The Gospel Exhibition
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, April 13th, 1851
Ten years ago I delivered a discourse to you from these words, but it does not follow that on that account they are to be abandoned as long as I live. I do not think any one sermon, of the greatest preacher who ever opened his mouth for God, can exhaust the fullness of any one verse of Scripture. However, I have for the most part sought portions of God's word that have not, in earlier times, been brought before your attention, but sometimes God says, No. Moreover, I can conceive, that though many of you were present, and heard that discourse, you have not in possession in your memories, nor even in your notes, all the ideas that were then delivered. Moreover, if you have, I am convinced that God has given me some new ones that I did not then deliver; and let me once more give a view of it, and if you expect the Spirit of the God of heaven to put power into His word, listen to the declaration of Jesus from this text, which He has caused to ring in my ears upon my bed, night and day, for these three days past, and no other: "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." The only reply that I could give to the reiterating of these words to my soul is, "Lord, as long as I am spared to get into this pulpit, I will lift thee up as high as I can, as high as thou shalt give me power to do; and then I shall expect some drawing grace to go forth to bring men to thee."
There have been other points fastened on my attention, which perhaps you will allow me to discuss in my exordium, as I do not want them to enter into the body of the discourse. We are told of the lifting up, or exhibition, of marvellous wonders that are to take place; and, among the rest, those who go to that invention of Jesuitical craft will see large crucifixes, models painted and lifted up, the Virgin Mary relics, and everything that can attract Popish attention and adoration, is the large Zoological Glasshouse full of. A friend of mine told me he saw an immense piece of sculpture, a crucifix, five or six feet high, the other day. "Well," I said, "if they will lift Him up in image, I will lift Him up in reality; if they will lift Him up to deceive the people, and promote idolatry, I will lift Him up as the precious book of God directs me to do."
Then, again, as I pass on, about the lifting up of Jesus in existing modern temples, in the superstitions that are now become even fashionable, one's soul is disgusted. And if I look at the pamphlets and books that are professing to be gospel sermons, (some of which have been sent me this week), announcing the great exhibition, positively the most frothy Paganism, in the most effeminate, paltry style that can be imagined. Now, in looking around me thus, (these were my contemplations on my bed), I said, are there yet a few men found who will lift Him up? There are a parcel of priests, kneeling before a representation of Him, and pouring holy water upon it; but are there any who will lift Him up as Paul did, and as Peter did, and as He Himself proclaimed He should be? "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." And I wept, and poured out my soul unto God, and said, "Suffer me to lift Him up once more." I then looked back upon my forty and more years of labour, (forgive this style of introduction), and said, "How faintly and how feebly have I lifted Him up. I never said half about His essential glory that He is entitled to." And then I cried earnestly for grace, and strength of body, to enable me to lift Him up this morning.
Now I have done with the Zoological Glasshouse, and all the rest of the foolery, that is only intended to lift up and exhibit the pride of man, and I want to lift up and exhibit my God and Saviour.
In the first place, (for there are two points to which I wish to invite your attention), we will regard, with a little close investigation, the hypothesis, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth." It was not doubtful with Christ, whether He should be lifted up or not, still He puts it in this hypothetical form to mark the vast importance of this being done. Then I shall invite your attention to the end that must be infallibly accomplished thereby, the drawing of all men to Him.
I. Now, in the first place, let us look at the hypothesis. I know you will pray for me, that I may have strength enough to deliver this testimony to His precious name. "If I be lifted up." Why it was just before the hour was come. He knew He was to be lifted up from the earth. It was not that He shrunk from it, it was not that He doubted the reality of the thing, it was not that He wished to alter His bargain or covenant, it was not to excite a suspicion in the hearts of His disciples concerning His faithfulness, but it was an if of demonstration. I do not think that little word, "if," in our vocabulary is rightly understood. There are some ifs that point to the impotency of man, and they are sure to be ifs of doubtfulness; and there are some ifs that point to the unbelief of the soul's trust in Christ, as, "If thou wilt thou canst make me clean," If thou canst do anything come and help us." They were ifs of sinful doubt. But this if in my text is an if of demonstration, and might be fairly understood to mean, as surely as I be lifted up from the earth, so surely will I draw all men unto me.
Now I will look at it literally, in the first instance. He was lifted up from the earth as a sufferer, in His suretyship character, in behalf of His Church; and I think no man will dispute that this is the first and literal meaning. I presume you are, most of you, aware of the appalling manner in which the punishment of crucifixion was executed; and one would hardly imagine that a human being could even put it in force, except he were a Papist, and Papists will do everything that is devilish. The victim was stretched on the ground, upon a transverse timber, not nailed upon it after it was erect, but nailed to it while on the ground, and the tenderest parts of his hands and feet pierced with nails. In that position he is to be lifted up. A socket was provided, into which the point, or lower end of the cross, was to drop; and the victim so transfixed was lifted up from the earth, (that is the literal meaning of the text); and, after being so lifted up, he was allowed suddenly to jerk into the socket, tearing the nail-holes in his hands and feet, and causing the very extremity of torture. This Jesus looked to, and He said, "It shall not destroy the effect. I am to be lifted up, and to suffer all that humanity can suffer in behalf of my Church, as her covenant Head, her Surety, her Representative. I have undertaken her cause, I have bound myself under responsibility for her entire and eternal salvation, and I must be lifted up to experience all this suffering, torture, distress, and all deaths in one, in my Church's behalf." He was so lifted up. We shall look at the drawing by-and-bye; and I hope I shall find some amongst you who have powerfully felt it. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
But dwell a moment longer upon this literal transaction. My mind has been imbued with this, perhaps increasingly so, from reading, morning by morning, dear old Dr. Hawker's, "Portions," upon the subject. They are to me most interesting; and as we go on we witness that all this suffering, however inflicted by wicked hands, however accomplished by violence, was voluntarily submitted to by Himself. He could have commanded twelve legions of angels, if He had wanted them, to His rescue; or He could have spoken one omnipotent word, and crushed them all to hell. But it was a voluntary surrender. What! For my soul? What! To rescue me from hell? That I might not feel the jerk of eternal vengeance, plunging me from gulf to gulf in dark despair eternity. Yes, and all for me? Oh, I will lift Him up in another sense presently. Look at this literal sense, and cease to love Him if you can. All glorious Lord! He was made a little lower than the angels expressly for the suffering of death: for had any angel or angels volunteered in the great work, the death of angels would not have done, the suffering must have been in the nature in which the sin was committed. The transgressions were committed in humanity, and therefore Jesus took not upon Him the nature of angels, but He took upon Him the seed of Abraham, to be made in all points like unto His brethren; took upon Him the very nature of His brotherhood, that He might suffer all that law and justice demanded, all that in covenant love and faithfulness He had stipulated for.
Having thus led your attention to this point, let us go on to say a word about a more glorious lifting up. More glorious? I recall the expression. This probably is the most glorious, because of its immense value and importance, for had He not been so lifted up, there had been no salvation. If this corn of wheat had not fallen into the ground and died, it would have remained without fruit, and have been alone to all eternity; and even the Old Testament saints, that had gone to glory, must have been hurled from thence, had He not have been so lifted up. And therefore it is a point of the utmost importance for us to dwell upon, because essential to the salvation of every soul that shall enjoy God for ever. But when I look at the expression of the apostle to the Colossians, if I mistake not, when speaking of His humbling Himself, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, he says, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, (there is an exhibition for you), wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him." But how high? "Up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." I wonder not at the zeal of the memorable Countess of Huntingdon, when in her carriage she heard one of her preachers, preaching in the open air, she got up, and cried out, "Up with Him, up with Him, lift Him higher and higher still." Ah, beloved, if we lose sight of that, if our preaching is not the exalting of Christ, it is nothing worth.
Now we have to look at Christ as lifted up, exalted, after the very manner the apostle has just described, exalted to authority. "Up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." That authority is official. He could not be exalted to more authority essential than He possessed with the Father from everlasting. And when I touch upon these points, I am always very anxious that I should not be mistaken, or suppose that there was an inferiority before this grand transaction, in the essential Deity of Christ to the essential Deity of the Father. Those of you who have heard me some years well know, that this is a point on which I have been very tenacious. When I read, therefore, of His being exalted, and that, too, by God the Father, in consequence of His having humbled Himself, I look at Him in His official authority, as Head of the Church, as her responsible representative, having all the grand matters of salvation and redemption intrusted to His care, and put into His hands. He has never intrusted them to old free will from that day to this, and never will. All are safely put into His hands, and what is the result? Why it is, "He must reign;" and, "He must reign till He hath put all things under His feet." Oh, we will exalt Him, we will lift Him up, we well exhibit Him as far as our voices or pens will extend, and tell all the human race we can compass, that Jesus is the glorious, exalted King of kings and Lord of lords, and that He hath the entire care, management, support, succour, superintendence, supply, and keeping of all His Church. Now, ye trembling little ones, ye fearful souls, such as He used to address when on earth, as, "O ye of little faith, wherefore dost thou doubt?" If thy Jesus is trusted by thee, in the simplest acts of faith, in regard to His being lifted up as the sufferer, and surety, and representative for His people, can you fail to trust Him now He is lifted up in authority over all worlds? Hear His own statement of His lifting up. Appealing to the Father, He says, "Thou hast given me power over all things, that I might give eternal life to as many as thou hast given me." Oh, these three precious gifts! Oh, this beautiful trio of the Bible! I had almost called it the Trinity of the Bible; and so it is. Look, beloved, (I am speaking to the most trembling and feeble of God's children), look at the fact of the Father having given Him power over all flesh in His official capacity authoritatively. Now what things trouble, what things annoy you? What things burden you? Jesus has got power over them all, only go and tell Him about it. Nay, nay, that is not enough. He says, Cast them upon me, "Cast all your care upon Him." Is it men, is it devils, is it corruptions, is it dark providences, is it mysteries, is it sorrows, is it bodily afflictions, even such as I have been enduring? Oh, the blessedness of having a precious burden-bearer to cast them upon, who has power over all things!
Now, beloved, I want you to look well at this point of Jesus' present exaltation, and pursue it closely at home; for although I may not have power to go into extensive illustrations probably God may give them to you. We will proceed to the next particular. "I, if I be lifted up," with the voice of my heralds. Better, better for a man never to account himself a herald of Christ if he is not a lifter up of Christ. Paul was one of those heralds. He said, "I am determined to know nothing else." "What a sameness there must have been in his preaching," some modern critics would say;" Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." Ay, and he was determined to know nothing else, save, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Well, then, the voice of every God-sent preacher, whether he be evangelist or pastor, the voice of every one whom God sends must be employed for this purpose. I am really annoyed at some of the insulting things that are sometimes sent to me by post, (I look upon them as nuisances, they generally go behind the fire, but of course I look at them to see what they are), puffing up the creature, and deifying intellect, and so on; but when I look at the proper use of a preacher's voice, to proclaim Christ's Person, Christ's official character, Christ's perfect work, Christ's finished redemption, Christ's eternal relationship, and Christ's high exaltation at the Father's right hand, there is something to warm the heart and comfort the soul of the regenerated child of God. If I speak of His Person, He is, "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His Person," "Over all, God blessed for evermore," one with the Father in every perfection and attribute. If I speak of His official character, I have a host of appellations presented to my view in His own precious word, such as Surety, Substitute, Mediator, Advocate, Daysman, Husband, Brother, Friend, and all the rest of the beautiful appellations and relationships that are set forth in His precious word; in every one of which, mind you, He must have the pre-eminence, and He must be lifted up. There is not such another Mediator, then He must be lifted up; there never was such another Surety, He must be lifted up; never such another Husband, (though there are some among mortals who get the name of a good husband, and some who get the name of a good wife, God multiply them), but there never was such a Husband as Christ, none like Him who stooped from the glory of His throne to marry poor, ruined humanity. If we speak of Him as a Brother, He is, "born for adversity;" He sticketh closer than any other brother, and therefore He must and shall be lifted up. So of all the offices and characters He sustains. If we speak of Him in His perfect work, we must lift Him up; we must not allow that there is a blemish in Him, or that there is a defect in Him. We must not allow that His righteousness and finished work is any other than that which His garment symbolized, without seam from top to bottom, and none of the free will sempstresses are to put a stitch in it. It is a perfect and everlasting righteousness, and shall abide for ever. If we speak of His redemption, we read expressly that it is, "eternal," and we lift Him up on that account. If we speak of His victories, He has bruised the old serpent's head, according to promise, and has, "spoiled principalities and powers;" yea, He has torn out the sting of death, and accomplished what He declared, "O grave, I will be thy destruction." If we speak of His triumphs, oh, when He ascended from Mount Olivet, how hell shook and roared! How earth trembled and wondered! How you azure vault rent and divided! How all the glorious inhabitants of heaven shouted, and sang their hallelujahs in sevenfold strains! How God the Father smiled! How God the Holy Ghost crowned Him with glory and honour! Lift Him up, lift Him up. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."
I go a little further. When the voice of the preacher is silent in the temple, I want Him lifted up in experience; aye, that is worth the name of experience, Christ lifted up in the soul. Here, again, I am going to venture for a few moments. I dare say you are beforehand in guessing what it is. Mortals are intent in lifting up their wanderings, and troubles, and cares, and trials, and providences, and calling them Christian experience. My soul perfectly loathes the sickening theme. "What," say you, "are you a stranger to these?" No, I am not a stranger to these; I can talk them over, and perhaps know more of any one of them than any of you do. I can talk them over with Christian friends, as long as I can refer them to the bosom of Christ, and no longer. But if these are to make up your Christian experience, the devil has got more Christian experience than anybody else, and I do not want to be much like him. Ah! This is Christian experience, Christ exalted in the soul. Am I dark? He is light. Am I weak? He is Almighty. Am I blind? He is omniscient. Am I a wanderer? He is a Shepherd, and will take care of me. Am I earthly? He is heavenly. Am I helpless? He is Almighty. Now the thing I want in my experience is just this, that when it begins, (and, blessed be God, it has begun with me between forty and fifty years), the first feature of my experience should be a stroke of His hand with the hammer of His law to break my heart, and He shall be glorified for doing it. Well, then, I want the invitation of His voice; it is all by Him. Lift Him up. Behold me, behold me. "Look unto me, and be ye saved." And when He speaks in language like that which we have recorded in inspiration, and speaks it with power Divine to the soul, I am attracted, and obliged to gaze. I look with unexpected earnestness; I behold Him. Who is He? As Saul of Tarsus said, when he was thus invited by the Son of God Himself, "Who art thou, Lord, that I am beholding?" John comes in to my help. He was a good preacher, for his voice was employed to exalt Christ, and he says, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." The first stroke of His hand convinced me of my sins, and the first invitation of His voice attracted my soul to His feet. And the kind direction which the Holy Ghost has taught John to give, revealed to me who and what He was, "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." Beloved, I have been gazing upon Him, more or less, as He has helped me, for a great many years, and I am not tired of the sight, and I consider I shall behold His glories unveiled shortly throughout eternity, and never be tired of looking at them, never want a new exhibition, never want another display, but find in Him all that I need.
Now I want Him exalted in your experience further. "How much further?" Say you. Oh, I am a very experimental man, although people will not think me so, because I do not delight in dirty experience. I want Him exalted in your experience, in first communicating and then calling into exercise all the graces of the Holy Spirit, faith, and hope, and love, and zeal, and meekness, and patience, all called into their full exercise and humility, keeping you and me always at His feet. What then? Why, all the graces, take which you will, or all of them together, are agreed in this one fact, "We will not exalt ourselves, but we will exalt Christ." I will name one or two briefly.
Modern Divinity sets faith to exalt itself; that is the first grace we mention. It is rank Arminianism. "What," say you," sets faith to exalt itself?" Yes, it puts forth a certain sort of Popish doctrine about faith, as if it were an inherent principle, as if the terms of salvation were intrusted to it, as if it must give the veto, as if all was to be decided by you whether you will believe or whether you will not; and the poor creature has got no faith at all! Now this is what is called modern Calvinism, or moderate Calvinism. I do not like this moderate sort of thing. However, it is giving faith a greater prominence than Christ; that is what I quarrel about, and I will not have my dear Lord degraded. Faith is to be recommended and enjoined upon the creature, as if he was born into the world with it, and had power to put it forth whenever he liked, although there was never such a thing known upon the face of the earth. Consequently, if that succeeds, faith is lifted up, faith is exalted, faith honoured far above Christ. Now faith delights in receiving and accepting the invitation which the precious Christ of God gave to Thomas. He had no faith in exercise, although he had been a long time with Christ in His ministrations. "I will not believe He is risen from the dead." By-and-bye Christ appears to him, and says, "Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and put into the prints of the nails, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing." Do you think that Thomas exalted that finger instead of Christ? Do you think Thomas exalted that hand instead of the heart's blood which he had thrust it into? No, nor will I while I have a voice to speak for Christ; but the finger and hand of my faith shall be imbued with His blood, thrust into His heart, and by claiming and fastening upon Him, I grasp a full salvation. It is not the sinner's doing, nor any of the graces in possession; but it is the Christ of God that must be lifted up for it.
I find I am going beyond my strength; but I might go on, and speak of hope, the hope, "sure and steadfast," as the apostle describes it. What is it all put together, if I look at it only as a grace? I thank God for giving it me; but if it does not lead me to exclaim, while gazing on the precious Christ of God, "O thou, the hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof," it is not worth having, and it is like, "the hope of the hypocrite," it will perish."
We might go on through all the graces, love, and zeal, and humility, and so forth, and try and do so in the closet, for I must hasten on to one point more in this head of the discourse. That He must be lifted up, and is lifted up, and shall be lifted up as the Sovereign Judge of all worlds and all creatures. Now when I begin to lift Him up thus, my gloomy forebodings about forthcoming things begin to subside; at least, if they do not subside, I get above them. What He shall see fit to suffer, I cannot guess; but I am fully convinced that a scourge of a most tremendous description is at hand; yet be it what it may, where it may, or to whatever extent it may, I am sure of this, that my exalted Christ has the sovereign sway over it all. My exalted Christ has thrust His penetrating glance of omniscience into the deep laid plots of the Jesuits in all this matter. My omnipotent Christ, "can stay His rough wind in the day of His east wind," and He has promised so to do. My omnipotent Christ can say, and He will do what He has said, "Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee, and hide thyself for a season till the indignation be over and past." If the devil be let loose, and come down with great power, knowing his time is short, my Master has got him by his chain. That will satisfy my mind, as long as he gives grace in exercise. If Infidels and Papists confederately join, as they have done, hand in hand, for persecuting the Church of God, as Herod and Pontius Pilate did, although they were bitter enemies before, to persecute Christ, my Master has got them both in chains, and knows how to control all, as He did, for instance, with Pilate, as some of us have been reading. Pilate no more meant to write any compliment, or honour, or dignity for Christ than the devil did, when he wrote, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." This was out of reproach. No doubt his own heart intended to say that he was a usurper, a mocker, and he was punished and killed for it. And when the chief priests did not quite like it, it was not expressive enough for them, and they expostulated with him, "write not, 'King of the Jews,' but that, 'He said, I am the King of the Jews,' "the very omnipotent Son of God restrained his hand. He could not alter it, he could not interline it; and if some one else had written it over, he could not have put the caret under it. "What I have written, I have written." Jehovah Jesus was the Sovereign of Pilate; Jehovah Jesus was the Sovereign of the infidelity of Herod. But this was all according to the ancient settlement, the eternal purpose of the Divine, "Three-in-One." So down to the present hour, nations, empires, kings, monarchs, enemies, friends, foes, all are under His own supreme control; and I cannot but break out into the exultation of the Psalmist, "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice."
II. Now I will hasten to say a few words under the next head of discourse. There is a great deal in it which I should like to dwell upon; but it must all depend upon how the Lord keeps up my voice and strength. "I will draw all men unto me." What a favourite expression for a universal-redemption Papist. What a favourite expression for proud, free will Arminianism. "All men?" "All men," to be sure. Jesus Christ is drawing them all, only there are some of them that won't come. Why? Because they are so much stronger than He is! Now, will you believe that? And yet that is the only inference. If He is drawing every child of Adam, how is it that so many thousands are drawn into hell? If He is drawing every child of Adam, how is it that they draw iniquity and wickedness, "as with a cart rope?" For that is the prophet's expression, as it is positively set down. If He is drawing every child of Adam, how is it that a large majority of the human race are, "drawn away by their own lusts, and enticed?" Drawn away by their own covetousness and love of money, drawn away by their own pride and evil affections, so drawn away as to be, "led captive by the devil at his will?" Now if I were a free willer, I should roundly declare that man is stronger than God. And though Christ would draw him, He cannot. That the devil is stronger than Christ. That though Christ would draw them, the devil will lead them into eternity, captive at his will. What an abominable system of infidelity this would be!
"Well," say you, "if this be not the meaning, what is?" I will tell you. I think it must appear to every man's common sense that this is not the meaning. "What, then," say you, "is the meaning of drawing all men?" The term, "all men," is used in the New Testament language, generally as descriptive of men of all nations, all descriptions of men, whether Jew or Gentile, (that is the idea), whether old or young, rich or poor, all descriptions of men. And if you cast an eye upon the text, you will see that the word men is in Italics, and is not in the original at all. It should be read, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all unto me." There are a certain set of materialists that would put in here what their caprice suggests for their own use, though not for the honour of God. "Yes, all beasts are to be drawn to Him, and all made Christians of." Another race of beings would say, "Oh, no! It is all human beings." While before their eyes they see far more drawn away from Him than drawn to Him, and living and dying so. Now, if people have a right to put in the word, "men," or the word, "beasts," or, as it is termed in the 8th of Romans, "creatures," and many give this explanation, I have a right to put in a word too. And I should say, "If I be lifted up, will draw all mine," (it is a very little transposition of the word from, "men," to, "mine)." "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all mine unto me." Then I know I am right; then there will be no failure. I shall not ask whether they live in America, or in Australia, or in England. "All mine." Yes. "All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them;" and, "All that the Father gave me shall come to me." This is the, "all," intended in my text.
Now, having so far explained this, and I felt it was important to explain it, I beg your attention to the manner in which He draws them. But do not lose sight of the exposition I have given of the New Testament phraseology about, "all men," and, "all the world," and the like. But I need not go out of this chapter which we have been reading part of, for this purpose: "The Pharisees said among themselves, perceive ye not that all the world has gone after Him?" "All the world!? Now the greatest number that I remember to have read of that went after Him was the seven thousand that He fed with the loaves and the fishes. You cannot call that seven thousand the world in the Arminian sense. That did not include the whole race of Adam, and yet it is said, "All the world went after Him."
Now, after having disposed of this point, I think, unless there are some very unreasonable beings present, I come to say a few words about the manner in which Jesus draws men unto Him. And do remember the text, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." He takes fast hold of every soul with His own almighty grasp. That is the way He draws them. I know there is a drawing which may be dwelt upon in the way of illustration, which is a sort of decoy, or attraction, or allure, or invitation; but that will never reach the heart of man. All the overtures, and allurements, and promises, and invitations, and persuasions in the world, never brought one sinner to Christ, although they have made a great many hypocrites. But when Christ draws, mind you, He not only says, "they shall be drawn, but, "I will do it;" "I will draw them." He takes fast hold of the sinner's heart, and let him get away if he can. He takes fast hold of the sinner's heart, and He draws him up out of, "deep waters," as the Psalmist has it, and out of miry clay," and out of, "the horrible pit," and away from the life of sin, and from the attractions of the world, and lays him at His feet in deep contrition, in humble penitence, in ardent prayer, invoking forgiveness and inward peace, till he gets justification sealed home to his conscience by the power of the Spirit of God. That is the way He draws. Oh, it is a marvellous thing, and my soul exults in it as the very marrow and fatness of the gospel, that while a poor worm, with all trembling and weakness, talks a little about an exalted Christ to some fellow worms, and invisible and invincible Power goes forth and grasps the sinners' consciences, lays hold of the child, the youth, the parent, the old sinner, and brings him to His feet by omnipotent grace. That is the way God works. "I will draw." Ay, and the sinner will draw away as long as he can. As soon as Christ begins to draw, all the devil's agents come forth from their dens, with their grappling irons to throw upon the poor sinner, to draw him back again. One would draw him to the play; another would draw him to merchandise; another would draw him to the scenes of dissipation that are abroad in the world; another would draw him to vain amusements, to stifle and check what they call religious impressions, and the like. But is of no use; for Jesus has got hold of the sinner's heart, and He will as surely draw him to heaven as He is there Himself.
Now while I speak of His omnipotent grace in the first instance, and have said a little that may seem to detract a little from what is termed attraction, I must now bring that in. But it must be Christ's doing, and I beg of you to bear in mind, that He has in Himself all possible attraction; and when the sinner is blessed with spiritual discernment, so as to fix one gaze upon Him, he is invincibly drawn to Him. The glories of His Godhead, the majesty of His attributes, the suitableness of His grace, all of which are revealed. It is the Holy Ghost's province and ministration to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us; and as they are disclosed and revealed under the first mighty grasp of omnipotence, we cannot but feel a heavenly influence and winning of the soul that endears Christ to it. I should like to enlarge more upon this subject.
Just pass on to the next point. I will draw all men unto me by the efficiency of omnipotent grace. I have known a few instances of what is called drawing, in which the cord has broken, and all the power put forth by onan or beast has failed, and the vehicle has run down the hill back again. Never, never, has this happened to my precious Christ, for he never grasps a sinner's heart without throwing around him that threefold cord that cannot be broken, the love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And while He thus effectually puts forth the omnipotence of His power, and all the persons and perfections of the Deity are engaged in solemn covenant compact, there must not, cannot, be a single failure, and my Jesus is exalted and lifted up thereby.
One word more. It is in this way that He manifests His glory. You will recollect, it was said of His first miracle in Cana of Galilee, "This first miracle Jesus wrought and did manifest forth His glory." Now just analyze your creed, analyze your experience, and then analyze your conduct, and then the preacher's discourses, as much as you like; you are at full liberty to do so, only bring them to this one point; do they manifest the glory of Christ? Three-fourths of that which passes for Christianity in these days is to manifest the glory of the creature; and as I have shown you in some hints this morning, which I have been as sparing with as possible, though I might have been ten times more severe, the matter of fact is, that the difference between natural religion and supernatural, is simply this: is man to be exalted, or is Christ to be exalted? I go back to what I told you, I think last Lord's day, that as long as I have a voice to use, I must cry down the creature, and cry up my Saviour; His attributes, and perfections, His name, His relations, His person, His preciousness, must be lifted up above all, and man must receive, however he may exalt himself, a full salvation at His hands, as a sovereign gift, or, be spurned for ever from His presence; for His own words run thus, "Take these mine enemies who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before mine eyes."
Now contrast this gospel exhibition of the personal and official glories of Christ, with any or all of the paltry exhibitions of man's pride, presumption, and boasted intellect, and follow them to their results. There has never been a public show of man's greatness but which God has blown upon with some blast of disaster, from the Babel-building in the land of Shinar down to the present day. Witness the display of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and many more, and then ask if England's pride has not reached its zenith, and what awaits it? Will it be unity, prosperity, and peace? Or will it be discord, animosity, and war? Have not the latter already commenced? And who can calculate upon the termination, when French Infidels, and English Chartists, aided by Irish ruffians, under the generalship of Popish Jesuits, shall meet in myriads to carry out their diabolical designs? Oh, ye who have been drawn to Christ by grace, cease not to cry unto God for deliverance for dear old England! Be not lulled to sleep by the present apparent calm; the forces of the enemy are not yet mustered, their plots are not quite ripe; but the months of June and July will, I fear, develop much mischief, unless the God who heareth prayer should first inspire in the hearts of His people the spirit of prayer, and then answer their supplications, for the sake of the salt of the earth which still remains in our land.
Now look at the contrast. Our gospel exhibition is not of the pride, or industry, or emulation of all nations, but the great exhibition of the great salvation, suited to the necessities of sinners in all nations, and which must terminate in the unity, prosperity, and peace of all the election of grace in all nations. The Prince of Peace is its originator, its supporter, and its chief glory. And though it has many adversaries and its very worst among those who profess to love Him, and yet are giving every encouragement to Popery by crying, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace;" nevertheless, He must reign until the exhibition of His truth shall have gathered in His elect from all nations, and perfected His kingdom. Then shall there be but one fold and one Shepherd, one Lord, and His name One, unity unbroken, prosperity consummated, and peace perfected and perpetuated for ever.
May the Holy Ghost descend and put His sanction upon these remarks, to enlighten, comfort, and animate, His elect in all nations.