The Family Title
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Lord's day Morning, January 5th, 1851
YOU know it has been customary with me for many years to open the year with an address especially to young people; but as I have not known, week after week, but that each Lord's Day would be my last, and have anticipated it, I really shrank from announcing it. However, there are many young people here this morning, and I shall not forget them, but endeavour to say a few words to them, which I hope God will bless. And the one prominent thing that I should wish to press upon their attention is the leading feature of the apostle Paul's preaching and writing, the distinction between real and counterfeit Christianity. Now, if we read Paul's writings attentively, we find that to be the prominent feature of them, the distinction he incessantly draws between real and counterfeit Christianity. This was his point particularly with the Galatians, who had got among them a set of Judasing teachers, and were fond of Judasing ceremonies, they would make a fine set of Puseylites in our day, and Paul begins to reprove and rebuke them, and talks of their going back to the beggarly elements, wanting the ordinances of circumcision to be continued, that part of the honour might be given to Moses, and only a part to Christ's doing and dying for the salvation of ruined sinners. But Paul was so true, and so full of warm-hearted zeal for his Master, that he would not have Him robbed. He was as faithful to his new Master as he was faithful to the devil when he was Saul of Tarsus. When he changed his Master, or rather when his Master changed him, he says, "My energies are not to be lost, I am not to settle down into gloominess, or into the proud intellectual state of Christianity that modern professors are so fond of." No; those energies which had been so long perverted, were now to be consecrated to Him; and now he writes in this epistle with great severity, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." (Gal. 5:12) In another place he says, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8,9) Now these very strong and decided terms meant something. They meant just this, that everything spurious in Christianity was loathed by his inmost soul, and he would have the Galatians come to the simple point of my text. He tells us (in the 15th verse) that "neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision," (Gal. 5:6; 6:15) or, if you will change the terms to modern inventions and superstitions, "neither baptism nor un-baptism, neither little water nor much water, neither candles, nor crucifixes, nor altars, nor ceremonies, nor bowings, avail anything," they are all nothing less than studied mockeries of God, unless we come to the point of my text. All these avail nothing, "but a new creature."
Now, if on a new year's Lord's day, God should go to work, and make a new creature, I am sure I should not regret having strained every nerve to get once more among you. "A new creature." The great difference between the bulk of professors and real Christians is this, the former are patched, and mended, and decorated, and ornamented, and transformed; nay, not transformed, but rather changed, or metamorphosed into the appearance of something that they are not. They have the name in most instances, they have the doctrines in some instances, a tolerably correct life, not a few talents put forth, not a few ceremonies performed, but still there is no vitality. Now, I will just repeat the verse in your hearing before I come to the text, and remind you, that "in Christ Jesus," in the salvation that is in Him, in the matter pertaining to His eternal glory and our own everlasting redemption, all those things, all these things "avail nothing, but a new creature."
Will you bear with a familiar simile before I enter immediately on my text? Suppose that in some of our Sunday Schools the children had a doll that they had nursed and dressed very prettily, after their own fashion, and some one had beaten it, and bruised it, and torn its dress, and then painted it again, and put it on a new dress, they could not say it was a new doll, it would only be a mended one. This is just the character of religion in our dayit has no new life. It is beaten, bruised, and torn to rags, what is to be done? It is patched up again, and a new shape and appearance is given to it.
Now we will turn away from these, and come to the language of the text. They avail nothing, and are worth nothing. I should like to see a wagon load of them burnt, they avail nothing. What, then, does avail? "A new creature." Now do not let us have anything more to do with these superstitions, let us come to the close investigation of this point. First of all, the title of a real Christian, he is "a new creature;" then, secondly, the household which all such new creatures constitute; then, thirdly, their employments and their destiny. If my strength holds out, I mean to throw these things open to your view as clearly as I can.
I. The first feature of our discourse must, if God will, have the largest share of our attention, because it brings us to glance at the workmanship of God; and the great point of distinction, which the simplest capacity in the world, the merest boy or girl who can but just read the Bible, may surely comprehend it, Who made my Christianity? If I were to ask any child, of ten or twelve years of age, "Who made you?" he would say, "The God that made heaven and earth." Very true; he has been taught it is his catechism. If I were to follow that by a second question, "Who made your Christianity?" he would perhaps say, "My father and mother, my godfathers and godmothers." What lying stuff! What a ridiculous perversion of God's truth! All your fathers and mothers, and godfathers and godmothers, can make no religion for you but what will send you to hell. They may make a religion that will give you morality, God does not say anything against that; they may make you a religion that may be instrumental in the hand of God in deterring you from multitudes of evils around you, but as for the salvation of your souls, your redemption from eternal destruction, and your capacity to enjoy God's eternal glory, none can do it but God the Holy Ghost Himself; and therefore it is set down in the word of God, "We are His workmanship." (Eph. 2:10) Very well. I like the workmanship of the schoolmaster very well, if he does as he ought to do, and trains his boys and girls in a way that shall do him great credit; but it will not do to put it alongside of God's workmanship, because the schoolmaster cannot create them anew. He may shape them, and train them, and drill them, and may do much with their natural intellect, but he cannot make them new creatures. Now you know the pith or my text, "a new creature," or a new creation.
Now when Jehovah takes the grand matter in hand to people, the old materials are passed by, a new life is bestowed, another nature is imparted, the life of God by regeneration is infused into the soul. "What!" say you, "the old nature passed by?" Yea, altogether, until it begins to kick and strive against it, and then the new nature is set to war with it, and through mighty grace will conquer and subdue it.
I want my hearers, young people particularly, to investigate this matter very closely. "Has Jehovah put into my soul a life, a spirit, a capacity I did not once possess?" In a long dialogue which I had the other day with a person of fine parts and talents, we came at length to this point. "The grand difference between us," he said, addressing me, "lies in this, you think that every real Christian is inspired by the Spirit of God." "Certainly I do," I replied. "I believe," he said, "that the things of Christianity are brought down to our reasoning powers." "Well then," I said, "thinking so, living and dying so, you will perish; for my Bible says in express terms, 'The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned;' (1 Cor. 2:14) and consequently every child of Adam who has no spiritual discernment cannot discern spiritual things." What else can be the meaning of such passages as, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believeth not," (2 Cor. 4:4) and this too with the express view "lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine into them?" Do I not see it written as with a sunbeam, that it is the god of this world that hath blinded their minds? Their minds may be clearly illumined in every science, in every department of literature, in all that mechanism can open to the understanding; they may have minds instructed, and trained, and enlightened in all these things; and yet the god of this world have blinded them, lest the light of the glorious gospel of the blessed God (of which He Himself holds the prerogative) should shine into their hearts. And that other Scripture comes in exactly to confirm this "God, that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts to give us "it was not there before" to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Now this is the word of God. The very method and plan was appointed and predestinated by God the Father as a covenant engagement, with security, and the removing of every barrier out of the way was the stipulation of God the Son, and the immediate operation that communicates life Divine is the work of the Holy Ghost. Therefore it is written, "It is God that worketh in you to will and to do of His own good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13) Now you are distinctly to mark that I find no fault with what is called the march of intellect; I find no fault with the pressing forward of the present generation for the attainment of science or literature; but what I find fault with is their putting it into religious molds, or putting religion into the mold of it. Let things that differ appear to differ. To manufacture that which is produced out of material, and to produce something without material, are two different things. Now when God first put religion into my heart some forty-five of forty-six years ago, there was not an atom of material. True, I had common sense, and common education, and common morality, and most godly parents to train me; but I had no more religion than the posts in the street. He had nothing to work upon, but everything to work against. About the time that God called me no one could charge me with an immoral act. I think I could say that anywhere. But when God shone into my heart, oh, the blackness, the deformity, the vileness, the utter destitution of everything like Christianity that was at once discoverable! Did I say at once? No, gradually discoverable. Then what followed? Why, the light, and the life, and the discernment, and the capacity, were all implanted, all new. Do you remember what is said of our precious Redeemer? "He that sitteth upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." (2 Cor. 5:17) That is not the way the devil makes Christians. He goes to work to alter that, and amend that and change the other, and dress up the other, and make some sort of Christianity; but when Jehovah comes forth to work, He creates all things new.
Now let us just go on to mark, that this work of God, the new creation, is opposed to all counterfeits. I confess, for my own part, I have arrived at that standing, that I do not care much about opposing anything, unless I can discover that it is counterfeit. Real Christians, new creatures, may differ from me if they like, one may like a steeple better than I do, another may like a pool better than I do, very well, I do not like either, but I will not quarrel with them about these things, I do not care to oppose them, I have had my day at that. My point is this, that if I come to a spurious counterfeit, I will do all I can to destroy it. I have seen instances in which official characters, in the Bank of England for instance, have discovered a counterfeit guinea in olden times, I recollect presenting one quite unknown to me, and they would not give it back to me, but deliberately chopped it in pieces, and I was forced to be content with the loss. So when we meet with any counterfeit Christianity let us chop it to pieces, not by an personal act of cruelty, but let us show its adherents its absurdity, and its hostility to God in attempting to take God's work out of His own hands, and put them in contrast with His work. You will find that directly real Christianity takes possession of a poor sinner's heart, its opposition is immediately stirred; and though I may not charge the Christian with being the first mover in it, I am sure the worldling will not be behind at it. He will begin to pick a quarrel, to find fault in every possible way, carnal relatives, carnal employers, worldlings of all descriptions, just summoning up, though not intentionally, the graces of the Spirit in the experience and character of the followers of the Lamb. Now you know, that the poor thing to whom I am referring, or rather, the rich thing, the new creature, while in his former state he could be bent, and twisted, and dressed up to any form, and shape, or appearance, that might appear to his temporal advantage, and change his religion every day, cannot know yield, cannot alter his dress, he has got on the imputed righteousness of the Son of God, and he will not allow it to be torn from him, nor will he change it away, no, nor can you alter his education, he is every day taught of God, and is getting to greater and greater proficiency. What is the result? Why, "he that is born after the flesh persecutes him that is born after the Spirit." (Gal. 4:29) Therefore, look out for it. I know there are circumstances of a peculiar kind, in which many of the Lord's children are wonderfully screened for some time, but they will find it out by-and-bye, as they go on. And this is to mark their distinction, just amounting to what my Lord said concerning them when He prayed for them "They are not of the world, but I have chosen them out of the world, therefore, the world hateth them." (John 15:19) You see it is not my sentiment, it is my Master's, it is not my doctrine, it is the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ, which He uniformly preached and set forth. Well then, I tell you, who have any evidence of this work of grace in your souls, that you may look for opposition from the world. The world will love its own, but, "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Without dwelling longer on this point, I should like to lead on your attention to the real characteristics and capacities of the Lord's family. His workmanship, the "new creature." As to its prominent characteristic, and I do not know whether I shall mention more than one, It is spirituality. As to its capacity, it is a capacity to enjoy God. Its real, distinguishing, regenerate capacities lie in these two things prominently. He is a spiritual Person. "To be carnally minded is death;" like the images I have adverted to, "but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Then I find, and have found wherever I have moved since I knew the Lord, that if I come across worldly professors the less spiritual conversation and exercise I have with them the better, an external acknowledgment of things may do very well, but if I come across a new creature, a soul newly created by omnipotent grace, the more spiritual the conversation the better he likes it; he is very fond of entering into the heights, and depths, the lengths, and breadths of eternal love; and marking Jehovah's spiritual operations in his own soul, and comparing them with the descriptions of those operations in the word of God, and then coming to the conclusion that "as in water face answereth to face," so does the heart of one new-made Christian to another. He has got the family likeness. This is what I mean by spirituality. I will carry this a little further. It is not only a spiritual conversation, but a holy habit of life. The new creature is not in his element but when he is thirsting after and pursuing something for soul profit. I know that a man, while occupying this mortal body, must pursue his worldly avocations, and "provide things honest in the sight of all men," but it will be for you to decide whether the latter pursuit is your element or the former. With the new creature the latter is the necessity, the former is the element; and he will go to his own company, and his element will be in the growth, advancement, feasting, and happiness of a spiritual existent in the soul. Now, if I may revert for a moment under the point I have just now alluded to, of a conversational description, the man wishing all Christianity to be brought down to human intellect and natural capacity, to comprehend, understand, and do as he likes with it, I present before such an one's view a striking passage, and there are two or three similar "I pray God that your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless to the day of the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:23) Now such a man as I have adverted to could not use that prayer. Such men profess to have no more than a soul and body. Now I profess to have a soul and body by creation, how far they have been cultivated is another matter, but I profess also to have a spiritual existence, the life of God within; and this is the spiritual capacity to which I refer. Then I beg of you to mark, that this spiritual capacity rises very high. It is the reigning principle. "Grace reigneth through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom. 5:21) and the soul that is thus newly created is capable of enjoying the paternal love of God the Father, he is capable of enjoying fellowship and communion with God the Son in His official character, in His doing and dying, as said the apostle, "having fellowship with His sufferings" he is capable of enjoying the presence, and teaching, and comforts of God the Holy Ghost in his habitual anointings. Nay, such is the capacity of this new creature (Oh, that God may write these things upon the hearts of the dear youths before me, that they may never forget them), that Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit dwell in him, walk in him, work in him, and talk with him. There is such a thing you know as talking with God. Abraham talked with Him as a man talketh with his friend. There is such a thing as having "our fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." There is such a thing (God Almighty give us to taste more of it) as the Holy Spirit's talking to us in His own promises, in His sweet whispers, in His love-tokens, in His testimony of Christ and of our souls, talking with Him with earnest supplication, with the breathings which He Himself has inspired, within our souls, and talking with Jesus in His union and Headship with His Church, and even assuming the very boldness of calling Him "My beloved and my friend." (Songs 5:16) This is the capacity of the new creature. And then, when by this one Spirit, through this one Mediator, that soul finds access to the throne, and gets to the bosom of paternal love, and looking intensely within the vail by faith, exclaims, "Doubtless thou art my Father;" and the Father says, yes, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee;" (Jer. 31:3) that love is shed abroad in the heart, it breathes forth its fervour into the very bosom whence it came, the bosom of Deity, and there is a holy interchange of loves between the eternal God and the new creature He has formed.
Now, my hearers, what do you know about this? What think you of these sacred capacities and capabilities? What think you of the distinction I have drawn between a living child and a doll? I pray God that the contrast may not be considered too strong or too low. Only read your Bibles (the 115th Psalm for instance, gives you the very same things), and then ask the question, what sort of Christianity is yours?"
Now let me mark one thing more before I quit this head; for to me it has been most important. This new creature is sure to be known, go where he will. Some folks are very fond of secret religion, I was forty years ago; but it must come out by and bye. You are sure to be known by all worlds. You know it is said of our precious Master in some instances, that He got away from the multitude and concealed Himself, and went hither and thither, or they would have taken Him and made Him a king; but it is added in one place very emphatically, "He could not be hid." You may try and cover it as long as you will, but it cannot be hid. I will set you young folks a little task, if you mean to hide your religion. I would have you get a nice bundle of dry straw, and carefully make a cavity in it, thrust into it a good lighted torch. The torch would be hid; you could not see it, but it would be but a very few moments before it would burn its way out. I cannot be hid for long, nor can you; if you have the life of God in the soul, it will as soon burn up your wood, hay, stubble, and straw, as it exists. The world will see it, for you will be incapable of their fooleries, and they will be incapable of your enjoyments. The Church will see it, and they will say, "This is a dear child of God just born, let us nurse it;" and they will be very glad to do so. Ministers will see it, and you cannot conceive how they rejoice when a soul is created anew in Christ Jesus under the ministry of the word, especially if they have been the means of putting the torch in the middle of the straw; the devil will see it, and will send forth all his fiery darts; the angels will see it, and will come forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit will see it. The Father will say, there is an object of my paternal love; the Son will say, there is the purchase of my blood; the Holy Ghost will say, there is the workmanship of my hands. You cannot be hid, real godliness must be known and read in all worlds. Have you not read, "Ye are our epistles, known and read of all men?" God Almighty say to you as He did to His Church of old by Isaiah, "That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. (Isa. 49:9)
II. Now having got through this part of the subject, I would invite your attention to the household which these new created beings constitute. "A new creature." What a blessed household they will be! There will be none in it but new creatures; every thing cast out that offends, or that worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie, no unclean thing shall enter therein. But even now while on earth, the only living Church of God is constituted of these new creatures. People talk a great deal about free churches. Ah! if I were to speak about them, I should say some very severe things; but as I told you before, that is not my point this morning. But I can venture to say that you may look among them and through them all, and there are none from the Vatican to the dungeon that belong to God's living Church, but those whom He has created. They are His Church, and they alone. Do not tell me what is the form of their creed, or their rubric, or their names and titles; I am surfeited with it all, let me have a new creature. Keep to the language of the foregoing part of the verse, all these things avail nothing in Christ Jesus, but "a new creature." I will give whatever is due to the exercise of man's mind, and attainments, and knowledge, in choosing minor things; but to constitute a Church of God, I do deny that there can be a member of it but of God's workmanship. I do deny that there can be one that He will own at last, but such as I have been attempting to describe; and therefore I exhort and entreat my hearers to examine this point very closely, Is my Christianity the work of God, or is it not? If it is not, He will not own it at the last. I suppose most of you have read that solemn warning of our Lord, where He says He will declare at last to some, "Depart from me, I never knew you." Why any man will know his own workmanship; and I am sure God will know His. But there will be many who will say, "Lord, we have prophesied in thy name, and thou hast taught in our streets; and in thy name we have done many wonderful works." "I never knew you," (Matt. 7:22,23)is the reply. Oh the horror that must thrill through a lost soul, at hearing this one short sentence! It is hell begun, to last to all eternity, for Jesus to say, "I never knew you." Examine yourselves then. Do you know Him? Have you been brought into intimacy with Him? The living Church of the living God He will own. He will say, "I knew these, they cost me my blood; I knew these, I sent my spirit to take possession of their hearts; I knew these, the Father gave them to me; I knew these, they have often and long been intimate with me." What a contrast! Who are they? The living new creatures of Christ's own workmanshipnew creatures, that have been created anew by God Himself. Look well to this point I pray you, in these days of solemn events. Do not concern yourselves so much about what Church, as it is termed, you belong to, nominally among men; but come to this one close point, Do I belong to the living Church of the living God? Am I His temple? Does Jehovah dwell in me, and walk in me? Have I reached the standing which the apostle John was taught to set down, "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him?" If I were to use language like this, you might think me extravagant; but it is Bible language, it is God's language, and therefore I present it to you as a touchstone and standard to try your Christianity by. The one living family of the living God, which shall consist of a multitude that no man can number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, to appear before the throne of God for ever.
What a contrast does this Scriptural representation of the household of faith form to ridiculous prating of Papists and Puseylites, about the Church, the Church, as if bricks and stones constituted the Church! or, what is more arrogant and impudent, supposing that a carnal priesthood, and, in many instances, Infidel priests, are the Church. Nothing but the most shameless effrontery can make such false assumptions, nothing but the most degrading ignorance can bow down to them; yet these hardened blasphemers, these abominable idolaters, who have waded our land to set up Antichrist, dare to tell their dupes that their vile hierarchy (which is really an Atheistical Conspiracy against God, and a political conspiracy against man), is the oldest Church, yea, the only Church, an assumption which the priests themselves do not believe, but try to make their vassals believe it, for the sake of plunder. Oh! when will God open the eyes of the people to discover this infamous cheat, and to escape from this most awful degradation. My dear young friends, you are just now rising into life, I am just about to quit it; I may not live on earth to see the cup of abominations which is held in the hand of the MOTHER OF HARLOTS, filled to the brim with her filthiness, but many of you may. Then shall "great Babylon come in remembrance before God to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath." (Rev. 16:19) Then remember my words: No child of Adam will then be owned as belonging to God's Church, but such as are created anew in Christ Jesus by the operation of the Holy Ghost; but all these shall make up the complete household of God, when Popery and Infidelity (the dragon and the beast), shall be destroyed for ever. Read your Bibles prayerfully, and be not deceived by any artifices of priestcraft, be not dazzled with the pomp and glare of proud pretenders, nor with altars, candles, pictures, and images; but think, and learn from God's own word while you have it, that real Christianity consists not in material things, but in the life of God in the soul, "the new creature." This, and this only, will abide the hour of temptation which is coming upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth; yea, this only will stand the test of the day of judgment.
Go a step further. This family, this one only Church of the living God, is the family entrusted to the charge of their glorious elder Brother and covenant Head, and I should be very sorry if any of them were trusted elsewhere. "Thine they were," are His own words, "and thou gavest them me." Now mark what He says, "They have kept thy word." "All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." (John 17:6,10) Do you see, beloved, what a wonderful difference such passages of Scripture as these make, between real godliness, and the flippant thing that passes under the name of Christianity now-a-days? Examine them closely, and do not be imposed on by counterfeits any longer, either in pulpits or pamphlets, but look well to your own state. Get alone as soon as you can after this service, and cry out in the language of a poet, which I once felt of deep importance to me when quite a youth, and just beginning to seek the Lord
And if you cannot go without the "if," go with it, and send up that poetical breathing to the throne of God. The elect family, the only living Church of God, being committed to the care, and superintendence, and responsibility of Christ, was obeyed for by Him, was atoned for by Him, was redeemed by Him from all iniquity, is presented by Him within the veil, now as their forerunner; they are demanded by Him "I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold thy glory," (John 17:24) and they shall reign with Him in glory through all eternity.
III. I will, if I am able, in the evening, say a little about what it cost Him to do all this for His family, but for the present, I must pass on to say a few words in the third place about the employments and the destiny of these new creatures. If they are God's own He is sure to take care of them. Now you know anything that a man thinks proper to make, he has generally an end or employment for. If a man makes a spade, it is to dig with, if he makes a knife, it is to cut with, the idea of an end, an object, and employment seem to me inseparable from the idea of making something.
Now if God has made you a new creature, the first end and employment He has in view, is the glory of His own name. "Ye are not your own," says the apostle, "but ye are bought with a price, wherefore, glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits, which are God's." Again, "Whether ye eat of drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks to His name." I beseech you, look well to this, through the history of your life, since you have had reason to believe that God has made you a new creature. Has every movement in life, every transaction of business, every connection and association you have formed, every object you have ardently pursued, however in themselves perfectly innocent and harmless, and even honourable, had as their direct, their ultimate object, the glorifying of God? That is a very fair way to put it, whether all is intended for His honour. Reduce it to a narrow compass, for this would lead me far too wide, and bring it to your Christianity, and ask whether in every doctrine you hold, you keep this one point in view, whether God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is glorified. Whatever seeks the praise of men, whatever thirsts after human fame, is not like the work of the new creature, is not like the employment God has intended for him. That employment is the exaltation of Christ, the glorifying of Jehovah's name, as our Father and our God, and the referring of all efficiency and power to the mighty influence and invincible ministry of the Holy Ghost, instead of handling it over to proud free-will to put upon His head. I will not allow such robbery, but must insist, that in all things God must be glorified through Christ Jesus.
Look again, for a moment, at the very salvation of the soul itself. More ought to be said and taught about the perfections of Deity being glorified when I get home, than the mere fact of my escaping hell and getting into rest. The latter is glorious to me, but the former is glorious to Him. The latter is only glorious for a worm, the former is glorious for self-existent Deity. Moreover, among the employments, and the end of God's new creation, is the obtaining of spiritual blessings. I borrow this from Paul's expression, when he says, "I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain (well, then, there is something to obtain) the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10)that is the possession and enjoyment of it. Hence Paul said he thought himself sadly behind; he wanted to be sent to drill to learn a little more, for he had not much attainment. Now, says he, it is "not as if I had apprehended, or already attained" I have not attained what my soul is thirsting after "but this one thing I do, forgetting that are behind, and pressing forward to those that are before, I follow after if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." He wanted to obtain more knowledge, more conformity to the image of Christ, more love to his blessed Master, more usefulness in the vineyard of his Master, and more devotedness to His glory. Is this your point? Are you, a new creature, employed thus in God's vineyard? Then do you ask how every day is employed for such a purpose?
One thing more, and I close, the destiny. I dwell upon that with especial delight, and it fires my soul with sacred joy. What is it? Why just to dwell with my God. I do not want any other explanation. I know I must enter heaven to understand it. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9) I well know that the securities are with Him, and the pledges are given by Him, that the promises are yea and amen concerning it. "Where I am, there shall my servants be?" I know very well that him that overcometh shall sit down with Him upon His throne; for His own word has said it; but what the extent of the glory it would be impossible for finite capacities to comprehend. Suffice it for us that "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." Suffice it for us that the descriptions given in His word must be fully carried out. No sighing, no sorrowing, because no sinning there. No unclean thing, no tempting devil, no harassing world, no rising corruption, no old-Adam nature to war against, an eternal, uninterrupted scene of bliss and glory. That is where God means to put His new creature; that is where He will place all whom His has formed for Himself. But while they are on the road, He says they show forth my praise; for I have formed them for that purpose. And if you are enabled to show forth His praise as long as you are in the wilderness, you need not hesitate for one moment to believe that you, as well as I, will be favoured to join in the loudest hosanna's round about the throne, and everlastingly vie with each other in shouting, "To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory for ever and ever." (Rev. 1:5,6) Amen.
Now, beloved, suffer me to urge upon you, at the opening of the new year, the most vigilant and scrupulous self-examination; especially you, my young friends, take the advice of the Holy Ghost, by the apostle, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13:5) It will be an awful thing to be wrong at last, and to find out your deception when it is too late. I fear that many have thought themselves on the road to heaven, and hugged their delusions until they have dropped into hell; and many more have gone down to the caverns of despair, deceived by their impious priests, who have pretended to give them absolution; but you, I trust, will never degrade the rationality which God has given you, by bowing to such impostors.
May our covenant God condescend to bless these few remarks, and accept thanks for affording me strength to deliver them; yea, may He carry on His new creating work by them, and His holy name shall have all the glory. Amen.