"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire,wanting nothing." James 1:2-4.
"Unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were thou cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;and know est not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that over cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. 3:14-21
"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:1-3.
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34.
What tenderness we have here; what self-forgetfulness; what almighty love! Jesus did not say to those who crucified him, "Begone!"
One such word, and they must have all fled. When they came to take him in the garden, they went backward, and fell to the ground, when he spoke but a short sentence; and now that he is on the cross, a single syllable would have made the whole company fall to the ground, or flee away in fright.
"Compel them to come in."Luke 14:23.
I feel in such a haste to go out and obey this commandment this morning, by compelling those to come in who are now tarrying in the highways and hedges, that I cannot wait for an introduction, but must atonce set about my business.
"That I may know him." - Philippians 3:10.
The object of the apostle's life - that for which he sacrificed everything: country, kindred, honor,comfort, liberty, and life itself, was, that he might know Christ. Observe that this is not Paul's prayer as an unconverted man, that he may know Christ, and so be saved; for it follows upon the previous supplication that he might win Christ and be found in him. This is the desire of one who has been saved, who enjoys the full conviction that his sins are pardoned, and that he is in Christ . It is only the regenerated and saved man who can feel the desire, "That I may know him."
"For who hath despised the day of small things?" Zechariah 4:10.
Zechariah was engaged in the building of the temple. When its foundations were laid, it struck everybody as being a very small edifice compared with the former glorious structure of Solomon. The friends of the enterprise lamented that it should be so small; the foes of it rejoiced and uttered strong expressions of contempt. Both friends and foes doubted whether, even on that small scale, the structure would ever becompleted. They might lay the foundations, and they might rear the walls a little way, but they were too feeble a folk, possessed of too little riches and too little strength, to carry out the enterprise.
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Philippians 3:18-19.
"Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy redeemer the Holy one of Israel." Isaiah 41:14.
Paul was the very model of what a Christian minister should be. He was a watchful shepherd over the flock; he did not simply preach to them, and consider that he had done all his duty when he had delivered his message; but his eyes were always upon the Churches, marking their spiritual welfare,their growth in grace, or their declension in godliness.
I shall speak this morning to those that are discouraged, depressed in spirit, and sore troubled in theChristian life. There are certain nights of exceeding great darkness, through which the spirit has to grope in much pain and misery, and during which much of the comfort of the Word is particularly needed. Those seasons occur in this manner.
“Christ died for the ungodly" Romans 5:6
In this verse the human race is described as a sick man, whose disease is so far advanced that he is altogether without strength: no power remains in his system to throw off his mortal malady, nor does he desire to do so; he could not save himself from his disease if he would, and would not if he could.
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2:17.
Whatever the statement of James may be, it could never have been his intention to contradict the gospel. It could never be possible that the Holy Spirit would say one thing in one place, and another in another. Statements of Paul and of James must be reconciled, and if they were not, I would be prepared sooner to throw overboard the statement of James than that of Paul.
"And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region." Acts13:49.
I shall not confine myself to the text. It being an old custom to take texts when we preach, I have taken one, but I shall address you, at large, upon a subject which I am sure will occupy your attention, and has done for many days and years past the subject of gospel missions. We feel persuaded that all of you are of one mind in this matter, that it is the absolute duty as well as the eminent privilege of the Church to proclaim the gospel to the world.
"Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Romans 5:20.
There is no point upon which men make greater mistakes than upon the relation which exists between the law and the gospel. Some men put the law instead of the gospel: others put the gospel instead of the law; some modify the law and the gospel, and preach neither law nor gospel: and others entirely abrogate the law, by bringing in the gospel.
"We love him, because he first loved us."—1 John 4:19.
During the last two Sabbath days I have been preaching the gospel to the unconverted. I have earnestly exhorted the very chief of sinners to look to Jesus Christ, and have assured them that as a preparation for coming to Christ, they need no good works, or good dispositions, but that they may come, just as they are, to the foot of the cross, and receive the pardoning blood and all-sufficient merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."--Matthew 20:28.
When first it was my duty to occupy this pulpit, and preach in this hall, my congregation assumed the appearance of an irregular mass of persons collected from all the streets of this city to listen to the Word. I was then simply an evangelist, preaching to many who had not heard the Gospel before.
"O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid thou hast loosed my bonds."—Psalm 116:16.
These sentences suggest a contrast. David's religion was one of perfect liberty;—"Thou hast loosed my bonds." It was one of complete service;—"Truly l am thy servant. I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid."
"Continuing instant in prayer."-Romans 12:12.This is placed in connection with a large number of brief but very weighty precepts. Prayer has a
distinct relationship to all Christian duties and graces. It is not possible for us to carry out the holy commands of our Lord Jesus unless we
are abundant in supplication. The Romans at the time that Paul wrote to them were subject to persecution, and in this verse he mentions two
remedies for impatience under such afflictions, remedies which are equally effectual under all the trials of life.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” [Acts 1:14]
In churches which are not completely tied and bound by liturgies and rituals, it has been common practice to hold meetings for corporate prayer.
"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility."—Proverbs 18:12.
Almost every event has its prophetic prelude. It is an old and common saying, that "coming events cast their shadows before them;" the wise man teaches us the same lesson in the verse before us.
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates."—2 Corinthians 13:5.
Look at the corn in the field: it holds its head erect while it is green, but when the ear is filled and matured, it hangs its head in graceful humbleness.
I had intended to address you this morning from the third title given to our blessed Redeemer, in the verse we have considered twice before—"Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God;" but owing to excruciating pain and continual sickness, I have been unable to gather my thoughts together, and therefore I feel constrained to address you on a subject which has often been upon my heart and not unfrequently upon my lips, and concerning which, I dare say, I have admonished a very large proportion of this audience before.
“He that winneth souls is wise.”—Proverbs 11:30.
The text does not say “he that winneth sovereigns is wise,” though no doubt he thinks himself wise, and perhaps in a certain grovelling sense in these days of competition he must be so; but such wisdom is of the earth and ends with the earth; and there is another world where the currencies of Europe will not be accepted, nor their past possession be any sign of wealth or wisdom.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."—Revelation 3:19.
The dealings of God towards the sons of men have always puzzled the wise men of the earth who have tried to understand them. Apart from the revelation of God the dealings of Jehovah towards his creatures in this world seem to be utterly inexplicable.
"But one thing is needful."—Luke 10:42.
We have no difficulty whatever in deciding what the one thing is. We are not allowed to say that it is the Saviour, for he is not a thing; and we are not permitted to say that it is attention to our own salvation, for although that would be true, it is not mentioned in the context.
The Pearl of Patience
We often need to be reminded of what we have heard, for we are far too ready to forget. We are also so slow, to consider and meditate on what we have heard, that it is profitable to have our memories refreshed. At this time we are called upon to remember that we have heard of “the patience of Job.” We have, however, I trust, gone beyond mere hearing, for we have also seen in the story of Job that which it was intended to set vividly before our mind’s eye.
This morning, those of us who were here meditated on the connection between faith and love, so I thought we had needed to pursue the same subject somewhat further, hoping that we might still receive divine instruction on that important theme.
The Soul Winner
I had very great joy last night—many of you know why but some do not. We held our annual meeting of the church, and it was a very pleasant sight to see so many brethren and sisters knit together in the heartiest love, welded together as one mass by common sympathies, and holding firmly to “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.”
"Give an account of thy stewardship."—Luke 16:2.
We have heard many times in our lives, that we are all stewards to Almighty God. We hold it as a solemn truth of our religion, that the rich man is responsible for the use which he makes of his wealth; that the talented man must give an account to God of the interest which he getteth upon his talents; that every one of us, in proportion to our time and opportunities, must give an account for himself before Almighty God.
The True Aim of Preaching
Paul’s mode of preaching, as illustrated by this chapter, was first of all to appeal to the understanding with a clear exposition of doctrinal truth, and then to impress that truth, upon the emotions of his hearers with earnest and forcible exhortations.
The Duty of Remembering the Poor
Poverty is no virtue; wealth is no sin. On the other hand, wealth is not morally good, and poverty is not morally evil. A man may be a good man and a rich man; it is quite certain that very frequently good men are poor men.
“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” [Mark 11:24]
This verse has something to do with the faith of miracles; but I think it has far more reference to the miracle of faith. We will, this morning, consider it in that light.
"If a man does not repent, He will sharpen his sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready."--Psalm 7:12 (NASB)
"If the sinner does not turn from his wicked ways, God will sharpen His sword." So, then, God has a sword, and He will punish man on account of his sins. This evil generation has labored to take away from God the sword of His justice; they have endeavored to prove to themselves that God will "clear the guilty," and will by no means "punish evil, disobedience, and sin."
Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer. We each should
say with Simon Peter, "I'm going fishing," and with Paul our aim should be, "That I may somehow save some of them."