The Best Preacher
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, August 25th, 1850
OUR text refers immediately to its antecedent. "The people, when they knew it." Knew what? Our precious Lord had sent forth His apostles and given them a commission and commandment to preach His word, and to heal the sick, and to cast out devils, and they returned and "told Him all that they had done." And then, observe, "He took them, and went aside privately into a desert place." Christ's private communications are with His disciples, not with the multitude. "He took them, and went aside privately into a desert place, belonging to the city called Bethsaida." He had sweet communications to make, their commissions to renew, further injunctions for them, a wider sphere of labour to open to them, and more grace to impart to them, all of which are His private communications with His disciples. But the people, the multitude of the people found Him out, He could not be hid, and from what they had seen, and heard, and known before they followed Him. There was a powerful attraction about Him. Probably, some out of curiosity, and others from spiritual and better motives, they followed Him, then mark, what amazing condescension He manifests. "He received them." There was another occasion on which the disciples wanted him to send the multitude away. No, no; we read of His receiving them, not sending them away; and this was one great offence which He gave to the Pharisees "this man receiveth sinners;" and it is our mercy that He does. The very same is the offence of the gospel to the present hour, because we high-doctrine folks, and I never wish to disown that title, preach a gospel that is suited to sinners, and tell them that the vilest of sinners that feel their need of Christ are not beyond His reach, no nor beyond His promise, no, nor beyond His errand to the world. If we were to preach a comfortable doctrine to the Pharisees, and tell them that they are to be saved by their works, most of them more mischievous than profitable, they would reckon us very fine preachers. But no, we are to say that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and as Jesus Christ received sinners we state the fact. "He received them." Then, observe, He preached to them the kingdom. He "spake unto them of the kingdom of God." This is a very grand subject, we shall say a little about it presently. And then, observe the mighty power put forth. He "healed them that had need of healing." How many are there here this morning that have need of healing? What is your malady? what is your sickness? what is your sorrow? what is your care? what is your conflict? what is your inbred corruptions? what is the vile depravity of poor old Adam nature? Do you need healing? Our precious Christ is as able and willing to heal you now as He was then, when he healed those that had need of healing. I have thus given you an outline of our subject, and will enter on it without further exordium.
I. And, first, let me invite your attention to the attraction there is in Jesus, that "the people, when they knew it, followed Him."
A great deal is said in the word of God about following Christ, and it is said that all His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. There may be a following in profession only or out of mere curiosity, as in the case of Zaccheus. He had heard great things concerning Jesus, and wanted to fix his gaze on His Person, and therefore he ran before Him, and climbed up a sycamore tree out of mere curiosity. But no matter how people are brought to seek after Jesus, He can turn their curiosity even to their conversion. "This day is salvation come to thy house." Zaccheus did not go up the tree to obtain his salvation, he did not even know he wanted it, he went out of mere curiosity. Jesus brought salvation to his house, he did not find it in the sycamore tree. It did not belong to his labours, especially not to his extortions which he afterwards acknowledges. So with probably nearly all the people spoken of in this passage, they came out of curiosity. They had beheld His Person, and they had beheld His works, and they could but be attracted, even if it were but a natural attraction, with these things. I beseech you to mark He had stilled the tempest, He had raised the dead, He had called Jarius' daughter into life again, He had healed Peter's wife's mother who was sick of a fever, He had cast out devils by legions, and when the multitude saw Him passing through the land of Judea, accomplishing these marvellous works, is it a matter of surprise that they should seek for more and follow Him? But, now look at this in a higher sense. Those who have seen His Person, I mean spiritually, as the apostle said, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14)they are sure to follow Him, and this too, because they expect to receive much from Him.
Moreover, those who behold His works in a spiritual point of view, not merely the miracles which he wrought when on earth, but the very same miracle in a spiritual sense which He is working now, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping deaf ears, raising dead sinners to newness of life, casting out demons, and thus accomplishing prodigies in the view of the spiritual mind and discernment, what is the result? Why, all who witness these things will be attracted by them, and will be induced to say, "Saw ye Him whom our souls love?" They will be ready to look after Him in the crowd, they will follow Him in the means of grace, in the closet, in His word, in His promises; they will follow Him from His primitive predestinating engagements in glory to the perfection of His work in bringing all His redeemed home to bliss, and will step by step go after Him.
We will follow on this twofold sense a little further. The people followed Him, probably many of them out of vain curiosity, expecting to see more of His works, for while His Person was singular and peculiar, and the prodigies He had performed had overwhelmed them with astonishment, they expected to see more and know more of Him, and, therefore, some of them were so ignorant as to ask, "Master, what sign showest thou?" They had seen so many. Their eye was not satisfied with seeing, nor their ear with hearing, but they expected to see and know more of this astonishing Galilean, this precious, glorious Christ of God. I am not at all disposed to think that the greater part of them had any real love for Him or any spiritual discernment, but their desire was to follow Him, to see what He did, and to hear what He had to say, when in conversation with His disciples. Now I want to know in a spiritual point of view, I will not be mixed with the multitude who come just out of curiosity, just as curiosity brings some to hear the gospel preached by persons who have become public, not for profit, but to gratify their own curiosity, but I want to know more of Christ in His Person, in His preaching, and by participation. I expect to know more of Christ's Person. It is true that He is "the chief among ten thousand and the altogether lovely," (Songs 5:10,16) "the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His Person" (Heb. 1:3)it is true also that He is "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh," but I want to get nearer, to gaze on Him, to discover what there is in Him so precious to His saints, and approach closer, to enjoy fellowship with Him. Then I want to know more of Him in His preaching. He preached with power Divine, for it is written, "Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46) Now I may preach to you till I have no more strength, and I hope to do so, but I can do nothing except Jesus preaches. He is the Prince of preachers, and when He comes forth to preach in and by His servants, applies His Word with power Divine, something is known of Him. The word is with power, the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven accompanying, attracting, transforming, and bringing the soul more in love with Jesus. Thus the preaching of Christ becomes attractive, we want to know more of Him, to receive something at His hands. "Lord, that I may receive my sight;" "Lord, that I may be made whole;" "Lord, that I may have forgiveness sealed to my conscience" that I may hear the welcome, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee;" (Matt. 9:2) "Lord, that I may wear the robe of righteousness;" "Lord, that I may feed with the loaves like the thousands whom thou art accustomed to feed;" "Lord, that I may eat thy body and drink thy blood, and so having Christ dwelling in me the hope of glory, enjoy more, and know more, and see more of the preciousness of Christ, and be attracted thereby to follow hard after Him."
One word more here before I proceed to the following hard after Him. There were several that came to Christ and said, "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." But when Christ said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head," we do not hear another word about their following Him. Another poor creature, when our Lord said, "Follow me," with all his fleshly desires about him, answered, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father;" and another, "Let me go and bid them farewell that are at home." Now, my hearer, I want to feel in my own soul so much of the attraction of my precious Christ, that I shall want no excuse to delay a moment, but to be able to do as Matthew did, when he was at the receipt of customs, and as Zebedee's sons did when they were sitting in the boat with their father, mending nets. The latter left their father and their nets, I suppose they were just going out to fish, and immediately followed Christ. And so with Matthew. I do not know how many thousands he had before him, or how much time it took him to reckon it up and strike the balance, we do not hear anything of it, he left all and followed Christ. The very thing I want to do. Now, when His power attracts the soul, when His love draws the heart, when His works draw our attention, and His preaching finds its way to the soul, there cannot be any reluctance in following Him.
II. We must say a word or two, in the second place, about His condescension in receiving them "He received them." I have already, in our exordium, descanted a little on the offensiveness of His conduct to the proud Pharisees who surrounded Him, and insisted that it is the very same at the present hour. Our Lord said, in His expostulations with them, "The whole need not a physician, but them that are sick" "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." And if you glance for a moment at the descriptions given of His preaching, in the chapter we have been reading, you will find that He was to preach good tidings to the meek, to proclaim liberty to the captives "then they were captives" to open the prison doors to them that were bound" in the miserable fetter of sin. I do not know whether our good folks mean what they say when in public assemblies they cry out, "We are tied and bound with the chain of our sins." I rather doubt it. I suspect that if I were to go into their parlours half an hour afterwards and say, "Do you know that you are tied and bound with the chain of your sins?" they would think that I wanted to insult them, though they had acknowledged it in words only half an hour before. It is easy to say a thing, and another thing to believe it. It is easy to say, "We are tied and bound with the chain of our sins," and another thing to feel the bonds of captivity, and be thoroughly tired of them. These are the characters that Jesus comes to preach to, and whom He condescends to receive. Now, however offensive it may be to Pharisaic minds, and proud free-willers, Jesus Christ still receives sinners, and my message from Him to you is, that if there be a sinner here viler than all the rest, the worst of Adam's race, loaded and burdened with guilt, like the poor woman in the gospel, who was utterly unable to lift up herself, who could in no wise lift up herself, if that poor, helpless, guilt-burdened sinner is but made to feel his need, made conscious of his ruin, and is brought to follow after Christ, He will not reject him, He will not cast him out, for He casts out none that come unto God by Him. There seems every probability, according to the reasonings of man, against His receiving sinners, for when they come to Christ they are very much like David's army. You know it is said in the 22nd chapter of the first book of Samuel, "And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto David." It is not said that he sent them about their business because they were such a ragged set, but he became a captain over them. This is beautifully typical, for our precious Lord receives just such. Every one that is in debt to the holy law of God, who has not the sinless, perfect obedience which it requires, and is conscious of it, every one that has had the sentence brought home to his conscience, "Pay me that thou owest" (Matt. 18:28)nay, who has set about paying the debt, but when he came to offer the payment it was nothing but pebbles and dirt, and the creditor would not accept of it, because it was not current coin; who was so deeply in debt that nothing could meet his case but obliterating the whole score, pardoning all the transgressions, passing by them, and blotting them out for ever. These are the persons that our precious Christ receives.
Moreover, according to the description of David's army which I have just cited, they are in distress; aye, the distress which the awakened soul feels when the spirit of the Lord convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, is greater than can ever be described in words. It must be known and felt in the experience to be understood. Have you ever felt the distress of being obnoxious to God, and deserving nothing but hell? Have you ever felt the distress of being unable to extricate yourself from such a position? Have you ever felt the distress of being disappointed in every attempt? Have you ever felt the distress of discovering matters to be worse and worse, instead of better, in personal experience? Have you ever felt the distress that has brought you down in tears and despondency to give up all as lost and undone, to be ready to cry before Jehovah with no other cry than "Lord, I am vile?" Has it ever distressed you that inbred sin has been fighting so hard for the victory? Has it ever distressed you that iniquities, though they shall not have the dominion, have yet put forth their rage? Has it ever distressed you that pardon has not been sealed? and justification not appropriated? Have you ever been awakened to know your danger and ruin, to feel utterly undone, lost, helpless, and vile? And has this been a matter of distress to you? Oh, come to David! He receives all that are in distress. And so in after distress, whether it be from darkness of soul, from conflicts within, or temptations without, or circumstances in Providence, the miseries of the wilderness state; every one that is in distress may come to Jesus. He will receive all that come unto Him. Moreover, He receives every one that is discontented. Why, we generally look at discontent as really a vice; and so it is in most instances. It is really very wicked. But every soul that comes to Christ is discontented with himself, discontented with the world, discontented with his religion, discontented with all around him, whether professors or profane. He tries to get away from all this, and comes to Christ. Oh, what a mercy! He receives him. "The people came to Him, and He received them." He made no complaint that they were too poor, that they were too vile, that they were too ragged, that they had lived too long in sin, that they had neglected their opportunities too much. He received them. My hearer, believe me our precious Christ would forfeit His official character if He refused one sinner, however vile, that the Holy Ghost had made willing to come to Him. Now do take that sentence home with you, ye disconsolate ones, if you take nothing else besides.
Moreover, not only were none rejected, rich or poor, young or old, but He had engaged their reception beforehand. It was a matter of sovereign appointment, a matter of covenant stipulation. They were given to Him by His Father, and therefore He must receive them. They are gathered to Him by His Spirit, and therefore He must receive them. They are grace-taught as they come, and therefore He cannot reject them. His servant Paul was something like Him in his manner of preaching; not like some modern sceptics, who pretend to some very high attainments in Christianity, and yet they will not even pray, or speak a word on religious things (I have met with these modern nondescripts), if they think there is an unconverted character present. It is the very reason why they should. It is not like Paul, nor like Christ, if they do not; for Paul preached in his own hired house, and, like Christ, received all those who came unto Him; and so would I, as regards preaching the kingdom of God to them. Now our precious Christ had these souls, these elect vessels of mercy given to Him of His Father; and shall He not receive His Father's gift? Shall a loving Father give something to me, and I disdain to accept of it? Oh, Christ did not so! He received them as His Father's gift in covenant union, poor, and halt, and maimed, and blind, knowing that they would become so, that He might redeem them from all iniquity. Moreover, the Holy Spirit has bound Himself to bring them to Him, and do you think He will reject them? Do you ever read in His history, when upon earth, that any one came to Him, lame, or halt, or leprous, or blind, and He sent them away? No, never! Blessings on His name, He is the receiver of sinners. It was this point which fastened the subject on my mind with very great solemnity, that, notwithstanding all the wanderings and heart-backslidings that I have felt and mourned over, I can come to Him again. He still receives His people, with all their wants, and cares, and miseries; and this, too, for a special purpose. For when the five thousand were assembled around Him, and He had been preaching to them all day, the disciples said to Him, "Master, send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and villages to buy food." No, says Christ, "I will not send them away; make them sit down where they are, and give them something to eat." Beloved, if you are willing, and inclined to come to Jesus, and follow hard after Him, He will not only receive you, but give you a seat; and not only give you a seat, but give you food; and not only give you food, but give you an appetite to partake of it; and not only give you an appetite to partake of it, but give you nourishment by it. He does all that is good, all that is kind, all that is precious, to the souls He receives.
III. But now to the point of the theme of His preaching for a little while. Blessings on His name that those grace-taught souls who are brought to Him and gathered thus to His footstool are to be instructed and taught by Him. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord." (Isa. 54:13; John 6:45) And here we must take a little scope. He "spake unto them of the kingdom of God." I do wish from my heart that all preachers would imitate Him. If all preachers would but take a lesson out of His sermons, we should hear far less about the creature and more about Him and His preciousness. "He spake unto them of the kingdom of God." He does not seem to have said a word about their poverty, nor their wretchedness, nor their destitution, no, nor their sinfulness, but "He spake unto them of the kingdom of God." Now, I know it is a delicate piece of carrion to some preachers to talk half an hour or more about the depravity of human nature. I could not bear to get up to my middle in that cesspool, I had rather get on Ezekiel's pulpit of wood and preach the gospel of God. I have quite enough of what pertains to old Adam nature to contend with day by day. But the preaching of Christ, and you cannot have a better pattern, was about the kingdom of God. And I shall detain you with four particulars about the kingdom of God which all His sent servants are commanded to preach. The first is vitality, we will not have a deathly kingdom; the second is its subjects; the third is its laws; and the fourth shall be its eternal duration. "These are blessed things," say you, "where is this kingdom?" You must not look for it in Spain, or England, or France, or anywhere nationally. It is vitality. It is said to be "not meat and drink;" it is not forms and ceremonies, it is not superstition, it is not water, it is not material bread; it consists not in priestly arrogance, much less in the oppression that priests generally use. It consists in something vital. Hear the description of it, without further negatives, it is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." What? did Jesus preach a Divine righteousness; Yes, He said, "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in nowise enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 5:20) There He is speaking of the kingdom of God, and insisting in the first place, that the righteousness must be real, vital, and supernatural, perfect and sinless, His own righteousness imputed to all His servants. Then again, there is "peace" proclaimed as part of His preaching to His people. He is the Prince of peace, and the very first proclamation that ushered Him into the world was, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14) The apostle speaking of Him says, that He is our peace. He commanded His disciples when they went into a house that they should first say, "Peace be to this house." So that He preached peace as a part of the kingdom of God. And what is that peace? Simply the reconciliation that takes place between the sinner and God, bowing the sinner's heart to God's plan of saving him, and bringing down the love-tokens of Jehovah to his soul for personal participation. Then there is peace, when there is a consciousness that his sin is forgiven him, that there is a righteousness put upon him, and there is a holy intimacy kept up between him and Jehovah. So that our precious Lord gives this as the vitality of His kingdom. And then it is followed by "joy in the Holy Ghost." It is something beyond peace, "joy." The world cannot understand it, much less receive it. It is supernatural, it is a participation of heaven, it is a joy which commences eternal glory. But it is "in the Holy Ghost." So that while the righteousness is accepted of the Father, being a Divine righteousness, imputed to us and appropriated by our faith, the peace of God centers in Christ, "He is our peace," and we stand complete in Him. And then it is the office, and work, and ministry of the Holy Ghost to create a heavenly joy, and command us to rejoice always in the Lord, and again to rejoice. This is the kingdom of God in its vitality. What a different thing to man's inventions concerning it! What a different thing to the superstitions and formalities of human laws and the high pretensions of dignitaries who would fain be counted something by fellow-mortals. It is quite another sort of kingdom. And hence our beloved Lord said, "My kingdom is not of this world."
Then again, He would preach about the subjects and the occupants of this kingdom. Who are they? I will only detain you with one remark concerning them, and that is, they are all of them heaven-born. Unto as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God; even to as many as believed on His name who are born" (this is the description of the occupants of this kingdom), "who are born not of blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12,13) So He preached unto Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" cannot be an occupant, cannot be a subject of Divine and sovereign grace. And it is this very importance of these heaven-born subjects being clearly understood and known that has made Satan so bitter against the doctrine of regeneration. It is this that has stirred him up from the lowest depths of the bottomless pit to go into the hearts of the modern priesthood, for the purpose of crying down the doctrine of regeneration, and putting it into the water that drops from the priest's fingers, instead of the Spirit of God. There is nothing more devilish under heaven than the attempt to destroy the doctrine of regeneration by the power of the Holy Ghost. I wish I could find stronger language, and I would insist upon it that the devil's masterpiece on earth is the doctrine of water regeneration. But the subjects of His kingdom, are all born from above with a heavenly capacity, a holy principle, the life of God in their souls, capable of enjoying Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, in daily communion and fellowship, feeding on heavenly provision, clothed in heavenly robes, yea, taught by a heavenly Teacher, the Holy Ghost teaching them all things and bringing all things to their remembrance, attended by heavenly servants, for angels are ministering spirits to them, destined for a heavenly home, for Jesus has gone before to prepare a place for them. These are the subjects of the kingdom of God.
Moreover, He spake to them of its laws. And here much might be cited from His own preaching, and likewise from His parables, which He constantly used. But He told the Pharisees in plain words (I do not wonder that His preaching was offensive, and I do not wonder that mine is), "Publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of God instead of you." (Matt. 21:31) How solemn! He was not disposed to sanction nor to parley with the sinfulness of publicans and harlots, but stated the fact, that the crimes and conduct of Pharisees were worse, and put them further off from the kingdom of God. Now, with regard to the laws of the kingdom of God, let me just sum them up briefly. The first is, the law of life, of which the apostle speaks, "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (Rom. 8:2) There is a law, a law to give life to them that are dead. And therefore, the Son of God, preaching this law, says, "The hour is coming, and now is, in which the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25) Moreover, it was a perpetual life, a life that could never die. "He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die;" and again, "He that believeth in me hath everlasting life." That is the life He preached. Then there is the law of liberty. And the apostle James was led to speak of it in this manner, "Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty (that is the gospel dispensation), and continueth therein, the same being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this man is blessed in his deed" (James 1:25)not for it. So that the kingdom of God has liberty, just that which Jesus was sent to proclaim, and which all His sent servants proclaim as He did, liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison door to them that are bound. This was most beautifully typified by the jubilee trumpet under the Mosaic dispensation, the very sound of which was liberty. The gospel trumpet is our jubilee trumpet. It is the proclaiming of liberty to the captives. Moreover, there is the law of love. How I wish this were put in force more! "This is my commandment (or law), that ye love one another." What a lovely kingdom must this be! Life, liberty, and love, its prominent laws! Look to it, beloved, how far this last-mentioned law is obeyed, is regarded, is practiced, by you and me! Oh! the vast importance of it among the followers of the Lamb! that they should love one another with a pure heart fervently! How lamentable when there is a lack of this! There are some Christians that one would think had become outlaws, they manifest no love to each other at all. I cannot understand their Christianity, I confess. The subjects of Christ's kingdom are loyal to His laws and institutions, and none is more precious to them than the law of love. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in love!" Do you see the likeness of Christ there? Do you mark the Spirit of Christ there? Do you recognize the work of Christ there? Then in loving it you are loving Him, and in withholding your love, you are withholding it from Him. Oh! the vast importance of obeying the laws of Christ. One more I must mention, which seems to sum them up, the law of faith. This He constantly preached. "If ye believe not in me, believe in Him that sent me." "He that believeth hath everlasting life." "Believest thou that I am able to do this?" My hearer, the law of faith runs through the whole of the statute-book of God's laws. It is the law of faith that recognizes and enjoys the life bestowed, it is the law of faith that makes a proper use of the liberty into which a Christian is introduced, and says, "Use not your liberty as a cloke of maliciousness, but by love secure one another." It is the law of faith that moves the principle of love, for faith and love are mentioned generally together in New Testament language, as if they were twins. Oh! the importance of the exercise of living faith. And what is faith in its principles and in its settings? As a principle (and men generally confuse the principle and the actings), it must be spoken of as the grace of the Holy Spirit; in its actings it may be spoken of as trusting, as accepting, as receiving, as walking, as working, as fighting, as conquering, and as laying hold of eternal life. What a law is this law of faith! Examine it well, beloved, for "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Now look over this for a moment longer, while we glance at its influence, nay, I had almost said the key and index to all other laws contained in the precious Word of God, the principle of faith dwelling in the soul and acting according to the direction of the precious Word of God. You must allow me here a parenthesis. They have no knowledge, or seem to have none, of the difference between the word faith, and the word believe. They might know that they are different parts of speech. While faith is the principle, believing is the acting of it, and they must not be confounded. The law of faith is Jesus' imparting in the soul, for Jesus is both "the author and the finisher of our faith" but the seizing, the running, the tasting, the fighting, the conquering, and so on, are all spoken of in His precious Word as the actings of faith, and I beg of my hearers always to keep up a close and strict attention to the difference between the principle and the actings of it. My eye may exist without my seeing; if my lids are closed over it, it is still my eye, my seeing is another matter; let me open my eye, and I can see. I just name this, that you may see the difference between the law, and the carrying out of that law. The law of faith is the principle imparted in the soul; the act of believing is the use of that law with regard to all that is spiritual and all that is temporal, all that is within, and all that is without.
A word more. He spake to them of the kingdom of God, and He did not lose sight of its eternity. This is quite an old-fashioned doctrine, and we like (as we read in the chapter) to restore the old wastes and the desolations of the past generations. And therefore, I would just turn your attention to the second chapter of the book of Daniel, in which the prophet is directed to say "In the days of these kings (speaking of the kings mentioned in the prophecy) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." Mark that, it is "an everlasting kingdom." "It shall stand for ever." Whatever monarchs may rise, and reach their meridian glory, and decay, and perish, and be known no more, here is a kingdom that shall last for ever. The very same truth is given unto us in the seventh chapter by the same prophet, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Now, these two quotations from the prophet Daniel are surely sufficient to mark, that it is an old-fashioned doctrine, that the kingdom of Christ, the Son of man, is of ancient date and of eternal duration. All its principles must last for ever. "His righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end." (Ps. 119:142; Isa. 9:7)
Moreover, "the joy of the Holy Ghost," commencing on earth, is to last to all eternity; and therefore it is said, "They shall come again with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads." Oh, blessed prospect for a heaven-born soul! I sometimes long to get home to it, I sometimes long to ascertain, in personal experience, what this consummation must mean. To have "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," all consummated, eternally in exercise, without interruption, without medium, without cloud. "An everlasting kingdom." If you go down as far as the closing up of the Scripture canon in the book of the Apocalypse, you will find that all His subjects are made "kings and priests unto God and His Father, and shall reign with Him for ever and ever." Bright and blessed prospect!
IV. There is one more point that I must detain you a little upon; and that is, the saving power He put forth. "He healed them that had need of healing." I beseech you here to mark the first point in this closing part of our subject. The "need of healing" must be felt. And here I come to the point with which I first set out. Have you any need of healing? It is for every one's conscience to decide whether you have any need of healing, not whether you have faith enough, joy enough, likeness, to Christ. But have you any need of healing? Have you ever found out that "the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint" that "from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot there is no soundness, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores?" There is need of healing then. Have you ever felt deeply the malady within, that which Solomon, in his prayer, calls "the plague of his heart?" "They shall know every one the plague of his heart." Have you discovered the leprosy of sin? None can heal that but God. Have you found out there have been thousands who have come to Christ with the worst of maladies, some evidently as bad as yours, and He has healed them? "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." (Ps. 103:3) "Oh," say you, "I never found a case so bad as mine!" Very well, then, we shall have a mighty triumph in you, if you will only come to Christ. Only allow that you are the very worst that ever came to His feet; and you shall have more joy in Him by His receiving you. I shall put my case, perhaps, on the other side; but, for the sake of argument, suppose that you consider yourself right if you can. Have you done more to persecute the Church, to hale men and women to prison, than he did? But suppose you just hand Paul a little on one side, and say, "I have gone beyond Saul of Tarsus, and I have come for healing." Do you feel your need of it? "He healeth all that have need of healing." Oh! go to Him with all your maladies, all your sorrows, all your cares, all your spiritual diseases, and see if Jesus does not heal them. "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." (Matt. 8:17) Christ has no incurables in His kingdom. He never turned one out of His hospital as incurable. There is nothing too hard for Him, there is no case too desperate for Him. What I want of my hearers, and what I want of my own soul, is to come to Him. Guilty and helpless, forlorn and undone, to cast ourselves at His feet, with "Lord, save, or I perish." Do not you hear Him saying, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Why, beloved, He was willing an age before you were, and if He has made you willing in the day of His power, (Ps. 110:3) I would say
"He healeth all that have need of healing." Their cases, as I have showed, have been very bad indeed when He received them. And there are a variety of maladies of a spiritual kind which I would myself, and which I would have you bring to Christ, particularly fevers. They are said to be very dangerous and desperate. But you know when Peter's wife mother lay sick of a fever, He had nothing to do but to lay His hand upon her, and the fever left her, and she arose and ministered unto them. Now there are a great many kinds of fevers. I have heard of the yellow fever, and I think that is very prevalent; I mean the feverish thirst after gold, and the praise of vain mortals. If it rages amongst you, go to Jesus, and ask Him to heal you of it. Then there is the fleshly fever; when ungodly tempers have their sway, and carry everything before carnal caprice. Carry it to Jesus, and He will heal it. Then there is a fever I am told called a putrid fever, and very few ever recover from it, if I am rightly informed. Then there is that fever which is most obnoxious to Christ, the free-will fever, and it carries away thousands. Carry it to Jesus, carry to Him all that pertains to the world, to the Church, and to yourself, all those feverish anxieties, all those fretful anxieties of soul about Providence, and the concerns of the soul, and persons and parties; carry all these feverish things to Christ, and He shall do by them as He did by Jarius's daughter, heal them with a word. My hearers, one word from Jesus heals all manner of diseases, all manner of guilt, seals forgiveness to the heart, gives health and life to the soul, and trains it up for the enjoyment of everlasting glory.
One word about the terms, and I will close. What are the terms? They are very high indeed. Well then, say you, I despair, for I am very poor. Yes, they are very high indeed, so high, that He will heal none, pardon none, without a perfect obedience, a spotless righteousness, and a justifying robe. You have not got it! What will you say, then, if I tell you who has got it for you? High as these terms are, so that the law and justice of God shall not be robbed or dishonoured, He has got it all ready for every poor penitent that comes to Him, so that, in point of fact, as viewed with regard to the sinner's position, the terms are very suitable "without money and without price." They come down to the poor, ruined, lost sinner, and give him all he needs, secure to him all he asks, and asks nothing of him in return but a grateful heart, and even that He creates for him by His Holy Spirit.
Should there be a hardened sinner here who thinks he has no need of healing, I must faithfully warn him that the malady of sin will be eternally fatal to him if this good Physician is rejected; yea, the benumbed state of his conscience is the very harbinger of eternal death. O that the Holy Ghost may awaken such from their apathy and enmity, and bring them to Jesus, while He endears Jesus to the hearts of those whom He has healed, and constrains them to spread His fame as they journey onward to that blessed inheritance, the inhabitants of which shall no more say I am sick.
May He graciously apply these remarks to your soul, that the Triune Jehovah may be glorified.