Jehovah Owned and Honoured
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Jan. 14th, 1848
If these questions were proposed from the throne of God amidst the surrounding glorified spirits, there would be but a single word of answer echoed through the glorious realm, "None! none is God, save Jehovah. None! none a Rock, save our God. If that echo were caught by the adjacent circle of angels within the sphere of bliss, and they were asked one by one, or in the mass, "Who is God, save the Lord?" the reply would but reiterate the answer which sounds upon the harps of the glorified spirits, "None! none is God, save the Lord!" If the question were put by Beelzebub, in the bottomless pit, among his infernal crew, "Who is God, save the Lord?" the howling of their despair, the anguish of their spirits, the horror of their damnation, would all echo, "None but Jehovah is God, and we feel his power. Put the question, here upon earth, to the ears of poor, vain, proud mortals, "Who is God, save the Lord?" and we shall find the reply in that solemn Scripture, "There are Gods many, and Lords many," and all owned by poor sinners in rebellion against the most High God. But put the question in the Church of the living God, to those who stand upon the same ground that David did when he wrote this song (for it was when the Lord delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul); put the question to those who have experienced delivering grace by the mighty hand of Jehovah, who have been subdued at the foot of the cross by omnipotent power, and of whose hearts the Holy Ghost has taken possession, and commanded them to submit to the sway of King Jesus; and they, with one voice, would exclaim, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is our God." And can the Church of the living God be formal, careless, superstitious, and neglectful in the worship of this glorious being? Oh, Holy Ghost, awe my spirit, and set a watch over my tongue, that every thought and word, this morning, may tend to exalt the glorious self-existent Jehovah.
There are not a few, even among Christians, who at least act as if that reproof belongs to them, "Thou though, test I was altogether such an one as thyself." But surely no Christian can cherish such a thought; and yet if I examine my own heart, and take a survey of only one week of my life, I am astounded at what appears in the review of my living and acting. It seems as if I thought Him such an one as myself; having His arms shortened that He could not save; having His ear grown heavy that He could not hear; not having this circumstance, or that circumstance, under His control and government; there being other Gods that could "frustrate His grand designs, and destroy them in type and model," as mammon blasphemously asserts; yea, some other supreme being whose sceptre God could not control, whose power He could not vanquish. The real Christian recoils with horror at such imaginations, and I do not say that we cherish them; but have we not often acted as if we did? Have we not fretted, and grieved, and murmured about feathers, about things that evaporated as they passed by us, as if God could not, or would not, control and order them?
I want the questions in our text to be put to your hearts and your consciences, "Who is God, save Jehovah?" and "Who is a Rock, save our God?" that we may exult in the thought that we know, and love, and trust, and claim Him, as the text does, as "our God."
There are three things presented to our view in the text. The appeal; the challenge; and the triumph. The appeal lies in "Who is a God, save the Lord? The challenge is to all worlds to produce an answer to prove that there is any other. And then the triumph, "Who is a Rock, save our God?"
My hearers, if you and I should retire from the house of God this morning with only those two words, with all their sweetness and savour engraven upon our spirits, "our God," it cannot be a lost opportunity to us. Only carry these two words with you through the rest of your wilderness journey; and then rough and rugged as it may be, and full of enemies and pitfalls as it may be, these two words, "our God," will be sufficient to bear you through. If He goes before us as our guide, He will uphold us when we fall. If He is a wall of fire round about us, as "our God," what enemy can hurt us? If He has control over all worlds, what have I to tremble at in my future steps? I want these points to be fastened upon your hearts; but we must proceed to take them in the order I have mentioned them.
1.) First, the appeal, which will lead to a few remarks, which appear necessary to make way for the challenge which we shall then take up. Fallen man has made many gods, and consequently, the world is full of idolatry. I need not go to the millions of avowed Pagans and Mahometans for examples of idolatry, and of bowing down to stocks and stones. I need not go to what are called Popish countries for examples of unmitigated idolatry. There are cases constantly coming before our notice in wretched Ireland, aye, and in dear old England too, in which the grossest idolatry is transacted. Men make unto themselves gods of materials. They make into themselves gods of mortals. They make unto themselves gods of meal. I wonder who, in the possession of the meanest common sense, would worship such gods, gods of mortals; gods of materials, and gods of meal, gods of wafers. These are specimens of the brutish ignorance, the worse than brutish ignorance, into which man has fallen.
We read just now a long account (Isa. 44), of the stupidity of a person cutting down a tree, chopping it into pieces, using tools to shape it as he pleases, burning a part, and then falling down before it, and worshipping the other part and calling it God. Now if we had never learned a letter; never seen a Bible; never been in the company of a civilized human being, one would imagine that the uncultivated intellect of man would recoil with abhorrence at such worse than brutal stupidity; but here we have it before our eyes. Pictures, crucifixes, candles, old rags, and old bones are bowed down to and worshipped; and it was only the other day that a gang of armed priests, and their mob, beset the house of a Protestant in Ireland, and threatened his life, unless he consented to bow down to a picture and worship it. Then if we ask the Papist, "Who is God, save the Lord?" he will answer, "This picture, or this crucifix, or this wafer, or this piece of wood," or some other such material.
Moreover, men have made to themselves gods of mortals, else why do they call the very head of Antichrist, "Our holy lord god the pope?" (which is the appellation they use concerning him) and bow down to him as such? Else why do they call her who was a mortal, but now glorified in heaven as a Christian, I mean the Virgin Mary, why do they call her a deity, and worship her, except to dethrone the great Eternal, and worship the creature instead of the Creator? We will go a little further, and mark the stupidity of taking a little flour and water, and forming it into a little cake or wafer, and then, after some strange ceremony of hocus-pocus among an Infidel priesthood, telling us that they have made a god of it! But this is not the whole stupidity of the thing; for having made his god, the next thing the man does is to eat him, and then he makes another and eats him, and makes another and eats him. Why is it not strange that the human intellect, apart from all education, can be so grossly dull, that there should be, even at this day, millions in the British empire who are doing that and bowing down to it? My soul has the utmost loathing to dwell upon this obnoxious subject, even for five minutes; but it is necessary that it should be exposed, in order to make way for the challenge we shall produce that there is no God but ours.
But let us not lose sight of the fact that, with the Popish priesthood, these are marketable articles, and that they are constantly adding to them what they call relics brought from different places. It was only this week that I read an account of the worship of the donkey's tail, a common practice in Popish countries, the poor deluded people being told that is the tail of the identical donkey on which Christ rode into Jerusalem! Now the thing may be smiled at, but it is awful beyond all description that human beings should be so employed, and yet term themselves Christians! Ask the question, then, "Is there any God, save Jehovah?" and the answer is, "Yes, animals, wafers, stocks, stones, and trees;" all may be made gods of, in the idea and superstition of millions that live in Christendom. And of this sort of awful idolatry, the priests have made a market for acquiring wealth, and as long as they can fill their pockets by such means, and by penances, and offerings, and fees, so long will these things go on multiplying. Oh, my God, when wilt thou arise and avenge thy holy name, and show to men that thou alone art God?
One word more. There is a rebel, a notorious rebel, an old grey, headed rebel, that seems determined to outlive them all. He says, "I will be God." He has travelled the world over. He has brought millions upon millions to bow down at his shrine. He is exercising the most awful tyranny to the present hour. He has crept into what are commonly called Christian Churches, and lives in multitudes of houses in England, the inhabitants of which are termed Christians. If you ask me his name, I tell you it is old Free-will. He says, "I will be God. I will not be so brutalized as to bow before stocks and stones; but I myself will be God." Where did he learn this from? He learnt it of the devil; for the devil said to our fist parents when they were in primeval innocence, "Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof," that is of the forbidden fruit, "then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Then free-will sprang up from hell, came upon the earth, and took possession of Eve's mind, "The very thing I want, to be a God." And the same thing is kept up to the present hour; for free-will says amongst multitudes of professing Christians, "I shall do as I like; I shall believe what I like; and I shall disbelieve what I like. Who is lord over me? I shall embrace what I like. I shall reject what I like, as a god." God permits the old rebel to go on, sometimes, at a great length, until the most fatal consequences present themselves to the poor sinner in the Divine warnings; and, after all, free-will proves himself a notorious liar, for he has promised to repent, to believe, and pray, for years and years, and yet has never set about it in any one instance. Now I ask you, before I quit this subject, whether you can pay any attention to such gods as these? The questions in my text which suggested these things to my mind are, "Is there a God, save the Lord? and is there a Rock, save our God?" And my answer is, "None." But if I were an Arminian I should not say so. Then I should say, "Yes, there is a little one, if not more. Certainly I have a free-will of my own," in other words, "I am a God for myself," that is the plain English of it. And then he talks about accountability, responsibility, free-agency, and the like; words which are so coaxing to human nature, that they go down sweetly, and bring the soul to the shrine of free-will with an offering to him. Now all this I reject as the basest kind of idolatry, and the grossest superstition; and I come to the language of my text, which I shall next enter upon as a challenge, "Is there a God, save Jehovah?
2.) In speaking of this in the form of a challenge, I would refer you to what our Lord says by the prophet Isaiah. In the 41st chapter of Isaiah the Lord is reproving these idolaters, and says, "If ye be gods, show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods; yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together." If ye be gods, show us the things that are to come. And let these idols, these material gods, these wafer gods, and mortal gods, let old proud free-will, show us "the things that are to come hereafter." Then we will own them to be gods. Now the great matter of fact, with relation to our covenant God, is, that He has told us "the things that are to come hereafter." He has set down in His own most precious word, what is to take place in time, at the judgement and in eternity. He has shown the "things that are to come hereafter," to the faith of many of us, and we do not and cannot dispute them. Faith has discerned and received them, and has acknowledged that God hath shown them unto us.
Moreover, our covenant God does good and created evil. This is a solemn truth; but I will give it to you in his own words, "I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things." And will any of my hearers undo what God has done? Moreover, He asks, in the same form of a challenge, "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" I have no need whatever to enter upon a long disquisition here, with regard to the difference between moral and natural evil; though I have no objection to do so at the proper time. But I take the Word of God into my hand, for the purpose of testing and judging who are gods by what they can do. Now my God can put down princes from their seats, and exalt the humble and lowly. My God can send rain from heaven upon the just and the unjust. My God can overturn nations and empires, and re-establish them. My God can conquer the sinner's heart, and put new life into it. No other God can! Nay, we will declare of Him with Job, "I know that thou canst do all things." Well, then, if we know that "our God" can do all things, just allow me to tell you the comfort I have had in that thought. There are many things that I want, and many things that I would do myself, if I could. Old Adam nature is still wanting to be God. There are many things which I desire to be done, forgetting that the Lord performeth all things for me; forgetting my own creed, "I know that thou canst do all things." Well I know that God can do this thing, and that thing, and the other thing, in providence or in grace, in my person, in my heart, in my family, in my circumstances, and in the circle in which I move. "I know that thou canst do all things." The Lord does not, however, do all things that my fleshly nature desires. And why? He has reserved that to Himself. But this one inference we ought to draw, that whatever He withholds His hand from doing would not be good for us if it were done, though we are such short-sighted beings that we cannot see why. Only suppose for a moment that the wisdom of Jehovah is simply equal to your own, then surely He can manage things as well as you. Only suppose that He loves you as much as you love yourself, He cannot hurt you if He is a God. Then if He loves you more than you love yourself; if He is wiser than we can ever expect to be, and if He can do all things, surely I may say that what He does is right, that what He leaves undone is equally right, and all we want, therefore, is submission to His will, and to acknowledge Him as
"Is there a God, save Jehovah?" Verily not! He is the eternal, the self-existent, the omniscient, the omnipresent being. If I paused for one moment over this statement, I trust it will be successful in drawing our spirits to regard the glory of the being whom we are professedly met to worship, the eternal God, "from everlasting to everlasting thou art God," omniscient, pervading everything on earth, and penetrating the recesses of every heart, omnipresent, about our path and about our bed, about our lying down and our rising up, self-existent, owing His being to none, and all beings owing their existence to Him, "giving an account of none of His matters," "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders;" aye, and doing wonders to an immense extent, "whatsoever seemeth to Him good in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." "None can stay His hand, or say, what doest thou?" Can we bear to entertain a thought about indulging in other gods any longer, when we think of this glorious being as our God, Jehovah, self-existent? My hearers, weigh seriously the thought, how have I been dealing with Him this morning? How have I lived and walked before Him during the past week? That portion of Holy Writ falls upon my spirit with great power in which the Lord, in meeting with Abraham when he was ninety-nine years of age, said unto him, "I am the Almighty God." That was quite enough if there had been no more. But mark the injunction which follows this announcement, "Walk before me, and be thou perfect." Have you weighed that phrase? Have you and I been walking before God all this past week? Has every hour been spent under a sweet consciousness that His eye is upon us for good; that He is our God and is ever present with us? Allow me to use a somewhat childish illustration. Observe a kind parent that is walking along a path that is not very clean and smooth; anxious concerning the little one he has with him, and who is scarcely able to run alone, the fond parent says, "Walk before me," as though he would imply, "if you walk behind, you may fall and I not see you; or evil may befall you and I may not be aware. Therefore walk before me that I may keep an eye upon you, an catch you with my right hand if you stumble," just as our covenant Lord does when he says, "Walk before me." If we walked through this wilderness ever under the consciousness of His presence, we should not make the false steps that we do. Oh, the solemnity that should ever mark the Christian's life. I do not mean dismay, or dread, or horror, or fear; but by solemnity I mean a deep, abiding secret, sweet consciousness that I am in the presence of this glorious, self-existent being, and that I am walking before Him habitually.
Now, just mark the vision that Isaiah had of "our God," who is God alone. In the 6th chapter, 1st verse, of Isaiah we read, "In the year that Uzziah died, I saw, also, the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up:" why, the makers of idols cannot place their gods in such a position; not even Nebuchadnezzar, when he set up his monstrous image of gold in the plain of Dura; "And His train filled the temple," so that no mortal eye, no natural vision could enter; it required the eye of faith to pierce the veil. "Above it stood the seraphims, each had six wings." "With twain he covered his face," as though he would say, "I am awed at the very presence of Deity;" "with twain he covered his feet," as though he would say, "I am not worthy to tread the ground where Jehovah is," and "with twain he did fly," as if to intimate that earth could not be the abode of these heavenly intelligences, but they must ever aspire to mount upwards. But mark the phrase that I wish to draw your attention to, "And one cried unto another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory." I beseech you to pause over this quotation for a few moments, because it supplies us with an answer to the question in my text, "Who is a God, save the Lord?" It gives a three-fold declaration of holiness, as though the prophet had, at once, in his glorious vision a distinct view of the Trinity, and had heard the seraphims exclaim, "Holy Father! Holy Son! Holy Ghost!" The whole earth is full of the glory of the Trinity, "the Triune Jehovah!" The order of creation, the wonders of providence, the establishment of a living Church amidst so many dead congregations, the going forth with the living truth in the face of idolatry and superstition, the exaltation of Christ amidst so many rebels, and the wonders effected in the poor ruined sinner's heart, all confirm the truth that "the whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord." No wonder that the prophet should exclaim, when he witnessed such a vision, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" He sunk into nothing, into less than nothing, into worse than nothing. "Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Now if Isaiah were asked, "Is there any God, save the Lord?" surely he would reply, "There is none; and now mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts, I am reduced to my native nothingness, as a sinner under the fall." Job felt something similar when he said, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Beloved, be sure of this, that a Divine revelation of the glory of Jehovah, in the person of Christ, to a poor sinner's heart, kills his pride, lays him in the dust, conquers his free-will, repels his vain pretensions, excludes all boasting, and brings him to the very position described both by Job and Isaiah.
I cannot quit this point without mentioning the attribute of holiness, by which Jehovah is pleased, in so many instances, to set forth His very existence. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." "I dwell in the high and holy place, inhabiting eternity." "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." And again, above all other things, "I have sworn by my holiness." The Deity might have sworn by His faithfulness, His righteousness, His truth, and His love. But He puts a peculiar mark upon His attribute of holiness, and says, "Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David." How can persons make pretensions to any Christianity at all, who have no delight in a holy atmosphere, in holy practices, in holy enjoyments, in holy provision, and in holy services? The real Christian is not dragged to them Sabbath after Sabbath as a matter of drudgery, to please God, that he may be saved from hell. Such are not the Christian's motives. But he loves the holy God; he loves the holiness in the covenant Head, which the Holy Ghost has imparted in a measure to his soul. Consequently the holy Word, the holy ordinances, the holy people in the city of our God, and the holy atmosphere of heaven, are longed after by him.
Take one more idea. "Who is a God, save the Lord? And who is a Rock, save our God?" Now, since there is no other Rock than this "Rock of Ages," it must follow that all who are building elsewhere for salvation than upon the covenant love of the Triune Jehovah, are building upon the sand or in the mire, and must sink and perish. I know Romish priests would desire to build upon Peter; and they tell us that he is the rock. Let them examine the passage in which our Lord speaks to Peter of Himself. Peter, having recognized Him as "the Christ, the Son the the living God," Jesus said unto him, "Upon this Rock," that is, the revelation here made of His being truly and properly God, "I will build my Church." Let those build upon Peter, then, who like to do so. For my part, I would as soon build upon the stump of a tree. Why, the Romish idolaters make a mortal god of him! But what says the language of my text? "Who is a God, save the Lord? And who is a Rock, save our God?" There is no rocky foundation, no security for the children of the living God, but in the persons and perfections of the Deity; and therefore it was that Isaiah said, "Let the inhabitants of the Rock sing;" and if you are inhabitants of this Rock, if you dwell in God, and God dwelleth in you; if you place your dependence in the love of the Father, in the suretyship and substitution of the Son, and in the Divine influence of the Holy Spirit, you are resting upon the Rock where you are safe for time and for eternity. "Who is a Rock, save our God?"
Oh, that mortals would exercise their common sense! Even men who have no grace might surely use their thinking powers, and prove they are rational civilized beings, then they would draw such conclusions as the following: If Peter be the rock on which the Church is built, then, when Peter fell the Church fell! Again, if the Church is built on Peter, then when Peter dissembled (Gal. 2:11), the whole Church must have become a gang of dissemblers, which is exactly the character of that Church (falsely so called) which professes to build on Peter. Moreover, if the Church is built upon Peter, then upon what did Peter build? Christ is rejected by this Popish dogma, and the Holy Ghost is contradicted when he says by Paul, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11). All else is sand and quagmire; non is a Rock save our God, and every soul taught of the Holy Ghost will readily join with the Psalmist to exult in Christ, saying, "He only is my Rock and my salvation" (Psalm 62:6). If fact, a Church founded upon a creature, built by priestcraft, cemented with human blood, and supported by falsehood, must be the devil's church and not the Church of God; for the living Church of the living God was planned by Divine wisdom and love, founded upon the official character and perfect work of Christ, is gathered and united by the invincible operations of the Holy Ghost, the imperishable habitation of Deity without the aid of Peter, prelate, or potentate. Nay, in defiance of their conspiracies, crusades, and cruelties, and upon her towers waves her banner with this inscription, "Who is God, save the Lord? and who is a Rock, save our God?"
3.) I come now to the triumph. I gave you its expression at the opening of the subject, in the words "our God." I pray you put the question home to conscience plainly, and put it in the singular number: "Who is my God?" I have spoken of a great variety of gods; but there are many more spoken of in Scripture. Some make gold their god; and of some, it is said, "their belly is their god." This is altogether inconsistent with rationality; yet there are many such beings in existence. Now, inquire if you have a right to say that Jehovah, the everlasting, self-existent God the Lord, is your God? our God? my God? A sacred writer of old once said, concerning Him in the singular number, "He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation. He is my Father's God, and I will exalt Him." And there are three ways in which you can prove whether He is your God. If He is your God, there is a vital union between Jehovah and your soul known and felt. If Jehovah is your God, this vital union will be traced as emanating from the covenant union; a Divine, inseparable oneness between the soul and the Deity, bringing the soul under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, and being newly created, clinging to Christ, grafted into Him as the branch into the vine, so as to draw its vigour and nourishment, grace and health, from Jesus, and receiving out of His fullness grace for grace. And the soul so quickened and drawn toward Jesus, so grafted into Jesus, approaches the throne with "Doubtless thou art my Father." There is the vital between the child and the parent, and that vital union known and experienced with all the Persons of the Deity. And wherever that vital union is known and experienced in the soul, all the Persons of the Deity become endeared to the heart and mind, as well as that soul manifestly endeared to Deity. There will be, in the soul so quickened, an ardent panting after fresh communications from the Holy Ghost, the daily quickening of His Almighty power, His testimonies of Jesus repeated, His taking of the things that are Christ's, and showing them unto the soul. The soul so brought into vital union with Deity, lives under a deep consciousness of its dependence upon the operations of the Holy Ghost for the reception of every grace and for the acting of every grace. Therefore faith, a living grace, is said to be the "faith of the operation of God." And it requires the operation of God to keep it in exercise, as well as to supply it with strength; and the soul, living under and panting after habitual communications of grace and power, will find all its wants in Christ, will lean upon Him, feel the oneness with Him, receive out of His fullness all needful supplies, take every promise as yea and amen in His office, Person, work, and faithfulness, and by becoming more closely intimate with Jesus, and cleaving to Him with "purpose of heart," will find that, by the power of the Spirit, it has access to the Father, comes before the throne, is embosomed in eternal love, is lost to the things of time; and while under this Divine anointing and outpouring from above, it goes into the very feelings which Watts so strongly expresses:
I cannot doubt His being my God after this. And I would that it were the will of my God that all my hearers should take the same standing, under the mighty constraining power of God the Holy Ghost. I have said that this vital union is received from the covenant union, which union was formed before all time by the joint love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and in which union of these glorious Persons the Church was adopted by God the Father, betrothed by God the Son, and registered by God the Holy Ghost, "written in the Book of Life." That union was as complete in the eye of God then as it will be when the Church is brought home to glory, but not manifested upon earth. That union is so close and precious, that the Father never eyed the Church but in union with the Son; the Son never eyed His Church but as the gift of His Father in betrothing love; and the Holy Ghost never eyed the Church but as His especial charge, having made registration of all her members in the "Lamb's Book of Life;" and thus Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in union with the elect Church of the living God from everlasting, stand pledged, engaged, and mutually sworn, each to other, for the entire and eternal salvation of the whole Church of God. If that is brought home to your heart, you will be able to say, "our God." "This God is our God, and will be our guide even unto death." "For who is a God, save the Lord? And who is a Rock, save our God?"
Advance a step further, and we will say a word or two about our glorious relationship. How will you take this to yourself but by the approaches that are permitted to His throne, and the advancement you are making, by His powerful grace, in conformity to His image? I do not know where I should end if I were to enlarge when speaking of the approaches where the union is formed. There is a union between parents and children. The child does not entertain a scruple about approaching his parent. The parent does not feel reluctance in receiving the approaches of the child. The child will run to his embrace, leap upon his knee, cling around his neck, and kiss him without a moment's hesitation. There is a familiarity of approach. Do you understand this, beloved with regard to our God? Is there a familiarity of approach" Has Jehovah "dandled you on His knees," to use the prophet Isaiah's phrase, and "carried you upon His loins?" Do you know what it is to come up out of the wilderness, leaning upon the Beloved? Have you ever been in John's position, leaning upon His breast? Have you ever whispered to Him, as the Church in the canticles does, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for thy love is better than wine?" (Songs 1:2) Do you tell Him all? Do you lay all before Him? Do you approach Him without reserve, with a holy familiarity? Do you confess your sins, unbosom your wants, relate your difficulties, complain of your enemies, ask supplies of grace, and leave your burdens with Him? "There, Father, carry them for me; I am unable to do so." Is this the way you commune with God? Verily, He is your God, or you could not deal with Him thus! I do not like the cold familiarity of a round of nice expressions to please the hearers' fancies. It is not dealing with God. I have had a little taste or two of close dealing with God, and I am grieved that I cannot get more, though I have received quite enough to make me long after more frequent approaches to, and a closer intimacy with, and to draw nigh to Him, according to His own blessed invitation, "Come ye near unto me." Remember, also, the tenderness He has expressed towards His people: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." And yet further than this: "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem."
But there is one thought more with regard to the evidence of His being your God, "our God," I mean that you are His habitation; and I borrow this from the Holy Spirit's language by the apostle, "an habitation of God, through the Spirit." Oh, what a contrast exists between a real Christian and a worldling! The real Christian "an habitation of God." All the persons, all the perfections of Deity, taking up their abode there. The worldling an habitation of dragons, an habitation of devils, and of every unclean thing. This is the language of Scripture.
Now let me appeal to your consciences. I want to be "clear of the blood of all men" before I go home. Do let me appeal to your consciences. What says conscience? Are your hearts the habitations of dragons, devils, and every other abomination and unclean thing? Or are they "the habitations of God, through the Spirit?" Mark how Jehovah sets that forth. The Father hath said, "I will be a Father unto you, and I will dwell in you, and walk in you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters." The Son of God, having ascended into glory, sent down His Spirit to dictate to the apostle the grand secret of all vital godliness; and he says, "it is Christ in you, the hope of glory;" and "if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness." Here is evidence upon evidence. "If Christ be in you," it is "the great mystery of godliness;" "the body is dead," crucified, mortified, nailed up, not allowed to rule; old Adam is withstood, and free-will is put completely in the background, "the body is dead, because of sin; but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness."
Follow on a little further, where the Holy Ghost says, not only in the passage I have cited, we are "the habitation of God, through the Spirit;" but where Christ has said, "When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). And dwell and abide in us forever. So that, in the real Christian, there are paternal love and prerogative dwelling in him; there are Divine sonship and responsibility, under the covenant engagement of Christ, dwelling in him; and the Divine operation, power, and teaching of the Holy Ghost dwelling in him; and, if I mistake not, the writer of the Proverbs hints at this, when he says, "A good man shall be satisfied from himself." But it is not from his old self, but from his new self; it is not from old Adam nature, but from indwelling Deity, walking and working in the soul mightily by invincible grace. Oh, the blessedness of ascertaining this fact! Oh, the vast importance of being brought to decision, so as to be able to adopt the language I have before cited, "One shall say, I am the Lord's!" And, if it be called in question, or if, according to the hypocritical cant of the Arminians of the present day, he only says, "I hope and trust I am," he shall surpass this hope, and trust, and keep to the original phrase, "I am the Lord's." And if he is questioned, "How do you know it?" he will answer that "He dwells in me, and walks with me; and I must dwell in Him, and walk with Him; and I shall walk with Him whilst I am on this earth, and shall dwell with Him in heaven." Oh, the blessedness of being satisfied that we belong to God, and that God belongs to us! so that we shall exultingly sing with the Psalmist, "Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be God even unto death," and we will never own any other.
Before I close I must be permitted to appeal to the two classes of hearers which constitute my congregation, the unregenerate and the regenerate. Whether the first-named of these classes despise the things of God, or put on a profession, is not worth my inquiry; if Jehovah is not your God and your Rock, in the senses which I have been describing, who is your God? Is it Baal? Is it Moloch? Is it money? Is it proud free-will? then pray unto your gods! But remember it is written, "They have no knowledge who pray unto a god that cannot save" (Isa. 45:20). And again, it is written, "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God" (Psalm 16:4). It may be that your sorrows may be as multiplied and as mortifying, and subject you to as much mockery as those of Baal's prophets, who "cried aloud and cut themselves with knives," "but there was no voice, nor any one that answered." Oh, ye hardened rejecters of the covenant God of Israel, hear His solemn warning, "Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel and would none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your fear cometh" (Prov. 1:24).
One word to the regenerated part of our congregation. Is the language of our text really the exultation of your souls? "Who is God, save the Lord? and who is a Rock, save our God?" Then see to it, that the glorifying of His name be the business of your life. Remember, if our God is a non-such, His people should be non-such also; as you read in the description which the Holy Ghost gives of them by his servant Moses, "Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people, saved by the Lord?" (Deut. 39:29). Maintain the high and holy distinction which grace has made between you and the world. Let it be seen that you serve the Lord, that you trust the Lord, yea, that our God is our Rock, our foundation, our refuge and our high elevation. If indeed you can say with the Psalmist, "This is our God," look up for grace to enable you so to live, that all around you may fix upon you the appellation, which the impious monarch fixed upon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, "Servants of the Most High God" (Dan. 3:26).May He command a blessing on His Word. Amen