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ginations, however ingenious and learned, are not the means of converting his heart to God. He knows that the truth of God has tried his own heart: it has penetrated into its recesses : it has shown him his own picture: it has softened what was once hard and unimpressible: it has purified his motives,—not his conduct only, for that may sometimes be done by pridebut it has purified his motives, so that he has been led to say, as Joseph said on another occasion, “How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God ? It has at length converted him, and turned him from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. It is the energy, therefore, that accompanies the word, which casts down imaginations, and reasonings, and the strong-holds of sin and Satan ; producing subjection to Christ, as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his Church: so that whether such an one has been a moral, decent, devotional character, like Lydia; or ferocious, like the Jailor; or dissolute, like the Corinthians; or self-righteous, like the Pharisees of old; or an idolatrous character, like the ancient Britons, from whom we sprang,—he has evidence in his own breast, that the preaching of Christ is the power of God to the salvation of every one that believes.'
An objection may perhaps arise in the minds of some persons: “If God's word be like a fire,-one of the most powerful agents in nature; and if it be like a hammer, that breaketh even the rock in pieces; and it is sent forth among us; how is it, that many,
who live under the express teaching of the word, have yet nothing like a broken heart, under this powerful hammer? how is it that they are living in a state of imposition on themselves; as if no purifying, penetrating fire had entered their hearts ? how is it that they continue to dream, continue to prefer chaff to the wheat, or at least are. careless whether it be chaff or wheat ? how is this?"
I will answer by asking another question :- Is not a
hammer a powerful instrument? Will the strongest rock stand before the stroke of the hammer ? but will the throwing of the hammer upon the rock do any thing, or throwing down the hammer before it? "No, you say, “certainly not: the hammer might lie for ever on the rock, or lie before it, yet the rock would remain unbroken, for the hammer needs a strong hand : the hammer can do nothing without a workman." So is it with the Word of God ? So far is the fire from penetrating of itself the heart, or the hammer from breaking it in pieces, that the Apostle tells us, the preaching of the Gospel is, in some instances a savour of death unto death: when the Gospel does not soften, it is sometimes known to harden. The preaching of Christ himself made the Pharisees fret, and conspire to put him to death!
Brethren! let us learn, that, as God must spread our table, and give an appetite for the food, and render it nutritious after it is received, so must it be with the precious Word of God. The Holy Spirit must not only kindle the fire, but he must apply it to the heart : the hammer must not only be in his hand, but he must strike with it; and when he strikes with it, then even Legion shall come and sit down at Christ's feet, clothed, and in his right mind ::—then Saul, who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the Church,' shall, under the operation of this fire and this hammer, be sent forth making use of the same instruments: declaring that he can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth him, and that his word shall be the power of God to the salvation of every one whom the Holy Spirit enables to believe. Thus it is said in the cxth Psalm, 'Thy people shall be willing,'—When? 'in the day of thy power.?
Having endeavoured to show you the Vanity of Human Imaginations, and the Energy of Scriptural Truth, let us learn TO FORM A JUST ESTIMATE OF TRUTH AND ERROR.
The truth, wherever God sends it, is no ordinary blessing. I will show you his own account of it, in a remarkable passage in the eighth chapter of the prophecy of Amos: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send a famine in the land--and, surely, this is one of the heaviest afflictions that can be sent on man !_not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord :the sorest of all famines; because the word of the Lord, the hammer, the fire, is the grand instrument of God. While men of the world are admiring their books of science, or their books of amusement, God calls all this chaff : What is chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord ? They embrace these things too much as their portion : what dreams are these ? Oh, that thou hadst known,' says our Lord, weeping over Jerusalem, 'Oh, that thou hadst known, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace!' and the things that belong to our peace may be summed up in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; what he hath done for us in reconciling us to God, and what he hath promised to do by his Spirit in our hearts: for
this,' says he, 'is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
Let us entreat God, then, that our ESTIMATE MAY
Let us learn, first, to form a just estimate: and let us then entreat God that it may be a practical one.
I must insist on this, because the text says, 'He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. How many are going in the broad road to ruin, with their heads filled with notions of truth! How many masters charge their servants to go and hear the Gospel; and, at the same time, set them an example of the word of God having no effect on the heart! How many servants seem to despise those above them, as though they did not know the truth; and, at the same
time, bring disgrace thereon by their idleness, their evil tempers, and even dishonest habits, i hile they profess to know the Gospel of Christ! Let us pray, therefore, that our estimate of the Truth may be practical: for--with a carnal heart and a gospel head, we should fall into the most fatal of all errors.
Oh! that the word of God may this day be as wheat, to nourish; as fire, to penetrate and discover; and as the hammer, to break the rocky heart in pieces ! Grant, O God, that this word may not be a savour of death unto death’ to any! Grant that what is spoken this day to our outward ears, may be written upon every one of our hearts, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
THE FIERY FURNACE.
DANIEL, III, 24, 25. Then Nebuchadnezzar the King was astonished, and rose up in haste,
and spake, and said unto his Counsellors, did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the Fire? They answered and said unto the King, True, O King. He answered, and said, Lo! I see four men, loose, walking in the midst of the Fire; and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
The Book of God abounds in wonders. This history exhibits one of them. A powerful and arbitrary king ordered an idol to be set up, and every one under his authority to bow down to that idol. But some men in his kingdom would not bow down. They durst not.
There is something in the resolution of a servant of God, which may appear to be perverseness and obstinacy, and will be so called by the world: but it is enough if he knows it to be a zeal for God, a true fear, a determination not to go beyond his duty: he may then safely leave all possible consequences with God. He, who would not bow down, was the same hour to be cast into a burning fiery furnace. Yet there were three men in the kingdom, who would endure even that consequence; and therefore they told the king plainly, We are not careful,' or anxious, 'to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve,? is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, o king: but, if not, be it known unto thee, o king, that we will not serve thy gods,