The Chargeless Church
by J. J. WEST
On Wednesday evening, December 8th, 1852, in the Church of St. Barnabas, King Square, London
The opening verse of this great and triumphant address, in this eighth chapter of Paul's Epistle to God's picked out people in Rome, begins with this great and, to the broken-hearted sinner, comforting reality "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) And, before I attempt to preach on the text, dear hearers, that I have just read, I desire to call the attention of the persons who hear me to those great and vast subjects which this chapter in the Bible contains that "there is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. "The distinctive mark drawn between "flesh and spirit." Listen to me! "for to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace," that the "carnal mind is enmity against God;" (Rom. 8:6,7) and also this truth, which I would emphatically stress upon (if I may so speak,) that "the carnal mind" cannot ever be anything but "enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Never touched, never altered, never improved; hence, (I have not time now to enter on it,) hence we see that Grace never touches the old Adam nature by way of improving it; and hence (as Toplady says,) "The old Adam cannot be made a saint."
And now in earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit may teach me to preach profitably to the people who hear me, I would attempt to preach to you on this passage in the text "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" The persons here spoken of are the Elect, those of whom the Redeemer Himself says, in the sixth chapter of John "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." "Shall come" no doubt about it, no peradventures. "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) Well, then, while here we have the triumphant statement that all God's chosen people shall come, and that they shall each and all come at the very appointed instant, destined for them before all worlds, we have also the assurance "him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." Now here is comfort for the poor, coming, tried, exercised sinner; and while therefore I declare the truth, that only those who are given ones can come to Christ, I have also to proclaim, that all that come to Him "shall in no wise be cast out." These then are the persons to whom this passage before me speaks The Elect! The Apostle in the Epistle to the Ephesians says "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love." (Eph. 1:4) Thus God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost has everlastingly taken care of and provided for, His blood-bought people. Without further entering upon this first head of my subject, that sweet promise in Isa. 53, "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied," (Isa. 53:11) is scripture evidence enough, despite all the enmity of Pharisees, Scribes, and Priests; despite all the canting creeds and inventions of men and devils, to prove that not one soul for whom Christ died upon Calvary's Cross can ever be eternally damned; and in a pulpit of the Church of England I should be a traitor of the basest sort, if I did not primarily, and in a foremost way preach to the people God's absolute and God's personal and individual Election of His Church to salvation!
Now hear then, this first head of my subject. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" It is a question! Listen to the answer "It is God that JUSTIFIETH." Who then can bring a charge? Who can cast out? Who can, what can, destroy one precious sinner for whom Christ died? In the Acts of the Apostles, it is said "the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) Often in the Bible, dear hearers, the figure (if I may so speak,) of asking a question is an emphatic way of asserting a positive fact. Hence see, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" Is a positive declaration that the Elect, the Church of God is chargeless! that no charge can be brought against any sinner for whom Christ died! The scripture tells me in the Acts of the Apostles, that "by Him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified" (what by?) "the law of Moses!" (Acts 13:39) No; we cannot clamber up to heaven by our works.
Have you not tried to build a Babel? Have you not attempted to raise yourself step by step, by moral conduct, by a fancied obedience? But when the law brought in its heavy charge, when the law inculcated and demanded an implicit, yea, a perfect obedience, then down fell your Babel! Is it fallen down? Well then, the Church of God is without charge, faultless, and that for ever, nothing can be brought against her! "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." This is the point by which you are to try and test yourselves! "THEM which are in Christ Jesus!" Those in Christ Jesus." Now compare scripture with scripture, as the Apostle says, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor. 2:13) This is better than going to any commentator! it is better to seek out of this blessed Book than to go either to Dr. Hawker or Dr. Gill, both faithful good men, but I cannot sit at Hawker's feet, I cannot sit at Gill's feet, I must sit where Mary sat, at the feet of Jesus. When the Apostle Paul was sitting at Gamaliels feet, accomplished though in scholarship he might have been, he was a dunce in holy things, but when he was brought to the feet of another Teacher, and realized that great scripture in Isa. 54:13, "All Thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of Thy children", Then how Paul was changed in all ways. In Gal. 1:23,24, "But they had heard only, That He which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me." (Gal. 1:23) "They glorified God in him!" They did not puff up the Apostle, but they "Glorified God" for what He had done in Paul. And so here am I, like the Apostle, preaching the Faith which formerly I denied, my dear hearers, "What hath God wrought?"
Well now, the second point is JUSTIFICATION! "It is God that justifieth!" and hence the people of God are without charge, because He has justified them! Job asks, "How then can man be justified with God?" "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" Not one. (Job 14:4) But mark me! "It is God that justifieth." In that beautiful 50th chapter of Isaiah, "He is near that justifieth me!" "Who will contend with Me?" (Isa. 50:8) that is, with Christ! Christ standing up as the one in whom all the Elect are justified! standing in the place of His people, and suffering for them, and offering up Himself as the atoning sacrifice for all their sins and all their offences. "It is God that justifieth." The Article of my own Church, is hereby faithful (if I can turn to it) on the subject of Justification! "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings." That is Church of England truth! But now what is the occasion for justification? O! what a wise God is our God! What is the occasion for justification? Sin! But mark me, before all worlds, and in anticipation of the fall the Church was everlastingly justified! Justified in the purpose of God! It is God that justifieth" That act is co-equal, co-eternal, with His own eternity. The eternity of the Great "I AM!" But, I ask, what is the occasion for justification? What is the needs be for it? I answer, first of all, God's glory, and then the utter helplessness, the entire depravity of those who are and have been eternally justified by Jehovah the Son, Jehovah the Spirit, through the work, and by the blood and righteousness of the Second Person in the Godhead, the God-Man, "equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood." "It is God that justifieth." Hence it is His own act, His own decree! His own purpose, and hence all those who are justified in and by Him are as perfect before Him, as if we had never sinned, never fallen. Perfect as God is perfect. Holy as God is holy, and yet in ourselves the vilest of the vile. O! how in my own soul I was exercised today with the experience of the Apostle Paul, "O wretched man that I am" (groaning under a sense of sin) who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 7:24,25) And here, my hearers, is the secret of preaching the gospel! a feeling sense from day to day of the reality of an Experimental Gospel! a merely doctrinal gospel is a barren thing, if it be not united with practical and experimental realities. The devil can set forth doctrines, yea, many a reprobate can preach doctrine! But when doctrine is embedded in a broken heart, when it is set up there, we then shall know something of the reality of TRUTH, and understand the meaning of David's words, I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant, for I do not forget Thy commandments." (Ps. 119:176) "Seek Thy servant!" There was prayer in that. When did he so speak? When he realized his own utter helplessness. When he felt he had gone astray and could not get back alone. In that, we have DOCTRINE, and PRACTICE, and EXPERIENCE! "It is God that justifieth." Now observe, this is the act of God in and for the sinner. It is finished, perfect, nothing to be done on the sinner's part. It is a Free-Grace Justification! I was trying to find a passage in the Apocalypse, here it is! "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." (Rev. 12:10) "Day and night accusation!" But they overcame him. How! "By the blood of the lamb!" What a weapon. If the soldier has to enter the field of battle, he must be armed, he must have a sword, a bayonet. England seems to be feeling something about foreign aggression! a foreign power may, for aught we know, have a longing eye, and contemplate an attack upon us. The subject has been considered in Downing Street; our Sailors are to be increased in number. Why? to defend us; and those Sailors must be armed! And so also a Militia has been raised, and these men must bear arms. But what is our weapon? "The BLOOD OF THE LAMB." No sword! no bayonet! no cannon! no artillery! but the "blood of the Lamb." They loved not their lives unto the death. "The blood of the Lamb!" that passage needs no annotation! Take David's case with Goliath. "Then said David to the Philistine, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." But I must pass on. Justification is of God; and, my hearers, what other subject is of such vast importance; what subject so great for you and me to contemplate, as the way in which, and by which, sinners, such as you and I are, are fitted to appear before a Just, a Holy God! We must die. Each one of us must die. Now, as a dying man, speaking here to dying sinners before me, I ask, if you were to drop down dead before you reached home tonight (and you know there are sudden deaths continually.) I ask, are you prepared? Are you fit to die? Are you JUSTIFIED? Can you smile at death, and say, 'I am without charge!' "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" "It is God that justifieth." It must be personal justification! individual interest in the blood of Christ, as Hart says:
Now what a solemn thing it is to be standing in a pulpit and addressing a congregation of sinners, amidst all the business, the bustle, and the every thing of this vast and crowded city! And, some of you, perhaps, are too much taken up with these mere worldly, carnal things, so much so, that it is an idol, and a snare. It will fail your grasp one day. Remember this! God may say to you, as it was said to the man in the gospel, "fool" Fool" was the term which the Saviour Himself used; that man was not content with the barns he had, but he must pull them down and build greater; but, O, mark "God said unto him, Fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided." "So is he" (here is the application by the Son of God Himself) "so is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21) O! what a reality it is to die! as Paul says to the Hebrews "it is appointed unto men to die, but after that the JUDGMENT." (Heb. 9:27) "The Judgment!" Are you prepared for it? Are you fit? Do you object to the term "fit" on such a subject? Hear me, for it is not adopting a legal term.
And this is not setting up a red-hot Calvinist test! as gospel-haters would say; neither is it setting up a high standard (as dear Philpot says) and "cutting off every body's head who cannot come up to it. No! it is only putting my hand into your consciences, and giving you an evidence that you are a child of God. "that you are of the number of those to whom the Redeemer's invitation is addressed "Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) Have you got a burden?
And as some one else says: "With my burden I begin."
But I must pass on to the other portions of the subject before me. I have spoken briefly to you about the Elect; who they are, and how and why they are such; What gives them the title? The Queen of England can raise any commoner to the Peerage! she can create a Peer, and give them a coronet! Have you received a peerage, and a coronet? Are you raised up from a state of death in trespasses and sins to one of life? Do you take rank amongst the peers of heaven, heaven upon earth? O! great and glorious privilege.
Thus far I have endeavoured to set before you who the persons spoken of in the text are, "the Elect;" and then, Secondly, (O, how briefly) the great subject of JUSTIFICATION, and, before I finish it, let me tell you, my hearers, and tell you so, that you may never forget it; that it is without works, without merit in any way whatever in the justified soul. It is done out of him, he is the recipient only of the act, and blessing of the JUSTIFIER!
And now I pass on to the other portion of the subject before us. "Who is he that condemneth?" "It is Christ that died." It is said in Job, (and it is a sweet annotation of this scripture, "Who is he that condemneth?") "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" When the living God, who is the Saviour of the Church, "gives quietness," who can then disturb the soul? I take it that I am speaking to the experience of the dear people of God in this, to those who are really exercised and tried under a sense of sin. It is only those who feel condemnation, condemnation within. It is that which afflicts the believer when under a deep sense of sin, and seeing sin in all its length, and depth, and breadth, and height, and sunk down under the pressure of it, he can get no peace until he is brought to the Cross of the Great Burden Bearer! There is an account in "Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress," of Christian toiling up a very steep hill, with an enormous heavy burden on his shoulders, groaning under it, and bewailing it. When suddenly at the top of the hill, he sees the dying Redeemer's Cross; Christ is revealed to his soul; his burden now feels no heavier than a feather, for Christ is seen as all.
So it is with me; and I can only preach to you that which God has taught me in my own soul, the reality of sin, the reality of Jesus Christ as the Saviour! "Who is he that condemneth?" Everything condemns the child of God! Law, justice, guilt, self, sin, all against us, and yet no condemnation. But this must be experienced, felt, known..."If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36) "And ye shall know the TRUTH, and the Truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) "Who is he that condemneth?" Now then, observe, and mark me (for I have here, as I often have, too much text) the answer is, "It is Christ that died," that is Christ crucified. But we must not stop here. His death alone would have been inefficacious if it had not been followed up by His resurrection! "Yea rather" mark that! for this is the way to read or hear the Bible "yea rather," (every word tells: the Holy Spirit, the Author of this blessed Book never throws away a word) "Yea rather, that is RISEN again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us." Now there is a chain, death "it is Christ that died" I might preach a Sermon on that the Death of Christ! "It is Christ that died!" Can you imagine the fact, the mighty tragedy, (I was going to say) and so it is in one sense, but in another, it is a blessed Reality for the Church. Come my brother and meditate upon Calvary! see the outstretched hands, and hear that dying declaration! Oh, WHAT A SERMON! better than any man now can preach. Listen to the three-worded Sermon! "It is Finished!" "There's Sermon enough for all eternity. "It is Finished!" All was done then. The law was finished. Law moral, law ceremonial justice was satisfied. All was finished for the salvation of the Church! and this was arranged and decreed in the purposes of God before all worlds.
But it must not end there He must rise again! He must ascend up where He was before, leading captivity captive. If I can turn to the blessed passage which comes with some power to my own soul (I think it is in Psalm 68In Psalms 85 it says, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.") And in Psalm 68:18, "Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also." Do you hear me? "Yea, for the Rebellious also." Rebellious ones, rebels against His authority and crown. "Yea, for the rebellious also," as if the Holy Spirit must put in that word "also" to suit the cases of those poor ones who are oppressed with sin, and guilt, and doubts, and fears; and hence the greatest and most notorious sinner need not despair. Listen to me if there be such a hearer before me when Christ ascended up on high, there was a "yea, for the Rebellious also," and why? "That the Lord God (THE JEHOVAH) might dwell among them. Now then here is the Death and the Resurrection! Do not forget that! "Yea rather, that is Risen again!" as if the Holy Spirit meant to say that the death of Christ alone would not have sufficed "Yea rather," (I should have said) "that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God." Christ is Risen; you do not doubt it; you do not gainsay it. The children in the Sunday School are taught it, though they cannot understand it. You may perhaps understand the meaning of the words, but can you understand the matter practically, experimentally? Are you risen with Him? That is the point. Now then, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where sitteth on the right hand of God." "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" "for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (and then) "When Christ our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." (Col. 3:1-4)
The second advent is a great practical truth, which it is well to have continually impressed upon us. What was all the vain glory and splendour of the great pageant which you might have seen in the crowded streets of this great city the other day, on the occasion of the funeral of the great soldier, as hew as committed to the grave under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, compared with that scene which will be seen "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him? I believe this to be a most profitable point to impress upon hearers in every sermon, that Christ is coming again! "Be ye also ready, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not." (Luke 12:40) Look at the conduct of thousands in relation to worldly things. I was told today that many people were up, at I do not know what hour in the morning on the day of the Duke's funeral to get into St. Paul's Cathedral. You too must be upon the watch for the coming of the Lord; but you have no power to do so unless God gives it to you. Let me read to you a passage that comes to me upon the subject "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout "What is the meaning of "descend?" To come down "shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ, shall rise first." (1 Thess. 4:16) There is a retinue! If you should die tonight will it be said of you, that you are "dead in Christ?" That you died in Christ? "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) And if you die tonight in your bed before another sun is up in the eastern sky, and if it can be truly said of you, that man, or that woman is "dead in Christ," then you will be admitted into the court of heaven.
"Then we which are alive and remain." What do you get out of that? Why that the Apostle was in constant expectation of His coming at any instant, even in the age in which he lived; for he says "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." I cannot venture to preach that "to meet the Lord in the air!" and then the climax! "and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4:17) When I have done preaching I shall go home to my bed, if spared, perhaps devil-hunted, tried and tempted, but when I have met my Lord all the trials and temptations of earth will be done away. Listen to me! "When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying, that it is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Cor. 15:54) When this is felt with power, then I Can confidently say with the apostle "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:55-58)"Wherefore," (says the apostle in that scripture about meeting the "Lord in the air) Wherefore comfort "(or as it is in the margin "exhort") "one another with these words." And can there be anything so beneficial, by way of exhortation as that, He is coming again? "He is risen!" And when His disciples were cast down in anticipation of His departure; He told them, "I will see you again!" And what is the Saviour doing now (for I must pass over a large portion of the subject and simply endeavour to preach to you my blessed Redeemer in the place where He now is, and point you,) as I am preaching to you in this pulpit to my Redeemer, as the Intercessor at the right hand of God in glory? And what is He doing there? What is the office of the Lord Chancellor in the Court of Chancery! To sit and judge. What has the Commanding-in-Chief at the Horse Guards to do? To regulate and command the army. And Oh! what is He doing in heaven of whom I am preaching to you what is His special office there? To make intercession for me a sinner. The Apostle John says "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:1,2)
"Oh!" says some one, "There is universal redemption!" No such thing! There is no such thing. The true meaning of that scripture is this, the Jews had fallen into a fearful heresy, that no Gentile could be saved, and John in correcting that error, and by the words, "the whole world," does not mean every man, but Gentiles as well as Jews, elect Gentiles as well as elect Jews throughout "the whole world." Universal redemption is the very essence of Popery! And in order that the Church of God should not take any advantage of her freedom "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous "or that the gospel hater and "election doubter," (as Toplady says,) should not be able truly to say that there is a handle to sin, or a door to licentiousness. Observe what is said in the preceding verse "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not!" God's Church are "little children." "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3) "These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. "If any man sin (and who does not: Do I? Do you? Can we help it?) "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father!" We have a Friend at court! "How sweet this is to my soul." We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous." What is the meaning of Advocate? Have you ever had an important suit in a court of justice? And have you not given a retaining fee to the most eminent counsel of today to plead and carry on your cause? Would you not do so? To be sure you would. Now look at and contemplate the name of this great Advocate in the court of Heaven. In the Book of Isaiah "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor! (Advocate) the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6) What an Advocate! Look how He pleads. Here is one of the pleas! "Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me, for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24) There is a sweet passage in the Old Testament, "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty, He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love." (Zep. 3:17) He will joy over thee with singing. "He rests in His love," and is there not "Joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth?" (Luke 15:10)
In temptation, when you are tried, and what Christian man is there who is not tried? What can keep you but the power of God? What was it that preserved that tried saint of old, Joseph, when he was almost coaxed into sin by the adulterous spouse of Potiphar? What was it that prompted the words "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9) The fear of God in his heart. And when we feel dead, and dull, and dark, when neither sun nor stars for many days appear, and no small tempest lay upon us as with Paul in the shipwreck what is it that gives us a glimmer of light? The Son of Righteousness arising with healing in his wings." (Mal. 4:2) What a mercy to know when we are tried, and harassed, and cannot pray that we have an advocate still with the Father Who "ever liveth to make intercession for us." (Heb. 7:25) There is a sweet passage on this subject in the Epistle to the Hebrews "But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." He never intercedes for the world; and therefore when we realize the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ is interceding for us, there is faith in Him; and we can say with the Apostle, "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Heb. 4:15) I speak it reverentially, but I speak it in order to place the crown on the right head, God the Father cannot enter into our feelings here God the Holy Ghost cannot enter into feeling here, it is the special province of the God-Man! Who "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
There was a passage read in the desk just now, which was very precious to my soul "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." (James 1:12) And it is said (in the Hebrews) of Moses, "he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible." (Heb. 11:27) Now can you enter into that secret mystery? "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trial of your faith worketh patience." (James 1:2,3) But what is to be the effect of trial and temptation? Paul, in that passage in the Hebrews says, "Seeing then that we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:14-16) Christ can sympathize with His poor afflicted people, therefore come boldly to Him in time of need.
And now to sum up this great subject on which I have endeavoured to preach to you. We cannot be too much taken up with this vast subject, this blessed doctrine! It begins with "no condemnation," and how does it end? "no separation." "Those whom God hath joined together let not man put asunder." (Matt. 19:6) There can be no divorce there. "Though thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again unto Me, saith the Lord." (Jer. 3:1)
Nothing can ever cast a child of God into hell. "No condemnation!" That is the opening declaration of this chapter, and the end is "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" But now what is it to be "in Christ?" The Apostle tells us "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature." (2 Cor. 5:17) And now, I say, to all in this crowded assembly before me, that this is the test. I cannot tell your state. You are, many of you, strangers to me; but this I tell you, that if you are "in Christ," the test of your being so, will be that you are new creatures. "Old things are passed away; behold! all things are become new" a new hope! a new Faith (the devils have got a faith, "the devils also believe and tremble") but when Christ is revealed by grace to and in the soul, all things become new. Who declares "Behold I make all things new?" It is God alone! Now that is a testing point for each one of you to take home with you! Mark me! (for I feel this to be a great point at all times in the pulpit to warn the people) I have no universal indiscriminate offers to give, but I am to warn, to speak in warning. Hear God's word! "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity: but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity: but thou hast delivered thy soul." (Ezek. 3:17-19) A man must be honest in the pulpit! I must be free from the blood of my hearers. I warn every one of you! I dare not say Peace, Peace, where there is no peace. (Jer. 6:14; Jer. 8:11) A searching ministry is the ministry to profit a people! and so I warn each one who hears me now! If you feel your sins, if you know what it is at times to sink under the burden of sin, then, if so, I have scripture invitations for you "Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest;" (Matt. 11:28) and also, "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) But if there is one sinner before me hardened in sin, dead in trespasses and sins, I warn you, and the warning may prove a blessing to your soul! who can tell? as a dear sister said to me "I would always go to hear the gospel with a who can tell?" And how sweet it is when the ambassadors of Christ to His poor people come up into our pulpits with the same feeling with "a who can tell!" And who can tell but that this poor wretch in the pulpit tonight may be blessed of God to some poor sinner, who, when I began to preach could not understand a word I said, but is now beginning to see something "Behold," (says Christ) "I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (Rev. 3:20) Now mark, my dear hearers, the almost concluding words of the Bible "He that is unjust" (my subject is Justification!) "let him be unjust still" (Rev. 22:11)He that is not justified, shall be unjustified through all eternity. When I asked a friend the other day about a person who had recently died "Do you think he is in heaven?" The answer was, "he will very soon be tired of his company if he is." A man must be prepared for heaven before it can be happiness to him. Heaven would be no heaven to the reprobate. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still." Now look at the text. "It is God that justifieth!" and "he that is filthy, let him be filthy still," that is, for ever. If a sinner is not washed from filthiness in time, that sinner will be filthy through all eternity.
In walking through the streets of this crowded city, we often meet with sad objects and see the very worst of characters; and the feeling crosses the mind at times, O! how distressing it would be to be shut up with such characters through all eternity; or if even a well-bred gentleman brought up in and accustomed to, the polish and etiquette of the best society, would loathe and shudder at being confined for a few hours even, amidst the vulgarities and vices of a beer shop, or any such scene O! what would it be to be in hell for ever! and with the characters there. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still." Now mark the reverse "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." "It is God that justifieth." May he bless my faithful preaching to your souls. May His Name have been tonight exalted, and may you be sent home to your houses quietly and prayerfully investigating the state of your own souls, and may some of those in this church, who, perhaps, when I begun to preach, were hardened in sin, feel the first work of the Holy Spirit's power upon the soul, even this a genuine conviction of sin, and be afterwards led into the pardon and freedom of the gospel. May it be said here tonight, "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:43) and though bound up for a time with grave clothes, and the napkin, yet "Loose him and let him go" followed. Liberty is a blessed thing! "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Gal. 5:1) It was a blessed event, and a marked feature, to the honour of England, when by the Decree of her Parliament, she struck off (as far as she could do) the fetters of the slave, and wiping out that disgraceful stain from the Statute Book, set them at liberty.
"If the Son therefore shall make you Free, ye shall be Free indeed." I will now read the text, and so finish preaching to you, and may God give me some souls tonight, yea! if it be but one soul! for "he that winneth souls is wise." (Prov. 11:30) "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us." May God bless the gospel for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.