“For my thoughts are, not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8-9.
OGOD, most high and glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity has often cheered us, for we are toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed here below beneath the moon, but Thou sittest for ever in perfect happiness. Thy designs cause Thee no care or fear, for Thou wilt surely carry them out. Thy purposes stand fast as the eternal hills Thy power knows no bound, Thy goodness no stint. Thou bringest order out of confusion, and our defeats are but Thy victories. We sow in tears, but Thou dost see us reap in joy. Our everlasting felicity is present to Thee, even while groans and mourning are our present lot. Glory be to the Lord most high, who sitteth on the clouds, who sitteth King for ever and ever.
Our hearts rejoice to hear the gladsome tidings that the Lord reigneth. Let His kingdom be established over the sons of men, for His kingdom must come, and of it there will be no end. Behold, we come to Thy throne this morning bearing about with us a body of sin and death, and consequently much of sin, and much of care, and it may be much of sorrow; but we would be unburdened at Thy mercy-seat now. As for our cares we are ashamed that we have them, seeing Thou carest for us. We have trusted Thee now for many years, and Thy faithfulness has never been under suspicion, nor Thy love a matter of question. We therefore leave every concern about our families or about ourselves, about our business, or about our souls, entirely with our God. And as for our sin, we bless Thee for a sight of the precious blood of Jesus when Thou seest it Thou dost pass over us. No angel of justice smites where once the blood is sprinkled. Oh, let us have a sight of the blood of Jesus, too, and rest because Thou hast for ever put away our sin, because we believe in Jesus. Thus, Lord, help us to stand before Thee, entering into Thy rest as we enter into Thy presence; and may this be a time of peace wherein the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep the hearts and minds of His people through Christ Jesus.
Still, Lord, we have a burden which we must now lay before Thee, and ask Thee to help us in it. We mourn over the condition of Thy church, for on every side as we look around we see men endeavoring to undermine the doctrines of the everlasting Gospel. Time was when a man was famous for lifting up his axe upon the trees of the forest, but now they with axes break down the carved work of Thy sanctuary, they despoil Thy truth. There is scarce a single doctrine of Thy word which the wise men among us do not deny. Yea, and those that pretend to be the ministers of the gospel are amongst the first to speak against it, and to denounce it, and to sanction license to sin because Thou wilt no more punish it, and to declare that Jesus Christ is not Thy Son. O Lord God, our heart often sinks within us; we are apt to wish to lay our hand upon the ark to steady it, for the oxen shake it; but we know it is in Thy hand, and having spread the case before Thee we leave it there. Many a Rabshakeh’s letter have we read of late behold we bring it into the sanctuary and spread it before the Lord. O Lord our God, rebuke the unbelief, rebuke the skepticism’s of those who assail both Thee and Thy Christ, and the gospel of Thy truth.
And we would ask Thee to do it thus if it please Thee revive deep spirituality in the hearts of Thine own children. Oh that we might live so near to the great Shepherd as to be familiar with His voice, to know its tones, that so a stranger we may not follow, for we know not the voice of strangers. If it were possible they would deceive even the very elect, and how shall Thine elect be kept from their deceptions but by abiding in the truth and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh revive Thy church we pray Thee in this respect! Give to those who know Thee intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into us by experience the things which we do know; may they be beyond all question to us. And may we never be ashamed to glory in the good old way, the way the fathers trod, the way which leads to heaven and to God. May we not be ashamed to vindicate it, and to bear reproach; for Thy gospel has of old been to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness, and so we expect it ever to be a stumbling-block to those who go after the way of superstition, and also to be foolishness to the wise men of the world. O God, again confuse the knowledge of men by what, they think to be the foolishness of the gospel. Again let it be seen that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. O Jesus, Son of the Highest, we know that the truth is powerful, because Thou art the soul of it — the very essence of it. Put Thy life into it we pray Thee. May the eternal spirit go with every word which God-sent ministers shall proclaim, and may the Lord grant that as the mists fly before the sun .and the clouds before the wind, so error and superstition may be driven away by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness in all the glory of His brightness.
We have also to bring before Thee another burden, and that is the godlessness of this present age. It is not alone the wise men but, behold, the men that know not seek not after God. O Lord, the multitude delight in sin. Drunkenness defiles our city, and filthy words are heard on every side.
Be not wrath with this nation, we beseech Thee. It has been entrusted with wondrous privileges. Forgive it and have mercy upon its aggravated sin.
Lay not its heavy responsibilities to its charge, but let this nation be saved.
We pray for it as we are in duty bound to do, and as our love constrains us to do. Oh let the masses of the people yet come to seek after Christ, or by some means, by all means, by every means, may the ears of men be reached and then their hearts be touched. May they hear, that their souls may live; and may the Lord who in everlasting covenant sets forth His Son, glorify Him in the midst of the nations. Let all the nations know the Christ of God.
Our Father, we pray Thee help the few, valiant few, that press forward into the dense area of the enemy. Help them to fight valiantly! May these pioneers of the Christian host in mission lands be increased in number, may they be kept in good heart, may they have confidence in God, and may the Lord send the day of victory much sooner than our feeble faith has dared to hope.
But, Lord, we have yet another burden — it is that we ourselves do not love Thee as we should, that oftentimes we grow lukewarm and chill, and doubt creeps over us, and unbelief mars our confidence, and we sin and forget our God. O Lord help us! Pardon is not enough, we want sanctification. We beseech Thee let the weeds that grow in the seed plot of our soul be cut up by the roots. We do want to serve Thee. We long that every thought we think, and word we say or write, should be all for Thee.
We would lead consecrated lives, for we are persuaded that we only live as we live unto God, that aught else is but trilling. Oh to be taken up as offerings wholly to be consumed upon the altar of the Lord, joyfully ascending to Him in every outgoing of our life. Now this morning be pleased to refresh us. Draw nigh unto us, Thou gracious God; it is only Thy presence that can make us happy, holy, devout or strong. Shadow us now with Thy wings, cover us with Thy feathers, and under Thy wings may we trust. May we follow very near unto Thee, and so feel the quickening warmth, the joy which only Thy nearness can bring. If any in Thy presence this morning are unsaved, oh save them now. Do grant that the service of this morning may bring such glad tidings to their ear, that their heart shall leap at the sound of it, and they shall return unto God, who will abundantly pardon. Bless every preacher of the Word to-day, and all Sabbath schools, classes of young men and women, all tract distributing and street preaching, and preaching in the theatres, and every form of holy service. Accept the prayers and praises of Thy people. Receive them even from the sick beds of those detained at home. Let not one of Thy mourners, the weary watchers of the night, be kept without a smile from God. The Lord bless us now, and all His chosen people. Our soul crieth out for it. Break, O everlasting morning, break o’er the dark hills! Let our eyes behold Thee, and till the day break and the shadows flee away, abide, with us, O our Beloved abide with us now. Amen. SERMON: No. 1387. (December 2, 1877.)\par SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 55.HYMNS: 36, (Song 1), 1O3, 202.