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

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

. (page 27 of 45)
Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 27 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

beholdins the honors of his tribunal ; and the transaction itself it is
impossible to overstate or extravagantly to describe.

II. We will turn to the multitude that shall be sum-
moned TO it.

When we have entered a court of justice, there has been one point
of concentrated interest and attention. However splendid the forms
of its administration, how^ever solemn the functionaries of its exercise,
whatever may have been the significance of its types, whatever may
have been the dreadness of its issues, until law seemed built up into a
throned state, and to have been covered with a spotless robe, all — all
were forgotten by us while intent upon the prisoner at the bar. There
he stood ; and what a spectacle ! The excess of feeling had confound-
ed every feature, until it had lost its power, and was incapable of its
expression ; and yet how keenly alive was he to every glance that was
stolen, to every word that was breathed, bearing upon his case ! Then
how his eye riveted ; how attentive was his ear ! Every function and
organ of sense seemed to vibrate.

There we saw him — that poor wretch : his countenance of haggard


vacancy, his spirit fallen into dark and torpid despair. He awaited
the verdict of his guilt and the sentence of his condemnation.

We were spectators then: we felt but from the force of sympathy.
We are now arraigned. We ourselves now are cited. We ourselves
must confront this inquest ; we ourselves must stand before this judg-
ment-seat. All are comprehended ; all are summoned. " Come to
judgment," " small and great," " the quick and the dead."

Oh ! this innumerable, this untold crowd. It were to insult its vast-
itude, to compare it to any of the throngs of earth : the millions which
Thebes attracted — which Godfrey marshalled — over which Xerxes
wept : when whole peoples have been stirred, when mighty nations
have risen up, when they have said " A confederacy," when the appeal
has been made to a contemporary race and to a listening world.

Who knows the number of that generation of his species, which now
fills this earth ? Say that it is 500,000,000, low as is this computa-
tion. Begin not to reckon it for a thousand years. Then, from that
epoch, you must multiply it at least a hundred and fifty times. Arith-
metic has no fictitious figure, by which to include it ; or if it might
find the number or the sound, there the index might point, or there the
sound might be uttered, but the mind would not be travelling with it
— would not be informed by it. Yet some impression may be made
upon us, when we think of those that shall " stand in the judgment,"
by ascertaining the sources whence they are derived.

" The sea gives up its dead." What navies have been shattered,
and have been swallowed up by its rage ! Pharaoh and his host : the
whole world perished in its overflow. It is insatiable. It has encroach-
ed upon the kingdoms and the dwelling-places of men. It is the very
emblem of all that is insatiable,: human cupidity, aggrandizement,
ambition. It conceals that which it has devoured ; but he "who said to
the waves of Gennesaret, " Peace, be still," shall control the multitu-
dinous oceans of our earth, and then every cavern shall be searched,
and every depth shall be sounded. It shall be exacted of its prey. —
Each secret now shall then be wrung from it, and all its captives b«
restored. " The sea gave up its dead."

" Death gave up the dead which were in it." The power of the
grave, the personification of death. The deep places of the earth ;
for the dry land is but the burying-place of man. Let us think, how-
ever painted this scene may be, it is only a painted sepulchre ; we are
only treading on the dust of our predecessors, as posterity will soon
tread on ours. But he who burst the barriers of the tomb, and made
death bow before him — he shall send forth his mandate, publish his
behest ; and then the vaults, and the catacombs, and the mummy pits,


and the bone houses, shall disgorge the relics ; and death shall stand
extorted as to all it knows, stripped of all it boasts, and the whole of
this earth shall seem to stir with motion, and once more to heave with
life. The dead shall live. Death is no longer the keeper of the pris-
on-house, but delivers up the dead.

It was much for the sea to obey him who sitteth on the throne ; it
was more, for death — the grave — the sepulchre — to yield its vic-
tims ; but " hell " — the place of departed spirits, where the disembod-
ied soul of man is to be found, whether in happiness or in woe — Hades
has listened to a voice, till then unknown to it. The gates of " the
shadow of death " unbar, and its portals fly open. And now, there
come — there come — there come — clouds of spirits rolling upon
clouds, in swift succession, with impetuous rush ; sumless, but all indi-
vidualized ; the consciousness of each distinct, the character of each
defined, and the sentence of each anticipated. And Hades sends
back spirits to those bodies, which the sea and the grave may no more

" The small and the great stand before God." All who have been
among the mighty, and would not " let go their prisoners," and all of
minor name. Attila, Gonsalva, Auringzeb, with their vassals: Cyrus,
Alexander, Caesar, with their battalions : Plato, Socrates, Aristotle,
with their disciples : all who ever achieved a name, and all who ever
perished without one. None so great that they can intimidate ; none
so little that they can be overlooked. " The small and the great stand
before God."

And looking at that mighty throne, there is a distinctive circum-
stance which must not be overlooked : " Every man was judged." —
It seems so vast an occasion, it seems so massive an aggregate ; can
" every man " there find a place ? must " every man " there pass an
ordeal ? Every man shall there stand apart, bearing his own burden,
occupying his own lot. Every man shall there give the account for
himself, and not for another. Every man shall there feel as though
^or him alone that trumpet blast was rung and that blazing conflagra-
tion was kindled, and all this sublime tragedy was acted. Every man
shall feel that he is noticed, that he is espied, and must be judged out
of these books.

There is sometimes a deception we would practise upon ourselves :
we think that we may be lost as in that multitude, overlooked as in
that crowd. That objection is refuted ; all diificulty is defied. God
can say, " All souls are mine ; " and all souls, on that day, shall pass
in review before him. Each of your " idle words ; " each of your
" vain thoughts ; " each of your impure desires : every bias of your


spirit, every movement of your heart. What a resurrection is that,
my brethren ! Do I speak of the resurrection of the body ! I speak
of a resurrection more hideous. We must all " receive the things
done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil." All
will germinate afresh ; all will develope anew. There will then be
understood the full doctrine of consequences, and what is the entail in
eternity of all we speak, and all we think, and all we desire, and all
we transact in time. All is given back to us. Not only the resurrec-
tion of our bodies ; there is the resuscitation of our deeds.

III. Lastly, let us consider the pkocess that must determine
OR adjudicate it.

What a suspense have we felt when we looked at the flying scroll ;
when we looked upon the seven-sealed Book ! But what are they to
these registers, on which all our fates depend ?

There is a " book of God's remembrance." ' It is accommodated
language, that we may better understand that nothing is forgotten by
him. " All our members " are in that book ; and in that book " are
not even our tears ? " God " looks upon the heart ; " " God requir-
eth that which is past." These are solemn words : " If our heart con-
demn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." —
" Thou hast set mine iniquities before thee, my secret sins in the light
of thy countenance." These are the books.

But that we may more distinctly analyze the figure, let us consider
that these books may describe to us the requirements of God's law. —
When Ililkiah found the law, and read it to the people, they rent their
clothes, awe-struck that they had committed so many offences against
a long-forgotten law. When brought home by the Spirit, that re-
bukes " of sin, of righteousness and of judgment," to the conscience of
Saul of Tarsus, a zealot and a persecutor, " sin revived " and as to
all hope and as to all expectation instantly " he died." Men make
very light of God's law, frame their excuses, offer their exceptions ;
they have little notion, that this law is " holy and just and good," that
it is necessary, that it is inevitable, that it results from infinite perfec-
tion, that it is the very goodness as well as the rectitude of the Deity
that compels it. They have little notion that it is spiritual in its lat-
itude and comprehensiveness. If they do not outwardly infringe it,
they hold themselves freed from every charge, though they lust in
their heart — though they covet in their heart — though in their heart
they comprise every essence and every root of sin. But then that book,
which is closed to so many, shall " be opened :" shall be opened in all
its requirements, all its penalties, all its sanctions. You will not then


think that its bands are small ; you will not then think that its terrors
are sHght. If the law, bj one drop of its present furj, one l^iash of
its present power, causes the stoutest heart and the most rebel con-
science to quail, how will the stoutest heart be as tow in the fire, and
the most rebel conscience be as wax before the flame, when this book
shall be oj^ened ? — shall be opened in all its contents, shall be opened
in all its precepts, shall be opened in all its awards.

But are there no witnesses ? Let memory speak ; let conscience

Let memory speak. Now, very frequently, we know its weakness
by the rapidity of its transitions, and by the crowd of its images.
Very much that we have known is obliterated ; very much of former
times and former seasons we cannot recall. Yet have you not felt oc-
casionally that you could live over again ? There is a suggestive
power, there is an associating principle ; and one thing seemed to
revive another, and though you had not thought upon it and not
dwelt among it for years that had transpired, you say it all at once,
you felt it all again. And then, my brethren, memory will indeed
be a faithful chronicle. Memory will be a living present. What
will be the burst of all its lights, what will be the irruption of all its
facts, what will be the harvest of all its long-buried seeds ! Nothing
effaced ; nothing weakened as to impression ; nothing confounded, lost
in the mass ; but every hne distinctly drawn, the " jot and tittle " all

Let conscience speak. Life, with many, is but one prevarication
with this, and one endeavor to escape from it. And yet they cannot
always prevail. Conscience makes itself to be heard. There are
those, who in spite of themselves are at this moment " full of the fury
of the Lord." Their souls " meditate terror : " they " roar for the
disquietness of their souls." " The spirit of man may sustain his in-
firmity ; but a wounded spirit who can bear ?" When all the arrows
are barbed deep in that conscience, when all " the fury of the Lord "
is poured out on that conscience, when the grievous whirlwind of wrath
is pressing upon that conscience, oh ! it will distort no tale, it will cor-
rupt no testimony. While memorj'^ tells a fact, conscience will only
speak a truth.

Brethren, such a law is to be opened ; and memory will be an un-
impeachable witness then, and conscience will be an unimpeachable wit-
ness then. How will you meet their report ? How will you counter-
work their evidence ?

But these " books" — (they are many, they are not a single volume)
— may refer to the discoveries of the gospel. And these might in-


deed cheer, and these ought indeed to fortify, if you have " won Christ
and are found in him." But if you are unbelievers still, if you are
" enemies in your minds by wicked works," if you are not reconciled
unto God, this book is more portentous in its aspect against you, even
than the volume of the law. You will be judged " according to this
gospel." Christ himself exclaimed — "I judge him not ; the word
that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." All
the beseechings of mercy, all the remonstrances of authority, all the
pleadings of tenderness : — this book shall be opened only the more
terribly to convict and to condemn. Mercy will in that day be more
terrible than justice. The cross will be a sight that a sinner will be
glad to escape, though by escaping it he sink deeper into the devour-
ing flames. Calvary will be a spectacle that he would gladly avoid,
for it is more horror-smiting to him than the burning heaven and the
dissolving world.

Brethren, the law brings its condemnation : it is of its nature to
condemn the sinner ; but the gospel brings its pardon, its reconciliation,
its peace. Oppose not — presume not on it. Trifle not Avith it, lest
you die in your sins.

And there is " another book." It is like the bow in the cloud ; it
is like the halcyon on the storm. It is " the book of life." Then, if
we be enrolled in it, it is an act of grace. If we be enrolled in it, we
now present a correspondence of character ; we have life in us, it
dwelleth in us ; for the apostle could say of his companions — " Their
names are in the book of life." And if we be enrolled in it, there is
here certainty and guarantee ; for it is " in hope of eternal life, which
God that cannot he promised before the world began." And " the
Lamb's book of life ; " our names written in his precious blood !

They shall be judged "according to their works." Not as the
foundations of their faith, but as its proofs ; not as any thing beyond
the symptom, the test, and the trial. But " show me," says Christian-
ity now — " show me thy faith by thy works." Christianity, through
the lips of its " Author and Finisher," will say the same in judgment
to every formalist and every professor : " Show me thy faith by thy
works." We shall, therefore, be judged every one according to our
works — the form our character has assumed, the caste our life has
'taken, " what manner of spirit we have been of," what has been the
whole state, spirit, practice of our conduct.

" I saw," said the prophet. He never forgot it. Had we caught
a glimpse, surely we could not forget it too. But men say, it is so
distant. Distant ! " It is appointed unto you once to die ; " when
will that appointment come ? " This night your soul " may be " required


of you." "And after death, the judgment." Immediately: not as
to its public ratification, but as to its immediate impression and abso-
lute effect. Judgment distant ! an hour may place you there.

You say, it is so vast ; so many are included — the swarming multi-
tudes of angels. But your sin is distinct ; your spirit stands out from
every other spirit that the Divine inspiration ever breathed. And that
self, which you understand, however sophists may attempt to puzzle it
— that self of yours inheres in you, and lives in you. And it shall be
the same ; so that if you should awaken up in your thought after thou-
sands and thousands of years, long after eternity has unfolded itself,
you will be compelled to say — I am the very same I was ; this
is the same instrument of thinking that I possessed before ; this is the
same faculty of feeling that I possessed before ; I remember that world
in which I first received my Kfe ; I remember my passage through that
world ; I am not a transformed being ; there is nothing forgotten, noth-
ing evaded, nothing shuffled ; I am the same. What a thought will
that be in eternity, to each one who dies in unbelief, and perishes in
rejection of the Savior! " I am that unbeliever, and I am bearing the
eternal consequences of that my vile, infatuated unbelief."

But you think it inconceivable. " Is it not painted too strongly ?
are not the colors overcharged ? " The sun rose upon Sodom ; but the
horrible tempest blasted it ere that noon. There were those, doubtless,
in the days of righteous Noah, who, as he adjusted plank after plank
for a hundred and twenty years, taunted and scoffed at him ! but the
world of the ungodly, notwithstanding, was destroyed. Put not your
power to conceive against the " sayings " which are " faithful and
true." Say not, " Where is the promise of his coming ? " " He is
not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness" — as
you are counting it likewise.

And now, go to that Savior, who shall then be the Arbiter and
Judge ; and bear with you all that you can bear — your poor, your
guilty, your miserable self Urge — plead the cause of your immor-
tal soul. Say to him — " It is unworthy of thy notice, it is encrusted
with a leprosy of crime, but it is my all ; Jesus, Son of David, have
mercy on me." Ah ! thouneedest not tell him what is thine all ; thou
needest not tell him how precious and how invaluable it is to thee as
thine all. Has he not died the death ? Knoweth he not, that " the
redemption of the soul is precious ? " Thou hast found thy way, then,
to him who " receiveth sinners ; " who will in no wise " cast out." —
Thine appeal is to a heart of infinite compassion, and thou must prevail.

But what if there be those who determinately resist the overture of
mercy, and set themselves against Jesus as a Savior, and his Spirit as


a sanctifier ? My beloved hearers, for a moment pause ; for a moment
bear with me. Did you ever think upon these words — " the wrath
of the Lamb ? " the wrath, not of " the Lion of the tribe of Judah,"
but " of the Lamb." Not the wrath of him who goeth forth in his
indignation ; but " the wrath of the Lamb " — the Lamb meek and
gentle — the Lamb who was "led to the slaughter" — "the Lamb
that was slain." " The wrath of the Lamb ! " What ! that emblem
of compassion, that incarnation of pity — can there be wrath in him ?
Wrath in that eye which wept over the perishing sinner ? wrath on
those lips that only spake of kindness and of love ? What meaneth
this combination ? " The wrath of the Lamb ! " Exhausted patience
then : inflamed mercy then ; incensed love then. No more compassion
in infinite compassion ; no more love in inexhaustible love. The cross
no more propitiates; the blood of expiation no more speaks ; " the door
is shut ; " the very office of Mediator is abdicated ; and now there is
left but " the wrath of the Lamb ! "

Go to him, flee to him, ere that wrath shall be" kindled but a little."
One flake of it would consume you ; one manifestation of it would
destroy you. It will be too late when all this is realized — " the
wrath of the Lamb " — to say, " Rocks ! fall on us ; hills ! cover us."
" The wrath of the Lamb " pierces all. And though, my brethren,
you might conceive of the sternness of the Judge, though you might
bear up under the conception of the severity and the vengeance of the
Almighty, what a hell is reserved for you — a hell that shuts you up
for ever, under " the wrath of the Lamb ! "



Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin,
Bhould live unto righteousness : by whose stripes ye were healed.— 1 Peter ii. 24.

Were I to announce to you, as an introduction to my sermon, that
I am come to make known to you a medicine which should cure all
your disorders ; put an end to all your pains ; make you all immortal ;


what attention should I secure ! And yet, I can make such an intro-
duction, only with this one remark, that the medicine is for the soul^
and not for the body. And if any of you should look blank, and say
— Is this all ? I may return to such hiquirers, and say — No : this is
not all ; for though your bodies be dead, by this they shall live again,
and be united in due time to the everlasting Spirit. For this life is as
some gallant vessel which takes a little boat in tow ; and not only pre-
vents it from being swamped and carried down to the bottom, but causes
it to ride safely with it to the destined harbor : thus shall the spirit
ransomed bear aloft the body also to a throne of immortality in the
presence of God and the Lamb. Come, then, and let me invite you to
listen to the apostle's proclamation : " Who his own self bare our sins
in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
righteousness ; by whose stripes ye were healed ; " for here is a double
transfer announced — a transfer of guilt from the sinner to the inno-
cent ; while, on the other hand, the benefit is transferred from the inno-
cent to the guilty.

To the first part of the subject, then, let us bend our attention — a
transfer of guilt from the sinner to the innocent. If any one be
shocked at this language, I call upon him to receive it as truth, unless
he would have us renounce our hope, and in despair say. Heaven is
lost ! And we are but embryos of lost spirits ! for he must acknowl-
edge that we are sinners : this all confess ; and, if we die guilty, we go
from the place of judgment to the place of perdition. " The soul that
sinneth, it shall die." Man being a sinner, in the ordinary and strict
course of justice, nothing remains but this. And if you allow these
thino-s to be so, I ask you whether you must not be prepared to meet
with something strange in the gospel ? And accordingly, here you
find it. For,

1. The sin was ows. This the apostle declares plainly. A preach-
er is expected to define his subject — but how shall I define sin ? It
is too deep to be explained — too dark to be examined ; like the hell to
which it leads, too horrible to be dwelt upon. The apostle calls it,
" exceeding sinful." Sin is not only the tvorst thing in the universe,
it is the only evil thing : take away this, and there is no evil in the uni-
versal world. All penal evil is only the consequence of moral evil.
There is in sin an intrinsic evil. Sin is an evil which has in it no ame-
lioration : it is evil, and only evil, and evil continually. But whatever
sin be, we have committed it, and it is ours. And you will observe,
that the apostle uses the plural " our sins " they are many : — "My
sins," said one, " are more in number than the hairs of my head." —
Who can tell his errors ? Were I to ask the best arithmetician to cast


up the amount, he would declare that he had no powers bj which t»
express the mighty sum. One penitent, when looking back on the
Bins of his life, cried out, " Infinite, infinite ! " And if one said so of
the sins of one, what may we say of them all, when they are all thrown
together as in one joint stock, and we say " our sins ! " Who can tell
their number then ? Surely, then, we must multiply infinite by infi-
nite. Yet such were the sins which were laid on the Lord ; for,

2. The burden was his. Yes, though the sins were ours, the bur-
den was his ; — he, " his own self, bare our sins." The Scriptures
employ a variety of figures to denote the same thing : sometimes sin is
spoken of as a debt, but he paid it ; — as a disease, but he endured it ;
as a burden, but he sustained it. That was a burden which " fools
make a mock " of; and which to most men is a " trifle, light as air ; "
but O, it will be bitterness in the end ! One cried out, " My sins are
heavier than the sands of the sea ! My spirit is drunk up by the
poison of the arrows of God ! " 0, my dear hearers, were you awake
to a sense of your real state, you would enter into the views of a poor
man, who said to a minister, a friend of mine, " Sir, I seem as if a
heavy weight of lead were lying on my heart ! " 0, there is no bear-
ing up against it, when it is brought home to the conscience by the
Holy Spirit ! " The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity ; but a
wounded spirit who can bear " " When he giveth quietness, who then
can make trouble ? And when he hideth his face, who then can behold
him ? And if he make a man to feel that he is displeased ; that the
Almighty has no favor to him in his present state ; and that there is no

Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 27 of 45)