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

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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is one of the common-place principles on which human nature every
where acts. You go and ask a favor from a friend. Will he confer
the favor unless you express a belief that he is able to do so ? Cer-
tainly not. An application to an inefficient power could only be regarded
as an insult. Hence, Jesus Christ, acting on the common-place princi-
ples of human nature, required that any one applying to him for a
favor should acknowledge his ability to confer it. And so now, if you
wish to be saved by Christ, when you come it must be in a full behef
that he can confer salvation. Mistrust renders an application offensive ;
a doubt paralyzes the omnipotence of his power. There must be an
implicit, an unfeigned assent. He has no objection to exercise mercy
towards the guilty, by compromising his own dignity, or letting down
the majesty of his power and his glory to a level with the infirmities
and impeachments of human frailty and unbelief. There must be the
admission of power where there is the prayer of penitence. You must
come to Christ under a full belief that he is able and willing to save
you, not at some remote period, but now. " Lord save or I perish ! "
When ? When I feel in the act of perishing — save now by the power
of the Savior's love, and the manifestation of his pardoning grace.
There is a question that is often mooted, and which cannot, my brethren,
be set at rest too speedily, because it is a question which hampers the
opinion and very much disquiets the feelings of a sinner who is under
the first impressions of guilt. " May I come to the Savior now ? " I
am a guilty, worthless, helpless, hell-deserving sinner. May I venture
to come to him now ? The question is proposed, my brethren, under
an implied behef in the necessity of tarrying till some pre-requisites
are obtained to induce the Savior to exercise mercy and grace, if not
with more facility, at least with more complacency. Now to set the
question at rest, so far, my hearers, as your feelings are concerned, let
me ask what qualifies a pauper to solicit relief ? Is it not his neces-
sities ? Does the pauper require a small degree of wealth to relieve
him from his indigence before he will go and solicit charity from the



COMING TO CHRIST. 307

benevolent ? No. The poorer he is, the more urgent will be his claim.
Who solicits the exercise of the royal clemency with the most feeling
and in the most earnest manner ? The criminal whose life is forfeited.
He who is merely under the liability of being transported from his
native country for a term of years, has not such an interest in the
exercise of mercy as the man whose life is forfeited, whose life belongs
to the sovereign power. It is the extremity of the case justifies the
urgency and promptness of the appeal. And therefore you, man,
if for example, you came into the chapel to-night a hardened sinner, if
the last sentence that ever fell from your lips passed through lips
profaned to the exercise of blasphemy, and you should have f^lt ere
this moment arrived that you were a sinner guilty, condemned, lost,
ready to perish, you are now in a condition to come to Christ for mercy
before the service closes. Your prayer should be, " Lord save me,"
and your application should be now under the strong impression of
conscious guilt, and your dependence should be exclusive. You,
man, have as great a warrant to expect mercy and eternal life as the
most eminent saint that ever walked in fellowship with God and glori-
fied him with his body, soul, and spirit. And when, my brethren, this
act is performed, when, that is, a sinner, with a full impression of his
guilt and unworthiness, comes to Jesus Christ, penitent, broken-hearted,
relying on his promise for mercy and eternal life, expecting that promise
to be fulfilled, something is done which is felt to be of importance on
account of its immediate and continued influence over the state of the
heart. Coming into contact either accidentally or designedly with
friends or even with strangers, sometimes leads to results very unanti-
cipated and of vast importance. Many a fine character has been
ruined by passing an evening amongst strangers. Many a young man
has left his home, comparatively innocent, to take a solitary walk,
either in the country or along the crowded streets of this city, without
any design to form an intimacy, and under no impression that he shall
return home diflerent in taste or in desire to what he was when he left
it, and yet having left home comparatively pure, he has gone back
corrupted. An accidental association with a fascinating stranger, a
designed interview with an old friend who has become corrupt, his moral
corruption not previously known except to himself, has led to the
destruction of a fine social reputation, to health, to peace, and, alas !
to ruin for ever and ever. But, my brethren, no intimacy which is
ever formed by accident or design, is ever known to produce such a
singular efiect upon the human character, both the interior and external
development of that character, as a coming to Jesus Christ to be saved.
What a wonderful effect it has ! What a singular effect was produced,



308 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

my brethren, upon the exterior of the man who was placed at the feet
of Jesus, to whom Jesus said, in the first instance, " Thy sins are
forgiven thee ; " and after that, " Take up thy bed and walk." The
man was borne there a paralytic, under the sentence of divine condem-
nation ; he walked away in the possession of health and strength, a
pardoned sinner, feeling a full consciousness that his sins were forgiven
him at the moment the Savior spoke. Here was an eifect. It was
not a fanciful impression. No ; nor, my brethren, is that a fanciful
impression which is produced upon the heart of the sinner, when he
comes to Jesus Christ to be saved. Fanciful illusion ! The burden
of his guilt is removed ; the disquietude of an uneasy conscience is
allayed ; the virulence of decayed passions is quelled ; the fearful
apprehension of coming woe passes away ; there is peace in exchange
for guilt ; there is tranquillity in exchange for disquietude ; there is the
hope of immortality and eternal life for the fearfulness of coming
destruction. And I appeal to you, who are as qualified to judge in this
question as myself, whether these efforts do not follow, either instanta-
neously or gradually, a coming to Jesus Christ to be saved from wrath
to come ? And not only, brethren, are these effects produced on the
interior state of the man, but there are other effects manifested in his
exterior conduct. What makes the drunkard sober ? "What is it that
induces the Sabbath-breaker to keep holy the day of rest ? What is it
that converts the blasphemer into an attendant at prayer meetings, who
offers up his suppUcations and thanksgivings in a simple, concise, and
appropriate style of speech ? What is it that causes the old things of
evil to pass away, and makes all things to become new ? Here is the
secret of the mystery : it is coming to Jesus Christ, believing in Jesus
Christ. Hence the effects following this application decide that some-
thing is done which is felt to be extraordinary. And not only so, it is
felt to be satisfactory. There are many of the transactions in which
human nature is engaged, which entail a vast amount of regret.
Sometimes the regret is unfailing, and continues through life ; and
where, my brethren, there is no pungent regret, there is often much
uneasiness. A thing is done that is not felt to be satisfactory after it
is done ; it requires revision and re-adjustment, even if it entail no
lasting and painful regret. But these remarks do not apply, in the
slightest degree, to an application to Jesus Christ for acceptance and
eternal life. When the application is made, and when the result is
known, I appeal to you, my Christian brethren, if there be not the
highest degree of satisfaction felt ? You feel that something is done,
and you are satisfied that something is done ; you never want it revised
01^ undone. The mind feels at ease, and rises at times to transport.



COMING TO CHRIST. 309

The eye is suffused with tears of gratitude, and the whole soul seems
to bound away before the hour of her actual departure, to have
impressed upon her imagination that grand and sublime scene, when
mortality will be swallowed up in life, and eternal bliss will be in actual
possession. And, allow me to say, my brethren, in connection with the
result of an application to Jesus Christ, that not only is there a high
degree of satisfaction, but this satisfaction is never, never disturbed, nor
is there the slightest, faintest wish to have this one great occurrence of
our life ever broken up and destroyed. There is a beautiful expression
of the apostle on this point, which is illustrated by the practical expe-
rience of every behever in Jesus Christ. " To whom coming " — not
only " come " to Jesus Christ to be saved, but " to whom coming,"
indicating, what is in fact experienced, that there is a ceaseless inter-
course subsisting between a saved sinner and an Almighty Savior.
" To whom coming," for a fresh application of his pardoning mercy
and cleansing blood, when the imagination and the heart are defiled by
contact with the world; "to whom coming" for fresh mental and
spiritual intercourse with him, who is the fountain of life and joy, and
the rejoicing of the heart of all who trust and hope in him ; " coming"
to have reiterated assurances of protection ; " coming " to have enlarged
manifestations of his love. And, brethren, when the last period of
mortality arrives, how sacred, how transporting, how full of ineffable
delight are the spiritual communings of the soul with Jesus Christ. A
friend of mine, who for a series of years had trusted in Jesus Christ
for salvation, who had enjoyed a large share of peace, and whose mind
possessed the highest degrees of assurance of future happiness, when
within a few minutes of her departure, said to her husband, who stood
weeping by her side, " My dear, once more kneel dow^n and let us hold
fellowship with the Savior together." He knelt and prayed ; he prayed
with difficulty. He commended the spirit of his beloved wife to the
care of the Lord Jesus, while passing through the dark valley of the
shadow of death ; and he arose, and there sat his wife, with an inimi-
table smile upon her countenance, and she said, " I have through life
at times enjoyed the presence of Jesus, but never, never, never till this
moment, did I feel what the bliss of communion with him is." She
smiled again ; her head fell, and she entered into rest. " To whom
coming," till at length he comes and takes the soul to himself that
confides in him for eternal life.

II. But now, my brethren, I have to call your attention to a most
melancholy part of the subject, for melancholy it certainly is. It is a
part of the subject which I should very much like to omit altogether,



810 THE ENGLISH PDLPIT.

and -vvluch I certainly -would omit if I were not constrained by a
sense of duty, and by a regard for the spiritual interest of those
among you who are yet living without Christ in the world, to press it
upon your notice. The melancholy part of my subject is, that although
eternal life is made dependent on an application to Jesus Christ, many,
the majority, the overwhelming majority of those who hear of Christ
— (am I warranted in saying, the majority in this congregation ?) will
not come to him that they may have life. Perhaps if I were to adopt
this last supposition I should exceed the bounds of truth. I never
like to be extravagant, and therefore I will suppose that the over-
whelming majority of this congregation have come to Christ, and are
safe. [There is nothing, then, my brethren, which you have to fear ;
you have every thing to hope for.] Nay, I will go beyond the over-
whelming majority ; I will suppose that there are only ten persons in
this chapel to-night who have not come to Christ for salvation. If
only ten, what an ecstacy of bliss should we feel that there are only
ten — only ten — in this congregation yet unpardoned and unsaved !
Did I say what an ecstacy of bliss ? What a torturing agony of soul
ought we to feel if there are ten yet under sentence of condemnation !
Who are they that constitute the ten in this congregation, yet under
sentence of eternal condemnation ? man ! is it thy wife ?
woman ! is it thine husband ? father ! is it thy child ? brother !
is it thy sister ? If either of these relative associations have brought
to your recollection one who may be supposed to form part of this
given number, let your prayer noAv, whilst I am in the act of address-
ing you, be, " Lord, grant that ray wife, my husband, my father, my
brother, my son, my daughter, may receive impressions that shall force
them to come to Christ for salvation." " Ye will not come to Christ
that ye might have life." Now, this is a fact that no one can dispute.
There are various reasons to be assigned for it. Some are much too
proud to come to Jesus Christ to be saved. There is nothing more
offensive to the pride of a man of intellect, to a man of high social
virtue, to a man who has formed something like a classic taste for
Christianity, to a man who is encompassed with the charm of super-
fititi'ous impressions and associations, than to be told that he must come
to Jesus Christ with the same spirit and the same feelings, and must
utter the same language as publicans and harlots and sinners of the
most offensive and obnoxious character. It is this that offends the
pride of man. He will not do it. No, he will not do it : and per-
haps this may be the case with some of you. You are too proud, too
haughty, you have too high a sense of your own moral dignity, to
perform such a humiliating act as that of coming to Jesus Christ,



COMING TO CHRIST. 311

breathing the language of the publican, and saying, " Lord Jesus,
have mercy upon me." This is one reason ; and, my brethren, the
truth is, that the social virtues of some people do more to secure their
eternal damnation, than do the vices of others. Ah! many a man
continues unsaved because he thinks himself too good to be lost. The
social virtues lead sinners on to hell by blinding them to that sentence
of condemnation which God has pronounced against them for sins com-
mitted against himself. And hence the righteous are lost, whilst the
wicked, by being brought to penitence and to Christ, are saved. It is
for you to decide, who have not yet come to Christ, whether it is the
pride of intellect, or the pride of social virtue that keeps you
away. It matters not what it is — the issue will be the same. If
you do not come you will be lost, and that for ever.

But sometimes persons assign as a reason why they do not come to
Jesus Christ, that they cannot come. They reason in this manner.
" I cannot believe ; I cannot apply to Jesus Christ in the right way :
I cannot repose confidence in him that shall secure salvation to my
soul ; all this requires divine assistance, and I have it not." Then
wait. What will you get ? My friend, this is nothing but an inge-
nious device, not in your favor, as human nature generally acts, but
against your own interest. It is employing the art and contrivance to
render the loss of your soul more certain than it would be, by contin-
uing in a course of open profligacy ; it is becoming ingenious to render
your damnation awfully certain ; it is offering, my brother, an insult
to the very first principles of our fallen nature, which teach us that
self-preservation is the grand law by which human nature is every
where governed ; it is setting this grand law at positive defiance, not
to entail misery on others, but to entail eternal misery on yourself. I
remarked, my brethren, and I think the remark is a just one, that the
incidents which occurred in the history of our Lord's life, are not
only so many facts which demonstrate his power and his compassion,
but facts which also embody the great principles of his mediatorial
administration. To illustrate this, allow me to appeal to another inter-
esting incident in his history. There stood in his presence a man with
a withered arm ; his hand hung by Jiis side. There he stood ; it was
enough for him to stand there. His useless arm bespoke the com-
passion of the Redeemer. And what did the Redeemer do, or rather,
what did he say ? " Stretch forth thy hand." Now suppose that
man had acted as you have ; suppose he had said, " How can I stretch
forth my withered arm ? I cannot use it — the use of the muscles is
gone. I have no power ; give me power, and then I will move. Per-
form an act, and then I will obey the command. Till that is done, I



312 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

will do nothing." If the man had talked like this, had he lived until
this time, his arm would have been hanging by his side, as when he
first appeared in the presence of his Redeemer. But no, that man
acted upon the principle of self-preservation, which is, in fact, the prin-
ciple of self-interest. He made an effort ; he stretched forth his hand
and it was healed. Here we see the principle on which the Son of
God acts. We are not only invited but commanded to come to him,
and when the command is obeyed, the result is secure. " Come unto
me," says Christ, " and be ye saved ; " but men will not come, and
though the reasons why they will not may vary, the issue is precisely
the same. And I would say that this refusal to come to Jesus Christ
and be saved, is an act so extraordinary that I hardly know how to
account for it. It strikes me as something very singular that human
nature does not feel a deep and an overpowering interest in making
preparation against a future and a changeless state of existence. How
is it, my friends, you think of to-morrow ? The child at school carries
on his imagination to a period when he shall go to a business or
profession. The youth, in passing through the early stages of prepar-
ation, carries his mind forward to a time when he shall breathe the air
of liberty, and become a master in his own person. The young
tradesman, who meets with difficulties and discouragements, passes on
to a future stage of existence, anticipates the hour when he shall rise
above all which now oppresses, and perchance, as he revels amid the
creations of his own fancy, imagines that he shall sit beneath his own
vine and his own fig-tree in the eventide of his life, there to enjby the
reward of his early exertions and labors. And who condemns man for
this?

" Man never is, but always to be blest."

He passes from the present hour to the future, but unhappily bounds
his anticipations within the narrow limits of time. It strikes me as
marvellously singular that our nature does not pass the grand boundary
into futurity, and feel a deep interest in the solution of this question,
" What will become of me after fife has been surrendered to the claims
of death ? "

Again, my brethren, when the sin of humanity, and consequent
danger, is so palpable that it cannot be disputed, it strikes me as
marvellously singular that man does not feel a deep interest in ascer-
taining how the sentence can be repealed and his condition changed.
I presume that there are some present who have sometimes been at
the Old Bailey and attended to the trials of the prisoners. Perhaps on
a capital offence you heard the verdict of guilty pronounced and saw
the poor felon led from the dock in possession of his life. But it is not



COMING TO CHRIST. 313

his own ; he lives now for another, and he lives only against the day
of execution. His life he holds in trust, not for his own benefit but
for the benefit of the injured and violated law of his sovereign. Now,
suppose, after attending such a trial as this, after hearing the verdict
and seeing the poor man led back to his cell, after waiting the day of
execution, hearing the solemn bell toll — the culprit on the platform,
his arms tied behind him, the executioner of death busy in performing
his official duties, just stepping back to draw the fatal bolt, standing
by the side of the sovereign of the empire — suppose you should turn
round and ask this question, " Why is that poor unhappy man permitted
to die ? " and the sovereign should say, because he will not ask for
pardon — that is the reason. Had he done it, he would have lived ;
had he done it, I would have repealed the sentence ; had he done it,
the execution now just about to take place would never have been
witnessed. I have sent to him, I have entreated him, I have urged
him, I have promised to restore his life to his possession, and I have
promised even to confer superior favors upon him, but no, he chooses
death rather than life. What would you say ? The bolt is drawn —
the drop falls — there he struggles ; — what would you say ? The
man was not only guilty of imbruing his hands in his brother's blood,
but he was also guilty of imbruing them in his own, because he would
not ask his sovereign to save that life which he had forfeited. He was,
therefore, a double murderer, first, for slaying his brother, and secondly,
for slaying himself. He dies and he incurs an awful amount of guilt
by not asking for the life which was forfeited. And I appeal to you,
my brethren, if your condition is not exactly analogous, though attended
with more awful and appalling circumstances than those with which my
imagination has invested this never witnessed scene. Your life is
forfeited to the violated laws of your supreme sovereign. Mercy is
offered to you : you are commanded to come and accept it. But no
— you will not come to Jesus Christ that you might have life. You
choose to perish rather than to pray. You choose to live in sin and
accumulate fresh guilt rather than to come to him to be saved, who
came into the world to seek and to save them that are lost. And
should this be your case, my brethren, allow me to say you will never
forget your decision, nor will the result of that decision ever be for-
given. If you will not come to Jesus Christ for life, you will not have
it. There is no intermediate condition between the possession of eter-
nal happiness and the infliction of eternal woe. There is no midway
where the human soul can exist alternately, partaking of an intermix-
ture of good and of evil, of misery and of bliss, the one modifying and
correcting the other ; for if you neglect this great salvation escape is



314 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

impossible. Nor, my friends, is it necessary that you should summon
up your soul deliberately to the determination, " I will not come."
You may not come without deciding by any formal act that you will
not. I wish you would brace up your mind to firmness here. Come
to the decision, " I will not come to Christ to be saved." Follow my
advice when you go home. Have you an album ? Write in it, " I
will not come to Christ to be saved." If you have not this fashion-
able depository of what is pleasiug or striking, get a piece of paper
that will withstand the mouldering influence of time and write on it,
" Date, the 12th of September, 1841, — I will not come to Christ to
be saved." Sign your name. Do it — do it to-night, and then retire
to rest. Make the experiment — be honest for once. Let your mind
see itself and know your own decision. Practice deception on your-
self no longer. Courage ! courage ! courage, man ! and then see
whether the re-action of your own courage will not intimidate you.
Try the experiment whether a firmness in evil will not even shake a
determination to live under the awful spell and delusion. But it is not
necessary that you should do this formally, though I would rather you
would do so than live on as you have lived without coming to Christ,
and without thinking about it. If you do not come the issue is certain
— the loss of the soul. A few winters ago, in passing from my chapel
to my own house, residing as I do three miles from it in the country, I
rode along with the coachman, he had not his lamps, the night was
excessively dark, and I looked and. could see nothing, all was gloom.
I arrived at home in safety, I had my supper ; ray family knelt at the
altar of devotion, and I retired to rest ; I fell asleep. It will not sur-
prise you to hear, my brethren, that my imagination retained some-
what of the impressions I received in passing through this palpable
darkness. I dreamt that I was in the dark valley of the shadow of
death, and I dreamt that I was there alone. I saw no object to af-
fright me, I heard no sound to appall me, but I was alone ; I was alone
in a strange place ; I was alone, and the strangeness of the place, its



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 35 of 45)