“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.
Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” — James 4:7-10.
PERMIT us, gracious Father, to come very near to Thee. May the drawings of the Divine Spirit now sweetly attract us to God; and most blessed Jesus, fulfill Thine office as Mediator, bring us now near to God by Thy precious blood. Oh for the power to pray aright this morning! May Thy servant have it largely that he may be able to lead all this people, by the power of the Spirit, close to the mercy-seat.
First would we adore and bless and magnify our God; not only O God for what Thou art to us, but for what Thou art in Thyself, for Thou art incomparably glorious. In Thee, all perfections shine. Through the rebellion of our flesh we cannot delight ourselves in Thy ways, because they are hard and afflictive apparently; yet we do delight in Thee, and we will at all times rest our souls in the excellence and goodness and loving kindness of the Most High. As Thou hast revealed Thyself in Christ Jesus, Thou art now become to Thy people the object of inexpressible delight. Thou hast bidden us delight in Thee, promising to give us the desire of our hearts. We trust we can, many of us, truly say that Thou art our exceeding joy; the thought of God doth to our soul exceeding pleasure bring. Our soul exalteth in her God: He is our God and we will extol Him, He is our fathers’ God and we will glorify Him.
But, Lord, we do confess that our nature is at enmity with Thee. The fallen corrupt nature of Adam has revolted and gone aside from God; and though we hope that by Thy free grace Thou hast renewed us, yet the old rebellions come up at times, and the evil nature urgeth us still to oppose Thee. Therefore our prayer this morning is that we may not only extol Thee with our words, as we do now; but by the entire submission of our hearts in loyal reverence to Thee, we may pay Thee the truest homage.
But, Lord, lest we should not have done this, or thinking that we have done so, should still have failed, we will make this the burden of our morning prayer. A large number of us have put on Christ by open confession of His name. Oh Searcher of hearts, are we really in Christ?
Have we been by His spirit begotten again? Wilt Thou be pleased to search our hearts, that this question may be put beyond all suspicion. Help us to be very diligent in self-examination, observing whether our spirit be the spirit of Thy children, whether our griefs be the griefs that tear repenting hearts, whether our joys are the joys of faith or the delusions of presumption. May we make severe trial of ourselves, often and often putting ourselves into the balances of the sanctuary, to see whether we be full weight or no. One thing we hope we can say with confidence, that our trust is stayed where Thou wouldst have it stayed, even in the work, the blood, the righteousness, the person of Thy dear Son. We have no confidence but in Christ, this we know; but Lord, if this be a true confidence it will work by love and purify the soul. Oh that there might be the sweet results of faith about our secret character and public life. We do sin, the Lord grant we may never leave off grieving because of sin, never may we be contented with ourselves, never fancy that we have reached a point where we may rest and be thankful, and that there is nothing more for us to do in seeking to be more than conquerors of ourselves. As we have read the charge of Thy word against that unruly member, the tongue; as we have heard Thy servant James rebuking our envy and other evil spirits that are within us, we do feel humbled under Thy hand, and our prayer is, Lord, kill our envy, Lord, help us to command our tongue, grant us grace to be holy; may we be kind and gentle towards our fellow men, having that fruit of the Spirit, which follows upon purity, even peace. Oh that we might live for Thee and not for self. Slay self we pray Thee, gracious God, whenever there is a selfish, angry disposition about us; help us to trample it out, as men put out sparks lest a fire should arise therefrom.
Oh to be Christly! We do desire to live on earth the life of Jesus — sent into the world by Him as He was sent into the world by the Father. We would closely copy all His acts, words, and spirit; for so only are we saved, when we are saved from the power of sin and transformed into the likeness of Christ. Let no drunkard here imagine that his life ought to be spent in a selfish endeavor to save himself from the flames of hell; but may he rather reckon that the grand object is to be saved from the power of sin, and to be consecrated unto God, and to live unto the glory of the most High. Oh Lord, we do fear that selfishness even enters into our most holy things; we mar and spoil our players, and preachings, and teachings, with the unwashed hands with which we go about them. Oh that Thou wouldst make us clean we pray Thee; while we thus pray to Thee, we do also know that believing in Christ we are clean; we thank Thee we do not doubt His justifying power. While we are now crying to Him to be sanctified, may we not doubt His power to sanctify; but while crying, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” as well we may, we do nevertheless shout exultingly, “Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And now we beseech Thee, look upon some who are seeking salvation, but do not find it; who hear the simple gospel but somehow cannot enter into its rest. We know that something hinders — Satan hinders. There may be in the heart of seekers here, attachment to a favorite sin. Oh deliver them from that fascination. There may be still some holding fast to evil associations, some predominance of evil passions. Oh God help penitent souls to come to Thee, asking to be delivered from sin in every shape, from the sugar of sin as well as from the gall of sin. Oh make the soul of the seeker to be weary till he is delivered from corruption. May there be none here that shall fancifully seek after a pretended salvation, which will leave them as they are, but may they know that Jesus saves His people from their sins; and, oh, that with self loathing, and deep contrition, and earnest heart searching, souls may come to Thee again and cast themselves before Thy face, trusting in Jesus, and crying out to be delivered from sin; and may this be the day of deliverance. Oh that at this very hour, while we are trying to preach, Thou mayest raise up of these stones children unto Abraham. Men that seem naked and cold as stones, quicken by the mighty Spirit this very day; and may they be led to yield themselves unto God, and their members instruments of righteousness. The Lord grant it, and we will bless His name.
Lord, save us all, not only now, but in that day. So as by fire perhaps some of us will be saved, but we had rather pray that thou wouldst minister unto us an entrance abundantly into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We have many things to ask of Thee, but Thou knowest, without our use of words. Give to all before Thee, and to all Thy people everywhere, exactly what Thou seest they need. We pray for the revival of the Church of God, for help to be given this day to all preachers, and teachers, and seekers after the souls of others. We pray Thee, Lord, to add to Thy church daily of such as shall be saved. With our whole heart many of us at least do pray Thee to bless our country, and spare it from the horrible evils of war. O God of peace, send us peace always, by all means. Sword of the Lord rest and be quiet now; and may the gospel with its benign influences spread over all nations, till there shall be no selfish clutching, no rapacious grasping at territories, no oppression of one race by another; but may the laws of the King of Peace be universally proclaimed, and obeyed even by those who perhaps yield not their hearts to His sway; for we do know, great King, that whilst Thou hast a special kingdom in Thy people, yet the Lord hath given Thee power over all flesh; and we pray this may be recognized, and we may see it. Thy kingdom come, O Jesus; may Thy kingdom come, Thy Father’s kingdom and let His will be done on earth as it is in heaven; for Thine is the kingdom and the power and, the glory for ever and ever. Amen. SERMON: NO. 1408. (April 7, 878.)\par SCRIPTURE: James 3:1-12; James 4:1-12.HYMNS: 907, 641, 119 (Song 2.).