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you, that the means of grace were neglected when they were within your reach. If brought before magistrates for Jesus' name, do not let them taunt you with the fact, that your lives were like those of the rest of the world. Oh, what a torment it would prove to a Christian's conscience, if, when arraigned at a tribunal for Christ's sake and His cause, some base act of dishonesty or unprincipled conduct, should be thrown before him! I entreat you, brethren, to cry for the grace of circumspection, that, as long as you are permitted to worship God in peace, you may give no occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme; and that, when the fatal times come, in which the pure and simple worship we are enjoying this morning, will be suspended, we shall have nought to reproach ourselves with.
One point more before I close: it relates to the enjoyment—the experimental enjoyment—which sanctifying grace imparts when we stand before the heathen as a distinguished people, and the heathen shall know it. I have heard of such delightful instances as ungodly persons saying of such and such an one, Oh, it is of no use to ask him to go for a walk on the Sabbath ; he always goes to his chapel. It is of no use to ask him to go to the theatre, to Drury Lane or Covent Garden ; he is a Methodist.” Thus you see how you are known to the heathen. “ It is of no use to ask him to go to the pothouse, to join in our midnight revels; he has done with it all. The world is dead to him, and he is dead to the world. Most likely you will find him at the prayermeeting, or at the weekly lecture, or sitting over his Bible, studying its Divine truths, or in communion with God.” “ The heathen shall know.” Then what enjoyment shall flow into the soul, that Jehovah shall have given us grace enough to maintain our distinction, to bring us into communion with Himself, to keep up the fellowship which He is the author of, to constrain us to follow after Him, to call forth all our powers in glorifying Him, and enable us to go on our way singing, until we join the everlasting song of those who surround the throne in glory, “ Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” Amen.
And are my hearers on the way to this? Is eternal glory in view ? Does the sound of the golden harps seem already to reach the soul, and enrapture it with ardent longings to touch the strings with immortal fingers, within the veil? Are the family of God girding up their loins, and trimming their lamps, rejoicing in the sanctifying operations of the Holy Ghost, standing distinguished from the heathen, apart from the world, on the alert for the glory of God, on tiptoe for bliss, with outstretched wings, ready to be gone, and waiting to be like Christ and to see Him as He is? May the Eternal Spirit put you, and keep you, in that position, until the hour of your translation shall come; and then give you a glorious entrance, abundantly administered, into His everlasting kingdom, and His name shall have all the glory.
A Discourse, Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Sunday Morning, Nov. 5, 1848,
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS.
“Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?"
John vii. 26. Is they did, why should they persecute the Saviour, which, from the statement connected with our text, was their constant aim; and, consequently, the question was asked by those who never meant to sanction His high and holy claim, but rather in the way of sarcasm, "Is not this He whom they seek to kill?” What for? He came into the world to give life, and to give it more abundantly, and yet they sought to kill Him! And who were the people who sought to kill Him? Why, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the rulers of the people—they were the opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and glory. And when was there an age in which they were not?.“Lo, he speaketh boldly and they say nothing unto Him." Oh! how grand are the displays of Divine sovereignty in stopping men's mouths, in shutting their lips, or in constraining them to say the very reverse of what they wanted to say, as in the case of Balaam, who was taken from place to place by Balak, to curse God's people Israel, and was obliged to bless them in every place. It is well for Christians to keep an eye upon this, that whatever position in life men may occupy, they can go no further than Jehovah's own purpose, or Jehovah's restraining chain permits. You will recollect what was said by the apostles in the opening of the Acts, that“ of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together," and “the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were
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gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ.” To do what? To do what they pleased? To do what the powers of darkness desired? To do what their plots and conspiracies had invented ? No; though they might have meant it to be so; but it was “to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council determined before to be done.” There fore, they went about to kill my precious glorious Master, whilst he was tabernacling in our wilderness, and "going about doing good." It is written, that "they sought to take Him, but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come;" and again He said, “ Go ye, and tell that fox, behold I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following:” thus He saw that His hour was coming. Everything rests here for the believer's comfort. And, then, in this sarcastic manner, the people exclaimed, “ Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ ?” “Howbeit we know this man whence he is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is.” They thought themselves exceedingly shrewd, but showed themselves to be utter fools. “Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?" See what an honour they put upon His name! See what a concession of all that belonged to Him personally was thrown out by these enemies—“the very Christ.”
Now, my first point this morning shall be to dwell a little upon this appellation as pertaining to Jesus—"the very Christ”-and to show as we go on, how Antichrist dares to rival and oppose Him. And then give some attention to the inquiry—“do the rulers know it indeed ?" Would to God they all did.
1.—Upon the first of these particulars, allow me to crave your attention, your prayerful attention, while I endeavour to set before you a few important truths, that I would to God should come before the eyes of every one of the rulers of this land. “ The very Christ.” Oh! I long for renewed powers to speak of who and what He is. Oh! I long for the climax of learning, in the scriptural sense of it, to set forth His glories as “the very Christ ;” because, in the day in which we live, we have so many false Christs, and so many false prophets, and so many saying, “Lo, here! and lo, there!" But our precious Lord says, “ Believe them not; go not after them," and, by His grace helping me, I never will, because, I can say with confidence, “I have found the Messias, who is the Christ.” And, now, I will tell you as much as I know of Him myself, and as I can find language to express and describe.
First of all, then, He is “the very Christ" set up by the Father, as the covenant Head of His Church from everlasting, the very Christ" spoken of in the Psalms, where David says, "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”—the very anointed one, whom God the Father sanctified, set apart, or anointed, and sent into the world in the fulness of time—the
very Christ " that Jehovah the Father appointed, determined, predestined to be the living Head of His living body, from whom all the members of that mystical body, His living Church, should receive all their life, and strength, and comfort, and everlasting salvation, down to the very end of time—“the very Christ."
I beseech you to remark here, in this opening observation, that we have many false representations of Christ, that seem as if they meant to honour Jesus of Nazareth, but which emphatically dishonour Him, such as the representation of His standing at variance with the Father and the Holy Ghost, instead of being set up from everlasting as the covenant Head. Say you, “ Are there really any beings of that description ?" Indeed there are; and they represent and speak of Christ as standing at variance with the Father and the Holy Ghost, as if there were an everlasting quarrel between them, as if the Lord Jesus Christ -this “very Christ”-had bled, suffered, and died, and atoned for thousands and millions that the Father refuses to love, that the Holy Ghost refuses to sanctify; and, consequently, destruction is aimed at the very doctrine of the Trinity itself. Now, I cannot preach such a Christ. I preach the Christ who saves to the uttermost all who come to God by Him. Who are they? “All that the Father giveth me shall come.” These are the persons. Now, instead of preaching a promiseuous Christ, who has done all that He could to save Adam's posterity, but could not accomplish His object, we view Him in His official character, set up from everlasting, as the covenant Head of His Church, in whom all His members were seen, the Christ of God, in whom all were accepted, all were beloved, all were registered, and all were adopted as the children of the Most High God. And the things which followed in the fulness of time—in His incarnation and history, in His precious work, and all that is said of Him in His precious Word, are all but the consequences of infinite love in setting up Christ as the covenant Head of the Church.
It appears to me, that in these days of falling away, the headship of Christ is among the first things to be disowned, or at least to be lost sight of; and, consequently, we read nothing of it in nine-tenths of the volumes that are published, and hear nothing of it from nine-tenths of the pulpits; and that just because it is a time of falling away. We must begin, therefore, with this fundamental principle, that this ' very Christ " was set up from everlasting, as you will find written in the 8th of Proverbs,“ or ever the earth was. “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” hen I was by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth ; and my delights were with the sons of men.”
Now this “very Christ " who is the covenant Head of the Church, is opposed by Antichrist: and this is the strain I mean to pursue this morning in every particular of my discourse. Antichrist claims to be the head of the Church; sets up a poor sinful worm as the head of the Church; a direct act of high treason against King Jesus! Antichrist asurps and demands authority to govern, order, and command, and sare or put to death, whom he will all over the world. Now this prerogative belongs only to Christ. It is none but His. Consequently, the usurper of it is Antichrist. My point shall be to name the prominent characteristics of this “ very Christ,” and just set before you how they are opposed by Antichrist.
This being my natal day, I cannot, and dare not pass over it without bearing my bold and unflinching testimomy against that devilish system, which is now likely to spread through the length and breadth of the land, and bring us all under the paw of the Apocalyptic beast, unless a miracle of grace interposes to prevent it. Again, mark, this “ very Christ " appeared upon the earth in the fulness of time, for the express purpose of redemption. Here, I beseech you to observe how eagerly and anxiously the Jewish nation were looking for Him
when He came, and, yet when He did come, His own nation received Him not! They were all expecting Him, so much so that they thought John was the Messias--the Christ—and they sent on purpose to inquire concerning Him; but he said, “I am not the Christ; I am sent as the harbinger to proclaim His coming." Then, when the disciples of John went to Christ with the same inquiry, “Art thou He that should come, or look we for another?” He never bare witness of Himself, but "in the same hour He cured many of infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind He gave sight,' and this bare witness for Him. “Then Jesus answering, said unto them, Go your way and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” John wanted no more testimony than this. “ Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” This is the " "very Christ" that appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, assuming our nature, humbling Himself to be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, for the express purpose of ransoming, gathering in, and everlastingly saving all the Father hath given into His hands Now on His appearance, I beseech you to mark His real Person, “ I and my Father are one. Then looking at His disciples, “ Behold my brethren, and my sisters, and my mother.” He is not ashamed to call them brethren—not ashamed to call the eternal Jehovah His Father, appearing able to accomplish all that the Godhead only could perform, and yet veiling that dignity, that power and that glory of His, in the humble form of the Carpenter's Son. Nay, “the Carpenter," one evangelist calls Him. Oh! the amazing mystery of godliness wrapped up in this “very Christ.” He could be no other than truly and properly God, to accomplish “the work which the Father had given Him to do." He must bave had a body prepared for Him, or He could not have gone through the work of degradation and suffering. He must be co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, or sin, and Satan, and the world, and the elements, and the heavens, and the earth, and the seas, had not been at His command. He must have been co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, or He could not have borne the immense load of guilt which had been contracted by all His Church. He must be one with the brethren, “bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh," or He could not have suffered hunger; He could not have suffered thirst; He could not have endured buffetings, and smitings, and crucifying, and death. He must be man for this. “ This is the very Christ.'
Now you see, beloved, that we cannot preach an Arian Christ; that we cannot preach a Socinian Christ; that we cannot preach an Arminian Christ; they are none of them the “
We must preach the “very Christ” of God, and insist upon His being the possessor, inherently and essentially, of all the perfections and attributes of Deity, at the same time He was subjected in His humanity to all the sinless infirmities of man. Mind, I put a stress upon sinless, because there have been enemies to Christ who have tried to pervert that phrase. Glory be to His name, that while in all things He was made like unto His brethren, it is added, " yet without sin "-"yet without sin.” Now this precious Christ appeared in the fulness of time, appeared to accomplish the entire work of redemption and salvation for His own Church, and, therefore, it is said of Him, that He