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

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But John says, " Even noio are there many antichrists ; " therefore
there may be antichrists among Protestants as well as among Papists.
A Socinian is an antichrist ; a sinner trusting in his own righteousness
is an antichrist ; so is every mere formal professor who is holding the
truth in unrighteousness.

The question therefore is, Are you with him ? Are you with him in
sentiment, in disposition, in action, in pursuit ? Are you with him as
scholars are with their teacher, as servants are with their master, as
soldiers are Avith their commander, as subjects are with their sove-
reign ? Does he occupy the highest place in your regard ? Does he
dwell in your hearts by faith ? Do you say, " Other lords besides
thee have had dominion over me, but henceforth will I make mention
of thy name ?" And do you feel what is done against Idm as done
against yourselves ? And are you " sorrowful for the solemn assembly,
who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden? " And
does the reproach of them that reproached him fall on you ? And do
you tremble when you hear his precious name blasphemed ? and do you
rejoice in the advancement of his cause ? and are you praying that his
kingdom may come, and that his Word may have free course and be
glorified ? and does this simplify your life, and does it regulate it ? Are
you willing on this altar to offer all adverse interests ? And are you
concerned to make every thing not only subordinate, but subservient
to his praise ? Alas ! how many are there here — and they know it —
who are not with him ; and we know therefore that they are against
him, for this is the doctrine of our text.

Let me, therefore, men and brethren, remind you, in conclusion,
that this is an awful truth. There is no neutrality in rehgion. There
are cases in which neutrality is possible ; there are cases in which it
may be excused, if not admired and commended. In family disputes,
and in the quarrels of your neighbors, it may be wise and well to keep
neutral. If you do no good by interfering, you may do evil ; and that
is no little thing in a world like this. Two nations may wage war
a^^ainst each other, and waste their mutual resources, whilst a third,
however urged, may remain neutral, securing its subjects, and hus-
bandino- its wealth. Some have thought the excellency of a senator
to be, that he belongs to no party. I once thought the same myself,
but I do not now ; I see that things are now in such a state that a


man must take a part, that he can do nothing now as a neutral, whether
in politics or in religion, having no influence with either party. Let
him, therefore, choose his side, and avow it ; and let him be as mod-
erate on his side as possible, and endeavor to improve his side as much
as possible ; for you will see all that comes between, falling down
between both parties, both of whom they disown, and both of whom
disown them.

But if it were not so, I repeat it again, there can be no neutrality
hei'e ; and this cannot be repeated too often. '•' No man can serve
two masters ; for either he will hate the one and love the other ; or
else he will hold to the one and despise the other ; ye cannot serve
God and mammon." " Whosoever, therefore, will be the friend of the
world, is the enemy of God." " If any man love the world, the love
of the Father is not in him." Let me therefore recommend to you
faith in this decision. There are many people who speak as if the
Bible had said nothing ; whereas it has said all. They say, "If we
are not so good as some, we are not so bad as others ; and if we are
not friends, we are not enemies." But what does he say ? It is not
the opinion of the prisoner, but the opinion of the judge, which is to
be consulted m such cases as these. A magistrate one day said, " I
was yesterday attending for hours on a villain who was accusing a
scoundrel, both of whom ought to have been hanged on the same gal-
lows." Nothing can be more disagreeable than to find persons who
are all in the wrong disputing among themselves who is right. Why,
at the deluge persons could be drowned any where, but there was only
one ark to save them. There is only one way of salvation now, but
there are a thousand ways of destruction. It matters not, therefore,
what you are, or what you do, if you are destitute of faith and real
holiness ; for our Savior has said, " He that believeth not shall be
damned ;" and "without holiness," says his apostle, "no man shall
see the Lord."

Make this, therefore, the standard of your inquiry ; and do not
observe it casually ; consult it when you are alone, and ask whether
it accuses or acquits you — whether it condemns or justifies you. I
know not, my dear hearers, how you hear, but when I hear such a
question as this, it often shakes my hope to the centre, and I go
down from this desk, trembUng lest after preaching to others I
myself should be a castaway. Endeavor, therefore, to be decided ;
do not rest in negatives ; remember that you are not only required
to " cease to do evil," but to " learn to do well ; " " that every tree
that bringeth not forth good fruit," though it bring forth no bad
fruit, " is hewn down and cast into the fire ; " that the servant who


was wicked, and because unprofitable was therefore cast into outer
darkness, was the man who had one talent, which he did not abuse,
but wrapt it up in a napkin. There is no medium between loving
Christ and hating him. When the dispute is between God and Baal,
there is to be no halting between two opinions. " I would," sajs
the Savior, " thou wert either cold or hot ; so then, because thou
art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my

But there are some, blessed be God, who are with him. This is
their glorj, and this should be their joy. Are they with him now ?
They shall be with him for ever. Are they now suffering with him ?
They shall also reign with him. Are they now with him in the reproach
of the cross ? They shall soon be with him in the glory of the crown.
Are they now with him in the toils of the fight ? They shall soon be
with him in the triumphs of victory ; and he will fulfil his Word —
" Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even
as I overcame and am sat down with my Father on his throne." " You
are they," says he, " who have continued with me in my temptations;
and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto
me ; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit
on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." You are on the
safe side ; you are on the rising side ; you are on the side which by-
and-by will annihilate the opposite side and become a universality.
You are with him — are advancing with him. Here is the Savior,
here are his people ; they are weak, but he is almighty ; he is at their
head ; therefore be not afraid to go forward. Ye infidel powers, and
ye spiritual wickednesses in high places, bring forward all your forces ;
we challenge you in the face of the universe. You know we began
our course at the lake of Galilee ; we drove you before us to the
east and the west, to the north and the south ; the kingdom of God
was established in spite of jou, and mightily grew the Word of God
and prevailed, and does still. Do not you see, all your efforts have
only covered you with shame ? In a little while it shall be said, with-
out a figure, " Behold, the whole world is gone after him." The Lord
hasten it in his time !

But where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ? At present
Jesus is upon the throne of grace ; oh ! that I could urge you imme-
diately to apply to him there ! Though your sins Avere as scarlet,
they should be white as snow ; though they were red like crimson,
they should be as wool. He says, " Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the
Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ; and to our God, for he will


abundantly pardon." Here is his own proclamation ; these are his
proposals. Oh ! that you would believe him, and throw down the
weapons of your rebellion, and confide in the word of a prince, that
if you come in and submit yourselves you shall obtain life and peace.
Oh ! if you did but know his bands and cords of love ! Oh ! if you
did but know the liberty of his service ! Oh ! if you did but know
how easy his yoke, and how light his burden ! Oh ! did you but
know the blessedness of those who know the joyful sound and walk
in the light of his countenance, and in his righteousness exalt them-
selves ! Surely you would immediately repair to him. Oh ! let
me entreat you, let me beseech you, to do this. I conclude in the
language of the psalmist : " Kiss the Son " — that is, " submit to
him " — " lest he be angry, and ye perish by the way, when his wrath
is kindled but a Httle. Blessed are all they that put their trust in




"In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight ray goal." — Psalms xciv. 19.

A TEXT of this kind shows us forcibly the power of Divine grace in
the human heart : how much it can do to sustain and cheer the heart.
The world may afflict a believer, and pain him ; but if the grace which
God has given him is in active exercise in his soul, the world cannot
make him unhappy. It rather adds by its ill treatment to his happi-
ness ; for it brings God and his soul nearer together — God the foun-
tain of all happiness, the rest and satisfaction of his soul.

This psalm was evidently written by a deeply afflicted man. The
wicked, he says, were triumphing over him ; ,and had been so for a
long while. He could find no one on earth to take his part against
them. " Who will rise up for me against the evil-doers ? " he asks in
the sixteenth verse ; " or who will stand up for me against the workers
of iniquity ? " And it seemed, too, as though God had abandoned
him. His enemies thought so, and he seems to have been almost ready
to think so himself. But what was the fact ? All this time the Lord
was secretly pouring consolation into his soul, and in the end made


that consolation abundant. In appearance a wretclied, he was in real-
ity a happy man ; suffering, yet comforted ; yea, the text says, delighted
— " Thy comforts delight my soiil."

We must consider, first, his sorrow ; and then, his comfort under it.
The evil ; and the remedy.

I. In his sorrow, there are two things for us to notice : the source,
and the greatness of it.

1. The source of it, you may say, is doubtless the ill treatment he
was experiencing. But not so, brethren ; it arose, he says, from his
own mind — his own thoughts. Our Prayer-Book version of the pas-
sage makes this clear ; the word translated here " thoughts," is rendered
there "sorrows." The one translation explains the other; the psalm-
ist means thoughts that engender sorrows ; disturbed, sorrowful and
distressing thoughts.

But who can keep these out of his mind when trouble comes, or
indeed when it does not come ? None of us, brethren. The best of
us are liable at all times to these sources of disquietude. Some of us
suffer more from them than from all our outward afflictions put

To enumerate them all would be an endless task ; but some we may

There are thoughts concerning our own spiritual state and condition,
which are often painful to us. " Is Christ my Savior ? or is he not ?
Is this heart of mine a really converted heart ? or still a hard, Tingod-
ly, unclean one ? Am I one of the sheep of Christ — one that the
good shepherd in his love and power has brought to himself, and will
eventually take to his home in the heavens ? or am I one of the filthy
swine, that he can now take no delight in, and that in his holiness he
will one day cast for ever from him ? "

And there are thoughts of the same character as to our future spir-
itual course and condition. If we really are the Lord's, how we shaU
keep so : how we shall ever get through the difficulties and temptations
we see before us, and bear up under the conflict that is going on with-
in us, and keep alive the faith and hope and love, that so frequently
even now seem expiring.

And then come thoughts of the same troublous concern about death
and judgment. How it will be with us when we come to die ; how we
shall bear the sinking of dissolving nature ; the going into a new,
strange, untried world ; the first sight there of a holy God ; the stand-
ing before him, as sinners, to be judged.

And this world, too, how many harassing, distressing thoughts does


that give rise to within us ! We profess to have overcome, and tri-
umphed over it ; but the battle, dear brethren, we at times find has
not been half fought nor won. " My Savior has told me, to 'take no
thought of the morrow ; ' he has promised to think of it for me, and
provide against it for me ; nay, he has told me that he has already so
provided for it ; and oh ! that I could leave it entirely in his hands !
But it is not always I can. What shalF I do when this or that thing
comes, which I see impending ? I would ' provide things honest in the
sight of all men ; ' but how, amid the difficulties I am placed in, shall
I ever do it ? But children must be provided for ; how shall I provide
for them ? They will want a friend to watch over them when I am
gone ; who will befriend them ? They may go before me ; if so, how
shall I bear the loss ! " " And these afflictions," the soul says at other
times, " that are even now come upon me — why are they come ? why are
they so multiplied one upon another, and so long continued ? I want
to be enlightened ; I cannot understand the Lord's dealings with me ;
the more I think, the more I am perplexed and disturbed."

And sometimes we can excite anxious thoughts in our minds, even
from the absence of afflicting providences. " I read in my Bible," the
soul says, " that ' whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth ; ' but he chas-
tens not me. The sun rises brightly day after day upon me; my days
pass in peace and quietness ; oh ! if I were a child of God could this
be so ? "

And then, brethren, when in our better moments we forget ourselves,
and look at the world and church around us, here again our thoughts
often trouble us. We mourn over the world's sins, and distractions,
and miseries ; we are ready to tremble often for the ark, the cause,
the church, the glory of God. The Lord says to us — " Be still, and
know that I am God ; I will be exalted among the heathen, / tvill be
exalted in the earth ; " but we are afraid he will not be exalted — we
find it hard to be still. We are as anxious for the church and for the
cause of Christ, as though Christ were not that great and lofty being
we know he is — the omnipotent King of Zion — but some petty prince,
who cannot maintain his own cause, from whose hands the sceptre is
ready to fall because of weakness.

I need not go on. You all know, that thinking is sometimes pain-
ful and distressing work. All of us, some in one way and some in
another, have found out with the psalmist, that " thoughts " are fre-
quently only another name for " sorrows."

2. Observe, now, the greatness of this man's distress.

This is forcibly expressed in the text, though in our translation it is
scarcely obvious. The word in it rendered " thoughts," scholars tell


US, signifies originally the small branches of trees. The idea in the
psalmist's mind appears to be this. " Look at a tree, with its branches
shooting in every direction, entangling and entwining themselves one
with another ; let the wind take them — see how they feel it, how rest-
less they become, and confused, beating against and striving one with
another. Now my mind is like that tree. I have a great many
thoughts in it, and thoughts which are continually shifting and chang-
ing ; they are perplexed and agitated thoughts, battling one with anoth-
er. There is no keeping the mind quiet under them ; they bring dis-
order into it, as well as sorrow." And mai-k the word " multitude "
in the text ; there is exactly the same idea in that. It signifies more
than number : confusion. Think of a crowd collected and hurrying
about: " so," says the psalmist, " are my thoughts. I have a crowd
of them in my mind, and a restless confused crowd. One painful
thought is bad enough, but I have many : a multitude of them ; an
almost countless, a disturbed throng."

We now, then, understand the case we have before us. This man's
sorrow arose, at this time, from disquieting thoughts within his own
breast ; and his sorrow was great, because these thoughts were many,
and at the same time tumultuous.

" But what," some light-hearted persons may be ready to say, " is
such sorrow to us ? We know nothing of it ; why should we be told
of it ? " Dear brethren, here is one reason why you should be told of
it, that you may see and learn, that God need not go far, at any time,
to afflict any one of us. He can do it, this text says, without calling to
his aid sickness, or losses, or disappointments, or any outward calami-
ties ; there is a scourge ready prepared for him within our own breasts.
He has only to turn our minds, our own thoughts, loose on us, and we
shall be miserable enough.

We know not, brethren, what there is in our hearts — how much
evil and how many seeds of misery and bitterness. God in his mercy
restrains for a time the workings of our own minds ; but now and then
he lets a bitter branch shoot up, that we may see there is bitterness
within us. But the harvest of evil and the harvest of misery — he
reserves that to a distant day. The Lord grant that none of you may
reap it. But reap it you will, brethren, if you make no eifort now to
escape it. It is a part of that " wrath to come," which wo must have
fall on us, if we do not now flee from it. Continue to make light of
God's " great salvation," and you will understand at last too well, that
there is no wretchedness like that which is bom within a man's own
bosom ; which springs out of a man's own mind — a thinking, active,
disquieted, guilty, God-abandoned mind — a heart given up to itself,


its own evils, its own wild thoughts and workings. Oh ! dread that,
brethren ; dread it more than poverty, or bereavements, or any of the
mortal ills " that flesh is heir to." Oh ! dread it as you would dread
hell. Let us all pray — " Lord ! cleanse thou the thoughts of our hearts
within us. Whatever thou take from us, take not thy Spirit, thy
restraining Spirit, from us. Never in thine anger leave us to

II. Let us now go on to our second point : the psalmist's comfort in
his sorrow.

1. Look, first, at the source of this. It came from God. " My
thoughts," he says ; they constituted his sorrow ; it sprung from him-
self. But " Thy comforts," he says ; his consolations were from God.
Here again, brethren, let me remind you, we may afflict and torment
ourselves^ but it is the living God only who can comfort us. It is easy
for us to set our minds at work, and raise a storm : but if we want to be
quieted, if we want a calm there — a real calm, not a lethargy — it is
beyond our power to make one. The Lord, the Lord from his high
throne above us, must speak, and bid the tumult be still.

But when the psalmist says " Thy comforts," he means more than
comforts of which God is the author or giver. God is the author and
giver of all our comforts — of all the earthly comforts that surround
us ; they are all the work and gift of his gracious hand. Hence he is
called " the Father of mercies " — of mercies generally ; as our church
calls him in her General Thanksgiving — " the Father of all mercies."
He is the God, the Scriptures tell us, "of all consolation." We are
to understand here such comforts as are peculiarly and altogether God's ;
such as flow at once from God ; not from him through creatures to us,
but from him immediately to us without the intervention of creatures.
The comforts that we get from his attributes — from meditating on,
and what we call realizing them : the comforts we get from his prom-
ises — believing and hoping in him ; and the comforts of his presence,
he drawing near to our souls and shining into them — we knowing he is
near us, conscious of it by the light and happiness and renewed strength
within us. " Thy comforts " — the comforts we get from the Lord
Jesus Christ ; from looking at him ; considering him ; thinking of his
person, and offices, and blood, and righteousness, and intercession, and
exaltation, and glory, and his second coming ; our meeting him, seeing
him, being like him . " Thy comforts " — the comforts which come
from the Holy Spirit, " the comforter ; " when he opens the Scriptures
to us, or speaks to us through ceremonies or ordinances, or witnesses
within us of our adoption of God ; shining in on his own work of grace


in our hearts ; enabling us to see that work, and to see in God's pecu-
liar, eternal love to us ; not opening to us the book of life, and show-
ing us our names there, but doing something that makes us almost as
jojful as though that book v/ere opened to us ; showing us the hand of
God in our own souls — his converting, saving hand — his hand appre-
hending us as his OAvn ; making us feel, as it were, his grasp of love,
and feel, too, that it is a grasp which he shall never loosen.

2. Mark, next, the character of these comforts.

They correspond with the psalmist's affliction or sorrow. Were the
sorrows " within him ; " not superficial, but low down (as his words
seem to imply) in his heart ? These comforts also were " within him; "
he does not say " they delight me," but " they delight my bouV —
enter deeply within me, get to the diseased, wounded part, and carry
comfort there. And were his sorrows great ? was he sufifering from
" a multitude of thoughts ? " His comforts also were great and
numerous ; as he says in another place, " I will go into thy house in
the multitude of thy mercies " — surrounded with mercies — carrying
within me comforts so many that I cannot count them. You remember
how he prays in the fifty-first psalm ; when he supplicates the pardon
of his sins, he beseeches God to have mercy on him " according to the
multitude of his tender mercies." He knew his sins to be great ; he
wanted a pardon as great. And so here, brethren, with his sorrows ;
they were many, but not more in number than the comforts God gave
him. He could find something in God to set against every distressing
thought within him.

In some versions of this passage this idea is more clearly expressed.
They read it thus : " according to the multitude of my thoughts within
me, thy comforts delight me." " My troublous thoughts I find xo be
the measure of thy consolations. Thou lookest at my sorrows, to see
how many and how great they are ; and then thou takest of thy com-
forts, and pourest them into my soul, till thy comforts equal ray sorrows
and surpass them." Changing disquietude, not simply into peace,
observe, but into pleasure : " delight." He does not say, " Thy com-
forts strengthen," or " sustain," but " Thy comforis deligU my soul."
Here is another blessed truth taught us, brethren. We can soon
empty earthly things of all the good they contain. We som.etimes
feel, in trouble, as though we had got from earthly friends all the com-
fort they could give us. But God is a fountain of good ; there is no
emptying of him. In him there is a well of consolation ; or rather,
many wells of it : there is no drawing of them dry. As our suiferings
abound, so he can make our consolations also abound ; and superabound,
rising above our suffermgs, so that we are ready at times to forget


them. Does he send heavy and deep afflictions ? — then is the hour
in which the soul often discovers for the first time how rich the Lord is
in consolation, how mighty to comfort, as he had found him before
" mighty to save." Then, dear brethren, is the time to look ^p^yard3
and say — " Now, Lord, comfort me ; now let the long looked-for
abundance of thy consolations come. Thou hast long sustained, long
upheld me ; where should I have been, hadst thou not ? But now.
Lord, now in this hour of trouble, ' delight my soul.' There is joy in
thee — joy in thee for sinners such as I am ; now, Lord, let my soul

Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 23 of 45)