The Soverignty of Jehovah
by JOSEPH IRONS
Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Sept. 10th 1848
There is not a doctrine known among men, more offensive to the unregenerate children of Adam, than that which is contained in my text. There is not a matter of fact recorded in Scripture, more blessedly satisfactory to the living Church of God, than the fact or facts, contained in the verse I have just read. There is not a sentiment more repulsive to formalists and Pharisees, than the sentiment urged and insisted upon here. The sovereignty of Jehovah. This is evidently the subject; for the text says, "He hath prepared the throne itself in the heavens;" and having His throne and His kingdom essentially His own, that "His kingdom rules over all." The kingdoms of the world; the kingdom of darkness; the kingdom of Antichrist, however they may rage, must ultimately submit to the sway of Israel's glorious self-existent Monarch. This is the sentiment which cheers the heart of every child of God; and when he feels his impotency, and finds himself oppressed, and persecuted, and tried, he comes back, sweetly, to this conclusion, "My Father is ruling all this, and reigning over all this, and if it were not for my real advantage, and His glory, He would stop it in one moment." If He views, as we view, in the day in which we live, Antichrist making the most rapid strides, and threatening, nay, even boasting of the grasp it has made, and of the reigning power determined upon by it: what does the child of God say to all this? "Jehovah hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all." And though He may suffer the conflict; though He may permit the battle of Armageddon yet to be fought; though He may see fit, in the exercise of His sovereignty, and for the scourge of the degenerate churches, to allow the paw of the Apocalyptic beast to tread down His garden for awhile; glory to His name, that "His kingdom shall rule over all," and that ultimately the song shall be sung, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God, and of His Christ." (Rev. 11:15)
Before I enter immediately upon our subject, do allow me to drop one experimental hint. If we believe the facts recorded in my text, how is it that we do not live in accordance with such belief? How is it that we are moved, and harassed, and depressed, and exercised, and sometimes almost dismayed at little events, over which we have no control, though the carnality of our minds wishes them to be otherwise? Take what event you please, in any one week or day of your life; in business, in your circle of friends, in the Church of God, in daily experience, care, or anxiety; and the principles which we hold dear, if they are acted upon, bring us to a holy calm: it is "even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in Thy sight." "His kingdom ruleth over all," and, therefore, the subjects of His grace do well to keep an eye upon the sceptre, and to keep the finger of faith touching its top, ascribing to Jehovah, wisdom, might, majesty, and dominion, and so lying passive in His hands, and waiting His method of so turning events as to prove His gracious dealings with us.
I now invite your attention to the language of my text, in something like order, for the purpose of assisting your memories. And, first of all, we shall dwell upon the sovereignty proclaimed. Secondly, upon the extent of empire described:, "His kingdom ruleth over all." And then, thirdly, upon the inquiries suggested.
I. A word or two, in the first place, upon the sovereignty which is here proclaimed. It is not the sovereignty of a worm; it is not the sovereignty of a creature; it is not the sovereignty of the devil; but the sovereignty of Jehovah. You will see that the word "Lord" at the commencement of my text is in capitals, of course in the original it is Jehovah. "Jehovah hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all."
Here I propose to meditate for a few moments, upon the glorious majesty of self-existence in a Trinity of Persons, as the God whom we worship. This will lay a foundation for all we shall have hereafter to say. The glorious majesty of Divine self-existence in the Trinity of Persons, including all the attributes of the Godhead. Oh! My soul, what solemn awe becomes thee! What profound reverence should overwhelm thee! What deep humiliation should prostrate thee!, Whilst thinking of, speaking of, adoring and praising such a being. If for a moment you can limit your meditations to this point, it may serve to drive away all the frothy light things of the wilderness, through which we are passing; and "though by searching we cannot find out God to perfection," yet we may discover enough from His word, and revelation of Himself, to fill our thoughts with deepest solemnity while dwelling upon infinitude, upon omnipresence, upon omniscience, upon omnipotence, upon eternity, upon immutability, and viewing or contemplating all the attributes of Deity, as essentially belonging to each of the Persons of the Godhead, to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, distinctly, yet unitedly, in the glorious self-existence Jehovah.
Oh! My soul, how canst thou speak of Him, if to this we add the most interesting, the most majestic fact, that all these perfections in each of these Personalities, owe there existence to none but Jehovah Himself! Self-existent! Who can understand that word? Who can roll back his thoughts into an eternity that has passed, and see the same self-existence beyond it, originating it? Who can carry forward his thoughts through all the revolutions of time, to the consummation of all things, and the glory of His kingdom, and see self-existence sustaining all, supporting all, accomplishing all, ruling all, and "crowning all with loving kindness, and tender mercies," and not stand in awe of the glorious majesty of the Deity? Solomon seemed to enter a little into this kind of meditation, when dedicating the temple to the Lord. "Behold," says he, "the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have builded!" (1 Kings 8:27) Magnificent as it was, with all the splendour that surrounded him, with all the signal tokens of Divine favour received by him, and with all the prospects opening to him of the magnificence and glory of the worship of this temple, he is overwhelmed with the consciousness of his own littleness, and cries out, "Who am I, and what is my Father's house?" So full of the glory of the Lord, was the house he was dedicating to His honour, that there was no room for the creature, no room for the priest to minister; and I wish there was none in our day, from my heart, and that the house of God was so filled with His glory, that there should be no room for any other priest but Christ in all His temples. Solomon prostrates himself, adores majesty of heaven, is overwhelmed with the consciousness of God's greatness; and shall not you and I? Shall we not keep constantly in view, this sacred fundamental principle of our most holy faith, that equal glory, equal majesty, and all perfections belong alike, and in a self-existent manner to Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, and to Jehovah the Holy Ghost, even to the glorious Triune God, one self-existent Divine essence, who giveth an account of none of His matters. Well indeed may poor sinners "lay their hands on their mouths, and their mouths in the dust, and cry out 'unclean, unclean,' before God." Well indeed may angels, and seraphim, and cherubim, cover their faces with their wings, and cry, even within the veil, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." And yet I, a poor worm of the earth, am permitted to talk about Him; nay more, to get a view of His covenant, "for the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant." (Ps. 25:14) I have been musing somewhat after this sort, upon the glorious Being I worship, "whose I am, and whom I serve," until I have shrunk from the thought of taking His holy name upon sinful and polluted lips. Oh, that the seraphim may fly unto me, with a "live coal in his hand," taken "from the altar," and lay it upon my mouth," saying, "Lo! This hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." (Isa. 6:7) Then enjoying forgiving love, knowing my Divine relationship, and feeling a union with the Lord Jesus Christ, I throw off the gloom, cast away the slavish dread, and shout aloud, "This God is my God for ever and ever, and will be my guide even unto death."
Mark, this glorious, majestic, self-existent Being in His Trinity of Persons ordained all the events of time"His kingdom ruleth over all." I cannot bear the mention of the word "contingency," when God is brought into account. "Happening""chance""contingency," are phrases which do very well for the vocabulary of Infidels, but they are not fit for Christians; for I know by my precious Book, that this glorious Being, concerning whom I am attempting to say a few words, "ordered all things after the counsel of His own will." (Eph. 1:11) Do you wish to alter that counsel? Do you wish to set up your own will against His? "He ordereth all things after the counsel of His own will." Are you desirous to throw things into disorder, into utter confusion and ruin? If so, quarrel with God's sovereignty as fast as you can. But if you desire order to be maintained, and God is the God of order, then rejoice that He ordained all the events of time as an act of His sovereignty, and consequently that He rules them all; who shall be rich, and who shall be poor; who shall rule, and who shall be ruled; where and how a kingdom shall be set up; in what manner it shall reach the meridian of its splendour; how it shall decline, and when it shall be abolished. All are ordered and ordained by Himself. Nations, empires, lesser circles of associated human beings, all are planned, ordained, ordered, settled by Himself. Hosts and armies too, are at His control; and therefore, He is called "the Lord of Hosts." Kings the most mighty, and against whom, apparently, there is no rising up, as the wise man hath it, are put down, turned adrift into the field to eat grass, like cattle, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, who became so deformed, that "his hairs were grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's claws," and seven times passed over him, and all the magicians, councils, advisers, wealth, pomp, and armies that he possessed could not alter it. It was ordained of God to be so, and He carried it out for His own purposes to the moment and the date. Do you suppose that a Pharaoh in his tyranny, typifying the devil, and in his cruel exercise of task-master's authority over the Lord's chosen Israel in Egypt, was a mere matter of chance? Do you imagine it was a promiscuous thing at his own control? Hear what the great Eternal Himself says about it: "For this same purpose I raised him up, that I might show my power and glory in him." And shall we dare then to talk of chance? Follow on to the destroying of the seven nations of Canaan, and the introduction of the chosen tribes to possess the land. And say what was it. Did they deserve it? Did they earn it? Could their own swords or bows obtain it? Verily not. They were a stiff-necked and perverse people. They had forfeited all claim to the Divine favour as much as the nations who were disinherited. And yet the Lord says, "When the iniquity of the Amorites is full, I shall accomplish my purpose." He had ordained the event, that the seven nations should be dispossessed, and that His Israel whom He had chosen should go and possess the land. Indeed we might go through the whole Scripture history, and show that, from the mightiest monarchs to the most obscure individuals, known upon the face of the earth, their station, their position, their circumstances, their joys, their sorrows, all that is painful and vile, and all that is pleasant and delightful in their experience, were ordained and settled by the infinite wisdom and eternal love of Israel's covenant God; and this to such an exactness that He has not left it in the power of the worm to make one hair white or black, or to add one cubit to his stature, so that his very height is settled and ordained by the God of heaven and of earth. If Goliath grew to be six cubits, and David was in height but a boy, God ordained it to be so.
Look also at events as they arise in the world, in business, in the family; nay, limit it to your own personal experience and history. Take just into view what God has done for you since you were capable of thinking, and since you were, as it is called, thrown upon the world and began to enter upon life. Observe the events which have taken place; the journeys you have performed, your associations, your prospects, the disappointments you have met with, the overwhelming circumstances that have threatened to crush you, or the bright opening of days of prosperity, comfort or wealth, that have dawned upon you. Think you they are all matters of chance? Do you attribute any of them to your own wisdom, your own discretion, your own perseverance? If you are an Infidel, you may; but if you are a Christian, you know that it is God who gave you power to acquire wealth. His own word says so. You know, further, that it is He who removes riches from you, and gives them wings to fly away, and that even the wrath of man, which would have lain hands upon you, He restrained at His pleasure, and even made it to praise Him. You know, moreover, that your steps have been ordered of the Lord, (Ps. 37:23) that your habitations are fixed by Him, (Acts 17:26) and that all that pertains to your joys or sorrows is under His own sovereign control. If I see Him hold a balance between what I call pain or pleasure, joy or sorrow, good or evil, I find the balance even; His own hand holds it steady, so that not an event, not a circumstance can transpire in the history of the people of God, but it is under His sovereign operation and control. And this only confirms what I set out with, that "He ordered all things after the counsel of His own will." (Eph. 1:11) In His goodness, He ordered the building of Grove Chapel, Camberwell, and the devil and all his agents could not hinder it. So He ordered me to proclaim His truth and glory, and nothing can prevent it. It is ordained and settled by Himself. And shall we not say that He is overruling and managing our affairs as a Church? Sometimes the believer seems to put out his hand to touch the event, and to move it this way or that way. Why this is as bad as Uzziah's touching the ark. Leave it with the Lord, for He ruleth over all things. "The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all."
But there is one point in this universal dominion of His, before I go to the second head of my discourse, that is very peculiar in the proclamation of His sovereignty, and which I would have you never to lose sight of. It is the distinction which He effects and maintains between His Church and the world. This is sadly overlooked in the day in which we live, and the race of mankind are unjustly represented, though not in these exact words, yet to this amount, as a race of beings herded together of all sorts and kinds, sheep and swine, dogs and children, doves and ravens, and all the rest, clean and unclean, thrown into one mass, and then very kindly and good-naturedly invited to make themselves all alike. That is not God's way of acting. When God put them all together in the ark of Noah, He did not change their natures. He put them there to preserve alive a stock for the earth; but the lion did not become a lamb, the raven did not become a dove; and so marked was the distinction emblematically given there, that when the raven was sent out she could light upon the floating carrion, and return no more; but the dove, when sent out, could not partake of the unclean thing, but, coming back, alighted upon Noah's hand, which clearly marks the difference existing between the clean and the unclean, and between the Church and the world. So has it been in all ages. God's Church was at first limited to the little family of Abraham; then it extended itself until three score souls went down to Egypt, of Jacob's family alone. It was God's ordination. So, when the world was drowned, and Noah's family was preserved and saved, Ham, one of his sons, was cursed; and I never read a promise concerning him in all the Book of God. Shem and Japheth only are born of God; the former to represent the family of the Hebrews, who were first and prominent in God's distinction in those days; and then with regard to the latter, comes the promise, "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant;" (Gen. 9:27) intimating that the Gentiles should be called in. So, also, in the Mosaic economy, the Church was kept distinct from the world; and the instruction to Jeremiah is, "If thou take forth the precious from the vile, "the clean from the unclean", thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them." (Jer. 15:19) So, again, in our precious Lord's preaching, "My sheep hear my voice," (John 10:27) says He. To the ungodly He says, "Ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep." (John 10:26) And His prayer to His Father respecting His people runs, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:15,16) Oh, how marked is this distinction all through, he that believeth, and he that believeth not; he that serveth God, and he that serveth Him not. And the Holy Scriptures themselves close up with this sovereign declaration, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." (Rev. 22:11) All through the precious Book of God there is nothing more conspicuous, nay, perhaps not even so conspicuous, as the distinction which God has made as an act of His sovereignty between His Church and the world.
II. Let us now pass on to say a few words relative to the empire here specified, "His kingdom ruleth over all." What kingdom? I have just glanced at the universal government of God in nature, providence, and grace; but I want now to detain you awhile, relative to this kingdom of His which "ruleth over all." And I commence my description of it by telling you, that it is the kingdom redeemed from among men. This is the very description given of it in the Apocalypse, when John saw the vision of the kingdom complete, "These are they which were redeemed from among men." (Rev. 14:4) Do not mistake the language. It is not said, they who were redeemed along with the rest of mankind, but "from among" them; and let us take Scripture in its own words as it stands. Now the Lord's Church, the Lord's kingdom, fell under Adam's transgression; became enslaved to the Prince of Darkness, "alienated from God by wicked works," (Col. 1:21) rebellious and traitorous in nature's unregeneracy, "far off from God by wicked works," the god of this world ruling in their hearts, whilst they were disobedient and in love with sin: yea, the Apostle uses this strong language, that they were "children of wrath, even as others." (Eph. 2:3) I know that some people try to explain this away, in their ignorance of the doctrines of grace, by attempting to render it "wrathful children, even as others." Now I grant that this is true; but, at the same time, it is not strong enough; it does not convey the whole truth, which is, "children of wrath, even as others." And I maintain, and insist upon it, that the election of grace, the kingdom of Jehovah, the Church of God, is as much deserving of eternal wrath, and is as emphatically on the road to it, and that the sentence of the law is as emphatically directed against it, as against those who finally perish. "Children of wrath", I take it in the fullest sense, "even as others." There is the comparison, "even as others." And if you admit that the world is under the curse and the wrath of God, and deserves nothing less, then you must admit that the election of grace were in the same position in their unregeneracy. This shows that, in their fallen state, God included them under sin, and therefore under the curse and wrath. But "he has redeemed them from among men." The Lamb slain virtually, and, in a covenant sense, from the foundation of the world, is, in the fullness of time, slain to redeem the Church from all iniquity, in order that that redeemed Church may be "purified to Himself a peculiar people." (Titus 2:14)
Now if you talk about the redeemed kingdom, I beg of you to keep this description in view without omitting the following particulars; that the Church is redeemed to be purified to Himself as a peculiar people. Consequently, you can never prove that you are a redeemed sinner, without first showing that God has sent forth the blood of Christ, and applied it by the power of the Holy Ghost, to cleanse you from sin. The Apostle, recurring to his former life as being in love with sin, says, "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, ye are justified, ye are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:11) There, then, is redemption work carried out. It is in vain to tell me that I am redeemed, if you follow that by saying I may go to hell after all. Such a redemption as that I would not give a straw for. I am sure that if it is left to me, it will be no manner of use in the end. But tell me of redemption by sovereign grace, and of my having imparted unto me all that belongs to His people as a peculiar family, and I rejoice to know that I am redeemed "from among men", from among the mass of ruined sinners, "not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without spot or blemish;" (1 Pet. 1:18,19) and the song shall shortly be mine in the assembly above, "These are they that were redeemed from among men, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." This is Christ's kingdom, His redeemed Church.
Now allow me to proceed with the explanation, that this kingdom is "established in righteousness" to rule over all." You will recollect that this phrase was penned by the Psalmist, "His throne is established in righteousness." (Prov. 25:5) And if we turn to Isaiah for a response to the Psalmist, we find it in these words, "Behold the King", that is, King Jesus, "shall reign in righteousness." (Isa. 32:1) Further, if we take Paul's account of the kingdom in connection with those two quotations, you will observe that, taught by the same Spirit, he says emphatically, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Rom. 14:17) That is the kingdom. Tell me no more, then, of a French, an English, or a German, or any other earthly kingdom; tell me no more of them: in a religious point of view, in a spiritual sense, Christ's kingdom is not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom, and its very constitution is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;" a righteousness perfect and complete, which God approves and accepts. He is the King of all His subjects, in holy harmony and true and spiritual loyalty. The joy of the Holy Ghost is there testified, and they can rejoice, by His powerful teachings and holy anointings, in the infinite preciousness of Christ, and in their intimate relationship to Him, and their happiness in His kingdom.
One thought more. This kingdom that is to "rule over all" is, I beg you to mark, incorporeal. It is not carnal; it is not material. Let us dwell for a moment upon this, because a large portion of that which passes for Christianity in the present day is a material thing; and I beg of my hearers, as they love their own souls, to examine closely with me what I shall affectionately say to expose this wicked abomination, this dire delusion. If I go to one department that is called the Church, I mean the Romish hierarchy, which I do not allow to be a Church, but a devilish conspiracy against God by man; that is what it is; but we will give its name as they claim it, for the sake of explaining what I mean. And what does it consist of? Earthly aggrandizement; political power; religious intrigues; ceremonies, and rites, and abominable idolatries; Baal's priesthood; external offerings, material things. I say nothing about its wickedness this morning; I will keep just to the point, that all consist in material things. Take away their images, their censers, their ritual, their carnal priesthood, their payments and penances, all of which are material, and what is there left? Why nothing but the name remains. But if from that you come to Christ's Church and Christ's kingdom, you may take away all that is material, and yet the kingdom continue perfect as ever. True, I should not like to part with Grove Chapel: that is material; but who doubts that we could do without it? True, I should not like to part with this Bible: its leaves and its bindings are material, but its truths are internal, and are engraven in my heart, and I could not do without them. What is really the kingdom of Jesus? Just simply Jehovah, Jesus enthroned, and poor ruined sinners prostrate at his feet. His cause made their's. His life bestowed upon them, and they living in Him, for Him, by Him, upon Him, and to Him. That is the kingdom of Christ. It is not material, but spiritual. Whoever would make up a kingdom of human laws for Christ will be despised for so doing.
Whoever would make up a kingdom of material things, such as carnal persons can touch, handle, and make use of, have never gone into God's secret. The kingdom of Jesus Christ is a perfect righteousness for all his subjects; to be embraced, put on and worn by every one of them in the fullness of time; peace, a holy harmony, a sacred agreement between God and the soul upon matters of justification and acceptance before God, as well as matters of obedience, a holy harmony, so agreed that they walk together; for "how can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3)A joy in the Holy Ghost, infinitely superior to all other joys, wafting the heaven-born spirit above the paltry trash of time, and teaching him how to spurn the midnight revel, and earthly scenes and gratifications, which nominal professors may pursue in their ignorance. Our joys are superior, because they are joys in the Holy Ghost, filled with His powerful grace, anointed with holy oil, drawn by His power to Jesus' feet, and thence arising in the joy and peace He gives, to lean upon His breast. There, with holy rapture, looking Jesus in the face, saying, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for His love is better than wine." (Songs 1:2) And whilst with the fullness of His love and grace, I am wrapped in His precious robe, encircled in His arms, and cleave to His heart, heaven begins in personal experience on earth. We could do without this chapel. I could do with my little corner of a study at home. Nay, the field, the lane, the roadside, anywhere, and under any circumstances, the Church of the living God, the kingdom of Jesus Christ, can enjoy the presence of her Monarch. He reigns and rules in the hearts of His subjects; and this is the kingdom that shall reign over all. The prophet Daniel evidently refers to Christ's kingdom when he says, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and 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." (Dan. 2:44) Do not lose sight of the last idea, that an earthly religion, a material religion, such as the carnal eye can see, the carnal ears hear, and the carnal hands handle, is not the religion, is not the kingdom of Christ. "The kingdom of Christ is within you." The kingdom of Christ is spiritual. The kingdom of Christ is supernatural. The kingdom of Christ is holy.
III. Let us pass on, in the third place, to say a word or two relative to the inquiries that are suggested. The glorious Majesty on high, the self-existent Jehovah, has prepared His own throne, and will never relinquish it. If He is ruling over all, and managing all our affairs according to the sovereignty of His own mind and His own infinite wisdom, both embosomed in His love to the Church, He will not relinquish it. And here I would make two or three inquiries; the first of which is, What government are you living under? The second is, Whether your naturalization in Christ's kingdom is easily proved; and if so, the third inquiry is, What station you occupy? Because there is a great variety of stations in this kingdom. A word or two on each of these three inquiries shall close our discourse for this morning.
First of all, then, What government are you under? I have heard and read a little about what is called self-government. I look into my Bible, and read of the god of this world, and the prince of this world. Now I should not like to be under that government again. I was under it once. Then there are governing passions and governing principles among men that are carnal. Some men's governing passion shall be covetousness. Another's governing passion shall be pride, or ambition. There are, in fact, a variety of governing passions. An awful government it is, indeed, to be under any of them. But I read of this glorious King of mine, that the government shall be on His shoulders, and that He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet; and that of the increase of His government and kingdom there shall be no end. (Isa. 9:6,7) Then I have only to inquire, Am I under the government of the Prince of Peace? Does the God of heaven rule in my soul by His power and His grace? Is it written upon the tablet of my heart, "Grace shall reign through righteousness unto eternal life." (Rom. 5:21) Is King Jesus the Monarch of my soul? Has He vanquished, conquered, and subdued all that is hostile to Him? Has He brought me to own His sovereignty, to bow to His sceptre, to touch its top, and to begin life by Him? Has He called forth from me the cry, "Oh Lord our God! Other Lords beside Thee have had dominion over me; but by Thee only will I make mention of Thy name." (Isa. 26:13) Has He put into use those weapons of which we spake the other day, that are "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ?" (2 Cor. 10:4,5) Has He brought me to acquiesce in His will? Has He brought me to acquiesce in His way of saving me? I insist that that man who is not under the government of God the Father's fixed decrees, of God the Son's Kingly office, of God the Spirit's invincible power and grace, must be on the high road to perdition, and not to the kingdom of Jesus Christ; for all the subjects of His kingdom are under spiritual government, spiritual rule, spiritual control and direction. The instance to which I shall refer may appear to be simple, but it illustrates my point. Good old Nehemiah, who of course would be ranged among Antinomians in our days, saw the wickedness of the rulers in his day, and cried out, "So did not I, because of the fear of God." Then he must have been under the government of Divine power; under the government of special grace. Was not this beautifully typified when Jacob and Esau were about to be born, and it was decreed before they were born that the elder should serve the younger? Old Adam nature must serve. Old Adam nature must come down. He must be subdued and crucified, and the younger and the heaven-born must have the ascendancy and reign. This is also the case with the followers of the Lamb, in whom the new man must have the ascendant. I am aware the old man will strive, that the corruptions of old fallen nature will urge, as their plea, that they are the eldest, and make use of every effort in Satan's power and influence to regain the mastery. But there is the banner unfurled by our gracious King, "Sin shall not have dominion." Sin shall not have dominion. Sin shall not have dominion." Its reign is finished. Its throne must be abdicated; and faith, and hope, and love, and humility, and meekness, and zeal, and patience, shall be called forth into exercise, and this array of graces shall go on, from conquering to conquer, until they are more than conquerors; for the government is Divine; it is upon Christ's shoulders, and all His saints and all His subjects must bow at his feet.
Moreover, there is such a thing as naturalization in a kingdom. I heard one or two persons, who were born in foreign parts, talk of it, and the way in which they obtained it. Sometimes it is rather a singular process, and accompanied by some difficulties. But you must know that we were all born into the world aliens, born in sin, under the law, under the curse, strangers to God. There is such a thing as naturalization, however. And how is it done? How is it accomplished? By the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ upon the conscience. Peter writes, "To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:1,2) That naturalized them. Though they were called from all those provinces, though heathens were all around them, and they themselves were of heathenish parents, yet they were naturalized into Christ's kingdom, into this kingdom, which is to rule over all, by the application of Christ's precious blood to their conscience. I would have my hearers examine the point a little closely, whether the precious blood of the covenant, the blood of sprinkling, has been so applied as to seal peace home to the conscience, and to give you ability to say with Hezekiah, "Thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption; for Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back;" (Isa. 38:17)"they are drowned in the depths of the sea." I am quite aware that the meagre professors of the day count this enthusiasm, egotism and presumption, and advise the use of more moderate terms. I value, and bless God for, the moderation of the gospel; but we will keep to that, and not the moderation invented by man's free-will. We keep to the simple point that there is forgiveness with Jehovah, that He may be feared; and then, when that forgiveness is brought home to the conscience, it is that He may be loved. A man may live in solemn and legal fear of the existence of God, when he is only convinced that He can and does forgive; for there is a dread that God may not forgive him. But let the blood of sprinkling seal the pardon to his heart, and bring the truth home to his conscience, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more;" (Jer. 31:34) and then he says, "There is forgiveness with God: He has brought it down to my soul, and He shall be feared and loved too." (Ps. 130:4) There is thus a heavenly joy, a calm and a peace realized in the soul. If you have peace, joy, and satisfaction, and a holy calm imparted to your spirits, and are made happy, it is by knowing that the blood of the covenant has been applied to your conscience, and has, in personal experience, washed away your iniquities, and cleansed you from your sins. The knowledge of forgiveness, then, is essential for the enjoyment of our naturalization in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And what is it when we have it? Why, just the enjoyment of the common privileges, and mercies, and advantages of all His household, and the subjects of His grace, of all the elect family of God, of all that were purchased by His most precious blood. So that, if we may keep to the phrase, "naturalization" in the kingdom of Christ, all the promises, precepts, ordinances, and privileges are our's, because we are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Oh, the blessedness of thus being so completely at home in the kingdom of Christ. I hope by this time that you have entered a little into the inquiries I have made as to what government you are under, and if you are completely at home in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. I confess I am at home nowhere else, and that even those recreations which are accounted essential to bodily health have for me a palling, flattening, disgusting, depressing influence at all seasons; and I am never at rest until I get back to my own kingdom, and glorify His name, exalt Him, honour Him, love Him, feed upon Him, and lift up in the view of others to admire and adore Him also.
Just follow on to one thought more, the station that we occupy. If, indeed, we are sure that we are under the government of grace at home and abroad, by night and by day; from the beginning to the end of the week under the government of reigning grace, and thus naturalized into the kingdom of the Son of God, or, as the Apostle has it, "translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son," (Col. 1:13) then what is the situation we occupy? Let us find it out, and be very anxious to fill it. You must know, that in a kingdom all are not monarchs, nor are all premiers, nor are all nobles, nor are all senators, nor all merchants, nor all tradesmen, nor all labourers. And yet there are some of every class in the kingdom, and that, too, essentially for the well-being of the kingdom.
Now I should like my hearers, to inquire diligently as to what station God has placed you in. To some He has given a station the most solemn and important, overwhelming and awful, and which makes them cry out, "Who is sufficient for these things?" I mean the station of a Christian pastor or bishop, the highest, the most solemn, the most responsible, the most overwhelming of any official station in the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth, ambassadors for Christ, to make known the mind and the will of the King; and woe to the man among them who is not loyal enough to proclaim the king's sovereignty. To others, he gives the station of Evangelists. He not only gives some pastors and some teachers, but some Evangelists, appointed by the King Himself as messengers, to run to and fro, and proclaim His glories and His precious gospel, without taking a special charge. An important station this, a highly valuable and useful station. And I would have those whom God has qualified for, and thrust into it, to be vigilant in filling it up. There are others who are qualified and ordained by God in this kingdom with the wisdom, mind, and integrity of men filled with the Holy Ghost, and with faith to discharge the office of deacons; and they whose station it is must bear in mind what that station is, and bless God that "they who have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree" "and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." Others, again, are qualified for visiting the sick and afflicted: let them do so. Others for instructing the rising generation: let them take it in hand. I name these, as specimens of the stations in which God places the subjects of His grace. Others are qualified and gifted to offer public prayers at the prayer meeting: many ought to be ashamed that they use this gift so seldom. Others are in the station of Aquila and Priscilla, who, with little gift of utterance, can yet take the young Apollos, and "expound unto him the way of God more perfectly," and say what God has done for their souls.
My object in naming this variety of stations in the kingdom of Christ, is to induce you to inquire what station God has placed you in, and how God has employed you in your family, among your friends, and in the Church of the living God. How has he employed you? Have you asked this question diligently? I am quite satisfied that God has appointed me to my station, and that all the little effort I am enabled to put forth He Himself has given to me; and I would not quit it until I go to glory. All I want is more grace to fill it, more liberty, more power, more heavenly unction, more of the Spirit and mind of Christ in every department of my labour. While I name these merely as samples, I trust my hearers will inquire how God has employed them to honour Him, to advance His interests in the world, to glorify Him, and to minister to the necessities of the saints. And that is another station. Some are stationed in wealth and affluence: let them be "rich in good works," as saith the Holy Ghost by the pen of the Apostle, and "minister to the necessities of the saints."
Search your Bibles, and you will find this inquiry to be a most momentous one; and, after settling that you belong to His kingdom, and that you have a right and interest in all that is treasured up in his covenant for His people, then see to it that the station which you occupy is of God, and seek for grace to fill it as you ought. The daily work, the daily pursuit, the daily employment, may all be put forth so as to honour Christ; so that "whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, you may do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31) Search your New Testaments, and there you will find the most explicit directions given to masters and servants, husbands and wives, parents and children, marking the station in which God has placed them, and urging upon them the filling of those stations according to the spirit of Christianity. May God bless His own word. Amen.