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PREACHED ON BEHALF OF MISSIONS AT GREAT QUEEN STREET CHAPEL, LONDON
BY THE REV. T. RAFFLES, D.D. LL.D.
“ Jesus saith unto him, I am the way.”—John xiv. 6.
“Never man spake like this man.” | heart, he unfolded the foundation of moral Such was the testimony of persons who obligation in the bonds that bind the could not, for a moment, be suspected of creature to the Creator. He taught the partiality, and who would never have spirituality, and purity, and perfection of uttered this eulogy if it had not been the law of God. He threw a strong and wrested from them by an admiration, the steady light upon the regions of futurity, expression of which they were utterly and surrounded his hearers with the dread unable to suppress. “Never man spake transactions of the judgment-day, and the like this man;" and so you would have enduring realities of the eternal world. said if you had heard him preach. Never “Never man spake like this man. mortal had such doctrines to deliver, and So Nicodemus thought, when, in reply Dever mortal taught in so solemn and im- to his complimentary address, he laid pressive, yet so tender and affectionate down the fundamental doctrine of his
gospel, and said, “ Verily, verily, I say The philosophers of antiquity—they unto thee, except a man be born of water only skimmed the surface of things; they and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the talked about the loveliness of virtue and kingdom of God.” So Nathaniel thought, the odiousness of vice; they speculated when casting at him his mild and piercabout the immortality of the soul, and the ing eye, he said, “Before that Philip life beyond the grave, and professed to called thee, when thou wast under the look forward with mingled hope and fear fig tree, I saw thee.” So Zaccheus to an hereafter concerning which none thought when he climbed up into the could speak with satisfaction or with cer- sycamore tree, because Jesus was to pass tainty. And as for the scribes and phari- that way; and he turned unto him and sees, who sat in Moses's seat, they only cried, “ Zaccheus, make haste, and come sophisticated and polluted the purity of down; for to-day I must abide at thy his morality by their adding to the cum- house.” So Peter thought, when he brous mass of rites and ceremonies, by would have reproved his Master; but the which his dispensation was distinguished, Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and innumerable traditions and enactments of said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou their own. But this man-he went at art an offence unto me; for thou savourest once to the spring of action in the human | not the things that be of God, but those
that be of man.' So the scribes and their mandate. No; but it was the power pharisees thought, when he took off the of light beaming upon the understanding mask of hypocrisy by which they sought -it was the power of truth making its to impose upon the people, and exhibited way to the conscience—it was the power their character in all its true, and odious, of God speaking to mortals by his Son. and disgusting colours, and thundered And though eighteen hundred years have out the anathema, “Woe unto you, scribes rolled away since he exercised his perand pharisees, hypocrites ! how can ye sonal ministry on earth, and uttered the escape the damnation of hell ?"
So language of our text, yet, by the preachPilate thought, when in reply to his ques- ing of his gospel, he speaks to you this tion-half, perhaps, in veneration, and day, and he demands that the testimony half in scorn, “ Art thou a king?" he an- he delivers shall be received alike in the swered, “ Thou sayest that I am a king.” understanding and the heart; “I am the Thou hast announced my true and proper way.” dignity; I am a king; but my kingdom
But what does he mean?—The way to is not of this world. I lead no conquer- what?—The way to whom ?-In what ing armies to the battle, I press not for sense is Christ the way? My brethren, thrones and palaces, through fields of car to answer these questions shall be the nage, and seas of blood : “To this end scope of our present discourse; and when was I born, and for this cause came I into I have put the answers in, I shall endeathe world, that I should bear witness unto vour to found some pleas on them for the the truth.”
great cause which we are to advocate No matter where—no matter when with you this morning. no matter what he said whether in the This interesting declaration of the ditemple, surrounded by the doctors of the vine Redeemer occurred in the course of law, hearing and asking them questions, a conversation which he had with his or whether on the deck of the vessel, disciples, in which he informed them of surrounded by the fishermen of Galilee; his approaching departure out of this or whether in the towns, and cities, and world, his going to the Father, and that villages of Judea, healing the sick and the world should see him no more. And raising the dead; or whether at the tribu- he spoke as though he took it for granted nal of Pilate, the object of contempt and that they perfectly understood his meanscorn—"never man spake like that man.” (ing, “Whither I go ye know, and the There was a power, and an authority, and way ye know.” But Thomas--who, more an influence in all he said that none could than all the rest of the disciples, seems to gainsay or resist. The grabbling scribes have been remarkably under the power of heard him, and they were confounded. unbelief—Thomas said, “ Lord, we know The haughty pharisees heard him, and not whither thou goest; and how can we they were abashed. The frantic demo- know the way?" We do not understand niac heard him, and he was still. The thy meaning; explain thyself; and let us diseased heard him, and he felt impulses know precisely what is the drift of thy of health beat in all his veins. The dead discourse. And from this the Saviour heard him, and broke his silence and rose. takes occasion to speak of himself more “Never man spake like this man.” And at large, as the way, the divinely apyet the power and authority with which pointed way, the all-sufficient way, the he spoke was not that which thrones, and sole, the exclusive way of a sinner's acsceptres, and diadems could confer—it ceptable approach to God, “I am the was not the power and authority of racks, way, and the truth, and the life; no man and gibbets, and dungeons—it was not cometh unto the Father but by me. the power and authority of the princes Thus you have a key to unlock the meanand potentates of this world, who send ing of the Saviour in the words of the their conquering armies to enforce their text, and thus you perceive the drift and command, and hurl the thunders of their scope of our present discourse. artillery against all who dare to resist The language of the Redeemer, my
brethren, evidently implies that man, in tortures, and toils, and pilgrimages, and his natural state, is at a distance from God. oft-repeated prayers; as he drops the sanAdam, in his primeval state of inno-dals from his bleeding feet, and as the cence and purity, needed no such way as lash resounds from his agonizing limbsthis-he needed no intercessor between still he must cry, “Wherewithal shall I God and man, no mediator, no atoning come before the Lord, and how shall I sacrifice. He approached to God imme-bow myself before the high God ?" This diately, and communed with him without is the language of the savage, in his deadreserve, even as a man communeth with ly incantations at the shrine of devils. his friend. His spirit felt no dread, his This is the language of the sage, in all heart was agitated with no terror; he his researches after wisdom, and in all heard the voice of the Lord God in the his literature and philosophy. This is shades of the garden, in the cool of the the language of the papist, in his penances day, and he flew with gladness to meet and invocations of the saints-in his conhim; for he recognised in its tones the fessions and fasts. This is the language of voice of his best friend. Ah, how altered the pharisee, in his close adherence to the is the scene when guilt pressed heavy on rites and ceremonies of the particular his spirit, and shook him with dread fore- church to which he may be attached. All bodings of the wrath of an avenging God! utter one cry, all breathe one intense Then a sight was seen, and then a voice anxiety, all express one ardent desire ; was heard, such as those peaceful and and the desire seems intended to ascerholy bowers had never witnessed before- tain some principle-to devise some way the person of man fleeing from his Ma- by which the burden of guilt may be reker's voice—and arrested by his Maker's moved from the conscience, and man obcall: “ Adam, where art thou ?" And he tain pardon and peace with an offended said, " I heard thy voice in the garden, God. But there is only one way, one alland I was afraid." Why afraid ?” “I sufficient way, one divinely-appointed way, hid myself because I was naked.” “Who and that way is announced to you in the told thee that thou wast naked? Hast text, “I am the way, the truth, and the thou eaten of the tree whereof I com-life; no man cometh unto the Father but manded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat by me.” of it; for in the day that thou eatest there Will you allow me then, my brethren, by of thou shalt surely die ?"
the induction of a few particulars, to enAnd, my brethren, a similar conscious-deavour to ILLUSTRATE The Redeemer's ness of guilt, a similar dread of punish- MEANING, AND show you IN WHAT REment, has pressed heavily on every human spects Christ is THE WAY. spirit, from that period to the present 1st. Man being ignorant of God, Christ hour; and man, in all his tribes, and is the way the only way to an acquaintthrough all his generations, in one formance, a sufficient acquaintance, with his or other, has never ceased to utter this character. - Jesus saith unto him, I am piercing cry, “ Wherewithal shall I come the way, and the truth, and the life: no before the Lord, or how shall I bow my-man cometh unto the Father but by me. self before the high God ?" This is the If ye had known me, ye should have language of the Jew, as he turns from his known my Father also: and from hencevile abominations and his inefficient sacri- forth ye know him, and have seen him. fices. When rivers of oil have flowed, Philip saith unto him (he caught at the and oceans of blood have been shed language), Lord, show us the Father, and when the cedars of Lebanon have burned, it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, and the cattle upon a thousand hills have Have I been so long time with you, and been immolated-still he must inquire, yet hast thou not known me, Philip ?" "Wherewithal shall I come before the Have I yet to tell you-have you yet to Lord ?" For the burden is heavy on his learn—that the fairest, the brightest, the heart
. This is the language of the pagan, loveliest, the most perfect exhibition of in his severe austerities and self-inflicted the character of God, is in my person,
my ministry, my miracles, my doctrines, that if you had never heard this teacher
in the most holy place, were mild and And what, I ask, has man ever disco- gentle emanations to the high-priest, when vered with accuracy, with certainty, of he approached, once a year, with the the character of God, apart from the reve- blood of the appointed sacrifice; but, if lation that Christ has made ? Has he he had dared to come without blood, or ever discovered the unity of his nature, with the blood of any other victim than the immateriality of his essence, the uni- that which was appointed for the purpose, versality of his presence, the purity of his the rash and impious mortal would have character, the rectitude of his government, perished for his temerity, and the Shethe spirit of his law? No; never, never chinah would have darted on him conhe never has, he never will, he never can. suming fire. Why else was the wretched Witness the ten thousand times ten thou- Cain rejected, and given over a prey to sand pagan deities—their gods of marble the demons of remorse and despair? Why and of wood that crowd the pantheon, else did the earth open her jaws, and inthat swarm in the mythology of the pagan gulf Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? Oh, world, wrought of materials the most there is a justice to be satisfied—there is base, and into forms and shapes the most a justice to be satisfied, in the case of man, monstrous, the most obscene, the most infinite in its requirements, inexorable in absurd, that man's polluted, degraded its demands! Every victim immolated imagination can invent. Witness those upon the altar was only efficacious as it wild, those horrible, those monstrous was offered up in faith on the great sacriconceptions of the Deity, that scare the fice for sin. Of such magnitude was the imagination of the wisest and the most offence that was committed, that there venerable men; and those deeds of dark- was only one victim that could meet the ness, of cruelty, and of pollution, which requirements of justice—the infinite, the are perpetrated by man as a part of his eternal Son of God. He was set apart, acceptable worship, and as under his ex- and set up from everlasting, both as the press and positive sanction and command. victim and as the priest. He was anointOh, when on these missionary festivals ed with the holy oil; he arrayed himself we tell you of the sad condition of the in the garments of his priesthood-our pagan world, and write the melancholy degraded mortality—the vesture that was stories of their sufferings and their crimes, shortly to be dyed in blood. Amid the you can scarcely give credit to the recital! astonishment and the admiration of cheBut, you may be assured, my brethren, | rubim and seraphim, and the morning
am the way."
stars of light, he left the royal mansions gions of the untrodden desert, or to the of the celestial world, and came down to summit of the inaccessible mount-or our polluted earth—he engaged in the whether they lie deeply buried amid the functions of his priesthood—he pressed abyss of the ocean—or whether they forward to the high object of Mount Cal- slumber peaceably amid the hum, and vary; and there, nailed to the accursed bustle, and tumult of the crowded tree, as a spectacle to angels and to men, city-not a solitary particle essential to bowed down beneath the mighty load of the identity of the bodies of all his folhuman guilt, he saw every type, every lowers shall ever be lost; but he will shadow substantiated-he saw every guard it with a sleepless care, and the promise and every prophecy fulfilled- trumpet of the archangel will gather tohe saw every attribute of Deity harmo-gether again, by the magnetic power nized and illustrated in the great scheme which first created the fair system of this of human redemption he was dying to stupendous universe, all the myriads of accomplish, and with the voice of God atoms of which this system is composed. he cried, “ IT IS FINISHED! and gave up How he will do it is a matter that never the ghost.” And then the vail of the troubles me. 'Tis only a fool who asks temple was rent in twain from the top to the question, “ How are the dead raised the bottom by an invisible hand, to indi-up? and with what body do they come ?" cate that the way of access was opened If, my brethren, I had not seen the lovely to the eternal throne, that mortals, guilty and divine character of spring burst, as at mortals, might approach and live. “I the present season of the year, from the
coldness and the torpidity of winter—if I 3d. Cut off from our inheritance in had never seen the ripened harvest wavheaven, by reason of our apostasy from God, ing in the vind and waiting for the we have a glorious resurrection and eternal reaper's sickle, from the grain that was life by Christ's resurrection from the dead. committed to the earth, and which, to all When man rebelled, the gate of Eden human appearance, had perished beneath was closed, and the cherubim, with a the clod-if I had never lifted up my eyes double flaming sword, was placed to to the starry firmament, and contemplated guard the avenues to the tree of life, lest suns, the centres of other systems in maghe should put forth his hand to eat, and nitude and beauty far surpassing ours, all live for ever. But, when Jesus died, sprung into being by the fiat of God's eternal life was rolled back again, and will, and preserved in perfect order by the cherubim sheathed his double flaming the exercise of his omnipotence—if I had sword in the Redeemer's breast. Hear never contemplated my own frame-the him, brethren; hear him, amid the ravages curious structure of my own frame, so of mortality; hear him, amid the dying exquisitely wrought in the deep retireof your kindred; hear him, amid the mel- ments of nature-if, in short, I had any ancholy symptoms of your own approach- doubt as to the divinity of Christ, or the ing decay; hear him and rejoice: I am being of Christ, I should look with tremthe resurrection and the life (saith the bling apprehension to the day of death, Lord); he that believeth on me, though and distressing anxiety to the promised he were dead, yet shall he live: and who- resurrection morning. But, as it is, I soever liveth and believeth in me shall know that he who built this body at first, never die." - This is the will of him can be at no loss for power to bring it that sent me, that every one which seeth again into loveliness and glory from the the Son, and believeth on him, may have desolations of the sepulchre, and fashion everlasting life: and I will raise him up it like unto his own glorified body, from
the wreck and ruin of the grave. The ashes of the saints, my brethren, Thus, my brethren, I have endeavoured are the care of Christ; his eye is on their to illustrate the Redeemer's declaration sleeping dust; and whether they be scat- in the text, and have directed the attentered to the winds of heaven, to the re- tion of this assembly to Jesus Christ as
at the last day."