The Gospel in Ezekiel
Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of Man. - EZEKIEL XXXVI. 16, 17.
HAVING scattered over an open field the bones of the human body, bring
an anatomist to the scene. Conduct him to the valley where Ezekiel stood with
his eye on the skulls and dismembered skeletons of an unburied host. Observe
the man of science how he fits bone to bone and part to part, till from those
disjointed members he constructs a framework, which, apart from our horror at
the eyeless sockets and fleshless form, appears perfectly, divinely beautiful.
In hands which have the patience to collect, and the skill to arrange these
materials, how perfectly they fit! bone to bone, and joint to joint, till the
whole figure rises to the polished dome, and the dumb skeleton seems to say, I
am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Now, as with these different parts of the human frame, so is it with the doctrines of the Gospel, in so far as they are intelligible to our limited understandings. From the wide fields of Scripture let these doctrines be collected. Arrange them according to systematic order; how beautifully they fit; doctrine to doctrine, duty to duty; till - connected with each other, and all "members one of another " - they rise into a form of perfect symmetry, presenting that very system which, with minor differences but substantial unity, is embodied in the confessions, creeds, and catechisms of Evangelical Christendom. I have said so far as they are intelligible to us; for it is ever to be borne in mind, that while the Gospel has shallow fords through which a child may wade, it has also dark, profound, unfathomed depths, which no eye can penetrate, and where the first step ingulfs a giant.
There is a difference, which even children may discern, between the manner in which the doctrines and duties of the Gospel are set forth in the Word of God, and their more formal arrangement in our catechisms and confessions. They are scattered over the face of Scripture, much as the plants of nature are distributed upon the surface of our globe. There, for example, we meet with nothing that corresponds to the formal order, systematic classification, and rectangular beds of a botanical garden; on the contrary, the creations of the vegetable kingdom lie mingled in what, although beautiful, appears to be wild confusion. On the same moor, on the surface of the same meadow, the naturalist collects grasses of many forms, and finds both enamelled with flowers of every hue. And in those primeval forests which have been planted by the hand of God, and beneath whose silent and solemn shades man still walks in savage freedom, trees of every form and foliage stand side by side like brothers. With the Sabbath hills around me, far from the dust and din, the mingled splendour and squalor of the city, I have sat on a rocky bank, to wonder at the varied and rich profusion with which God had clothed the scene. Nature, like Joseph, was dressed in a coat of many colours - lichens, grey, black, and yellow, clad the rock; the glossy ivy, like a child of ambition, had planted its foot on the crag, and, hanging on by a hundred arms, had climbed to its stormy summit; mosses of hues surpassing all the colours of the loom, spread an elastic carpet around the gushing fountain; the wild thyme lent a bed to the weary, and its perfume to the air; heaths opened their blushing bosoms to the bee; the primrose, like modesty, shrinking from observation, looked out from its leafy shade ; at the foot of the weathered stone the fern raised its plumes, and on its summit the foxglove rang his beautiful bells; while the birch bent to kiss the stream as it ran away laughing to hide itself in the lake below, or stretched out her arms to embrace the mountain ash and evergreen pine. By a slight exercise of fancy, in such a scene one could see Nature engaged in her adorations - we could hear her singing, 0 Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.
Now, although over the whole surface of our globe, as in that spot, plants of every form and family seem thrown at random, amid this apparent disorder the eye of science discovers a perfect system in the floral kingdom; and just as, though God has planted these forms over the face of nature without apparent arrangement, there is a botanical system, so there is as certainly a theological system, though its doctrines and duties are not classified in the Bible according to dogmatic rules. Does not this circumstance teach us that He intended his word to be a subject of careful study as well as of devout faith, and that man should find in its saving pages a field for the exercise of his highest faculties? We are commanded to compare spiritual things with spiritual; we are to search the Scriptures, to dig for their treasures, and dive for the pearls. Hence the prayer of David, Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
While the trees and flowers that clothe the fields of nature are thus dispersed over the wide surface of the earth, there are mountain regions lying within the tropics, where, in the course of a single day, the traveller finds every vegetable form peculiar to every line of latitude between the equator and the poles. These all laid out in regular arrangement. Leaving the palms which cover the mountain's feet, he ascends into the regions of the olive; from thence he rises to a more temperate climate, where vines festoon the trees, or trail their limbs along the naked rock; still mounting, he reaches a belt of oaks and chestnuts; from that he passes to rugged heights, shaggy with the hardy pine; by and by, the trees are dwarfed into bushes; rising higher, his foot presses a soft carpet of lowly mosses; till, climbing the rocks where only lichens live, he leaves all life below; and now, shivering in the cold, panting in the thin air for breath, he stands on those dreary elevations, where eternal winter sits on a throne of snow, and, waving her icy sceptre, says to vegetation, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further. Like some such lofty mountain of the tropics, there are portions of the Divine word, where, in a space also of limited extent, within the short compass of a chapter, or even part of it, the more prominent doctrines of salvation are brought into juxtaposition, and arranged side by side, almost in systematic order.
This chapter offers to our attention one of the most remarkable of these; and in illustration of that remark I observe -
I. That this portion of Scripture, extending onwards from the 16th verse, presents an epitome or outline of the Gospel.
Its details, with their minute and varied beauties, are here, so to speak, in shade; but the grand truths of redemption stand boldly up, much as we have seen from sea the summits of a mountain range, or the lofty headlands of a dim and distant coast. We are aware that the Mosaic economy, and many of God's dealings with his ancient people, were but the shadows of good things to come; and that, when the things are come - as come they certainly are - you may meet us on the very threshold with this question, Why look at the shadow when you possess the substance? However highly valued in his absence the portrait of a son, what mother, when her boy is folded in her arms, and she has his loved and living face to gaze on, turns to the cold picture? What artist studies a landscape in the grey dawn, when he may see it in the blaze of day? True. Yet such study has its advantages. It not seldom happens that a portrait brings to view certain shades of expression which we had not previously observed in the face of the veritable man; and when some magnificent form of architecture, or the serried ridges and rocky peaks of a mountain, have stood up between us and the lingering lights of day, though the minor beauties of fluted columns or frowning crags were lost in the shades of evening, yet, drawn in sharp clear outline against a twilight sky, the effect of the whole was more impressive than when eyed in the glare of noon.
Thus it may be well, at least occasionally, to examine the Gospel in the broad shadows and strongly defined outlines of an old economy; and through God's government of his ancient people, to study the motives, the nature, and the ends of his dealings with ourselves. In this way the passage before us has peculiar claims on our attention. Addressed to the Jews, and applicable in the first instance to their condition, it presents a remarkable summary of Gospel doctrines, in a form which approaches at least to systematic order.
In the 17th verse, we have man sinning - " Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings.
In the 18th verse, we have man suffering - " Where-fore, I poured my fury upon them."
In the 21st verse, man appears an object of mercy "But I had pity."
In the 22d verse, man is an object of free mercy - mercy without merit - " I do not this for your sakes, 0 house of Israel."
In the 24th verse, man's salvation is resolved on - "I will bring you into your own land."
In the 25th verse, man is justified - " Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean."
In the 26th and 27th verses, man is renewed and sanctified - " A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of our flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
In the 28th verse, man is restored to the place and privileges which he forfeited by his sins - " Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God." "This land that was desolate, is become like the garden of Eden." We have our security for these blessings in the assurance of the 36th verse - " I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it;" and we are directed to the means of obtaining them in the declaration of the 37th verse - " I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."
Such is the wide and interesting field that lies before us. But before entering upon it, let us consider.
II. Who is commissioned to deliver God's message.
Who, and what is the chosen ambassador of Heaven? An angel? No; but a man. "Son of man," says the Lord. In the 1st verse of this chapter, he says, Son of man, prophesy unto the mountains. In the 3d verse of the following one he asks, Son of man, can these I bones live? Again, in the 9th verse of the same chapter, he says, Son of man, prophesy unto the wind. And in the 11th verse, still addressing him by the same title, he tells the prophet, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. By the title of Son of man Ezekiel is so often addressed, Son of man, Son of man, is so constantly sounded forth both in his ears and in ours, that it forces on our attention this remarkable fact, that God deals with man through the instrumentality of man, communicating by men his will to men. The rain, in its descent from heaven, falls upon the surface of our earth, percolates through the porous soil, and, flowing along rocky fissures or veins of sand, is conveyed below ground to the fountain whence it springs.
Now, although rising out of the earth, that water is not of the earth, earthy. The world's deepest well owes its treasures to the skies. So was it with the revealed will of God. It flowed along human channels, yet its origin was more than celestial; it was divine. Those waters, at whose pure and perennial springs Faith drinks and lives, while conveyed to man along earthly channels, have their source far away, even in the throne of God. Their fountainhead is the Godhead. No doubt, God could have used other instrumentality. He might have commissioned angels on his errands of mercy, and spoken at all times, as he did sometimes, by seraph lips. With rare exceptions, however, his ambassadors were men. The patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, by whom in days of old he revealed his will, those inspired missionaries of heaven were all sons of man.
Now in this arrangement observe, in the first place -
The kindness of God to man.
Who has read the story of Moses without feeling that it was a very great kindness, both to the infant and his mother, that he had her bosom to lie on, and that God in his providence so arranged matters that the mother of the child was hired to be its nurse? No other woman could be expected to treat the outcast so lovingly and so kindly. And I regard it as a singular kindness to man that he is selected to be the instrument of saving his fellow - men. The God of salvation, the author and finisher of our faith, might have arranged it otherwise. Who shall limit the Holy One of Israel? The field is the world. And as the husbandman ploughs his fields and sows his seed in spring by the same hands that bind the golden sheaves of autumn, God might have sent those angels to sow the Gospel, who shall descend at the judgment to reap the harvest. But though these blessed and benevolent spirits, who are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, take a lively interest in the work; though watching from on high the progress of a Redeemer's cause, they rejoice in each new jewel that adds lustre to his crown, and in every new province that is won for his kingdom; and though there be more joy even in heaven than on earth when man is saved, a higher joy among these angels over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons, yet theirs is little more than the pleasure of spectators. Theirs is the joy of the crowd who, occupying the shore, or clustered on its heights, with eager eyes and beating heart follow the bold swimmer's movements, and watching his head as it rises and sinks among the waves, see him near the drowning child, and pluck from the billow its half-drowned prey; and, trembling lest strength should fail him, look on with anxious hearts, till, buffeting his way back, he reaches the strand, and amid their shouts and sympathies restores her boy to the arms of a fainting mother. To man, however, in salvation, it is given to share, not a spectator's but a Saviour's joy; with his lips at least he tastes the joys of that cup for which Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame. If that parent is happy who has snatched a beloved child from the flood or fire, and the child, saved, and thus twice given him, becomes doubly dear, what happiness in purity or permanence to be compared with his, who is a labourer with God in saving souls? Let me invite you to share in pleasures, the sweetest out of heaven. This is a privilege and a pleasure free to all. It is one which kings cannot command, and yet beggars may enjoy; which wealth cannot purchase, and yet poverty may possess; one also (and what more could be said of it?) which enhances, enlarges, and intensifies the joy of heaven. While every saint shall have one heaven, some shall have more. Those who have helped to fill its mansions shall possess many heavens in one; and in proportion to the number they have brought to Christ, shall their crowns shine with jewels, and their cup overflow with joys - joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man.
In this arrangement I observe again -
The honour conferred on man.
Did Moses occupy a noble position when, taking advantage of some rock, he stood aloft amid the dying Israelities, and there, the central figure of the camp on whom all eyes were turned, raised high that serpent, at which to look was life? Nobler his attitude, much holier his office, who with his foot on a dying world, lifts up the cross - exalts Jesus Christ and him crucified - that, whosoever looketh and believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. Give me the bleeding Saviour, make me the instrument of converting a single soul, and I grudge not Moses his "piece of brass;" nor envy him the honour of saving a thousand lives, long ere now quenched in death. All honour to the memory of the mighty men who swept like a hurricane through the camp of the Philistines, and cleaving their way through a crowd of foes, drew the water of Bethlehem for their king; yet, rather than be reckoned among David's mighty men, it would content me, as one of Christ's humblest servants, to hold the cup of life to a beggar's lips. All honour to the deathless prophet who rode up to the gate of heaven in a chariot of fire; but nobler still his departure, who leaves spiritual sons behind him to weep beside the mantle of his flesh, and cry, as they follow his ascending spirit, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof! What dignity does this world offer, what glittering stars, what jewelled honours flash on her swelling breast, to be for one moment compared with those which they win on earth, and wear in heaven, who have turned souls from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the living, loving God? Each converted soul a gem in their crown, they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars, for ever and ever.
How has the hope of this touched, as with burning fire, the preacher's lips, sustained his sinking heart, and held up the weary hands of prayer? It has proved an ample recompense for the scanty rewards which God's servants have received at the hands of men, for the penury which has embittered their life, and the hardships which have pressed on their lot. Their master - a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief - was rejected and despised of men ; and, the disciple being no better than his Lord, they have shared in his sufferings. But, fellow-sufferers, are they not fellow-labourers with Christ, his associates in the noblest work done beneath the sun? Despised as his office may be by many, the apostle places the preacher of the Gospel on an eminence from which he can contemplate this great world, with all its grandeur and glory, rolling away beneath him into dark oblivion. Viewed in the light of eternity, the church stands on a loftier elevation than the palace, and the pulpit offers man a grander position than the throne of empires. To ministers of the Gospel belongs a high pre-eminence. They can say, We are fellow labourers with God. With such an associate, in such lofty company, devoting his life to so great a cause, no wonder that Paul calmly confronted a sceptical, sneering, scoffing world, and bravely said, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
I am anxious that you should understand that the honours of which I have spoken are not reserved for pulpits. The youth who, finding rest and refreshment in Christian labours, teaches a Sabbath class; the mother, with her children grouped around her, sweet solemnity sitting on her face, and an open Bible resting on her knee; the friend who deals faithfully with another's soul; any man who kindly takes a poor sinner by the hand, and offering to guide, and urging him to go to the Saviour, says, Come with us and we will do you good, Arise, for we have seen the land, and behold it is very good, - these are ministers of the Gospel, and not less than its ordained pastors are fellow-labourers with God. Think not that this noblest work is our exclusive privilege, nor stand back as if you had neither right nor call to set to your hand. What though you hold no official rank? No more does the private who wears neither stripes on his arm nor epaulettes on his shoulder; It yet may he not fight and bleed and die for the colours which it is not his privilege to carry? If it is not his business to train recruits, it is his business, and shall be his reward to enlist them. To that office, to recruit the ranks of the cross, the Gospel calls you; calls all calls the meanest soldier in the army of the faith. The Spirit and the bride say come. But more than they should call. In the itinerant ministry which Jehoshaphat sent forth to teach in the cities of Judah there were princes from the court, as well as priests and Levites from the temple; and where sinners are perishing, where opportunity offers, where a door stands open, where the rule, Let all things be done decently and in order, is not outraged and violated - call it preaching if you choose, but in God's name let hearers preach. Has God gifted any with power to speak for Christ? Then, with such high interests at stake, from forms which churches, not their Head - man, not God, has established, we say, Loose him and let him go. Let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.
You are "a son of man ;" and as you bear the prophet's title, whatever otherwise you may be, let me call you to the prophet's office. The master hath need, much need, daily need of you. Thousands, and tens of thousands, are dying in their sins. Although every minister were a flaming fire in the service of his God, every bishop were faithful as Latimer, every reformer were bold as Knox, every preacher were eloquent as Wbitfield, and every missionary glowed with the zeal of Martyn, the work is greater than ministers can accomplish; and if an indignant country will not suffer the interests of nations and the triumph of armies to be sacrificed to routine and mere forms of office, much less should these be tolerated where the interests of heaven and the cause of souls are at stake. I say therefore to every Christian, The master bath need of you. Take a living, lively, loving interest in souls. Don't leave them to perish. You are your brother's keeper, Permanently and formally to instruct may be the duty of others, but to enlist is yours. " This honour have all his saints." And in attempting to engage you in the work of enlisting others, and of recruiting from the ranks of your family, and friends, and neighbourhood, the armies of the faith, I call you to a work in which every man may bear his share, and one which offers honours as exalted as its pleasures are pure. It was no honour to Elijah to gird up his loins, and with the storm at his back to run abreast of the smoking horses of Ahab's chariot. Considering who the parties were, it had been meet, I think, that the king should have ran, and the prophet ridden. But to run by the chariot where Jesus sits, with a crown on his head, his bow in his hand, and a sword girded on his thigh; to employ our feet in offices that have employed angels wings; to carry the news of mercy to a dying sinner; to gather crowds around the Saviour, that they may his royal path with palms, and swell the song of to the Son of David, for such a work a king might divest himself of robes and crown, and, ceasing to be a monarch, become a missionary.
Yes - he surely would not demean, but in the eyes of all good men rather dignify his office, who should descend from a throne before which nobles are bending, to bend his own knee to God by a peasant's bed, or leave his palace for some lonely cell, to watch, and weep, and pray with one whom crime had consigned to death. As the planet worlds that roll above us draw bright radiance from the sun around which they move, so surely shall they shine who spend and are spent in Jesus' service. They shall share his honours, and shine in his lustre. The man, however lowly his condition, who, on his way from the cradle to the tomb, has converted even one soul to God, has not lived in vain; nor laboured for nought. He has achieved a great, undying work. Let it content him to go down into the grave by men unpraised, by the world unknown. His works are away to heaven. If they have not preceded, they shall follow him; and, needing no tablet among mouldering bones and tombstones, in them he has raised a monument to his memory, where there are neither griefs nor graves, more enduring than brass or marble. Others may have filled the world with the breath of their name; he has helped to fill thrones in heaven. Others may have won an earthly renown; but he who, one himself, has sought to make others Christians, who, reaching the rock himself, draws another up, plucked from the flood himself, pulls another out, who has leaped hem into the depths that might rise with a pearl, and set it lustrous in Jesus crown - he is the man who shall wear heaven's brightest honours, the man to whom, before all others, the Lord shall say, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. Weak in yourselves, but strong in God, go forth on this godlike enterprise; the motto on your banner, the prayer of your heart, this wish of Brainerd, 0 that I were a flaming fire in the ervice of my God!
In this arrangement we see, lastly,
The wisdom of God.
However highly gifted he may otherwise be, it is a valid objection to a preacher, that he does not feel what he says; that spoils more than his oratory. Once on a time an obscure man rose up address the French Convention. At the close of his oration, Mirabeau, the giant genius of the Revolution, turned round to his neighbour, and eagerly asked, Who is that? The other, who had been in no way interested by the address, wondered at Mirabeau's curiosity. Where upon the latter said, That man will yet act a great part; and added, on being asked for an explanation, He speaks as one who believes every word he says. Much of pulpit power under God depends on that; admits of that explanation, or of one allied to it. They make others feel who feel themselves. How can he plead for souls who neither knows nor feels the value of his own? How can he recommend a Saviour to others who himself despises and rejects him? Unhappy indeed, and doubly those whose leader is as blind as they, but unhappiest of all the preacher; while leader and led fall the ditch, he falls foremost, undermost; his the heaviest condemnation, the deepest and most damned perdition. In possession of such a man, of one who has entered the sacred office of the ministry as other men the law, or army, or navy, simply as a profession, and who goes through the routine of its duties with the coldness of a mere official, the pulpit seems occupied by the ghastly form of a skeleton, that in its cold and bony fingers holds a burning lamp.
It is true that a man may impart light to others who does not himself see the light. It is true that like a concave speculum cut from a block of ice, which, by its power of concentrating the rays of the sun, kindles touch-wood or explodes gunpowder, a preacher may set others on fire, when his own heart is cold as frost. It is true that he may stand like a lifeless finger-post, pointing the way on a road where he neither leads nor follows. It is true that God may thus in his sovereign mercy bless others by one who is himself unblessed. Yet commonly it happens, that it is what comes from the heart of preachers that penetrates and affects the heart of hearers. Like a ball red hot from the cannon's mouth, he must burn himself who would set others on fire. Still, although the ministry of men who are themselves strangers to piety, a Judas or Simon Magus in office, is an evil to which the church stands more or less exposed in every age, and under every form of government, it were a poor refuge to seek exemption from such an evil in the ministry of angels. While man may not feel what he preaches, angels could not. How could they? They never felt the stings of conscience; they never hung trembling over hell's fiery gulf; and saw the narrow ledge they stood on crumbling away beneath their feet, and sent up to heaven the piercing cry, Lord, save me, I perish; tortured by remorse, they never felt the balm and power of Jesus blood; pursued by a storm of wrath, they never flew to the Rock of Ages, and folded their wings in the sweet and serene security of its welcome clefts; in an agony for pardon, they never were ready to give a thousand worlds for one Christ; like a hart panting for the water brooks, they never thirsted for salvation; they never, as we have done, trod the valley of humiliation, and toiled along its flinty path with bleeding feet and weeping eyes; they never knew what it is, between them and their bright home in heaven, to see death's gloomy passage, and, more appalling still, a sight which makes the saint grasp his sword with a firmer hand, and lift up his shield on high, Satan posted there, and striding across the pass to dispute the way. Never knowing what it is to have been in bondage, having neither country nor kindred here, how could they preach like Paul? how could their bosoms burn mid glow with this apostolic fire - " I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh!"
We have read the story of a traveller who stood one day beside the cages of some birds, that ruffled their plumage on the wires, struggling to be free. A way-worn and sun-browned man, like one returned from foeign lands, he looked wistfully and sadly on these captives, till tears started in his eye. Turning round on their owner, he asked the price of one, paid it in strange gold, and opening the cage set the prisoner free; thus he did with another and another, till every bird had flown away singing to the skies - soaring on the wings of liberty. The crowd stared and stood amazed. They thought him mad, till to the question of their curiosity he replied, I was once a captive; I know the sweets of liberty. And so they who have experience of guilt, who have the serpent's bite, the poison burning in their veins, who on the one hand have felt the sting of conscience; and on the other the, peace of faith, the joys of hope, the love, the light, the liberty, the life, that are found in Jesus, they, not excepting heaven's highest angels, are the fittest to preach a Saviour; to plead with man for God, and with God for man. Each Sabbath morning the gates of heaven might have been thrown open, and, sent forth on a mission worthy of seraphic fire, an angel might have lighted down on this sanctuary, and, flying into the pulpit, when lie had folded his wings, or with them veiled his glory, he might have taken up the wondrous theme of salvation and the cross. No angel, I believe, would abandon heaven to be a king and fill a throne; yet, were it God's will, what angel there would not hold himself honoured to be a preacher and fill a pulpit? Another and very different messenger appears, a frail, dying,sinful man, one who. is bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; and if his humanity made Jesus the better Saviour, it makes his servants the better ambassadors, that they also are touched with a feeling of their people's infirmities, and are made in all points like as they are, and especially in this point, that we cannot add, "yet, without sin."
It is true that in us the instrument which God employs is a humble one, one in itself destitute of merit, and worthy neither of honour nor respect.. The treasure is committed to earthen vessels; and these sometimes of rudest form and the coarsest clay. What of that? If the letter from a far away land brings good tidings of his son, what father quarrels with the meanness of the paper? While tears of joy bedew the page, does he so much as notice it? if the servant ofers safe or savoury meat, no starving man enjoys it any the 1ess. Although not served np on gold or porcelain. An ointment worthy of the Master's head, and exhaling odoura that fill the house with fragrance, is as welcome from a Magdalene's as from an angel's hand, from a vessel of the poorest earth as of the purest alabaster. Even so will you, if the people of God, receive and relish saving truth. Without worshipping him as an idol, and giving the honour to the servant which is due to the Master, you will respect the servant for his Master's sake.
Are some of you yet unconverted sinners, still in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity? Because we are ourselves sinners, and know what it is to have been captives, we are the more fit to address you. We know you are not happy, and never can be happy in sin. It's pleasures perish in the using, and pain in the recollection; and surely it is madness, the height of madness, for a man to stake eternity on the chances of a tomorrow, and purchase short-lived joys at the expense of eternal happiness. We know that out of Christ, as you have no safety, you can find no peace, no true peace. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked ;" "they are like the troubled sea which cannot rest ;" in storms a raging ocean, and in summer's serenest day ebbing or flowing and breaking its billows, like the world's joys and happiness, on a beach strewed with wrecks and withered weeds. Seek Christ; seek your peace through him; seek it in him; and, saved your-self, yourself plucked from the wreck, oh, remember the perishing; let the first breath and effort of your new life be spent for others. I present you with an example; and in the words spoken for a fellow-sufferer's life, see what you should do for a fellow-sinner's soul.
During a heavy storm off the coast of Spain, a dismasted merchantman was observed by a British frigate drifting before the gale. Every eye and glass were on her; and a canvas shelter on a deck almost level with the sea suggested the idea that even yet there might be life on board. With all their faults, no men are more alive to humanity than our rough and hardy mariners; so the order instantly sounds to put the ship about; and presently a boat is lowered, and starts with instructions to bear down upon the wreck. Away after that drifting hulk go these gallant men over the mountain swell and roaring sea. They reach it; they shout; and now a strange object rolls from that canvas screen against the lee shroud of a broken mast. It is hauled into the boat. It proves to be the trunk of a man, bent head and knees together, so dried up and shrivelled as to be hardly felt within the ample clothes - so light that a mere boy lifted it on board. It is conveyed to the ship and laid on the deck. In horror and pity the crew gather around it. These feelings suddenly change into astonishment. The miserable object shews signs of life. The seamen draw nearer; it moves; and then mutters - in a deep sepulchral voice mutters - There is another man. Rescued himself, the first use the saved one made of speech was to try to save another. Oh! learn that blessed lesson. Be daily practising it. And so long as in our homes, and among our friends, and in this wredk of a world which is drifting down to ruin, there lives an unconverted one, so long as it can be said, There is another man, let us go to that man and plead for Christ; let us go to Christ and plead for that man; the cry, Lord, save me, I perish, changed into one as welcome to a Saviour's ear, Save them, Lord, they perish.
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