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time, O sirs, mix not with destroyers; but join with regular builders, under Christ the great Master-builder.
2. With reference to your personal concern in this. doctrine; it is your duty, when the temple of your own body or soul is in a distressed or destroyed condition, to look to him that can in three days, or very quickly, raise it up. A certain limited time in scripture is often put for an unlimited time; therefore, do not limit the holy One of Israel to a particular day: only, when matters come to an extremity of distress and destruction in appearance, then you may look out for a time of reviving.
Well then, O let sinners, who have destroyed themselves, and whom sin and Satan have destroyed, and even all temple-destroyers that have thus ruined them. selves, hear and hearken to him who says, “ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help,” Hos. xiii. 9. O sinners! Destruction is your name, and your trade; but though ruin and desolation is come by you, yet relief and deliverance comes by Christ; there fore, look to him who says, “ Look unto me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else,” Isa. xlv. 22. You are the destroy. ers, but I am the builder. Salvation is of the Lord.
O! come to Christ the builder, believing that he is able to build you up. Seek you a sign of his ability and authority? It is given. It is given, in that he is able, in three days, to raise up his own body when de. stroyed. In three days he raised it up. Object not then, I am actually destroyed : there is no hope. Be. hold, his resurrection is an evidence of his power and authority to raise you from death to life; “ I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." O sirs, is the door of hope yet open to you? He who hath given proof of his power in creation-work, by raising up this world's fabric in six days, and a proof of raising up the temple of his body in three, is he not able, in a moment of time, to raise you up out of your spiritual
O sirs, look to the power of Christ; for it is a saving
power, a healing power. Though his work, as a Judge, is to damn and condemn the wicked world at the last day ; yet his work, as a Saviour, is not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved; hence none of his miraculous works were of a destructive, but of a saving nature. It is remarked in this chapter, where our text lies, that the beginning of Christ's miracles here in Cana of Galilee, was the turning water into wine; whereas the beginning of Moses's miracles, (the first of the ten plagues of Egypt) was the turning water into blood; pointing out the difference betwixt Moses in the law, and Christ in the gospel. The curses of the law turned water into blood : common mercies into waters of Mara, bitterness and misery : but the blessings of the gospel turn water into wine; common mercies into special mercies, and to blessings indeed.
O! look to a powerful Jesus; he can very soon turn your water of affliction into the wine of consolation: yea, and death and destruction, to life and salvation. O! what can he not do for destroyed souls, and destroyed churches, who could command death and destruction to do their worst against him, and say, in spite of men and devils, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
SERMON CXLII. THE BEST COMPANY IN THE MOST LONE
John xvi. 32. -- And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. CONCERNING our Redeemer, who himself is God, and IMMANUEL, God with us, two things very glorious are testified, which deserve the highest attention of men and angels: 1. That God was in him. 2. That God was with him. How God was in him, is declared, 2 Cor. v. 19. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation.” How God was WITH HIM, is declared, not only by others, as Acts X. 38. where Peter shews, “ How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power ; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him ;” and by Nicodemus, John iii. 2. saying unto him, “ Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for none can do these miracles that thou dost, except God was with him;" But also we have it here declared, out of his own blessed mouth, how God the Father was with him, even in his most deserted and afflicted circumstances; when, as it is said, Isa. Ixiii. 3. “ He trode the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him :" yet, how it fared with him then, he could best tell himself; “ I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
* This Sermon was preached immediately before the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, at Dunfermline, August 7th, 1748. To which is subjoined, the Discourse before and at the service of the first Table.
We are expecting this to be a communion-day, though it be a day of darkness, and of men's deserting us, most sinfully and shamefully * : yet, from Christ's blessed experience, we may have hope of its being a day of God's presence with us; and that when communion with man is sinfully infringed, yet communion with God may be happily enjoyed.
The disciples of Christ having made a fair profession of their faith and proficiency, by, his plain doctrine delivered in the verses preceding; he, knowing their frowardness and presumption, checks it in these words, verse 31. “ Do you now believe ?" And warns them here, how quickly their faith would be tried; and the want and weakness of it would discover itself.
* Several expressions of a similar nature to these in this paragraph, are to be met with in this Sermon. The bond of union being broken by this time, in the Associate Body, gave rise thereto ; and the ex. travagant and unprecedented measures of the separating Brethren, in breaking up communion with [at this occasion withholding their usual assistance] and passing sentences upon their Brethren, laid a foundation for them. See the ground thereof laid open above, page 122 and 123.
Whence we may observe, That presumption amongst professors and disciples of Christ, portends a winnowing and sifting storm at hand : “ Behold, the hour cometh; yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone." Christ ushers in his warning with a Behold! that we may attend; for the doctrine of trials a-coming is but carelessly heard by secure and presumptuous Christians, and it is little pondered : but we are here taught, that the hour of. trial is appointed and ordered of God; and that the storm may be very violent, like a scattering wind, such as seems to be blowing in our day: “Ye shall be seattered,
every man to his own, and leave me alone.” This came presently to pass ; for, “ Then all the disciples forsook him, and filed,” Matth. xxvi. 56.
Hence, sirs, we may learn, that the scattering and dissipating
of the society of God's people, is then not only the affliction, but the sin of professors; and their great weakness, when the trial ard temptation makes them leave their good old Master, to turn aside from him, and betake themselves to some new shift.
“ Ye shall be seattered, every man to his own;" that is as in the margin, to his own HOME ; or to his own way, to his own side or party ; “ And shall leave me alone.” Whence observe, that even real disciples may be deserters of Christ for a time; and so may these who are really suffering for the name of Christ, be deserted, of true disciples, as Christ himself was. And now, though none could join with him in enduring the sufferings he underwent, whereby he redeemed his people ; and though it was his care to have them exeemed from suffering with him, saying to the soldiers, “ If ye seek me, let these go their way," John xviii. 8. yet it was a part of his trial to be thus left alone. Christ knew he was thus to be left of men; “ Ye shall leave me alone :” and he was resolved to stand alone. Observe, that let never so many desert Christ, and his truth, yet he will own and stand to it: and we ought to stand to the truth, though we should stand alone: nor ought we to be ashamed to be left alone as Christ was.
But now, Christ having prophesied, that his disciples should be scattered, and leave him alone, we have here the comfort he had amidst the affliction of solitude and dereliction of men. This he expresses,
1. Negatively ; " Yet I am not alone :' that is, absoJutely. Though left by you, yet I am not quite destitute of company.
2. Positively; giving both the reason why he was not alone, and the account of that blessed company he had ; * Because the Father is with me.” Our Lord Jesus knew, that, in all his sufferings, he would have the constant presence, and powerful assistance of his heavenly Father. In this matter, our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Head of the body, the church, exemplified, in his own case, the case and condition of his people when they are brought to suffering, solitary, desolate and deserted circumstances : they are not so very
desolate and solitary as men are ready to judge; for, though they be left alone, yet they are not alone, while God is present with them.
Such is the mystical and spiritual union betwixt Christ and all believers, that seeing he and they are denominated one, 1 Cor. xii. 12. “ For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that one body being many, are one body, so also is Christ :” therefore, I consider Christ here speaking as a public person; even the public head and representative of his people : and, consequently, what was said by the glorious Head in his sufferings, and lonely circumstances, is applicable to, and may be said by, every member of Christ, in whatever afflicted, lonely, or solitary circumstances they are; “ I am not alone, for the Father is with me."
The doctrine, therefore, that I would discourse upon, as the Lord shall enable, for further opening of this text, is as follows: OBSERV. “ That as it was the comfort of Christ per
sonál, in his lonely sufferings; so it is the comfort * of Christ mystical, the church, in all their trials, “ and desolating circumstances, to have it to say,
“ I am not alone, for the Father is with me.” God's presence with Christ was enough to him; and