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ROMA S— XV. 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.
" And I am sure that, when I come unto you I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. ow I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me ; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea : and that my service which I have for Jerusalem maybe accepted of the saints ; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed- ow the God of peace be with you all. Amen."
Having been so long providentially separated from you, my beloved friends, I have selected this portion of Scripture which seems appropriate to the return of a minister to his flock. The passage which I have selected is from the epistle of St. Paul to the church at Rome, in his prospect of coming to them. The circumstances were these : he had written, as you find in both of his epistles to the Corinthians, to make collections for the poor saints at Jerusalem, as he says in the 1st epistle, xvi. I, 2. 3, " As I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come: and when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send
to bring your liberality to Jerusalem." You perceive, he was commanding them to make a collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, — also in the 2nd epistle chapters viii. & ix ; in these three chapters, you perceive directions are given to the church at Corinth to make collections for the poor saints. With these collections at Corinth, and another at Macedonia, Paul intended to go to Jerusalem. You will see this in the Acts of the Apostles xix. 21. " After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, after I have been there, I must also see Rome." These little circumstances are important to attend to, because by these unintentional coincidences, as Paley has 2B
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pointed out, throughout the acts and epistles, in his Horse Paulina?, the authenticity of the Acts and apostolical
Epistles is demonstrated. You will observe, St. Luke mentions in the Acts, Paul's intention to go through Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem, and from thence to Rome. You find Paul in the Acts xx. 22, at Miletus, on his way to Jerusalem — " And now," he says, " behold I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befal me there, save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me ; but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself ; so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." And in the next chapter, you find him at Cesarea; and at the 11th verse a prophet, Agabus, taking Paul's girdle, and 'binding his own hands and feet, saying, " Thus saith the Holy Ghost, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." Paul then had great reason to apprehend the wrath and malice of the Jews when he should go to Jerusalem — and so, this epistle to the church of Rome was written from Corinth, stating in this chapter, the very same that Luke mentions in Acts xix. He says, verse 25, that he was on his journey to Jerusalem, to minister to the poor saints : he mentions, verse 26, the contributions he was taking from Macedonia aud Achaia, and his purpose of proceeding from Jerusalem to- Rome, thus he introduces the word of my text — " And I am sure that when I come unto you, 1 shall come in
the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. ow I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me ; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea ; and that my service which 1 have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints ; that I may eome unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. ow the God of peace be with you all. Amen." ow, the two particular points to which I would call your attention in these verses are, first, the blessing which the Apostle expects to bring to the church
at Rome — " I am sure, that when 1 come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ" — secondly, the blessing which the Apostle expected from the church of Rome — namely, the earnest prayers and supplications of his brethren for the temporal deliverance and direction which he needed — the providential mercy that should guide his footsteps to them, and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, that, when he was with them, they might be mutually refreshed and strenghthened together. May the Lord enable us now to consider these important subjects. I. The blessing which the apostle EXPECTED TO CO VEY TO THE CHURCH AT rome, " I am sure, that when I come
unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. " How did he come to them ? He came to them as a poor, helpless, guilty sinner. The Gospel, to the unconverted sinner, is like its blessed Author and Master, when in the world, " when we shall see him; there is no beauty in him that we should desire him ;" there is no beauty — no blessing in the Gospel to the poor unavvakened sinner. ow, consider that, the unavvakened sinner knows no blessing in the Gospel — he is whole, and needs no physician. I went to see a poor woman the other day, who did not care for the Gospel. I asked her, will you allow me to go for a physician for you ? o, Sir, she replied, I do not want one. Why ? Because I am not sick. I said, you do not wish any one to speak to you of a physician for your soul, or you do not know you are a sinner ; — when I ask you to go for a physician for your body, you say, no, because I am not sick, and when I speak of a physician for your soul, you are just as unwilling to have him — why ? — because you do not know of your spiritual disease. Oh ! my friends, " they that are whole need not a physician," — the unawakened sinner sees no blessing in Christ — the worldly man sees no blessing in Christ — the poor sinner, whose heart is given to the world and covetousness — to his profits and pleasures, sees no blessing in the salvation that is in Christ : so, when the prophet Ezekiel went, by the command of God to speak to the sinners at Jerusalem, whether he spoke
to them of the righteous judgment of God, or whether he spoke to them of the
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blessed salvation of his God, it was all the same, he says in chap. xx. 49, when the Lord had commanded him to denounce his judgment against them, " then said I, ah, Lord God, they say of me, doth he not speak parables?" they did not choose to understand, they did not choose to receive it. And again, in speaking of the riches of the Lord's mercy, the Lord complains of them, Ezekiel xxxiii. 30, 31, 32, 33, "Thou, son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls, and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, come, I pray thee, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them ; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo ! thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument ; for they hear thy words, but they do them not." Oh, my
friends, the picture is drawn from nature, and therefore it is a true representation of man. Many come, as the Israelites went to the prophet, and say, • come and let us hear the word of the Lord, let us come to church, to lecture, to the means of grace, let us hear what God says, what the preacher says.' — they come, and they hear the word, but they see no blessing in the Gospel of Jesus themselves, there is no fulness of blessing in Christ for their souls ; they may hear, as Herod heard John, and do many things, but afterwards behead the prophet that preached to them : they may hear as Felix did, and tremble, but say to the apostle, " go thy way for this time, when 1 have a convenient season, I will call for thee," his heart was after his covetousness, " he hoped also, that money should be given him of Paul, that he might loose him, wherefore he sent for him the oftener and communed with him;" or they hear like Agrippa, " almost thou , persuadest me to be a christian," but they are not persuaded after all : — multitudes such as these continue in their career, and when they come to the last I alas ! they have to say, " the harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and we | are not saved," there is no blessing in the ! Gospel of Jesus for hearts such as these.
But Oh, my friends, when the sinner feels his want, when he feels himself a poor helpless, lost, ruined creature, then, the Gospel comes with a blessing, yea, fulness of blessing to his soul. The
self-righteous pharisee expects to save himself; the pharisee, mentioned in St. Luke vii. wilh whom the Lord Jesus Christ dined, when the poor woman came to our blessed Master, and poured her I tears over his feet, and wiped them with i the hairs of her head, was indignant, and , said within himself, "this man if he were ; a prophet would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touchcth him ; for she is a sinner." Youremember our Lord's reply, you remem! ber the story of the two debtors, the one that owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty, you remember the good news of forgiveness to both, and yon remember which of them it was that loved most. — So, in St. Luke xv. " the publicans and sinners drew near for to hear him," they came to Jesus, the precious physician, the glorious Saviour of the guilty, — " and the scribes and pharisees murmured, saying, this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." Blessed be God, he did receive sinners, and blessed be God, he does receive sinners, for " he is the the same yesterday, to day and for ever." When the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus comes to the heart of the sinner who knows and feels his own want and misery, he rejoices to see such a salvation, suited to his deep necessity as that which is proclaimed by Jesus Christ the Lord ; aye, not only is the sinner who is just brought to the knowledge of his guilt ; glad to hear the Gospel of Jesus, but the believer, the man who has known it, who has rejoiced in it, who over and over again has heard and delighted in the
glad tidings of salvation, again rejoices, when the sweet sounds meet his ear, for again and again, he is learning by sad experience, the guilt, the corruption, the abomination, the vileness of his own heart ; — he feels every day, more and more, that he wants a precious Saviour, that he wants a full Gospel suited to his necessity, and Christ grows in preciousness to him ; — why ? because he grows more and more in the deep conviction of his guilt and misery, and of his need of such a Saviour. It is to these men of whom Paul says,"their faith was spoken of throughout
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the whole world," that he writes, " I am sure, when 1 come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ." ow consider, it is not Paul who says, " I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ," it is the Holy Ghost speaking by the mouth of Paul, — do not forget that, let us remember, we have need to remember, every time we open the Bible, and every chapter we read, this one truth : " this is the word of the Holy Ghost, this is the eternal truth of the eternal God." Oh,
that we could remember that in reading the Bible ! with what power the word would come to us, if we remembered, this is God's eternal truth, " let God be true, and every man a liar." ow, the Holy Spirit here calls this the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. Do you ever find in the Bible, that, any of the things which the human heart, the natural heart of man desires and covets, and accounts great, God calls blessed? Does he call ebuchadnezzar blessed, or Pharaoh blessed? When ebuchadnezzar the king of the greatest empire in the world was walking in the midst of that great Babylon, and priding himself on his pomp, wealth, riches, magnificence, did God call him blessed? Does God call that man blessed whose ground as related in the parable brought forth plentifully, and who said, " I will pull down my barns, and build greater ?" — does God call that man blessed "who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and who fared sumptuously every day?" ay, even the heart of the unregenerate man, even the heart of the man who is ignorant of himself and ignorant of God is sufficiently enlightened to know that the term blessed is not to be applied to the man that has the loftiest and most exalted condition on this earth. Look at those who have gone bye, look at those who have filled the eye of the world in their day, do you call them blessed ? Can any of you say, blessed is Alexander the Great, blessed is apoleon — take any of the statesmen, philosophers, orators, poets, whose names have adorned the literature
of your country, and commanded the admiration of the world, and do you call them blessed ? would you apply the term blessed to any of them ? would you say, blessed is Milton, blessed is Shakespeare, blessed are the great
writers of England, blessed is Scott, blessed is Byron, would you say blessed is ewton, blessed is Bacon ? will you apply the term blessedness to these men, in reference to those talents that commanded the admiration of the world ? However you may admire, and however you may envy the exaltation of such men while they live, "when their breath goeth forth, they return again to their dust, and then, all their thoughts perish." You would not say, bltssed are they for all their gifts, for all their fame, for all their mighty talents? o, " blessed" is not the term which even the ignorant and unregenerate conscience dares to apply to individuals such as these. What is their blessedness ? If any I have named, or could name, are to he called blessed, their blessedness can only consist in this, that God stamps his blessing upon them — " blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose sin is covered ; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin :" there is the blessedness, my friends, — there is the only blessedness ; — it is not, blessed is ebuchadnezzar, but, blessed are the three men that in the strength of their God, rather than abandon their Lord and Master, went with joy into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. It is
not blessed is the man " clothed in purple and fine linen," — no, but blessed is " Lazarus that was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table." It is not blessed is Saul, thought highly of, admired, selected as an instrument of persecution by all the chief priests and all the scribes, and going with authority to Damascus, — it is not blessed is Saul, but blessed is Paul, persecuted, friendless Paul, counted the offscouring of all things, stoned, " in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by his own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness," cast away by all men, and counted the off-scouring of all things, — blessed is Paid — why ? because when Paul went forth to his fellow-sinners, to the church of Rome, or any where else, he could say, "' I know, I am sure, that when I come unto you, I shall come in the ful-
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ness of the blessing of the Gospel of |
Christ." Blessed was Saul, cast down i as a great sinner, and the feet of Jesus, i and crying, " Lord what wilt thou have ' me to do." Oh! may you know what this is — may you know what true blessedness is, my dear friends. But he says, I will come to you, not only with a blessing, but with the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. ow, why does he say, the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ? Because the Gospel of Jesus testifies of Jesus — because Jesus is the alpha and omega of the salvation proclaimed in the Gospel of Christ. What was Paul's Gospel ? — what was the Gospel he spoke of? He says, 1 Cor. ii. 1, 2. " I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God ; for, I determined not to know any thing among you. save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." There was Paul's Gospel ; — so he says, in Gal. i. 8. " Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." What was this Gospel, so pregnant with blessing, and with the fulness of the blessing of which the Apostle said, he would come to the church of Rome ? It was the Gospel, testifying of the Lord Jesus Christ for lost and guilty sinners, because it testified of the fulness of righteousness that was in Christ for sinners. When the sinner is awakened to see his own lost and ruined state, the
first thing that oppresses him is the sense of his sins ; — perhaps he has been a Sabbath breaker, a liar, a blasphemer, an adulterer, a profligate, a drunkard, — has lived in some state for which his conscience tells him God must condemn him, — he is alarmed, he is pricked to the heart — like these to whom Paul testified that they had slain the Lord of glory, and he asks, " men and brethren, what shall I do?" But, when his heart is still farther touched, when he knows more of his own character, it is not his sins that distress him, it is not merely this iniquity that first oppressed his conscience — no, he begins to find that all his righteousness is as filthy rags, that his prayers are an abomination— his reading the Bible an abomination — his sacraments an abomination — his cha-
rity an abomination — all he had done to make his soul fit to appear in his Maker's presence, and atone for his sins, an abomination, — all his righteousness, all that raised his character in the world, supposing he attained moral estimation among his fellow men, he begins to feel to be an abomination ; he begins to feel that he has no righteousness to stand in, and that he is " poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked." The Gospel then comes with fulness of the blessing of righteousness to his soul ; it tells him of that precious Jesus who " is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." You
have no righteousness — Christ has righteousness, he has accomplished it all, fulfilled it all ; and do you know whether the Lord receives this righteousness for you ? — yes, " the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness sake," — you feel, God is angry with you for your righteousness, he is satisfied for His righteousness, he will magnify the law and make it honorable, it is not the obedience of a creature but the obedieuce of the Son of God that magnified and made it honorable. When Prince Henry, afterwards Henry the fifth, violated the law of the land, and the chief justice committed him to prison, conscious of his own crime, and feeling how he was bound to respect the law, he quietly submitted to the sentence of the court, and did not. dare to repine. — When it was told to his father, Henry IV., he said, " I thank God I have a son that honors the law, and a judge that is not afraid to put it into execution." I do not mean to draw a parrallel, but I say, the obedience of a Son of a King to the law magnified the law, and exalted the law in the eyes of all, and vindicated the majesty and authority of it more than the obedience of any poor subject, — and if such a story is told respecting the law I of England, what shall we say of the j obedience of the Son of the King of ' glory to that law which is the rule of his creatures ? Jesus took on him our flesh, I Jesus took on him our nature, and yielded \ the obedience of God in the flesh of man, to the righteous holy law of his Father and his God, — he has magnified the law, — and what is that to you ? why, if you are a believer in the Gospel of
Jesus, it is not your righteousness or man's righteousness, but it is the righteousness of God that is yours, so the apostle says
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2d. Cor. v. 21, — he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." What a blessed thing for the sinner when he is enabled to say, that it is not his own righteousness he has to stand in, but the glorious righteousness of his precious, ever-blessed Jesus. Jesus, thy blood and righteousness My beauty is— my glorious dress ;_ Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, With joy I shall lift up ray head. Oh what a fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus does the righteousness of Christ bring to the heart of the poor unrighteous sinner when he can lay his hand on the promises of God and say, it is all mine in Christ Jesus ! What wonder the apostle said, " I am sure, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ !" But this is not all, it is not merely the fulness of righteousness, but the fulness of
pardoning grace and mercy, the fulness of pardoning love. The believing sinner's conscience is continually harrassed under the sense of his own guilt and misery; mark, believer, there is continually a succession of corruptions rising up in your heart, and, according to the experience of thisapustie, " warring against the law of your mind, and bringing you into captivity to the law of sin in your members," so that you are often obliged to say, how is it possible I can be a believer ? The world sees nothing in your conduct, perhaps, inconsistent with your profession, — you may be enabled, through God's grace", to walk in the ways of holiness, yet when you come to look within, and bring the spiritual law to bear upon your own corrupt heart, you feel sunk into the very dust with the sense of your own guilt, your language is, " in this tabernacle 1 groan, being burthened," — your language is, " Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death :" Ptomaine says of Paul, "that "Oh ''came from the bottom of Paul's heart, for he felt what he was, a sinner." Well then, the Gospel comes with fulness of forgiveness, suitable in all its magnitude and all its glory to your guilty conscience, and you are enabled to say with Paul, with the same breath in which he says, " O, wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from the body of this death," — the Holy Ghost breaks in on your soul with the fulness of the blessing
of the Gospel of Christ, and enables you, to say, " I thank God through Jesus Christ ;" — " there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," The fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus meets the deep necessities of the poor guilty sinner, and tells him of the glad tidings, that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin," bids him "trust in the Lord for ever, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plentious redemption, and he will redeem Israel from all his sins." Look at the beautiful picture given of God's mercy in psalms ciii. of the fulness of blessing of the Gospel. Verse 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy, he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever, he hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities ; for as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards them that fear him ; as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us,'' — measure the altitude of the heavens above the earth, the heavens in which these stars are fixed of which we cannot measure even the angle of their disc from this world, and you will be able to measure the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. Pursue the sun as he goes down in the west, and every step you take to the west you leave a step to the east, there is still the diameter of the earth between the east and the west, — bring the ends of the diameter of the earth together, and
then you will bring near the sins of the sinner which God has put away as far as the east is from the west ! Oh the fulness, the rich pardoning grace for you, poor, helpless, needy, guilty sinners. If you do not know the pardoning love that is in your God, you know nothing, if you do not know the salvation that is in Christ for your soul, you know nothing. Talk of educating man, of instructing men in arts and sciences, and leaving them without the knowledge of Christ ; — there are two latin lines of which this is the translation, " If you know Christ it is no matter what you are ignorant of, and if you do not know him, it is no matter what you know." Are there any of you, whose conscience is accusing you, who are saying, if the preacher knew this sin if he knew what a hardened wretch I am
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how dead-^show unbelieving 1 am — how I hate the Bible — if he knew the sins that my conscience accuses me of — if he knew these he would not give such hope as this to me. What does God say to you in the Gospel ? He comes in the fulness of mercy, proclaim-
ing pardon to you for all your sins — and if they were ten thousand times as bad, " come and let us reason together, saith the Lord, thoug h your sins be as scarle they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Is not that good news? — " The fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." The reason why it is so full is this, that from first to last, the whole work is of Jehovah — all this blessing is in Christ Jesus — man has no part in it — you have no part in saving your own soul ; if you think you have, you know nothing of salvation — because the blessing is, that it is all treasured up in Christ. ow, let me just call your attention to Colossians i. 14, " In whom we have redemption through his blood" (that is in Christ,) " even the forgiveness of sins." Who is this in whom we have this redemption? In him, "who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature, for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Mark this description of Jehovah Jesus, " God manifest in the flesh," " He is the head of his body, the church; who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence ; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, and (having made peace through the blood of the cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself,
by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven, ; and you that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled" — he is writing to the Colossians, and he says you. Well, to how many in this congregation is this to be applied ? Is it to be applied to your consciences? ow, think of this — " you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now, hath he reconciled." —
Does that- apply to you ? Oh ! I hope so — I trust so — I trust you may be enabled to say, I who was an enemy, alienated in my mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. The apostle proceeds, " in the body of his flesh through death." Look at the picture of those reconciled to God by Jesus " to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight, if ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which ye bave heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." Then what are you? If you are reconciled to God, you shall be presented " holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight." What fulness of blessing must be in that Gospel, when the poor sinner can be so reconciled to his God! Well might Paul say, " When I come unto you, I am sure I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." The next chapter treats on the same thing,
and take this warning, " Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." That abominable lying, liberal philosophy was in the days of Paul, it was at Colosse as well as in England and Ireland — that vile philosophy — Colossians ii. 8, 9, " Beware lest any man spoil you, through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ ; for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Beware, lest lying Socinianism come into your heart, and take away from the Godhead of Immanuel, " in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily ;" mark the rest, " And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power," completely washed from all your iniquity — washed in that glorious fountain, which is opened for sin and for uncleanness, clothed in the righteousness of your Lord and Saviour, white and clean in that fine linen which is the righteousness of the saints, " without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish." Oh, the glorious fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ ! is it not a glorious fulness when the sinner is enabled to look to Jesus, so that he may take up the language of Isaiah xii. 2,
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" behold G»d is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he also is become my salvation." Oh, what a blessed thing, that a poor sinner can come to his brethren in the same way as Paul went to the church at Rome, in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ ; for what is Paul ? an inspired apostle, it is true ; but what could Paul teach ? nothing but what is written in this glorious word, as he savs himself, " who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as God gave to every man." The Gospel is the same as it was in the days of Paul, Jesus is " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," and however poor or weak we may be, however mean and contemptible instruments as compared with such a glorious apostle as Paul, yet, if we set forth the same Gospel, the same Jesus, as Paul preached, we come to you in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. And may the Lord bring home that precious gospel to your hearts and mine, my beloved friends. We might go on through the catalogue of the glory and fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ ; the fulness of wisdom, " in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ;" the fulness of power, " all power is given to him in heaven and in earth;'' the fulness oflove, " I am the good shepherd, the good shep-
herd giveth his life for the sheep," and all the fulness of the blessings that are in Christ, conveyed by the fulness of the Spirit to the sinner, " for all things are yours," if you are looking to Jesus, " all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." We shall just pause on one of these, the fulness of the love of Christ : here comes in that blessing of the gospel by which the power of the gospel is manifested in the Lord's people, " the love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again," here is the love of Christ, bringing obedience into the heart, " not by might or by power, but by my Spirit, saiththe Lord of Hosts" — bringing obedience into the heart, how ? by pour-
ing love — by pouring the love of Christ, drawing out the affections of the sinner, giving him new affections by manifesting the fulness of the love that is in Jesus, to his heart and conscience ; therefore, saith this apostle, " I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,'' the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Jesus comes
from your Redeemer to you, that you may render to him the fullness of your hearts, that you may mortify your members that are upon the earth, and that you may be enabled to render these members to your Lord and Saviour, not by constraint but willingly, with holy, happy love to your Master, because he has taken you from your guilt, aud washed you in his own blood, and carries you in his arms, and " keeps you by his power though faith unto salvation." 1 have dwelt so long on this first part of my subject, that I must shorten the remarks on the latter part of it. The apostle says he comes with a blessing to give them, and then he entreats a blessing from them. II. I proceed then to consider, THE BLESSI G WHICH THE ApOSTLE EXPECTED froji the Church at Rome. " I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me, in your prayers to God for me." Oh, friends, if the Apostle was to come with the fulness of blessing to his brethren at Rome, he entreats from them by the Lord Jesus Christ and his Spirit, their earnest prayers and supplications to God for him. And if we, dear brethren, come to preach to you the salvation that is in Christ, what need have we to entreat and implore your prayers to God for us ! — Oh, dear friends, if the flock desire a blessing for themselves, they must pray for their ministers : if we set forth the
blessing of salvation that is in Christ Jesus to you, it is all in vain, unless the power of the Holy Ghost accompanies the word, " Paul may plant and Apollos water, God must give the increase." We might as well preach to the pillars of this church, as preach to a congregation unless God the Holy Spirit accompanies the word to their hearts ; and if it is the power of God that blesses his word alone to the heart, Oh, consider, that the humblest member of
OR GOSPEL PREACHER.
tlie congregation can apply to God for tliat power and blessing, either minister or Hock as well as the most influential. All may not preach, but all, if they are Christians, can pray ; all may not be able to use the means of conveying outward instruction to others, but all can pray for a blessing to that God who alone can make that instruction profitable to the people ; therefore, beloved friends, let md use that language to you, I beseech you, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that for my dear brother and myself, you strive together with us in your prayers to God for us, that you call on the Lord to send a blessing on our poor ministrations, and that he would apply them effectually to
your hearts ; for that is our consolation, that no matter what our weakness may be it is our blessed privilege to know, that it is "not by might or by power," that it is not by the wisdom of words, but by the energy of the Holy Ghost that ablessing can accompany the word to the sinner's heart, and bringjoy, life, light, peace, comfort, everlasting salvation to his soul. You see the Apostle entreats them to pray for temporal deliverance from the persecution of the Jews, " that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints ;" that the saints might receive with gratitude and love the contributions he was taking from Achaia and Macedonia, " that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed." He entreats them to pray for God's providential mercies, and providential direction and guidance, and you see, beloved friends, even in the case of Paul himself, how entirely indebted to the Lord he was for his providential mode of directing and guiding him. I desire to bless the Lord's mercy for keeping me, and encreasing my strength, and giving me the privilege of coming to you to address you. Since I left this place, I saw one beloved friend weeping, in deep sorrow, over the loss of an only son, and that son was a pupil of my own, and he died of the very complaint I had myself. Death visits all of every age; strength, health, youth, are no safeguards against
death. Oh, consider this, ye that arc young ! Oh, think, and ask yourselves whether you know the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. It is by God's providence that we are spared amongyou, his gracious providence teaches us how we are depending on his almighty hand, he can lay us by, or strengthen us and enable us to speak his word, all must be his, we must look for his providential care and direction in all things, and if we expect a blessing, we must look ior and receive it all alone from God. Paul desires them to pray that he may be brought to them. How was he brought? See, how the providence of God brought him ; the providence of God handed him over at Jerusalem to the secular power, and he was obliged to appeal to Csesar against the authorities of Jerusalem, and he did go to Rome ; but he went, not as a free Apostle, he went as a prisoner, he went in chains, and there he finished his course under the persecution of the cruel monster ero. otwithstanding, he asked their prayers ; and their prayers, no doubt were poured out to God, and their prayers were answered, but not in the way Paul chose. The Lord does not answer our prayers as we choose, he answers our prayers as he pleases and for his own glory ; that was the way he answered Paul's prayer. Look to Paul's persecution, and the way he was conducted to Rome ; the providence of God illustrated his own glory and magnified his grace.
And then he entreats them to pray, (i that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed." Mark, Paul might go to the church of Rome whose faith was spoken of through the whole world, and yet Paul could not be refreshed with the church of Rome, unless God's gracious Spirit gave to the Apostle and gave to the flock the privilege and joy of being refreshed together. And if it was his case, is it not ours? you and I may be hearing and preaching the word of life, but cannot see a blessing attend that word, unless our God grants that we may be refreshed. ow, pray, that we may be refreshed, pray, that this word may refresh our hearts, that we may consider the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. The apostle
THE EW IRISH PULPIT,
tells them what this refreshing is, " I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established," that is, may be comforted together by the mutual faith, both of you and me, comforted together by our mutual faith, strengthened together in speaking of our precious Lord and Master, the riches of his grace, the fulness of his sal-
vation, the glorious hope that our souls have in Him, that we may be comforted and refreshed together by the mutual faith of all of us.
ow, let me entreat, that you will pour out your prayers for my dear brother and myself, that we may be refreshed, that we may be comforted, that our souls may be edified, that we may be lifted up to our precious Lord and Master, enabled to look to him, to believe, to rejoice in him, to walk in holy hope, love and obedience to him who has loved us, and given himself for us. " The God of peace be with you all. Amen."
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