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with Christ, crucified with Christ, dead with Christ, risen together with Christ, sitting together in heavenly places with Christ, his life hid with Christ in God, joined unto the Lord and therefore one spirit, Christ dwelling in him and he in Christ, the believer has Christ ever with him. While a sense and consciousness of his presence may be withheld altogether, or but partially manifested, or occasionally lost, his presence does go with his willing people, and whatever joys they have originate here. This then is one ground of confidence to the believer, that the good shepherd is ever with him, when he passeth through the waters of trouble and journeys through the valley of death. What terrified Adam, when he heard the voice or word of the Lord walking toward him, was, that God should be with him; and his presence is in like manner, and for a like cause, hated and avoided by his unrenewed children now; but it is unto the sheep of Christ their delight and joy and rest, to know that the fold which encloses them is watched by a never slumbering eye, that the arms which encircle them, when burdened and weary, are those of omnipotent love, and that though to try their faith Jesus may apparently withdraw himself, it is only like the withdrawings of the sun in a cloudy day, hid for amoment, but still warming and vivifying all things, and soon to burst forth upon the world in all his brightness. Thou art with me, saith the believer, and with such a companion, guide, counsellor, protector, I care not where I go. 'Tis impossible for me to traverse any path of sorrow untrodden and unsanctified by thy steps. Thou hast slept in the grave; and thy sleep has robbed it of its victory; thou, by dying, hast extracted from death its sting. Thy sorrows have turned our afflictions into causes of rejoicing, aud thy painful passage
through the dark and gloomy cavern of the tomb has changed it into none other than the gate of heaven. It was to thee the valley of death, but to thy people it is the valley of the shadow of death only, foi thou didst in thy conflict upon Calvary disarm the king of terrors, and by abolishing death rendered him powerless to injure who by Apostacy was possessedof his power. And now he is left with crippled powers, though with undiminished hate; and only capable of raising a hideous phantasm to terrify those feeble, doubting, faithless ones, who will not realise and appropriate as they ought the greatness and perfection of thy triumphs.
Secondly, '' thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." If these are to be distinguished, they mean, I think, the word and spirit of God; the promises of Christ, and the power which applies them. If we view them as a sweet reduplication, then are they blessed truths of Jesus; in which case, the former clause, " Thou art with me," may be viewed as the general promise assuring us of the perpetual companionship of Jesus by his Spirit, and the latter a specification of especial blessings connected with it, under the figurative emblems descriptive of their character, as the title of the Good Shepherd suggests. But interpret them as we will, the grounds of confidence are still Christ's word and Christ's spirit, and he who rests upon them never can be moved. Whatever use the Shepherd's rod and staff are put to, in numbering the sheep, in guiding them to pasturage, in driving away invading enemies, in urging forward the reluctant, in reclaiming.wanderers, such are the Word and the Spirit, or rather the Word in the Spirit's hand, to his believing people. The Lord give us to hear the Shepherd's voice, and yield obedient homage to-his word—enable us by simple faith to make the Psalmist's ground of confidence our own: and then shall God be with us, our very present help in time of trouble; then shall we walk in security along the path, which is fenced on either side, so as effectually to prevent the pilgrim's harm; and were it not for his own unbelief, the pilgrim's fears—that path of obedience which Jesus trod and has marked out for us, having left Us an example that we should follow his steps—that path which leadeth unto glory, not without suffering—that path along which those washed in atoning blood, and covered with ajustifying righteousness, do walk, though sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, fearing always, yet with the perfect love which casteth out fear, having nothing, yet possessing all things, seeing that God has said, we believe it, and "Whether it be the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours."
And now to conclude. To those whose consciences accuse them of unbelief, impenitence and worldliness, our subject speaks in the language of fearful admonition and severe rebuke. To you the object contemplated presents not imaginary but real terrors, substantial horrors beyond conception. The valley of death will never prove
the valley of the shadow of death to you. Repent and believe the Gospel, lest your iniquity prove your ruin. To inconsistent Christians, David's language speaks with equal, if not more awful, severity. The formalist, the Pharisee, built up in his fancied security, may say, "I fear no evil," without emotion, while the poor contrite penitent with trembling accents, belying his own words, utters them—but oh, what an overthrow of his pretensions—what a disappointment to his hopes will that day bring, when death shall come and scatter to the winds his ill-boded and ill-constructed fabric. To the timid of Christ's flock, what encouragement does our text afford, and to all what wise counsel! Amid the temptations to fear, hear Him who saith, "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom:" and amidst all temptations to worldliness and sloth, remember that his presence is only comforting to those who walk humbly and closely with God. Be not then faithless, but believing; yea, be diligent and watchful, and the chief Shepherd will never leave you nor forsake you, and when he appears ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
DELIVERED BY THE REV. C. SIMEON,
AT ST. HART'S, ISLINGTON, MARCH 2, 1831, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE SOCIETT FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIANITY AMONG THE JEWS.
Ezehiel, xxxvi. 24—28.—" Fori will tahe you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinhle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthincss, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit -will I put within you, and I win tahe away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will gfc« you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walh in my statutes, andye shall heep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God."
When I lately addressed you, I put to you Christianity in a peculiar point of view as a remedy. I will now put
it again in another very peculiar point of view. You are apt, as all people are, to consider Christianity as a system of duties and restraints; but I will give a true view of it—it is a mine of inexhaustible promises. I do not mean to say that it does not also contain precepts; for, beyond all possibility of doubt, it does require us to dedicate ourselves wholly and unreservedly to the Lord. But here is the point—there is not any one thing which Christianity requires of us, which it does not promise at the same time to bestow.
Go no further than the text. It is addressed to the Jews primarily, as you see both in the first and last verses of the text. But this has been overlooked. Christians have felt the richness of the promises, and what have they done? You may hear this passage quoted; for every minister who is much in earnest in preaching salvation by Christ, does bring forward these words; but perhaps you may go into ten thousand different places and hear the intermediate words read, and never hear in their true connection the beginning and end of my text. The fact is this, my brethren, you will see at the head of my text, "I will take you from among the heathen, and will gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land." You will see at the foot of my text, " And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers;" but we have cut off the head and the feet, and appropriated to ourselves exclusively the whole body. That is the way in which we have treated the Jews.
But observe whilst I say it belongs to the Jews primarily, no doubt it belongs to us all, as I shall have occasion to show you. It is, in fact, a part of the new covenant; and all who embrace the new covenant are entitled to these promises. But, again, I must say, they belong to the Jews primarily; and therefore I will, First of all, open the passage as delivered more immediately to the Jews; and
Secondly, consider it as applicable to the church of God in all ages.
FlB8T OF ALL, AS DELIVERED IMMEDIATELY To The Jews. Has this ever been fulfilled? It had some little fulfilment at the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon ; but its fulfilment was then partial indeed. Look at these promises, and sec whether they were fulfilled to the Jews. Besides, it is said, " I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land"—and then, I will do so and so. We must, therefore, look to the accomplishment of this promise to the Jews at a future period. The Jews, beyond all doubt, are destined to be restored to their own land. I say, beyond all doubt, because I must confess that language has no sense at all if this be not true.
How they are to be restored, whether in a converted state or in an unconverted state, I will not absolutely say; yet methinks I will say. In the book of Deuteronomy we are told, that they shall first of all be awakened, and then be restored. It is said in the thirtieth of Deuteronomy, "And it shall come to pass when thou shalt return to the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day; Men the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee." Here you perceive their conversion is represented as preceding their return. The prophet Jeremiah represents it as taking place during the return, when he says, "Behold I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephriam is my first-born." There the words "weeping and supplications" denote in a considerable degree the converted state, or at least, a state of deep serious religion. But, in my text you find, their conversion is subsequent. "I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you." Now in one part it is said to precede, in another to accompany, and in another to follow the return, but is there any difference in this? They are all true, they all refer to the different periods of their conversion, in its commencement, its progress, and its consummation. Some may be converted at one time, some at another; and this is the way, I conceive, in which they will be restored.
But whatever is determined with respect to this their future restoration, which in one way or other I consider absolutely certain, yet I have nothing to do with that; it is the conversion of their souls that I propose to commend to you at this time? it is that about which I would earnestly interest you, for that beyond all possibility of doubt is declared in the text. Let persons think what they may about the restoration to their own land, which I say again I lay no stress upon, I merely give you my opinion respecting it; but their turning unto God is absolutely certain. And now it is surprising how the Christian world have overlooked this passage as applied to them. As I have told you before, you may hear it quoted in sermons hundreds of times, and never hear it in its true and proper connection—as connected with the first and last verses of the text. Now I cannot but say that this is very surprising, considering that Christianity is
a religion of deep benevolence, it is , surprising, that when such promises as J these should be made to God's ancient people, we should altogether overlook that circumstance, taking no interest in their spiritual welfare any more than if there were no such people on the face of the whole earth, and alienating from them the promises, and taking them exclusively to ourselves. This is the more remarkable, because you will find in the Scriptures that almost invariably where their return is mentioned, their conversion to God is mentioned together with it very specially, only I will not stop now to point out the passages where the very words of my text are applied to them again and again in this connection. But whether we neglect it or not, God will fulfil it —God will fulfil these promises to them, sanctifying them wholly to himself, and making them, as in the days of old, his own peculiar people.
Look into the New Testament and you shall see on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, but it was expressly declared "That the Holy Spirit should be given to them and their children, and unto all that were afar off, even as many as the Lord our God should call." So that their children to the very end of time are to be interested in this promise, and God is ready to pour out his Holy Spirit upon them the very moment he sees in one of them a desire to receive it. There is in my text, in fact, a reference to the consecration of their priests and Levites in the days of old; and exactly as they were consecrated to Jehovah in the service of the sanctuary, so it is here promised that his ancient people shall be brought back again, and all of them consecrated to God in the same way. In the book of Numbers it is thus stated, "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them to cleanse them : sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean. Then let them take a young bullock with his meat-offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering." And again, "The Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering uuto the Lord to make an atonement for the Levites." Now just in reference to that it is said, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you." And in the prophet Isaiah he says, "I will take them for priests and for Levites."
You perceive then, that this is determined by Jehovah to bring them back to himself through the influence of his Holy Spirit. He has now called them by the name of 'on >rt because they are cast off from God, but they will be recognized under the name of 'on 10 for they shall be again the Lord's future people. Now it is true that the Jews themselves overlook all these things. They are occupied solely with the idea of the temporal kingdom which the Lord will establish, and which I doubt not he will establish, they are occupied with that and look only at the temporal aggrandizement of their nation, instead of looking for the spiritual privileges they are to enjoy. But we are not to overlook these promises. We should see the true import of them, and should anticipate with holy delight the restoration of that people to a state of piety, such as animated their fathers of old. Let this suflice for the application of it to the Jews.
Now let me open it to you As
APPLICABLE TO THE CHURCH OP GoD
In All Ages. I told you that this refers to the new covenant; and you will find in the epistle to the Hebrews
that this is expressly declared. "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." There you see the very promise in my text constitutes a part of that new covenant, which they and all the believing seed of Abraham shall enjoy, if they embrace it. Then I say without hesitation that this promise belongs to us, and God at this very moment promises to us his Holy Spirit, to cleanse us from our guilt, to renew our hearts, and to sanctify our lives.
First of all, to cleanse us from our guilt. "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you." It is true that, primarily, it is the office of the Lord Jesus to cleanse us from the guilt of sin in the fountain of his own precious blood, but it is also the office of the Holy Spirit; because it is the Spirit which reveals Christ to us—it is the Spirit that enables us to embrace him—it is the Spirit which gives us faith in the Lord Jesus, and it is said that he sanctifies our heart by faith: and the truth is, that when we preach the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit does then descend upon the people, to apply to them all the blessings of salvation. In the Acts of the Apostles you will see this more particularly set forth. It is said, "To him gave all the Prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Now observe, "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all of them which heard the word." So that the Holy Spirit applies this truth to our souls; and, therefore, it is said of our Lord, that " he cleanses his church with the washing of water by the word, that he may present it to himself a glorious church not hav