The suffering Messiah will be brought forth again this morning, not by Pilate, but by one who longs to do him honour, and when he stands before you, and is proclaimed again in the words, “Behold your King!” will you also cry, “Away with him, away with him”? Let us hope that there will not be found here hearts so evil as to imitate the rebellious nation and cry, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Oh that -each one of us may acknowledge the Lord Jesus to be his King, for beneath his sceptre there is rest and joy. He is worthy to be crowned by every heart, let us all unite in beholding him with reverence and receiving him with delight. Give me your ears and hearts while Jesus is evidently set forth as standing among you, and for the next few minutes let it be your only business to “Behold your King.”
“If you conceive that by your good works you shall enter heaven, never was there a more fell delusion, and you shall find at the last great day, that your hopes were worthless, and that, like sear leaves from the autumn trees, your noblest doings shall be blown away, or kindled into a flame within you yourselves must suffer for ever. Take heed of your good works; get them after faith, but remember, the way to be saved is simply to believe in Jesus Christ.”
This world is not the rock beneath our feet which it seems to be; it is no better than those green, but treacherous, soft, and bottomless bogs, which swallow up unwary travellers. We talk of terra firma as if there could be such a thing as solid earth; never was adjective more thoroughly misused, for the world passeth away and the fashion thereof. Every now and then, in order to enforce this distasteful truth upon us, the God of providence gives the world, in some way or other, a warning shake. The Lord has only to lay one finger upon the world, and the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, while the waters of the ocean roar and are troubled until the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. The most solid fabrics of human skill and industry are dissolved at the voice of the Most High; though they appear to possess the firmness of earth and claim the sublimity of heaven, yet one divine word shakes earth and heaven in a moment. Looking back through history, you will observe many periods of very tremendous shakings, the records of which are indelibly engraved upon human memory. An empire has been piled up by conquest, and cemented by policy and power; monarchs of gigantic mind have been sustained by armies of indomitable valour, and great dynasties have been established whose reign promised to be as enduring as the sun. but God has shaken, and the diadem has fallen, and the kingdom become desolate.
“A Lesson from the Great Panic,” MTP 12:690 (1866)
“We cannot always be on the knees of the body, but the soul should never leave the posture of devotion. The habit of prayer is good, but the spirit of prayer is better. Regular retirement is to be maintained, but continued communion with God is to be our aim. As a rule, we ministers ought never to be many minutes without lifting up our hearts in prayer.”
It seems, then, that Christians may forget Christ. The text implies the possibility of forgetfulness concerning him whom gratitude and affection should constrain them to remember. There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous, and our remembrance superficial in its character, or changing in its nature. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas, too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It seems at first sight too gross a crime to lay at the door of converted men. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Ransomer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son; but if startling to the ear, it is alas, too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact. Forget him who ne’er forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault of all of us, that we can remember anything except Christ. The object which we should make the monarch of our hearts, is the very thing we are most inclined to forget.
But among a more respectable class of people, who do not drink and who observe the Sabbath-day , you will have a number of people who remain in the church, though they have no secret piety, no real love to Christ, no private prayer; and hence there is all the more danger. Now, dear friends, what we cannot do, and must not try to do, Jesus Christ will do easily enough. The shepherd when he comes will soon separate his sheep from the goats. His eye of fire will read each heart ; the hypocrites in the church will tremble in a moment, instinctively reading the meaning of that glance, as Christ will by that eye say to them, “What do ye here amongst my people?”
If I understand the gospel, it is this: I deserve to be lost for ever [sic]; the only reason why I should not be damned is, that Christ was punished in my stead, and there is no need to execute a sentence twice for sin. On the other hand, I know I cannot enter Heaven unless I have a perfect righteousness; I am absolutely certain I shall never have one of my own, for I find I sin every day; but then Christ had a perfect righteousness, and He said, “There, poor sinner, take My garment, and put it on; you shall stand before God as if you were Christ, and I will stand before God as if I had been the sinner; I will suffer in the sinner’s stead, and you shall be rewarded for works which you did not do, but which I did for you.”