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Preacher McIntyre
by David T. Myers

In his young years in Scotland, his classmates called him “preacher McIntyre.” That was because his early years were subject to serious impressions. Growing up, he became an apprentice to a shoemaker in Glasgow, Scotland. This “job” was followed by the task of shepherding sheep in the Highlands of the country. John McIntyre would never forget the spiritual lessons of that calling, even many years later.

At the age of twenty years, he made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It was said that his faith was tested by trying circumstances. One such example of those circumstances was, after his marriage, he emigrated to North Carolina. On the long ocean voyage, they buried overboard their first born child. In fact, unnamed domestic affliction and trouble rolled over the couple greatly, until they moved to South Carolina.

In attending camp meetings of the Great Revival, for a while he doubted his conversion. But God was at work in his life and he was able to recover his hope of eternal life. Pressing on in his spiritual life, he began to desire serving the Lord as an ordained minister. He was now in his early fifties, and friends opposed his desire. After all, he was not in his twenties. He had only a limited education. But John persisted in a laborious study and application of the requisite courses of theology. As a result, he was licensed to preach on September 25, 1807. For the next thirty years, he supplied pulpits at Presbyterian congregations – in Philadelphia, Bethel, Lumber Ridge, and at St. Paul.

His death took place on this day, November 11, 1852, at the age of one hundred and three years of age!

It was said that he was per-eminently devout, prayerful, vigilant of the interests and welfare of the church, was ready for every emergency, and shrank from no duty of religion. About the only thing he questioned was why God should delay so long to call him home!

Words to Live By:
Scripture reminds us in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, that every believer has at least one spiritual gift. We are to speak or serve our God with that spiritual gift. See 1 Peter 4: 10, 11. Have you discovered your spiritual gift yet? And are you developing it by education and experience? Have you dedicated it to the Lord of the church? And are you doing it, to God’s glory and the benefit of the church to which you belong? “Preacher McIntyre” discovered his gift late in his life, and despite the doubt of many of his church friends, developed it, dedicated it to the Lord Jesus, and did it to God’s glory and the good of the church.

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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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First Presbyterian Church West of the Rockies

Henry Spaulding and Marcus Whitman along with their wives, were Presbyterian missionaries to the Oregon Territory, seeking to win two Indian tribes to Christ. To accomplish that, they established the first Presbyterian Church west of the Rocky Mountains on August 18, 1838.

The Rev. Henry Spaulding was chosen as its pastor, with Dr. Marcus Whitman as its elder.  The charter members were Mrs. Eliza Spaulding, Mrs. Narcissus Whitman, Joseph Maki, Mrs. Mared Keana, and Charles Compo. The only member outside the missionary force was the last one, Charles Compo, who was a convert from Roman Catholicism.  They would add nine new names on September 1, 1838, but again all these new members were missionaries and helpers to the mission station. So for the first decade, its only members were the white Presbyterians and assorted helpers of the missionaries who had come to bring the gospel to these needy people.  In fact, there was nary one soul who came to the Lord Jesus in the first nine years of existence, despite faithful worship services twice on the Lord’s Day, and Bible studies during the week.  After years of faithful sowing of the Word, there were a few Indian names on the roll of membership.  And in 1870, a revival took place within the area which brought many Indians to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

However, in the midst of this time, what has become known as the Whitman Massacre took place in the late fall of 1847. Dr and Mrs Whitman, along with several others, were attacked and killed by the Cayuse Indians.  The reasons were said to be two-fold, if there is ever justification for murder. There was resentment against Dr. Whitman that he was leading more and more white settlers across the Oregon Trail into the Northwest, taking them right by the mission station.  In one wagon train, there were over 1000 settlers. And second, a measles outbreak among their people caught from the many immigrants brought charges against Dr. Whitman that he was responsible for this disease among their Indian children. It was an Indian tradition that if the local “medicine man” could not cure the disease, then he would be physically removed from life.  That tradition became tragic for the Whitman’s.  The site in the state of Washington is today a national monument.

Words to live by:
It is so easy to substitute another purpose in place of our chief purpose in life to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Before we can know it, we can be seeking the things that are of this earth rather than heavenly things.  In hindsight, that is what happened to Dr. Whitman. He became more interested in being a guide to the countless settlers on the Oregon Trail than being a guide to the souls of the Indian tribe to which he had been called.  Let us examine ourselves continually, using natural or spiritual birthdays, anniversaries, or New Year resolutions, to make sure that we are on the Lord’s track first and foremost.

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A Calvinistic Evangelist

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born at Midway, Liberty county, Georgia, on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this mentoring, his own study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessings was a godly wife, in the person of Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children, as well as helping him in his ministry.  While he labored as a pastor, it became almost common that revival would break out under his ministry.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church. And so Rev. Baker decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on. He became the president of Austin College and resided in Huntsville, Texas, what the school is located. There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  The close of his life was one of triumph. He lifted his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, in the calm exercise of a grounded faith, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!” As these words passed his lips, he closed his eyes on earth, to open them forever on the face of that Saviour whom, not having seen, he so loved. Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

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A Desire to Effect a Reformation

J.J. JanewayThe Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway [1774-1858] was an early Philadelphia pastor who served initially as an associate alongside the Rev. Ashbel Green. Rev. Janeway was also a close friend and supporter of the early Princeton Seminary faculty.

When the new year of 1800 opened, the Rev. J. J. Janeway was found on its threshold with a strong desire to “effect a reformation” in his heart and life. He wrote in his diary, “On examination, it is found that early rising, fervency in devotion, religious reflections in company, humility, courage, disinterested benevolence, and much engagedness are particularly worthy my attention in this reformation. May God enable me to reform. Amen.”

It was not a short-lived expectation or goal for Rev. Janeway. He persisted. On June 26th of that same year, he wrote in his diary:

“This day I spent in fasting and prayer for the blessing of Almighty God on my ministry. I have read the Scriptures; meditated and prayed. Confession of sins has been made. I have entreated God to bestow on me courage, wisdom, prudence, ardent piety, circumspection, a feeling sense of the importance of divine truth, compassion for the souls of men. I have prayed that I may propose divine truth with clearness, illustrate it with wisdom, and urge it with affection and energy; that I may be furnished for my work abundantly; that I may be a wise, faithful, able and successful minister of the Lord Jesus.”

Words to Live By:
An able, effective, and pointed prayer for any pastor. And in a similar way, for any and all who claim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. May each of us press closer to know the Lord, to seek His face, to draw near to Him day by day. Read the Scriptures. Dwell upon their meaning and pray. Confess your sins and ask God to give you what is needed for this day, to live to His glory.

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Lilias Dunbar was born in 1657 to parents of high society in Scotland. Yet such extraordinary circumstances did not guarantee a long life.  Early in her young life, both parents died, leaving her an orphan. Reared by a cousin, she eventually was taken into the family of a pious woman by the name of Lady Duffus, who reared this adopted daughter not just in manners, but also in the things of the Lord. When Lilias was seventeen years of age, a bout with small pox brought her dangerously ill. The sickness led her to promise God that if He healed her, she would strive to be His servant.  Made well, she responded to her promise to be the Lord’s servant by seeking to establish her self-righteousness. It was only when her adopted mother passed away in 1677, that she became a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus.

Listen to her profession of faith as found in her diary for May 1, 1677.  She writes: “The Lord, who is the Almighty, by his power, made my soul to close with the Lord Jesus, wholly on the terms that the gospel holdeth forth; and the Lord himself gave me faith to believe in Jesus Christ, that he was my Savior, which I could never attain before that time on good grounds. On that blessed morning to me, I got the Rock of ages to be my support, and I got Christ Jesus to be to me the end of the law for righteousness, to comfort me inwardly, under my disconsolate condition outwardly; for it was but fifteen days after the death of my Lady Duffus, who was in place of my parents and all my relations to me. Now I cannot pass by without observing the wisdom and goodness of God to me, in choosing that day and time for my deliverance out of the hands of all mine enemies, that I might serve him without fear. It was the time wherein I was more desolate. I was deprived of my parents by death, and had not the expectation of other means to supply my wants. It was then I was deprived of the only person in the world who took care of me, when it pleased the wise Lord by death to put a separation betwixt my Lady Duffus and me, who died April 16, 1677. Then it was that the gracious God, who delights in showing mercy, did enlarge my heart and make me to take hold of him who is the pearl of great price, in whom all fullness dwells.”

What is interesting to this author about this profession of faith is the custom in those days for new-born Christians to have their religious experiences tested, by communicating their profession of faith with godly minister.  In Lilias Dunbar’s case, she went to a minister who was then in prison due to his field preaching, under whom this young convert had heard him preach to her. She brought all that the Lord had done for her soul, which her pastor confirmed the Spirit’s work in her.

At age 22, she married Alexander Campbell. Eventually they would have a dozen children, but not without difficulties in the way.  She was charged by the authorities with not attending the parish church where the prelacy pastors led the worship.  They brought charges that she instead was attending the outdoor worship of banished Presbyterian pastors meeting in the pastures of the land.  She pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to be banished from the kingdom of Scotland. Such punishment was never carried out however.

Words to Live By:  What a worthwhile practice our historical character  had in seeking to test her religious conversion before a godly minister. Such a practice today would remove the “easy-believism” experiences which are too often found today in the visible church. Second Corinthians 13;5 is clear: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?” (NAS)

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Back in the early years of the Internet, the Rev. David W. Hall was pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. David had a number of scientists and engineers in the congregation and so was able to make good advantage of the Web in those early days. Under the title of Premise, he initiated a web-based magazine. The content of that magazine is no longer online, but it is preserved at the PCA Historical Center. From one issue of Premise, we are reproducing here an article on Francis Makemie, “the father of American Presbyterianism.”:—

Francis Makemie and Freedom of Speech

Rev. Francis Makemie on Trial before Lord CornburyOne illustration of how religion and politics were interwoven, especially the religion and politics of strongly Scottish Calvinist sentiment, can be seen from the experience of Ulster Presbyterian missionary Francis Makemie (b. 1658). Makemie had been reared on tales of the Scottish rebellion that adopted the Solemn League and Covenant, and he was educated at the University of Glasgow one generation after Samuel Rutherford. Commissioned by the Presbytery of Laggan, a fiercely Calvinistic stronghold, the first Presbyterian minister on the North American continent landed on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1683. Over time, he earned a reputation as a threat to the Anglicans in the area, and he was reported to the Bishop of London (who never had authority over Makemie) to be a pillar of the Presbyterian sect. His work was commended by Puritan giant Cotton Mather, and his correspondence with Increase Mather indicates considerable commonality of purpose among early American Calvinists. Cotton Mather would later recommend a Catechism composed by Makemie for his New England churches.

Makemie organized at least seven Presbyterian churches committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Scottish ecclesiastical order between 1683-1705. In between the organizing of churches along Scottish models—the Scottish League and Covenant seemed to be blossoming in America, perhaps more than in its native Scotland—Makemie served as a pastor in Barbados from 1696 to 1698. He also sheltered persecuted Irish Calvinist ministers from 1683-1688. Following the Glorious Revolution in 1688 the need for shelter in America diminished, and some of these religious refugees returned to Ireland and Scotland. Makemie, however, remained in America, found a wife, and continued organizing Presbyterian congregations throughout Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. In a 1699 letter, Makemie still spoke reverentially of Geneva as a Calvinist center.

Ministers from the Church of England protested Makemie’s church planting, caricaturing his ministry as subversive and nonconformist. Eventually the Sheriff of Long Island at the behest of the British Governor of New York, Lord Cornbury arrested Makemie and another Presbyterian colleague, John Hampton, for preaching without a license by. On January 21, 1707, the warrant for their arrest charged them with spreading “their Pernicious Doctrine and Principles” in Long Island without “having obtained My License for so doing, which is directly contrary to the known laws of England.”

Cornbury’s oppressiveness was well known from several earlier cases, and Makemie realized that if freedom of religion were not granted in one colony, America would never have the kind of free expression needed. He may have viewed New York as a mission for religious freedom; en route to Boston from New Jersey, he could have simply avoided Cornbury’s territory. In what would become one of the earliest tests of freedom of speech in America, this Irish Calvinist was indicted by an Anglican authority (also exposing an early establishment of religion in New York) and held for two days prior to trial.

MakemieStatueMakemie appeared before Cornbury (who called the missionary “a Disturber of Governments”) in the council chamber at Fort Anne, New York, on the afternoon of January 23, 1707. Lord Cornbury (Edward Hyde) charged: “How dare you take upon you to preach in my Government without my License”! Makemie answered that Parliament had granted liberty to preach in 1688 under William and Mary. Cornbury contended that such laws did not extend to the American colonies. Makemie answered that the act of Parliament was not restricted to Great Britain alone, but applied to all her territories; Makemie also produced certificates from courts in Virginia and Maryland that had already recognized his work. When Cornbury argued that ‘all politics is local,’ including rights and penalties, Makemie reminded him and his attorneys that the Act of Toleration was applicable in Scotland, Wales, Barbados, Virginia, and Maryland, and that without express restriction it was also applicable in all “her Majesties Dominions”—unless, of course, New York was not considered under her dominion.

Notwithstanding, Cornbury did not want Makemie or other “Strolling” preachers in his territory. Makemie further argued that strolling Quakers were permitted religious liberty in the colonies, which brought Cornbury’s equal-opportunity-oppressor rejoinder: “I have troubled some of them, and will trouble them more.” When Cornbury revived his charge that Makemie was spreading “pernicious doctrines,” the Ulster missionary answered that the Westminster Confession of Faith was very similar to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England and challenged “all the Clergy of York to show us any false or pernicious doctrines therein.” Makemie even stated his willingness to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles should that satisfy the Governor.

Earlier Makemie had applied to the Governor to preach in a Dutch Reformed Church in New York and had been denied permission. His speaking in a private home gave rise to the charge of preaching unlawfully. Cornbury reiterated that Makemie was preaching without license, charging him to post bond for his good behavior and to promise not to preach again without licence. Although he disputed any charges against his behavior, Makemie consented to post bond for his good behavior (knowing there were no provable charges), but he refused to post bond to keep silence, promising in Lutheresque words that “if invited and desired by any people, we neither can, nor dare” refuse to preach. Like Luther, Makemie could do no other.

Cornbury then ruled, “Then you must go to Gaol?” Makemie’s answer is instructive.

[I]t will be unaccountable to England, to hear, that Jews, who openly blaspheme the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and disown the whole Christian religion; Quakers who disown the Fundamental Doctrines of the Church of England and both Sacraments; Lutherans, and all others, are tolerated in Your Lordships Government; and only we, who have complied, and who are still ready to comply with the Act of Toleration, and are nearest to, and likest the Church of England of any Dissenters, should be hindered, and that only the Government of New-York and the Jersies. This will appear strange indeed.

Cornbury responded that Makemie would have to blame the Queen, to which the defendant answered that he did not blame her Majesty, for she did not limit his speech or free religious expression. At last, Lord Cornbury relented and signed a release for the prisoners, charging both Makemie and John Hampton, however, with court costs. Before leaving, Makemie requested that the Governor’s attorneys produce the law that delimited the Act of Toleration from application in any particular American colony. The attorney for Cornbury produced a copy, and when Makemie offered to pay the attorney for a copy of the specific paragraph that limited the Act of Parliament, the attorney declined and the proceedings came to a close.

In a parting shot, Lord Cornbury confessed to Makemie, “You Sir, Know Law.” Makemie was later acquitted, and free speech and free expression of religion, apart from government’s approval, took a stride forward in the New World. Makemie pioneered religious liberty at great risk, and all who enjoy religious freedom remain in debt to this Scots-Irish son of Calvin.

Upon hearing of Makemie’s eventual (though delayed) release, the esteemed Cotton Mather wrote to his colleague the Rev. Samuel Penhallow on July 8, 1707:

“That Brave man, Mr. Makemie, has after a famous trial at N. York, bravely triumphed over the Act of Uniformity, and the other poenal laws for the Church of England, without permitting the matter to come so far as to pleading the act of toleration. He has compelled an acknowledgement that lawes aforesaid, are but local ones and have nothing to do with the Plantations. The Non-Conformist Religion and interest is . . . likely to prevail mightily in the Southern Colonies. I send you two or three of Mr. Makemie’s books to be dispersed. . . .”

In another blow for religious freedom, the next year a Somerset County, Maryland, court approved the certification for a Protestant Dissenter church to be established. By a narrow 3-2 vote of the court, Makemie secured liberty for Presbyterian churches under “an act of parliament made the first year of King William and Queen Mary establishing the liberty of Protestant Dissenters.”

Makemie was also instrumental in laying the groundwork for an Irish priest, William Tennent, to immigrate to America. Tennent would later establish the “Log College,” and one of its students, the Rev. Samuel Finley, started the West Nottingham Academy in 1741. These schools, much like Calvin’s Academy in Geneva, became the proving grounds of the American republic. From this one Academy came founders of four colleges, two U. S. representatives, one senator, two members of the Continental Congress, and two signatories of the Declaration of Independence (Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton). Samuel Finley went on to become president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1761.

This developing American Calvinism, far from the modern caricature as a narrow or severe sect, was a boost to personal freedom and civil discourse in its heyday. The first American Presbyterian pastor helped entrench the right to free expression and free worship by appealing to the principles of the Glorious Revolution. A tidal wave of Calvinistic thinking came to America through immigrants like Makemie and continued to radiate outward.

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Another entry from the diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway:

Sabbath, January 12, 1806.
This day I was assisted, I trust, in preaching on the words, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” [Luke 18:13].  I pray it may do good. But I had not that sense of Divine presence, and sweet relish of Divine truth which I wish, whenever I ascend the sacred desk. I lamented my coldness in prayer, and besought Divine assistance.

Taking that lead provided by Rev. Janeway, and lacking a sermon for this date by any Presbyterian, we turn instead for our Lord’s Day sermon to a good friend from among the Baptists, the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon:—

A Sermon for the Worst Man on Earth : A sermon delivered on the Lord’s Day morning, 20 February 1886.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13.

It was the fault of the Pharisee that though he went up into the Temple to pray, he did not pray. There is no prayer in all that he said. It is one excellence of the publican that he went up to the Temple to pray and he did pray—there is nothing but prayer in all that he said. “God be merciful to me a sinner” is a pure, unadulterated prayer throughout! It was the fault of the Pharisee that when he went up to the Temple to pray, he forgot an essential part of prayer which is confession of sinhe spoke as if he had no sins to confess, but many virtues to parade. It was a chief excellence in the devotion of the publican that he did confess his sin, yes, that his utterance was full of confession of sin! From beginning to end it was an acknowledgment of his guilt and an appeal for Grace to the merciful God. The prayer of the publican is admirable for its fullness of meaning. An expositor calls it a holy telegram—and certainly it is so compact and so condensed, so free from superfluous words—that it is worthy to be called by that name. I do not see how he could have expressed his meaning more fully or more briefly. In the original Greek the words are even fewer than in the English. Oh, that men would learn to pray with less of language and more of meaning! What great things are packed away in this short petition! God, mercy, sin, the propitiation and forgiveness!

He speaks of great matters—trifles are not thought of! He has nothing to do with fasting twice in the week, or the paying of tithes and such second-rate things. The matters he treats of are of a higher order. His trembling heart moves among sublimities which overcome him and he speaks in tones consistent therewith. He deals with the greatest things that ever can be—he pleads for his life, his soul! Where could he find themes more weighty, more vital to his eternal in- terests? He is not playing at prayer, but pleading in awful earnest. His supplication speeded well with God and he speedily won his suit with Heaven. Mercy granted to him full justification! The prayer so pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, who heard it, that He condescended to become a portrait painter and took a sketch of the petitioner. I say the prayer in itself was so pleasing to the gracious Savior that He tells us how it was offered—“Standing afar off, he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon his breast.” Luke, who, according to tradition, was somewhat of an artist as well as a physician, takes great care to place this picture in the national portrait gallery of men saved by Sovereign Grace. Here we have the portrait of a man who called himself a sinner who may still be held up as a pattern to saints! I am glad to have the Divine sketch of this man, that I may see the bodily form of his devotion. I am more glad, still, to have his prayer, that we may look into the very soul of his pleading.

My heart’s desire this morning is that many here may seek mercy of the Lord as this publican did—and go down to their houses justified! I ask no man to use the same words. Let no man attach a superstitious value to them. Alas, this prayer has been used flippantly, foolishly and almost looked upon as a sort of charm! Some have said—“We may live as we like, for we have only to say, ‘God be merciful to me,’ when we are dying, and all will be well.” This is a wicked mis- use of Gospel Truth! Yes, it turns it into a lie! If you choose thus to pervert the Grace of the Gospel to your own destruc- tion, your blood must be on your own heads! You may not have space given you in which to breathe out even this brief sentence, or, if you have, the words may not come from your heart and so you may die in your sins. I pray you, do not thus presume upon the forbearance of God! But, if with the publican’s heart, we can take the publican’s attitude. If with the publican’s spirit we can use the publican’s words, then there will follow a gracious acceptance and we shall go home justified. If such is the case, there will be grand times today, for angels will rejoice over sinners reconciled to God and made to know in their own souls the boundless mercy of the Lord!

In preaching upon the text, I shall endeavor to bring out its innermost spirit. May we be taught of the Spirit so that we may learn four lessons from it!

I.  The first is this—the fact of sinnership is no reason for despair. You need, none of you, say, “I am guilty and, therefore, I may not approach God. I am so greatly guilty that it would be too daring a thing for me to ask for mercy.” Dismiss such thoughts at once! My text and a thousand other arguments forbid despair.

For, first, this man who was a sinner yet dared to approach the Lord. According to our version, he said, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” but a more accurate rendering is that which the Revised Version puts in the margin—the sinner.” He meant to say that he was emphatically the sinner. The Pharisee yonder was the saint of his age, but this publican who stood afar off from the holy place was the sinner. If there was not another sinner in the world, he was one—and in a world of sinners he was a prominent offender—the sinner of sinners! Emphatically he applies to himself the guilty name. He takes the chief place in condemnation and yet he cries, “God be merciful to me the sinner.”

Now if you know yourself to be a sinner, you may plead with God, but if you mourn that you are not only a sinner, but the sinner with the definite article—the sinner above all others—you may still hope in the mercy of the Lord. The worst, the most profane, the most horrible of sinners may venture, as this man did, to approach the God of mercy! I know that it looks like a daring action and, therefore, you must do it by faith. On any other footing but that of faith in the mercy of God, you who are a sinner may not dare to approach the Lord lest you be found guilty of presumption. But with your eyes on mercy, you may be bravely trustful. Believe in the great mercy of God and though your sins are abun- dant, you will find that the Lord will abundantly pardon! Though they blot your character, the Lord will blot them out! Though they are red like crimson, yet the precious blood of Jesus will make you whiter than snow!

This story of the Pharisee and the publican is intended as an encouraging example to you. If this man who was the sinner found forgiveness, so shall you, also, if you seek it in the same way. One sinner has speeded so well—why should not you? Come and try for yourself and see if the Lord does not prove in your case that His mercy endures forever.

Next, remember that you may not only find encouragement in looking at the sinner who sought his God, but in the God whom he sought. Sinner, there is great mercy in the heart of God. How often did that verse ring out as a chorus in the temple song—

For His mercy shall endure
Ever faithful, ever sure!”

Mercy is a specially glorious attribute of Jehovah, the living God. He is “the Lord God, merciful and gracious.” He is “slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.” Do you not see how this should cheer you? Sinners are necessary if mercy is to be indulged! How can the Lord display His mercy except to the guilty? Goodness is for creatures, but mercy is for sinners! Towards unfallen creatures there may be love, but there cannot be mercy. Angels are not fit recipients of mercy. They do not require it, for they have not transgressed. Mercy comes into exercise after Law has been broken, not till then. Among the attributes, it is the last which found scope for itself. So to speak, it is the Benjamin and the darling attribute of God—“He delights in mercy.” Only to a sinner can God be merciful. Do you hear this, you sinner? Be sure that you catch at it! If there is boundless mercy in the heart of God and it can only exercise itself towards the guilty, then you are the man to have it, for you are a guilty one! Come, then, and let His mercy wrap you about like a garment this day and cover all your shame. Does not God’s delight in mercy prove that sinnership is no reason for despair?

Moreover, the conception of salvation implies hope for sinners. That salvation which we preach to you every day is glad tidings for the guilty. Salvation by Grace implies that men are guilty. Salvation means not the reward of the right- eous, but the cleansing of the unrighteous. Salvation is meant for the lost, the ruined, the undone! And the blessings which it brings of pardoning mercy and cleansing Grace must be intended for the guilty and polluted. “The whole need not a physician.” The physician has his eyes upon the sick. Alms are for the poor, bread is for the hungry, pardon is for the guilty. O you that are guilty, you are the men that Mercy seeks after! You were in God’s eyes when He sent His Son into the world to save sinners! From the very first inception of redemption to the completion of it, the eyes of the great God were set on the guilty—not on the deserving! The very name of Jesus tells us that He shall save His people from their sins.

Let me further say that inasmuch as that salvation of God is a great one, it must have been intended to meet great sins. O Sirs, would Christ have shed the blood of His heart for some trifling, venial sins which your tears could wash away? Do you think God would have given His dear Son to die as a mere superfluity? If sin had been a small matter, a little sacrifice would have sufficed. Do you think that the Divine Atonement was made only for small offenses? Did Jesus die for little sins and leave the great ones unatoned for? No, the Lord God measured the greatness of our sin and found it high as Heaven, deep as Hell and broad as the infinite and, therefore, He gave so great a Savior. He gave His only-begotten Son, an infinite Sacrifice, an immeasurable Atonement. With such throes and pangs of death as never can be fully described, the Lord Jesus poured out His soul in unknown sufferings that He might provide a great salvation for the greatest of sinners. See Jesus on the Cross and learn that all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men! The fact of salvation and of a great salvation, ought to drive away the very notion of despair from every heart that hears of it! Salvation, that is for me, for I am lost! A great salvation, that is for me, for I am the greatest of sinners! Oh, hear my word this day! It is God’s Word of love and it rings out like a silver bell! O my beloved Hearers, I weep over you and yet I feel like singing all the time, for I am sent to proclaim salvation from the Lord for the very worst of you!

The Gospel is especially, definitely and distinctly addressed to sinners. Listen to it—“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Gospel is like a letter directed in a clear and legible hand—and if you will read its direction, you will find that it runs thus—“To the Sinner.” O Sinners, the word of this salvation is sent to you! If you are a sinner, you are the very man for whom the Gospel is intended and I do not mean, by this, a merely complimentary nominal sinner, but an out-and-out rebel, a transgressor against God and man! O Sinner, seize upon the Gospel with joyful eagerness and cry unto God for mercy at once!—

“’Twas for sinners that He suffered Agonies unspeakable! Can you doubt you are a sinner? If you can—then hope, farewell. But, believing what is written— ‘All are guilty’—‘dead in sin’ Looking to the Crucified One, Hope shall rise your soul within.”

If you will think of it again, there must be hope for sinners, for the great commands of the Gospel are most suitable to sinners. Hear, for instance, this Word of God—“Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Who can repent but the guilty? Who can be converted but those who are on the wrong track and, therefore, need to be turned? The following text is evidently addressed to those who are good for nothing—“Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” The very word, “repent,” indicates that it is addressed to those who have sinned—let it beckon you to mercy!

Then you are bid to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, salvation by faith must be for guilty men, for the way of life for the innocent is by perseverance in good works. The Law says, “This do, and live.” The Gospel talks of salvation by believing because it is the only way possible for those who have broken the Law and are condemned by it. Salvation is of faith that it might be by Grace. Believe and live! Believe and live! Believe and live! This is the jubilee note of the trumpet of Free Grace. Oh, that you would know the joyful sound and thus be blessed! Oh, that you that are sinful would hear the call as addressed to you in particular! You are up to your necks in the mire of sin, but a mighty hand is stretched out to deliver you. “Repent and believe the Gospel!”

If you need any other argument—and I hope you do not—I would put it thus—great sinners have been saved. All sorts of sinners are being saved today. What wonders some of us have seen! What wonders have been worked in this Tabernacle! A man was heard at a Prayer Meeting pleading in louder tones than usual. He was a sailor and his voice was pitched to the tune of the roaring billows. A lady whispered to her friend, “Is that Captain F_______?” “Yes” said the other, “why do you ask?” “Because,” said she, “the last time I heard that voice, its swearing made my blood run cold! The man’s oaths were terrible beyond measure. Can it be the same man?” Someone observed, “Go and ask him.” The lady timidly said, “Are you the same Captain F_______ that I heard swearing in the street, outside my house?” “Well,” he said, “I am the same person, and yet, thank God, I am not the same!” O Brothers and Sisters, such were some of us, but we are washed, we are sanctified! Wonders of Divine Grace belong to God!

I was reading the other day a story of an old shepherd who had never attended a place of worship, but when he had grown gray and was near to die, he was drawn by curiosity into the Methodist chapel, and all was new to him. Hard-hearted old fellow as he was, he was noticed to shed tears during the sermon. He had obtained a glimpse of hope. He saw that there was mercy even for him! He laid hold on eternal life at once! The surprise was great when he was seen at the chapel and greater still when, on the Monday night, he was seen at the Prayer Meeting—yes, and heard at the Prayer Meeting, for he fell down on his knees and praised God that he had found mercy! Do you wonder that the Methodists shouted, “Bless the Lord”? Wherever Christ is preached, the most wicked of men and women are made to sit at the Savior’s feet, “clothed, and in their right minds.” My Hearer, why should it not be so with you? At any rate, we have full proof of the fact that sinnership is no reason for despair.

II.  I must now advance to my second observation—a sense of sinnership confers no right to mercy. You will wonder why I mention this self-evident truth, but I must mention it because of a common error which does great mischief. This man was very sensible of his sin insomuch that he called himself, the sinner, but he did not urge his sense of sin as any reason why he should find mercy. There is an ingenuity in the heart of man, nothing less than devilish, by which he will, if he can, turn the Gospel, itself, into a yoke of bondage. If we preach to sinners that they may come to Christ in all their anguish and misery, one cries—“I do not feel myself to be a sinner as I ought to feel it! I have not felt those convictions of which you speak and, therefore, I cannot come to Jesus!” This is a horrible twist of our meaning! We never meant to insinuate that convictions and doubts and despondencies conferred upon men a claim to mercy, or were necessary preparations for Grace. I want you, therefore, to learn that a sense of sin gives no man a right to Divine Grace.

If a deep sense of sin entitled men to mercy, it would be a turning of this parable upside down. Do you dream that this publican was, after all, a Pharisee differently dressed? Do you imagine that he really meant to plead, “God be merciful to me because I am humble and lowly”? Did he say in his heart, “Lord, have mercy upon me because I am not a Pharisee and am deeply despondent on account of my evil ways”? This would prove that he was, in his heart of hearts, a Pharisee! If you make a righteousness out of your feelings, you are just as much out of the true way as if you made a righteousness out of your works. Whether it is work or feeling, anything which is relied upon as a claim for Grace is an antichrist! You are no more to be saved because of your conscious miseries than because of your conscious merits! There is no virtue either in the one or in the other. If you make a Savior of convictions, you will be lost as surely as if you made a Savior out of ceremonies! The publican trusted in Divine Mercy and not in his own convictions. And you must do the same.

To imagine that an awful sense of sin constituted a claim upon mercy would be like giving a premium to great sin. Certain seekers think, “I have never been a drunk, or a swearer, or unchaste, but I almost wish I had been, that I might feel myself to be the chief of sinners and so might come to Jesus.” Do not wish anything so atrocious! There is no good in sin in any shape or fashion! Thank God if you have been kept from the grosser forms of vice. Do not imagine that repentance is easier when sin is grosser—the reverse is true. Do believe that there is no advantage in having been a horrible offender. You have sins enough—to be worse would not be better. If good works do not help you, certainly bad works do not! You that have been moral and excellent should cry for mercy and not be so silly as to dream that greater sins would help you to readier repentance! Come as you are and if your heart is hard, confess it as one of your greatest sins. A deeper sense of sin would not entitle you to the mercy of God—you can have no title to mercy but that which mercy gives you. Could your tears flow forever—could your grief know no respite—you would have no claim upon the Sovereign Grace of God, who will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

Then, dear Friends, remember, if we begin to preach to sinners that they must have a certain sense of sin and a cer- tain measure of conviction, such teaching would turn the sinner away from God in Christ to himself. The man begins at once to say, “Have I a broken heart? Do I feel the burden of sin?” This is only another form of looking to self. Man must not look to himself to find reasons for God’s Grace. The remedy does not lie in the seat of the disease—it lies in the Physician’s hands. A sense of sin is not a claim, but a gift of that blessed Savior who is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. Beware of any teaching which makes you look to yourself for help! You must, rather, cling to that doctrine which makes you look only to Christ! Whether you know it or not, you are a lost, ruined sinner, only fit to be cast into the flames of Hell forever. Confess this, but do not ask to be driven mad by a sense of it. Come to Jesus just as you are and do not wait for a preparation made out of your own miseries. Look to Jesus and to Him alone.

If we fall into the notion that a certain sense of sin has a claim upon God, we shall be putting salvation upon other grounds than that of faith—and that would be false ground. Now, the ground of salvation is—“God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” A simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the way of salvation! But to say, “I shall be saved because I am horribly convicted of sin and driven to desperation,” is not to speak like the Gospel, but to rave out of the pride of an unbelieving heart. The Gospel is that you believe in Christ Jesus; that you get right out of yourself and depend alone on Him! Do you say, “I feel so guilty”? You are certainly guilty, whether you feel it or not! And you are far more guilty than you have any idea of. Come to Christ because you are guilty, not because you have been prepared to come by looking at your guilt! Trust nothing of your own, not even your sense of need. A man may have a sense of disease a long time before he will get healing out of it. The looking-glass of conviction reveals the spots on our face, but it cannot wash them away. You cannot fill your hands by putting them into your empty pocket and feeling how empty it is! It would be far wiser to hold them out and receive the gold which your friend so freely gives you. “God be merciful to me a sinner” is the right way to put it, but not, “God be merciful to me because I sufficiently feel my sinnership, and most fittingly bewail it.”

III.  My third observation is this—the knowledge of their sinnership guides men to right action. When a man has learned of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner, then by a kind of instinct of the new life, he does the right thing in the right way. This publican had not often been to the Temple and had not learned the orthodox way of behaving. It is easy to learn how we all do it nowadays in our temples—take off your hat, hold it in front of your face and read the maker’s name and address! Then sit down and, at the proper moment, bend forward and cover your eyes and, furthermore, stand up when the rest of the congregation does. People get to do this just as if they were wound up by machinery—yet they do not pray when they are supposed to be praying, nor bow before the Lord when worship is being offered.

This publican is out of rank! He does not follow the rubric. He has gestures of his own. First, instead of coming for- ward, he stands afar off. He does not dare to come where that most respectable person, the Pharisee, is displaying himself, for he does not feel worthy. He leaves space between himself and God, an opening for a Mediator, room for an Advocate, place for an Intercessor to interpose between himself and the Throne of the Most High! Wise man, thus, to stand afar off! For by this means he could safely draw near in the Person of Jesus. Furthermore, he would not lift so much as his eyes to Heaven. It seems natural to lift up your hands in prayer, but he would not even lift his eyes. The uplifting of the eyes is very proper, is it not? But it was still more proper for “the sinner” not to lift his eyes. His downcast eyes meant much.

Our Lord does not say that he could not lift up his eyes, but he would not. He could look up, for he did in spirit look up as he cried, “God be merciful to me.” But he would not because it seemed indecorous for eyes like his to peer into the Heaven where dwells the holy God. Meanwhile, the penitent publican kept smiting upon his breast. The original does not say that he smote upon his breast once, but he smote and smote again! It was a continuous act. He seemed to say—“Oh, this wicked heart!” He would smite it. Again and again he expressed his intense grief by this Oriental gesture, for he did not know how else to set forth his sorrow. His heart had sinned and he smote it! His eyes had led him astray and he made them look down to the earth. And as he, himself, had sinned by living far off from God, he banished himself far from the manifest Presence.

Every gesture and posture is significant and yet all came spontaneously. He had no book of directions how to behave himself in the House of God, but his sincerity guided him. If you want to know how to behave yourselves as penitents, be penitents. The best rubrics of worship are those which are written on broken hearts. I have heard of a minister who was said to cry in the wrong place in his sermons—and it was found afterwards that he had written in the margin of his manuscript, “Weep here.” His audience could not see the reason for his artificial moisture. It must have had a ludicrous effect. In religion everything artificial is ridiculous, or worse! But Grace in the heart is the best “master of the ceremo- nies.” He who prays aright with his heart will not much err with foot, hand, or head. If you would know how to approach God, confess yourself a sinner and so take your true place before the God of Truth—throw yourself on Divine Mercy and thus place God in His true position as your Judge and Lord.

Observe that this man, even under the weight of conscious sin, was led aright, for he went straight away to God. A sense of sin without faith drives us from God, but a sense of sin with faith draws us immediately to God. He came to God alone. He felt that it would be of no avail to confess his fault to a mortal, or to look for absolution from a man. He did not resort to the priest of the Temple, but to the God of the Temple! He did not ask to speak to the good and learned man, the Pharisee, who stood on the same floor with him. His Enquiry Room was the secret of his own soul and he en- quired of the Lord. He ran straight away to God, who alone was able to help. And when he opened his mouth, it was, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That is what you have to do, my dear Hearer, if you would be saved—you must go distinctly and immediately to God in Christ Jesus. Forget all things else and say, with the returning prodigal, “I will arise and go to my Father.” None but God can help us out of our low estate! No mercy but the mercy of God can serve our turn and none can give us that mercy but the God of Mercy! Let every broken-down sinner come to his God, against whom he has offended.

The publican did not look round on his fellow worshippers—he was too much absorbed in his own grief of heart. Especially is it noteworthy that he had no remarks to make upon the Pharisee. He did not denounce the pride, or the hypocrisy, or the hard-heartedness of the professor who so offensively looked down upon him. He did not return contempt for contempt, as we are all too apt to do. No, he dealt with the Lord alone in the deep sincerity of his own heart—and it was well. My Hearer, when will you do the same? When will you cease to censure others and reserve your severity for yourself, your critical observations for your own conduct?

When he came to God, it was with a full confession of sin—God be merciful to me a sinner.” His very eyes and hands joined with his lips in acknowledging his iniquities. His prayer was wet with the dews of repentance. He poured out his heart before God in the most free and artless manner—his prayer came from the same fountain as that of the prodigal when he said, “Father, I have sinned,” and that of David when he cried, “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.” That is the best praying which comes from the lowliest heart.

Then he appealed to mercy only. This was wise. See how rightly he was guided. What had he to do with justice, since it could only condemn and destroy him? Like a naked sword, it threatens to sheathe itself in my heart—how can I appeal to justice? Neither power nor wisdom, nor any other quality of the great God could be resorted to—only Mercy stretched out her wing. The prayer, “God be merciful,” is the only prayer that you who have been greatly guilty can pray. If all your lives you have spurned your Savior, all you can now do is to cast yourselves upon the mercy of God.

The original Greek permits us to see that this man had an eye to the Propitiation. I do not say that he fully under- stood the doctrine of Atonement, but still, his prayer was, “God be propitiated to me, the sinner.” He had seen the morning and the evening lamb and he had heard of the sin-offering. And though he might not have known all about atonement, expiation and substitution, yet as far as he did know, his eyes were turned that way. “O God, be propitiated, accept a sacrifice and pardon me!” If you know your sin, you will be wise to plead the Propitiation which God has set forth for human sin. May the Spirit of God constrain you to trust in Jesus now! The new year is already gliding away— its second month is slipping from under us—how many months are to go before you, a guilty sinner, will come and ask mercy of God, the infinitely-gracious One? Great God, let this day be the day of Your power!

IV.  I now close with my last head, which is this—the believing confession of sinnership is the way of peace. “God be merciful to me a sinner,” was the prayer, but what was the answer? Listen to this—“This man went down to his house justified rather than the other”!

In a few sentences let me sketch this man’s progress. He came to God only as a sinner, nakedly as a sinner. Observe, he did not say, “God be merciful to me a penitent sinner.” He was a penitent sinner but he did not plead his penitence. And if you are ever so penitent and convicted of sin, do not mention it as an argument lest you be accused of self-righteousness. Come as you are, as a sinner and as nothing else! Exhibit your wounds. Bring your spiritual poverty before God and not your supposed wealth. If you have a single penny of your own, get rid of it. Perfect poverty, alone, will discharge you from your bankruptcy. If you have a moldy crust in the cupboard of self-righteousness, no bread from Heaven will be yours. You must be nothing and nobody if God is to be your All in All! This man does not cry, “God be merciful to me the penitent,” but, “be merciful to me the sinner.” He does not even say, “God be merciful to me the reformed sinner.” I have no doubt he did reform and give up his evil ways, but he does not plead that reformation.

Reformation will not take away your sinnership, therefore do not speak as if it could do so. What you are to be will make no atonement for what you have been! Come, therefore, simply as a sinner, not as a changed and improved sinner. Do not come because you are washed, but to be washed! The publican does not say, “God be merciful to me a praying sinner.” He was praying, but he does not mention it as a plea, for he thought very little of his own prayers. Do not plead your prayers—you might as well plead your sins! God knows that your prayers have sin in them. Why, Man, your very tears of repentance need washing! When your supplications are most sincere, what are they but the wailings of a condemned creature who cannot give a single reason why he should not be executed? Feel and acknowledge that you deserve condemnation—and come to God as a sinner. Off with your paltry finery, I mean your “filthy rags!” Do not trick yourself out in the weeds of your own repentance, much less in the fig leaves of your own resolutions—but come to God in Christ Jesus in all the nakedness of your sin—and everlasting mercy will cover both you and your sins.

Next, notice that this man did nothing but appeal to mercy. He said, “God be merciful to me.” He did not attempt to excuse himself and say, “Lord, I could not help it. Lord, I was not worse than other publicans. Lord, I was a public servant and only did what every other tax collector did.” No, no! He is too honest to forge excuses. He is a sinner and he admits it. If the Lord should condemn him out of his own mouth and send him to Hell, he cannot help it—his sin is too evident to be denied. He lays his head on the block and humbly pleads, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Neither does this publican offer any promises of future amendment as a setoff. He does not say, “Lord, be merciful for the past, and I will be better in the future.” Nothing of the sort! “Be merciful to me the sinner” is his one and only request.

So would I have you cry, “O God, be merciful to me! Although I am even now condemned and deserved to be hope- lessly damned by Your justice, yet have mercy upon me, have mercy on me now.” That is the way to pray and if you pray in that way God will hear you. He does not offer to pay anything. He does not propose any form of self-paid ransom. He does not present to God his tears, his abstinence, his self-denial, his generosity to the Church, his liberality to the poor, or anything else—he simply begs the Lord to be propitiated and to be merciful to him because of the great Sacrifice. Oh, that all of you would at once pray in this fashion!

Now, I want to cheer your hearts by noticing that this man, through this prayer and through this confession of sin, experienced a remarkable degree of acceptance. He had come up to the Temple condemned—“he went down to his house justified.” A complete change, a sudden change, a happy change was worked upon him! Heavy heart and downcast eyes were exchanged for glad heart and hopeful outlook. He came trembling into that Temple—he left it rejoicing! I am sure his wife noticed the difference. What had come over him? The children began to observe it, also. Poor father used to sit alone and heave many a sigh, but all of a sudden he is so happy! He even sings Psalms of David out of the latter end of the book! The change was very marked. Before dinner he says, “Children, we must give God thanks before we eat this meal.” They gather round and wonder at dear father’s happy face as he blesses the God of Israel!

He says to his friends, “Brethren, I am comforted. God has had mercy upon me. I went to the Temple guilty, but I have returned justified. My sins are all forgiven me. God has accepted a Propitiation on my behalf!” What good would come of such a happy testimony! This was a very sudden change, was it not? It was worked in a moment. The process of spiritual quickening is not a matter of hours, but of a single second of time. The processes which lead up to it and spring out of it are long, but the actual reception of life must be instantaneous. Not in every case would you be able to put your finger upon that second of time, but the passage from death unto life must be instantaneous. There must be a moment in which the man is dead and another moment in which he is alive. I grant you, life would be very feeble at first—still, there must be a time in which it was not there at all! And again, there must have been an instant in which it begins. There can be no middle condition between dead and alive. Yet a man may not know when the change took place.

If you were going to the Cape you might cross the equator at dead of night and know nothing about it, but still you would cross it. Some poor landsmen have thought that they would see a blue line right across the waves. But it is not perceptible, although it is truly there—the equator is quite as real as if we could see a golden belt around the globe. Dear Friends, I want you to cross the line this morning! Oh, that you might go out of this house saying, “Glory, glory, hallelujah! God has had mercy upon me!” Though you feel this morning that you would not give two-pence for your life, yet if you come to God through Jesus Christ, you shall go away blessing God not only that you are alive, but that you shall live forever, happy in His love!

Once more, this man went away with a witness such as I pray we all may have. “He was justified.” “But,” you add, “how do I know he was justified?” Listen to these words. Our blessed Lord says, “I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” I tell you.” Jesus, our Lord, can tell! Into our ear He tells it. He tells it to God and the holy angels and He tells it to the man, himself! The man who has cried from his heart, “God be merciful to me a sinner” is a justified man! When he stood and confessed his sin and cast himself wholly upon the Divine Mercy, that man was unburdened so that he went down to his house justified! We are all going down to our houses. Oh, that we might go down justified! You are going home. I want you to go home to God, who is the true home of the soul. “He went down to his house justified,” and why should not you do the same?

Perhaps, my Hearer, you have never been to the Tabernacle before. Possibly, my Friend, you are one of those gen- tlemen who spend Sunday mornings in their shirtsleeves at home reading the weekly paper. You have come here this morning quite by accident. Blessed be God! I hope you will go home “justified!” The Lord grant it! Perhaps you always come here and have occupied a seat ever since the Tabernacle was built—and yet you have never found mercy. Oh, that you might find mercy this morning! Let us seek this blessing. Come with me to Jesus. I will lead the way! I pray you say with me this morning—“God be merciful to me the sinner.” Rest on the great Propitiation—trust in Jesus Christ’s atoning blood! Cast yourself upon the Savior’s love and you shall go down to your house justified!

Is it a poor cottage? Is it less than that—a back room up three flights of stairs? Are you very, very poor and have you been out of work for a long time? Never mind. God knows all. Seek His face. It will be a happy Sunday for you, if you, this day, begin a new life by faith in Jesus! You shall have joy, peace and happiness if you seek and find mercy from the great Father. I think I see you trudging home, having left your load behind you, but compassed about with songs of praise unto our God. So be it! Amen and Amen!

 

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This is the second of the tributes recently located among the scrapbooks gathered by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. At the very back of Scrapbook #5, tucked inside the back cover, is the first issue of a publication titled TOMORROW. This was an evangelical Methodist periodical, and the following tribute to Dr. Machen appears on page four:—

Dr. Machen

[excerpted from Tomorrow: In the Light of Scripture. A Methodist Testimony for the Imminent, Personal, Premillennial Return of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Williamstown, NJ: Kenneth Cornwell, editor), Vol. 1, no. 1 (January 1937): 4.]

Dr. J. Gresham Machen, valiant defender of the Faith, internationally known New Testament scholar and expounder of Christian doctrine, died in Bismark, N. D., January 1, while on a preaching tour.

He was greatly respected and loved by his students in the Princeton and later in the Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Many a Saturday night were the theologs entertained in his apartment; many a football or baseball ticket did he hand out to some poor theolog; many a time did his reading of a humorous poem enliven the banquet hour!

Dr. Machen led the opposition to modernism in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. This finally led to the founding of the Independent Board for [Presbyterian] Foreign Missions, to give Christians the opportunity to give their support to evangelical missionaries.

This in turn led to his trial and suspension from the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.; and let it be written large—not for heresy—but for standing true to the Bible and its proclamation of Jesus Christ as the only Saviour from sin.

There is an exact parallel between Dr. Martin Luther and Dr. Machen. Dr. Machen was the Luther of the twentieth century. Some have criticized his method; his method was logical because it was Biblical.

Too long have evangelicals paid the bills of baptized infidels! What care they how much evangelicals speak of the Blood, the Book, the Blessed Hope, as long as they get their fat salaries as professors, secretaries, bishops, or what not? But just begin to pull the purse strings shut on them, and see what happens!

Dr. Machen and his associates were following the Bible method. 2 Cor. 6:17 “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”

2 John 11 tells us that fellowship or paying money to such agencies or men who do not preach God’s Christ is to partake of their evil deeds.

The man who starts out to reform any of the great apostate denominations today is just deceived. Five years ago we challenged a man, who has since compromised with Belial to gain position in Methodism, to give us one example of a denomination or faction gone over to apostasy that ever came back to orthodoxy. That challenge has never been successfully met, not because of that man’s lack of ability but because there is no evidence.

[*TDPH: Disputing with this author, there are at least two or three examples at hand. In recent times, the Southern Baptist denomination and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. And in the 19th-century, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.]

Clearly, Dr. Machen was right. Witness wherever you are. Then if wicked men rise up and usurp God’s place in the church, there is nothing left but separation—like Luther, like Machen! Oh, God, give us another!

[*TDPH: In his closing paragraphs, the author waxes eloquent as to how Machen’s position would have profited greatly if only he had been a premillennialist! We will spare our readers those closing paragraphs.]

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imbrieCharlesKToday’s post is taken from a funeral sermon by the Rev. Charles Herr, in memory of the Rev. Charles Kisselman Imbrie [1814-1891]. In looking for a sermon that fell on this particular day, this what what was at hand.
I dare say probably none of us have ever heard of Rev. Imbrie. So this sermon affords an interesting exercise: Can we read this sermon without seeing it as hagiographic? Can we read it for the lessons that the pastor presents from the Scripture text, without being distracted by personal references to a man we never knew? And can we read it in personal application, looking to our selves and asking “Has Christ done a similar work in my life?”
Funerals, and funeral sermons, are at once a particularly difficult aspect of any pastor’s ministry and a uniquely powerful opportunity to speak to the most challenging issues of human existence. Nothing can be more important than our standing before a righteous and holy God—whether we are in right relation to Him. And it is death that brings each of us inevitably to face that trial.

At right: Photograph of the Rev. Charles K. Imbrie, from the frontispiece for In Memoriam: Rev. Charles Kisselman Imbrie, D.D. (1891).

Sermon, preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Jersey City, on Sunday evening, November 22, 1891, by the Pastor, the Rev. Charles Herr, in memory of the Rev. Charles Kisselman Imbrie, born on December 15, 1814, died on November 20, 1891.

Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.— Heb. xi. 5.

A long drive from Geneva of flat, tame miles ends before the towering majesty of Mont Blanc. It is somewhat of a dull road through the genealogical records of Genesis, but when you come to Enoch the road sweeps up into the hills. It is a weary stretch of nobodyism, but at last you meet a man, a monarch, Enoch, of whom it is on record that he walked with God, and for a reward God took him— took him into heaven without the dark process of death. Magnificent man ! Magnificent finish !

It is proper and necessary for us to talk together to-night a little, though very inadequately indeed, of Dr. Imbrie whom we have lost. In truth we cannot keep our minds away from him. We talk of him, because the glory and the sadness absorb all our thoughts. And we do not anticipate anything which will be said at the funeral ceremonies to-morrow, because our feelings are such as no one else, having other relations with Dr. Imbrie, can utter.

In thinking of some starting-place for our thoughts, it seemed to me that there was hardly a more adequately suggestive personage than this Enoch, seventh from Adam, who so early in biblical history reached a point of renown in godliness. As we look at the details of his sparse record, we shall find that they admirably prompt the recollection of the dominant characteristics of our Pastor Emeritus.

1.  Enoch pleased God by seeking His heavenly companionship, by finding his happiness in God’s communion. The Genesis record reports him as one who walked with God, which signifies a very intimate, reverent and confidential intercourse.

And when we remember the times in which Enoch lived, that seems a wonderful thing indeed. He lived in the world that Cain had made, the world that was the offspring of selfishness and murder. The religion which controlled men’s actions was one which disowned the claims of God in righteousness. It confessed no sin and guilt. It refused to worship. It laughed at the words of the Almighty. It was an age when the evil thoughts of men’s hearts were far developed toward that height of wickedness which brought on the o’ersweeping flood in the days of Noah, Enoch’s great-grandson. A constituent part of the civilization of that day was a city, the stronghold in ungodly times of luxury and materialism. There were manufactures, the art of man was cultivated to the production of every possible comfort, ingenuity was taxed in ever-new devices to create what might make the world, out of which God had been rejected, bearable to man. It is truly wonderful that at such an early time and in such hard and uncongenial circumstances, Enoch walked with God. Original, peculiar, brave to oppose the religious negations of his fel- low-men, and turning his back with firm self-denial upon their ungodly lusts and luxuries, he walked with God. He is the one point of light in a black expanse.

I am sure we will all agree that it was eminently true of Dr. Imbrie thathe walked with God. His conversation was habitually and deeply with our heavenly Father.

He carried the proof of it upon his face and in his utterance. He did not try to prove it. He did not need to tell any one that he was a man of God. It proved itself. He had the Christ-spirit, the Christ- light, the Christ-speech. It was not peculiar that Moses’ face should shine with the reflection of Divine glory when he came down from the communion of the mount. Every man of God will carry the marks of the ethereal converse upon his face. No servant of the Most High ever had those marks more distinctly, more beautifully, imprinted upon his countenance than Dr. Imbrie. I suppose that he must always have been a very handsome man, of open face and clear fine features. But we know him best for something different from that and deeper than that. He had that which is not natural beauty, and which can make even plainness beautiful,— the outward signals of an inner life lived in the presence of God, lived under His smile, lived under the illumination of His grace.

And this was evident in all his action. The holiest and loveliest graces were the easy and natural features of his daily walk. There were no second-thoughts about him ; he did not need any. The first thought was always the Christ-thought, the heavenly thought. His talk never had need to be revised for any reason of spiritual inadequacy or moral lack. It was always in angelic vein. It was always the talk of a man who kept continuous company with our blessed Lord, and whose lips never for an instant dropped the continuity of their holy habit.

Perhaps no mark of his walk with God was more impressive to us than his prayers at our mid-week gathering. They were always so prompt, so helpful, so heavenly. They bore us all up so confidently, so joyfully to God. They so uttered our unutterable thoughts. They exhibited and interpreted to us the strange and fugitive sensations of our hearts with such ease of saintly power. His prayers were a sublime evidence of his reverent, yet childlike and confident familiarity with God. Their flow, their unlabored elevation, their sweet and even naturalness, their wondrous spirituality, and that amazing quality by which the delicatest thoughts were fixed and the most vanishing feelings caught and uttered in accumulating flow and splendor ; these things showed us, as few things could, that he lived in an attitude of prayer, that his life was spent in God’s presence.

2.  Enoch pleased God by the witness which he faithfully bore for Him, for the integrity of his truth against the falsehoods of unrighteous men. Though we have no record of this in Genesis, we can easily understand that his life would necessarily be of this sort. Living a rare saint of God in the midst of a wicked world, his very life would be a testimony. He must have been a martyr in every sense, a witness to the truth and a sufferer for it. We cannot believe that a character of his exceptional sort could have escaped the contumely and enmity of men, who did not even need words to condemn them while his life stood forth in silent but complete accusation. But the apostle Jude has preserved something for us out of the dying testimonies of tradition, which shows that Enoch’s life was not without its vigorous spoken protest against the wickedness of the world. “ Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh among His holy myriads to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the impious concerning all their works of impiety which they impiously did, and concerning all the hard things which impious sinners spoke against Him.”

Dr. Imbrie was every way a witness for God, by life, by act, by word. He was profoundly learned in the Scriptures. I think he could be called a scientific theologian, a man who knew the testimonies of the word of God and was able to bring them together into a consistent and harmonious scheme. There are not many men in our country who can so amply justify that designation.

In all the large and burning questions that came before the Presbyterian Church he was a ready, faithful, courageous and splendidly intelligent witness for the truth of God, as he understood it. And he understood it in the old way, the way made glorious by the singing feet of the generations which echo to us from the past. The struggle connected with the proposed revision of the Confession of Faith saddened his heart deeply, and I somehow feel that he would not have found out how to adjust himself with repose of heart in the new conditions which now seem likely to come to pass. He was a redoubtable antagonist. Those who came forward from time to time with raw ideas and radical departures and sudden enthusiasms of revolution met in him an unconquerable foeman and found their propositions overwhelmed with the condemning testimony of scripture.

He was with us at communion seasons (and perhaps there we shall miss him most), and talked to us so winningly of the love of Christ, and ministered to our fainting souls the comfortable encouragements of Divine grace. He was with us at our prayer-meetings, and spoke upon all the varied subjects which come before us in the round of the year. His address was the glorious feature of the occasion, that for which our souls waited as (or their food. He was with us at protracted meetings, when the duties of the unworldly life in their multitudinous forms of expression,—the obligation and wisdom of early profession, the sinfulness of sin, the misery and despair of the ungodly life, the responsibility and privilege of responding to the redeeming love of God, the deceitful persuasions of Satan,—were declared by him with exceptional and pressing emphasis, with stirring freshness and power. His facility in all these things, his supreme adequacy for every occasion, was the mark of a great and faithful witness for God.

3. Enoch pleased God by his faith. This is asserted in the Epistle to the Hebrews as the explanation of his godly walk. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death ; and was not found because he had translated him : for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him ; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

Dr. Imbrie believed that God is. He believed it with all his soul. He knew it. To him it was the truest of truths. It was more real to him than anything else in the wide universe.

And he grasped it as a truth that has meaning—a truth to live by. It was not an intellectual tenet; it was a life-faith. He accepted all that it entailed. It involved him in relations of love and duty which he entered into with sincere joy, into which he threw himself with abandonment of soul. This is the only belief in God’s existence which has value and virtue. With so many men that truth, though accepted, lies bedridden in the dormitory of the soul. It does not go like an arrow into their consciences ; it does not plough up their hearts like a coulter ; it does not shake them with its magnificent significance. With Dr. Imbrie it had all these pure and stirring effects. He saw what it meant that God is. He saw that it required the response of his adoration, his obedience, his love. And he gave them with gladness and without reserve.

He digged deep into this truth of truths. He felt it so fully and so intelligently that he became not merely a servant of God, but a son. The utmost that a large number of Christians realize in their religious experience is just that they are pardoned criminals. But Dr. Imbrie entered into the higher and sweeter relationship. He took God’s word for his adoption into the heavenly family, he under-stood the testimony of the Holy Spirit in his soul, and gave convincing evidence of his faith by acting out in all his life the spirit of a son. He was sweetly constrained to all happiness of temper and all gladness of service by the fact that he was an accepted and beloved child of the Heavenly Father. In his heart sprung up and lived the graces that belong to that relationship—confidence, serenity, love, courage, assurance.

And he believed that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. This is evident, because he devoted himself to the attainment of those rewards, and those only. He wanted nothing except what came from the hand of God. That which supported him in the patience and joyfulness of his daily walk, that which inspired his unrequired yet uninterrupted faithfulness in the service of this Church, that which fortified his exhaustless activity in every direction of usefulness, was not the hope of reward from men, not even their good opinion or their grateful word. Before the face of his unseen master he lived ; for Him he did all this; to Him alone he stood or fell.

The wholesome and serene sweetness of his mind amid many cares and trials shows to what comforts his heart was turned. No one would ever have judged from his words or manner that he had  quite the full measure of human griefs and burdens, if indeed he had not a little more than the common share. The pain and loneliness that came to him from his wife’s death only six months ago were absolutely undiscoverable to any except those to whom he was willing to utter them in words. I have never known any one who could more thoroughly make his own the declaration of the Apostle Paul: “ None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

And how has Dr. Imbrie been rewarded ?

I.  By blessedness here.
He pleased God—and behold the consequences in his revered and beautiful life—“ honor, love, obedience, troops of friends.” A face upon which were written the peace and grace of the Saviour. Lips which moved with delight to the motive of this ancient German hymn, which was his favorite :

Fairest Lord Jesus ! Ruler of all nature !
O Thou, of God and Man the Son !
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thee, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of Spring :
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

And above all, he had the sweet heart, glad in the inward testimony that he pleased God and having secret springs of heavenly joy and satisfaction.

Such are some of the rewards that God bestows in this world. Is anything else to be named beside them ? Is anything else desirable without them ? Can riches compare with the rewards of God’s favor ? Dr. Imbrie never wanted anything, for he was a child of the Father ; but he never was rich. He did not need to be. No man needs to be. Avaunt the despicable materialism which weighs men by their purses and strives for wealth as the chief good ! The greatest thing in the world is to be a Christlike man, a God-inhabited soul.

2.  Then God rewarded him with death. Strange reward, say you ? Oh, no !

Enoch was not—for God took him. His translation was supernatural. But many saints die not much dissimilarly. Dr. Imbrie’s death was such. It was just as little to him as translation was to Enoch. His death-bed was a sublime spectacle of faith. I suppose that most of us, if we should undertake to imagine an ideal picture of a believer’s closing hours, would illustrate them with expressions of confidence and hope, with triumphant utterances of fearlessness, with emotional testimonies and rapt prayers of faith. But though he had clearness and vigor of faculty, there was quiet in Dr. Imbrie’s room. No audible prayer; no last messages of warning or appeal ; no ejaculations of high confidence broke the tender hush. He had left nothing undone or unsaid in his holy life that needed fuller witness from his death-bed. His faith did not need to encourage itself with outward asseveration. Perfect self-control, self-restraint, rest, peace.

3.  Last of all, best of all, fulfillment of all, heaven ! As the gray line of light on the morning sky is the pledge of the shining sun and the risen day, as the blade above the soil is the earnest of the waving corn-field and the plentiful granary, so are these first rewards of service here the foretokens and prelibations of eternal joys. We know that our beloved Pastor and friend inherits the precious promises of God in the Scriptures.

They are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

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