Preached at North Street Chapel, Stamford. on Lord s Day afternoon, December 13, 1857.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”- (Ephesians 2:19,20)
I ADMIRE and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it. My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fullness, suitability, and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it? I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners.
I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb, and vain. as a drunkard s mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry “What shall I do to be saved?” then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own words in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation, by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-man?
You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved, your soul can be saved by it alone. And why not you be saved? What countless trophies has grace already laid at the Redeemer s feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:11,12)
Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons. of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of the kingdom of His dear Son. How grace arrested him at Damascus gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer s feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God s dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecutor of the Church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labours distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years. How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savour he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the bloodshedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the Church through His blood and love.
But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer s crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were these Ephesians to whom Paul wrote this wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolators, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter- most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had fallen from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”-men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime, and to whom perhaps we can only find a parallel amongst those wretched Hindoos whose atrocities have recently filled every heart with horror. How rich, how marvellous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19), and magicians, full of “curious arts” and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us? Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilisation be taken off the corpse, and there it lies in all its hideous ghastliness.
Human nature is still what it ever was -dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Saviour, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the Gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the Gospel the same to every one that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them, the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them-and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all.