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Title: Sermons for the Day
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1866 Hatchard and Co. edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



                           SERMONS FOR THE DAY.


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                            REV. EDWARD HOARE,
              INCUMBENT OF TRINITY CHURCH, TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                     HATCHARD AND CO. 187 PICCADILLY,
              Booksellers to H. R. H. the Princess of Wales
                          and the Royal Family.

                                  1866.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                    STRANGEWAYS AND WALDEN, PRINTERS,
                       28 Castle St. Leicester Sq.

                                * * * * *



TRANSUBSTANTIATION.


                                 HEB. x. 12.

    “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,
    sat down on the right hand of God.”

WE live in very anxious times.  Different phases of error are following
each other with great rapidity, like waves before the gale on a stormy
sea.  A very short time ago we were deeply distressed by the sceptical
tendencies of certain able writers,—tendencies still in rapid progress,
though public attention has been recently directed into another channel.
Now we are startled by the open declaration of Romish doctrine, and open
practice of Romish ceremonial, by men who have accepted office in a
church which declares these very doctrines to be “blasphemous fables and
dangerous deceits.”  It has become, therefore, absolutely necessary that
we should understand the reasons why the Church of England has separated
from that of Rome, and why it is that we raise our voice against these
innovations.  I am well aware that such a subject is distasteful to many
minds.  Some shrink from the trouble of controversy, and would rather
have their whole attention fixed on that which they find helpful to their
own souls.  Others think it uncharitable; and maintain that, provided a
person be conscientious in his practice, we need feel no anxiety about
the truth or error of his creed.  But I am persuaded that it will not do
so to deal with truth.  These are days in which we must know what we
believe, and why we believe it.  If we desire to stand fast, we must know
our standing-ground.  And if we desire to see our young people growing up
as witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ, we must not merely strive to call
forth in them a religion of feeling, but must train them in sound
Scriptural principles, that they may be able to give an answer to every
one who asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.  The Romish
question is forced upon us by the enormous efforts which the Church of
Rome is making for the recovery of its ancient supremacy in England; and
I must say, and say it with the deepest grief and humiliation, I fear we
have been betrayed, in many cases, by men who, as clergymen of the Church
of England, have pledged themselves to the very principles they are
betraying.  It is high time, therefore, that we should understand the
ground of our solemn protest against Rome, and that we should not merely
study truth in its simplicity, but study it likewise in its opposition to
Romish error.  I purpose, however, God helping me, to direct your
thoughts this morning to one point of the controversy.  I cannot attempt
the many points on which we are at issue.  I confine myself, therefore,
to one; and that is, the teaching of the word of God with reference to
our exalted Saviour, in opposition to the teaching of Rome in the
doctrine of transubstantiation.  May the Lord direct our studies, and
write His own truth most deeply on our hearts!

A glance at the text will show us that it refers to two subjects; the
completeness of the sacrifice offered on the cross, as in the words,
“after He had offered one sacrifice for sin for ever,” and the present
session at the right hand of God; as in the words, “sat down at the right
hand of God.”  It is the second of these that we shall study this
morning.

The words teach us that at the present time our Blessed Lord and Saviour
is at the right hand of God, and they suggest two subjects, His place,
and His employment.

His place, then, is heaven itself; and His seat at the right hand of the
throne of the Father.  In His real human body He has ever been like
ourselves, in one place at one time.  When He was here he passed from
place to place; from Galilee to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to Galilee.
So when Lazarus died He was absent from Bethany, and after his death He
went there.  Just so in His ascension He passed into the heavens, and,
being there, He is as much absent from us in the body as He was absent
from Martha and Mary in their deep anxiety about their brother.  When
present here, in His human person, He was absent there.  Being present
there, He is now absent here. {6}

Then, again, with the place there has been a complete change in His
employment.  He was here to found His kingdom and to make atonement.  He
is there to carry out the results of that atonement and to reign.  His
office was represented by the high priest of old, who first in the outer
court offered the sacrifice, and afterwards went in before the mercy-seat
to sprinkle the blood.  So Christ Jesus here on earth offered Himself as
the sacrifice, and now He is gone into the holy of holies there to
present the blood before the mercy-seat of God.  Thus He is described by
St. Peter (Acts, v. 31) as being exalted to be a “Prince and a Saviour;”
a Prince, because He is exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords; a
Saviour, because as a living friend, He is saving those whom, when on
earth, He redeemed by His blood.  Every passage, therefore, which
describes Him in His present condition, represents Him as in the
possession of living power.  Sometimes He is said to be reigning, as (1
Cor. xv. 25), “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His
feet.”  Sometimes we see Him as the Priest (Heb. iv. 14), “Seeing then
that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus
the Son of God.”  Sometimes He is the Advocate (1 John, ii. 1, 2), “If
any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous;” and sometimes He is the loving Friend, watching the struggles
of His faithful disciples, and waiting to welcome His dying servant in
the solemn moments of his rough and stormy martyrdom.  “Behold,” said
Stephen, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the
right hand of God;” and so, having seen it, he followed up the vision by
the dying prayer, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts, vii. 56.)

Here, then, is our delightful assurance.  We look back to the work of the
cross, and there see the whole burden of all our sin borne by Him, and so
put away for ever.  We ask no further sacrifice, for we know that He made
there upon the cross “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice,
oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world;” and we now
look to our Blessed Saviour as reigning and saving.  Because He reigns we
know that all is rightly ordered, and because He saves we believe that we
ourselves shall be safe for eternity.  We see many things in the world
that are altogether opposed to what we think best; but we know that God
has put all things under His feet, and given Him to be the Head over all
things to His Church; and, therefore, that all is in His hand, and all
will work together for good.  We find deep sin in ourselves, and we know
how hard a thing it is really to walk with God.  We find defect in our
prayers, defect in our faith, defect in our service, defect in our best
efforts, defect everywhere; but we look up to yonder throne, and there we
find a loving Saviour; one who knows our deep need,—one who has died for
us,—one who loves us,—one who can feel with us, and who vouchsafes to act
as our Priest and Advocate, so that in the midst of all our shortcomings
and deficiencies we may, in His Name, and through His most precious
blood, “come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and
find grace to help in time of need.”

Let any one search the Scriptures, and they must be convinced that this
is the truth there plainly taught.  But what can be more palpably
contradictory to it than to suppose that He is present, in body, soul,
and divinity, in the form of the small piece of lifeless bread which we
receive in the Lord’s Supper?  In other words, that there is not only the
one Saviour in heaven at the right hand of God; but that there are two or
three hundred living Saviours collected together on the table every time
that the Lord’s Supper is administered.  I am not surprised if some of
you feel shocked at such a statement, and I know that there is enough to
shock any religious mind.  I am shocked at it myself, and am sorry to
have to make it.  But this is the real teaching of the Church of Rome.
The decree of the Council of Trent is as follows:—“If any man shall say
that the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with his soul
and divinity, and, in short, that a whole Christ, is not contained,
truly, really, and substantially, in the sacrament of the most holy
Eucharist; but shall say that he is in it only in sign, or figure, or
power, let him be anathema.” (Sess. xiii. Can. 1.)  Another decree goes
on to declare, “If any man shall say that in the Holy Sacrament of the
Eucharist, Christ the only begotten Son of God, is not to be adored, and
that outwardly with the worship of latreia, and that he ought not to be
carried solemnly about in processions, or that he ought not to be set
before the people that he may be worshipped, and that the worshippers of
him are idolaters, let him be anathema!” (Sess. xiii. Can. 6.) {10}

The wafer, therefore, or the piece of bread, is here said to be after
consecration nothing less than a real, living Saviour, with body, soul,
and divinity, to be worshipped with that holy, reverential worship which
belongs exclusively to the God of heaven and earth, for that is the
meaning of the word _Latreia_.  There is something very awful in such a
statement.  It shows that there can be no peace with Rome—no compromise,
no middle path.  If they are right, we are awfully wrong.  If we are
right, they are guilty of idolatry.  If all these pieces of bread are
living Saviours, we have been terribly guilty in never worshipping any
one of them; but if, on the other hand, they have remained bread
still—plain, simple, unchanged bread—then we have idolatry of the most
unquestionable character when that bread is exalted by the priest for
adoration, and men fall down and worship it as the living God.

Now, on what does all this tremendous fabric rest?  What is there in the
word of God to warrant it?  What is there in the Scriptures of truth to
give a sanction to such a system?  So far as the word of God is concerned
all hangs on the one text, “This is my body which is given for you: this
do in remembrance of me.”  To these words Romanists appeal again and
again, as if they taught the doctrine, whereas the most cursory study of
the different passages in which they are contained is sufficient to show
that they mean nothing of the kind.

Let me briefly give you four reasons.

1.  The words themselves prove that they are figurative.  Turn to 1 Cor.
xi. 25, where we read: “This cup is the new testament in my blood.”  Is
there any one blind enough to suppose that the cup was changed into the
new testament?  The words must mean that the cup was an emblem of the
covenant.  When our Lord said, “I am the vine,” “I am the door,” “I am
the bread of life,” He did not mean that He was changed into a vine, into
a door, or into bread, but that all these things were emblems of His
work.  So He says of the cup, that it is an emblem of the covenant; and
if we would be consistent interpreters, we must believe also of the bread
that it was declared to be an emblem of the body.

2.  The bread is called bread, and the wine wine, after consecration,
both by our Lord Himself and His Apostles.

In Matt. xxvi. 29, our Lord calls the wine the fruit of the vine after
consecration.

In 1 Cor. x. 17; xi. 26, 27, 28, we are all said to partake of bread:
“Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink
of that cup.”

3.  Even if these words were taken literally, they would not teach the
doctrine of Rome.

I have quoted the passage from Rome in which it says there is “body,
soul, and divinity.”  But what does any one of those passages say about
soul and divinity?  If He had meant to teach us that the bread was
changed into His broken body, what one word is there about the soul, or
the Godhead?  All that is added by Rome, and the whole fabric of
superstition based upon it is without a shadow of foundation in the word
of God.  It is a vast superstructure, but, as far as the teaching of Holy
Scripture is concerned, utterly baseless.

4.  Nay more, it is contrary to the words of our Lord.  The words, as
given by St. Matthew (xxvi. 26–28) were: “And as they were eating, Jesus
took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples,
and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave
thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my
blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of
sins.”  Of the bread, therefore, He said, “This is my body;” and of the
wine, “This is my blood.”  The bread did not represent the body and blood
together, but the body only, and the wine the blood; or, if the doctrine
of transubstantiation were taught, the passage would teach that the bread
was changed into the body, and the wine into the blood.  But the teaching
of Rome defies all such distinctions, though thus plainly laid down by no
less an authority than our Lord Himself, and fearlessly hurls her
anathemas against all who do not believe that the bread, and the bread
alone, is changed into body, blood, soul, and divinity, and becomes, to
use their own expression, “a whole Christ,” to be exalted, carried in
processions, and adored as a living God.  The words themselves, taken
literally, are dead against such a doctrine.  I am not surprised,
therefore, when I read our 28th Article, which says: “Transubstantiation
(or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the
Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words
of Scripture.”  But I am surprised that Christian people in the Church of
England should sit so light as some seem to do to a heresy of so fearful
a character, and that men should be so indifferent to truth as even to
speak of the possibility of peace with Rome.

But now, believing that there is no change whatever in the bread and
wine—that the bread remains bread, and the wine wine, what shall we say
of the practice of adoring the bread as God Himself?  What can we say of
it?  What is our duty to say of it?  I doubt not that some may think me
very uncharitable and bigoted, but these are days in which the truth must
be spoken, and that truth I firmly believe to be that such worship is
idolatry.  I do not doubt that many are sincere and conscientious in
adopting it.  But that does not touch the question.  Sincerity does not
prove truth.  Are there none sincere when they sacrifice their lives
under the car of Juggernaut?  Was not Saul of Tarsus sincere when he
persecuted the Lord Jesus in the persons of His people?  I fully admit
likewise that the worship may in some be based on a deep sense of love
and reverence for our blessed Lord.  But, again, that does not touch the
question.  If it is bread, it is idolatry to worship it as God.  If it be
still a lifeless wafer, it is idolatry to adore it as a living Saviour.
God forbid that I should speak harshly of many who have set us an example
of self-denial; and it is in no harsh spirit that I speak as I do.  We
should rather feel the most tender compassion for conscientious persons,
who have been thus misled.  But whatever we may think of motives, it is
impossible to alter the facts, and I see not how we can avoid the
conclusion that such worship is an awful sin in the sight of God.  It is
almost impossible to turn aside the stern reproof of God by the ministry
of His prophets, Isa. xliv. 16, 17: “He burneth part thereof in the fire;
with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied:
yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:
And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he
falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith,
Deliver me; for thou art my god.”

The sense of reverence may take a wrong as well as a right direction.  It
led John himself to worship an angel, and to bring on himself the severe
reproof which he has so faithfully recorded, and it may lead misguided
men to give that which is not God the worship due to God alone.  But
while we think this, let none fall short in the deepest reverence.  None
can adore Him enough; none can be holy enough in His presence and at His
feet.  But it is the living Saviour at the right hand of God whom we will
adore.  It is the Prince on the throne, the Priest at the right hand of
the Father.  It is the living, reigning, triumphant Saviour, “far above
all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name
that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to
come;” and not a small piece of lifeless bread, which is said to have
been turned into God by the miraculous powers of a priest.



THE MASS.


                                 HEB. x. 12.

    “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,
    sat down on the right hand of God.”

WHEN I drew your attention to this text on Sunday last, I pointed out the
two great subjects contained in it, viz. the work of atonement completed
by our blessed Lord on earth, and His present session at the right hand
of God.  The latter of these we studied on Sunday last, but the former is
of such vast importance to every one of us that it would be wrong to
leave the passage without devoting this morning to the careful
examination of it.

The text stands very near the conclusion of a most important argument, in
which the Apostle has been drawing the contrast between the Jewish
sacrifices under the ceremonial law and the one perfect sacrifice wrought
out for us by the Son of God on the cross.  The contrast commences with
the 25th verse of the 9th chapter, and extends to the 14th verse of the
10th; after which we are led to the practical application of the whole
epistle.  Let us, then, first, carefully study the point of contrast, and
then the reason of it.

I.  The contrast.

The one point brought out in these eighteen verses is, that in the case
of the Jewish sacrifices there was unceasing repetition; and in the case
of our blessed Lord, His one offering was once and for ever.

It is scarcely needful to point out the unceasing repetition of the
Jewish sacrifices.  Not only were they offered on the occasion of every
special fault, but every period of time was marked by them.  The day, the
week, the month, the year—each had its appointed sacrifice.  Not a day,
nor even a night, passed without sin, and therefore there was a sacrifice
each morning for the sins of the night, and another each evening for
those of the day. (Exod. xxix. 38–40.)  Not a week passed without adding
its quota to the accumulating guilt of the sinner, and, therefore,
notwithstanding the daily sacrifices, there was another burnt-offering in
the morning of every sabbath.  (Num. xxviii. 9, 10.)  But,
notwithstanding all this, sin, and the guilt of it, still gathered around
the people, so that at the beginning of each month there was, in
addition, a monthly burnt-offering unto the Lord: “the burnt-offering of
every month through the months of the year.”  (Ibid. 11, 14.)  But sin
gathered still.  Lamb after lamb was brought to the altar, but it seemed
as though nothing could satisfy: for every year, on the tenth day of the
seventh month, there was the great day of atonement for sin; and of the
solemn sacrifices of that great day it was said, “This shall be an
everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of
Israel for all their sins once a-year.”  (Lev. xvi. 34.)  Thus, day after
day, week after week, month after month, year after year, there was an
unceasing system of perpetual sacrifice.  There was no end to the
unceasing shedding of blood.  Sometimes the victim was a bullock,
sometimes a ram, sometimes a goat, sometimes a lamb, and sometimes a pair
of turtle-doves.  But there was always a sacrifice.  There were two every
day, and sometimes many more, besides those which were offered for
special sins.

With all this the Apostle contrasts the one perfect sacrifice of our
blessed Lord, made on the cross once and for ever.  There are no less
than six places in which he brings out this one point, and brings it out
with such clearness that it really seems as if the whole passage was
written as a prophetic safeguard against the doctrine of the mass.  In
Heb. ix. 25, 26, he says: “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as
the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of
others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the
world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away
sin by the sacrifice of himself.”  So in vv. 27, 28, he draws a
comparison between the death of the Lord Jesus and the natural death of
man, and says: “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this
the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and
unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin
unto salvation.”  So that it would be just as absurd to expect men to die
twice, as to believe that there can be any second offering of the Lord
Jesus Christ for sin.  The one death throughout mankind is the type or
pattern of the one Sacrifice once made for sin.  So, again, in x. 10, we
read,—“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the
body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  And again, in vv, 11, 12, St. Paul
returns to the contrast between our Lord and the Jewish priest, and says,
“Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same
sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had
offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of
God.”  And once more, in ver. 14, he sums up all by saying, “By one
offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”  It would
be a matter of deep interest to study carefully the meaning of the word
“perfected” in this most important text.  It does not mean perfect in
personal holiness, _i.e._ in the inward work of the Spirit on the soul;
but perfect in justification: perfect, because the curse was perfectly
blotted out, the law being perfectly satisfied, and the sinner, after
propitiation, perfectly free.  But we must not stop to dwell on that now,
our one point at present is that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was
once, and for ever; and this is most remarkably brought out in the
words,—“By _one_ offering He hath perfected _for ever_ them that are
sanctified.”

The point of contrast, therefore, is this, that in the ceremonial law
there was a multitude of sacrifices day by day, and year by year,
repeated; whereas in the new covenant there was but one, and that one
effectual for ever.  In the one there was multiplicity, in the other
oneness; in the one unceasing repetition, in the other one final act,
which set the whole at rest for ever.  The contrast stands out so plainly
that he may run that readeth it.  Nay, more, it is written with that
perfect clearness, and often-repeated statement, that I confess myself
perfectly unable to comprehend how any person, reading these two
chapters, with a real desire to discover the mind of the Spirit, can
arrive at the conclusion that there can be any repetition of the
sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ under any form whatever, or any
supplementary work of any kind whatever to complete or fill up His one
perfect sacrifice for sin.

II.  Such, then, is the contrast; and now let us turn, in the second
place, to the reason of it.  Why were those ancient sacrifices so often
repeated? and why was ours once and for ever?  The same passage that
brings out the contrast explains the reason of it; and the reason is
that, in themselves, they have no saving power, and that ours has.  They
were ineffectual for the blotting out of sin, but the one offering of our
Blessed Lord was perfectly effectual in the very point where they failed.
There was as great a contrast in respect of efficiency as there was in
respect of frequency; and, in fact, the repetition was the result of
weakness, as the oneness was the result of complete sufficiency.  This
insufficiency is placed in two points of view in the chapter, for we are
there taught, first, that these sacrifices could not take away sin, and,
secondly, that they could not satisfy the conscience.

In x. 3, 4, we are distinctly taught that the one reason why these
sacrifices were repeated was, that it was impossible for them to be
effectual in removing guilt.  “In those sacrifices there is a remembrance
again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of
bulls and of goats should take away sins.”  The dark stain of sin is far
too dreadful a thing to be blotted out by the blood of any animal.  Those
sacrifices did very well as remembrancers.  They were daily reminders,
and daily acknowledgments of guilt; but as for putting it away, they had
no virtue in them, and they were powerless.  They were most important
likewise as types; as helping believers, with the eye of faith, to look
on and trust to the one sufficient sacrifice of the Lord; and so
believers, looking to Christ as represented in the slain lamb, could,
through faith in Him, find pardon and peace to their souls.  But in
themselves they were utterly powerless, for nothing short of the perfect
sacrifice of the Son of God could ever really take away sin.

They could never, therefore, satisfy the conscience; as you read, Heb; x.
1, 2:—“For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the
very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they
offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  For
then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the
worshippers once purged shall have had no more conscience of sins.”

A man might bring any number of lambs, goats, and bullocks, and lay them
all on the altar; but, unless by the eye of faith he looked to Christ, he
would, after all, carry guilt with him in his conscience; and the still
small voice within would bring him in guilty before God.  The sense of
guilt demanded repetition; but unless the heart looked forward, through
that sacrifice, to the coming Christ, no offering, however often
repeated, was sufficient: the conscience remained uneasy still, and the
sense of guilt clung to the soul.

How gloriously different is the one sacrifice of the Son of God!  It, and
it alone, was sufficient for all the sins of the whole world.  The
substitution of the Son of God for the sinner satisfied the whole law,
and cleared away the whole curse.  It not only in God’s counsels removed
the guilt, but it reaches the very depths of the human heart, and gives
peace to the conscience wounded for sin.  Observe the words in ix. 13,
14, as contrasted with those in x. 2.  In x. 2 we are taught, that if
those sacrifices could have purged the conscience, they would have
ceased.  But in ix. 14 we read, that through the sacrifice of our blessed
Lord, this very thing is done; for the Apostle says:—“How much more shall
the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself
without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the
living God?”  The one sacrifice was effective to purge the conscience;
while all the whole multitude of often-repeated offerings left the
conscience just where it was; without rest, without peace, without any
real satisfaction, under the painful pressure of a deeply-felt sin.  Let
us never forget this great result; for it shows that we have that which
the Jew, in his sacrifices taken alone, could never have—a conscience at
rest, a conscience set free, because all sin is blotted out for ever; a
conscience released from its burden, because the Lord Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, was a divinely-appointed substitute for guilt.

Such, then, is the contrast, and such the reason for it.  What, then, are
we to think of the teaching of the Church of Rome when it says,—“In this
divine sacrifice which is performed in the Mass, that same Christ is
contained, and sacrificed without blood, who once, with blood, offered
Himself upon the altar of the Cross?” {27}  And again:—“If any man shall
say that the sacrifice is not propitiatory, and profits the receiver
only, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins,
punishments, satisfaction, and other necessities, let him be anathema?”
Now, what do these passages teach?

1.  That the sacramental bread is changed into the Lord Jesus Christ, the
Living Saviour, God and man.

2.  That whenever the Mass is administered, He, the living Saviour, is
again sacrificed and put to death.

3.  That this sacrifice is a sacrifice of propitiation for sin.  There is
a sacrifice of self-dedication, which every loving heart is required to
offer: as in the words after the Lord’s Supper,—“Here we offer and
present unto Thee ourselves, out souls and bodies, to be a reasonable,
holy, and lively sacrifice unto Thee.”  But in that case the offering is
ourselves, and the motive is not propitiation, but dedication.  According
to the teaching of Rome the offering is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the
object is to make a propitiation for sin.

Now, this is the doctrine that persons are striving to reintroduce into
our land and church.  The real object of this modern movement is to
re-establish the belief in transubstantiation and propitiatory sacrifice.
Those vestments of which we have heard so much are not introduced simply
from a love of ornament and decoration, but they are folds in which to
wrap the doctrine of the Mass; and that doctrine, as I have just stated
it, is, that the bread is first changed into a living Saviour, and then
the living Saviour offered afresh as a propitiation for sin. {29}

Now, such a doctrine seems to me so utterly contrary to all that we are
taught in the Scriptures respecting the perfection and consequent oneness
of the one offering of our Blessed Lord upon the Cross, that I am utterly
unable to comprehend how any person who takes the Scriptures as their
authority can, by any process of mind, be brought to believe it.  As I
have already said, these chapters seem to have been written with a
prophetic reference to it; and I do not hesitate to express my firm and
fixed conviction, that if we mean to abide by God’s word as our guide, we
must protest against the whole movement.  Nor must we allow ourselves to
be led away by the religious feelings of pious and earnest men; or permit
the holy reverence with which, as believing communicants, we regard the
holy communion of the body and blood of Christ, to induce us to think
lightly of a deadly error, even though men make use of it in order,
apparently, to exalt the peculiar sanctity of the sacrament.  We must
stand firm to the great principle of Scripture; the principle for which
our martyred Reformers did not hesitate to shed their life-blood, that
the bread is bread, and the wine wine, after consecration, just as they
were before it; that neither the one nor the other is changed into the
Lord Jesus Christ; that the Lord Jesus Christ is not sacrificed in the
sacrament; and that there never can be, so long as the world lasts, any
further sacrifice for sin.  When the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross,
to use the language of our Church, He “made there (by His one oblation of
Himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice,
oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world:” and, unless
we are prepared to deny the sufficiency of the one complete atonement, we
must set our face with a holy determination against all ideas of
repetition, or perpetuation, of any propitiatory sacrifice for sin.

But we must not leave the matter there, for it is not enough for us to be
deeply convinced that the doctrine of the Mass is opposed to the whole
truth of God, for such a conviction, though it may keep us clear of Rome,
will not, if it be all, bring us to God.  What we want is not merely a
conviction of the truth, but a personal appropriation of it in our own
hearts.  It is a blessed thing to know that a perfect sacrifice has been
offered, and that no further sacrifice is either necessary or possible;
but that knowledge, blessed as it is, may leave the heart dissatisfied,
and the conscience ill at ease.  When that is the case, we cannot be
surprised at persons restlessly feeling after anything that promises
peace; and I believe there is no state of mind in which persons are so
liable to be led away by Rome, as when the conscience is awakened, but
the heart not at rest in Christ the Saviour.  It is when we can look to
that cross of Christ, assured that the atonement there made was
sufficient even for us, and when we can rest in the conviction that,
because the atonement was sufficient, we, even we, are free; and when we
learn to rest, not on feelings, not on sacraments, not on our doings of
any kind whatever, but simply on the great, grand, glorious fact, that a
full propitiation has been made even for the chief of sinners, so that
we, though the chief of sinners, are no longer under the guilt of sin;
then it is that we discover the strength of the rock under our feet, and,
resting on it, we need no other stay.  It is enough, for Christ hath
died, and through Him God is reconciled.  Blessed! oh, blessed that
Christian believer, who can thus rest in a perfect Saviour; and be kept
in perfect peace through the Saviour’s perfect work!



SELF-SACRIFICE.


                                 ROM. xii. 1.

    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye
    present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,
    which is your reasonable service.”

WE studied last Sunday the one perfect and final sacrifice made for the
sins of the whole world, when our Lord Jesus Christ completed our
propitiation on the cross.  We found that that sacrifice differed from
those of the ceremonial law, in the great fact that it was once and for
ever; that it was so perfect, so complete, so fully sufficient to satisfy
the whole claim of the law, that when it was once offered there was no
place left for repetition, perpetuation, or addition.  The veil of the
temple was then rent from the top to the bottom, and there was no space
left for any further rending.  The Lord himself said, “It is finished;”
so the whole was done, and done for ever.

But still we read in Scripture of another sacrifice—a sacrifice which
Christian people are called to offer.  Thus in this text St. Paul says,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service.”  To this appeal the words in our
Communion Service are the Christian’s reply:—“And here we offer and
present unto thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable,
holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.”  It clearly remains, therefore,
for us to examine the character of this second sacrifice, and also its
relationship to the great and perfect sacrifice completed on the cross
for sin.  This, then, if God permit, shall be our subject this morning.
May the Lord dispose our hearts to bring to Him this holy sacrifice, that
we, if we live, may live not unto ourselves, but unto Him “that died for
us, and rose again!”

I.  What, then, is the nature of the sacrifice? or, What is it we are to
offer?  It is not a lamb, or a goat, or a bullock, but, according to the
language of our Communion Service, the offering which we are to render is
ourselves.  “Here we offer and present unto thee ourselves, our souls and
bodies.”  Just so we read of the churches of Macedonia, “that they first
gave their own selves unto the Lord.”  A moment’s thought will suffice to
show that such a sacrifice as this is much more costly than any other.
It would be a light matter to sacrifice a bullock, but it is a very
costly one to sacrifice Self—an easy thing for the wealthy prince to
bring a thousand lambs to the altar, but a hard thing for either rich or
poor to bring his own will to be crucified with Christ.

But here a question will arise in the minds of all those who really
desire to make this sacrifice to the Lord, viz. What does it practically
involve?  What is the real meaning of it?  What will be the practical
result of such a sacrifice in our own life and character?  Some will tell
us that it involves the necessity of conventual life, a separation from
common duties, and the seclusion of a nunnery, or the vows of a
sisterhood.  Let any one read this chapter through, and he will see at a
glance that this is not the meaning of the Apostle.  There are no rules
there for a monastic order, but there are very full directions for common
business, and common life.  All such ideas, therefore, may be dismissed
at once.  That is not the meaning of the sacrifice.  Then, what is?  What
is the sacrifice which we, living at home, are to offer to God?

1.  There must be the sacrifice of our sins.

In this present world we are in a mixed condition, and however truly we
may be walking with God, there is the old man and the old nature left.
It is just the same with us as it was of old with Canaan.  Israel had
taken possession, but the Canaanites were still in the land.  So, even
when the Lord Jesus has taken possession of the heart, there are sins
still abiding there—tempers, lusts, covetousness, selfishness, pride, and
a thousand others—some prevailing in one character and some in another.
Now of all these the Christian man must be prepared to make a
sacrifice—his temper, his pride, his ambition, his covetousness, his
self-love; he must be prepared to bring all to the altar, without mercy
and without reserve.  Thus, in Col. iii. 5, St. Paul addresses those who
are risen with Christ, and says, “Mortify therefore,” or put to death, or
sacrifice, “your members which are of the flesh: fornication,
uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness,
which is idolatry.”  There is no occasion to be shut up within the walls
of a nunnery for this; nor will the walls of a nunnery in the least help
us to it, for they are just as effectual in shutting sin in as in
shutting it out.  Here is work for home life, and for all classes in home
life—for husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants:
we all have our great temptations, so we all have to throw ourselves
heart and soul into the great struggle, and with an unsparing hand deal
resolutely with besetting sin.

2.  But the sacrifice goes farther, and involves the dedication of our
powers to the Lord’s most sacred service.  The text implies this when it
says, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto
God, which is your reasonable service.”  There is clearly, therefore, to
be service,—a service involving the active use of human powers.  In some
cases the body has been actually surrendered to bleed, or burn, in
martyrdom.  Many a noble man of God has given his body to be burnt rather
than acknowledge the doctrine of the Mass.  To this, however, we are not
called.  But still there may be sacrifice without martyrdom, dedication
without death, and such a surrender of the living powers as may
correspond to the description, “That they which live should not
henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him that died for them, and
rose again.”  This is the secret of the missionary spirit; this it is
which has led some of the noblest young men in our Universities to
abandon all home prospects, and to devote their whole lives to the great
work of proclaiming Christ in distant lands.  This, again, is the spirit
that at this present time is stirring thousands of our own people at
home, devoted men and devoted women, to spend their lives labouring for
God, helping the poor, comforting the afflicted, nursing the sick, and
striving in every possible way to make known the sweetness of the sacred
Name which has brought life and peace to their own souls.

3.  Once more: the sacrifice involves the free gift of money.  Money with
most men lies very near the heart.  Open the heart, and you open the
purse.  Let the heart become dull, lifeless, cold, and unfeeling, and the
purse soon closes.  Thus the sacrifice of Self is almost sure to lead to
the offering of money.  Cold hearts give little; but when the heart is
full the offerings flow freely.  The men of Macedonia were poor people,
but no sooner had they given their own selves to the Lord than “the
abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty, abounded unto the riches
of their liberality.”  Now these offerings are described in the
Scriptures as a sacrifice to God.  St. Paul alludes to them, in Philip,
iv. 18.  It is not perfectly clear whether he alludes to a contribution
towards his own maintenance, or to the collection in which he took so
deep an interest for the poor saints in Jerusalem; but, either way, he
describes the offerings as an odour of a sweet smell, a “sacrifice
acceptable, well pleasing to God.”  This gives a delightful view of
contributions in a right spirit for the service of the Lord.  It shows
that the free and generous giver thereby offers a sacrifice well pleasing
to God.  It rebukes at the same time the niggardly and parsimonious
spirit, the spirit that gives reluctantly, and complains of many calls.
Yet I verily believe that to give freely can scarcely be called a
sacrifice, for no money gives so much pleasure as that freely offered to
the Lord’s service; and no people enjoy property so much as they do who
are free and open-hearted givers.  I have not the slightest hesitation,
therefore, in appealing to you for free and generous offerings, for I can
say as St. Paul said (Philip, iv. 17), “I desire fruit that may abound to
your account;” and I am thoroughly persuaded, that no person who is
induced to give freely will ever repent of “a sacrifice acceptable and
well pleasing to God.”

II.  We may turn, then, to our second subject, the relationship of this
sacrifice to the great and perfect sacrifice offered once and for ever on
the cross.

One thing is perfectly clear, that these sacrifices are not a supplement
to the one great sacrifice for sin.  They are not intended to supply any
deficiency in the great work of our Blessed Lord.  There is no deficiency
there; and if there were, nothing that we could do would supply it.
There is no deficiency, for by the “one offering He hath perfected for
ever them that are sanctified.”  And if there were deficiency, how could
man supply it?  Is there not something dreadful in the thought of a
patchwork atonement, partly by the Son of God and partly by man; partly
perfect, and partly imperfect; partly pure in all the infinite purity of
God, and partly defiled with all the defilements of a fallen and sinful
manhood?  No! the propitiation is perfect, unmixed, and undefiled for
ever.  It is the sacrifice of the Son of God, and it stands alone for all
eternity.

Nor, again, is this sacrifice the means whereby the great sacrifice is
applied to the soul.  This is a more common idea than the other, and one
prevailing among many who are thoroughly opposed to Popery.  It is in
harmony with human nature to suppose that we must make our sacrifice in
order to gain a share of the blessings of His.  Thus people will
sometimes give up, first one thing, and then another, hoping by these
sacrifices to find peace through the blood of atonement of the Lord Jesus
Christ.  They have no idea of being saved through anything but the great
sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ; but they consider that they must make
their sacrifice in order to secure the application of his work to
themselves.  This is the principle of almost all self-imposed
mortifications.  People hope through them to be partakers of
reconciliation through the great atonement.  Yet none of these things
satisfy the soul.  I have myself known persons who have resolutely made
the effort, but utterly failed.  They have become anxious about their
soul, and set to work to reach the cross of Christ by personal
self-denial.  They have given up their different pursuits one by one; but
at length they have found that nothing has done them any good.  They have
been just as far from the peace of reconciliation as they were the day
they began.  None of these sacrifices had helped them in the least.  No,
and none could help them.  Nothing could help them but a free
justification through faith, and faith alone; and that, thank God! at
last they have found sufficient.  And so will every other guilty sinner
who throws himself in utter helplessness, to be freely forgiven, and
freely saved, by the great grace of God in Christ Jesus.  Let none
suppose, then, that any sacrifice which we can render can ever make us
partakers of the great salvation once purchased by the one sacrifice of
the Lord Jesus Christ.  This salvation is given on altogether different
terms.  It is given as a free gift to those who can produce nothing; a
gift bestowed in unfettered mercy on those who can only say, in the
language of the hymn:—

    “Nothing in my hand I bring:
    Simply to Thy cross I cling.”

What, then, is the relationship between our sacrifice and His? and how
are they connected?  There can be no doubt on this subject if we turn to
the text, where we read, “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.”  It is, therefore, the
deep sense of unmerited mercy that is to call out the willing sacrifice
from a saved and thankful people.  This is just how it stands in our
Communion Service.  We first come with the confession of sin; we then
partake of the sacred feast; and seek, by God’s grace, to realise in
living faith the body broken and the blood shed for our sins; after
which, but not before, we “offer and present to Him ourselves, our souls
and our bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Him.”
Our sacrifice, therefore, is the result of our deep sense of unmerited
mercy shown in His perfect sacrifice on the cross.  It is a sacrifice of
praise and thanksgiving.  It is the willing offering of those who have
found mercy, and are most deeply and humbly thankful for it.

This, then, being the case, we see at once why there is not more
self-sacrifice for God.  The reason clearly is, that there is a want of
the deep sense of mercy.  The sacrifice of Christ is not sufficiently
realised, and the result is that the self-sacrifice is withheld.  I fear
there is a great want of self-sacrifice even among those who hold the
truth.  Surely there are many whose religion never costs them any real
personal self-denial.  They pass through life easily and respectably, but
refer matters more to their own inclination than to the call of God.
They are more ready to pay others to work than to work themselves, and
are prone to stand aloof from distasteful service, if, as they say, it
does not suit them; or, as they might say, they do not like it.  So,
again, but few deny themselves in giving, and though many are liberal,
there are few whose personal comforts are really diminished by their
liberality.  Now, why is this? and how is it that the great salvation has
not more power over us?  Is it not that the salvation itself is not
enough felt and appreciated?  It is true of us, as it was of the
Corinthians, that “we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who,
though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His
poverty might be rich.”  But though we know it, we do not deeply feel it.
It is like paint lying on the surface, but it is not burnt into us, so as
to become part and parcel of ourselves.  Everything may be correct; our
doctrine scriptural, and our principles sound: but neither one nor the
other has gone home to the inmost soul with such power that we have
learned to “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge
of Christ Jesus our Lord.”  What is it, then, that we want?  What must
lie at the root of all?  A more powerful sense of mercy, a deeper
conviction of need, a clearer perception of what Christ has done for us,
a more thorough appreciation of His perfect sacrifice; and when that is
given, we shall be better able to understand the appeal,—“I beseech you
therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
service.”



THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.


                              2 COR. v. 18, 19.

    “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by
    Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to
    wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not
    imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the
    word of reconciliation.”

IN every work carried on by man we are perfectly certain to meet with
human infirmity, and human error; and the work of the ministry forms no
exception to the rule.  It is carried on by common men, with common flesh
and blood, exposed to the common temptations of common life, so that we
are sure to find in it the common failures of our common humanity.  Yet,
with all this, it fills a most important place in the life of all of us.
It not only imparts a distinctive character to our public worship, but it
reaches our home life; so that there is not a family in a parish that is
not, in some way or other, more or less affected by the ministry in the
Church.  The influence may not always be for good, but it always exists.
In some cases it may be simply negative, and actually do harm by not
doing good.  In some cases it may be positively mischievous, as when it
is made the means for the dissemination of deadly error.  While in many
it is made God’s means for conferring incalculable blessings; so that
through it the young are instructed, the careless awakened, inquirers
directed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the children of God confirmed in
faith and aroused to holy energy for their Lord.  The position of a
clergyman is such that the influence of his ministry is sure to be felt
throughout his parish.  He has the sacred privilege of leading the
worship of the religious portion of his people.  They are all brought
into contact with his office, and all are, some way or other, affected by
the manner in which that office is fulfilled.

It follows, therefore, that the subject of the ministry is one respecting
which it is of great importance that our views should be scriptural.  And
yet, for obvious reasons, it is one seldom preached upon.  The great
object of the servant of the Lord is to throw Self out of sight; and it
is so hard to disconnect the office from the office bearer, that too
little is often said about the office from the fear that too much
attention should be drawn to the man.  It will be well, therefore, for us
to take the subject of the ministry for our careful study this morning.
And may God enable me so to speak, and you so to hear, that we may all
receive God’s word in faith, and may, together, be compacted as a holy
people in the Lord!

It is, of course, impossible to attempt a discussion of the whole
subject, so that we must confine our thoughts to the lessons from this
one passage,—“He hath committed to us the ministry of reconciliation;”
and there will be in it quite sufficient important matter, as the words
will suggest three most important points,—the authority of the ministry,
the object of the ministry, and the means by which that object is
accomplished.

I.  On the _authority_ of the ministry this text is perfectly clear; for
the Apostle traces it to no human source when he says, “All things are of
God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to
us the ministry of reconciliation.”  The ministry, therefore, is a gift
from God, and not a plan of human contrivance.  It is not an arrangement
adopted by the great Christian society as a means for its own
improvement, but it is an institution by the authority of the Founder of
that society, God Himself.  Both the office and the men are gifts from
God.  In this passage he speaks of the office, and says, “God hath given
us the ministry of reconciliation;” and in v. 19, “hath committed to us
the word of reconciliation.”  The men, therefore, received their office
from their God.  Just so he said to Archippus (Col. iv. 17), “Take heed
to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil
it.”  But perhaps the most striking passage on this subject is St. Paul’s
address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus, in Acts, xx. 28; for he
there teaches not merely that the ministry in general was given to these
elders, but that they had been made by the Holy Ghost overseers of that
particular people amongst whom they were called to labour.  “Take heed,
therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy
Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which He hath
purchased with His own blood.”  Now, bear in mind that these persons were
not apostles, nor persons holding any extraordinary office, as some did
in those early days, but ordinary clergymen; some, probably, ordained by
St. Paul himself, and some by Timothy, appointed to labour together
amongst the rapidly increasing church in the large heathen town; and mark
well the fact, that the Apostle does not say, “To which I appointed you,”
or “to which Timothy appointed you,” but he regards the appointment as
from God Himself, and says, “Whereof the Holy Ghost hath made you
overseers.”

I verily believe that the fact of this Divine appointment of the ministry
is too often forgotten; and that thereby God’s people—and more
particularly God’s faithful ministers—often miss the great encouragement
to be derived from it.  There is a tendency in some minds to suppose that
God gives a special blessing on irregular efforts, and that the stated
ministry of God’s word in church is not accompanied by the same blessing
as the preaching of laymen in town-halls, iron-rooms, and theatres.  God
forbid that I should speak with the smallest disrespect of these
irregular efforts, for I rejoice in the zeal of those who make them, and
I firmly believe that in many cases God has greatly blessed them; so
that, if only these gentlemen would but be content to act with God’s
appointed ministry, instead of taking their own course entirely
independent of it, I believe we might, with great advantage to ourselves
and our people, avail ourselves of their devotedness and power.  But it
would be a sin to believe that God’s blessing is limited in any way to
that which is irregular; that the only fleece on which the dew fails to
distil is that which He Himself has placed to catch it.  If He Himself
has given us our ministry, if He has made us overseers of the flock, it
would be doubting the fundamental principles of Divine fidelity to
believe that having called us, having placed us, and having Himself given
us our great commission, He would leave us to struggle on alone,
untaught, unaided, and unblessed by the presence and power of the Holy
Ghost.  We may apply to the ministry what St. Paul says to the
Christian,—“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it;” and
all of us, whether ministers or people, while we look for great gifts,
great blessings, and great results, may rest assured that God is
faithful, and will never leave those whom He Himself has appointed for
His work.

II.  This then being, I trust, clear, our next subject will be the object
of the ministry; and this is taught very clearly in the words,—“The
ministry of reconciliation.”  The reconciliation of the sinner to God is
the great result, to attain which God founded the ministry.  The question
has been raised whether, by the reconciliation here mentioned, is meant
the reconciliation of God to the sinner, or the reconciliation of the
sinner to God.  Surely both are included.  In our guilty and ruined
condition there is a double enmity.  Man, through his corruption, is at
enmity with God; and God, through His righteousness, is at enmity with
rebellious man.  And as there is a double enmity through sin, so,
likewise, is there a double reconciliation through Christ.  God, His law
being satisfied, is reconciled to the sinner; and the sinner, his heart
being changed, is reconciled unto God.

The reconciliation of God to the sinner has been wrought out for us by
the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the great work of God incarnate, and He
wrought it alone, in His great sacrifice of propitiation.  Of this part
of the work, therefore, the Apostle says,—“To wit, that God was in
Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”

This, then, is the mighty work of God in Christ: and this passage proves
its nature; and shows that it consists, not in the change of disposition
in man, but in the non-imputation of sin on the part of God,—“To wit,
that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing
their trespasses unto them.”  You observe that the words teach that there
were trespasses and real guilt: such trespasses that, if they were
imputed, or allowed to stand for the condemnation of the sinner, there
could be no reconciliation, and the sinner must die.  But God in Christ
does not impute our trespasses unto us: and, therefore, the barrier is
removed; and in Him there is complete reconciliation.  But we have not
yet done with the subject; for the question arises, How is it consistent
with the righteousness of God, that He should thus not impute trespasses
to those who are really guilty?  What has become of His government, if
real guilt is not reckoned to the real sinner?  The question is answered
in v. 21: for we are there taught that guilt is not imputed to us,
because, in the marvellous counsel of God, it has been imputed to the
Lord Jesus Christ in our stead: for look at his words,—“For He hath made
Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the
righteousness of God in Him.”  There is no explanation of this passage,
except that He who knew no sin was reckoned sinful, in order that we, who
are deeply sunk in sin, might be reckoned righteous.  Sin is not imputed
to man; because the Lord Jesus Christ became our substitute; and it has
been imputed to Him in our stead.

Now all this is complete—it is finished; it was a Divine act, and man can
add nothing to it.  But, notwithstanding all this boundless mercy, man
remains unchanged—a sinner still, and an alien from God.  Though by
atonement God is legally reconciled to him, he remains, through ignorance
and hardness of heart, unreconciled to God; as far from life, therefore,
as if nothing had ever been done for his salvation.  And now you see at
once the office of the ministry.  The minister of reconciliation is to be
the bearer to his fellow-sinners of the great reconciliation wrought out
for us in Christ Jesus.  He is employed by the Holy Ghost as a human
instrument for bringing those who are still unreconciled into the sacred
privilege of reconciliation with God.  Sinners reconciled to God,
therefore, are the great result of the ministry.  It is very delightful
to see a full church and attentive congregation; very encouraging to see
large schools well taught and well filled—a very great cause of
thankfulness to see kindness and good feeling prevailing in a parish.
But all these things fall short of the great result.  The real result is
the reconciliation of precious souls to the Lord Jesus Christ by the
blood of atonement shed for their sins on the cross.  The real result is
conversion to God, a new birth by the power of the Holy Ghost; and if
that be wanting, though all beside seem prosperous, the minister of
reconciliation should be brought on his knees with great searching of
heart, and never rest till he can look on precious souls reconciled to
God, to whom he may say, as St. Paul did to the Corinthians, “Such were
some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

III.  But our third question still remains,—“In what way, or by what
means, is this great object to be attained?”  I am, of course, speaking
of the human instruments, and not of the sovereign power of God the Holy
Ghost, without whom nothing is strong, and nothing holy.

One thing is perfectly clear.  It is not done by the offering of any
fresh sacrifice.  This was the chief duty of the Jewish priests, but it
forms no part of that of the Christian minister.  From one end of the New
Testament to the other you can find no allusion to any such thing as a
Christian sacrifice for sin.  The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ
was once and for ever, final, complete, and sufficient for all the sins
of the whole world.  The work of sacrifice is finished, as we are taught
in the words, “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto
himself;” and if there can be no sacrifice, it is perfectly plain that
there can be no sacrificing priest.  Nor can the idea be gathered from
the Prayer-book any more than it can from the New Testament.  There is
not an allusion there, either to a sacrifice or a sacrificing priest,
except where it says, in Art. xxxi., “The sacrifices of masses, in the
which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ for the quick
and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables
and dangerous deceits.”  There is no Christian sacrifice recognised by
the Church of England but the thankful dedication of heart and life on
the part of those who have been saved by the sacrifice of the Lord.  But
this sacrifice requires no priest to offer it.  It may rise at any
moment, and from any place, from the depths of any thankful heart.  Thus,
according to our Communion Service, all offer it together, and the whole
congregation having together met around their Father’s table, and
together tasted the joys of their Father’s love, together bring their
sacrifice, and say, “Here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord,
ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living
sacrifice unto thee.”

Again: it is not the office of the minister to forgive sins.  If our
Lord, in His words of John xx. 23, had really connected such a power with
the ministry of reconciliation, it is most extraordinary that in all the
many portions of the New Testament which relate to the ministry there is
no allusion to it.  There are three whole Epistles directed exclusively
to the chief pastors of the Church, besides several addresses to
presbyters both in the Acts and Epistles; and is it not a most remarkable
fact, that there is not a single allusion in any one of these passages or
epistles to the forgiveness of sins, as forming a portion of the ministry
of reconciliation?  There are full directions respecting preaching,
praying, reproving, instructing, and behaviour to all the different
classes of the flock, but of forgiveness of sin by the minister, not one
word can you find anywhere; and yet forgiveness itself is the great
subject of the whole New Testament.  But it is always traced at once,
without any intermediate mediation, to the Lord Himself.  It is always
ascribed to His blood, His redemption, and His grace, and is never once
connected in any way with any power of forgiveness bestowed by a priest.
I am not now dwelling on any one particular passage, but rather on the
omission of the whole subject from the word of God; and I cannot but
think that that omission is a proof, beyond contradiction, that the
Apostles, writing by inspiration, did not understand our Lord as teaching
in these words that the forgiveness of sin by a priest formed any part of
the ministry of reconciliation.

But I do not deny that the text is one of considerable difficulty.  The
first great difficulty is to ascertain to whom the words were spoken.
From Luke, xxiv. 33, we find that the persons present were “the eleven,
and them that were with them;” and there is nothing in the record to
decide whether the words were addressed to the eleven Apostles
separately, or to the whole company—including, of course, laymen and
women.  My own belief is, that they were addressed to the eleven
separately, and conveyed a special judicial power to these inspired men.
That they possessed such a power is clear from history; for when Peter
retained the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, God ratified his decision by
their death; and when St. Paul passed sentence on the incestuous person
at Corinth, he clearly claimed a supernatural power of judgment when he
said (1 Cor. v. 3–5), “For I verily, as absent in body but present in
spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him
that hath so done this deed.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when
ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus
Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the
flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  So
when he remitted the same sentence he clearly claimed special right to do
so; as he said, “If I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your
sakes forgave I it, in the person of Christ.”  But if this were the case,
and if the power was given to the Apostles as a part of their apostolic
office, it follows that with the Apostles it must have ceased for ever.
Accordingly, in our Lord’s words there is not the smallest hint at
transmission; and as for the idea that the Apostles could transmit it to
the Bishops, and the Bishops to the Presbyters, it is altogether without
foundation in the word of God.  In fact, the case of the Corinthians
proves clearly that it was not so transmitted.  There cannot be a doubt,
that when the epistle was written there were Presbyters in the Church of
Corinth; and it is clear that Titus had just been there on a special
mission, for he it was who brought to St. Paul the tidings of the
repentance of the Corinthians (2 Cor. vii. 6, 7, and xii. 17, 18).  But
yet none of these persons appear to have had a transmitted power.  It was
necessary to refer the case to St. Paul himself.  He retained and he
remitted; and he did both “in the person of Christ.”

But our Lord’s words may have been addressed to the whole company; and if
so, the laity, and even the women, had as great a share in them as any
others.  Now, no one supposes that every Christian has the power of
forgiving sin; and the only way of understanding our Lord’s language is
to regard His words as conveying to His Church the power of Christian
discipline.  It is clear that such a power is essential to the well-being
of the body; for the Church would cease to be a Church if its most sacred
privileges were open indiscriminately to all kinds of characters.  There
must be the right of excluding the wicked, of admitting converts, of
excommunicating those who disgrace their profession, and of restoring
such persons when the Church is satisfied respecting their repentance.
But this authority, if it is not given here, is given nowhere.  When our
Lord said, as we read in Matt. xviii. 18, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on
earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth
shall be loosed in heaven;” He gave His disciples the power of regulating
Church order; and it is reasonable to suppose that in these words He
gives a similar authority with reference to persons, for in the one
passage it says “whatsoever,” and in the other “whomsoever.”

In support of this view of the passage it should be observed, that He
does not say that the sins are remitted in heaven, or by God, or by
Himself; but simply says they are remitted, as though He had said, “I
give you full authority to decide; and when you do so, the decision is
final.”  If this be the true view of the passage, we can perfectly
understand the use of it in the Ordination Service.  The whole Church
cannot exercise this power, and must depute it to executive officers.
These officers are the elders, or presbyters, or priests; and, therefore,
when they are ordained, the Bishop first asks them, “Will you give your
faithful diligence always so to administer the doctrine, and sacraments,
and discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and as this Church
and nation hath received the same?”  And after the commission has been
given he adds, “And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and
of His holy Sacraments.”

We see, then, that the ministry of reconciliation is neither by
sacrifice, nor by priestly forgiveness; but we have still to consider by
what means the great work is carried on.

For the decision of this point, let us compare the 18th and 19th verses.
In v. 18 we read,—“God hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
But in v. 19 there is a slight variation; but one of great importance in
the exposition of the passage; for we there find—“Hath committed to us
the word of reconciliation.”  The word of reconciliation, therefore, is
the substance of the ministry: the grand work is to make known the
perfect reconciliation wrought out for us in Christ Jesus, to act on the
example set us by St. Paul himself, when he burst out in the grand appeal
which follows, and said,—“Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ.  As
though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye
reconciled unto God.”

But this ministry of the word of reconciliation will vary according to
circumstances.

Sometimes it will be necessary to apply it to individuals, when the
conscience is troubled by the conviction of sin.  Our Church alludes to
this in two passages often referred to.  The first is from the close of
the invitation to the Lord’s Supper,—“And because it is requisite that no
man should come to the Holy Communion but with a full trust in God’s
mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you,
who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth
further counsel or comfort, let him come to me, or to some other discreet
and learned minister of God’s word, and open his grief: that by the
ministry of God’s holy word he may receive the benefit of absolution,
together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his
conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.”

The second is from the rubric in the service for the Visitation of the
Sick, where we read—“Here shall the sick person be moved to make a
special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with
any weighty matter.”

It is clear at a glance, that there is no allusion in either of these
passages to general or habitual confession; and that the case
contemplated is that of a person troubled by some particular sin weighing
on the conscience, and keeping the soul from peace.  It is just in such a
case that the ministry of the word is required for the help of the
individual; and that something more is wanted than the general preaching
of the truth.  Such a person requires the Gospel to be applied to his own
particular anxiety, in order that he may be assured of God’s forgiveness
of that particular sin which keeps his soul in trouble.  It is this
assurance which is called in the Prayer-book “absolution.”  There is a
vast difference between a judicial act of forgiveness, and a declaration
or assurance of the forgiveness by God.  Thus, to “absolve” is not to
“forgive,” but to assure the troubled heart of the full forgiveness,
freely granted, by the Lord Himself. {64}  Nothing can be clearer than
this distinction in the absolution in the service for the Visitation of
the Sick.  “Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His Church to
absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great
mercy forgive thee thine offences: and by His authority, committed to me,
I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.”

In that passage it is perfectly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ is said
to forgive, and the Church to absolve.  The change of words is most
remarkable, and clearly proves the doctrine.  The Church is said to have
power to absolve; and the Lord Jesus Christ is entreated to forgive.  The
minister, therefore, absolves, and at the same time prays that the Lord
may forgive: and who can doubt that, when the troubled heart truly
repents and believes in Him, the prayer is answered, the forgiveness
granted, and the absolution, or declaration, ratified in heaven?

And let me add, that I believe there are many troubled consciences who
would find great assistance in their difficulties if they acted more on
the advice of the Communion Service.  It is a hard thing to bear a burden
alone, and I am thoroughly persuaded there are many who might find great
help under serious and painful difficulties from the confidential opening
of the heart’s wound to a clergyman or Christian friend.  I have known
many such cases, and I believe that our just dread of the Romish
confessional—and no one can dread it more than I do—combined with our
national shyness of character, cuts off many from that which might be an
important help to them in their anxious struggle for the peace of God.

But the ministry of the word must also have its public character, and the
glad tidings of reconciliation must be publicly preached to a ruined
world.  It was this that appeared to be the prominent idea in the
Apostle’s mind when he spoke of the ministry of reconciliation; for he at
once proceeded to give a specimen of it in the great appeal which
immediately follows:—“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though
God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye
reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no
sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. v.
20, 21.)

There are many points of deep instruction in this passage, but we have
not time to dwell on them.  Here is the foundation of the whole message,
viz. a double imputation—the imputation of sin to the Lord Jesus, and the
imputation of righteousness to all that are in Him.  There is the tender
earnestness of entreaty, which does not merely lay the message before the
sinner and leave it there, but with a compassionate urgency in the Lord’s
name beseeches and entreats.  And there is the most remarkable fact, that
these words are not addressed to the heathen, or to those who had never
heard of Christ; but to a Church of professing believers, all baptized
into the name of Jesus: so that we are brought to the conclusion, that
amongst the baptized Christians in the Church of Corinth there were those
to whom it was still needful to make the appeal—“We beseech you in
Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”  Does not that fact teach us,
that amongst ourselves the same message may be equally necessary, and
that, although we are all baptized, and all professing Christians, there
are yet those amongst us who must be brought back to the great elementary
question of their reconciliation to God; for they are not yet reconciled,
and not yet accepted through His grace?  To all such persons, then, must
we speak as St. Paul did; and if any present are not yet reconciled, not
yet forgiven, not yet justified before God, look, we beseech you, at the
cross of Christ; look at His substitution of Himself for sinners; look at
the hope of full forgiveness set before you through His blood; and
listen, I implore you, to the words spoken by His own authority,—“As
though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye
reconciled to God.”

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

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                    STRANGEWAYS AND WALDEN, PRINTERS,
                       28 Castle St. Leicester Sq.

                                * * * * *



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FOOTNOTES.


{6}  See Hooker, Book v. Secs. 50–56.

{10}  Many passages might be quoted from the writings and sermons of the
modern ritualistic school which are identical in doctrine with these
decrees; as, for example, the following passage from the _Directorium
Anglicanum_, where the contrast is drawn between our Lord’s spiritual
presence with us in prayer, and Divine and human presence on the
altar:—“Our Blessed Lord, still present in His Divine and human nature in
the Holy Eucharist on the altars of His Church, still spiritually present
at the common prayers.”—PREF. p. 8.

{27}  Council of Trent, sess. xxii. 2.

{29}  In the preface to the _Directorium Anglicanum_ it is said,—“And if
in the sacrament of the altar some things strike the eye as graceful and
beautiful, it is well; but this is not their object.  The one aim is to
offer the Holy Sacrifice in a worthy manner to Almighty God.”—P. x.

{64}  Johnson’s definition of the words “To absolve” is, “To pronounce
sin remitted in the ecclesiastical sense.”





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