Lord God

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q.43. —What is the preface to the ten commandments? 

A. —The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Q. 44. — What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?

A. — The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.

Scripture References: Exodus 20:2; Luke 1:74; I Peter 1:15-19.

Questions:

1. What three things are found in the preface to motivate us to holy living?
The three motivators are:
(1) He is our Lord.
(2) He is our God.
(3) He is our Redeemer.

2. Why should we keep His commandments because He is our Lord?

We should keep His commandments because He is our Lord since He is our Creator and our Sovereign and as His creatures and subjects we owe Him this. Ps. 100:2,3.

3. Why should we keep His commandments because He is our God?

We should keep His commandments because He is our God since He is our Covenant God and has brought us into a special relationship with Himself and therefore we have an obligation to serve Him.

4. Why should we keep His commandments because He is our Redeemer?

We should keep His commandments because He is our Redeemer since He bought us and made us free from sin and this should encourage us to be obedient unto Him.

5. What wonderful lessons can be learned from the grammatical construction used in this question?

The lesson that He is the Lord our God in the present time, not in the future; the lesson that He is the Lord God of every individual sinner (“Thy”) whom He calls.

6. From what bondage are ‘We delivered by the Lord our God?

We are delivered from the bondage of being under the wrath of God and the guilt, power and pollution of sin, from hell itself. This should teach us to keep His commandments out of praise to Him for what He has done for us and out of the sense that this is the least we can do to repay Him. (Philippians 1 :27)

OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE

By Israel’s deliverance from the house of bondage typifies the spiritual deliverance of the believer from sin, Satan and hell. Our spiritual deliverance is a wondrous thing, a mercy for which we should ever be praising God. The question is pertinent: Why don’t we praise Him more for such a deliverance? Why aren’t our lives a ceaseless hymn of praise to our God who is our Deliverer?

This deliverance is something the Christian takes for granted time and time again. There does not seem to be a realization of what He has done for us in this regard. We sing:

“In loving kindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Thro’ grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise His name, He lifted me!”

And yet though we sing it we do not realize all that is involved. We say we do, we can give the right answers under theological examination, but our manner of life so many times shows a lack of appreciation for our deliverance.

There might be help for us in this matter if we should realize once again from what we have been delivered. Let us think of the sinner for a moment. He is a man who is in bondage to sin. He is an absolute slave to his own sinful will. Sin reigns over him and there is nothing he can do about it. He is a man that is under the command of Satan. He rules the mind of the sinner and there is nothing the sinner can do about it for he is in ignorance. He rules the sinner’s will and since he does the sinner will obey him in each situation. Satan leads him into snares he sets for him, every step has at its end a Satanic mine that cannot be missed and will always destroy. He is a man who is on his way to hell, to everlasting torment. There is no worse way to describe misery, to paint a picture of it, than to use the term hell. The worst mire of life is easy compared to the terrible punishments of hell. From such a bondage is the redeemed man delivered by grace.

How is it possible for us not to praise our Lord God for such a deliverance? How can we help but bend every effort to thank Him for this wonderful grace? Nothing should stop us from magnifying the precious name of Jesus by giving Him the preeminence in all that we do, say and think, all to the glory of God. (Psalm 11:1)

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 43 (July 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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J.J. JanewayIt was on Thursday, June 13, 1799, that he was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, along with four others, which, at that day, was rather an unusual occurrence. John Blair Linn, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia—whose bright light was so soon quenched,—William and John E. Latta, and Buckley Carl were the persons then ordained in the Old Arch Street Church. At the same time Mr. Janeway was installed pastor of the church. “On this auspicious day I was solemnly set apart to the work of the ministry of the Lord Jesus. In the presence of God, of his holy angels, and of men, my most solemn vows were made. May the Lord God and Saviour, the Great Head of the Church, endue my soul with abundant fortitude for the all important work, and bless me with great success. I give thanks, oh God, for thy presence on the affecting occasion.”

“Through the week God has favoured me with composure and serenity of mind. My thoughts have been collected. But alas! I have to lament the corruptions of my soul. Oh! what unbelief, what pride, what coldness of affection; how hard to lift the soul to God by fervent breathings of heart. O Lord, I beseech thee to bestow liberally on me of the influences of the Holy Spirit. Prepare me, Lord, for thy sovereign pleasure.    Sanctify me, oh God!”

Then, in Rev. Janeway’s diary, we read on this day, October 5, in 1799

“What a testimony to the insufficiency of human strength, unaided by the power of religion, have I seen during the course of the last week! A young man in the vigour of health, with all the comforts of life about him, seemingly without a cause, attempted to terminate his days. What a witness in favour of religion, which alone can afford adequate help and comfort, under the troubles of this mortal state! I bless God for preserving me from such infatuation, and giving me the aids and consolations of his holy religion, to sustain my soul under the tribulations through which I have passed. I bless my God, who hath redeemed my soul out of all my troubles. In him would I trust, and to his glory I would spend my days. For his help, during the absence of my beloved colleague, I desire to render my hearty thanks. He has exceeded my expectations. Trust him, therefore, O my soul, for all that remains of thy mortal days. Soon will they be over, and thou, I hope, wilt enter into rest. I bless God for the composure and peace of mind which I have enjoyed for some few years. Now I feel some transient attacks on my faith. May God support it and not suffer it to be moved.”

Words to Live By:
Our Lord Jesus Christ is our reason for living, and not merely for living, but living with purpose, for the glory of God. Make it your daily discipline to acknowledge God’s work in your life, How He convicts you of sin and leads you to repentance, how He has redeemed your soul, His many and daily blessings and answers to prayer. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. He is our sustaining joy in life, regardless of what challenges we may face.

For Further Study:
PCA pastor Ron Gleason has recently written When the Unthinkable Happens: What the Bible Says about Suicidean excellent resource for pastors and others who want to be prepared to minister with wisdom, love and grace.

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Tell Me the Old, Old Story —

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David.

In order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there the days were completed for her to give birth.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

But  the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

for today in the city of David there  has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased:

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this things that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

So they came in a hurry and found their way  to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

And all who hear it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:1–21

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O, That All Men Would Humble Themselves in the Presence of Our God.

A good Lord’s Day pastime, the following sermon by John Knox is one of the few committed to writing by him. His text is Isaiah 26:13-21. The historical setting of the sermon is explained in this preface:

knoxJohn04“Henry Darnley (king of Scotland by his marriage with queen Mary,) went sometimes to mass with the queen, and sometimes attended the protestant sermons. To silence the rumours then circulated of his having forsaken the reformed religion, he, on the 19th of August, 1565, attended service at St. Giles’s church, sitting on a throne which had been prepared for him. Knox preached that day on Isaiah xxvi.13, 14, and happened to prolong the service beyond the usual time. In one part of the sermon, he quoted these words of scripture, ‘I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them: children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.’ In another part he referred to God’s displeasure against Ahab, because he did not correct his idolatrous wife Jezebel. No particular application of these passages was made by Knox, but the king considered them as reflecting upon the queen and himself, and returned to the palace in great wrath. He refused to dine, and went out to hawking.

That same afternoon Knox was summoned from his bed to appear before the council. He went accompanied by several respectable inhabitants of the city. The secretary informed him of the king’s displeasure at his sermon, and desired that he would abstain from preaching for fifteen or twenty days. Knox answered, that he had spoken nothing but according to his text, and if the church would command him either to preach or abstain, he would obey so far as the word of God would permit him. The king and queen left Edinburgh during the week following, and it does not appear that Knox was actually suspended from preaching.”

The following are Knox’s reasons for the publication of this Sermon, extracted from his preface to the first edition.

“If any will ask, To what purpose this sermon is set forth? I answer, To let such as satan has not altogether blinded, see upon how small occasions great offence is now conceived. This sermon is it, for which, from my bed, I was called before the council; and after long reasoning, I was by some forbidden to preach in Edinburgh, so long as the king and queen were in town. This sermon is it, that so offends such as would please the court, and will not appear to be enemies to the truth; yet they dare affirm, that I exceeded the bounds of God’s messenger. I have therefore faithfully committed unto writing whatsoever I could remember might have been offensive in that sermon; to the end, that the enemies of God’s truth, as well as the professors of the same, may either note unto me wherein I have offended, or at the least cease to condemn me before they have convinced me by God’s manifest word.”

A SERMON ON ISAIAH XXVI.

Isaiah 26:13-16, etc. — O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise; therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, thou hast increased the nation, thou art glorified; thou hast removed it far unto the ends of the earth. Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them, &c.

As the skilful mariner (being master,) having his ship tossed with a vehement tempest, and contrary winds, is compelled oft to traverse, lest that, either by too much resisting to the violence of the waves, his vessel might be overwhelmed; or by too much liberty granted, might be carried whither the fury of the tempest would, so that his ship should be driven upon the shore, and make shipwreck; even so doth our prophet Isaiah in this text, which now you have heard read. For he, foreseeing the great desolation that was decreed in the council of the Eternal, against Jerusalem and Judah, namely, that the whole people, that bare the name of God, should be dispersed; that the holy city should be destroyed; the temple wherein was the ark of the covenant, and where God had promised to give his own presence, should be burnt with fire; and the king taken, his sons in his own presence murdered, his own eyes immediately after be put out; the nobility, some cruelly murdered, some shamefully led away captives; and finally, the whole seed of Abraham rased, as it were, from the fate of the earth. The prophet, I say, fearing these horrible calamities, doth, as it were, sometimes suffer himself, and the people committed to his charge, to be carried away with the violence of the tempest, without further resistance than by pouring forth his and their dolorous complaints before the majesty of God, as in the 13th, 17th, and 18th verses of this present text we may read. At other times he valiantly resists the desperate tempest, and pronounces the fearful destruction of all such as trouble the church of God; which he pronounces that God will multiply, even when it appears utterly to be exterminated. But because there is no final rest to the whole body till the Head return to judgment, he exhorts the afflicted to patience, and promises a visitation whereby the wickedness of the wicked shall be disclosed, and finally recompensed in their own bosoms.

These are the chief points of which, by the grace of God, we intend more largely at this present to speak;

First, The prophet saith, “O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have ruled us.”

This, no doubt, is the beginning of the dolorous complaint, in which he complains of the unjust tyranny that the poor afflicted Israelites sustained during the time of their captivity. True it is, that the prophet was gathered to his fathers in peace, before this came upon the people: for a hundred years after his decease the people were not led away captive; yet he, foreseeing the assurance of the calamity, did before-hand indite and dictate unto them the complaint, which afterward they should make. But at the first sight it appears, that the complaint has but small weight; for what new thing was it, that other lords than God in his own person ruled them, seeing that such had been their government from the beginning? For who knows not, that Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, the judges, Samuel, David, and other godly rulers, were men, and not God; and so other lords than God ruled them in their greatest prosperity.

For the better understanding of this complaint, and of the mind of the prophet, we must, first, observe from whence all authority flows; and, secondly, to what end powers are appointed by God: which two points being discussed, we shall better understand, what lords and what authority rule beside God, and who they are in whom God and his merciful presence rules.

The first is resolved to us by the words of the apostle, saying, “There is no power but of God.” David brings in the eternal God speaking to judges and rulers, saying, “I have said, ye are gods, and sons of the Most High.” (Psal. lxxxii.) And Solomon, in the person of God, affirmeth the same, saying, “By me kings reign, and princes discern the things that are just.” From which place it is evident, that it is neither birth, influence of stars, election of people, force of arms, nor finally, whatsoever can be comprehended under the power of nature, that makes the distinction betwixt the superior power and the inferior, or that establishes the royal throne of kings; but it is the only and perfect ordinance of God, who willeth his terror, power, and majesty, partly to shine in the thrones of kings, and in the faces of judges, and that for the profit and comfort of man. So that whosoever would study to deface the order of government that God has established, and allowed by his holy word, and bring in such a confusion, that no difference should be betwixt the upper powers and the subjects, does nothing but avert and turn upside down the very throne of God, which he wills to be fixed here upon earth; as in the end and cause of this ordinance more plainly shall appear: which is the second point we have to observe, for the better understanding of the prophet’s words and mind.

The end and cause then, why God imprints in the weak and feeble flesh of man this image of his own power and majesty, is not to puff up flesh in opinion of itself; neither yet that the heart of him, that is exalted above others, should be lifted up by presumption and pride, and so despise others; but that he should consider he is appointed lieutenant to One, whose eyes continually watch upon him, to see and examine how he behaves himself in his office. St. Paul, in few words, declares the end wherefore the sword is committed to the powers, saying, “It is to the punishment of the wicked doers, and unto the praise of such as do well.” Rom. xiii.

Of which words it is evident, that the sword of God is not committed to the hand of man, to use as it pleases him, but only to punish vice and maintain virtue, that men may live in such society as is acceptable before God. And this is the true and only cause why God has appointed powers in this earth.

For such is the furious rage of man’s corrupt nature, that, unless severe punishment were appointed and put in execution upon malefactors, better it were that man should live among brutes and wild beasts than among men. But at this present I dare not enter into the description of this common-place; for so should I not satisfy the text, which by God’s grace I purpose to explain. This only by the way — I would that such as are placed in authority should consider, whether they reign and rule by God, so that God rules them; or if they rule without, besides, and against God, of whom our prophet hero complains.

If any desire to take trial of this point, it is not hard; for Moses, in the election of judges, and of a king, describes not only what persons shall be chosen to that honour, but also gives to him that is elected and chosen, the rule by which he shall try himself, whether God reign in him or not, saying, “When he shall sit upon the throne of his kingdom, he shall write to himself an exemplar of this law, in a book by the priests and Levites; it shall be with him, and he shall lead therein, all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep all the words of his law, and these statutes, that he may do them; that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left.” Deut. xvii.

The same is repeated to Joshua, in his inauguration to the government of the people, by God himself, saying, “Let not the book of this law depart from thy mouth, but meditate in it day and night, that thou mayest keep it, and do according to all that which is written in it. For then shall thy way be prosperous, and thou shall do prudently.” Josh. i.

The first thing then that God requires of him, who is called to the honour of a king, is, The knowledge of his will revealed in his word.

The second is, An upright and willing mind, to put in execution such things as God commands in his law, without declining to the right, or to the left hand.

Kings then have not an absolute power, to do in their government what pleases them, but their power is limited by God’s word; so that if they strike where God has not commanded, they are but murderers; and if they spare where God has commanded to strike, they and their throne are criminal and guilty of the wickedness which abounds upon the face of the earth, for lack of punishment.

O that kings and princes would consider what account shall be craved of them, as well of their ignorance and misknowledge of God’s will, as for the neglecting of their office! But now, to return to the words of the prophet. In the person of the whole people he complains unto God, that the Babylonians (whom he calls, “other lords besides God,” both because of their ignorance of God, and by reason of their cruelty and inhumanity,) had long ruled over them in great rigour, without pity or compassion upon the ancient men, and famous matrons: for they, being mortal enemies to the people of God, sought by all means to aggravate their yoke, yea, utterly to exterminate the memory of them, and of their religion, from the face of the earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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SpragueWBSermons on the subject of heaven, at least those from a confessionally orthodox standpoint, seem to be rather rare. Our sermon for this Lord’s day is one of those rarities. It was delivered by the noted pastor and biographer, the Rev. William Buell Sprague, on February 9, 1845. The full title of the sermon, if you wish to make note of it, is A Sermon preached in the Second Presbyterian Church, Albany, February 9, 1845, the Sabbath immediately succeeding the Death of Mrs. Oliver S. Strong, of Jersey City, daughter of Archibald McIntyre, Esq. of Albany.

It may be worth noting that Sprague was trained for the ministry in the early days of Princeton Theological Seminary, studying under professors Archibald Alexander and Samuel Miller. Thus the content of his sermon may arguably be seen as a reflection of the Princeton theology.

 

 

 

 

 

SERMON.
PSALM xxxvi, 9.
In thy light shall we see light.

The natural state of man is a state of darkness. His vision is indeed clear enough for the discerning of natural objects; and the sun in the heavens pour his radiance around him, to delight his eye and to illuminate his path. So too he has the faculty of viewing the qualities of the ten thousand objects by which he is surrounded—of looking over the creation with the intellectual as well as the bodily eye—of admiring as well as beholding the beauty, and grandeur, and harmony, which pervade the works of God. And more than that—he has a certain kind of moral discernment, by which he sees the immutable distinction between right and wrong, and the unchanging obligation of man to yield obedience to his Creator, and the fearful recompense of transgression under a wise and righteous government. All the great truths, both of natural and revealed religion, are, in a certain sense, fairly within the scope of his vision; and he can speak of them, and speak of them honestly, with reverence and admiration.

But notwithstanding all this, the remark with which I began is true—emphatically true—that man is naturally in a state of darkness; else what means that declaration of the Apostle that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”? The truth is, that man, with the eye of his natural understanding, can look—if I may be allowed the expression—at the exterior of God’s truth; but he is incapable of penetrating beneath the surface. There is in it a depth of spiritual excellence and beauty—an adaptation to meet the inward cravings of the soul, and to exalt and glorify its all-wise Author, of which he has no knowledge. He has not penetrated into the sanctuary of experimental religion. He may talk even in rapture of the spiritual glory of the gospel, and may imagine that he has felt its power; but it is an imaginary experience, and nothing more. The true light has not shined into his soul; for the film that naturally obstructs his spiritual vision has not been cleared away.

But there have been those in every age, whom the Spirit, by his illuminating and all gracious energies, has brought out of darkness into marvellous light. Among these there have been not a few who had been accustomed to view divine truth before, with a strong intellectual vision; and what is more—men who had imagined that the true light had already found its way into their understandings; nay, who had ridiculed the idea of any other light than that which every man enjoys, in the diligent use of his natural powers. But these, as truly as others, have had their views corrected, and have acknowledged with the most grateful admiration of God’s grace, that “old things have passed away and all things have become new.”

I say then, the Christian, even in this imperfect state, sees light in God’s light. In the contemplation of his truth, as it is revealed in his word; in the experience of his grace, as it refreshes and elevates his soul; he walks in the light of the divine countenance. When he contemplates the glory of God’s providence, the glory of Redemption, the anticipated glory of Heaven,—especially when the eye of his faith fastens upon Christ, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, whose presence is the bliss, and whose praise is the employment of, the ransomed,—I say, when these wonderful subjects come before his mind, he seems to himself to be walking in an immeasurable field of light, and the illumination of the sun of righteousness well nigh entrance his soul with ecstacy. In the experience of Christians, the intense joys to which I have here referred, are by no means constant; and many perhaps may remain strangers to them through life; but all, all without exception, who have been born from above, have some new views of spiritual objects : if there is not the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory, there is ordinarily the peace that passeth understanding; and in every case there is a spiritual relish for God’s truth, which develops itself in earnest aspirations after Heaven, and which has in it the elements of heavenly glory.

But we may consider the text, in its ultimate bearing, as looking at the condition of the Christian in a future world rather than in the present; that world in which we are to “see face to face,” rather than this in which “we see through a glass darkly.” There are some beams of spiritual light that bring gladness to the Christian’s soul here; but there it will be light without shade; the sun of righteousness will shine forever in His glory without the intervention of a cloud. I know, my brethren, that our views of Heaven are at best exceedingly imperfect : there is a depth of meaning in the descriptions which inspiration has given of it, which it might defy even the seraph before the throne to fathom. It were in vain for us, for instance, to attempt to decide in what part of the universe will be the city of our God; or to form any adequate conception of that splendid garniture with which the Creator has adorned it. Conceive of a city which is of pure gold; the walls of which are of jasper, and its foundation of all manner of precious stones, and its gates of pearl, and its very streets transparent, so as to reflect every image of beauty and grandeur : conceive that it is illuminated by the presence of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb; and that the nations of them that are saved walk in the light of it, and that the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it; and then, if you can analyze this conception, and tell what is included in all this burning imagery, you have some idea of Heaven.

But instead of attempting to lead you into any general view of this sublime subject, I shall limit myself in the present discourse, to the simple thought suggested by our text—that in Heaven the glorified saint will behold light—light emanating directly from the fountain of all light. He will dwell in the immediate presence of the Lord God, who is the sun of the universe; and wherever He moves, He will move amidst a flood of divine illuminations.

Let us consider then, some of the CHARACTERISTICS of that light in which the Christian is hereafter to rejoice.

1. It is a spiritual light. We know too little of what will be the constitution of the glorified body, to be able to decide whether it will possess distinct organs of vision adapted to behold external objects, or whether the mind will act directly, as by a kind of intuitive survey, on the splendors of the renovated creation. But whether the one or the other be true, the glorified saint will behold light that will reveal to him all that is magnificent in the palace of the king of glory; all that is majestic in the throne on which the Redeemer sits, and around which angels sing; all that is attractive and enchanting in the fields and flowers and fruits of immortality. But that light which will be most enrapturing to the eye of the redeemed saint, no doubt will be the light of truth; that in which he will behold the same great truths on which his mind had been fastened here, illustrated and amplified into a field of glory. Here he had often been occupied in contemplating the character and government of God; the character and mediation of His Son; the love and grace and glory which are displayed in the scheme of redemption; the relations which that scheme may sustain to other worlds, and to the whole created universe : and there too the same truths will still be before his mind, and he will see them in a yet brighter light; and will discover in them endlessly diversified forms of moral and spiritual beauty. He will find in these truths a depth of wisdom, which here it had not entered his mind to conceive; and which, even with the vision of a seraph, he will never be able fully to explore. And other truths involved in these, or growing out of them, or independent of them, will not doubt unfold to his understanding, and engage his admiring scrutiny. It was in the light of truth that he drew his first breath as a regenerate and adopted child of God; and in the light of truth his soul will breathe forth its noblest aspirations, will rise to its sublimest heights, will burn with its most ecstatic joys, when this mortal shall have put on immortality.

II. It is a surprising light. Can you imagine it otherwise, when you contemplate the circumstances in which it first bursts upon the soul? For then the Christian will be fresh from the dark valley; will have just finished his struggle with the king of terrors; just closed his eyes upon all the objects and interests of the world. Perhaps he has had a long and dreary passage from one world to another—it may be that the fall of the earthly tabernacle was the result of a protracted and most agonizing convulsion; and that those who loved him were most obliged to flee from his bedside because the scene overwhelmed them; and possibly the agony of the body may have brought a cloud over the mind, or at least have prevented it from apprehending in their full extent the consolations of the gospel. Say now, whether an angel’s tongue be adequate to describe the joyful surprise, which the believer must experience in his transition from earth to Heaven.Think of him speaking one moment to the hearts of agonized friends, out of eyes already dimmed by the film of death, and the next, gazing with renovated vision on the glories of the eternal throne.. Think how the light of this world, as he lies upon his death bed, gradually fades into darkness; how the objects around him become more and more indistinct; how the last object—perhaps his dearest friend—finally sinks away in the shadows of that night which has come over him; and just then, when the darkness is the thickest and the deepest, and not only the eye of sense, but it may be, the eye of faith, is closed—oh, at that moment, when the soul seems to be almost lost in the valley of death—to have the light from beyond the tomb break in, and to find itself passing the gates of the heavenly city, and to have the whole field of vision filled with the brightness of the divine presence—tell me whether any human imagination can apprehend the surpassing glory of this contrast. When I stand by thy death bed, and witness thy last struggle—when evidence that I cannot resist glares upon me, that thou art really in the monster’s hands, my heart sinks within me; but when I think that these are the last drops of bitterness in thy cup, and that this struggle which I behold is the harbinger of immortal victory; when I remember that an angel’s hand is just ready to draw aside the veil, and let in upon thee all the light and glory of Heaven, I am constrained to say, “Blessed art thou above those who look on and witness thine agony : thrice blessed art thou; for that eye is closing in death only to open upon the light of an immortal life; that spirit is struggling to free itself from the body, only that it may soar away from earth and sing with seraphic ecstacy around the throne.”

. . .

III. It is a satisfying light. “I shall be satisfied,” says David, “when I awake in thy likeness;” and so will every believer be satisfied when he awakes to the light of immortality. He will be satisfied with the revelations which will then be made to him of God’s truth. 

To finish reading Rev. Sprague’s sermon, click here and continue reading from page 17.

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In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Presbyterian Board of Publication was created, with its first work being the publication of a number of tracts and treatises. As more and more tracts were published, they were eventually gathered together and issued as bound volumes, best known by their spine title, PRESBYTERIAN TRACTS. [The contents of these volumes have been indexed, here.] In volume 5 of these PRESBYTERIAN TRACTS, we find Tract no. 65, a sermon extract from one of George Whitefield’s sermons, and this will be our sermon post for this Lord’s Day. While Whitefield was himself an Anglican, his work in the American colonies figured closely with some of the early ministry of Presbyterians in this country. We might even note that upon his death, he was buried in a crypt at the Old South Presbyterian Church, in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Regrettably, no further information is given in the book as to the source of this particular sermon portion:—

JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

“Thy beauty was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.”—Ezekiel xvi. 14.

Give me leave to ask you one question: Can you say, The Lord our righteousness? Were you ever made to see and admire the all-sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness, and excited by the Spirit of God to hunger and thirst after it? Could you ever say, My soul is athirst for Christ, yea, even for the righteousness of Christ? O when shall I come to appear before the presence of my God in the righteousness of Christ! Nothing but Christ! nothing but Christ! Give me Christ, O God, and I am satisfied! my soul shall praise Thee for ever.

Was this ever the language of your hearts? and, after these inward conflicts, were you ever enabled to reach out the arm of faith, and embrace the blessed Jesus in your souls, so that you could say, “My beloved is mine, and I am His?” If so, fear not, whoever you are. Hail, all hail, you happy souls! The Lord, the Lord Christ, the everlasting God, is your righteousness. Christ has justified you, who is he that condemneth you? Christ has died for you, nay, rather, is risen again, and ever liveth to make intercession for you. Being now justified by His grace, you have peace with God, and shall, ere long, be with Jesus in glory. For there is no condemnation to those that are really in Christ Jesus. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or life, or death, all is yours, if you are Christ’s, for Christ is God’s. My brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you! O think of the love of Christ in dying for you! If the Lord be your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lord be continually in your mouth. Talk of, O talk of, and recommend, the righteousness of Christ, when you lie down, and when you rise up, at your going out and coming in! Think of the greatness of the gift, as well as of the giver! Show to all the world, in whom you have believed! Let all by your fruits know that the Lord is your righteousness, and that you are waiting for your Lord from heaven! O study to be holy, even as He who has called you, and washed you in His blood was holy! O think of His dying love! Let that love constrain you to obedience; having much forgiven, love much. Be always asking, What shall I do to express my gratitude to the Lord, for giving me His righteousness? Let that self-abasing, God-exalting question, be always in your mouths, “Why me, Lord? why me?” why am I taken and others left? why is the Lord my righteousness? why is He become my salvation, who have so often deserved damnation at his hands?

But I must turn a little from congratulating you, to invite poor Christless sinners to come to Him, and accept of His righteousness, that they may have life. Alas, my heart almost bleeds! What a multitude of precious souls are new before me! how shortly must all be ushered into eternity! and yet, O cutting thought! were God now to require all your souls, how few could really say, The Lord our righteousness?

And think you, O sinners, that you will be able to stand in the day of judgment, if Christ be not your righteousness? No, that alone is the wedding-garment in which you must appear. O Christless sinners, I am distressed for you! the desires of my soul are enlarged. O that this may be an accepted time! That the Lord may be your righteousness! For whither would you flee, if death should find you naked? O think of death! O think of judgment! Yet a little while, and time shall be no more; and then what will become of you, if the Lord be not your righteousness? Think you that Christ will spare you? No, he that formed you, will have no mercy on you. If you be not of Christ, if Christ be not your righteousness, Christ Himself shall pronounce you damned. And can you bear to think of being damned by Christ? Can you bear to hear the Lord Jesus say to you, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Can you live, think you, in everlasting burnings? Is your flesh brass, and your bones iron? What if they be? hell-fire, that fire prepared for the devil and his angels, will heat them through and through. And can you bear to depart from Christ? O that heart-piercing thought! Ask those holy souls, who are at any time bewailing an absent God, who walk in darkness, and see no light, though but a few days or hours; ask them, what it is to lose a sight and presence of Christ? See how they seek Him sorrowing, and go mourning after Him all the day long! And, if it be so dreadful to lose the sensible presence of Christ for a day, what must it be to be banished from Him for all eternity?

But this must be, if Christ be not your righteousness. For God’s justice must be satisfied; and unless Christ’s righteousness is imputed and applied to you here, you must hereafter be satisfying divine justice in hell-torments eternally; nay, Christ Himself shall condemn you to that place of torment. And how cutting is that thought? Methinks I see poor, trembling, Christless wretches, standing before the bar of God, crying out, Lord, if we must be damned, let some angel, or some archangel, pronounce the sentence; but all in vain. Christ Himself shall pronounce the irrevocable sentence. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to close with Christ, and never rest until you can say, “the Lord our righteousness.” Who knows but the Lord may have mercy on, nay, abundantly pardon you? You need not fear the greatness or number of your sins. For are you sinners? so am I. Are you the chief of sinners? so am I. Are you backsliding sinners? so am I. And yet the Lord (for ever adored be His rich, free, and sovereign grace!) the Lord is my righteousness. Come, then, O young men, who (as I acted once myself) are playing the prodigal, and wandering away afar off from your heavenly Father’s house, come home, come home, and leave your swine’s trough. Feed no longer on the husks of sensual delights; for Christ’s sake arise, and come home! your heavenly Father now calls you. See, yonder the best robe, even the righteousness of His dear Son, awaits you. See it, view it again and again. Consider at how dear a rate it was purchased, even by the blood of God. Consider what great need you have of it. You are lost, undone, damned for ever, without it. come then, poor guilty prodigals, come home; indeed, I will not, like the elder brother in the gospel, be angry; no, I will rejoice with the angels in heaven. And O that God would now bow the heavens and come down! Descend, O Son of God, descend; and, as Thou hast shown in me such mercy, O let Thy blessed Spirit apply Thy righteousness to some young prodigals now before thee, and clothe their naked souls with Thy best robe!

And what shall I say to you of a middle age, you busy merchants, you cumbered Marthas, who, with all your gettings, have not yet gotten the Lord to be your righteousness! Alas! what profit will there be of all your labour under the sun, if you do not secure this pearl of invaluable price? I see, also, many hoary heads here, and perhaps the most of them cannot say, The Lord is my righteousness. O grey-headed sinners, I could weep over you! your grey hairs which ought to be your crown, and in which perhaps you glory, are now your shame. You know not that the Lord is your righteousness; O haste then, haste ye, aged sinners, and seek an interest in redeeming love! Alas, you have one foot already in the grave, your glass is just running out, your sun is just going down, and it will set and leave you in an eternal darkness, unless the Lord be your righteousness. Flee, then, O flee for your lives! Be not afraid. All things are possible with God. If you come, though it be at the eleventh hour, Christ Jesus will in no wise cast you out. Seek then for the Lord to be your righteousness, and beseech Him to let you know how it is that a man may be born again when he is old!

But I must not forget the lambs of the flock. To feed them, was one of my Lord’s last commands. I know He will be angry with me, if I do not tell them that the Lord may be their righteousness; and that of such is the kingdom of heaven. Come, then, ye little children, come to Christ, the Lord shall be your righteousness. Do not think that you are too young to be converted. Perhaps many of you may be nine or ten years old, and yet cannot say, The Lord is our righteousness; which many have said, though younger than you. Come, then, while you are young. Perhaps you may not live to be old. Do not stay for other people. If your fathers and mothers will not come to Christ, do you come without them. Let children lead them, and show them, how the Lord may be their righteousness. Our Lord Jesus loved little children. You are His lambs; He bids me feed you. I pray God make you willing betimes to take the Lord for your righteousness.

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