GLIMPSES OF THE TRUTH AS IT IS
IN JESUS by Octavius Winslow
"The Voice of the
"Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are
like the deaf adder that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the voice
of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be." Psalm 58:4-5
How glorious is the nature, and what an inestimable
blessing to man, socially and individually considered, is the Gospel of
Christ! It is a revelation of the most stupendous expedient, and a solution
of the profoundest problem that ever interested the heart, or engaged the
thought of the Eternal Mind. The salvation of guilty man secured in a way
consistent with infinite holiness- the claims of stern justice reconciled
with the pleadings of divine mercy- the moral government of God vindicated-
and love, the favorite perfection of his nature, indulged- form the one
sublime and precious theme of which it speaks in strains of newborn and
unheard of melody. Well does the Holy Spirit entitle it, the "glorious
Gospel of the blessed God." Thus, while this Gospel is to the sinner the
golden chain of grace lowered to the very depth of his wretchedness and woe,
it is an all-encircling shield thrown around the purity and the honor of
that Being to whose nature it assimilates, and to whose communion it lifts
And yet, strange to say, man, the only creature
personally interested in this wondrous revelation, is of all intelligences
the least astonished at its glories, or affected by its appeals. Angels scan
its mysteries, and adore- devils believe its announcements, and tremble; but
man, whom it most deeply concerns, and to whom it is especially sent, "will
not heed the voice of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be."
May the Spirit of truth and love impart his own blessing, while we proceed
to consider the nature of the gospel charm, and the guilt and consequences
of its wilful neglect.
By every reflective and right-thinking mind, the gospel
will be regarded as the most invaluable boon God ever bestowed upon our
nation, while its withdrawal would be the greatest calamity that could
arrest its prosperity and blight its happiness. The unenlightened
philosopher, the political economist, and the wily statesman, may dispute
the justness of this sentiment; but man's unbelief cannot invalidate God's
truth. Let God be true, and every man whose opinions contravene His
veracity, be a liar, rather than that God were false. The gospel has made
us, as a nation, all that we are- great, privileged, and free. Her
greatness, her privileges, and her freedom, Britain owes not to the wisdom
of her legislation, to the influence of her letters, or to the prowess of
her military; but to Christianity, and to Christianity alone. But for this,
she had still been classed with the idolatrous nations of the east. When the
great apostle of the Gentiles planted his foot upon her shores, and, amid
the heathen altars and idolatrous shrines consecrated to Woden, to Thor, and
to Tuesco, proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, he laid the foundation of
all her future glory.
And although there have been periods in her remarkable
history when the pale star of Popery has seemed in the ascendant, and the
sun of gospel truth has for a while been obscured, yet the morning has again
dawned- a morning without clouds"- and emerging from beneath the veil of
night, it has shone forth with increased power and splendor, covering with
overwhelming defeat every attempt to banish it from the land. And so it will
continue to confound its enemies until the last conquest it achieves shall
usher in the coming of the Son of man.
We might also adduce the history of the Western World as
affording another evidence of the gospel as a national blessing. Contrast
the present elevated moral, intellectual, and social condition of America,
with the period, but recent, when the Indian paddled his canoe along her
majestic waters, and the smoke of his rude wigwam, and the yell of his
senseless worship, rose amid the stillness and the gloom of his unbroken
forests; and to the inquiry, "What has so rapidly advanced, and so far
elevated her in the scale of civilized nations?" we unhesitatingly reply,
"the glorious gospel of the blessed God," planted upon her shores by the
labors, and nourished by the prayers, the sacrifices, and the tears of the
Pilgrim Fathers, of whom the world was not worthy. We have made and have
given this prominence to these remarks, feeling their importance and
There exists a marvellous tendency to undervalue the
influence of Christianity as a great national blessing. Civilization,
education, and science are thrust forward, as though all our greatness and
true glory had been achieved by, and would be perpetuated through, them. It
is alarming to think of the progress which these semi-infidel views are
making. But as the gospel alone made, so the gospel alone can preserve us
what we are. Christianity is the basis of our institutions, and the bulwark
of our strength. Our very existence as a nation depends upon it. The setting
of this sun, to change the figure, would be the precursor of a fearful night
of moral and intellectual gloom, the signal for every foul spirit of
darkness to emerge from his hiding place, and stalk in triumph through the
land. Let us hold fast the pure gospel. Nothing but its diffusion can retain
it in our midst. No civil power can preserve it. It must take hold on the
masses, it must enthrone itself on the hearts, embody itself in the
intellects, and incorporate itself with the habits of the people. To attain
this end, we must circulate the Bible, sustain the divine institution of the
Christian ministry, live the gospel individually, and be more earnest and
united in prayer for a deeper baptism of the Holy Spirit upon our churches.
But it is of the relation of man to the gospel, as an
individual, and not as a society, we are particularly to speak in the
present chapter. And in the foreground let us contemplate the charming
Savior whom the gospel reveals, the Savior of God's providing, and in all
points of view a gift worthy of so great and glorious a Giver. There are two
passages of God's word which convey to the mind the most forcible and
exalted views of the personal excellence and dignity of the Lord Jesus, at
which we may give a rapid glance. The first portrays his matchless beauty,
the second his incomprehensible greatness. "You are fairer than the children
of men: grace is poured into your lips; therefore God has blessed you
forever," Psalm 45:2.
This doubtless refers to the perfection of his human
excellence. As man, his beauty transcends the loveliest of human beings-
"fairer than the children of men." Their beauty is mixed; his is pure.
Theirs is derived; his is from himself. Theirs decays; his is imperishable.
His body prepared by God; his mind filled with all the wisdom, grace, and
holiness of the Spirit- he stands forth the "bright and morning star," the
perfect, peerless Son of man. O for an eye to see and admire his excellence!
and not admire only, but to imitate. O for grace to lie at his feet, and
learn from his meekness! to lean on his bosom and drink of his love; to set
the Lord always before us, never moving the eye from this perfect model, but
ever aiming to transcribe its lineaments upon our daily life. Yes! you are
"fairer than the children of men!" you altogether lovely One! And as I gaze
upon your perfections, wandering from beauty to beauty, my admiration
increases, and my love deepens, until, in the assurance of faith, and in the
transport of joy, I exclaim, "this is my Beloved, and this is my Friend."
Respecting his superior nature, not less clear and
emphatic is the declaration of his essential greatness. "No man knows the
Son but the Father," Matt. 11:27. Surely these words are sufficient to
remove all doubt as to his Deity. Were he only man, with what truth could it
be affirmed of him, that "no man knows the Son?" It is the property of an
angel, that he understands the angelic nature; and of man, that he
understands the human nature. It is the perfection of God that He only
understands the nature of God. Who, then, but the Infinite, can measure the
infinite greatness of the Son of God? The loftiest created imagination, the
mightiest human intellect, the profoundest angelic research, falls
infinitely short of what he is. The Father alone knows the Son, because he
is of the same nature and mind with the Father.
Beware of holding this doctrine lightly. A more important
one- one more glorious or more precious, asks not the confidence of your
faith. Hold it fast, even as the vessel in the storm clings to its anchor.
This gone, the next mountain wave drives you upon the quicksand of doubt and
perplexity, and then where are you? Consider how important must be that
single truth, on which the value, the preciousness, and the efficacy of all
other truths depend. Such a truth is the Godhead of Christ.
How glorious an object, then, is this Savior, whom the
gospel thus reveals! It is true his essential greatness, like the peace
which he himself gives, "surpasses all understanding;" yet like that peace,
he may be known, though he cannot be measured. "We may know experimentally,"
as Owen beautifully remarks, "that which we cannot know comprehensively; we
may know that in its power and effect, which we cannot comprehend in its
nature and depths. A weary person may receive refreshment from a spring, who
cannot fathom the depth of the ocean from where it proceeds." That this is
true of the "love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge," is equally true of
the person of Christ himself, whom "no man knows but the Father." Think not
that all his beauty is concealed. They, in whom it has pleased the Father to
reveal his Son, "behold his glory;" they "see the King in his beauty;" the
discovery of his excellence often captivates their soul, and the sense of
his love often cheers their hearts; while in lively faith and joy they
exclaim, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine."
Take one more view of Him who is the "chief among ten
thousand." Look at his sinless, yet real humanity; without a single taint,
yet sympathizing with all the conditions of ours: afflicted in our
afflictions; tempted in our temptations; infirm in our infirmities; grieved
in our griefs; "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities;"
and now that he is in glory, still cherishing a brother's heart, bending
down his ear to our petitions, ever standing near to catch our sighs, to dry
our tears, to provide for our needs, to guide us by his counsel, and
afterwards to receive us to glory. O what a Savior is Jesus Christ! Wonder
not, my readers, that when he is known, all other beings are eclipsed; that
when his beauty is seen, all other beauty fades; that when his love is felt,
he becomes supremely enthroned in the affections; and that to know him more,
is the one desire of the renewed mind, and to make him more known, is the
one aim of the Christian life.
What charming tidings, too, does the gospel announce!
Take the doctrine of PARDON, the very mention of which thrills the soul with
gladness. Pardon through the blood-shedding of God's dear Son for "all
manner of sin," and for the chief of sinners! What myriads have gone to
glory, exulting with their expiring breath in those melodious words, "the
blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin!" Is there no music
in this declaration to the ear of a sin-burdened soul? And when the called
children of God behold in that blood of Immanuel- the sea which has drowned
all their sins, the fountain which has cleansed all their guilt, the source
of their reconciliation, the cause of their peace, and the ground of their
access- is not the gospel a joyful sound to their ears?
And yet how few live in the full enjoyment of this truth,
"You will cast all my sins behind your back." "You have forgiven all their
iniquity." "I have blotted out as a cloud your transgressions, and as a
thick cloud your sins." Precious truth! Since God has spoken it, faith
exclaims, "I believe it. On this I can live holily, and on this I can die
happily."The Gospel speaks, too, of a RIGHTEOUSNESS which places the
believing sinner in a state of complete justification- a righteousness
better than that of Moses, and superior to that of angels, because it is the
"righteousness of God Himself."
Among the many glorious names which our Immanuel bears
is, "JEHOVAH our Righteousness." He is made from God the righteousness of
his people. As their law-fulfiller, obeying; as their surety, suffering in
their stead, they become the righteousness of God in Him, so that the very
name itself which Jesus bears in connection with our justification becomes
ours. "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely:
and this is the name by which she shall be called, Jehovah our
Righteousness." Thus the believer wears the clothing, and takes the name of
Him, who is emphatically the husband of his Church. See how complete she is
in him- Colos. 2:10. How glorious- Eph. 5:7. How lovely, Ezek. 16:14.
In this righteousness she is exalted, Psalm. 139:16; and in this it is her
privilege greatly to rejoice, Isa. 41:10.
Is this righteousness yours, my reader? Have you cast
aside the defiled, worm-eaten garment in which by nature you stand; and are
you clothed in the fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness
of the saints? Search and see! You may have gone far in a profession of
Christ, in a visible enrolment among his people; and yet were the King to
enter the banqueting room where you sit partaking the symbols of his death,
to see the guests, it is possible that in view of his solemn, searching
inspection, you may be found not having on the righteousness of Christ.
But if you have renounced your own merits, and have fled
entirely from yourself to Jesus, then to this sweet note of the joyful
sound, your heart responds, exclaiming, "In the Lord have I righteousness;"
"My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and
be glad." Standing in this perfect, spotless robe, you will aim after a life
corresponding with a privilege so exalted; and whether living or dying, you
will be openly and manifestly the Lord's.
A FREE GRACE voice will possess a charm to the spiritual
ear which no word of man can fully express- and this is the true idea of the
gospel. But for this, what charm to a convinced sinner would the gospel of
Jesus possess? How could the rest, the privileges, and the blessings of this
great charter of divine mercy raise a solitary emotion of gladness in the
heart, were they not the gratuities of the God of grace? What music, do you
think, to the ear of a condemned felon would be the pardon of his sovereign,
were it upon terms which the very circumstances of his case rendered
unavailable? What a cruel mockery would it be of his helplessness, and what
a bitter taunting of his woe! But stand upon the threshold of his gloomy
cell, and read to him in tones worthy of the announcement, a free,
unconditional pardon; throw wide open his door, knock off his chains, and
"say to the prisoner, Go forth," with no obligations imposed, but such as
boundless goodness would dictate, and such as deathless gratitude would
recognize- loyalty to a sovereign so gracious and benignant- and you do
indeed bear to him glad tidings. You irradiate his dark dungeon with
brightness, and you fill his desolate heart with joy. Such are the tidings
which the Gospel proclaims.
Listen to it- eloquent are its accents: "By grace are you
saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." "It
is by faith that it might be by grace." "Without money, and without price."
"And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." "Come and
take of the water of life freely." Are you a self-destroyed, self-condemned,
bankrupt sinner, with, nothing to pay? Then may you exclaim, "Never was
music so sweet to me as this! Salvation free! Redemption without money!
Heaven without creature merit! All springing from the heart of God, and
flowing down through the channel of the Savior's merits."
As a system of Divine and unfailing CONSOLATION, there is
a charm in the gospel of Jesus of indescribable sweetness. Originating with
that God, not only whose name and whose perfection, but whose very essence
is love, and who Himself is the "God of all comfort," it must be a gospel of
"strong consolation," commensurate with every conceivable sorrow of his
people. Let those testify who, amid the trials and the conflicts of their
pilgrimage, have thus experienced it. Indeed it is only by this test that
its real character can be estimated. As we can convey no adequate idea of
sound to the deaf, of color to the blind, or of life to the dead, neither
can we by the most elaborate reasoning or eloquent description, impart to a
mind estranged from sorrow- if such there be- any proper conception of the
magic power of the gospel, as a consummate system of the richest consolation
But let a Christian be placed in circumstances of the
deepest grief and sorest trial- the bread and the water of affliction his
food- the iron entering his soul- the heart bereaved- the mind perplexed-
the spirit dark- all human hopes blighted, and creature cisterns failing him
like a spring in the summer's drought; then let the Spirit of God, the
Divine Paraclete, open this box of perfume, breathing into his soul the rich
consolations, the precious promises, the strong assurances, the divine
counsels, and the glowing hopes which it contains, and in a moment the light
of love appears in his dark cloud, his fainting spirit revives, and all is
Oh! that must be a charming gospel which can meet the
necessities of man at every point; whose wisdom no human perplexity can
baffle, and whose resources of sympathy and comfort, no case of suffering or
of sorrow can exhaust. Tried soul! repair to this unfailing spring of
comfort. God speaks to you in it- it is the unsealing of the heart of Jesus-
it is the still small voice of the Spirit. It speaks to you- it bids you
"cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;" "Call upon him in
the day of trouble, and he will answer you." It assures you that amid, all
your perplexing cares, "He cares for you." It promises you that for your
flint-paved path, your "shoes shall be iron and brass;" and that "as your
days are, so shall your strength be." It tells you that a "woman may forget
her nursing child, yet God will not forget you;" that in all your assaults,
you shall dwell on high, your place of defense shall be the munitions of
rocks;" and that though hemmed in on every side by a besieging foe, and all
other supplies cut off, yet "your bread shall be given you, and your water
shall be sure." It invites you to lay your griefs and weep out your sorrows
upon the bosom of Jesus, and so "leaning upon your Beloved, ascend from the
wilderness." O to be led into the heart-felt experience of these truths,
even while passing through billows of sorrow to a martyr's flames!
Not the least important and endearing element of the
Gospel to a believer's heart, is its HOLINESS. All its truths to him are
precious, because the tendency of all is to sanctify. What to him were its
soothing consolations dissevered from its holy precepts? What were its
comfort, if that comfort were secured at the expense of holiness? What
though it dried his tears, but did not subdue his corruptions? What though
it assuaged the fountain of his grief, while it left that of his sins
unchecked? Its greatest charm were gone! No; he would desire guidance,
instruction, and consolation, only so far as they advanced his divine
He longs, he pants, he prays, to be a holy child of God.
That he so often and so far misses his mark- that he is so frequently
foiled, disappointed, and forced back, in his strivings after
sanctification, is to him the bitterest of bitter sorrows. But when at any
time, and in any degree, he is enabled through grace to "do the will of God
from the heart," and when in the great conflict of faith he advances to the
foe, and covers that advance with glory, or retreats only to eclipse the
glory of his advance, a shout more full of music never rose to heaven, than
that which breaks from his adoring lips, "Thanks be to God who gives us the
victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The "charmers," from whose lips this divine melody
proceeds, are the true ministers of Christ, whom he has chosen, called, and
furnished with grace and gifts, and to whom he has committed a dispensation
of the gospel. Their appointment is from God; their succession is from
Christ; their anointing for, and designation to, the work are from the Holy
Spirit. He himself, though a minister of the Lord Jesus, is but an "earthen
vessel," encompassed with, and often well near crushed by, the infirmity of
which he is, in common with others, the subject. "For every high priest
taken from among men, is ordained for men, in things pertaining to God, . .
. who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on those who are out of the
way; for in that he himself is compassed with infirmity."
He is often alarmed by the thought, that truth so divine
and so pure should flow through a channel so earthly and so defiled; and
that to an office so spiritual, and to a work so great, he should bring
grace so shallow, and attainments so limited. Yet God has placed him in the
office; and although tempted at times to relinquish his high trust, yet he
is as often deterred by the solemn voice of conscience, "Woe is unto me, if
I preach not the gospel!" But we would be far from conveying a gloomy
representation of the office and functions of the Christian ministry. It is
true, many, influenced by sordid and unworthy motives, seek admittance to
the holy office; and that these should find its sacred labors distasteful
and wearisome, is no marvel. But there are others who can humbly adopt the
language of their Master, "My food and my drink are to do the will of Him
who sent me, and to finish his work."
They delight in their employment; they find their rest in
their toil; and they often reap their highest joy from that which is the
cause of their deepest sorrow. To proclaim that gospel which has often
charmed his own soul- to preach that Jesus, at times so precious to his own
heart- to comfort others with the comforts with which he himself has been
comforted by God- to wipe a solitary tear from the eye- to chase a single
grief from the heart- to smooth a dying pillow- to save a soul from death-
to guide a saint to glory- O to him it were worth a million lives, were they
even lives of tenfold toil and trial!
With all its solemn responsibilities, its wearisome
labors, its painful anxieties, its lonely sorrows, who would not be a gospel
charmer? Who would not, like Jesus, be anointed to preach good tidings unto
the meek- to bind up the broken-hearted- to proclaim liberty to the
captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound? With such a
commission, and beneath such anointing, is it any marvel that such a
minister should, like the apostle, look down from his lofty eminence with
contempt upon the wisdom of man and the learning of the schools, the moment
they clashed with the wisdom of God and the glory of the cross- that he
should go forth, and to the lettered and the ignorant, to the polished and
the rude, make known nothing but Christ crucified? These, then, are the
"charmers." And of them the sweet poet sings,
"How beauteous are their feet
Who stand on Zion's hill!
Who bring salvation on their tongues,
And words of peace reveal!
How charming is their voice!
How sweet the tidings are!
Zion, behold your Savior King!
He reigns and triumphs here."
But what is it to "charm wisely?" True wisdom has been
defined that power which accomplishes the greatest results by the simplest
means. Then, here is wisdom! To save souls from eternal death, by the
"foolishness of preaching," must be regarded as the highest point to which
wisdom can soar. It is recorded concerning the apostles, that they "so
spoke, that a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Greeks,
believed." They presented Christ so prominently- they divided truth so
skillfully- and they preached with such power, point, and simplicity, that
"multitudes were added to the Lord."
See with what contempt they looked down upon the
unsanctified wisdom and lore of this world! Addressing the Corinthians,
their great leader could say, "my speech and my preaching were not with
enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of
power." He charmed wisely; and by the influence of his preaching, pagan
altars were destroyed, senseless idols were abandoned, the Pantheon and the
Lyceum were forsaken, and "a great 'company of the priests were obedient to
the faith;" but it was not with the "wisdom of this world," in order that
their "faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.
And why may not the same results in the employment of the
same means be ours? Do we not preach the same gospel? Don't we deal with the
same intelligent and deathless mind? Don't we draw our motives and our
appeals from the same eternity? True, we possess neither the spirit of
prophecy nor the gift of miracles. We need them not. Nor did the apostles in
their grand work of converting men to God. They never in a single instance
quickened a soul by the power of a miracle. The extraordinary gifts with
which they were endowed were bestowed for another and a different purpose.
The cases of our Lord and of his Forerunner are strikingly in point. The
ministry of Jesus, although attended by a succession of miracles the most
brilliant and convincing, resulted in fewer conversions than the ministry of
John, who did no miracle.
To what divine agency, then, did the apostles themselves
trace the extraordinary result of their preaching? To what, but the
demonstration of the Spirit? O for tongues of fire to proclaim the glad
tidings of the gospel! With such a Savior to make known- with such
revelations to disclose- with such souls to save- with such results to
expect- is it of a wonder that we should speak with any other? To charm
wisely, then, is so rightly to divide God's word, as not to confound truth
with error- so discriminatingly to preach it, as to separate the precious
from the vile- and so distinctly and prominently to hold up the cross of
Christ, as to save immortal souls. The cross, the cross must be the central
object exhibited in our ministry, to which every eye must be directed, and
before which all the glory of man must fade.
The Holy Spirit, too, must be more honored- his anointing
more especially sought- and his influence more earnestly insisted upon.
Apart from this, no ministry, be its character in other respects what it
may, has any real power. How poor a thing it is, distinguished only by its
learning, its genius, and its eloquence, and destitute of the vital warmth,
and impassioned earnestness, and soul-subduing, and heart-awakening energy
of the Holy Spirit! Weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it is as light
as air; estimated in view of the judgment, it is an awful mockery.
But a most solemn part of this subject remains to be
considered. We allude to the reception which this heaven-sent message of
reconciliation meets from multitudes on whose external ear only its accents
of melody fall. The charge which God brings against such resolves itself
into the indictment of a wilful neglect and rejection of this immense
privilege. "Who will not heed the voice of the charmer, however skillful the
enchanter may be." The character here alluded to has its classifications, to
which, lest any should be self-deceived in so momentous a matter, we will
There are, in the first place, those who may be said to
receive, and yet who do actually reject the gospel of Jesus. Supposing
ourselves addressing such, we would present a line of argument somewhat like
this: You are not, in the skeptical sense of the term, an unbeliever. In
other words, you shudder at the idea, and would resent the suspicion of
being an infidel. You believe the Holy Scriptures to be a divine record,
Christ "a teacher come from God," and the Christianity which he taught a
heaven-authenticated record of the doctrines to be believed and the precepts
to be followed, essential to that "holiness without which no one can see the
Lord." And yet, strange to say, notwithstanding all this, you are an
unbeliever! Your unbelief is of a most alarming and fatal character; more
ensnaring than that which saps the foundation of Christianity; because,
while it professes to credit its truth, it practically makes it a lie, and
thus fosters one of the most fatal delusions that ever imperilled the
Do you live as if you believed the gospel to be true?
What moral influence does your professed belief exert over you? What shape
and coloring does it impart to your habits of reflection and of feeling? You
affirm that you believe in the gospel; but upon what part of your conduct is
the influence of that belief felt and seen? You declare that you have faith;
but where are its fruits? Alas! the moonbeams fall not more coldly and
powerlessly upon the sterile earth, than does the light which your
intellectual faith sheds upon your whole path to eternity. You live as if
there were no God- no Savior- no heaven- no hell- no death- no judgment- no
eternity. Immersed in business or intent upon wealth, panting for fame or
eager in chase of pleasure, the dread future, whose bleak, rock-bound coast
you are each moment nearing, is all, all forgotten.
You consider yourself as a rational, reasonable, and sane
being. But is it rational, reasonable, or sane, to merge the momentous
interests of an ever-enduring future in the fleeting shadows of a present
moment? What a mere fragment of your being is your present earthly life!
Compared with the eternal future, it is as the particle of sand which the
wind lifts and wafts from the shore, or like a drop of the spray which it
scatters from the ocean's wave. And yet see how you live! And oh, how
imperfectly you measure the great work to be done with the brief moment
allotted to its accomplishment! You vainly imagine that it can all be
crowded into, and accomplished within the space of a dying hour- that a
business the most momentous that ever engaged the thought or enlisted the
feelings of man, may be safely deferred until the period when the wasting
away of sickness, and the fever of delirium, the madness of convulsions, the
writhings of pain, and the throbs and throes of dissolving nature, shall
task to the utmost all the powers of the mind- oh, what sheer madness is
See, then, to what your professed faith in the gospel of
Christ brings you! The devils believe, and tremble at what they believe. You
believe, and yet tremble not! O what a lie does your whole life give to your
faith! The decided irreligion, worldliness, and thoughtlessness, which make
up its history, prove your faith in the gospel to be a most woeful
deception. It may be a sound faith, as far as reason and philosophy go; but
a mere assent of the understanding to the truth is not the faith which the
truth itself requires.
There are others, who profess no belief whatever in the
gospel of Christ. Theirs is an entire, open, undisguised rejection of this
divine system of truth. The atheist rejects it, in his avowed disbelief of
God's being- the infidel, when he pronounces the Bible a fiction, and
Christianity a lie- the Jew, when he exclaims, "not Jesus, but Barabbas"-
the Socinian, in his denial of the Deity of the Son of God- the neologist
and the transcendentalist, when they betray the Savior with a kiss. This
class is a large one. It embraces in its melancholy catalogue the careless,
the indifferent, the scorner, the scoffer, the worldling, the impenitent,
the moralist, the pharisee- in a word, all- be they the learned, the
philosophical, the intellectual, the refined, or the religious, according to
the world's notion- all who are not born again of the Spirit, and who are
not exemplifying the power of the truth which is according to godliness.
But there is a feature in this sin which imparts to it a
still darker and more fearful complexion. We allude to its wilfulness. There
is in it the exhibition of a will not only totally unrenewed and unholy, but
assuming an attitude of positive and determined hostility to this wondrous
message of God's grace. Ponder the terms of this indictment: "Their poison
is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that has
stopped its ears, that will not heed the voice of the charmer, however
skillful the enchanter may be."
With this corresponds our Lord's description of the same
character- "For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears
cannot hear and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and
their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot
turn to me, and I should heal them." O it is this wilful rejection of the
gospel of Jesus which more than all demonstrates your deep degeneracy, and
constitutes the most alarming feature of your sin.
We can but briefly, in conclusion, advert to the
appalling consequences of this wilful shutting of the ear against the sound
of the gospel. They are most effectively told in the words of God himself.
Thus he describes the sin and its punishment: "But they refused to listen to
this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their
ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they
could not hear the law or the messages that the Lord Almighty had sent them
by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord Almighty
was so angry with them. Since they refused to listen when I called to them,
I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord Almighty." Zech.
7:11-13. O ponder, I beseech you, reader, these awful words, and no longer
"pull away your shoulder" from Christ's yoke, nor "stop your ears" against
n the New Testament, the record of mercy and of love, it
is fearfully written, "the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in
blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know
God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with
everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from
the majesty of his power 2 Thes. 1:7-9 Are you prepared for this?
But not with a note of terror would we close this
chapter. The last vibration that lingers on your ear shall be the "voice of
the charmer." How rich the melody!
"In strains as sweet as angels use,
The gospel whispers peace."
And sweeter too, "Ho! every one that thirsts, come to the
waters, and he that has no money, come, buy and eat; yes, come, buy wine and
milk without money and without price." O let your ear drink in this heavenly
sound! It is God himself who speaks. Every word is from his heart. "Look
unto Me, all you ends of the earth, and be saved, for I am God, and there is
none else." Look unto Jesus, and not to yourselves. You stagger at your
great unworthiness. What were this but to suppose that you would never be
otherwise? No! Your worthiness is in Christ- your merit is in Christ- your
righteousness is in Christ- your beauty is in Christ- your salvation is in
Christ- all, all is in Jesus Christ. Out of him you are lost, and lost
forever. Through him, though you were the vilest sinner whom the Spirit of
God ever drew to the feet of Jesus, you may be saved, and saved forever!