by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Lord's day Morning, June 30, 1850
Oh! beloved, surely this glorious title should fire our hearts with sacred joy, and fill us with delight. "His vesture and His thigh." Why write the name there? His vesture is "dipped in blood," you read a little higher. The thigh is the emblem of strength, the main pillars of the body, its support. It is "the King of kings and Lord of lords." I begin to feel thoroughly ashamed of my faith, beloved, it is such a little contemptible thing ,and if I were not quite satisfied that it is a reality, I should throw it away. But when our Lord tells us that if it is only like a grain of mustard seed He will make it grow, I do not feel disposed to throw it away, but to cry with the disciples, "Lord, increase our faith." What would intimidate any loyal Englishman, if he were quite satisfied and sure, and that too from personal interview, that the monarch of the realm was decidedly and unalterably his friend? Would he fear poverty? Would he fear enemies? Would he fear dangers? Would he fear reverses of fortune? Would he fear trials? Oh! no, he would say, "The monarch is my friend, and he has all power to accomplish all I wish, and he is quite as willing as he is able." Now, beloved, I think this ought to rebuke our slavish fears and miserable forebodings, just to bear in mind, that our warmest friend, our "Friend that sticketh closeth than a brother," (Prov. 18:24) and that "loveth at all times," is no less a being than "the King of kings and Lord of lords." Run, then, to His court, go to the foot of His throne, lay every care and anxiety before Him, confide all to Him, yea, "cast all" upon Him, for He has told you, and His word is sure, that "He careth for you." (1 Pet. 5:7)
I did not anticipate, much less premeditate, this kind of exordium, but my mind was suddenly overpowered with the title my glorious Lord wears, and I will now attempt with the strength which He shall give, and which He has so mercifully recruited during the past week, to set before you, first of all, His supremacy, sovereign and universal; then I shall glance at the exhibition of it, it is "written on His vesture and on His thigh;" and then I shall endeavour to point out that this fact encourages the highest expectations of the subjects of His realm. I wish I could effect more, I wish I could raise my thoughts higher, I wish from my inmost soul that I could confide in Him with more confidence.
I. It is the supreme Sovereign of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, of whom it is expressly written, "He doeth as seemeth Him good in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35) Existing in His own eternal self-existence, dependent upon no being, but making all dependent upon Himself, He holds all worlds at His command. Why, beloved, if you contrast this for a moment with what puny things we are, it must surely appear marvellous that this great and glorious Jehovah should condescend to reveal Himself to us, or take any notice of us. We have not a bird, we have not an insect, we have not an atom, at command, they can all float by us and escape us; but our glorious King of kings and Lord of lords has not only kings and lords at His command, but He has worlds at His command, and empires at command, and nations at command, all things are subordinate to His sovereign will. I cannot conceive how those beings can escape the charge of Atheism who call in question the absolute Sovereignty of God, or even quarrel with it. Sure I am, that there can be no God in existence at all if He be not an absolute sovereign, if it be not His absolute prerogative to give decrees and carry them out, to create and to destroy, to uphold, to punish, to supply or to withhold supplies. If the issues of death are not from Him, if the breath in our nostrils is not in His hand, to dispose of as He pleases and when He pleases, if the times and seasons are not appointed by Him, if the bounds of our habitations are not fixed by Him, if the hairs of our head are not numbered by Him, if the steps of the good man are not ordered by Him, if angels, men, and devils are not under His control, I close my Bible, and say, "There is no God," and be a fool at once, as the Psalmist expresses it. But, glory to His name, that He has asserted of Himself, "I am God, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." (Mal. 3:6)
But just mark here, that He is the maker of all worlds, and the maker of all kings and lords too; therefore He surely has a right to be King and Lord over them. Moreover, He is the moral Governor of the universe, and consequently, all things in it are under His control; He even giveth power to get wealth, and, if He withholds that power, and lets us sink into poverty, He still acts as King of kings and Lord of lords; and it is your business and mine to say, "Do as thou wilt with mine and me too." If He surrounds us with friends, they are just what He makes them and no more; and their very affection and kindness are just His own inspiring. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the moral Governor. If His Church is harassed by persecutors, the hand is His, and He says, in His own word, that they can go no further than He directs and appoints, and lets out their chain, and therefore He says to His children, by the prophet Isaiah, "Who art thou that thou shouldest be afraid of the oppressor, afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker?" (Isa. 51:12,13) Forgettest the King of kings, who manages and overrules all worlds. Paul seemed to have got a little into the secret when he exclaimed, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28) How do you know that, Paul? Why, because He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now let it be remembered that the sovereignty of Jehovah over all worlds and all beings is one of the most comforting doctrines that the Church of Jesus Christ can listen to. I know very well that proud man does not like it, and is everlastingly saying, "What! Are we to be mere machines? Are we to be capable of nothing? Are we to have no freewill? Are we not to be free agents?" And all the rest of the Popish nonsense. Well, I will meet them, as Solomon says when he speaks of answering a fool according to his folly. "You would make us mere machines," say you. I say, no, far worse. Take a mere machine which has been well constructed (say, a watch); you have nothing to do but to wind it up every twenty-four hours, and without any touch or help on your part, it will go correctly. Can you find me a being on earth, even one who has partaken of the grace of God, who can go for twenty-hours of its own accord without new supplies? Find me a sinner, a regenerated sinner, a converted sinner, on the face of the earth that can go on correctly for twenty-four hours, as my watch will, without any touch or aid, and I will become a free-willer directly, much as I hate the system, and I hate it as much as I hate the devil. I will embrace it directly, if you will find me a solitary instance in which any Christian can go on in the divine life, living a life of faith in God, without supplies, without touch, without help from above. You know such a being is not to be found. Then let God have His own sovereignty, because His sovereignty communicates the grace. "He giveth more grace, and even grace for grace," and "withholdeth no good thing."
And then mark the sovereignty with which He causes it to be bestowed. He has set it down in His own Word, "Every good and every perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning." (James 1:17) And will you take away His sovereignty, and put it into the caprice of some other being, when, and how, and in what measure your mercy shall be bestowed? Who unto you, if you could. If you could only usurp it to yourself, you would damn yourself in an hour. Our safety for a moment, our comfort for an hour, the continuance of Divine life in our souls, and our security of eternal life, hang upon the absolute sovereignty of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now, let us just go on to mark how He insists upon His decrees being carried out; for this is a subject very dear to me, though I know it is not a welcome subject to the carnal man. Whatever He decrees must be accomplished. "He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." (Ps. 33:9) As for man, he is like the grass and the flower of the field, which fades immediately it comes to its beauty; but "the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting." There is no fading there. "He bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought, and maketh the devices of the people of none effect; but the counsel of the Lord it standeth for ever, and the thought of his heart from generation to generation." (Ps. 33:11) Now just mark how He insists on the carrying out of His decrees by the instrumentality of friends, of foes, and of fiends. He employs them all.
When He wants the instrumentality of friends, He raises up a Jeremiah. Jeremiah feels his incompetency to go on so wonderful, and great, and glorious a commission. "O Lord, I cannot speak; I am but a child; send by whom thou wilt send." (Jer. 1:6) Let some one else go; but do not send me. But God had decreed that he should go. "Now," says He, "son of man, thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak;" and before the chapter closes, He says, "I have set thee as a fenced brazen wall and an iron pillar." "Rather formidable things," say you. What for? "Against nations to pluck up and to throw down, to plant and to build." That is God's decree. The word goes forth to Jeremiah, and all through his history you find the commission acceded to and carried out to the utmost extent. He was one of God's friends, one of His favoured servants, and the decree is carried out by him.
Now just look and see how it is carried out by foes. If you turn to the forty-fifth chapter of the prophet Isaiah, you will find God speaking expressly concerning Cyrus, and declaring the decree that should be fulfilled by him, "though," says He, "he has not known me." He did not know God; He was a stranger to him; but still God says of him, "He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the Temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." And Cyrus was obliged to do it. He was obliged to raise an immense army, and go and besiege Babylon, and open the two-leaved gates and conquer the city, and proclaim liberty to all Jews, and then issue a proclamation that they should come and rebuild Jerusalem. This was God's decree; He was not at a loss for an agent. See, beloved, how our glorious King of kings carries out His decrees, and will have them accomplished. There is another instance in which the Assyrians threatened the destruction of Hezekiah, and Judah, and Jerusalem; an immense army surrounds Jerusalem, and its destruction is threatened. But God had decreed it otherwise; He had decreed to conquer, though Judah had no power to accomplish the victory, and dare not go forth to attempt it. God had His destroying angel at hand, sends him forth, and cuts off 185,000 Assyrians in one night. Who but the King of kings could accomplish all this?
Moreover, even the fiends are obliged to be at his beck, and go where he bids, and do what he says, and no further. There is a most remarkable instance of this recorded in the second Book of Chr icles, when Jehoshaphat had been fool enough to join affinity with Ahab, to go against the possessors of Ramoth Gilead, in order to take it out of their hands. I say, fool enough; because he was a godly man, and had no business to have any affinity with an ungodly man, it is always a sin in the sight of God in any shape whatever. Ahab summons up four hundred and fifty of Baal's prophets, well pampered and fed at his table and Jezebel's. All with one accord prophecy, "Go up to Ramoth Gilead, for the Lord will deliver it into thy hands." Jehoshaphat suspected them. He thought they were so much like Puseylites, that they were not to be trusted, and asks, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?" (2 Chr. 18:6) "Why," said Ahab with a surly frown, "There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him." "Why hate him, your majesty?" "Why, because he doth not prophecy good concerning me." "And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so." (2 Chr . 18:7) "Send, and fetch him." Micaiah comes, and tells a different tale, though at first he spake ironically, and Ahab was extremely angry! And what is the cause of all this? Why, says Micaiah, "I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead." (2 r. 18:19) "I have ordained his destruction; perish he must, but who is to be the instrument?" "And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. (2 Chr . 18:19) And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets." (2 Chr . 18:21) So that even fiends are commanded by Him, when His decrees are to be carried out. The spirit goes forth, and puts the lie into the prophets' mouths. Micaiah (I suppose he would be called in our days an old Antinomian. Well, be it so) said, "I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd; and the Lord said, These have no master, let them return every man to his house." (2 Chr . 18:16) The king was very angry, and said, "Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace." (2 Chr . 18:26) This old Antinomian is not to be intimidated; it is the worst thing a man can attempt, it always arouses them, and therefore he replies (mind, he is speaking to a monarch), "If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me." (2 Chr . 18:27) Ahab is killed in the battle, and Jehoshaphat escapes with a hair-breadth escape; so that Micaiah's prophecy proves true, and all Baal's prophets false. What for? That the King of kings might insist on His decree being carried out, and might accomplish all the purposes of His mind, and do all His pleasure, even though it be by a lying spirit.
Moreover, before I quit this part of the subject, which is to me of vast importance; if you look at the case of Hezekiah in the circumstances before named, he was sick unto death, and the prophet is commanded to go to him, and say, "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live." (2 Kings 20:1) He did not say tonight, or tomorrow; but there is the commission. He was not told the time till after the decree was postponed. Hezekiah mourns about it. "I hope I shall not be taken tonight." A message is sent. "Go and tell him that I will add to his days fifteen years." (2 Kings 20:6) He was delivered from the hand of the Assyrians, his life was lengthened, his boil was healed, his enemies were anquished, and he ends his days in Jerusalem. Now does not this instance prove, and I might summon twenty more, that our King of kings insists on the carrying out of His decrees? He will accomplish all His purpose. If He has purposed the conversion of some poor sinner this morning; if He has decreed the conversion of some rebellious heart, all your unbelief and all your prejudice cannot prevent its being carried out; for one of our poets sings:
The poor sinner cries out,
Who shall stay His hand? Who shall alter His purpose? Oh, beloved, I feel for myself, that all the efforts I can make in diving into truth, or proclaiming it to you, is nothing more than the buzzing of a fly, or the flapping of a butterfly's wing. If He has decreed the conversion of a poor soul this morning, that soul shall melt in contrition, be brought into the liberty of the gospel, and feed on the mountain of the Lord upon fat things; and shall go on accomplishing victory after victory, until he is more than conqueror.
A word more under this head. It is the prerogative of our King of kings and Lord of lords, to revenge all the injuries done to His Church. He himself has said, "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye:" (Zech. 2:8) and He decrees that His sentence at the last day shall run in these terms: "Inasmuch as ye have done it (or not done it) unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it (or not done it) unto me." (Matt. 25:45) He takes everything done to His disciples as done to Himself. Then surely you and I as Christians ought to be the last persons in the world to seek revenge. I remember an anecdote in my boyish days, the parties concerned in which were well known to me, and I was much interested in them. In a case of partnership one had oppressed the other, and clandestinely plundered him for years to an awful extent. The Providence of God threw in the way of the other an opportunity in which he might have taken ample revenge, and carried matters to a very great extremity, and old Adam was quite inclined to do it; but while meditating plans, that passage of Scripture dropped upon his spirit, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him, and if he thirst, give him drink." (Rom. 12:19,20) All the plans were abandoned, and the godly man (the other was not such) relinquished all designs, went on as usual, and left the Lord to avenge for him. The avenging terminated thus, that the persecutor died in a workhouse, and the persecuted went to heaven in a good old age. This I was a personal witness to. I just mention this anecdote to show, that as Jehovah avenges on His enemies what is done to His Church and people, you and I cannot do better than let them alone, leave them to God, commit them all to His care. I would not, God helping me, in my right mind, render a railing word for a railing word, evil for evil, but leave the offenders in God's hands; and depend upon it, they cannot be in more solemn hands, nor you and I in better ones. It is the prerogative of the King of kings to protect His subjects, to take care of His own, to withhold them by His power, supply them with His bounties, and at last bring them home to His court.
II. Now a word or two, in the second place, relative to the exhibition of His name. I have endeavoured to expound the name a little. It is said to be written "upon his vesture and upon His thigh." You will read, by looking a little higher up in the chapter, that His vesture was peculiarly marked, yea, and stained, the name was perfectly legible. It is said that He was clothed in "a vesture dipped in blood." Does not this exactly agree with Isaiah's predictive inquiry, when he says, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?" And gives as the answer, "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save;" and when the question is resumed, "Why is thine apparel red, and thy garments like one that has trod the winepress?" And the answer is, "I have trod the winepress alone, and of the people, there was none with me." (Isa. 63:1-3) Here then, I discover His official character. His vesture is dipped in blood, and He is clothed with this vesture down to His foot, the priestly robe, for He only is priest of our profession as Christians. The dipping in blood marks the perfection of His work, as well as His official character; and yet while the hosts in heaven, the ransomed throng around the throne, are all filled with wonder and adoration at the sight of His blood-stained vesture, they see shining above His sufferings, above His sorrows, above His agonies, above His death, His kingly office, "King of kings, and Lord of Lords." He was King in Zion, from olden time; He was King in His incarnation, for all men obeyed Him, angels, men, and devils, winds, and waves, all regarded His commands as an absolute sovereign. He was King in Gethsemane. There His sorrows were greater than all others. He was King in Pilate's hall where He was crowned with thorns to take away the curse; He was king on Calvary. "Behold, and see if there are any sorrows like unto my sorrows." He was King when the taunting mob exclaimed, "If thou be a king, save thyself and us." It was to prove His absolute sovereignty that He covered the sun with His hands, and rent the tombs with His finger, and called forth the thunders with His voice, and astounded the centurion and the soldiers with His looks, and trampled upon the powers of darkness, making a show of them openly, conquering them on His cross as an absolute sovereign. (Col. 2:14,15)
Moreover, the name is written not only upon His vesture, but upon His thigh. Why was this? Was not one writing enough? Just for this express purpose, that His power might be held forth at every step. Wherever He steps whether in providence or grace, absolute power goes forth with Him. Now what can a man do, as regards walking, running, or working, if the strength has gone out of his thighs? I know what it means, having suffered much from sciatica; with the strength gone from one's knees to one's hip, scarcely able to take a single step. It is not so with our precious King. His strength is in His thigh, His name is written on His thigh, so that wherever He advances He is sure to be known as the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Oh! The vast importance of eyeing this prerogative of our precious Christ, with personal interest! Oh! The vast importance of discovering clearly for ourselves our personal relation to Him, as King of kings, and Lord of lords.
The power of Christ, as the eternal God, is conspicuous in all His movements, both in providence and in grace; by Him the worlds were made, and by Him they are sustained; yea, we are expressly told by the Holy Ghost (John 1:3), that "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." Surely, then, He has an undoubted right to the sovereignty over all worlds. But let us view Him officially, as having all power given to Him in heaven and in earth. Yea, as it is written as dropping from His own lips, "Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him." (John 17:2) And this power is constantly put forth on behalf of His elect, blood-bought Church, inasmuch as He counts her interests His own. Well, therefore, may His name be conspicuously exhibited to view upon His vesture and upon His thigh, that all worlds may see that omnipotence is employed under absolute sovereignty, for the present and eternal welfare of His Church. Cheer up, then ye timid saints, your cause is not more yours than it is Christ's; nay, nor so much, for if He could allow the injury or the ruin of His Church, the name which is written upon His vesture and upon His thigh would be tarnished, nay, forfeited, and He would no longer be owned King of kings and Lord of lords. But, blessings on His dear name, "it shall endure for ever, His name shall be continued as long as the sun, and men shall be blessed in Him, and all nations shall call Him blessed." (Ps. 72:17) Yea, more, His name, emblazoned in glory, shall be the chorus of all the redeemed throng as long as eternity shall roll on.
Mark, I pray you, how, in the exercise of His prerogative, He subjects all beings to His will. That beautiful passage of Scripture is quite to this point, in which the apostle says, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual and mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, and to the casting down of imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against God." (2 Cor. 10:4,5) And now mark, that He subjects all things. He "brings every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ." Now, I ask, where is the king to be found that can do that, that ever brought every thought of his subjects into subjection to himself? There will always be found republicans, and infidels, and traitors, and disloyalty in every kingdom, and God will punish them by-and-bye for their rebellion and wickedness; but our precious glorious Christ brings every thought into subjection. There are two ways in which He brings all beings into subjection, whether friends or foes. The first is by the omnipotence of His grace He brings every elect vessel of mercy to the knowledge of His will, to bow to His sceptre and live for ever; and of those rebels that would not that He should reign over them, He says, "Bring them hither and slay them before mine eyes." Oh! How striking is the exhortation of the Psalmist (be wise now therefore, O ye kings of the earth), "Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little." (Ps. 2:12) A little wrath, enough to cause kings and lords to perish if He does but blow upon them. Such is His sovereign power. Oh! The vast extent of the mercy that you and I have realized, that instead of taking out the sword of His vengeance, to slay us for rejecting His sovereignty, He should have stretched out the sceptre of His love, subdued, and conquered, and humbled our proud hearts, and brought us down to His feet to implore mercy at His hands! Oh! The vast amount of His mercy towards us, in severing us in this manner by the omnipotence of His grace from the world that lieth in iniquity, from friends and foes around, bringing us to know, and trust, and love His will!
III. Go on just to mark, in the third place, that the highest expectations of the Lord's family are encouraged. His name written on His vesture and on His thigh is legible to all His saints. They see Him the King and the Priest upon His throne. They witness the victories He has already realized, they mark the sacred and cheering fact, that He has "spoiled principalities and powers," (Col. 2:15) and has fulfilled what is said, "O death, I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy destruction." (Hos. 13:14) The ancient promise has been accomplished by Him, and the serpent's head is bruised. The grand victory was won upon Mount Calvary, by the glorious Captain of salvation, whom my text calls "King of kings and Lord of lords." And now what remains but that He shall still go on (as it is written in the Apocalypse) on His white horse of pure gospel truth, from conquering to conquer. Here take, for a moment, a twofold view of His overcomings. He is going forth from conquering that sinner's heart to conquer another sinner's heart, from conquering that corruption of the old Adam nature of the child of God, to conquer the next that rises and struggles within him. He will go on conquering and to conquer, until He has conquered every elect vessel of mercy, and transformed them to His own image. Nor is this all, His conquests and His peoples' are one; for it is written concerning those that surround His throne, and walk with Him in white, that "they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of His testimony." Then the overcoming of every child of God, the overcoming of all His foes, internal, external, yea, and infernal, is linked, and coupled with, and secured by, the victories of Christ; and until He ceases to be King of kings and Lord of lords, the most timid soldier in His family, the weakest child of God upon earth, must go on from conquering to conquer, as we are told by one of our poets
Well now, my brethren, will not you buckle on your armour? Will you not
furbish your sword? Will you not cry out for more help from on high to wield
it? Will you not look in a menacing form at all your enemies? Will you not
say to every Goliath as David did, "This day will I take thine head
from off thee, and give thy carcase to the fowls of the air?" (1 Sam.
17:46) What temptation, what trial, what difficulty, what enemy, what persecutor,
what demon, can repel or check the progress of a child of God with the King
of kings and Lord of lords at his head? "The King goeth before them,
and the Lord of Hosts at their head," said the prophet. Well then,
beloved, surely we owe most of our sorrowful moments to our want of confidence
in our King, and to our foolish fondness for self-confidence. Only get out
of all self-confidence, and confide in the faithfulness
Moreover, national glory may be anticipated with confidence. The apostle Peter, you know, speaks of this when he says, that the Lord's people are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." (1 Pet. 2:9) Now, you know the nation of Israel was distinguished from all the nations of the world, to be typical of the Church of Christ, which should be this holy nation of which Peter, by the Holy Ghost speaks. I beg of you to mark, that this holy nation is not of carnal policy, it is not a hierarchy or human invention. I cannot acknowledge it either in England, or in France, or in Germany, or in Spain, or anywhere else, as peculiar to that nation literally, but this holy nation are all heaven-born souls, partakers of life Divine. They have learned the dialect of heaven, they keep up converse with God, they are really taught by His Spirit, they are accustomed to go to court every day, in fact, they are new creatures in Christ Jesus. Some of them may be found, no doubt, scattered in every part and corner of the habitable globe, but, wherever they are, the King of kings will find them out, and gather them together by-and-bye. He will send forth His angels with the commission to carry out His own decree, to gather His elect from the four winds of heaven, not one is to be left behind, not one to be plundered or robbed, not one to refuse by his own freewill, which he would if left to himself, but, conquered by omnipotent grace, drawn by immutable love, washed in atoning blood, transformed and regenerated by the Holy Ghost, united in one spirit as one family, one fold under one Shepherd, one Church, one household of faith, all named after Jesus; so that, whether in heaven or in earth, all shall wear the national glory. A multitude of Scriptures might here be adduced, to point out what this national glory is. Some nations glory in the peculiarity of their laws. Well, that is one feature of our national glory, the law of life, the law of liberty, the law of the Spirit of Christ, the law of love, the law of faith. Why, these are the glory of our nation, and shall be our national glory for ever. Moreover, there are nations that glory particularly in the salubriousness of the atmosphere. This glory belongs to us, for we inhale the very air of heaven, which the Holy Ghost breathes into the soul of every child of God, so that we receive communications from on high. The atmosphere must be pure, because it is spiritual, and the believing family are enabled to walk in it in company with God Himself; like Enoch and Noah, they walk with God. Moreover, there are some nations that account it their national glory to conquer vast provinces, and vanquish their enemies around them. These belong to us. Sin, death, and hell, all that belong to this time-state, all the armies of the prince of darkness, are vanquished by the power of the King of kings, and in the personal experience of every one of His subjects. This is our national glory. What then? "Righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," (Romans 14:17)a righteousness that cannot be sullied, imputed to every subject, the "peace of God that passeth all understanding," (Phil. 4:7) to keep the mind in the knowledge of God," "joy in the Holy Ghost," that is near akin to heaven, and which as far exceeds the joy of the worldling, in its best sense and highest state, as the joy of glory on high exceeds the joy of us poor limping worms, that try to sing God's praise on earth. Think how those subjects of Divine grace are ennobled. Think how they are covered with the perfect panoply of heaven. Is it not their glory? Then see how they feast on the King's bounty. Then observe their attendants, angels from heaven, "sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation." (Heb. 1:14) Oh! Beloved, if you will but set your hearts and thoughts for a few moments upon our national glory and dignity, you would not emigrate for a thousand worlds, until you go to glory, the best of all emigration.
A word more. Eternal life is in the hands and in the possession of the King of kings, and is His prerogative to bestow. And hence the apostle John was commissioned to say, This is the record (that is, the whole sum and substance of the record of the Bible and of the covenant of grace), that God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." (1 John 5:11) Again, "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." (1 John 5:12) Surely, beloved, this is worth our close examination, whether we have the Son. We have not life if we have not the Son, neither can we have any well-founded hope of life eternal, if we are not in possession of Christ; but, having Christ, says the apostle, "I possess all things." Our precious Lord assumes His own prerogative in the 10th of John: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me." "I give unto them eternal life" (John 10:27,28) (not sell, not offer, not propose, not barter it), "I give unto them." They will not have it. Ah! But they shall be made willing to receive it in the day of His power. (Ps. 110:3) "I give unto them." It is well that He does give it, for they have nothing to buy it with, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28) All glory to His name that He still wears it written upon His vesture and upon His thigh, as the High Priest of our profession, and as the strength of Israel, "King of kings and Lord of lords." You must be aware, that it would be a very vain attempt for me to describe eternal life in its glorious consummation. I think I know a little about its nature, but not in its glorious consummation. Who can comprehend what the full fruition of the enjoyment of God is? Faculties all perfected, the powers of the soul all glorified, sins, sorrows, and curse all vanished, and gazing with open vision upon the unveiled glories of the King of kings. Like Him, loved by Him, living near to Him, enthroned with Him, eternally glorifying His precious name with loudest hallelujahs! Language fails to describe it, and nothing remains but for Christian hearers to make the most of what each has realized in his soul. This, then, is life eternal upon earth, "To know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3) Beloved, it is my anxious desire and earnest prayer to God for you, that you may know more of Him, enjoy more of Him, and never lose sight of the name written upon His vesture and upon His thigh.
May He command a blessing on these few hints, and His name shall have all the glory!