The People’s Christ: CH Spurgeon Sermon
DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, FEBRUARY 25, 1855, BY THE
REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
‘I have exalted one chosen out of the people.’—Psalm 79:19.
ORIGINALLY, I have no doubt, these words referred to David. He was chosen out of the people. His lineage was respectable, but not illustrious. His family were holy, but not exalted: the names of Jesse, Obed, Boaz, and Ruth awoke no royal recollections, and stirred up no remembrances of ancient nobility or glorious pedigree. As for himself, his only occupation had been that of a shepherd boy, carrying lambs in his bosom, or gently leading the ewes great with young—a simple youth of a right royal soul and undaunted courage, but yet a plebeian—one of the people. But this was no disqualification for the crown of Judah. In God’s eyes the extraction of the young hero was no barrier to his mounting the throne of the holy nation, nor shall the proudest admirer of descent and lineage dare to insinuate a word against the valour, wisdom, and the justice of the government of this monarch of the people!
We do not believe that Israel or Judah ever had a better ruler than David; and we are bold to affirm that the reign of the man ‘chosen out of the people’ outshines in glory the reigns of high-bred emperors and princes with the blood of a score of kings running in their veins! Yea, more, we will assert that the humility of his birth and education, so far from making him incompetent to rule, rendered him, in a great degree, more fit for his office and able to discharge its mighty duties. He could legislate for the many, for he was one of themselves—he could rule the people, as the people should be ruled, for he was ‘bone of their bone’ and ‘flesh of their flesh’—their friend, their brother, as well as their king.
However, in this sermon we shall not speak of David, but of the Lord Jesus Christ; for David, as referred to in the text, is an eminent type of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who was chosen out of the people; and of whom his Father can say ‘I have exalted one chosen out of the people.’
Before I enter into the illustration of this truth I wish to make one statement, so that all objections may be avoided as to the doctrine of my sermon. Our Saviour Jesus Christ, I say, was chosen out of the people; but this merely respects his manhood. As ‘very God of very God’ he was not chosen out of the people; for there was none save him. He was his Father’s only-begotten Son, ‘begotten of the Father before all worlds’. He was God’s fellow, co-equal and co-eternal; consequently when we speak of Jesus as being chosen out of the people, we must speak of him as a man. We are, I conceive, too forgetful of the real manhood of our Redeemer, for a man he was to all intents and purposes, and I love to sing,
A Man there was, a real Man
Who once on Calvary died.
He was not man and God amalgamated—the two natures suffered no confusion—he was very God without the diminution of his essence or attributes; and he was equally, verily, and truly, man. It is as a man I speak of Jesus this morning; and it rejoices my heart when I can view the human side of that glorious miracle of incarnation and can deal with Jesus Christ as my brother—inhabitant of the same mortality, wrestler with the same pains and ills, companion in the march of life, and, for a little while, a fellow-sleeper in the cold chamber of death!
There are three things spoken of in the text: first of all, Christ’s extraction—he was one of the people; secondly, his election—he was chosen out of the people; and thirdly, Christ’s exaltation—he was exalted. You see I have chosen three words all commencing with the letter E, to ease your memories that you may be able to remember them the better—extraction, election, exaltation!
I. We will commence with our Saviour’s extraction. We have had many complaints this week, and for some weeks past, in the newspapers concerning the families. We are governed—and, according to the firm belief of a great many of us, very badly governed,—by certain aristocratic families. We are not governed by men chosen out of the people, as we ought to be; and this is a fundamental wrong in our government,—that our rulers, even when elected by us, can scarcely ever be elected from us. Families, where certainly there is not a monopoly of intelligence or prudence, seem to have a patent for promotion; while a man, a commoner, a tradesman, of however good sense, cannot rise to the government. I am no politician, and I am about to preach no political sermon; but I must express my sympathy with the people, and my joy that we, as Christians, are governed by ‘one chosen out of the people’. Jesus Christ is the people’s man; he is the people’s friend—ay, one of themselves. Though he sits high on his Father’s throne, he was ‘one chosen out of the people’. Christ is not to be called the aristocrat’s Christ, he is not the noble’s Christ, he is not the king’s Christ; but he is ‘one chosen out of the people’. It is this thought which cheers the hearts of the people, and ought to bind their souls in unity to Christ, and the holy religion of which he is the Author and Finisher.
Let us now beat out this wedge of gold into leaf, and narrowly inspect its truthfulness.
Christ, by his very birth, was one of the people. True, he was born of a royal ancestry. Mary and Joseph were both of them descendants of a kingly race but the glory had departed; a stranger sat on the throne of Judah; while the lawful heir grasped the hammer and the adze. Mark ye well the place of his nativity. Born in a stable—cradled in a manger where the horned oxen fed—his only bed was their fodder, and his slumbers were often broken by their lowings. He might be a prince by birth; but certainly he had not a princely retinue to wait upon him. He was not clad in purple garments, neither wrapped in embroidered clothing; the halls of kings were not trodden by his feet, the marble palaces of monarchs were not honoured by his infant smiles. Take notice of the visitors who came around his cradle. The shepherds came first of all. We never find that they lost their way. No, God guides the shepherds, and he did direct the wise men, too, but they lost their way. It often happens, that while shepherds find Christ wise men miss him. But, however, both of them came, the magi and the shepherds; both knelt round that manger, to show us that Christ was the Christ of all men; that he was not merely the Christ of the magi, but that he was the Christ of the shepherds—that he was not merely the Saviour of the peasant shepherd, but also the Saviour of the learned, for
None are excluded hence, but those
Who do themselves exclude;
Welcome the learned and polite,
The ignorant and rude.
In his very birth he was one of the people. He was not born in a populous city; but in the obscure village of Bethlehem, ‘the house of bread’, the Son of Man made his advent, unushered by pompous preparations, and unheralded by the blast of courtly trumpets.
His education, too, demands our attention. He was not taken as Moses was, from his mother’s breast, to be educated in the halls of a monarch; he was not brought up with all those affected airs which are given to persons who have golden spoons in their mouths, at their births. He was not brought up as the lordling, to look with disdain on everyone; but his father, being a carpenter, doubtless he toiled in his father’s workshop. ‘Fit place’, a quaint author says, ‘for Jesus; for he had to make a ladder that should reach from earth to heaven. And why should he not be the son of a carpenter?’ Full well he knew the curse of Adam: ‘in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’. Had you seen the holy child Jesus, you would have beheld nothing to distinguish him from other children, save that unsullied purity which rested in his very countenance. When our Lord entered into public life, still he was the same. What was his rank? Did he array himself in scarlet and purple? Oh! no: he wore the simple garb of a peasant—that robe ‘without seam from the top to the bottom’, one simple piece of stuff, without ornament or embroidery. Did he dwell in state and make a magnificent show in his journey through Judea? No; he toiled his weary way, and sat down on the curb-stone of the well of Sychar. He was like others, a poor man; he had not courtiers around him; he had fishermen for his companions; and when he spoke, did he speak with smooth and oily words? Did he walk with dainty footsteps, like the king of Amalek? No, he often spoke like the rough Elijah; he spoke what he meant and he meant what he said. He spoke to the people as the people’s man. He never cringed before great men; he knew not what it was to bow or stoop; but he stood and cried, ‘Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Woe unto you, whitewashed sepulchres.’ He spared no class of sinners: rank and fortune made no difference to him. He uttered the same truths to the rich men of the Sanhedrim, as to the toiling peasants of Galilee. He was ‘one of the people’.
Notice his doctrine. Jesus Christ was one of the people in his doctrine. His gospel was never the philosopher’s gospel, for it is not abstruse enough. It will not consent to be buried in hard words and technical phrases: it is so simple that he who can spell over, ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved’, may have a saving knowledge of it! Hence, worldly-wise men scorn the science of truth, and sneeringly say, ‘Why, even a blacksmith can preach nowadays, and men who were at the plough tail may turn preachers’, while priestcraft demands, ‘What right have they to do any such thing, unauthorized by us?’ Oh! sad case, that gospel truth should be slighted because of its plainness, and that my Master should be despised because he will not be exclusive—will not be monopolised by men of talent and erudition! Jesus is the ignorant man’s Christ as much as the learned man’s Christ; for he hath chosen ‘the base things of the world and the things that are despised’. Ah! much as I love true science and real education, I mourn and grieve that our ministers are so much diluting the word of God with philosophy, desiring to be intellectual preachers, delivering model sermons, well fitted for a room full of college students and professors of theology, but of no use to the masses, being destitute of simplicity, warmth, earnestness, or even solid gospel matter. I fear our college training is but a poor gain to our churches, since it often serves to wean the young man’s sympathies from the people and wed them to the few, the intellectual and wealthy of the church. It is good to be a fellow-citizen in the republic of letters, but better far to be an able minister of the kingdom of heaven. It is good to be able, like some great minds, to attract the mighty; but the more useful man will still be he, who, like Whitefield, uses ‘market language’, for it is a sad fact that high places and the gospel seldom well agree; and, moreover, be it known that the doctrine of Christ is the doctrine of the people. It was not meant to be the gospel of a caste, a clique, or any one class of the community. The covenant of grace is not ordered for men of one peculiar grade, but some of all sorts are included. A few there were of the rich followed Jesus in his own day, and it is so now. Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus were well to do, and there was the wife of Herod’s steward, with some more of the nobility. These, however, were but a few: his congregation was made up of the lower orders—the masses—the multitude. ‘The common people heard him gladly’; and his doctrine was one which did not allow of distinction, but put all men as sinners naturally, on an equality in the sight of God. One is your father, ‘one is your Master, even Christ and all ye are brethren’. These were words which he taught to his disciples, while in his own person he was the mirror of humility and proved himself the friend of earth’s poor sons, and the lover of mankind. O ye purse proud! O ye who cannot touch the poor even with your white gloves! Ah! ye with your mitres and your croziers! Ah! ye with your cathedrals and splendid ornaments! This is the man whom ye call Master—the people’s Christ—one of the people! And yet ye look down with scorn upon the people—ye despise them! What are they in your opinion? The common herd—the multitude. Out on ye! Call yourselves no more the ministers of Christ. How can ye be, unless, descending from your pomp and your dignity, ye come amongst the poor and visit them—ye walk amongst our teeming population and preach to them the gospel of Christ Jesus? We believe you to be the descendants of the fishermen? Ah! no, until ye doff your grandeur, and, like the fishermen, come out, the people’s men, and preach to the people, speak to the people, instead of lolling on your splendid seats, and making yourselves rich at the expense of your pluralities! Christ’s ministers should be the friends of manhood at large, remembering that their Master was the people’s Christ. Rejoice! O rejoice! ye multitudes. Rejoice! rejoice! for Christ was one of the people!
II. Our second point was election. God says, ‘I have exalted one chosen out of the people.’ Jesus Christ was elected—chosen. Somehow or other, that ugly doctrine of election will come out. Oh! there be some, the moment they hear that word, election, put their hands upon their foreheads and mutter, ‘I will wait till that sentence is over; there will be something I shall like better, perhaps.’ Some others say, ‘I shall not go to that place again; the man is a hyper-Calvinist.’ But the man is not a hyper-Calvinist; the man said what was in his Bible—that is all. He is a Christian, and you have no right to call him by those ill-names, if indeed an ill-name it be, for we never blush at whatever men do call us. Here it is: ‘one chosen out of the people’. Now, what does that mean, but that Jesus Christ is chosen? Those who do not like to believe that the heirs of heaven were elect, cannot deny the truth proclaimed in this verse,—that Jesus Christ is the subject of election—that his Father chose him, and that he chose him out of the people. As a man, he was chosen out of the people, to be the people’s Saviour, and the people’s Christ!
And now let us gather up our thoughts and try to discover the transcendent wisdom of God’s choice. Election is no blind thing. God chooses sovereignly, but he always chooses wisely. There is always some secret reason for his choice of any particular individual; though that motive does not lie in ourselves, or in our own merits, yet there is always some secret cause far more remote than the doings of the creature; some mighty reason unknown to all but himself. In the case of Jesus, the motives are apparent; and without pretending to enter the cabinet council of Jehovah, we may discover them.
1. First, we see that justice is thereby fully satisfied by the choice of one out of the people. Suppose God had chosen an angel to make satisfaction for our sins—imagine that an angel were capable of bearing that vast amount of suffering and agony which was necessary to our atonement; yet after the angel had done it all, justice would never have been satisfied, for this one simple reason, that the law declares,—‘The soul that sinneth it shall die.’ Now, man sins, and therefore man must die! Justice required, that as by man came death, by man also should come the resurrection and the life. The law required, that as man was the sinner, man should be the victim—that as in Adam all died, even so in another Adam should all be made alive. Consequently, it was necessary that Jesus Christ should be chosen out of the people; for had yon blazing angel near the throne, that lofty Gabriel, laid aside his splendours, descended to our earth, endured pain, suffered agonies, entered the vault of death, and groaned out a miserable existence in an extremity of woe, after all that, he would not have satisfied inflexible justice, because it is said, a man must die, and otherwise the sentence is not executed!
2. But there is another reason why Jesus Christ was chosen out of the people. It is because thereby the whole race receives honour. Do you know I would not be an angel if Gabriel would ask me. If he would beseech me to exchange places with him, I would not; I should lose so much by the exchange, and he would gain so much. Poor, weak and worthless though I am, yet I am a man, and being a man, there is a dignity about manhood—a dignity lost one day in the garden of the fall but regained in the garden of resurrection. It is a fact, that a man is greater than an angel—that in heaven humanity stands nearer the throne than angelic existence. You will read in the Book of the Revelation, of the four-and-twenty elders who stood around the throne, and in the outer circle stood the angels. The elders, who are the representatives of the whole church, were honoured with a greater nearness to God than the ministering spirits. Why man—elect man—is the greatest being in the universe, except God. Man sits up there; look! at God’s right hand, radiant with glory, there sits a man! Ask me who governs Providence, and directs its awfully mysterious machinery; I tell you it is a man—the man Christ Jesus. Ask me who has, during the past month, bound up the rivers in chains of ice, and who now has loosed them from the shackles of winter, I tell you a man did it—Christ. Ask me who shall come to judge the earth in righteousness, and I say a man. A real, veritable man is to hold the scales of judgment, and to call all nations around him. And who is the channel of grace? Who is the emporium of all the Father’s mercy? Who is the great gathering up of all the love of the covenant? I reply a man—the man Christ Jesus. And Christ, being a man, has exalted you, and exalted me, and put us into the highest ranks. He made us, originally, a little lower than the angels, and now despite our fall in Adam, he hath crowned us, his elect, with glory and honour, and hath set us at his right hand in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.
3. But, my brethren, let us take a sweeter view than that. Why was he chosen out of the people? Speak, my heart! What is the first reason that rushes up to thyself? for heart thoughts are best thoughts. Thoughts from the head are often good for nothing; but thoughts of the heart, deep musings of the soul, these are priceless as pearls of Ormuz. If it be a humbler poet, provided that his songs gush from his heart, they shall better strike the cords of my soul than the lifeless emanations of a mere brain. Here, Christian: what dost thou think is the sweet reason for the election of thy Lord, he being one of the people? Was it not this—that he might be able to be thy brother, in the blest tie of kindred blood? Oh! what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say
One there is above all others
Well deserves the name of friend;
His is love beyond a brother’s,
Faithful, free and knows no end.
I have a great brother in heaven. I have heard boys say sometimes in the street that they would tell their brother; and I have often said so when the enemy has attacked me—‘I will tell my brother in heaven.’ I may be poor, but I have a brother who is rich; I have a brother who is a king; I am brother to the prince of the kings of the earth; and will he suffer me to starve, or want, or lack, while he is on his throne? Oh! no; he loves me; he has fraternal feelings towards me; he is my brother. But more than that: think, O believer! Christ is not merely thy brother, but he is thy husband! ‘Thy maker is thy husband; the Lord of hosts is his name.’ It rejoices the wife to lean her head on the broad breast of her husband, in full assurance that his arms will be strong to labour for her, or defend her; that his heart ever throbs with love to her, and that all he has, and is, belongs to her, as the sharer of his existence. Oh! to know by the influence of the Holy Ghost, that the sweet alliance is made between my soul and the ever precious Jesus; sure, tis enough to quicken all my soul to music, and make each atom of my frame a grateful songster to the praise of Christ. Come, let me remember when I lay like an infant in my blood, cast out in the open field; let me recollect the notable moment when he said, ‘Live!’ and let me never forget that he has educated me, trained me up, and one day will espouse me to himself in righteousness, crowning me with a nuptial crown in the palace of his Father. Oh! it is bliss unspeakable! I wonder not that the thought doth stagger my words to utter it!—that Christ is one of the people, that he might be nearly related to you and to me, that he might be the goel, or kinsman, next of kin.
In ties of blood with sinners one,
Our Jesus is to glory gone;
Hath all his foes to ruin hurled—
Sin, Satan, earth, death, hell, the world.
Saint, wrap this blessed thought, like a necklace of diamonds, around the neck of thy memory; put it, as a golden ring, on the finger of recollection; and use it as the king’s own seal, stamping the petitions of thy faith with confidence of success.
4. But now another idea suggests itself. Christ was chosen out of the people—that he might know our wants and sympathize with us. You know the old tale, that one half the world does not know how the other half lives; and that is very true. I believe some of the rich have no notion whatever of what the distress of the poor is. They have no idea of what it is to labour for their daily food. They have a very faint conception of what a rise in the price of bread means. They do not know anything about it; and when we put men in power who never were of the people, they do not understand the art of governing us. But our great and glorious Jesus Christ is one chosen out of the people; and therefore, he knows our wants. Temptation and pain he suffered before us; sickness he endured, for when hanging upon the cross, the scorching of that broiling sun brought on a burning fever; weariness—he has endured it, for weary he sat by the well; poverty—he knows it, for sometimes he had not bread to eat, save that bread of which the world knows nothing; to be houseless—he knew it, for the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but he had not where to lay his head. My brother Christian, there is no place where thou canst go, where Christ has not been before thee, sinful places alone excepted. In the dark valley of the shadow of death thou mayest see his bloody footsteps—footprints marked with gore; ay, and even at the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, thou shalt, when thou comest hard by the side, say, ‘There are the footprints of a man: whose are they?’ Stooping down, thou shalt discern a nail-mark, and shalt say, ‘Those are the footsteps of the blessed Jesus.’ He hath been before thee; he hath smoothed the way; he hath entered the grave, that he might make the tomb the royal bedchamber of the ransomed race, the closet where they lay aside the garments of labour, to put on the vestments of eternal rest. In all places, whithersoever we go, the angel of the covenant has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel.
His way was much rougher and darker than mine;
Did Christ my Lord suffer, and shall I repine?
I am speaking to those in great trial. Dear fellow-traveller! take courage: Christ has consecrated the road, and made the narrow way the King’s own road to life.
One thought more, and then I will pass on to my third point. There is a poor soul over there, who is desirous of coming to Jesus, but he is in very great trouble, lest he should not come right; and I know many Christians who say, ‘Well, I hope I have come to Christ; but I am afraid I have not come right.’ There is a little footnote to one of the hymns in dear Mr Denham’s collection, in which he says, ‘Some people are afraid they do not come right. Now, no man can come except the Father draw him; so I apprehend, if they come at all, they cannot come wrong.’ So do I apprehend, if men come at all, they must come right. Here is a thought for thee, poor coming sinner. Why art thou afraid to come? ‘Oh!’ sayest thou, ‘I am so great a sinner, Christ will not have mercy upon me.’ Oh! you do not know my blessed Master; he is more loving than you think him to be. I was once wicked enough to think the same; but I have found him ten thousand times more kind than I thought. I tell you, he is so loving, so gracious, so kind, there ne’er was one half so good as he. He is kinder than ever you can think; his love is greater than your fears, and his merits are more prevalent than your sins. But still you say, ‘I am afraid I shall not come aright; I think I shall not use acceptable words.’ I tell you why that is: because you do not remember that Christ was taken out of the people. If Her Majesty were to send for me tomorrow morning, I dare say I should feel very anxious about what kind of dress I should wear, and how I should walk in, and how I should observe court etiquette, and so on; but if one of my friends here were to send for me, I should go straight off and see him, because he is one of the people, and I like him. Some of you say, ‘How can I go to Christ? What shall I say? What words shall I use?’ If thou wert going to one above thee, thou mightest say so: but he is one of the people. Go as thou art, poor sinner—just in thy rags, just in thy filth—in all thy wickedness, just as thou art. O conscience-stricken sinner, come to Jesus! He is one of the people. If the Spirit has given thee a sense of sin, do not study how thou art to come; come anyhow; come with a groan, come with a sigh, come with a tear,—any come, if thou dost but come, will do, for he is one of the people. ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; let him that heareth say, Come.’ Here I cannot resist giving an illustration. I have heard, that in the deserts, when the caravans are in want of water, and they are afraid they shall not find any, they are accustomed to send on a camel, with its rider, some distance in advance, then after a little space follows another: and then, at a short interval, another: as soon as the first man finds water, almost before he stoops down to drink, he shouts aloud, ‘Come!’ The next one, hearing the voice, repeats the word, ‘Come!’ while the nearest again takes up the cry, ‘Come!’ until the whole wilderness echoes with the word ‘Come!’ So in that verse, ‘the Spirit and the Bride say, first of all, Come: then, let him that heareth say, Come: and whosoever is athirst, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.’ With this picture I leave our survey of the reasons for the election of Christ Jesus.
III. And now I am to close up with his exaltation. ‘I have exalted one chosen out of the people.’ You will recollect, whilst I am speaking upon this exaltation, that it is really the exaltation of all the elect in the person of Christ; for all that Christ is, and all that Christ has, is mine. If I am a believer, whatever he is in his exalted person, that I am, for I am made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places.
1. First, dear friends, it was exaltation enough for the body of Christ to be exalted into union with the divinity. That was honour which none of us can ever receive. We never hope to have this body united with a God. It cannot be. Once has incarnation been done—never but once. Of no other man can it be said, ‘He was one with the Father, and the Father was one with him.’ Of no other man shall it be said that the Deity tabernacled in him, and that God was manifest in his flesh, seen of angels, justified of the Spirit, and carried up to glory.
2. Again: Christ was exalted by his resurrection. Oh! I should have liked to have stolen into that tomb of our Saviour. I suppose it was a large chamber; within it lay a massive marble sarcophagus, and very likely a ponderous lid was laid upon it. Then outside the door there lay a mighty stone, and guards kept watch before it. Three days did that sleeper slumber there! Oh! I could have wished to lift the lid of that sarcophagus, and look upon him. Pale he lay; blood-streaks there were upon him, not all quite washed away by those careful women who had buried him. Death, exulting, cries, ‘I have slain him: the seed of the woman who is to destroy me is now my captive!’ Ah! how grim death laughed! Ah! how he stared through his bony eyelids, as he said, ‘I have the boasted victor in my grasp.’ ‘Ah!’ said Christ, ‘but I have thee!’ And up he sprang, the lid of the sarcophagus started up; and he, who has the keys of death and hell, seized death, ground his iron limbs to powder, dashed him to the ground and said, ‘O death, I will be thy plague; O hell, I will be thy destruction.’ Out he came, and in turn the watchmen fled away. Startling with glory, radiant with light, effulgent with divinity, he stood before them. Christ was then exalted in his resurrection.
3. But how exalted was he in his ascension! He went out from the city to the top of the hill, his disciples attending him while he waited the appointed moment. Mark his ascension! Bidding farewell to the whole circle, up he went gradually ascending, like the exaltation of a mist from the lake, or the cloud from the steaming river. Aloft he soared: by his own mighty buoyancy and elasticity he ascended up on high—not like Elijah, carried up by fiery horses; nor like Enoch of old, it could not be said he was not, for God took him. He went himself; and as he went, I think I see the angels looking down from heaven’s battlements and crying, ‘See the conquering hero comes!’ while at his nearer approach, again they shouted, ‘See the conquering hero comes!’ So his journey through the plains of ether is complete—he nears the gates of heaven—attending angels shout, ‘Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors!’ The glorious hosts within scarce ask the question, ‘Who is the king of glory?’, when from ten thousand, thousand tongues there rolls an ocean of harmony, beating in mighty waves of music on the pearly gates and opening them at once, ‘The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!’ Lo! heaven’s barriers are thrown wide open and cherubim are hastening to meet their monarch.
They brought his chariot from afar,
To bear him to his throne;
Clapp’d their triumphant wings and said,
‘The Saviour’s work is done.’
Behold he marches through the streets! See how kingdoms and powers fall down before him! Crowns are laid at his feet, and his Father says, ‘Well done, my Son, well done!’ while heaven echoes with the shout, ‘Well done! Well done!’ Up he climbs to that high throne, side by side with the Paternal Deity. ‘I have exalted one chosen out of the people.’
4. The last exaltation of Christ which I shall mention is that which is to come, when he shall sit upon the throne of his father David, and shall judge all nations. You will observe I have omitted that exaltation which Christ is to have as the king of this world during the millennium. I do not profess to understand it, and therefore I leave that alone. But I believe Jesus Christ is to come upon the throne of judgment, ‘and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats’. Sinner! thou believest that there is a judgment; thou knowest that the tares and wheat cannot always grow together—that the sheep and the goats shall not always feed in one pasture; but dost thou know of that man who is to judge thee—that he who is to judge thee is a man? I say a man—a man once despised and rejected.
The Lord shall come, but not the same
As once in lowliness he came:
A humble man before his foes;
A weary man and full of woes.
Ah! no. Rainbows shall be about his head; he shall hold the sun in his right hand as the token of his government; he shall put the moon and stars beneath his feet, as the dust of the pedestal of his throne, which shall be of solid clouds of light. The books shall be opened—those massive books, which contain the deeds of both quick and dead. Ah! how shall the despised Nazarene sit triumphant over all his foes. No more the taunt, the jeer, the scoff; but one hideous cry of misery, ‘Hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne.’ Oh ye, my hearers, who now look with contempt on Jesus and his cross, I tremble for you. Oh, fiercer than a lion on his prey, is love when once incensed. Oh, despisers! I warn ye of that day when the placid brow of the Man of Sorrows shall be knit with frowns; when the eye which once was moistened by dew-drops of pity, shall flash lightning on its enemies; and the hand, which once was nailed to the cross for our redemption, shall grasp the thunderbolt for your damnation; while the mouth which once said, ‘Come unto me, ye weary’, shall pronounce in words louder and more terrible than the voice of the thunder, ‘Depart ye cursed!’ Sinners! ye may think it a trifle to sin against the Man of Nazareth, but ye shall find that in so doing ye have offended the Man who shall judge the earth in righteousness; and for your rebellion ye shall endure waves of torment in the eternal ocean of wrath. From that doom may God deliver you! But I warn you of it. You have all read the story of the lady, who, on her marriage-day stepped up stairs, and seeing an old chest, in her fun and frolic stepped inside, thinking to hide herself an hour, that her friends might hunt for her; but a spring lock lay in ambush there, and fastened her down forever; nor did they ever find her, until years had passed, when moving that old lumbering chest, they found the bones of a skeleton, with here and there a jewelled ring and some fair thing. She had sprung in there in pleasantry and mirth, but was locked down forever. Young man! take heed that you are not locked down forever by your sins! One jovial glass—it is all. ‘One moment’s step.’ So said she. But there’s a secret lock lays in ambush. One turn into that house of ill-fame—one wandering from the paths of rectitude—that is all. Oh, sinner! it is all. But dost thou know what that all is? To be fastened down forever? Oh! if thou wouldst shun this, list to me, whilst—for I have but one moment more—I tell thee yet again of the Man who was ‘chosen out of the people’.
Ye proud ones! I have a word for you. Ye delicate ones, whose footsteps must not touch the ground! ye who look down in scorn upon your fellow mortals—proud worms despising your fellow worms, because ye are somewhat more showily dressed! What think ye of this? The man of the people is to save you, if you are saved at all. The Christ of the crowd—the Christ of the mass—the Christ of the people—he is to be your Saviour! Thou must stoop, proud man! Thou must bow, proud lady! Thou must lay aside thy pomp, or else thou wilt ne’er be saved; for the Saviour of the people must be thy Saviour!
But to the poor trembling sinner, whose pride is gone, I repeat the comforting assurance. Wouldst thou shun sin? Wouldst thou avoid the curse? My Master tells me to say this morning—‘Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ I remember the saying of a good old saint. Someone was talking about the mercy and love of Jesus, and concluded by saying, ‘Ah, is it not astonishing?’ She said, ‘No, not at all.’ But they said it was. ‘Why,’ she said, ‘It is just like him; it is just like him!’ You say, can you believe such a thing of a person? ‘Oh yes!’ it may be said, ‘that is just his nature.’ So you, perhaps, cannot believe that Christ would save you, guilty creature as you are. I tell you it is just like him. He saved Saul—he saved me—he may save you. Yea, what is more, he will save you. For whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out.
Thumbnail Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash
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