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The Great Power of the Pulpit.
THE SECRET OF ALL REAL SUCCESS IN THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
could I find. I gave up the search-beg I could not-steal I dared not, but what to do I certainly did not know.
For a long time have I been afflicted and grieved in spirit through the death and deadness which appeared to cover the churches, and to darken the minds of even I went, and sat down in total darkness. I the most lively of the Lord's people, among had power to give myself up to the Lord to do whom I have moved. No tongue could ever with me just as seemed him good. A little tell the inward pangs of my soul when I have Jonah-like feeling came to my mind-" yet attempted to plead with the LORD for his WILL I LOOK AGAIN." I had scarcely blessing on the preached word, while, time cast a glance toward the holy temple, when, after time, I have witnessed the coldness, if ever Ezekiel's words were true in me, they the dreariness, and the divided condition of were then; for surely "I heard THE MAN the people. Oh! I have thought I would speaking to me out of the house, and the Man plead and pray incessantly; and ofttimes STOOD BY ME." (Ezekiel xliii. 6). And what I have felt a craving to get to the mercy- do you think He said? He spoke with all seat; for there I have many times found, that softness and silence-with all that cerI could speak as I could speak in no other tainty and tenderness which so surely belongs place, or to no other person. But, frequent- to Him when speaking to his own poor ly, of late, my prayers have been so unlike sheep in the wilderness. He spoke with Jacob's, that even here I have been as though such holy anointing influence, that, in a momy very heart would break: for it was as ment all my despairing darkness and deadthough I could not cease labouring to "take ness was gone; and I had the earnest that hold of his strength-" but then he would he would help me. These were his words (I not come near enough for my faith and fer- did not read them—I did not simply recolvent cries to embrace Him; and so often lect them. No, no, I say, HE spake them to times, I have sunk down under the fear that me: they were the precious life-giving words either I never did know the LORD-or, that of his own dear mouth. He said, in me, he was so angry with me, as that do what I and to me)-" AND I, if I BE LIFTED UP would, he would not be reconciled. Oh! FROM THE EARTH, WILL draw all unto me." how painful this is! I have almost feared- I am not certain that he said (from the from the continued course of inward con- earth) but I am certain he said-" AND I, flicts, and heavy outward trials, that I if I be lifted up, will draw all unto me." should be left as an out-cast; as a desolate ran back again to my study-I opened the wanderer, as one that should never "see the book-I found the words in John xii. 32. King in his beauty," nor enter into that land" And I if I be lifted up from the earth will that seems, to us poor tempted souls, so very far off.
"You that love the Lord indeed
Tell me is it thus with you ?" I had endured a great fight of afflictions one whole week: I had passed through a hard and unfruitful Sabbath: I had entered upon the duties of another week; and in visiting the sick, and attending to my many labors, I was favoured with no smiles from heaven, no cheering prospects, no pleasant nearness, no freedom nowhere. Tuesday evening was approaching. I must preach again; or try at it; but, oh, the total emptiness of my poor soul, never can I declare. I went to my study, I fell on my knees, I looked in my Bible, I turned to the Concordance-I opened some volumes of good men's writings, I looked, I tried to read but all was death, and a desolate wilderness everywhere. If I could-I think I should, have stolen a text, or a train of thought, or even a sermon, from any one. I was hungry-I was needy-I was expected to go up and feed the people yet not one crumb VOL. XIII.-No. 154.
draw all men unto me." It was nearly chapel time. I had a long way to go; but immediately the blessed Spirit appeared to open them to my mind; as though he said-consider the words,-
I. The glorious Person- " AND I." II. The Proposition-" If I be lifted up from the earth."
III. The precious Promise-"I will draw all men unto me."
IV. The Proofs-If we are manifestly and experimentally His, then we are drawn by his own power unto himself.
I never stopped to thank him for this precious deliverance-ungrateful creature I am-but off I went, and thoughts rolled in so sweetly. Oh, when the Master comes, brethren, how sweet it is!-how holy, and how good!
In setting out with my work, I said, how much my mind had been tossed about as to what remedy the Lord would use in order to build up Zion. I had thought of prayer and many things; but I could see that we might be left to build upon means, and to
grain; but as respects its generative and fruit-bearing properties, it is of no real value unless it fall into the ground and die; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Who in the heaven, or on the earth, is to be compared unto the SON OF GOD,-the Saviour of the body—the Great High Priest of our profession, of whom God the Father said, "Mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth ?" Of whom the Spouse says, " My be
lean upon forms; and so come short of the blessing. Prayer meetings, and special seasons for supplication, are good; they are Christlike, and have frequently been wonderfully honoured, but, if we set up even prayer meetings as our remedy, and have not in them a single eye to the glory of Christ,-a living faith in the covenant purposes and promises of God, and a loving and humble laying of our souls in the hands of the eternal Spirit, our prayer meetings will not bring the bles-loved is white and ruddy; the chiefest among sing. No, plain as could be, the Lord seemed ten thousand; yea, he is altogether lovely ;" of to say to me, "Let a man honestly and affec- whom the great Apostle said, "Yea, doubtless, tionately-faithfully and experimentally, lift and I count all things but loss for the excelup my name, my power, my blood, my righ-lency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my teousness, my truth, my promises, and my kingdom; and if thereby sinners are not to him, are all things, to whom be glory for "For of him, and through him, and drawn to me; not simply to the means and to ever. Amen." men, but drawn to me; and, if saints are not thereby drawn to me, it is a proof that God has a controversy with that place, or with that people,-it is like the miry places' spoken of in Ezek. xlvii. 11, and the marishes thereof; they shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.'"
I never was more powerfully persuaded of anything in my life, than I was that night in that pulpit, that if Christ be preached, in the light, love, and liberty of the Spirit, if God does not bless that preaching, the place is a miry and a marshy place, and there is nothing under heaven, nor out of heaven, that will do it any good. It is given to salt, to perish and to die, or to stand like Lot's wife, as a pillar, expressive of God's power to punish trangressors, and I fear there are not a few churches and chapels who stand in this very plight.
I have a hope that if I can gather up a few of the thoughts which that evening flowed through my mind, they may be helpful to some of my brethren, and the Lord may bless them to some of his dear saints who in the valleys, and in the deserts, have their lodging-place.
First, then, think of the glorious Person, "AND I." That is a pretty and a very powerful "And." "And I." In connection with these words the Saviour is represented in a four-fold point of view, all exhibiting the certainty of his mediatorial conquests. The Bible is full, very blessedly and comprehensively full of those immensely precious positives concerning the eternal certainty of Christ's victories,-and the certainty of his most glorious conquests and rewards. "He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied."
In the 12th of John, see the four wonderful revelations of his greatness. First, in the corn of wheat. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." What on earth is more valuable than the corn of wheat? It is a pure, a powerful, a precious
Nevertheless, great and glorious as Christ
"His cross a sure foundation laid
earthly honors, and church advantages too, Away pride, ambition, creature comforts, if I have not Christ! Let me say, with all the powers of my soul, "God forbid that I Jesus Christ." This precious corn of wheat should glory, save in the cross of our Lord did fall into the ground indeed; and there it died; and so sure shall it bring forth fruit. Oh, yes! Jesus can never fail; the commercial glory of America may fail, and her million merchants become beggars; the come paupers; England's immense revenues great Glasgow bankers may break, and bemay decline, and Britain's boasted strength come to nought; but, "blessed be the Lord our Rock, he lives, he reigns," and all for whom he died shall rise and live for ever and ever. The certainty of his mediatorial conquest is here declared; therefore he says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me."
How beautiful, to my mind, are the words of good old Caryl, on this great figure of the corn of wheat! He says, "Death is a die to a life, even unto a life which is better dying to live; we die from a life, and we than that from which we die; as Christ argues concerning his death-"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it brings forth fruit." A man dies, as a corn dies, which dies so as to spring out into a blade, and then to bring forth the ear, and at last the
full corn in the ear. Indeed, if a man were to die, and then rot, and never rise more, this were terrible; but to die only to live, and to die from a miserable life, that he may live a joyful life; to die as a grain of wheat dies, to grow up in greater beauty than he had, yea, in a glory that he never had," this fact surely disarms death (to the believer) of all terror.
As a pure and precious corn of wheat, CHRIST, from God the Father's hand, was dropped into this earth, that he might die instead of his people, and that in dying he might give life, beauty, grace, glory, and eternal happiness unto all them the Father gave unto him.
is a stone upon the cave's mouth-and no one ever expects to see him rise again, until the resurrection morning. How correctly does this lay out the condition of all the chosen! Sin has sunk them down into the cave; they are sick; they are dead; they are corrupt; and the curse of the law, and the powers of darkness, like the grave-clothes, and the stone, seem to defie all hope of being saved. But LOVE comes to the grave, and says, "Take away the stone." Love lifts its eyes to heaven. Love brings forth the dead, corrupt corpse into a living man; and the same power which raises, delivers :-" Loose him, and let them him go !" and the SAVIOURJESUS and the saved Lazarus came to Bethany, and there they made them a supper, and, see ye, how distinctly the Holy Spirit speaks. He says, "Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Jesus." Here is LOVE'S complete and certain conquest. Love comes to the grave, rolls away the stone, prevails with heaven, raises the dead, removes away corruption, takes off the grave-clothes, brings the risen one home to supper, and crowns him with everlasting glory. Well, indeed, might Jesus say, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."
I fear I am filling up too much space, but the third expression of the Redeemer's Mediatorial conquest is seen in his riding into Jerusalem.
"When they heard that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, much people took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna! blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Sion; behold, THY KING cometh," &c. things understood not his disciples at the first."
The second expression of Christ's mediatorial power in that chapter, is his raising Lazarus from the dead. The Almighty power of Christ, and the perfect work of Christ, is there displayed. He said, "Lazarus come forth * If you read the eleventh chapter of John carefully through, you will find-(the Holy Spirit enlightening your mind)-a most delightful chain of events, figuring out the condition of God's elect in ruin, and the methods of grace in rescuing them therefrom. Mark you,-it is expressly said of Lazarus-that JESUS loved him; "he whom thou lovest is sick." "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Ah, it is LOVE that sets all the mediatorial springs of the dear Redeemer's heart in motion. Love set its eye on the elect seed from all eternity. Love was the key which unlocked the door of the everlasting covenant, and there Love wrote down all their names in the BOOK OF LIFE! Then Love gave them all over into the heart and hands of the glorious MEDIATOR. There Love received them; had all the guilt and misery of their sins transferred unto another, and another's righteousness imputed unto them; and there "the purpose and the grace" of an ever- What was there, then, in these things? loving heart, secured to them eternal life; and This appearance of Zion's King was full of because LOVE could swear by no greater- holy mystery. This is like one of the anHe sware by himself-being willing, most cient pomegranates; the more you can unabundantly willing, to shew unto the heirs of fold it, the richer you shall find it to be. promise, the immutability of his counsel; But there is one thought which filled my therefore, because the new covenant is one mind with much pleasure. The Jews held undeviating development, display, and dis-it as a good sign, that if a man took palmpensation of everlasting love, and because "He that is our God, is THE God of salvation-that is, the God of the Salvation-Covenant, therefore, it is said, "GOD IS LOVE!" Now love, in the lowest degree of it among men has its peculiar properties; as, for in-pressive sermon stance, it acts sovereignly-it will love this, and it will not, cannot love that. Jacob will love Rachel, but he will not love Leah; CHRIST will love Peter, but he cannot love Judas; and so it is all through. Love is a sovereign, and it will labour and suffer, and bleed and die, to serve the object of its desire. Love brings Jesus to Lazarus. But then he is dead he is in a cave-he stinketh-there
branches in his hand, he was sure of victory. These palm-branches were expressive of the many and the mighty conquests and victories Jesus would bring unto his people. These palm-branches preached this one most exthat many things would overcome the Lord's people for a time; but through their gracious Master's power they should overcome them all. There are five cardinal antagonistic and adverse powers which have, at different times, overcome the spouse of Christ; and to a very large extent these "five kings" are reigning now in their several dominions; and most painfully do they oppress the church of
God. I have been grievously afflicted by them all; and I see many of the Lord's chosen ones still in their furnaces; neither am I altogether free from them now; nor hardly expect to be until I see and inherit a better kingdom, live in a holier house, walk on higher places, keep better company, wear better clothing, and more clearly see the King in his beauty, than is at present my lot. These five powers are, Satan, Sin, Death, the World, and Antichrist in every shape and of every size.
I find it impossible to clear myself of the first branch of this discourse in this paper; there yet remains to be noticed "the voice from heaven;" shewing Christ to be "The Glorified One of Heaven." "I have both glorified thy name, and will glorify it again." This completed the consideration of his Person. Then there is that most important proposition, “if," "if I be lifted up from the earth." Herein lays the essential power of the pulpit, and the secret source of all real success in the gospel ministry. The many things implied in that "if," as applicable to the preaching of the gospel, I defer giving now, as also the promise, "I will draw all (my friends, the Persie version reads it) unto me;" and the proofs that we are among the drawn ones. I most solemnly promise to finish this in January, if I am spared, and the Lord will permit. Forgive the length of these remarks. God help us all, in a right way, to lift up the Saviour. I wish I could do nothing else, either as editor or preacher. Brethren, sisters, and friends in Christ, readers and patrons of the EARTHEN VESSEL, pray for me. Nearly fourteen years have I labored in this work. My trials are only known to Him who has upheld, and still supports, Your willing servant in the gospel,
CHARLES WATERS BANKS. 2, Eldon-place, Upper Grange-road, Nov. 13, 1857.
PRE-EXISTERIAN ERRORS. REPLY TO MR. ROW, OF LITTLE GRANSDEN.
DEAR MR. EDITOR. I see Mr. Row, of Little Gransden, has thrown some wild gourds into the November number of the VESSEL. After two years' repose he is as fresh at his old pre-existerian trade as ever; and he assumes that the soul of Christ preexisted; he assumes this with as much confidence as though it was a revealed and an established Bible truth, that the soul of Christ did pre-exist; and he reiterates assertions which have been refuted a thousand times twice told. But Mr. Row (page 250, Nov. number) says, that the objections sometimes made to the ancient existence of the soul of Christ are so frivolous and weak that he has no wish to answer them. Well, objeotions that are made only sometimes are weak
and frivolous; implying that objections made at other times are strong and powerful.
Well, now, Mr. Editor, if your reader will just turn to the September number of the VESSEL for 1855, page 207, he will there find my reply to a piece previously sent to the den; and my reply has never yet been reVESSEL by the said Mr. Row, of Little Gransfuted; and while the Bible remains what it is, never can be. I have there met nearly every point contained in his piece in this November number. Let the reader, then, just turn to the September number of 1855, to the piece headed, "A Reply to Mr. Row, of Little Gransden," and signed "Naphtali." Let the reader turn to this piece, and see if he can gainsay ought therein contained. I will come to Mr. Row's text and his inthat, as in my reply to Mr. Row more than terpretation, again just reminding the reader two years since I have there met nearly every point in his present piece, I shall notice only such parts in his present communication which my former reply has not taken up.
Mr. Row's text, if I may so call it, is Judges x. 16-" His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." The main texture of Mr. Row's piece is made up of gratuitous assumption, self-contradiction, and error. the soul of Christ pre-existed; and as to the Of gratuitous assumption; he assumes that pooofs he (Mr. Row) gives, they are every one brought to nought in my former reply to him. Self-contradiction, for he says the language of the 8th of Proverbs is too low for his divinity, but is very suitable for his complex person. Here is the self-contradiction. First, it is too low for abstract divinity, yet suited to his complex Person. Divinity cannot be set up from everlasting; yet his complex Person, God and Man in one Person, can be set up from everlasting; which amounts to this, Divinity by itself cannot be set up; but add a human soul to Divinity, then it can be done and so the conclusion is that God cannot be set up. God can be set up. My friend, let me tell you, as I told you in my former reply to you, that the speaker in the 8th of Proverbs is not a man, but a woman. Do not forget this, then, that the speaker in the 8th of Proverbs is a woman. As to who this woman is, I have shewn my opinion in my former reply to you.
So much, then, for the gratuitous assumption and self-contradiction. Now for the error. I do not here mean the error of the pre-existence of Christ's human soul, but other errors, arising out of and connected with this doctrine.
First, That (Mr. Row says) Christ's soul was the holiest of all,-but if the souls of his people are to be made perfect, and be as perfect as the Holy Spirit by the Saviour's blood can make them, will they not be pure, even as he is pure, and righteous, even as he is righteous They are to be like him, and see him as he is.
of holiness to all his mystic members." Well, Secondly, "It was (says Mr. Row) the head if so, what became of this fulness when he emptied himself, as pre-existerianism says he did? The Bible says he humbled himself,
but the Bible nowhere says he emptied him self. This doctrine of emptying himself is an elegance created by pre-existerians for their own convenience. I should like to see good men empty themselves of such a piece of non
Thirdly, This pre-existerian doctrine, making the human soul of Christ to be the head of all things to the church, gives hereby to the church, a mere human fulness, and would make the life, the sanctification, and justification of the church, to be merely human; whereas Christ is in his Godhead, as well as by his manhood, the life of the church 1 John v. 9. And this same John says,-"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." And this fabled pre-existing error is one of the idols from which I would ever wish to stand aloof.
Sanctification is by God the Father; it is by Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit. "Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." "And this is the name wherewith he shall be calledJehovah our righteousness." And God hath said, "I will dwell in them and walk in them." And we are partakers of the Divine nature we have the Spirit of God, the love of God, the life of God, and the glory of God, and all by Christ Jesus.
"Grieve not the holy Spirit of God." Now, as these terms are applied to God, let us see in what sense it is Scriptural and reasonable to understand them when so applied.
Mr. Row suggests that some take these terms when applied to God to denote certain outward dealings of God with men; for myself, while I reject Mr. Row's interpretation, I do not fall in altogether with the one he suggests as adopted by others; not but they have, to all intents and purposes, as the word of truth shews, a reference to his outward dealings with men, either for judgment or for mercy.
The words grieve and repent when applied to the Lord have under different circumstances opposite meanings; in the one case, it indicates his displeasure, as when it is said, "It repented Jehovah (for so is the original) that he had made man and grieved him at his heart." Is it then proper or even reverent to say that it was not Jehovah but a human soul that repented and was grieved at his heart? Is it not better to take the words as meaning the deep and solemn displeasure with which he bore with the wickedness of men; and the consequence of this displeasure was that he destroyed man from off the face of the earth. And that when it is said, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God," does it not mean that Now to the text:-"His soul was grieved anything contrary to his testimonies and pu for the misery of Israel." Now, we are as-rity is displeasing to him, and grievous in sured by Mr. Row that God could not be his eyes. This I take to be the solemn meangrieved; therefore when it is said his soul ing. was grieved, we are not, on pain of Mr. Row's disapprobation, to believe that the soul of God means God himself; indeed we are not to believe it means God at all; he has nothing to do with it; but he created a soul-when, nobody knows; and this mysterious soul was grieved for the miseries of Israel. God had nothing to do with it; so when it says, "Jehovah repented that he had made man, and it grieved him at his heart," we are not to believe it, but must believe that it was not Jehovah at all, but a soul that he had created; and when it says " Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God," we must not believe such a thing to be possible; or we must believe that when the apostle says the Holy Spirit, he does not mean what he says, but that he means not the Holy Spirit of God at all; he has nothing to do with it; but that it means the human soul of Christ. Now, courteous reader, if you be not prepared to go thus far, then you cannot honestly side with Mr. Row's interpretation of the text.
Well, then, let us set ourselves down at the feet of the Word of Eternal Truth, and let us listen to its sound, and labor to get the sense and meaning thereof; not taking the word in a sense, on the one hand, which would carry in it an impossibility or absurdity; nor, on the other hand, creating doctrines unknown to the Bible, just to help ourselves out of a difficulty, and at the same time fall into error and delusion.
Now, that the great God can repent, and be grieved, in the same sense and manner that mortal man can, we cannot for a moment admit; but as the terms repent and grieved are applied to God, even to God abstractedly,
And they put away the strange gods and served Jehovah and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." Does not his soul being grieved carry with it a similar idea only of the opposite kind; as, "And grieved him at his heart." His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. Here I think it means the depth and reality of the pity he had for Israel when they cried unto him. His soul therefore will mean himself. And so when he is said to repent, it indicates his decision for his truth, for when men did evil, he repented of the good he had promised, and when men turned from their evil ways, he repented of the evil he had threatened; in each case changing his position but in both abiding by his word. I have not space to enlarge, but a hint to the wise is enough.
His soul then I say will mean in the emphatic sense, himself. Where would Mr. Row with his imaginary pre-existing soul lead us to? It will not at all bear the test of truth. Just look at it; here the great God speaks of himself after this form of speech; we are to believe that he does not mean himself, and so when (Jer. xxxii. 41) Jehovah saith "Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul," we are not to believe that this means that God himself rejoices to do his people good; but we are to take Mr. Row's word for it that it means that a human soul only can rejoice and so Jehovah is to be set aside, and a human fable put into his place, for what is this doctrine of pre-existence, at the best, but a human device, and I do think that men who hold such a doctrine ought not to trouble the churches