The World's Great Sermons, Volume 5: Guthrie to Mozley online

. (page 7 of 13)
Online LibraryVariousThe World's Great Sermons, Volume 5: Guthrie to Mozley → online text (page 7 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

crucified. Knowing Him alone, He will sustain you as fully as if He
knew you alone. He will come to you in this temple as frequently
as if He had no other servants to befriend. He will listen to your
prayers as intently as if no supplications came up to Him from
other altars, and He will intercede for you as entirely as if He
interceded in behalf of no one else; for remember, that when He
hung upon the cross, He thought of you, and died for you, just as
fully as if He had been determined to think of no one, and to die
for no one, save you, whom He now calls to the solemn service of
consecrating your own souls, and your "holy and beautiful house" to
the glory of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.




MATTHEW SIMPSON, Methodist Episcopal Bishop, was born at Cadiz,
Ohio, in 1810. He early distinguished himself as an orator, his
style being that of spontaneous unpremeditated eloquence, in which
he carried his congregation to heights of spiritual fervor and
enthusiasm. He visited Europe in 1878 as delegate to the World's
Evangelical Alliance in Berlin, which served to widen his reputation
as a public speaker. He officiated at the funeral of Abraham Lincoln
at Springfield, Illinois. His "Lectures on Preaching" delivered
before the divinity students at Yale have been widely read. He died
in 1884.




_But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits
of them that slept._ - 1 Cor. xv., 20.

A little more than eighteen hundred years ago, as the light of the
morning was breaking around the walls of Jerusalem, there was a
guard placed about a sepulcher in a small garden near the walls
of the city. They were guarding a grave. Some strange scenes had
occurred on the Friday before. While a man whom they had taken from
the hills of Galilee and around the little lake of Capernaum had
been hanging on the cross crucified as a malefactor, strange signs
appeared in the heavens, and on the earth and in the temple.

It was rumored that he had said he would rise the third morning.
The third morning was coming, and as the light began to break in
the East, there came two women silently and sadly wending their way
among the tents that were pitched all around the city of Jerusalem;
they had sojourned all night in the tents, for as yet the gates of
the city had not been opened. They came to see the sepulcher and
were bringing spices in their hands. They loved the man who had been
crucified as a malefactor, because of his goodness, his purity, and
his compassion. They seemed to be almost the only hearts on earth
that did love him deeply, save the small circle of friends who had
gathered around him. There had been curses upon his head as he hung
on the cross - curses from the by-standers, curses from the soldiers,
curses from the people. They cried: "Away with him; his blood be on
us and on our children!" and on that morning there were none but a
few feeble, obscure, heart-broken friends that dared to come near
his grave.

A little more than eighteen hundred years have passed and on the
anniversary of that day, the morning of the first day of the week,
the first Sabbath after the full moon and the vernal equinox, at the
same season, the whole world comes to visit that grave. The eyes of
princes and of statesmen, the eyes of the poor and the humble in all
parts of the earth are turned toward that sepulcher.

All through Europe men and women are thinking of that grave and of
Him who lay in it. All over western lands, from ocean to ocean, on
mountain top and in valley, over broad prairies and deep ravines,
the eyes and hearts of the people are gathered round that grave. In
the darkness of Africa, here and there, we see them stretching out
their hands toward it. Along the coasts of India and the heights of
the Himalayas they have heard of that grave and are bending toward
it. The Chinese, laying aside their prejudices, have turned their
eyes westward and are looking toward that sepulcher. Along the
shores of the seas, over the mountain tops and in the valleys, the
hearts of the people have not only been gathering around that grave,
but they have caught a glimpse of the rising inmate who ascended in
His glory toward heaven.

The song of jubilee has gone forth, and the old men are saying, "The
Lord is risen from the dead." The young men and matrons catch up the
glowing theme, and the little children around our festive boards,
scarcely comprehending the source of their joy, with glad hearts
are now joyful, because Jesus has risen from the dead. All over the
earth tidings of joy have gone forth, and as the valleys have been
ringing out their praises on this bright Sabbath morning how many
hearts have been singing -

"Our Jesus is going up on high!"

Why this change? What hath produced such a wonderful difference in
public feeling? The malefactor once curst, now honored; the obscure
and despised, now sought for; the rising Redeemer, not then regarded
by men, now universally worshiped. What is the cause of this great
change? - how brought about? The subject of this morning, taken from
the associations of this day, call us to consider as briefly as we
may the fact of the resurrection of Christ from the dead and some of
the consequences which flow to us from that resurrection.

It is important for us to fix clearly in our minds the fact that
this is one reason why such days are remembered in the annals of
the Church as well as in the annals of nations; for our faith
rests on facts, and the mind should clearly embrace the facts
that we may feel that we are standing on firm ground. This fact
of the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the Christian
system; for the apostle says: "And if Christ be not raised, your
faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins; then they also which are
fallen asleep in Christ will perish." If Christ be not risen, we
shall never see the fathers and the mothers who have fallen asleep
in Jesus; we shall never see the little ones who have gone up to
be, as we believe, angels before the throne of God. If Christ be
not raised, we are of all men the most miserable, because we are
fancying future enjoyment, which never can be realized; but if
Christ be raised, then shall we also rise, and them that sleep in
Jesus will God bring with Him. And that our minds may rest as to the
fact of Christ's resurrection, let us notice how God hath arranged
the evidences to secure the knowledge of this fact clearly to man.

The first point to which our attention is invited is the fact of
Christ's death. Were not this fact clearly established it would
be in vain to try to prove His resurrection from the dead. Christ
might have suffered for man in some obscure place; He might have
laid down His life as a ransom, and yet there would have been
no legal evidence of it. God allowed the wrath of man to become
the instrument of praising Him, in that He suffered Christ to be
taken under what was then the legal process - arrested first by
the great council of the Jews, and then by the authority of the
Roman governor, so that the matter became of public record - a
legal transaction. The highest power, both of the Jewish and Roman
governments, united in this fact of His arrest, His trial, and His
condemnation to death.

Not only was this permitted, but the time of the occurrence was
wisely arranged. It was at the feast of the Jews, the Passover, when
all the Jews came up to keep the Passover. They came not only from
Egypt but from all the country through which they were scattered.
Jerusalem could not hold the people that came together; they pitched
their tents all around the city, on the hills and in the valleys.
It was the time of full moon, when there was brightness all night,
and they came together with safety and security. The multitude,
then, was there to witness the scene, so that it might be attested
by people from all parts of Judea and from all countries round about

Then, again, the form of the death was such as to be not a sudden
one, but one of torture, passing through many hours. Had the
execution been a very sudden one, as it might have been, the death
would have been equally efficacious, yet it would not have been
witnessed by so many; but as He hung those dreadful hours, from
nine until three, the sun being darkened, what an opportunity was
given to the people passing by to be imprest with the scene! The
crucifixion was near the city; the crowd was there; the temple
worship was in process; the strangers were there; and as one great
stream passes on some festive day through the great thoroughfare of
your city, so passed the stream of men, women, and children by that
cross on which the Savior hung. They wagged their heads and reviled
as they passed by. The very ones whom Jesus had healed, whose
fathers had been cured of leprosy or fever, whose mothers' eyes had
been opened; the ones who had been raised up from beds of sickness
by the touch of that Savior, passed by and reviled, and said: "He
saved others, Himself He cannot save." The multitude saw Him as He
hung suffering on the cross.

Then, again, the circumstances attending His death were such as
to invite universal attention. It was not designed that the death
should be a private one; not merely a legal transaction, a matter
soon over, but a protracted and agonizing spectacle - one to be seen
and known by the multitude; but, in addition, that man's attention
should be drawn to something to be connected with that wonderful
scene; hence God called upon the heavens and the earth, the air and
the graves, and the temple itself for testimony. It is said that
before the coronation of a prince in olden time in Europe - and in
some kingdoms the custom is still observed - there is sent forth
a herald, sometimes three days in advance, at different periods
according to the custom, to issue a challenge to anyone that dares
to claim the kingdom to come and prove his right, and to announce
that the coronation of this prince is to take place.

Methinks it was such a challenge God gave to all the powers of
humanity and to all the powers of darkness. There hung suffering on
the cross He who died for human wo, and as He hung God was about
to crown Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords on the morning of the
third day. He sends forth His voice of challenge, and as He speaks
the earth rocks to its center; that ground, shaking and convulsing,
was a call to man to witness what was about to occur.

Not only is there a voice of earth. Yonder the sun clothed himself
in sackcloth for three hours, as much as to say: "There may be gloom
for three days; the great Source of light hath veiled Himself, as in
a mantle of night, for three days. As for three hours this darkness
hangs, but as out of the darkness the light shines forth, so at
the end of the three days shall the Sun of Righteousness shine out
again, the great center of glory, with that glory which He had with
the Father from the foundation of the world." It was the herald's
voice that passed through the heavens, and that spoke through all
the orbs of light, "Give attention, ye created beings, to what is
to happen!" But it was not alone in the earth, which is the great
center, nor in the heavens, which is the great source of light, that
the tidings were proclaimed.

Look in yonder valley. The tombs are there; the prophets have been
buried there. Yon hillside is full of the resting-places of the
dead; generations on generations have been buried there; friends are
walking in it, and they are saying, "Yonder is a mighty judge in
Israel; there is the tomb of a prophet." They were passing to and
fro through that valley of death when the earthquake's tread was
heard, and behold! the tombs were opened, the graves displayed the
dead within, and there was a voice that seemed to call from the very
depths of the graves, "Hear, O sons of men!"

What feelings must have thrilled through the hearts of those who
stood by those monuments and bended over those graves, when, thrown
wide open, the doors bursting, and the rocks giving way, they saw
the forms of death come forth and recognized friends that once they
had known. What was to occur? What could all this mean? Then the
great sacrifice was offered. It was three o'clock in the afternoon
when Christ was to give up the ghost. Yonder the multitude of pious
people were gathered toward the temple. The outer court was full;
the doors and gates which lead into the sanctuary were crowded; the
lamb was before the altar; the priest in his vestments had taken the
sacrificial knife; the blood was to be shed at the hour of three;
the multitude were looking.

Yonder hangs a veil; it hides that inner sanctuary; there are
cherubim in yonder with their wings spread over the mercy-seat; the
shekinah once dwelt there; God Himself in His glory was there and
the people are bending to look in. No one enters into that veil save
the high priest, and he, with blood and in the midst of incense, but
once a year; but it was the mercy-seat and the eye of every pious
Jew was directed toward that veil, thinking of the greater glory
which lay beyond it.

As the hour of three came and as the priest was taking the
sacrificial knife from the altar and was about to slay the lamb,
behold! an unseen hand takes hold of that veil and tears it apart
from top to bottom, and has thrown open the mercy-seat, not before
seen by men. The cherubim are there; the altar with its covering
of blood is there; the resting-place of the ark is there; it is
the holiest of holies. Methinks the priest drops the knife, the
lamb goes free, for the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of
the world is suffering for man. The way to the holy of holies is
open, - a new and living way, which men may not close, which priest
alone can not enter; but a way is open whereby humanity, opprest and
downtrodden, from all parts of the earth, may find its way to the
mercy-seat of God. There was a call to the pious worshiper by voices
which seemed to say: "An end to all the sacrifices, an end to all
the suffering victims, an end to all the sprinkled hyssop that is
used in purification, for One has come to do the will of God on whom
the burden of man had been laid."

Now here were all these calls to humanity from all parts, as if to
announce the great transaction. While all this was occurring Christ
was on the cross, suffering the agony of crucifixion. How deep that
agony we need not attempt to tell you; it was fearful; and yet no
complaint escaped His lips, no murmuring was there. He bore the sins
of many in His own flesh on the tree. He heard the multitudes revile
Him; He saw them wag their heads; He remembered that the disciples
had fled from Him - one followed afar off, but the rest had gone; and
yet He complained not. Friends and kindred had all left Him and He
trod the wine-press alone. He drank the cup in all its bitterness
and no complaint escaped from Him. One left Him that had never
forsaken Him before. "The world is gone, the disciples I have fed
and taught have all fled and passed away, - all have forsaken Me."

But there was no time until that moment of fearful darkness came,
when all the load of guilt was upon Him and for our sins He was
smitten, that His spirit was crusht, and He called out, "My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me?" All else might go - it were little;
"Why hast thou forsaken me?" But it is over; the darkness is past;
the load is borne; and I hear Him say, "It is finished"; He bows His
head and dies.

Now there is publicity for the transaction. It demanded public
investigation, it received it. There was not only the mental agony
united with the agony of crucifixion, but there was the voluntary
giving up of His life; yet, lest there might be some suspicion, to
all this was added the proof of the fact of His death. When the
limbs of the others were broken and He was perceived to be dead, the
soldier thrust the spear into His side and there came out of that
side both water and blood.

There is a peculiarity in the sacred writings. A little incident
that seems to be mentioned without care becomes the strongest
possible proof, not only of the fact of Christ's death, but of the
nature of His death. When that sentence was written the human frame
was not understood, the circulation of the blood was not understood.
Anatomists had not then, as they have now, unveiled the human
system; the great science of pathology had not yet been clearly
taught to man; and yet in that sentence we have almost a world of
meaning. For it is well attested now that where persons die from
violent mental emotion, by what is termed a broken heart, a crusht
spirit, there is always formed a watery secretion around the heart.
It was not known then to the soldier who lifted up the spear and
pierced the body; but so much of that water had secreted around the
heart that he saw it issuing forth from the pierced side, unstained
by blood, which showed that the great heart had been crusht by agony

When taken from the cross He was put in the sepulcher. His friends
had given Him up, His disciples had forsaken Him; some of them saw
Him die; they knew that He was crucified and they abandoned Him.
They were returning to their former employments; but His enemies
remembered He had said He would rise the third day, and they put
a guard around Him. The Roman soldiers were there; the king's
seal was on the stone rolled over the mouth of the sepulcher; they
made everything secure. Here again God ordered that we should have
abundant proof of Christ's crucifixion.

He was crucified on Friday, which was to them the last day of the
week, resting in the grave on our Saturday, which is their Sabbath,
and then comes the first day of the week, our Sabbath morning, made
our Sabbath because of Christ's resurrection from the dead. There
came an humble visitant to the tomb, Mary Magdalene; she had been
healed of much, forgiven much and she loved Him. Mary, the mother of
James, came also and beheld the scenes that occurred; but there had
been strange commotions elsewhere.

Heaven had been gathering around that grave. Angels had been
watching there; they had seen the Roman guard; they had seen the
shining spear and polished shield; they had seen that Christ was
held as a prisoner by the greatest powers on earth. Methinks I see
the angelic host as they gathered round the throne of God and looked
up into the face of Omnipotence, and if ever there was a time when
there was silence in heaven for half an hour, it was before the
morning light of the third day dawned. I hear them say "How long
shall man triumph? How long shall human power exalt itself? How long
shall the powers of darkness hold jubilee? Let us away and roll
away the stone; let us away and frighten yonder Roman guard and
drive them from the sepulcher."

They waited until permission was given. I see the angel coming down
from the opening doors of glory; he hastens outside the walls of
Jerusalem and down to the sepulcher; when they saw him coming the
keepers shook, they became like dead men; he rolls away the stone
and sets himself by the mouth of the sepulcher. Christ, girding
Himself with all the power of His divinity, rises from the grave.
He leads captivity captive, tears the crown from the head of death,
and makes light the darkness of the grave. Behold Him as He rises
just preparatory to His rising up to glory. Oh, what a moment was
that! Hell was preparing for its jubilee; the powers of earth were
preparing for a triumph; but as the grave yields its prey, Christ,
charged with being an impostor, is proved to be the Son of God with
power; it is the power of His resurrection from the dead.

There was Christ's resurrection from the dead. He became the first
fruits of them that slept. But to give the amplest proofs of His
resurrection He lingered on earth to be seen of men, and to be seen
in such a manner as to show that He was still the Savior Christ.
In my younger days I used to often wonder why was it that Mary
Magdalene came first to the sepulcher, and the mother of James that
stood there - why He should appear to them; but in later days I have
said it was to show that He was the Savior still; that the same
nature was there which had made Him stoop to the lowliest of the
low - the power that enabled Him to heal the guiltiest of the guilty;
that that power, that compassion, were with Him still.

Tho now raised beyond death and triumphing over hell, He still had
within Him the Savior's heart. Methinks I see, when Peter had run
in anxiety to tell the news, Mary remained there; she could not
fully comprehend it; the grave was open, the napkins were there;
it was said He was not there, but He was risen. And yet, there was
a darkness upon her; she could not fully conceive, it seems to me,
the resurrection of the dead. She stood wondering, when she heard a
voice behind her which said, "Woman, why weepest thou?" Bathed in
tears as she was, she turned round and saw the man standing, and
taking him to be the gardener, and supposing that he had taken the
body and carried it away as not fit to lie in that tomb or be in
that garden, she said: "If thou hast taken, him away, tell me where
thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." If He must not lie in
this tomb, if He can not lie in the garden, if as a malefactor He
must be cast out from man, tell me where the body is and I will take
it away. It was a proof of her affection.

A voice said, "Mary, Mary." Oh, she recognized it, and her heart
cried out: "Rabboni, my Lord and my God!" and then she would have
thrown herself at His feet and bathed those feet again with her
tears, but He said, "Touch me not, I am not ascended to my Father;
go and tell the disciples and Peter that I am risen from the dead."
See the compassion of the Savior! and then that message! "Tell the
disciples and Peter." Why send a message to him? Because he curst
and swore and denied the Master. The other disciples might have
said, "If Christ is risen, He may receive and bless us all; but
Peter is gone, hopelessly and irretrievably gone; he that forsook
his Master and denied Him, there is no hope for him." And yet said
Jesus, "Go and tell the disciples and Peter" - poor backslidden Peter.

Jesus knew his sorrow and anguish and almost felt the throbbings
of his broken heart, and He sent a message to Peter. He may be a
disciple still - may come back and be saved through the boundless
love of Christ. Oh, the compassion of the Son of God! Thank God that
Peter's Savior is on the throne this morning!

Not only was He seen by these, but He met with the disciples
journeying by the way and explained the Scriptures to them; and
as they met in the upper room He was there. When the doors were
unopened He came in their midst and said, "Peace!" breathed on them
and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Thus He met with them and
said to Thomas, "Reach hither thy fingers, and be not faithless but

Then afterward He was seen by five hundred, and from the Mount
of Olives, while the disciples were gathered around Him, He was
received up into glory. They saw Him and as He went He blest
them. The last vision that ever humanity had of the Son of God
ere he ascended to heaven was that of spreading out His hands
in blessing. Oh, my Savior hath thus gone up, and He dropt from
those outstretched hands a blessing which falls to-day like the
gentle dew all over the earth; it reaches heart after heart. It
hath reached patriarchs, apostles, martyrs, fathers, and mothers
and little children, and, thank God, the heavenly dew, as from
those outstretched hands, is coming down on our assembly this very
morning. On this glad day blessings are dropping from the throne of
God upon us from this risen Savior. He hath ascended up on high, the
gates have opened for Him, and He hath gone to His throne in glory.

Let us look at a few of the results that flow to us from these facts
thus sustained of His death and resurrection from the dead!

In the first place it established all Bible declarations. It had
been predicted that He should not stay in the grave, and when He
arose it put the seal to the Old Testament as the Word of God. The
prophecy in Him fulfilled gave glorious proof that the other parts
of it should be also fulfilled as the word of an unchanging God.

Again, in His resurrection we see a proof of His divine power. No
man hath been raised from the dead by his own power. All died, from
Adam to Moses, with the exception of Enoch and Elijah, who, because

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryVariousThe World's Great Sermons, Volume 5: Guthrie to Mozley → online text (page 7 of 13)