“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place.” — Isaiah 28:17.
OLORD, how shall we speak with thee, for we are dust and ashes! May Thy Spirit speak in us, that we may speak unto Thy Spirit. And how shall we draw near to Thee, for we have no merits. Let the merits of Jesus stand for us, that we may acceptably approach our God, being “accepted in the Beloved.” Lord, we are full of infirmities, and full of wants, and full of sin, and we come and cast ourselves at Thy feet. Being nothing, we would ask to receive everything of Thee; and being altogether undeserving, we would look to Thy loving kindness and tender mercy, and expect much from that divine source, through Jesus Christ Thy Son.
Help Thy servant now to pray for all this people, and may there be a voice in our prayer for every man’s want before Thee. At the same time, help all this company to be instant in prayer; and may there not be a prayerless heart in the whole building, but may every man, and every woman too, come with his own request and burden, and may it be done unto him according to Thy grace.
First we would lie humbly before Thee, confessing our sin, our frequent sin, our willful sin; our sin against light and knowledge; sins of heart and thought, sins of word and sins of action. There is no power of body, or of the will, which has not been defiled with sin; and we confess this before Thee with much shame. So great has been the stream, that we are sure, there must be a deep and large fount of pollution within our nature, and Thou hast made some of us to know that it is so. Thou hast taken us into the chambers of imagery, that are within our spirit, and we have dug through the wall, and have gone from one chamber to another; and the deeper we search, the more we are shocked, and the further we have pryed into the secrets of our being, the more are we utterly ashamed that we should be such creatures as we are by nature.
We have been saying to Thee this morning, as we marked the leaves falling from the trees, “We are altogether as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags!” “We all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” As the wind strips the leaves from the trees and leaves them bare, so we stand before Thee this morning.
We have not by nature, one green shoot or anything like fruit we are unprofitable altogether, and only fit to be “hewn down and cast into the fire;” for what fruit we have borne, if it has been the fruit of our nature, has been more the fruit of thorns and thistles, than of figs and grapes.
Lord God, we wonder Thou didst ever have any mercy on us at all; for in justice and judgment, if we were set upon the Throne, we could do no other than condemn ourselves, for there is no plea against Thy justice that can be found within our lives or nature.
Yet, Lord, we thank Thee that Thou hast saved many of us, and we would this morning exult in that salvation, and pray that all the rest here assembled might be saved also!
O God, Thou hast smitten a heavy blow at our proud self; Thou hast made us lie broken in pieces before Thee. Thou hast set up another in the place of the false god that ruled us. We do not live for self, nor even for selfsalvation.
Jesus Christ has become the Lord and Master of our spirit, and He has delivered us from the dominion of self and sin, and helped us to be obedient unto Thee. Now, henceforth, the strongest portion of our will is towards holiness. Oh, that we could be perfectly holy! we sigh after it and cry after it we think we could bear all trials, we feel persuaded we could give up all pleasures, if we might but win the pleasure of complete obedience to God. This, indeed, is the target towards which, like arrows shot from an archer’s bow, our lives are speeding. Though rough winds turn us aside, yet shall we strike the target by Thy grace.
The Lord be pleased to help us every day to put down sin. O Lord, whenever pride arises, may we be more than ever humbled in Thy sight.
Whenever self comes up, may we be determined it shall not live, but flee to the precious blood, that we may slay it. Lord, save us from self; save us from the love of the world; save us from the pride of the eye, and the pride of life save us, we beseech Thee, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let the new nature which Thou hast planted manifest itself day by day, till we shall be made like unto Christ, “whom having not seen we love,” but to whom we shall be conformed, for we shall “see Him as He is.”
Look with great grace, we pray Thee, O Lord, upon the slaves of sin that are present here this morning break their fetters. Oh, save this people. We know there, are some in this house that as yet are in the “gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” Move, O Divine Spirit, over this audience, and fetch out from among us those that know not God, that they may know themselves and their God this day. Oh make this to be a profitable, soulwinning Sabbath, one of the high days on which heaven’s bells shall ring out more sweetly than ever, because many and many a prodigal child has come back to the Father’s house to make the Father glad.
Save souls, we pray Thee, all over the world. Wherever Jesus Christ is lifted up, may He “draw all men to Him,” and may a great multitude look to Him and be lightened, that their faces may no more be ashamed!
And now, Lord, look upon this people for good. Thou knowest the troubles of every burdened spirit. Thou knowest how some whom Thou lovest are sick; how others have to watch over their dearest ones fading away and withering like flowers. Lord, send comfort to the saints in trouble.
Oh, grant us grace to bear whatever Thy righteous will puts upon us without repining; and if business is going amiss, and if many things are cross to the desires of nature, may we feel it is Thy will, and, therefore joyfully yield to that will; nay, more, may we take a delight in being stripped, if God strip us; take a delight in smarting, if it be God who makes us smart. When Thou dost use the chisel upon these blocks of stone that are to be built upon the Living Stone, Lord, do not only square us, and fashion us, but separate us from the old rock to which we have been wedded so long set us free from that hole of the pit, and let us be brought into the upper air, and built upon Christ, to lie there for ever.
Bless this our beloved church and its officers. We thank Thee for Thy mercy that many of us are spared to do service for Thee, notwithstanding many infirmities. We bless Thee for others, who having gone from us, have been brought back again; for the many Sunday School teachers among us; and ask that all may be anointed with fresh oil, that every working or suffering brother and sister may receive fresh grace this day; that this may be a time of the trimming of lamps, that all may shine brightly to the praise of Thy grace.
Bless our country. The Lord in mercy avert the horrors of war from us.
Grant that, by some means, peace may be continued, and war come to an end where it still rages; and oh, that the policy of truth and righteousness may once more be taken up in this land, and our nation be forgiven its great national crimes.
Bless the Queen with every blessing, and all peoples that dwell on the face of the earth visit with the splendor of Thy love. “Let the people praise Thee, O God, yea, let all the people praise Thee then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”
Forgive the weakness of our prayer, forgive the wandering of our heart but through the Well-Beloved, who stands before Thee now in all His; beauty as risen from the dead; through Him whom our soul loveth, even as Thou lovest Him; through Him whom we adore as “God over all, blessed for ever,” though bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh — through Him and for His sake look kindly on us now! Amen and Amen. SERMON: No. 1501. (October 26, 1879.)\par SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7. HYMNS: 118 (Song 2), 822, 381.