Editor's note: Christmas Evan's style of preaching is unique and penetrating. This sermon is taken from Google Books and six pages of the manuscript are missing in the book. - Jim Duvall.]
The Gospel the Best Mirror to Exhibit the Glory of God
A Sermon by Christmas Evans
Early Welsh Baptist Minister
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. 1st Timothy, 1st Chpr, 11th Vr
Natural divinity revealeth the God of Creation and Providence; and man's conscience and reason testify that there is a God. Because that which may be known of God is manifest to them, for that God hath shewed it unto them. For the visible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse for their ignorance of God, and their idolatry, for the brightness of the glory of the Deity was shining strongly and so weighty on their consciences; but they did not glorify God according to the light that was given them, therefore they could not love him, nor be thankful unto him.
The first part of Paul's sermon in Athens was founded on natural divinity. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars-hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, to the unknown God. Whom, therefore, ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the
earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitations; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he is not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being; he has made us, and not we ourselves. It is he that supports us in our actions, presides over our motions, and inspects our several conditions. By the light of natural divinity a man may be terrified so much as to ask a thousand questions relative to his state and condition; but the four oracles of nature, creation, providence, conscience, and reason, are not able to answer one of them. The light of nature leaves every man with the deists, in the land of asking questions full of doubts and fears; but the mystery which had been hid for ages, and from generations, is now made manifest to the saints relative to the salvation of lost and perishing sinners, through the sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. Our understandings being darkened, our wills perverse, and our affections carnal, the light of nature and the power of reason, however excellent, are infinitely too short to be the rule of our life and conduct; neither can they be our directory to the fountain of life and happiness. God therefore of his infinite mercy, has given us his word, which is the only rule of faith and practice, by which we ought to live, and by which we shall be judged in the last day; by which our fears are dispelled, and the all important questions relative to the way of obtaining tha favor of our offended God, are most satisfactorily answered.
The christian's hope of glory is founded entirely on the atonement of Christ, and the influences of the Holy Spirit. Divine revelation, though infinitely above human reason, does not in the least oppose it. It is so far from being contrary to reason, that we might
truly say, nothing is more reasonable than a revelation from God to man. We know it is possible, for there can be no impossibility on the part of God to impart, and there is no impossibility on the part of man to receive such a revelation, God is able to communicate his will, in any way he pleases. He can stamp it on the minds of men, and make them sensible, that it is he who speaks unto them. God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. We ought therefore, to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. Is the gospel the truth of God or not? much has been written on this question. The arguments that have been advanced to prove the important truth that the Bible is the word of God, have not been answered, neither can they be overthrown by all the sceptics in the world.
The revelation of the method of salvation, was first given in the garden of Eden, to our first Parents; since that period great talents have been employed (that were worthy of a better cause) in ridiculing the Bible, and its author, but to very little purpose. The character of the Book of God stands firm as a mountain in the midst of the thick gathered clouds, and the boisterous storms of opposition from the infidel; and shines brighter than gold tried in the furnace of the blasphemies of deists; while the theoretical and practical unbelievers, with all their presumptuous taunts, and talented opposition to the word of the Lord, wither as grass, and the flowers of the field, and sink into eternal darkness. The chief wisdom and deepest sagacity in the world, the religion of the world, the vices and virtues of the world, and all the powers of the world combined with the demons of damnation
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of the firmament, the fingers of the eternal power are evidently seen in the sun moon and stars. The Bible also bears the image of its blessed Author. Every time I read and meditate upon it I can see,
"Eternity with its flaming eye gazing upon me."
To me it unfolds the mysteries of the eternal world; it opens the doors, the windows, and the chambers of Eternity; and informs me who made and supports the universe. It leads me to the spring and original cause of all things; and places me immediately before the eyes of the eternal God; so that I find myself both killed and made alive; - most dreadfully oppressed, and set at perfect liberty: - melted down in the valley of repentance and humiliation, and lifted up on the top of Pisgah, rejoicing in the God of my salvation; - full of fears and full of joy, feeling as though I wanted to hide myself, and at the same time wishing to abide in the light of his countenance forever.
Methinks I can see omnisciency, as a divine eye, in every chapter, in every doctrine, and in every ordinance of the Gospel, gazing upon me, and searching me thoroughy, so that I can hide nothing from him: light and darkness are both alike unto him. The Bible has given me a true representation of myself, even the inmost secrets of my heart, before and after I tasted of the grace of God. Futurity is clear light before the Book of the Lord. It could look forward for some hundreds of years, and see such small things as the gall that was mingled with the drink, and the lot that was cast upon the vesture of Jesus, who fulfilled all things that was written in the Psalms and the Prophets concerning him. There is something so wonderful in this penetrating eye, which makes me confess against myself, my sins unto the Lord, and to cry out for a new heart and a right
spirit within me, and to wash me in the blood of the Lamb, that I might be whiter than snow.
When I meditate under a feeling sense of the corruption of my nature, and see the tops of the dark mountains of afflictions, and the terrors of the grave; there I see infinite goodness, with an eye more cheerful than the Shekina of old, looking upon me from the confines of eternity, as the smiles of the immortal King, from the throne of Grace. Sovereign love, infinite merit, rich mercy and boundless grace, constrain me to gaze upon it, and listen to the still small voice that follows, till I am lifted up upon my feet, from the cave of despair, at the foot of the dark mountain, to hear the proclamation of the mysteries of the upper court, sounding with great power and energy, Bhold, I come in the volume of the Book that was written of me, to suffer, bleed and die, for sinners; to seek and to save, that which was lost.
Holiness, justice, purity, truth, and hatred to sin; like so many flaming eyes of consuming fire gaze upon me from the very heart of the doctrine of the Bible; as from the fire of Sinai, to the children of Israel, or the great I AM from the flaming bush, that make me fear and tremble, at the same time wishing to behold the brilliancy of that glory, which is so much tempered with mercy. I take off my shoes and crawl upon my hands and knees to behold it. I cannot live in sin while this eye is upon me. Here the eternal power with one hand hides me under the shade of mortal wounds, and with the other hand shewing me his glory as the Just and Holy God, while freely justifying all them that believe in Jesus. In the doctrine of the Bible, I fee the eternal power like the eyes of God himself, as a two-edged sword, without asking my leave, it penetrates even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of
the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It opens the locks of my heart, and sits upon its throne, us an infallible Judge, over all my thoughts, and thousand purposes of my heart, and makes them all subject to its own law.
When the Earl of Rochester, a great sceptre, and the most witty and sarcastic man of the age, was reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." The divine power going along with these words arrested him, and screwed him in such a manner, that he thought that his body and mind were twisted to such a degree, that his deistical principles were subdued and crushed to death in a moment, and he experienced faith and hope, in Christ, and love to him and his cause instantaneously.
"Wonders of grace to God belong, Repeat his mercies in your song."
The dead in the grave when quickened and made alive, have no time to inquire how the life came into them; for the tide of life is coming in so rapidly and powerfully upon them into their old beds, that they have no time for any thing, but to raise with the life which raises them up. In like manner was the power of the Gospel working in the country of Matthew, at the custom-house; - the woman of Samaria, by Jacob's well; - the thief on the cross; - the three thousand under Peter's Sermon; - the persecuting Saul on the road to Damascus; - the Jailor in Phillippi; - and thousands more in different parts of the world, who have felt the Gospel mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations,and every high
thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, and turning them from darkness to light, and the reigning power of sin and Satan to the glorious liberty of the children of God.
When I am cast down and dejected in solitude, having no one, to whom I can unbosom myself, I can see, in the lively sentiments of the Gospel the omniprecency of the Deity, and the infinite wisdom, like bright and cheerful eyes, looking upon me through the crevices of my prison house; so that I feel him to be near me ready to hear my prayer, and grant me relief in all my troubles; and in all the riches of his grace and power, he is able to say unto the helpless sinner at the gate of hell, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise."
Suppose for a moment, that I had been troubled with cancer, and that I had been bitten by a rattle-snake, and a mad dog, and that I had found a remedy that perfectly cured me of the three wounds. Sometime afterwards a certain sceptic called upon me, in order to persuade me that the receipt was good for nothing, that it was only a cheat, invented lately by a maniac, and demanded of me to prove that such medicines were made use of before the deluge; and asked me such questions, that would puzzle a Solomon to answer. How would I look upon such a man better than a maniac himself? I have tried the experiment and found a remedy; therefore all his pretended philosophical reasoning would sound in my ears like the backward ringing of a bell, or like sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal. The wisdom of men have invented many remedies for the guilt, the love, and the punishment of sin; but the remedies of these vain philosophers never restored one individual to peace, purity, and happiness; but all that ever cordially believed the Gospel, have been cured of their diseases. I can
truly say upon the most mature deliberations on the subject, and millions more can testify the same thing, that the Gospel in the hand of the spirit of God has subdued the love of sin, and quenched the fire of guilt within me, and hath taken away the fear of death from me, and hath removed the terrors of the grave from my breast. If the pretended infidels of the present day will allow that I am sane, and a man of credit; what farther proof must they have that the Bible is the word of God? - and that the Gospel is, - the glorious Gospel of the blessed God?
The blessed effects attending the cordial reception of the truths of the Gospel, evidently prove the important fact, that the Bible is the Book of God; - that all scripture is given by inspiration of God; - that the chrisiian religion is from heaven; - and will ultimately prosper, and triumph, in spite of all opposition. That the word of God is powerful and sharper than a two edged sword. That the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for pulling down strong holds. Thousands and millions have been awakened, convinced and converted through its instrumentality; and brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus; the lost and the ruined enquiring, what could they do to be saved? have been directed to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Those that were enemies to God are become his cordial friends. Blasphemers are praying - Sabbath breakers keep holy the sabbath day, - and where sin did abound, grace has much more abounded.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament is showing forth his handy-work; yet there is nothing in the whole creation that can give the guilty conscience ease; no direction to flee from the wrath to come; and no saviour, for lust and perishing sinners, exhibited
in the whole works of nature; but in the Gospel we are informed that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Finally, we would observe that the character of God exhibited in the Gospel is full, and perfect, worthy of himself, and far more glorious than any thing that has been seen in the creation. The god whose character is drawn by Mahomet in the Alcoran is nothing but abomination. The god Jupiter represented by Homer in the song of Troy, is revenge. The character of the god described by Voltaire in his writings is a jester or a buffoon. Confusion and war was the character of the god spoken of by Thomas Paine. It is the Gospel only that represents the living and true God in his true and perfect character.
There are also many external evidences to corroborate this all important fact, that the Bible is the word of God.
We shall mention only a few of them. It was written by the persons therein mentioned. Their character was blameless. Christianity was established by miracles, signs, and wonders. Predictions of the Prophets recorded in the Bible, have been fulfilled. Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of the Christian religion, died on the cross for our sins; rose from the grave for our justification; ascended up to heaven, and maketh intercession for us. These are simple facts, admitted by the primitive Christians, by the immediate successors of the original witnesses, by the testimony of neutrals by the declaration of apostates, and by the most inveterate opponents of Chrisiianity. The question therefore is settled, all is admitted that is necessary to prove the authenticity of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.
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could do nothing, but shut them up in prision forever. It gives eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, refuge to murderers, and life to the dead. The gospel can transact business, relative to the salvation of sinners in the sanctuary, the highest, and the most public place under the government of God; so that he is not ashamed to call himself their God: and to him is due the praise and glory forever, for the eternal redemption of sinners, and not the instrumental cause of deliverances not to the gospel, nor any ministers thereof; for Paul may plant and Apollos water, and the gospel may be read and heard to no benrficial purpose, if God will not give this increase. It is in the hand of the holy Spirit that the glorious gospel of the blessed God doeth wonders.
There is no necessity to hide the flaming purity and lusture of the divine character from the sinner, nor his own unworthiness and miserable condition, while the gospel proclaims the virtus and efficacy of the blood of Christ, to quench the rage of the flaming fire, to calm the accusation of the awakened conscience, to purify the heart of its corruption, and to open a place of safety, for the poor trembling sinner under the protecting wing of Almighty God. Although innumerable sins, and of the blackest hue, are written against the sinner in the book of the law and conscience; yet it is recorded in the Book of mercy. That the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sins.
There is a certain glory belonging to the kingdoms of this world consisting in wealth, and power; but it soon vanishes away. All the works of God are glorious. The heavens declare his glory. And the glory of his power, wisdom and majesty shine forth with splendour in the works of providence; which are as so many bands to preserve the world from breaking asunder and falling
to ruin, like a city in an earthquake. The reins of providential government is in the hands of the eternal Word; which is most excellently represented in Ezekiel's wheels, all turning to the advantage of the redemption of mankind; but all this glory is not equal to the glory of the glorious gospel of the blessed God: wherein Jesus appears in his majestic power and glory, seated on a throne of grace and mercy; and driving the chariot of redemption lined with crimson, gilt with gold, and palmed with love, over the mountains of brass through the camps of the prince of darkness, — the poverty of the world, — the agony of the garden — and the sufferings and death of the cross; through the cave of death to the high way of immortality: being crowned now, not with the crown of thorns, but with the crown of glory, — when the everlasting doors were lifted up for the King of glory to enter in. The glory of creation, and the glory of the law in all its royal majesty, and flaming fire on Sinai are almost eclipsed by the glory of the gospel. The glory of the law is manifested in the condemnation of sinners; but the glory of the gospel is exhibited in their eternal salvation.
It is in the glorious gospel of the blessed God, that we behold the divine attributes shining forth with the brightest splendour and glory. Here we see the eternal, and sovereign love of the Father; — the free grace, and the infinite atonement of the Son; — and all the graces of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of holiness and of glory, changing men to the image of the Lord, as from glory to glory; until the image of sin is fully obliterated, and all the wounds and bruises of the fall completely cured, and the deep stains of guilt entirely wished away in the blood of the Lamb. O! that the Spirit of glory, — the Spirit of the God of all grace, would descend upon this congregation, as the spirit of faith in the blood of Christ, of repentance
towards God, and as the spirit of grace and godliness here, leading us to eternal glory; Amen.
The contrast between the law and the gospel evidently shews the super-excellency of the later above the former. The glory of the ceremonial law was typical; but the glory of the gospel is the substance. The glory of the moral law kills the sinner; the glory of the gospel quickens him: the former kills him with terror; the later sweetly and powerfully draws him by the cords of love to God that he might enjoy his smiles, which is life, and be prepared for his more immediate presence in glory — where there is fulness of joy, and pleasures forever more. The glory of the ceremonial law was to continue until the reformation; the glory of the gospel abideth forever. All the glory of the law can throw no light on the gospel; but the gospel like the sun in the firmament, shineth most brilliantly on the divine character the fall of man, and all over mount Sinai, and removes the thick veils that were between us and the eternal God. Christ Jesus is the sum and substance of the gospel, the foundation of our hope, the object of our faith, and the centre of our affections. We are determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. It is by him alone, we can he reconciled to God. The Moravian Missionaries preached three years in Greenland, on the being of God, and the nature, excellency, and requirements of the moral law without doing any good in the conversion of sinners, not one sinner brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus; but the first sermon they exhibited Christ crucified, as the only Saviour of lost and perishing sinners, the doctrine became the power of God for the salvation of one of the heathens. Let Ministers of the gospel, at home, and abroad, recollect this. Christ crucified, the marrow and fatness of the gospel, is the glorious subject
that God has owned and blessed for the conversion of sinners every where, and at all times.
Again — The glory of the gospel appears from its glorious and excellent Dispensation. Tne order of divine appointment, for the worship of Almighty God, whereby he confers spiritual blessings, upon those who are waiting upon him in the means of grace.
Four dispensations have been revealed to mankind.
The first was before the fall of man. That is the religion of nature. There was sufficient virtue in the nature of man at that time to worship God acceptably. On the ground of his original rectitude, the righteousness in which he was created, he had a free access to, and full communion with his Creator, and that immediately without a mediator. The religious principle of our first parents was, that which the moral law now demands of us, that is to say, perfect love to God and perfect obedience to his commands: that was the ruling principle of their hearts, which is directly opposite to the enmity, carnal mindedness, and the lust of the flesh, the ruling principle in the heart of every unregenerate man. Our first parents were constrained to love, adore, and draw near to God, by that holy principle as powerfully and as naturally as fallen man is to forget God, hate him, and flee from him by the corrupt principle that is in him. When Adam lost that holy principle of love to God, he lost his favor, his righteousness was forfeited, and that dispensation was locked up forever; its light went out, and the gate of Paradise was shut.
The second was the patriarchal dispensation founded upon the promise of the Messiah, as the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent's head.
The third was the Jewish dispensation, preparatory to the coming of the Messiah; and
The fourth is the gospel dispensation, called the dispensation of the fulness of times — when time in its several rivulets, creeks, and rivers, has formed the gospel ocean. This is the last dispensation; it will never give way to any other. In spite of the voracious wild beasts of the four great empires of the world, it will live, and bruise the golden image to pieces. The dispensation of the gospel is far more glorious than the three former dispensations in these respects.
First, on account of the nearer union subsisting between God and man in the person of Emanuel; and
Secondly, on account of the exaltation of the nature of man in this glorious personage. God is manifested in the flesh, and dwelt among us. God dwells with man by virtue of the union between the human and divine nature of Christ. He officiated in the nature of man as a Prophet, Priest, and King; made atonement for the sins of men, and conquered the powers of darkness. — Here we find all the fulness of the Godhead united to the human nature. Under this dispensation, the mysteries of divine grace are unfolded. The mysteries of three divine persons in one Jehovah; — of the union of the two natures in the person of Christ; — the union of the mystical body of Christ with the living head; — and the union of Jews and Gentiles in one body by the cross. The nature of man is far more exalted than ever it was, in which the eternal word ascended up to heaven. He opened a way through his blood, by which the church militant can worship by faith in the same place with the church triumphant. The spirit of adoption draws them up to Mount Zion, through the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to an innumerable company of angels, to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new testament, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things
than that of Abel. The saints on earth by faith feel and experience the realities of these glorious things.
The ministry of Sinai condemns and kills the ungodly; but the ministry of Mount Zion is far more excellent, for it manifesteth the righteousness of Christ as the ground of justification; the spirit of life for condemned criminals, and the liberty of the spirit of adoption to the captives in bondage. The glory of the gospel does not drive the poor sinner away; but draws him to God — does not sink him to despair, but directs him to Christ, as the foundation of his hope.
The law was given by the ministry of angels to the children of Israel; but the Son of God is the Author of the gospel, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. God also bearing them witness, both wiih signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. God who had his sanctuary on Sinai, and in the temple, has now changed the habitation of his glory, and is shaking away the old things with more power and glory, than he manifested in setting them up.
The Son himself is now come to reside in his own house; and as he is the Lord of the house, he has an undisputed right to make what alterations he thinks proper upon his own palace, consistent with his own glory; therefore, it is more dangerous to sin against the gospel than against the law. For if the word or the law spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression of the law, and disobedience to its commands received a just recompense of reward; how shall we, who are under the joyful sound of the gospel of Christ, escape, if we neglect so great salvation: inasmuch as Christ is greater than Moses, and the substance is more than the shadows. There is a fire more awful and terrific than that of Sinai, and more certain to overtake the despisers of
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the good work, is able to accomplish it for the praise and glory of his grace, who has made us accepted in the beloved. The grace of God exhibited on the pole of the everlasting Gospel, is an infallible remedy for all diseases, to all them that look by faith upon it. It is like a Loyal ship laden with all suitable provisions arriving at the harbour of a city, whose inhabitants are perishing by the famine; under the direction and control of the Holy Spirit, who distributes the rich provisions of faith, repentance, righteousness, pardon, peace, joy, purity and every heavenly fruit, without money and without price. He is the spring of all that living waters which break out to rivers of godliness from the hearts of men.
In the parable of the prodigal son, we have a striking description of the glory of the Gospel above that of the law. Having received his portion of the goods, he went into a far country, between which and his father's house there was no communication, more than there is between the living and the dead. Ha took all his treasure with him, that nothing should induce him to think of his Father and return to his God. When he arrived there he found the climate very unhealthy; sometimes so hot that all the produce of the country was burnt up; at other times so cold, that many of the citizens were buried under the snow. They spoke the language of hell, and their customs and manners resembled that of the bottomless pit. This far country was under the government of Diabolus; and its chief exported merchandize was the souls and bodies of mankind, for which it received in exchange the prodigal, sinful lusts from the lower region. Here, in this barren waste country, he soon spent all that he had, — his understanding was darkened, his will perverse, and his affections carnal; his throat became an open sepulchre, the poison of asps was under his lips, his hand ready at all times to do evil, and
his feet swift to shed blood. He was in this miserable far country, far from God, heaven and happiness, under the curse of the law, and the threatnings of vindictive justice, almost starved to death. The law shewed him his duty, the evil of sin, and his lost condition, and took away his bread, the staff of life from him, and he cried what shall I do? because he was in want. The law threatened and roared over his head, in all its flaming brilliancy, as if it were about to cut down all the tall cedars of the forest, and kill the bulls of Basham and him along with them; so vigorous were its demands, and so terrific its aspect, that even a Saul of Tarsus could not stand before it. The law deprived this proud nobleman of the necessaries of life so unexpectedly to himself, as the light that shined around Saul in his way to Damascus. It was the law that raised the famine in the far country, and gradually increased it, so that the prodigal went about through the country to seek for the bread of hope; but no beggars are encouraged under all the government of the law. He found out to his sad experience that it was a poor country for a poor man. He that will not work shall not eat, but let him die the death, was the language of the law. No man gave him any thing to eat. He offered to work with one of the legal preachers of the country, but the law arrested him for past offences, and was not satisfied with his present obedience on account of its imperfection, therefore committed him to the house of correction on Mount Sinai, where thousands of such vagrants died. Now there was no hope for the bread of life.
And being in the greatest distress he sees nothing before him, nor finds any thing but condemnation in his heart, in his words, in his conduct and all around him; and all hope of making an atonement for his sins cut off forever. In this dark and gloomy gap of death, when
the sun of hope was setting to raise no more, behold the gospel in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit proclaimed, Thy Father is yet alone. In thy Father's house there is bread enough and to spare. Believing this he arose and went home. Faith in the tender pity of a Father's heart, and the abundance of wealth he possessed, inspired in his soul a faint hope, and produced in his heart a spring of godly sorrow, which issued forth in a blushing face, flowing tears, and in earnest prayer and application. Having come to himself, and actuated by faith between fear and hope, he acknowledged in his prayer, with shame and grief, his utter unworthiness to obtain the favor of his Father; and requested the meanest place among his servants. The gospel taught him good manners. When he was yet a great way off, and quite ashamed of his condition, and heavy laden under the burden of sin; the Father saw him, not with a revengeful eye, but with most tender commiseration; he ran to meet him, not with a drawn sword to pierce his heart, nor with a rod to strike him, no, O! no, let heaven and earth wonder, and stand amazed, but with arms of mercy wide open, to embrace to his bosom the miserable objects in his rags and emaciated by famine; and not a word said to upraid him of his past follies; he fell on his neck and kissed him — O! Sovereign love! For love like this, let rocks and hills their lasting silence break. He was not yet brought into the dining room, but to the dressing room. I imagine I see him there upon his knees, and hear him say, Father I have sinned against heaven and before thee or in thy sight. I am not worthy to be called thy son, the Father made no reply to this; but named the blessings he was about to bestow upon him. The best robe — the ring — the shoes — and the fatted calf — the righteousness of Christ — the Spirit of adoption, holy conversation — and the flesh and blood
of Christ, the rich and glorious provisions of the banqueting house. And they began to be merry, feasting on redeeming grace and dying love, singing and praising, glory to God forever and ever. Who would not sing? let those refuse to sing who never knew his grace. The whole dining room was clothed with glory for ashes, the oil of gladness for mourning, — the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness; — and the Father exclaiming let us eat and be merry. For this my Son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry. When the sinner is converted to God, — is, the commencement of his joy, that will never end — unto him that loved us and washed us in his own blood is the anthem that believers begin to lisp and learn him: — in heaven they shall be perfect — and forever so in their songs of praise and thanksgivings.
By the law we know what the state of man was before the fall in Eden; but by the gospel we know what God is as the Lawgiver and the Saviour of men. By the law we know, what we have lost by the fall and what we ought to be; but by the gospel we know what was done for to redeem us, and what we shall be made by grace. By the law we see and feel our wounds; — but by the gospel our wounds are healed with mercy's balm. By the law we are taught what our duty is; but by the gospel in the hand of the Holy Spirit, we are assisted to perform our duty. The law is the glass in which we may see our faults; but in the gospel we have a spring of water to wash them all away. Yes in the gospel we have the testimony of a sufficient Saviour, a cordial invitation to come unto him, and a promise upon oath that we shall be received by him.
Once more we would observe, that the gospel is glorious in its blessings. The blessings of the gospel are more excellent than the blessings of paradise. Christ
is come, not only that we might have life, but have it more abundantly; and where sin hath abounded, grace has much more abounded. It was the image of the earthy that was on our nature in Eden; but by this grace of the gospel ws shall be clothed in the image of the heavenly. Jacob in blessing his son Joseph said, The blessings of thy Father have prevailed above, — arc more evcellent (Welsh) than the blessings of my projenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; but the blessings of the glorious gospel of the blessed God go over the tops of the everlasting hills down to the pacific valley of immortality. All the blessings of providence in their nature and durability are but empty things in comparison with tha blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The former are for the benefit of the body; but the later are beneficial for immortal souls: the one is to continue only for a short time; but the other to all eternity. Earthly blessings can afford us no consolation in death; but the blessings of the gospel will support us when our feet touch the dark mountains, and when we tread the valley of the shadow of death. The gospel and its blessings, and Christ in it will come with us through the river Jordan, and land us safe on the continent of eternal life, and will dwell with us in the temple of glory forever and ever. The blessings essential to eternal life are not to be found any where but in the gospel. Somethings are to be found only in the East Indies, it is vain to seek for them any where else; — in like manner the blessings of eternal salvation cannot be found any where under heaven, but in the gospel. All the blessings of the gospel are connected together, for where one is, there is the whole; as if they were laid up together in a large trunk containing exhaustless and most valuable treasures; the fulness that is Christ answerable to our emptiness, and the riches that are in him
answerable to our poverty. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. His grace is sufficient for us in every time of need.
From what has been said, we observe, that as the gospel is the word of God, the rule of our faith and practice, and by which we shall be judged at the last day; that it is the duty of sinners who are privileged to hear the gospel, to believe it; and repent of their sins.
My fellow sinners bound to eternity; permit me to call your attention to this solemn and all important subject, in which all classes of men are so deeply interested, for your eternal destines will be fixed in accordance to your treatment of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. If you obey it, then shall ye be happy forever; but if you should reject it, and treat it with contempt you will be exposed to all the awful judgement threatened upon unbelievers — liars and despisers of his word, to have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Jehovah commands all men every where to repent. Draws nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you; cleanse your hearts ye sinners, and purify your hearts ye double minded, be afflicted, mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up. Hate every appearance of evil. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. Cease to do evil and learn to do well. You ought to hate sin with perfect hatred, as it is perfectly hateful to the holy and just God; destructive to your best interest in this world, as well as expose you to endless misery beyond the grave; and particularly as being the cause of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ the friend of
sinners. Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out. Behold the glory and excellency of Christ by the eye of faith. Consider his ability and willingness to save; and let me intreat you to receive him — embrace him, and depend upon him as the ground of your justification before God. Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Look unto Jesus who is the captain, the author, as well as finisher of your faith. View him as altogether lovely, the chief among ten thousand. Look unto him all ye the ends of the earth, and be ye saved; — for he is God and there is none else. You are commanded to serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling — to kiss the Son lest he be angry, and you perish eternally, when his wrath is kindled against you. This is the work of God: that ye believe in him whom he hath sent. While you have the light, you are recommended to believe in the light. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. He that cometh unto me, saith the Saviour, shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. The Spirit and the Bride say come — and all the Ministers of the gospel should say, O come! to the waters every one that thirsteth, and he that hath no money, come ye, and buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Come unto me, saith the gracious Redeemer, — all that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Yea let them that are ready to perish, come; — let them flee to Jesus for refuge, and venture their immortal souls on him alone.
For the sake of every thing valuable let me beseech you, despise not the glorious gospel of the blessed God. For he that is often reproved and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. If any of you are determined to be disobedient to the
divine command, and turn a deaf ear to the gracious invitation of the gospel, you will repent it when it is too late. The Lord is wetting his glittering sword, and will render vengeance to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him. He will render to every man according to his deeds. To them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish; — this shall be the portion of them that do evil. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; for his wrath and displeasure manifested against sin in drowning the old world, and burning Sodom and Gomorrah, were truly awful; and except you repent ye shall all likewise peiish. You must unavoidably die the death eternal — utterly deprived of every thing that is good; and realize with awful feelings the presence of every thing that is bad. Turn therefore from all your transgressions, that iniquity may not be your ruin. — Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O poor sinners? You may depend upon it, that if you live and die destitute of an interest in Christ, you shall be punished with an everlasting destruction; — when the Son of God will appear in his glory, surrounded by flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. When he will pronounce the most dreadful sentence upon you, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Here is a period, beyond which you shall never hear the sound of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. When mercy itself shall have no compassion upon you. When the Lord Jesus, who is now exhibited on the pole of the everlasting gospel, as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world; will appear in the character of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, saying, Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them,
bring hither, and slay them before me. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon you. Eternal truth declares that he that believeth not shall be damned. He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. O, then! while the door of mercy is wide open, the arms of Jesus ready to embrace you, his bowels of compassion yearn over you, you are cordially invited to come unto him. To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation; for now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.
Life and salvation, and remission of sin are immediately connected with repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of God is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins. Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Go ye into all the world, and preach ths gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; were the commission and testimony of the King of Zion, before he ascended to his glory. Agreeably to this high command of their divine master, the Apostles went and published repentance and faith in the name of Christ, to Jews and Gentiles; and those who believed and repented were saved; but those who did not, perished in their sins. The gospel, while the savour of life unto life to some, was the savour of death unto death to others. For the
preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
My fellow sinners, I beg of you to consider seriously, the importance of the subject presented before you this day; and I would ask you in the language of David, addressed to the Israelites, who is then willing to consecrate his service unto the Lord this day? The grand design of preaching the gospel is, that you might know and receive the truth; that you might know the only way in which you may be saved. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life — the only saviour of sinners — the only foundation of hope for guilty man; and in him we have all things we need — wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Christ is all and in all in our salvation; — venture your soul on him — venture wholly, let no other trust intrude, and you will be happy in life, joyful in death, and glorious forever.
I am persuaded that most of you wish to die the death of the righteous, and that your last end should be like his. Live his life, and you shall die his death. The end of that man, who spends his days in disputing and denying the truth of the evidences, that the gospel is from God; who cavils at its doctrines, ridicules its histories, hates the purity of its truths in his heart, and tramples with daring presumption upon all its most holy injunctions, must be truly miserable. Not very unlike Thistlewood; though he might not, like him, have forfeited his life to the violated law of his country; yet like him, having spent his time and talents in pouring contempt upon the gospel, and blaspheming the name of the blessed God who gave it, if not in words yet in thoughts and actions. Whilst Thistlewood was on the drop at Newgate, ready to be executed by the violated law of his country, a few moments before he was launched into
eternity, he cried aloud to the thousands of gazing spectators, I am going to give a leap in the dark! Awful scene! to leap into the abyss of utter and eternal darkness, of misery and despair! How very different the closing scene of life with that man who is fully and firmly persuaded in his own mind, that the truth of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, is built upon a rock which cannot be moved, of incontrovertible, intrinsic, and external evidences, who realizes the important doctrines of it in his heart, and lives its precepts in his life. This man shall have light in the dark valley of the shadow of death, for life and immortality, is brought to light by the gospel which he cordially embraces. — Though clouds and darkness envelope the providential dealings of God with his people in this life, and what he is doing they know not now, but they shall know hereafter. When the spirit leaves the body it shall be conveyed safe to glory by the holy angels; there Jesus stands ever ready to receive and welcome home the purchase of his own blood, to rest in the bosom of his Father and his God. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.
[From J. Davis, editor, Christmas Evans, Sermons on Various Subjects, Sermon II, 1837, pp. 21-52. Document from Google Books. — Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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