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Since the commencement of publishing my Lord's-day Morning Sermons, I have been assailed by Arminian scribblers on every hand, and some of them threaten to publish their squibs. Well, I can have no objection to that, because they will thereby expose their own ignorance as well as wickedness, and advertise “Grove Chapel Pulpit." “The wrath of man shall praise the Lord, and the remainder of wrath He will restrain.” May the Lord forgive their wickedness, and humble their hearts to receive His truth.
Now a word about the collection. We have no gloomy tale to tell to excite your sympathy-we have no heavy debt hanging over us to depress our spirits or to urge you to liberality, nor do I intend there ever shall be a debt upon Grove Chapel while I live; but we ask a thank-offering at your hand—a tribute of gratitude to God for His abounding mercies, that we with you, and you with us, may thank God and take courage, believing that He hath blessed, and He doth bless, and that He will continue to bless this part of His own inheritance, for the honour of His own name.
May He command His blessing on these few hints, and His name shall have all the glory. Amen.
THE 152nd SONG IN MR. IRONS' NEW VERSION OF
Zion is Jehovah's dwelling,
He has always lov'd her gates;
Peace and comfort He creates;
In His holy mountain waits.
There He often shows His face;
There are all the stores of grace;
Earth and hell shall never rase.
Of the city God has built;
But His grace removes her guilt;
Stands unmov'd, ask what thou wilt.
Zion is Jehovah's care,
Converts shall be new-born there;
Is for ever, we declare.
Her great charter is His love,
Bringing succour from above;
Never, never shall remove.
A Discourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sanday Morning, July 23, 1848,
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
“ For Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth,
to be thine inheritance.-1 Kings viii. 53. DISCRIMINATION of character is essential to faithful gospel preaching and the great lack of success in the preaching of the present day is, in my opinion, to be traced to the want of that discrimination, to the abgence of that discrimination. It runs through the whole book of God, and to attempt to amalgamate what God has eternally separated, is to offer an insult to the Most High, as well as to deceive
the people. The direction given to the prophet Jeremiah by Jehovah Himself was, “ If thou shalt take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth.” The reproof which He delivered by His servant Ezekiel to the priests of his day, runs in these severe terms, “ They have violated my law, for they have put no difference between the clean and unclean, and between the precious and the vile.” And then the promise by the same prophet, with which he almost closes his book, runs in these words relative to gospel time, “ They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane; anp cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."
Turn to New Testament declarations, and hear what the Son of God Himself says about it. “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” How clearly did He keep up this distinction between the Church and the world in His own
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preaching ! He addressed the Pharisees as such—He addressed the publicans and harlots as such—He addressed the rulers as such—and He addressed His own disciples as such, and called them the children of His heavenly Father. And in the chapter which we have been reading, the solemn injunction has been left on record by the pen of inspiration through the apostle, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” saith the Lord, “and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters." The Old Testament Scripture closes with, “ Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not. And the New Testament windeth up with, “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." In a word, discrimination of character is the running title of the word of God—discrimination of character is coupled with every doctrine of the word of God, with every promise, with every precept, and with every feature of character which is drawn in the precious oracles of God. Whoever, therefore, would attempt to throw out, if I may so speak, the precious truths of the gospel in a desultory manner, as if they belonged to any one or no one, is guilty of violating God's directions, of dishonouring His name, and deceiving the people, and proves himself to be an hireling, and not a sent servant of God.
I have opened my discourse with these strong declarations on purpose to prepare the minds of my hearers for the subject fastened on my mind for the present week, and I entreat you to give me your prayerful attention to three things which present themselves to our view from the language of my text. Grace Divine. Yea, the God of grace distinguishes Israel from the world. The operations of that grace make that distinction manifest and evident. And the design specified, “ to be thine inheritance.”. Oh, may the God of Israel enable every one of us to stand ready this morning to answer old Elijah's question, “ Who is on the Lord's side? Who?” May we be prepared to prove that we belong to Jesus, that God has separated us from all other people, and chosen us to be His own inheritance,
I.-I propose, first of all, to glance at this separation, as originating with God's grace. It is found in Solomon's dedicatory prayer when he dedicated the temple to God. He did not erect his temple, you are to observe, for the Philistines, for the Ammonites, nor for the Moabites. He did not invite them all within its walls at the consecration, but it is Israel, thy people Israel. And concerning Israel, for whose use the temple was built, the service was instituted, and God especially invoked at the dedication of the temple—it was for Israel, apart from all nations on the face of the earth, that Solomon presented prayer before the throne of God. He recognizes them in the 51st verse thus, “ For they be thy people and thine inheritance;" and that there should be no mistake, he adds, “which thou broughtest out of Egypt.” Why not the Egyptians and all? Why not Pharaoh and his host? and why not, according to the universal charity system, insisting on having all that remained in Egypt? No; it is written that the wise King had set His heart on the welfare of Israel; and therefore it is said,
“Let thine eyes be opened unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of Israel,” thy chosen tribes; and then the language of the text is used as a plea and argument before the throne.
For "-here is the substantial reason why their prayers and supplications should be heard, regarded and answered— "for thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance."
If you look a little at the history of this people, you will find that the first notice of them as a separate people is that of their being set apart in the covenant Head. When Abraham had no seed, no posterity, nor any probability of posterity, nor, I was going to say, according to nature, any human possibility, then it was that God promised him that his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude; and that He would give them the land on which he then lay, and choose them as His inheritance. So that when not one of them was born, they were set apart in Abraham, their covenant head, as the lot and inheritance of Jehovah. And “ Jacob, the lot of his inheritance," presents to our view a most striking type of what Jehovah had done ages before in the Person of our glorious Christ as our covenant Head. All His members, all the true Israel of God, all the election of grace, all that shall ultimately inhabit eternal glory, were set apart in the covenant Head by predestinating love ere time began, ere angels fell, ere sin existed. And this is the grand origin, the grand first cause. Thou didst separate them—even them. This is most strikingly marked out in the account of Moses in the early account of the division of the world after the flood, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." Their lot was first, that He should have an eye on His chosen beloved family, seen in Christ from everlasting, and adopted as His own.
Now if we begin not here, we have nothing firm to rest upon. We have no foundation. All our rest is on mere quagmire and sand, and will deceive the closest inspection and the most scrutinizing inquirer, and he will find himself without guide or direction - that is correct and true, if he lose sight of the eternal predestinating love of God the Father, setting apart all His people personally and individually in Christ Jesus before time began. Is it not this which the Holy Ghost has in view respecting Christ, when, by the pen of the Psalmist, the dear Redeemer appears before the Father and says, “ In thy book were all my members written ?". Now I am quite ready to admit that David himself might have had nothing more in view than the fearful and wonderful manner in which human nature is formed, and might himself have viewed it no further; but the spirit of prophecy and the Spirit of Christ rises infinitely higher than human nature can comprehend; and while David might have been speaking with astonishment of the wonders of creation, and the manner in which God forms the members of our bodies before they are brought forth in birth, Jesus was speaking of the members of His body, “In thy book were all my members written;" and then He adds, “which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.” Their origin is their being written in the book, their being chosen in Christ, and viewed as one with Him, their being accepted in the Beloved, their being predestinated unto eternal life, and distinguished as God's property. "Know thou," saith the Holy Ghost, by the Psalmist, “that the
Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself." Mark, not merely that He will do it; but that He hath done it; and I am the more concerned in putting this before you in the strongest light, because the trimming practice of this day is to destroy God's line of distinction, and amalgamate Jacob and Esau's posterity, Isaac's and Ishmael's, Israelites and Moabites-indeed, to abolish all distinction between the Church and the world. _By the help of God, I shall protest against this as long as I live. Thousands who pass for ministers of God, have been, ever since I can remember, publishing the banns of marriage between the Church and the world. God refuses to give His consent to the union; and if I hear it said in my presence, “Does any man know any just cause or impediment why these two should not be joined together," I shall instantly start forth and answer, “I do;" for the one is carnal, the other is spiritual—the one is of the devil, the other of God-the one is an Infidel, the other a believer-the one is earthly, sensual, and devilish, the other born from above, and destined to eternal glory; and I think this is a sufficiently just cause and impediment why the Church and the world should not be joined together.
I pray you mark, further, they were not only set art by predestinating love in the covenant Head, but were destined to a covenant portion. You must bear in mind, the people of Israel were so chosen. Abraham was commanded to lift up his eyes, and look towards heaven, and tell the stars—"if thou be able to number them;" and he is told in the most positive manner by Jehovah, “ that so should his seed be;" and that they should possess the gates of their enemies, and inherit the land which God had given unto him. Now learn a spiritual lesson from this, for all was typical in that dispensation. Mark, not only were the people of God set apart in Christ by predestinating love; but their portion, their salvation and eternal glory were all designed, settled, endowed in covenant for their possession and everlasting inheritance. So that the matter of fact concerning the Church of the living God is, that she is not in a state of uncertainty in God's esteem, though she may be in her own esteem until the full assurance of faith is bestowed upon her. There is no contingency in God's esteem—there is no possibility of failure; for the Church is chosen for His inheritance, and her inheritance is settled and chosen for her, and both are settled and set apart for each other in covenant love.
I recollect a controversy which occurred some years back between two good men, in which one contended for the possession being purchased for the people, and the other contended that the people were purchased for the possession. I listened to their cabal for some time, until at length I said, “You are both right, and you are both wrong. You are both right to include either; but you are wrong to exclude either; for I find from the precious statements of God's word, that His people were redeemed to Himself to be a peculiar people, and that their inheritance was a lost inheritance; and that therefore it is called by the apostle the redemption of the purchased possession.' So that from all these quibbles and cavils, in which multitudes of Christians differ on points on which there is, in fact, no difference, we come to this sacred point, that it is God's doing to separate and set apart His people for His inheritance, and to set apart the inheritance for them; and the land of Canaan, literally, could no more have been withheld from the tribes of