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of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; for whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.” The old life may have been a carnal life; the new life must be a spiritual life. The old life has been fed upon earth; the new life must be fed from above. The old life is earthly, sensual, and devilish; the new life is of Christ, that, “as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” Come, then, beloved, and bring the matter to the test, and inquire diligently, “ Even so we also should walk in newness of life.” I want the new nature to be always in the ascendant, and old Adam nature to be always kept in subjection. I want “grace to reign through righteousness unto eternal life," and when this is the case we shall not find any of those who come to the Lord's table dishonouring His name, perhaps, the very next day. I want to see a holy circumspection. I want a uniformity of character. I want decision for God. I want “the light so to shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Come to the test, beloved.
Do not smooth the matter over. Do not pass those inquiries lightly by. Am I walking really as an heir of glory? Am I walking as one born from above for eternal bliss ? Am I walking as He also walked ? "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” Such is the statement of the precious Word of God. Oh, for more likeness to Christ!
I have often been struck with the passage I cited in my prayer this morning, that we were predestmated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. And I cannot give a man credit for his pretensions to be a predestinated soul unless he has something of conformity to the image of Christ and the mind of Christ. I am not going to put these things forward as conditional.
I bring them forward as a fact, insisting that the soul which is born from above rests exclusively on Christ for salvation; that he wishes to bear the image of the heavenly, to be conformed to His will and likeness, to tread in His footsteps, and to say, with the apostle John, "As He is so are we in this world.” Moreover, this will include transformation. Do not mistake me; I did not say transubstantiation. Transformation is a better word, a great deal. “Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And where the renewal of the mind and the new nature are implanted, the whole man is transformed. "Old things pass away, and all things become new." Oh! how I should like, were it the will of God, to leave my congregation when I go home, the brightest, the holiest, the purest, and the most circumspect on the face of the earth. I long after this in the bowels of Jesus Christ, and I pray you be not content with mere theory. See to it that it is correct by all means; but what I want is experience and practice. I want the exemplary exhibition of the mind, and spirit, and likeness of Christ, that you may be the children of your Father, who is in heaven, manifestly: Oh! the importance of this transformation—not transubstantiation—this transformation of soul. The apostle seems to describe it accurately when
"As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members (those same members) servants to righteousness unto holiness." Those eyes which may have delighted in reading filthy, or noxious, and vain and empty publications, let them delight to read the sacred volume-the precious page of inspiration ; those bands which may have been guilty of immoral practices begin to handle the word of God, to lay hold on it; those feet, which may have “run with the multitude to do evil,” be constrained, according to the declaration of the Psalmist,“ to stand within thy gates, o Jerusalem, and be found among
the assembly of the saints." So the whole powers and faculties of the human intellect will be consecrated unto God, that this transformation may appear conspicuous before all men.
Do allow me here just to say one word to reprobate the blasphemous notion of transubstantiation. I insist upon it that the person who would urge that the voice of prayer, or the voice of benediction, by a mere creature, has produced a change in the elements, is a viler blasphemer than the man who curses and swears every sentence that he speaks, because he mocks sacred things and mocks God. He does not believe it himself. He knows he is practicing deception on his ignorant fellow-creatures. The elements remain the same, notwithstanding all his incantations. They point to a spiritual religion, and to talk of transubstantiation is to talk of that which no man, in his common senses, can believe or receive. I like the word “ transformation" exceedingly. I should like to see your families all transformed, so that you might have family altars set up where none are found now. I should like to see your spirits transformed, that you might be like the Spirit of Christ. I should like to see the whole life transformed, so that it might be like the apostle's, when he said, “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death."
Then, when this transformation is effected, and the body brought under subjection, through the mighty influence of Omnipotent grace, there will be a dedication of all the powers unto God as a matter of delight. Our Christianity, then, is no longer a drudgery. We do not even need the word “duty,” though I have no objection to it; but it is our delight, our element, our home. It is the air we inhale, the company we choose, the practice that is delightful, the “feast of fat things ” made on purpose for the family of the living God in our associations with those who are like Christ, in our associations with the ministers of God, and with the Christ of God, under the influence and teaching of the Holy Ghost our Teacher, Comforter, and Guide, in introducing us in the precious name of Jesus Christ, to become familiar with the Father, calling Him “Our Father,” without a doubt that He
Oh! may God help me thus to advance in holy intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is thus the soul that is born to God begins his heaven on earth. It is thus the soul that comes to eat the precious body of the Lord obtains a hearty welcome at His board. It is thus the tempter is repelled, and all his fiery darts are quenched; while faith maintains her intimacy with the precious Christ of God, and with God the Father, too, beneath the unctuous power of God the Holy Ghost. On, how the soul aspires ! Hark, how it pants for heaven! Behold its outstretched wings, as if alert to fly, and waiting to be gone. And then ask if such an one can grovel in the dust, in love with earth, and buried in the scenes of time. God forbid !
“Oh! for a closer walk with God;" for more transforming grace, for more evidence of an interest in God's salvation purposes, and more power to glorify Him, until we are för ever glorified with Him.
May He cominand a blessing on these few hints, that His great and precious name may have all the glory. Amen.
a Discourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Ang. 18, 1848,
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
“ God is our refuge.”—Psalm xlvi. 1. The inimitable beauties of this Psalm have been the admiration of the saints of God in every age since it was penned; and the greatest difficulty that any man, knowing the grace of God, can have placed before him relative to the Psalm, would be to decide which sentence shines the most brilliantly. Indeed the very first verse is so full, so expressive, I might say so magnificent, that to attempt to enter upon the whole, appeared to me a task far too great for the narrow limits of time allotted to one discourse. I thought at first, when this portion was laid upon my heart, that I would invite your attention to the whole verse, being but two lines, “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble;" but every word appeared so full, that the further I looked at the expressions, so beautifully clustered together, the greater seemed to me the difficulty of compressing its vast contents within the limits of an hour. At length, after looking up for direction, I decided upon confining my attention this morning to the first member of the sentence, “ God is our refuge."
Take this, then, word by word, and mark the vast amount of gospel truth those few words contain. It is Jehovah, the self-existent, glorious I AM, in the Trinity of Persons, in undivided essence, and in everlasting self-existence, of whom we are to speak this morning. The metaphor employed is a peculiarly magnificent and important one, "a refuge." Oh, the vast amount of blessedness to be found in this for poor defenceless sinners! We shall have occasion to notice its adaptation to our own condition and circumstances. As we pass along
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through the wilderness we want a refuge. Then mark the claim, “ours." Look well at the claim. See that it belongs to you, that you may assert without presumption, that you are interested in all that is contained in this claim. Then mark the positive fact asserted. It is “God is our refuge." And I think that in these four words we shall find enough, if the Holy Ghost be our teacher, to overwhelm us with wonder, at the infinite condescension of Jehovah, and to fill us with astonishment that we have so lightly prized so high and so important a privilege as having Jehovah for our refuge. Woe to the wretch that has no such refuge when he quits the world. Woe to the wretch that has no such refuge when the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth and all things that are therein shall be burnt up. Woe to the wretch that has no other refuge than the refuge of lies, than his superstitions, ceremonies, rites, and abominable idolatries; “ for the hail shall sweep them all away, and the refuge shall fail him." Woe to the wretch that presumes he needs no refuge, that all is peaceful and secure, and that he has nothing to alarm him. I trust my hearers are not such. I trust there will be found none among them who are such; and, if there should be one, I pray God to fill him with alarm, that he may apprehend his real condition, and discover that he stands exposed to eternal vengeance—that every hour he is hastening towards the gulph of despair, and that Jehovah Himself will put forth His vengeance, as threatened in His own word, “and ye perish from the way, when His anger is kindled but a little” (Ps. ii. 12). I trust that I am this morning addressing a goodly number who can make the assertion in my text without hesitation—who can put in their claim, under the influence of living saving faith, and say confidently, “None other than God is our refuge.” All I shall say to those who are now present is, “Be sure you make good use of it if He is your refuge-be sure you are never found far from it, for you will want it every hour that you remain in the wilderness."
Having said this much of the substance of our text, let me invite your attention to three things which it seems to unfold. First of all, it supposes the necessity of a refuge. Secondly, it embraces a secure one-none other than Jehovah Himself. And, thirdly, it exults in having attained to it-He is ours. May the Holy Ghost bring us to a clear and full apprehension of the important things contained in this short sentence, and by His own invincible application make them ours in personal possession.
I.-I am, first of all, to dwell on what is suggested in the text of the necessity of a refuge. The great misery with mankind is in their ignorance or carelessness about this—that, notwithstanding all the exposure to which they are subjected as sinners, they are altogether reckless about their position, and cherish no alarm, and are under no apprehension of any danger being near them; and if we tell them of surrounding deaths, if we tell them of raging diseases, if we tell them of advancing years, if we tell them of growing infirmities, if we tell them of the certainty of death, and of the uncertainty how soon it may come, it is in at one ear and out at the other. They manifest no alarm
If they venture to say anything about the matter, it is, “ We are as good as our neighbours, we have done nobody any harm, God is merciful, Christ died for sinners, and we have as good a chance as others." Oh, tell me no more about chance! Tell me of the immutabilities which we have been reading of in the 6th of Hebrews. If you are depending on chance, the certainty is that it will be a failure, the certainty is that you are dead in trespasses and sins." Chance and contingency I leave for Infidels, as well becoming their vocabulary. I come to the Book of God, and renounce such folly. But while unconscious of their danger, and under no apprehensions, is their exposure the less ? Is their danger the less because they shut their eyes to it? While they are crying, “ Peace, peace,” is their peace thereby made more secure? Rather, is it not said in the Scripture that they cry “ Peace, when there is no peace?”. Now it is my province, under the first feature of our discourse this morning, to blow the trumpet of alarm, or, as the prophet Joel says, to “sound an alarm in Zion." And I want those sleepy, careless, lethargic, benumbed souls to be brought, if God will, to see, to feel, to know, that they are obnoxious to the law and justice of God, and living and dying without a refuge-caverns of despair will yawn to receive them, and “the blackness of darkness for ever" will be their portion.
I must be clear upon a subject like this, if God will enable me; and if any will question the statement I have made of their being obnoxious to the law and justice of God, I beg of them for a moment to hear my expostulation. If you think the law has no sentence of condemnation against you, let me ask if you have fulfilled every part of it without failing in one point? because we are told expressly by the Holy Ghost that if you keep the whole law, and offend but in one point, you are guilty of all; and if guilty of all, obuoxious to it; and its sentence stands against you. “ Pay me that thou owest" is its demand--a perfect, sinless obedience is its claim. Thought, word, and deed are scrutinized by it, and whether you will believe me or not, one sinful thought, if you are to be judged by the holy law of God, is enough to condemn you to eternal despair and destruction. Come, then, to the point of self-examination. If you mean to be out of debt, do not hesitate to have every leaf of your creditor's book searched to see if there be an iota standing against you—the least mite which has not been paid, and that is not yet cancelled. And I think that, after such an inspection, the proudest sinner under heaven will be brought to make the admission that, at all events, there is a little still unpaid—that certainly there are some wandering thoughts and vain ideas chargeable against him. Perhaps some rising corruptions and base lusts in his Adam nature, whereby he has not done all that he should have done, and has done much that he should not have done. Therefore I agree with the good folks in the parish buildings when they say, “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and have done those things which we ought not to have done.” Very well en, you are obnoxious to the law-you are exposed to it—its sentence stands against you—its curse bangs over your head, and you need a refuge from the thunders and lightning of Mount Sinai; from “Do this and live"-from “ Pay me that thou owest from the solemn sentence gone forth for your commitment, " Take him, and cast him into prison until he pays the uttermost farthing." Oh, the solemnity of a sinner's position when obnoxious to the law! There is only one way of getting out of it, and that is by a refuge. But this is not all. The poor sinner is also obnoxious to the inflexible justice of God, who has sworn, “ I will by no means clear the guilty;” and if God could abate, compromise, or forgive, and if He could be met, and