G. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) Hallock.

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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lying in the regions of death, sinking to everlasting misery ! He be-
held man ignorant of all that is necessary for him to know, and none
to teach him. He saw him amidst the most splendid and costly sacri-
fices, unable to present a suitable atonement for the sins of his soul.
He marked him ardently pursuing pleasure, yet finding no satisfaction.
He saw him about to sink, the prey of death and hell, while there was
none to rescue, none to deliver. In this state he pitied him ; he alight-
ed by him, as he lay in his sins and in his blood, and he said, " I have
loved thee in thy lost estate, and have sent my Son, my incarnate Son,
to rescue and redeem thee ! "

This love was unmerited. The men to whom it is manifested saw no
need of it, made no effort to obtain it, did not even seek it. If a pious
act, a good word, a gracious thought, would have merited heaven itself,
man had it not to give. On the contrary, men despised, rejected,
scoffed at the proffered good. " Behold," said John, " what manner
of love the Father hath bestowed upon us ! " What manner of love ?
Why, a love unmerited, free, every way worthy of God.

It was disinterested. When we hear that God loved the world, we
are not to suppose that he gained any thing by it : — no, he made no
acquisition to his authority ; he increased not the extent of his domin-
ions ; he made no addition to his knowledge, to his happiness, to his
essential glory. All these he possessed in infinite degrees before.
Were God to blot out of existence every creature he had made, or
were man to damn himself to everlasting misery, the happiness of God
would experience no duninution. And were he to create innumerable
worlds, people them all with seraphs or archangels, and bring them all
to worship in his presence, — still this would add nothing to his essen-
tial glory. The riches of his glory are the same from eternity to eter-
nity, and are incapable of either rising or falling. He could not love
the world from a motive of interest : therefore man, and man alone,
derives the benefit. Notice,

2. The degree of this love. It is so high, no thought can reach it;
so deep, no mind can fathom it ; so extensive in its range, no tongue
can declare it.

The gift itself bespeaks its greatness. " God so loved the world,
that he gave" — what? a throne of light? — No. What? some
servant of his presence, some first-born son of light? — No. \Yhat?

— He " so loved the world, that he gave his Son — his begotten Son

— his only-begotten Son ; the brightness of his own glory; the express
image of his Father's person ; the heir of all things." Such love as
this cannot be told : the Redeemer himself does not attempt to tell



172 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

us; he has put an eternity of meaning into this particle "so," and
has left it for the eternal study and admiration of angels and of
men. " God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten
Son."

TJie subjects on whom this love is bestowed raise its degree. " God
so loved the world,'" that is, men : who, when spoken of in comparison
with their Maker, are called worms, grasshoppers, nothing, less than
nothing, and vanity ; mere clods of matter, with a spark of mind, mys-
teriously united by the Deity. And yet, this man, this worm, this
nothing, this less than nothing, and vanity ; man, sunk in sin, a daring
rebel against God in his heart and in his life, leagued with Satan, op-
posed in all things to the authority and law of God ; — this insignificant,
unworthy man, God so loved, as to meditate and devise his recovery to
* favor, to happiness, to eternal life.

We learn the degrees of this love, also, /row the expressions of the
Redeemer towards his enemies. See him going to Jerusalem for the
last time ; — Jerusalem, a place pre-eminent in cruelty, " the slaugh-
ter-house of God's servants ; " and in less than a week, perhaps, to
become the place of his own execution. He overlooks the mahce of
the Pharisees, the treachery of Judas, the infidelity of Peter, the cow-
ardice of all his disciples, the cruelty of his accusers, the ignominy of
the cross, the pain of death ; and he fixes his eyes on the vast inunda-
tion of wrath which was coming on the devoted city. He might have
looked on all this with feeUngs of joy, as a just retribution for the loss
of so much blood. But no : he gazed on the approaching wrath ; his
eye afi'ected his heart — his heart affected his tongue, and, with strong
compassion he cried — " How often would I have gathered thy chil-
dren together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye
would not! " He sees his mistaken accusers met together to demand
his innocent blood ; he hears them loudly clamor for his life. He does
not call for a legion of angels at once, to sweep them to the hell they
deserved ; but spends his last breath, and sheds his dearest blood, to
buy pardon for his murderers ! Nor did he forget them after he had
ended his life. He commissioned his disciples to go and preach to
them ; — "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel in my name,
beginning at Jerusalem." It might rather have been thought that he
would have said, "Go to the outcast heathen ; visit the abominable
Gentiles ; penetrate to the very ends of the earth ; — these, though
they have sinned deeply, have not sinned against such mercy and grace.
But come not near that ungodly race, the dwellers in Jerusalem. They
have slaughtered my servants, the prophets ; they have taken the head
of John the Baptist, whom I sent, to reward a lascivious dance ; last



god's love to the world. 173

of all, they have wickedly shed my blood. If you should visit some
of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, yet enter not Jerusalem ; let
not the gospel pass through those gates, through which they led me, its
Author, to shed my blood." But no : — he said, " Go to Jerusalem ;
and, to show the value of my gospel, the efficacy of my atonement the
power of my love, — go there first. Let those who shed my blood be
the first to taste its healing virtue ; let those who troubled the waters
be the first to participate in their valued influence ; let those who struck
the rock be the first to drink of its salutary streams. Go to Jerusa-
lem ; and, should you in your wanderings meet the poor wretch that
thrust his spear into my side, tell him that the wound he made has
opened a cleft in my heart sufficiently wide to take him in ; and that
the blood and water which he caused to flow, has sufficient virtue to
pardon and purify him. Begin at Jerusalem ;-^ the inhabitants thereof
lately said, ' His blood be on us, and on our children.' And so be it !
but not in vengeance on their heads, but in all its virtue to soften, and
in all its efficacy to save ! Let it be on their consciences and on their
hearts, making them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light."

The degree of this love appears, also, in the extent of the Savior's
sufferings. From the manger to the cross, he became " a man of sor-
rows, and acquainted with grief." He personally experienced pain and
want ; he had " not where to lay his head." His words Avere pervert-
ed ; his actions were misconstrued ; his miracles were ascribed to an
influence he hated. He was betrayed by a chosen companion, aban-
doned by his friends in the hour of distress, and forsaken by his heav-
enly Father ! See him pressed down, crushed, and groaning beneath
the weight of woe and sin ! What horror of darkness, what anguish
of soul, was ever to be compared to his ! The Father has forsaken
him ! A child has grown up before his parent, " as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground ; " ho has grown up to perfection,
and become the object of his delight — his only joy ! But this child
is taken suddenly, dangerously ill ; the disease makes rapid and malig-
nant progress ; it threatens to take away the delight of his eyes, the
joy of his heart. The parent sees the progress of the disease ; he
marks the ravages it makes ; and his feelings keep pace with its pro-
gress. He sees his child in the agonies of death ; he witnesses his
strur'fTles ; he hears his sighs ; the last gleam of his eye fastens on his
father, while, in his last agony, he cries, "Father, help me ! father,
save me from this hour ! " And what is there which such a father would
not do for such a son ? Now, behold this scene realized. See the agony
of the Savior ! Mark him in the dark, cold night, prostrate on the
damp garden, bedewing the earth with his tears ; groaning through the



174 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

distress of his soul ; sweating " as it were great drops of blood falling
to the ground ; " piercing heaven with his cries, and saying, in effect,
" If it be possible, let this cup pass from me ! Save me from this
hour ! " The Father hears the agonizing supplication of his Son, and
yet he turns away. Nay, he appears to frown upon his Son in the
depth of his anguish ; and, while he frowns upon his Son, he turns a
smile of mercy on a half damned world ! But follow him to the con-
summation of his pains ; see him ascend the rugged hill of Calvary.
Mark how they pierce his hands and his feet ! He weeps, and the
drops extinguish the sun ! He sighs, and his sigh rends the rocks !
He groans, and his last groan causes the earth to tremble ! All
nature sympathized, and owned the presence of the Creator of the
world ! " God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten
Son."

Then, the number of the subjects of this love shows the greatness of
its degree. " God so loved ^7ie wor?c?," — all mankind. This love is
unconfined, unlimited. "Whosoever believeth," — in whatever age
or clime, — whatsoever his national, civil, intellectual, or moral distinc-
tions ; whatever the nature, the number, the magnitude, the repeti-
tions of his iniquities. As all need the exercise of this love, so to all
it is ofifered ; as all need, so all may have it ; as " all have sinned and
come short of the glory of God," so " whosoever beUeveth " need not
perish, but may have " everlasting life." This love extends to all.

ni. The design of this love.

It is that we should " not perish, but have everlasting life. " Here,
1. Observe, that /or sin the world deserved to perish. This is the
true state, the natural condition of the world ; it is actually perishing.
The word " perish" has reference sometimes to the death of the
body. Thus the affrighted mariner said to Jonah, " What meanest thou,
sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon
us, that we perish not ; " that we lose not our lives — that we be not en-
gulphed in the ocean. As all have " sinned, and come short of the
glory of God," the sentence of death has passed universally on all :
— " Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." No man can
expect to be exempt from the attack of death. But, through the mer-
its of Christ, God has determined that man shall not utterly perish :
that he shall not ultimately and for ever see corruption. Jesus Christ
hath " abohshed death ; " he has destroyed its power ; he has obtained
a victory over it. The monster, death, shall be made to disgorge his
prey. To the believer in Christ, death is converted into a sleep ; he
can scarcely be said to die ; he rather falls asleep in the arms of his



god's love to the world. 175

Lord ; while he hears God saying to him, in eflfect, " Fear not to go
down into the grave ; for I will go down with thee, and will bring thee
up again. Fear not the cold earth, the gnawing worms, the disgusting
putridity ; I have entered the grave before ; I have sanctified it by my
presence ; I have converted it into a bed of roses. I will bring thee
up again. If thou goest down ia weakness, I will bring thee up again
in power ; if thou goest down in corruption, I will raise thee up in
incorruption ; if thou goest down a natural body, I will bring thee up
again a spiritual body, amazingly refined, astonishingly improved. I
will change thy vile body, and fashion it like unto my own glorious
body. Thus, thou shalt not perish, but be raised to life eternal."

The word " perish " is expressive sometimes of mental misery. When
the prodigal is represented as far from his father's house, it is said he
was ready to perish. Every unregenerate man is destitute of peace ;
he has no mental satisfaction ; he is the slave of sin ; the drudge of Sar
tan ; under the tyranny of evil passions and appetites ; distracted by a
guilty conscience ; an " alien from the commonwealth of Israel ; a
stranger to the covenant of promise ; having no hope, and without God
in the world." Now, God has given his Son, that we might not thus
perish ; that Son has suffered death that we might be redeemed ; that
we might be delivered from the powers of Satan and the world ; that
we might be brought into the possession of peace ; that our wants
might be supplied ; and that we might have true satisfaction and last-
ing joy.

The word " perish " means, also, everlasting condemnation. Thus it
is said, " As many as have sinned without law, shall also jjerish with-
out law : " and again, — " The Lord is long suffering, not willing that
any should perish." This sense of the word includes banishment " from
the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power ; " it is to
be damned without the possibility of ever rising ; it is the being doom-
ed to " the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the sec-
ond death ; " it is to feel the gnawing of the worm that " dieth not,"
and the scorching of the flame that is not quenched ; it is to suffer the
bitter pains of everlasting death. Every man, by reason of sin, is
doomed thus to perish, both body and soul, here and everlastingly.
But through the free pardon, which is bought by the blood of Jesus
Christ, and received by faith, he is so delivered that over him the sec-
ond death has no power.

2. But, on the other hand, he shall " have everlasting life.^' This
everlasting life has a beginning in the present state : it commences
while the soul is yet united to the body. Man, by nature, is " dead in
trespasses and sins : " all his powers are under the influence of a moral



176- THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

paralysis : he is incapable of spiritual actions and enjoyments. But,
through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, fallen man is quickened :
his understanding is enhghtened to see his state ; his heart is softened ;
his vax-ious poAvers are brought into exercise ; pious resolutions are
formed ; peace takes possession of his conscience ; hope springs up in
his breast ; he flees for refuge " to lay hold on the hope set before
him." Thus he is passed from death unto life : he is raised " from a
death in sin to a life of righteousness."

This life has its existence in the soul, in virtue of a vital union with
Jesus Christ. It is a life which is infused by the gracious influence of
the Holy Ghost. It consists of joy, peace, hope, love, holiness, and
the prospect of life everlasting. He who has this, has a life of the same
nature with the future, though it is inferior in its degree. Hence, it
is called the earnest, the first fruits, the foretaste : the same life that
he shall have in future, he has now in part ; the present is a drop of
that might}'' ocean.

This " everlasting life " includes the fulness of joyivhich is at God's
right hand — the pleasures which endure for ever more. This includes
a nearer and fuller view of the Redeemer, a closer union with the
Father of our spirits. Every hindrance to serving God will be fully
removed ; every desire will be enlarged and fulfilled ; every thing that
is evil will be put out of the way ; the soul will be filled with bliss and
happiness unutterable, and endowed with a " far more exceeding and
eternal weight of glory." In consequence of sin man lost all right
and title to this life ; but through the death of Jesus Christ, and the
benefits of his death, man may be brought to rejoice in all this. Let
us consider,

IV. The way in which we may be interested in the bene-
fits OF this gift of the Redeemer.

That we may " not perish, but have everlasting life," believing is
indispensably necessary.

The word believing is sometimes to be understood in a simple sense,
as expressing an act of the mind. To believe is neither more nor less
than to take God at his word.

1. We must believe the record God has given us of man. And
what is this ? Why, that he is ignorant, wicked, depraved, dead ; that
" the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint ; " that in his flesh
dwells nothing that is good. When we understand, believe, and feel
this, it humbles our proud spirits, induces true penitence of heart, and
urges us to flee for refuge from the wrath to come.

2. We mmt believe the testimony God has given of his Son. And



GOD S LOVE TO THE WORLD. 177

what is this ? That he was equal with God ; that he has " borne our
sin, and carried our sorrow ; " that he has satisfied the demands of the
divine justice ; that he has healed the honors of the broken law ; that he
has "finislied transgression, and made reconciliation for iniquity ;" —
that he has obtained salvation for us at the hands of his heavenly Fath-
er. To receive this testimony aright, is to believe that Jesus Christ is
made over to sinners as a complete and willing Savior. A sure trust
and confidence in this ; a firm reliance in Jesus Christ, as made a sin-
offering for us ; as coming to free us from condemnation, and save us ;
this is the faith which brings comfort and peace into the soul.

And there must be a co-ntinuance in this. This will give us power
over every sin, and victory over every temptation, till our natures are
conformed to that of Christ ; till our lives are formed upon the model
of his ; till " as he was, so we are, in this worlds So that, in order
that we " may not perish, but have everlasting life," we must believe,
and continue to believe ; " the life that Ave now live in the flesh," must
be " by faith on the Son of God ; " and the faith we exercised at first
we must continue to exercise, till we receive the crown of life which is
laid up for us in heaven.

From this subject we may,

1. See the evil of sin. It must be a great evil, a grievous and a
bitter thing, when it required such a sacrifice — such sufferings — to
make an atonement for its commission. For if God had given more
than was necessary, it would have been as unworthy of his wisdom as
if he had given too little. If God gave his only-begotten Son, it was
absolutely necessary he should so do, in order that we might "not per-
ish, but have everlasting life."

2. See the value of the soul. Most men think little of their souls ;
the body engrosses all their care, while the soul, — compared with
which the whole world is but as a grain of sand,' — is totally neglected
by them. Yea, they can give their souls to the devil, with both hands,
as a free-will offering ! " The redemption of the soul is precious." Go
to Bethlehem ! visit Calvary ! see the darkened sun — the rending
rocks — the opening graves — convulsed nature ! and in the sufferings
of the incarnate God, discover the value of the soul, and learn to say,
" What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own
soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ? " And think,
also, what is all that you can do for the bodies of your fellow-creatures,
in comparison with saving a soul from death!

3. See the condemnation of sinners. Notwithstanding all that God
has done, the mass of mankind are careless, wicked, depraved, seekhig
death in the error of their ways. And are there none here who are

12



178 THE ENGLISH PDLPIT.

in danger of perishing ? of perishing amidst the blaze of light — amidst
the calls of mercy — amidst the displays of love ? These men rush
on the loaded artillery of heaven ! they are despising the overtures of
mercy, levelling the mountains which infinite goodness has thrown up
to prevent their ruin, opposing the swelling tide of divine love, which
would set full on their souls, and, with lighted torches in their hands,
forcing their way to eternal ruin ! Surely theirs will not be ordinary
pangs ! If those who hear the gospel perish, they must, as it were,
take hell by force, and be lost, spite of all God's love could do to pre-
vent their ruin I brethren, privileged as we are in reading and
hearing this truth — " God so loved the world, that he gave his only-
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life;" let it not become as a millstone about our
necks, to drag us down to the depths of perdition !

4. See the encouragement afforded to those who are seeking the Lord
— those who are weary of sin, and of the service of the world, the
flesh, and Satan. Like the prodigal, they are come to themselves ;
they are alive to a sense of their condition. Seeing their ingratitude,
their rebellion, they exclaim, " My iniquities are more in number than
the hairs of my head ! I am a grievous sinner ! I am unworthy of the
least of all God's mercies ! " All this is true, very true ; and it is also
true that God loves thee — loves thee with a love of pity and compas-
sion — and is not willing that thou shouldst perish. believe the
record of heaven ! believe the record that God has given of his Son ! —
believe that Christ came into the world to seek and save the lost — to
save sinners, even the chief! Receive this record ; cordially grasp it
with all thy soul. Say, " It is worthy of all acceptation ! it is worthy
of my acceptation ! " God enable thee so to believe, that thy soul
may live for ever !

5. And if God " spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for
us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ? " He
will surely give an answer to our every prayer, and supply our every
need. Let us, then, honor him by our implicit confidence. " My God
shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ
Jesus." From this love let believers fully expect grace here, and
glory hereafter.

6. And who is there among us that can think on all this love, and
not wish to make suitable returns ? Who does not say, —

"What shall I do, to make it known
What thou for all mankind hast done ? "

Should it not be proclaimed to the ends of the earth ? and should it
not be made known in our own land ? and that, not only by preaching



god's love to the world. 179

— by the distribution of the sacred Scriptures — b j the circulation of
religious truth ; but also by the education of the young ? It has been
found that by schools, and by schools on the Sabbath day^ habits of
order and decency have been induced, the most valuable instructions
have been communicated, and a powerful influence has been exerted to
save souls from ruin. These schools have been found a very powerful
engine for preventing much evil, and for promoting a great deal of
good. They have been in use for half a century ; and they have been
greatly increased and supported by the liberality of Christians. This
is a strong proof that they have been, and are, useful ; were it other-
wise, they would not be so supported. One object we have now in
view, is to promote the interests of a Sunday school in connexion with
this chapel. It was established in the year 1791 ; the year in which
the venerable John Wesley died. Since that period 14,731 children
have passed through its instructions. They have received the light of
knowledge, and some of them the light of life ; some have gone from
this world, after having brought forth fruit to the honor of God on
earth ; and others are still walking upon earth, in the fear of the Lord,
and the comforts of the Holy Ghost. When it is considered that this
has taken place in the dense and dark population of Spitalfields, we
think it will be duly appreciated. There are 350 children at present
in the school. When we think on the length of time this school has
been instituted ; on the many children who have passed through its
instructions ; on the number of pious and intelligent persons who have
been engaged in this work, some of whom are, perhaps, bending from
their lofty thrones on the present occasion, to see how the recital of the
Redeemer's dying love influences your minds in reference to the sup-
port of this school ; — we cannot but hope that you will render it all
the assistance in your power. God has loved you : he has proved his
kindness to you in ten thousand instances, as to your own persons, your
substance, your families, your friends. And see what he has brought
you through ; and how bright he has made your prospects for another



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 20 of 45)