious souls? What a mercy it is to be enabled to bathe in this fountain of the love and blood of a dear Redeemer! The citizens stand in need of this river. "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth them for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." The Lord Jesus Christ, then, is a glorious river to the spiritual inhabitants of this city.
3. The Holy Ghost and His divine influences, are compared in the scriptures to a river. If we turn our attention to John 7. 37, 38, we shall see it there blessedly set forth. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth in me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Wherever the Holy Spirit dwells in the soul of a sinner, He dwells in him as a river, as a fountain. Hence our Lord said to the woman of Samaria whom He met at Jacob's well, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." So "there is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God."
It is a great mercy for a village to be well watered; but it is a greater mercy for a town, and especially for a large city, to have plenty of water. London could never have grown to what it is, in point of magnitude, were it not for the river that flows through it, and the bountiful springs of water that surround it. Zion, "the city of the living God," is watered with the river of the Holy Spirit of God. "There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of our God."
III. - Having made these remarks upon the river itself, we now take notice of "the streams which make glad the city of God." There are streams connected with this river that gladden the hearts of the spiritual citizens of Zion. What are these streams?
1. In the first place - the invitations of the gospel are one of the streams of this river, which, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, flow into and gladden the heart of the citizens. Is a spiritual citizen sighing, faint and discouraged because of the troubles of the way? Is his mind cast down and oppressed, so that he can scarcely crawl along? I am sometimes so weary, undone, and oppressed in my feelings, that I know not what to do. Well, the king of the city stoops to the citizens, and He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Let the Holy Spirit cause this sweet stream to flow into the soul of the citizen, and it will draw him along with it to the dear Redeemer. He will sit down at the feet of his Lord, as beneath the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, and find rest to his soul. It is as this stream brings us near to a precious Christ, that we can cast our burden upon Him, and He sustains us; as Peter says, "Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you." And thus, "All that the Father giveth me," says the King of the city, "shall come unto me." So this sweet stream, flowing from the blessed river, lays hold of a sinner, and brings him to Jesus.
Come, then, poor, weary, heavy-laden soul; however many your sins are, however hard your heart is, however filthy and depraved you may see yourself to be, the King of the city says, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." He never casts out any that come to Him, unless they come with a price in their hands; then He will have nothing at all to do with them, but will send them empty away. Bless His precious name - and it does my soul good as I talk to you about it - He will have nothing to do with any but beggars and insolvents! He says to such, "Come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. "O this is glorious to a sinner who knows he has nothing to bring, and feels himself utterly worthless. The sweet stream of gospel invitations thus gladdens the heart of the citizen of Zion. He feels himself thirsty, faint, and drooping, and he wants reviving and cheering. He wants a sweet taste of the water of life, a drop of the good old wine of the kingdom, and to drink of the stream that flows from this river, and that speaks thus, "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. "O blessed invitation! May the Holy Spirit cause it to flow into the hearts of the citizens of Zion! May they be encouraged to come to "the fountain of living waters"! "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' 'O' say some, 'but that does not fit you; you are a predestinarian. Here is a universal invitation, a stream flowing to everybody.' But, I see God's election in that text. 'You must have eagle eyes to see election there.' Well, let us try it by God's rule. "Whosoever will, let him come." Who is the man that will come? The man in a state of nature? O no. The Lord Himself says, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life. " Man's will is opposed to coming; my will was opposed to coming once; but the Psalmist says, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." God makes His people willing; and the gospel invitation is, "Whosoever will, let him come." But what are these invitations to us, if we are not willing? So, the invitations of the gospel are one of the streams of this river, which make glad the hearts of the citizens of Zion.
2. Another stream that flows from this river and makes glad the heart of the spiritual citizen, is pardoning love and mercy. This is a very sweet and gladdening stream; but it is neither sweet nor gladdening to those who do not feel themselves guilty and condemned. If you and I were talking of pardoning and forgiving a person, and that person were not conscious he had offended us, instead of cheering his heart, it would offend him: he would say, 'I do not want your mercy and pardon; I have not trespassed upon you, be it known to you. 'But pardon and forgiveness are sweet to the guilty and condemned citizens of Zion, who have had God's law carried into their conscience. If the law has taken hold of the citizen by the throat, and said, "Pay me that thou owest;" if he has been weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting; if he has been tried in the court of conscience he has been found guilty, both as it respects his outward actions and his inward intentions; for the Holy Spirit "is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Many professors of religion think they are all right, so long as they can keep the outside of the cup and platter clean; and men think that such persons are very good and pious creatures, as long as this is the case; but all the while their hearts are guilty before God. But when the citizen of Zion feels that he is guilty within and without, that he is a condemned and miserable wretch, then pardoning mercy is sweet to him. There is not a real spiritual citizen of Zion, who is not crying and groaning in his mind because of his sins, and pleading for mercy and grace through Christ; for he makes Christ his only plea.
We read in 1 Kings 20, 31 of the servants of Benhadad saying to him after he had been overcome in battle, and fled away for safety, "Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life." Now God brings every citizen of Zion before Him in his feelings, with sackcloth on his body and a rope round his neck, to fall down before His blessed Majesty, saying, 'O Lord, if Thou shouldest send me to hell, Thou wouldst be a just King! I deserve no favour at Thy hands; for I am a vile, guilty, and polluted criminal.' Therefore he cries with the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" And was there not mercy in the heart of the king of Israel towards Benhadad when the servants came thus before him? Yes; for he took him up in his chariot, and caused him to ride with him. And is not the King of the city of Zion a merciful king? Does He not manifest His love to sinners? We see it in the case of Mary Magdalene. She came to the feet of Jesus with a broken and contrite heart; she was a mourner over sin, and wept before Him. But the Lord spake to her, and said, "Woman, thy sins which are many, are all forgiven thee." The streams of pardon flowed into her soul like a river, and caused a flood of tears to trickle down her cheeks. So with many others recorded in the scriptures this blessed stream of gospel mercy flowed into their hearts, giving them joy and peace. The prophet Micah felt it; for he said, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of his heritages he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." Is there a sweeter word than this in all the Bible? Come, poor guilty sinner, you have to do with a God that "delighteth in mercy;" your cry has gone up to Him; and the streams of His mercy flow towards you. He says, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion upon whom I will have compassion."
There is a declaration on this point which has flowed into my soul as a stream, and that has helped me on for many a year. I do not know what I could have done without it. The covenant God, speaking of the greatness of His mercy, says, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; ... I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." This is an exceeding great and precious promise of covenant mercy! It brings joy into my soul that I have to do with a God that says, "I will be merciful:" so that neither my sins, nor the devil, nor all the opposition that I feel from within or without can ever turn away His love from my soul. This fills my heart with gladness, and makes it shout for joy. It was the streams of this river, that flowed into the heart of the poor dying thief, and gladdened his heart; and this same stream flows into the souls of all true citizens, making glad their hearts, and will continue to do so till every vessel of mercy is landed safe in immortal glory.
There may be some citizens who are saying, 'I wish these streams of mercy would flow into my soul; I have been long beseeching the Lord to speak peace and pardon to my conscience, by saying, "Son, or daughter, go in peace." Sometimes I have thought the streams of the Lord's pardoning mercy were coming at last, but I am now all in doubt about it, and fear that they will never be mine.' Well, well, poor soul, be not dismayed; wait on the Lord; "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." "The vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it: because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Christ has shed His blood for the sins of His people; and the Holy Ghost will apply that precious blood to the consciences of the citizens, that they may feel its efficacy in purging away their guilt. By this sacred stream they are made as holy as Christ is holy, and as pure as He is pure. Paul says, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." The stream of pardoning love and mercy is a blessed stream that flows from this river to make glad the citizens of Zion.
3. The promises of the gospel are another blessed stream that flows from this river to make glad the heart of the spiritual citizens. Peter says there "are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises." What makes them so exceedingly great and precious, and comforting to the hearts of God's people is, that they are unconditional! 'But,' say you, 'how are God's promises unconditional? They are unconditional to us because they do not depend for their fulfilment upon any obedience of ours; if they did, all their preciousness and sweetness would be gone. I cannot come before the Lord, and plead for any of His blessings on the ground of my own obedience or worthiness. Now can you, my friends? 'O no,' you say, 'this is not the way.' All the promises of God in the Lord Jesus are all "yea and amen," that is, sure and certain, and "to the glory of God by us." This constitutes a great part of the sweetness of the promises.
Do you not see how this meets the case of the Lord's people? The citizen comes before the King, and pleads with him, telling him his tale of woe. I am pleased with the tale of woe, and shall be as long as I live; and if you have not the same tale to tell the King, I very much doubt your citizenship, for every citizen is brought into the same feelings. He says, "O Lord, I am not worthy of the least of these thy mercies!" 'Well,' say you, 'I do feel this; it is the language of my heart and soul, and fits me well.' So the prayer of the spiritual citizen is: 'Heavenly Father, I cannot do without Thy blessings; I ask and plead for them in the name of Jesus, for he has said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." Do then look upon me, heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus; look upon me in the face of thine Anointed. O Lord, look down upon me, and help and bless me!' As the promise is brought home to your heart, under the bedewing influences of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will help and support you. He will uphold the heart of the righteous; He will strengthen them in the inner man; for He says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." He will go with them through the floods and the flames; be with them in the fiery furnace, and surely do them good.
If you have sat under the best preacher, you will want to sit under him again. 'Well,' say you, 'but who do you call the best preacher?' I will tell you, fearless of contradiction, who the best preacher is - it is the Holy Ghost! If you have been brought to the feet of Jesus; if the promises have been applied to your heart, and you have felt their sweetness and preciousness, you have been under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, and you know something of the streams of consolation and joy that make glad the heart of the citizens, and which flow from the righteousness and faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God.
One particular season in my experience comes into my mind. It was before I had entered the ministry, and some time after I had enjoyed peace and pardon, through an application of the precious blood of the cross. I was brought into what is called the 'weaning time,' as it is said, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts." I was now in great bondage, and sadly tempted to believe that all my religion was only a delusion, that I was only a stony-ground hearer, and that the seed of the word had been choked by the cares of the world. How my soul sunk within me because I had joined the church, and had gone among the Lord's people, telling them what He had done for my soul! In this dark season, when the temptations of the Devil prevailed against me, I said, 'I wished I had never joined the church, for I was sure I should soon fall, and bring a disgrace upon the cause.' Weeks and months passed by, during which my soul remained in a dark and stupid state; yet the Lord was at work upon me all the while. I felt such groanings and sighings to the Lord day and night: and at every opportunity I was found at the throne of grace beseeching Him to appear for me. I think I now see the place, it is in the eye of my mind while I am now talking with you. But when I was upon my knees sighing and breathing out the desires of my soul to the Lord, these words were dropped into my heart by the Holy Ghost. "The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ear is open to their cry." From that sweet text, I was led from one portion to another; and the Holy Spirit preached to my soul a sermon at that time which I shall never forget. Afterwards I walked to and fro in the fields under these blessed bedewings, and felt such streams of joy and gladness in my heart that I never felt before.
It is as the streams of this river flow into the heart, through the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, that the citizens of the city of God, the Church of the living God, are made glad. May the Lord cause these streams of mercy to flow into our souls more powerfully, that our hearts may be made glad, and that we may rejoice and triumph in the Lord alone.
Preached at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, London, On LORD's Day Evening, 1848 - By John Kershaw
"The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
The gracious words of our text set forth the glorious Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning whom the Apostle says, as it can be said of no other, that He is "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever" (Heb. 13. 8.) All things in nature and in providence change. The feelings and exercises of the Christian mind are ever numerous and changing. But whatever takes place in nations, in churches, in families, or in the feelings of our minds, "the LORD liveth; and blessed be our rock," (the Rock of Ages, for He never moves!) "and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
These words have been a great comfort and support to my mind in trials and in bereavements. For whoever stands or falls in a profession of religion; whoever goes or comes, lives or dies, "The Lord liveth"! It has fallen to my lot since I have been a pastor over a Christian church, to commit many of my near, dear, and choice friends, with whom I have walked together in sweet company in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost for many years, to the silent tomb. Such bereavements cannot but be keenly felt, though our loss is the eternal gain of our departed brethren and sisters in the Lord. But when choice friends die to us in this world, these words have soothed and comforted my mind many times - my Lord and Master lives! Yes; bless His name, the Lord lives! Jesus is the same; He never dies! "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?" But, blessed be our Rock; He never dies, He lives for ever!
Our text divides itself into three parts. First, "The LORD liveth." Secondly, "Blessed be my Rock," and Thirdly, the exaltation of the God of our salvation.
I. - In the first place, "The LORD Iiveth. " This is our Lord Jesus Christ, the immortal Word - He who created the heavens and the earth; He who in the Book of The Revelation calls Himself the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last; which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. He who is the maker of all things visible and invisible. He who was made flesh and dwelt among us, and manifested His glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. He who veiled his Godhead in a clay tabernacle and condescended to be "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law."
This brings us to what Paul calls "the mystery of godliness." He says, "without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up to glory." ( I Tim. 3. 16.) There was absolute necessity for the Immortal Word to assume our nature without sin in the womb of the Virgin, that in that nature He might bear all our transgressions away, die for our iniquities, and shed His precious blood for the remission of our sins; that sin might be condemned in His flesh; that is, in the holy soul and body of the immaculate Jesus. Paul says, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." (Rom. 8. 3.) "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." (I Cor. 15. 3) The awful and solemn death of Jesus, His crucifixion and blood-shedding, is the pillar of the Christian religion, and the grand foundation of the church of God. The sinner who is awakened to see and feel his lost, ruined, and undone state; to behold the inflexible holiness and justice of God, and brought at the same time to feel himself sinking within under the terrors of God in a broken law - that poor guilty, sin-condemned wretch, has nowhere else to look for peace, comfort, or rest, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for our sins. He "was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification."
Now this is the very gospel the apostle Paul preached; therefore he lays such emphasis upon it in that memorable chapter, I Cor. 15. Let me read a few verses of it. He says, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand: by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (vv. 1-3) The solemn and awful death of Jesus, the incarnate God: His blood-shedding for the remission of our sins, and His resurrection from the dead, is the foundation upon which God's church is raised for eternity.
But the Lord of glory who was crucified and slain for our sins, now lives! He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead." (Rom. 1. 4.) Or, as Peter says, on the day of Pentecost, "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." (Acts. 2. 24.) But why could not death and hell hold the Redeemer fast? For this very blessed and obvious reason. He bore the sin of His church in His own body on the tree. and cast it for ever into the depths of the sea; He endured the tremendous penalty due to transgression, and delivered His church and people by being made a curse for them; He satisfied law and justice; He wrought out and brought in an everlasting righteousness; He spoiled principalities and powers; and conquered death, and him that had the power of it, that is, the Devil! Christ took the sting of death away; and therefore He could not be held fast by it. He triumphed gloriously over Satan's territory in His resurrection from the dead. He was the plague of death, and the destruction of the powers of darkness.
Our Jesus lives! Though He died, He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. I must quote that chapter again. Paul says, "He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep: after that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles: and last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time." (vv. 4-8) The disciples were witnesses of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ; they saw the mighty miracles that accompanied it; they beheld Him laid in the sepulchre; and they were witnesses also of His resurrection from the dead. Jesus appeared likewise to the women after His resurrection in the garden. He made himself known also to the two as they appeared to the disciples again ere they were assembled for fear their hearts while they were and Master. And when He gave as their credentials, commanding them not to depart from Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father, while He is speaking to them He is taken up to heaven, and a cloud receives Him out of their sight. (Acts 1. 1-9.) Having led captivity captive, the everlasting gates are flung, open, and Christ ascends to glory, and takes His seat on high at the right hand of the Majesty above as the great High Priest, Head, and Representative of His people. There, as the exalted Mediator and living Advocate of His redeemed, He ever lives and reigns in immortal glory in the high court of heaven. He is there as the head of His body the church; and He says to all His members on earth, "Because I live, ye shall live also. As sure as Christ the head is in glory, so sure shall every elect vessel of mercy whom He has raised from a death of sin to a life of faith, rise to live with Him in immortal bliss and blessedness for ever and ever. Yes; bless His precious name, "The Lord lives!" He not only lives as the head and representative of His people in the high court of heaven, but He lives there to manage all their affairs.
Now this was the glorious foundation which the apostle Paul laid in his preaching, and it was his support under all his trials - the blood-shedding, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ our great High Priest into heaven. Mark his language; he says, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" What a solemn and important question this is! Then he adds, "It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom. 8. 33, 34.) Do you not see what a prominent feature the death of Christ has in this solemn question? He lives and intercedes for His redeemed; He pleads their cause, and manages their affairs. The Apostles soul being fired with these important truths, exclaims in another place, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Heb. 7. 25.)
Sometimes when I have heard our people singing the following hymn, it has so lifted up my heart and soul that I have scarcely been able to constrain my feelings:-
Who shall the Lord's elect condemn?
'Tis God that justifies their souls:
And mercy, like a mighty stream.
O'er all their sins divinely rolls.
Who shall adjudge the saints to hell'?
'Tis Christ that suffered in their stead and the salvation to fulfil.
Behold Him rising from the dead.
He lives! he lives! and sits above,
For ever interceding there
Who shall divide us from his love'?
O, what should tempt us to despair'?
He ever lives within the vail to plead the cause of His people, and we shall never be disappointed. "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted." He lives in heaven; He lives and dwells on earth too. But where is it that He lives and dwells in this world of sin and woe?
1. The Lord lives in the heart of every elect vessel of mercy, redeemed by blood, and regenerated by the Spirit. Such a precious soul as this is the palace of the great King, the dwelling-place of the mighty God of Jacob. In the prophecy of Isaiah, we have a beautiful description of the greatness of the exaltation, majesty and glory, and yet at the same time amazing humility and condescension of the Lord of hosts: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity." Let us pause here for a moment. "That inhabiteth eternity!"
Eternity is His dwelling-place. You and I inhabit our houses in our short span of existence but for a very little time. But our God, the Rock that is to be exalted, inhabits eternity; "Whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place." Heaven is His throne, and the earth is His footstool. He dwells in another place also; "with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Is. 57. 15.) The Lord lives, in the heart of every broken-hearted sinner. He has taken up His abode there; and says, "Here will I dwell for ever, for I have desired it."
Hear the Apostle Paul's heart-cheering testimony in reference to his own case. He says, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me." You see, Christ lives in the very heart and soul of His people. "And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2. 20.) This is doctrine, and good doctrine too. But, as I am speaking these words, and proving them from the Bible, methinks I hear some child of God saying, 'Can ever the Lord Jesus Christ dwell in such a filthy, vile, and evil heart as mine? If he dwells in the heart of His people, I am afraid I never can be one of them. Such a polluted wretch as I am, sure He never can dwell in me." But what this soul says is only a confirmation that the Lord does dwell in His heart. Mark it, then, for your encouragement; it is only such tempted and tried souls as yours that feel their vileness, pollution, helplessness, and weakness. The Lord does not dwell with those who care nothing about sin, who have never had a heart broken on account of their iniquities. O no; the dwelling-place of the Lord Jesus Christ is with the humble, broken, and contrite heart. The haughty looks of man must be brought down, and the Lord of hosts alone exalted in his soul.
"The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted." He lives, then, in the souls of His people. He lives in their prayers, He lives in their praises, He lives in their hearing; yes, He lives in them as their all in all. There is no spiritual life but what is in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are said to be dead, and our "life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col. 3. 3, 4.) So the Lord lives in the hearts of his people
2. The Lord lives in the assemblies of His saints. Wherever His twos and threes are gathered together in His name, there He lives and there he dwells. He says, "In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee." (Ex. 20. 24.) How amazingly the omniscience of the God-head shines forth in this blessed passage of scripture! In this great city, there are now at this present time many gospel churches assembled, through the length and breadth of the land, where the name of the Lord is recorded, where the silver trumpet is being blown, and where the shout of a king is heard in their midst. The Lord comes and lives and dwells in these assemblies. He alone must be exalted in the pulpit, and in the souls of His living people. And as the Lord lives in them, so they live in Him by virtue of their union to Him, and shall never be brought into condemnation. As sure as the Lord now lives in heaven for His people, so shall they live and reign with him in blessedness for ever when time is no more.
II.- I come to the second point of our subject, "Blessed be our rock." Now who is this Rock? It can be none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He is in scripture set forth by the character of a rock. But why is this? Because there is nothing so firm and imperishable as a rock. He is exalted by this metaphor to show His immovability and durability.
Let us make a few observations to show wherein the Lord Jesus Christ is a Rock.
1. As a Rock He is a foundation to build upon; and the man made wise unto salvation builds his house upon it. This is that glorious Rock spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah, "Behold," says God, "I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation." (Is. 28. 16.) The Apostle Paul taking up the same subject, says, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 3. 11.) The foundation which our God has laid in Zion, and which every Christian minister should lay in his preaching, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ in His covenant engagements; Christ in the complexity of His character as God and man; Christ in His pure and holy humanity; Christ in His atoning sacrifice; Christ in His perfect obedience to the divine law; Christ as the living Advocate before the throne - are the themes upon which the minister should dwell. Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which God builds His church for time and for eternity. "On this rock," He says, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16. 18.) Christ is a rock; and as Rock He is the foundation of the church.
But the text says, "Blessed be our rock." Now a word or two in reference to the blessedness of this Rock. When David was sinking in his feelings in the mud and mire of the slough of despondency he was afraid his feet were not upon this Rock. Bunyan says, 'There are many persons who make a bridge over this slough' But that is not the right way. The Lord's people are brought to feel their sin, their guilt, their burden; they are made to sigh and to cry and to wait patiently till the Lord inclines His ear unto them; and then at last they will say as the Psalmist did, "He brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." (Ps. 40. 1, 2.) David could not say by his own wisdom and strength, 'Here is a rock, a firm rock; I will stand upon it for life.' He could not put himself on the rock; he was sinking in the horrible pit, and his feet sticking fast in the mud. But when by the Holy Spirit's witness in his heart, he could feelingly say the Lord had brought him up out of the horrible pit, had set his feet upon the rock, and established his goings that he was standing for eternity on the incarnate God, on the finished salvation of Christ - that his sins were put away, and he was delivered from the curse of a broken law - that justice was satisfied and heaven opened up through the new and living way; - then feeling the firmness and blessedness of the Rock, he has a song of praise and thanksgiving put into his mouth and his heart. Isaiah says, "Let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains." (Is. 42. 11.) The child of God sings and shouts when he sees and feels the blessedness and security of his salvation. If we are built upon this Rock, we shall be found safe in life, safe in death, and safe in the judgment day. There is no safety anywhere else. "The LORD liveth, and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
2. But again. "Blessed be my Rock." The Lord Jesus Christ is not only a foundation; He is also the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The Prophet Isaiah says, "A man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isa. 32. 2.)
We are in the wilderness, in a waste howling desert; this world to a heaven-born soul is a weary land. We sometimes sing,
"Lord what a wretched land is this,
That yields us no supply:
No cheering fruits, nor wholesome trees,
Nor streams of living joy."
But there is something more weary than the land we live in. If we look into our hearts, we shall find more weariness there than in all things else around US. Weary Of sin, weary of self where is the poor soul to go? where is he to flee? He can go nowhere but to the Rock of Ages!
David says, "When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." 'Lead me to Christ - the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Let me sit down beneath His shade, and enjoy sweet peace, rest, and comfort to my soul.' Ah, this Rock shades us from the fiery flames of Mount Sinai; it shades us from the buffetings of Satan; and oftentimes it shades us in the storms and tempests of life. Sometimes the child of God in this weary land is enabled to sit down by faith sheltered beneath the shadow of this great Rock, and enjoy sweet peace, rest, and communion with the Lord. O how sweet and happy are his feelings then! "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
3. We observe again, in reference to this blessed Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ is not only the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land; but there flows a stream of water from this rock to satiate the thirst of His dear people in this barren land. This was beautifully typified by the rock smitten at Horeb. The Apostle says, "The Rock was Christ."
There flowed from it a stream which followed the children of Israel in all their wanderings through the wilderness to nourish and refresh them. And so the fountain of precious blood and water that flowed from Immanuel's side follows the church of God through this weary land for the taking away of sin and uncleanness, and for giving sweet comfort and rest to the weary soul. Whenever, by the bedewing influences of the Spirit of God, it enters into their heart and conscience, it fills them with all joy and peace in believing. "Blessed be our Rock," then, for His atoning blood and His justifying righteousness to His beloved church and people. Well may they say, "The LORD liveth; and blessed be our rock; and let the God of our salvation be exalted."
4. "Blessed be our rock." There is a cleft in this rock; and God puts His people in "the cleft of the rock. "Moses besought the Lord to show him His glory. But the Lord answered him, "Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live." But He said, "Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock." 'Here is a Rock by me, one brought up with me; on this Rock thou shalt stand and see my glory.' "And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cliff of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by; and I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shalt not be seen." (Ex. 33. 20-23). The Lord put Moses in the cleft of the rock while He passed by, and displayed His glory and majesty; and He covered him with His hand of mercy and compassion while He proclaimed His great and glorious name, as The Lord God, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. Moses was put into the cleft of the rock for safety and security; and so the Lord's living family are sheltered in the cleft of the Rock, the glorious Person of the dear Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is their safety and security; here they are safe in life, safe in the swellings of Jordan, and safe at the judgment of the great day. What a sweet frame of mind A. M. Toplady was in, when he penned that solemn and beautiful hymn:-
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the water and the blood,
From thy river side which flow'd.
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r.
This is God's religion. When this is felt in the soul of a sinner it is the power of God unto salvation. But how blessedly Toplady speaks of death. I should like, if it were the Lord's will, that they might be my last words;
Whilst I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eye-strings break in death;
When I soar through tracts unknown,
See Thee on thy judgment-throne;
ROCK of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in THEE.
O what a blessed shelter! what a hiding-place! what a refuge from the storm! what a strong tower into which the righteous run and are safe for ever! Well might David say, "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
III.- We notice, in the third and last place, the exaltation of the God of salvation. "And let the God of my salvation be exalted." The exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ is a most blessed and precious branch of divine truth, and especially when the child of God is under the same feelings as David was when he penned his beautiful Psalm. The great aim of the apostle Paul, both in preaching and writing was to lay the sinner low in the dust and on the dunghill of self-abasement, and to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ on high - to exalt the sin atoning Lamb, and to crown him Lord of all! I cannot enter into the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ more beautifully and strikingly than in the Apostle's language, when he prays for the Ephesian believers that they might know "what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name which is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Behold the exaltation of Christ! Here is that very Jesus of Nazareth, who said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Here is that same Jesus whom they spat upon, mocked, derided, crowned with a crown of thorns, and at last crucified saying, "it is not fit that he should live." Here is that same Jesus exalted by God the Father, "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet, and given him to be head over all things to the church which is his body the fullness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph. 1. 21-23.) Here is exaltation. He is "King of kings, and Lord of lords!" "The Lord God Omnipotent!"' Zion's King, who lives and triumphs evermore!
The Apostle speaks more extensively on the exaltation of Christ, and in order that His exaltation might shine brighter, he contrasts it with His humiliation in this beautiful manner: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Then comes the exaltation; "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2. 5-1 1.) The Lord Jesus Christ is exalted far above angels, above the redeemed in glory, and above crowned heads and potentates in the world. He is exalted in nature. He is "King of kings, and Lord of lords;" and as Zion's King he has the pre-eminence over all things. The Holy Spirit exalts Him in the Bible, where His declarative glory and beauty shines forth in immortal grandeur. "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
Again, wherever the Lord places any of His ambassadors on Zion's wall to blow the silver trumpet of the everlasting gospel, and give it a certain sound, it is the highest ambition of every sent minister of God to exalt Christ in the pulpit - to lift Him high on the pole of the everlasting gospel. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must a precious Christ be lifted up and exalted in the hearts and consciences of His own people. And while the preacher is raising up Jesus, there is a feeling of delight kindled in the mind of the believing hearer for he knows the ambassadors of truth can never too much exalt Christ in the glory of His Person, in His covenant engagements, in His atoning blood, and in His law-fulfilling righteousness. The child of God loves to hear Christ lifted up in His finished work, in His resurrection from the dead, in His headship over His church, and in His living advocacy before the throne. He delights to crown Him Lord of all, and that immortal honours should rest on His sacred brow for the great things He has done for his soul. So he says, "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
My friends, do you love to hear Christ lifted up and exalted as your all and in all? If you do you are willing to be made less than nothing and vanity in yourselves. Professors of religion, generally, do not like to be thus humbled; they love to have something to do, in whole or in part, to recommend themselves to God. But the Lord's salvation is not a mixture of grace and works. It is of free and sovereign grace, and received by faith alone, which is the gift of God. It is "not of works, lest any man should boast." The Lord alone be exalted as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last in the salvation of His people.
Once more with regard to the exaltation of Christ. "And let the God of my salvation be exalted." The Lord Jesus Christ is and must be "the God of salvation," in spite of sin and Satan, death and hell. He must be exalted by the Holy Spirit in the soul of every elect vessel of mercy. An exalted Christ in the Bible without an exalted Christ in the pulpit will not do for the sensible sinner. Christ must be exalted as the all in all in the salvation of His church and people. As sure as the Holy Spirit brings down high and haughty looks; as sure as He abases the proud and lofty, humbles them, and lays them low in the dust of self-abasement, by making them sick of self, stripping them of all their fancied good, and giving them to feel their lost, ruined, and undone state - so sure will this blessed Spirit glorify Jesus by taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them to the heirs of salvation by exalting and lifting Him high in the affections of His people. When the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the Saviour's love in the soul, that soul exalts the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever He speaks peace, pardon, joy, and salvation to the conscience, the eternal Spirit has taken of the things of Christ, and shewn them to that conscience. Such a vessel of mercy loves to have Christ exalted in His feelings, and says, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. " Christ must be exalted in the hearts and affections of His church and people. These happy moments they have; and the more the Person of Christ is exalted, the more are their feelings melted into gratitude and praise to the God of their salvation. Now David was in this case when he said, "And let the God of my salvation be exalted."
Finally, the God of salvation will be exalted in the morning of the resurrection at the judgment of the great day, when the Lord Jesus Christ will come the second time without sin unto salvation. No longer will He be in the character and capacity of a servant, but in the character and capacity of the Judge of quick and dead. He will come with great power and glory upon the clouds of heaven, with myriads of holy and blessed angels swelling the triumphs of His train. Every eye shall see Him; the trumpet shall sound and the dead be raised; He shall be seated on His great white throne of judgment in solemn majesty and awful power. Assembled worlds shall be arrayed before Him, and ungodly sinners will come forth and stand before that Lord whose name they scorned and whose children they hated and abhorred while upon earth; and they shall hear His awful voice pronouncing to them, "Depart, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
The Lord Jesus Christ will be exalted at the judgment of the great day! He will be the wonder of angels, the terror of devils, and the joy and salvation of His redeemed. He will be exalted far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion; and at His right hand, in glory and blessedness, will His saints be exalted in eternal honour. "Know ye not, that we shall judge angels?" O with what wonder, glory, and exaltation will the Lord Jesus Christ then appear, surrounded with His saints in glory! "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
God grant, that when the Lord Jesus Christ comes, we may be found among His redeemed, washed from our sins in His precious blood, and clothed in His righteousness! God grant that we may be found sheltered and secure in a precious Christ, the Rock of Ages, the God of our salvation!