by JOSEPH IRONS - Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Lord's day Morning, Feb. 23rd, 1851
In what a world of mystery are poor fallen worms wrapped! And though vain man, who is born like a wild ass's colt, would be wise, his wisdom is foolishness when brought to bear upon the things which relate to the soul and to eternity. It is held and granted that the mind of man is so constructed by its Maker that even since the fall it is capable of much that is material and natural; but it must be admitted that it is capable of nothing that is spiritual and holy. This declaration of the Son of God has overwhelmed my soul with concern. I have been led to ask, "What! do I know nothing of the God I worship?" And I have been led to draw the conclusion, "Nothing at all, save what has been revealed to me from above." A man can receive nothing except it be given to him from above. Yet vain man imagines that he can ascertain all that is requisite to be ascertained for his acceptance with God and his eternal salvation, though no one with all his researches ever succeeded in so doing, until Jehovah manifested Himself. That question which Zophar put when attempting to reprove poor Job, has never been replied to. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?" (Job 11:7) Who shall dare answer, at any rate without a negative? If you look at the characters of whom we have been reading, they choose a tree that will not rot, and hire a cunning workman to shape and carve it as he will, and call it a god though they know it is a block of oak, or a block of cedar, or, whatever it may be, and with part of the wood make a fire and warm themselves, and with the remainder make themselves a god. But the God we worship is a Spirit, and "they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." (John 4:23,24) It is requisite, in order to worship Him aright, to know Him; for if we know Him not, we only mock Him in our attempts to worship Him; and yet the Son of God has said in the language of my text, "No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father, or who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." But for this last clause of my text, I should not have dared to open my lips concerning it; for when I contemplate the glory and greatness, as far as it is revealed, of that self-existent, eternal God the Lord, and am told expressly that no man can know Him, either Father or Son, I had been so overwhelmed and awed in the thought of attempting to speak of Him, that if it had not been for the hope and expectation, nay, the already participated attainment and the expectation of further communications from Jesus, agreeably to the last clause of my text, "He to whom the Son will reveal Him" I should not have dared to take this text to present to your notice. Indeed, I tried for hours to get away from it; but as I have more than once told you, and must repeat this morning, however God may deal with others of His ministers, when I get alone to search His word for you, He fastens a portion of it on my soul, and gives me to suck honey and sweetness out of it for myself; and I cannot get away from it. Whenever He speaks a word, it is spoken with power. Again and again have I tried to avoid it, and looked through the Bible to find another portion; but I cannot get away from it. "No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him."
Just suffer another remark before I enter immediately upon the division of our subject. It is a common and fatal error, that has spread far and wide in the days in which we live, that human intellect, assisted by education and trained by masters or doctors of divinity, can find out everything in what they term religion. A fatal mistake. The precious book of God says not only, in the language of my text, that no man can know God until He is revealed to him from on high, but that "the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14) This lays the basis of what I am about to insist upon, that everything worthy the name of Christianity is supernatural. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." (2 Tim. 3:16) It is different from all other book, sits very writers supernaturally taught, its very Teacher supernatural. God the Holy Ghost is the Preceptor, and all the children are taught of God. Its enjoyments are supernatural; for the world can neither taste, nor handle, nor realize them. Its prospects are supernatural; for they gaze within the veil, and look not upon the things that are seen and temporal, but upon the things that are not seen and eternal.
Now I want this idea fixed on your minds whilst I attempt to open to your view, as God shall enable me, three things from the language of my text. First of all, the holy, high, solemn mystery of Deity in self-existence. No man can know Him. Then, secondly, the incarnate Son of God revealing Him "He to whom the Son will reveal Him." And then, thirdly, as the inference or sure consequence, the salvation secured thereby. "For this is life eternal to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3) Just a word or two on each of these three particulars; and I pray you be lifting up your hearts to the throne, that I may have strength of body and vigour of mind to deliver that truth which has been indeed "the burden of the word of the Lord" to my soul.
I. Oh, how shall I enter upon this high and holy mystery? The God that no man knows. There was a sense in which the heathens were right whom Paul rebuked when they inscribed upon their temple at Athens, "To the Unknown God." He is an unknown God where there is no supernatural revelation of Him. If they had taken away the first little syllable, and put up the inscription, "To the Known God," it would have been a falsehood; for He was not known to them. He is an unknown God to every child of Adam under the fall. Reason is baffled because it is under the fall. I am quite ready to grant that the reasoning powers of man may carry him very far in literature, in science, in discoveries, in prodigies that are always starting up among mankind; but they cannot carry him one step into the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh." (1 Tim. 3:16) They cannot carry him one step into that "secret of the Lord" which "is with them that fear Him." He can know nothing about that life which is "hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3) It is true that man attempts to understand these things and boasts of it; but his reasoning powers are reduced to slavery under the fall. They are restricted to temporal blessings, and cannot stretch beyond them. There is a certain circle in which man's reasoning powers may extend themselves, and astound others who move in a much narrower circle; but God's circle lies beyond. They cannot reach that; and this is the very thing that makes multitudes of men rebellious against God and His gospel. They reject His sovereignty, despise the messages of Christianity, inventing mysteries where none exist, rejecting the grand doctrine of divine grace as published and proclaimed in God's word, merely because they cannot understand them. Now this is the unreasonableness of reasoning men, that they reason clearly upon almost every other subject; but when they come to this, that they cannot at all comprehend or know, then they reject it. I once asked one of these reasoning gentlemen who told me he would receive nothing but what he could comprehend by his reasoning powers, "Can you" (holding out my thumb and pointing to the nail,) "Can you comprehend the component parts of that little horny substance, from what and by what produced?" "No," he said, he could not. "Then I have not got any thumb-nail," I said, "because you cannot comprehend it." The man looked rather astonished at his position. Now the man that only believes what he can understand, believes nothing at all with regard to spiritual truth and saving knowledge. Now this it is which ratifies my statement. If the natural man could attain to saving knowledge of divine things by dint of human effort, without supernatural agency, I would not believe my Bible, because my Bible says it cannot be so. My Bible declares that "the world by wisdom knew not God" (1 Cor. 1:21)never could discover Him; and because of this ignorance of God, rebellion stirs, and therefore when our beloved Lord warned His disciples what the wicked would do to them, lead them away to prisons, and death, and so on, He adds, "All these things will they do unto you, because they know not the Father nor me." (John 16:3) So that ignorance of God not only shuts man up in his nothingness, but arms him against the God he cannot comprehend nor understand.
Now, having disposed of this humbling fact, and a very humbling fact it is, I told you in reading the chapter that my business is first to cry down and then to cry out, "The word of the Lord endureth for ever." (1 Peter 1:25) Well, say you, do you attempt to enter upon a description of the Deity? I shall not dare to make such an attempt, I have only to speak of what the Lord has revealed, and what my own soul has been overwhelmed with in contemplation. Eternal self-existence. How wonderful! A being whose existence may be traced back in thought until thought is outstripped and left far behind. It exceeds all power of calculation. If you go back thousands of ages multiplied a thousand times over, can you come to the knowledge of Divine self-existence? No, it is eternal self-existence. Think of what the Psalmist says of Omnipresence, and ask what man knows about it? "Thou art about my path, and about by bed, and spiest out all my ways." (Ps. 139:3) There is no spot in all immensity where He is not present, doing what He will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. (Daniel 4:35) "If I take the wings of the morning," says the Psalmist, "and fly into the uttermost parts of the sea," (Ps. 139:8-10) my God is there; if I make my bed in hell He is there in His terror and vengeance; if I climb the third heaven He is there upon His throne in His self-existent majesty and glory. If I look through the range of creation there is not an atom floating in the air, nor an insect crawling of the earth, nor a leviathan swimming in the sea, but He is along with it to sustain its very existence. O who can speak of God? Who has searched and found Him out? Think of the majestic description we have been perusing this morning. I promise myself the sacred delight of turning to it again, not only for the beauty and sublimity of the language, but also for the awful majesty of the being I worship which it portrays. See how all worlds are summoned to bear their testimony to their own nothingness and His infinitude of greatness. "With whom took He counsel or who instructed Him?" (Isa. 40:14) Proud Arminianism says, "He consulted us; man's free-will is to dictate to Him." Barefaced falsehood! Why the very heavens are said to be unclean in His sight, the very angels He charges with folly. "Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry, Holy, holy, holy in the Lord God Almighty." (Rev. 4:8) And may I presume to take His sacred precious name upon my lips? O yes, and more than this, for while He dwells in the high and holy place as the Omnipresent Jehovah, He dwells in every believer's heart, and declares that He will never leave it or forsake it.
Think for one moment of His Omniscience, that with a glance surveys all things in heaven, all things on earth, all things in hell, that at one glance surveys the thoughts that are moving in each of our hearts at this moment, as well as the thoughts that are moving in the millions of hearts of Adam's posterity scattered all over the world. Comprehend such a being if you can. "No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him."
Carry the thought a little further. Even the narrow views I have been taking are such as to exclude speculation from the exercise of faith. Jehovah reproves a speculative mind thus, "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself;" (Ps. 50:21) and material religion, whether you take it from Paganism or Popery down to rank Arminianism, all think God only a creature, and make only a creature of Him. He may be changed, and moved, and altered just as they will.
Mark, then, for a moment, what an elevated character that must be who is empowered to worship that being in spirit and in truth. To bow down to a crucifix, to turn to the east, to worship the sun like Ezekiel's idolaters in the chambers of imagery, is not worshipping God. Worshipping God is the exercise and engagement of all the powers and faculties of the soul under the controlling influence and operation of all the graces of the Holy Spirit. So that while faith, and hope, and humility, and meekness, and zeal, and patience are called into lively exercise, the will, the understanding, the affections, the desires, the powers, and faculties of the human soul are brought under their control, operated upon by their mighty influence, and by that unction from the Holy One which flows through the graces of the Spirit, brought into closer communion and fellowship with God. There may be words, there may be none, there may be a form correct and scriptural, and there may be none. In either case, if the powers of the soul under the influence of the Spirit of God are not engaged with God, it is mockery instead of worship. Examine this point, beloved. If it overwhelm you as much as it has done me for the last forty-eight hours, you will, as I did, sink into native nothingness. Oh! Who shall presume to come before Him in any other name than His own? If by searching we cannot find out God, with so much that He has revealed of Himself which are only parts of His ways and then are led to exclaim with Job, "The thunder of His power who can understand?" (Job 26:14) May we not enquire what is the nature of our professed worship before such a being? There is a class whom this self-existent and all-glorious being reproved in these words, "This people draweth nigh to me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (Matt. 15:8) See what our Lord said "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men." (Matt. 15:9) This is coming mightily in fashion now-a-days, but I am such a dunce that I cannot learn it, and I am so perverse that I will not. I like the doctrines of God's grace too well to be led away by foolish traditions.
Mark, then, the elevation of character that belongs to the Christian, as a spiritual worshipper. He has a mind capable of getting out of self, capable of getting above the world, a mind under the influence of the graces, capable of entering into that within the veil, a mind in possession of "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1)a mind that can talk with God, and walk with God, and hold fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christa mind in which Jehovah will condescend to dwell, a mind that abhors the beggarly elements of time, a mind that begins heavenly enjoyments on earthly ground. I want my hearers to be somewhat conscious of the dignity that pertains to spiritual worshippers. Let vain mortals have their idols, let Paganism and Popery worship devils as long as they are permitted, and let mock Protestants worship an unknown God as the Athenians did, and have no sort of profit thereby, except the puffing up of their own pride. My soul desires to retire from all that mockery and to become intimate in fellowship and communion with all the persons of Deity, absorbed in love divine, wrapped up in Deity. And looking forward to spend an eternity in the presence of God. I feel that my subject is too much for mortal mind. I shrink from it, I sink under it because I feel that I am only impoverishing it. My God! forgive the feeble lisping of a worm. Display thy glory in our midst in the face of Jesus Christ.
Let me attempt a little further to speak of what my text says relative to this glorious self-existent being, as viewed in distinct personalities. I may not, I dare not, I cannot omit this, because my text contains it. There is the Father and the Son, distinctly and separately stated by the Son Himself, and yet but one God, "I and my Father are one," (John 10:30) viewed in distinct personality, as essential to their covenant transactions with each other. For you must bear in mind as we showed the other Lord's day morning, that there can be no union between Jehovah Jesus the Covenant Head and His Church on earth but by the neck of covenant transactions which we described from Solomon's song. Then, mark, I beseech you, how essential this distinction of personality is. A covenant represents to us the person stipulating, the person stipulated with, and the record of the stipulation, what it is for. The person stipulating is God the Father who hath declared that "He will by no means clear the guilty" (Exo. 34:7; Num. 14:18)who insists on infinite satisfaction to His law and justice. The person stipulated with is God the Son, who in reply to the Father's demand says, "Lo, I come to do thy will." (Heb. 10:9) And the grand business stipulated for is the salvation of a covenant people, on covenant terms, with covenant securities, as the property of a covenant Head, recorded in the book of life by the Holy Spirit's registration, and then discovered, found out and brought in, within the bounds of the covenant, by the Spirit's invincible operations of grace, and so trained up for everlasting glory. Now we want a Trinity of persons for this in the Deity. It is not long since I reminded you that we want a Trinity of Persons in the Deity for every part and feature of Christianity. I cannot offer a breath of prayer but I must have the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, as the Spirit of grace and supplication. (Zech. 12:10) I must have the name of the Mediator to plead or I dare not come near the throne, and I must have the Father's bosom to pour all into, or I cannot realize the joys of paternal love. So with every promise. The Father is the promiser, all are yea and amen in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20) it is by the Spirit of promise, (Eph. 1:13) the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of God that the promise is applied and melted down into our souls. Take what feature you will of the holy religion of Jesus, it requires a Trinity in every part.
Just mark a little further that the distinct personality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is not only positively asserted by our Lord in the text, but it is essential also for communications of grace, essential for the express purpose of sending down to the elect family of God on earth the participations of grace and of glory which are to meeten them for everlasting bliss. There is no life that does not come from the Father. "The Father hath life in Himself," (John 5:26) and then "that life is in His Son," and the Son hath power to give life to whom He will, and it is the Spirit that quickeneth whom He will. And then after the quickening operations of grace have given life divine to the soul once dead in trespasses and sins, in the after supplies, the food, the strength, the nourishment, the comfort, the joy, the quickening and stirring up of all the graces, all come through the glorious Trinity. The Father is the first cause and source, and by predestinating enactments secured all these supplies to us. Hence says the apostle, "My God shall supply all your need." (Phil. 4:19) But then comes the necessity for the second person in the Trinity, "according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," (Phil. 4:19) and we know it is the very office and work of the Holy Ghost to "take of the things of Christ and show them unto us." (John 16:15) View the matter which way you will, in the whole history of God's dealings with His Church, as well as the whole plan of revelation, we cannot do without the Trinity in any doctrine, any privilege, any promise, any feature in personal Christianity. Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, must dwell and walk in His people or there is no life in them.
One thought more here. Distinction of personality is a confirmation of mutual relationship. "I will be a Father to them and they shall be my sons and daughters," (2 Cor. 6:18) says God the Father. "I am not ashamed to call them brethren," (Heb. 2:11) says God the Son. And therefore He owns His Church as brethren. All the people of God are the pupils of the Holy Ghost, for they are all taught of God. (John 6:45) He is their Comforter too, and they are the comforted. All this brings relationship to our view, and the believer in Jesus, if indulging in the lively actings of faith will say, Then I am a pupil of God the Holy Ghost under His tuition and training up for heaven. Well, then, I am of the brotherhood of Christ, He is not ashamed to own the kindred, and I will claim Him as my elder brother and Covenant Head. And I am told again and again to say "Our Father", so I will approach Jehovah as related to Him. Now I can conceive of no higher attainments (at least I have not reached it) on this side heaven than to be able to walk with God under a sweet consciousness of relationship with the Deity, looking within the vail with "Doubtless thou art my Father", looking Jesus in the face and saying, "He is my beloved and my friend, my bridegroom, my husband, my daysman, a brother born for adversity, receiving the unctuous anointing of the Holy Ghost, melting, drawing, counselling, instructing in the great mysteries of the kingdom, and showing me what Christ is; for as no man can come to the Father but by me," (John 14:6) says Christ, so "no man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. 12:3) I hope by this time my hearers are brought into something like a holy awe of mind towards the great and glorious being we are met together today to worship.
II. Now let us advance to the second head of discourse, and say a little about the incarnate Son of God, revealing "He to whom the Son will reveal him." When our precious Lord was conversing with His disciples with respect to the Father, and His being sent by the Father and the like, one of them said, "Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us." (John 14:8) What does our Lord say? "Hast thou been so long time with me and yet thou dost not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father, and henceforth ye know Him and have seen Him. Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (John 14:10) What a revelation! What a development of this great mystery of Godliness! The apostle seemed quite in rapture with this mode of revealing Jehovah the Father, and therefore he says, "The same God that commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." (2 Cor. 4:6) But where? In the face of Jesus Christ! "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also." So that it is in the countenance, the official character, the glorious person of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the Father's glory is revealed, that "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is given or made known, so that the soul who has become intimate with Christ is intimate also with the Father. He approaches the throne in His name, gaining access in no other way. Look at His person, as described by the Hebrews. "The brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person." (Heb. 1:3) There is something peculiarly striking in that phraseology. Real believers having borne in their unregeneracy "the image of the earthly," bear in their regeneracy "the image of the heavenly," but then theirs is only the impress, Christ's is the express image, the brightness, the refulgency, all the glory pertaining to the self-existent eternal Deity His own. "Glorify thou me," He says, "with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5) Again, "Glorify thy name. There came a voice from heaven, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." (John 12:28)
Now mark, I beseech you, that all this glory of the Father, made to shine in the face of Jesus Christ, is unknown to the sinner as long as he is blinded. "The god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not." (2 Cor. 4:4) And if you hold up ever so beautiful a picture to a blind man, he can form no idea of what it is. The night and the day are both alike to him. But when the Holy Ghost anoints the eye with eye-salve; when the illuminating operations and influences which He only can put forth to give the man spiritual discernment, lead him to fix his attention upon the person of Christ, and that with spiritual discernment, so as to behold all the glory of the divine perfections concentrated in Him, honoured by Him, every requisition of Deity followed out, accomplished, and perfected by Him, His official character (if I may so speak) embodying all that is requisite for the glorifying of Jehovah's name, and for the entire and eternal salvation of His people, then it is that the poor sinner having spiritual discernment, and fixing his adoring gaze on Christ, is ready to cry out with one of our poets,
Dwell a moment longer on this beautiful phrase, "the express image of the Father." No wonder He claims equality with the Father; no wonder all the angels in heaven are sent to adore Him; no wonder that He Himself has declared that "all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father." (John 5:23) In this way, the Lord Jesus reveals Jehovah to the poor sinner's heart after quickening him by His grace. Just view the fact we have touched upon just now, that access to the throne is never realized but by Christ alone. All the poor votaries of superstition are shut out from all intercourse with God. They may employ, if they please, all their saints and mock-saints, they may employ all their priests, they may employ all their cardinals, they may employ every pope that ever existed, they may employ every glorified saint that ever existed in heaven, if it were possible, they may employ the Virgin Mary, yet after all their combined efforts the whole of these intercessors together cannot introduce one sinner to God. "No man," saith Jesus, "cometh unto the Father but by me." And yet these rebellious infidels in religious name dare tell us that they can come by the Virgin Mary, that they can come by a priest, that they can come by a saint who never had any existence but in name. I wonder when men will take to their rationality, at least, and leave off being so irrational as to profess to believe the Bible and to deny all it states. I believe my precious Master who says, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." It is through Him alone that we have access by one spirit to the Father. And there is no access, no communion with God but by the name, person, merit, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; and he who comes not to God by Christ must go to hell by His vengeance. He who comes not to God by Christ alone must be banished from the presence of God, and from the glory of His power for ever; but he who cometh to God by Christ, naming only the merits of Christ, pleading exclusively the righteousness of Christ, and making mention of no other, is as sure of heaven as if he were there, for the Son of God hath said, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) Hopeless indeed is the state of the sinner who rejects Christ. Secure, certain, elevated and infallibly safe for glory is that sinner, however vile, whom the Holy Ghost brings to Christ as an humble suppliant, and whom Christ introduces to the Father as the purchase of His blood. I hope I have stated these things too plainly to be misunderstood.
Follow one step further. There is love exercised in this elevation with absolute sovereignty. Do not overlook the phrase in my text, "He to whom the Son will reveal Him." While the sovereignty of His love is put forth the sinner cannot escape His glance, when He looks into his heart the sinner must be the recipient of His love when His will sends forth its bright rays to penetrate his soul. The sinner has then the pledge and earnest of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in personal experience, and will be ready at once to admit that it has been displayed in the most sovereign manner. He may ask the question which the poet asked, and may be obliged to answer it in the same manner as he did
See how the same poet answers the question:
There the love, the first cause of sovereignty put forth with it, is according to His own will, quickens whom He will, brings the sinner into solemn awe and deep humiliation with God, to own in the very language of Christ, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight." (Matt. 11:26)
III. Now let me lead on your attention to the third particular of our subject, the salvation secured thereby. I am quite aware that modern divines do not like this style of setting things forth. They do not admire a secure salvation, a certain salvation, an infallible salvation, they want a proffered salvation, a salvation of overtures, peradventures, probabilities, and possibilities. My hearers, believe me, such a salvation as that would consign every child of Adam to eternal perdition, for however light the condition or terms might be, the blind and deaf and dumb and dead could not meet them, and, consequently, all must perish. But when I bring before you as I have done for the last thirty-three years, a salvation which God the Father contrived and bestowed, which God the Son took the responsibility of into His own official character, then I exhibit a positive, infallible salvation. Take that one statement of our beloved Lord in the 17th of John as the language of inspiration to confirm this view. Appealing to the Father He says, "This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Now, no man knows Him or Jesus Christ whom He has sent until the incarnate Son of God reveals Him. "He to whom the Son will reveal Him." But when the Son of God has revealed His own glory, and the Father's glory by His Holy Spirit's teaching, "This is life eternal," can you alter it? This is life proffered, will you put it? No! This is life contingent, this is life conditional. No! I do not dare alter my Bible, it is "life eternal." The man who really has this personal living knowledge of Jehovah, under the teaching of the Holy Ghost is a new nature, is really in possession of eternal life. "He that believeth hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, for He has passed from death unto life." (John 5:24) The new nature proves this, because all the blessing and joys and comforts which pertain to the precious gospel of God, in its doctrinal statements, as they point to eternal glory, are really tasted, handled and enjoyed in the soul. For instance, the spirit of adoption vouchsafed; then I know that the Father is my father, the spirit of confidence, as faith is wrought in the soul, and Jesus is both its author and finisher. Then the spirit of sanctity and devotion is imparted to the soul by the Holy Ghost, the spirit of grace and supplication poured out; so that the new-born soul, regenerated of God, has passed from death unto life, is really an habitation of God through the Spirit, hath eternal life abiding in him, commenced in his soul. Who shall alter it? Will the Father reverse His decrees, and take salvation away when He has bestowed it? Will the Son give up His responsibility and allow the travail of His soul to go to hell? Verily not. Will the Holy Ghost give up His charge and workmanship and leave unfinished what He has commenced in the poor sinner's heart? I would as soon worship Juggernaut or the Pope as worship a God that can change his mind. We glory in the fact that He has said, "My righteousness is for ever, and My salvation shall not be abolished." (Isaiah 51:6) I wonder how poor proud free-will dare give God the lie by saying it may be abolished. Just pass on to one thought more, and we will close; the glory of Jehovah secured. Not a ransomed soul can perish without the truth of God being violated, not a ransomed soul can perish without the Son of God being disappointed, not a ransomed soul can perish without God the Holy Ghost being overpowered and frustrated. The glory of Jehovah the Father is pledged in the gift of His Church to Christ, and Christ to His Church, and salvation centering in Him; the glory of God the Son is pledged, for He has said, "I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am that they may behold my glory." (John 17:24) The glory of God the Spirit is the earnest of His own exaltation, and of the eternal salvation of His Church; and therefore "we are confident of this very thing, that He which shall begin a good work in us will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6)
What is heaven, but Deity revealed? Now, beloved, if so much of Deity is revealed on earth as we have seen, and, I trust, enjoyed, what must His unveiled glories be, when faith is changed into sight, and every intervening medium and cloud is removed? The apostle John seemed lost in the contemplation when he exclaimed, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2) As He is! In His glorified body, and as the "brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person." Then shall we understand what He meant when He said to His disciples, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father also." Oh, glorious scene for ransomed souls to enjoy for ever! Paternal love, in all its fullness, freeness, and sovereignty, pervading the immensity of bliss; self-existent Deity embodied in official capacity, presiding as Head of His body, the Church, for ever; and the very breath of the Holy Ghost, constituting the air of heaven, to be inhaled by all the redeemed for ever. And more; we shall be like Him, so as to be capable of enjoying this revelation of Deity. In the present unripe state of our faculties we could not bear such a burst of glory; but when He shall have changed our vile bodies, and fashioned them like unto His own glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself, then shall we be able, as Job said, to see God, yea, and to see Him for ourselves.
Add to this, my brethren, the thought of the unclouded light, the uninterrupted fellowship, and the unspotted purity of that glorious home to which we are hastening, and then say if you do not long to be "absent from the body to be present with the Lord;" (2 Cor. 5:8) especially you who, like myself, groan being burdened with pains and afflictions, being scarcely able to bear up in wilderness toils. Bear up, go on, beloved, the journey is but short, the strength equal to the day is promised, and the end is settled in the appointment of our heavenly Father; and the very first glimpse of unveiled Deity will more than compensate all that we may have endured in this wilderness. How would our present sorrows be mitigated, if we could but take the advice of the Holy Ghost by the apostle, "If ye then be risen with Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth; for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." (Col. 3:1-4)
May the Holy Ghost, the Divine testifier of Jesus, enable us to call Him Lord, adoring Him, trusting Him, and loving Him. May He shed the Father's love abroad in our hearts, and thus prove His own invincible ministry in our experience, and our Triune Jehovah shall have all the glory for ever and ever. Amen.