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

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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mission of scriptural truth to posterity, is derived from the peculiar-
ity OF ITS CHARACTER.

The knowledge of temporal affairs, of human sciences, and of the
various things which contribute to present happiness, is vastly important,
and it would be cruelty to withhold it from the young ; but here we
have before us a volume of truth, a series of discoveries, and precepts
of duty which angels could not have given us, but which are put into
out hands while they are even yet withheld from the vast mass of
mankind. When the inspired psalmist speaks of the Holy Volume as
a testimony which Jehovah had established, a law which he had
appointed, and as designed to show forth his praises, and to exhibit his
power, and his wonderful works, we understand the expressions as
denoting the whole of the Sacred Records, in all their fulness, and
purity, and beauty. And who can examine this book without grateful
admiration and astonishment ?

Look at its revelation of God. The eternity of his existence, the
extent of his power, the penetrating character of his omniscience, the
grandeur of his holiness, and the immutability of his perfections, over-
whelm us ; his regard to man, the manifestations of his love, and the
continuance of his favor, notwithstanding our sins, fill us with grateful
delight. The history of what he has done, the statement of what he
is doing, and the announcement of what he designs, all inspire us with
thankful emotions for the possession of such a Book. We rejoice that
we have a testimony which is infallibly correct, as we receive it from
truth itself; and though the testimony bears most affecting witness
against our wicked feeUngs and base conduct against God, yet the very
pain it excites is salutary, and contributes to the happiness to which
the Book of God tends.

Look at the instruction it affords, as to our duty. While it presents
God as our Creator and Benefactor, it demands that we love him ;
while it describes the whole human race as children of one common
family, it calls for mutual and universal love ; it identifies our duty and
our happiness ; and deriving its sanctions from eternity, it calls us to
the discharge of present duty. It inculcates our pursuit of happiness
for ourselves, our bestowment of our regards on our fellow-men, and
the consecration of all our powers to God. Oh, how glorious the word
of God considered as a law !



S34 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.'

Eut above all, consider Revelation as a history of God's conduct.
And here the details of creation are lovely, the records of his provi-
dence are profoundly instructive ; but his acts of redemption are
surrounded with a splendor ■which angels themselves cannot fully
contemplate. Here we read of the infinity of his love, which eternally
decreed the gift of his Son to atone for our sins, and to open the gates
of heaven which we had closed against ourselves. We trace the oper-
ations of his love in all the transactions of time, and especially in
connection with whatever related to the church. We exult in its exhi-
bitions of the incarnation, the life, the sermons, the miracles, the
examples, the suflFerings, and the death of the Son of God ; and we
admire the book which presents all these things to our delighted minds,
while it unfolds the present engagements of the Redeemer, and 4iis
ultimate design of imparting his own joy to all his followers. We
gratefully exult in the recollection that the Book of God invites every
sinner to the reception of mercy, and presents Jehovah as waiting to
be gracious to the penitent.

And now, my brethren, let the man who has personally realized
these things, and who exults in the faith of the gospel ; who has felt its
power in drawing him to Christ, its consoling influence in the hour of
sorrow, and its sanctifying tendency in all its operations — let such a
man ask himself if this volume of truth ought to be concealed ? or
rather, whether it should not be made known as extensively as possible ?
Who among us does not feel it a subject for the warmest congratulation,
that from a child he has known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to
make us wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus ? And what
heart, under the influence of the doctrines which are here taught, and
the spirit which is here cherished, does not esteem it at once his duty
and his privilege to make known these records to the thousands of the
young around him ? We should pity the man who possessed the Bible,
and who felt no wish for its diffusion ; and should be compelled to assert,
that however well he might be acquainted with its theory, he never felt
any thing of its temper.

II. We draw a second argument for the transmission of Scriptural
truth to the young from the manner in which we have been put

INTO ITS possession.

We have neither discovered the truth for ourselves, nor have we by
our own powers drawn it from heaven : " We have heard it," " our
fathers have told us."

The volume of Divine Revelation is not new. Essential as heavenly
truth ever has been to man from the period of the fall, it was not long



SCRIPTURAL TRUTH. 335

before the " day spring from on high " visited our vrorld. The first
portion of Revelation was uttered by the hps of Deity directly to man ;
after Avhich, in various modes and at diflFerent periods, this knowledge
became deeper and more extensive. In the first instance it was commu-
nicated from one to another only by the human voice. The memory
of man was the only depository of the word of God. After a while it
was committed to writing, and holy men of God transmitted from their
own generation downwards to others the information which Jehovah
had given. It must have been interesting to hear the patriarchs
telling their children, and their children's children, the wonderful
things to which they had been privileged to listen from the lips of their
fathers. We could almost wish to have heard the statements of Noah,
Abraham, and of Jacob, when surrounded by their respective families.
Well, we may listen, and not only read their accounts, but the disclo-
sure of facts, and of the designs of God to which they would have
gladly attended, but died without knowing.

From the fathers of antiquity we have received the lively oracles of
truth. Here is the delineation of human character and misery, and
of the divine method of making man happy. Our fathers received the
truth from heaven, and tested its character and its power; they felt its
happy results in the regeneration and sanctification of their souls ; they
exulted in its consolations in the hour of trial ; they made arrangements
for its descent from age to age till time should cease to roll round ;
they adhered to the truth in defiance of persecution ; they extended
it, though human laws combined against them ; and then multitudes of
them — to prove their faith and to show its influence — cheerfully met
death in its defence. Thus did they show their regard to the author-
ity of heaven, their love to the truth as it is in Jesus, and their pure
and exalted concern for the souls of their fellow-men.

We grant, that now we have a more sure word than that of tradition ;
we thank God that we have a higher standard of appeal than the frail
memory of man, which might be injuriously acted upon by his depravity ;
but we will be grateful too, that holy men orally instructed us in the
way of salvation. We should deeply pity the youth who would turn a
deaf ear to the warm and faithful instructions of a beloved parent or
friend ; who would close his eyes against the life which illustrates and
adorns Christianity ; and who would barricade his heart against the
reception of a spirit of light, of purity, and of joy, which the man of
God ever desires instrumentally to communicate.

There is, my brethren, a feeling of deep interest produced by the
recollections of a pious education. After the lapse of many years, the
mind seems to place itself in the shades of the scenes it once witnessed.



336 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

We recall the features, the words, the tones, the tears, and the actions
of our teachers. We connect their instructions "with the spirit they
manifested ; and the truth^hey taught are exemplified in the character
they sustained. We retrace their lives, and we follow them again to
their closing scenes, and feel that our hearts are made better ; that we
are more detached than we were from earth, and that we have an
increasingly strong desire to " be followers of them who, through faith
and patience, are inheriting the promises."

Here, then, we take our stand, and say, that as we have received
the knowledge of God and the way of happiness from our fathers, who
showed us by their lips and their lives the way of happiness, we are
bound, by every consideration of gratitude, to give to others what has
been so freely given to us. We have never been constituted sole
proprietors of the truth of God, but have been made trustees of it also
for others. Who among us couldjbe so ungrateful, so unjust, so cruel,
as to keep back that which has been committed to him for his children ;
the withholding of which does not enrich him, but makes them poor
indeed ? By the good providence of God our ancestors have enabled
us to say, that " the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places, and that
we have a goodly heritage ; " and by that same providence shall our
children rise up to call us blessed ; for we " will endeavor that after
our decease they shall have these things in remembrance," and be
enabled to hand them down with still increased efficiency to their
posterity.

III. We hasten, 'brethren, to present a third argument for the
discharge of this duty, arising out of the divine arrangements as

TO ITS TRANSMISSION.

" He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to
their children." It is a doctrine well understood by every true Chris-
tian, that we are not to be guided in our conduct by our own sinful
inclinations. The very essence of true religion is the submission of
the heart and life to the service of God ; every thing will be found to
estabhsh the fact asserted in our text, that the Divine being requires
us to instruct the young in the things which belong to their peace. If
the parent examines his own heart, he will find that all the tenderest
feelings of his nature combine to interest him in the happiness of his
children, and he cannot withhold from them the information which
would add to their enjoyment ; he could not see them exposed to
danger without pointing out the way of escape ; he could not behold
the way of happiness opening to their view and not point out the bliss-
ful road. Humanity, too, enlarges this feeling and compels it to



SCRIPTURAL TRUTH. 337

comprehend the whole human race. We see our fellow-men exposed
to the same common calamities, we contemplate them all as capable of
vast enjoyments, and we feel ashamed of ourselves when we do not
intently pursue the objects which will add to their felicity. And when,
as Christians, we open the volume of Divine Revelation, we see how,
from the days of Abraham downwards, very specific directions have
been given from heaven as to the obligations of good men to give
instructions to the ignorant ; and we behold the pleasing combinations
of the pious in every age to accomplish the important object.

But our text, and the volume of inspiration generally, shows the
duty of Christians to have an especial reference to the young. Fathers
are commanded to make known the commands and the character of
God to their children. Various powerful reasons might be assigned for
this infinitely wise arrangement. The young come into our world with
an awfully' strong bias to evil, and it is unspeakably important to check
the workings of their depravity by presenting the most powerful con-
siderations which tend to the accomplishment of such an end. They
are exposed to the most awful dangers arising from this depraved dispo-
sition, from the manifold temptations of Satan, from the evils they
witness in the corrupted state of society, and from ten thousand allure-
ments to vice to which they are always exposed. Oh, how needful,
then, that we should draw light from heaven to guide their feet in the
way of peace, that they may at once be delivered from eril, and led
into all that is good.

There are yet other considerations which should have their full
influence in this weighty affair. Those to whom we are called on to
give instruction are the hope of the future, they are those Avho must
succeed us in the discharge of the duties of life, they will give a charac-
ter to the next age ; nay, their conduct will have its influence on gen-
erations yet to come. Who that feels as he ought to do is not desirous
of being fairly represented to posterity ? and who, that rolls his eye
over the scroll of prophecy, can forbear to witness the important
events which are soon to be accomplished, or cease to feel an intense
interest in the training of those who will take a part in the still severer
struggle to which we look forward, between sin and holiness ?

Nor must it be forgotten here, that, as immortal creatures, the char-
acter of man is usually formed in youth for eternity. Comparatively
few cases occur in which the great process of regeneration is known
in the heart beyond the middle stage of life. If these children were
permitted to grow up in the Avays of ignorance and sin, and to pass to
mature life in that state, the strong probability is, that they would
continue to live neither receiving nor communicating happiness for
22



338 THE ENGLISH PULPIT,

eternity. The mind derives its character from the transactions into
"which it comes in contact in the first years of its existence. Oh,
Christians, what a motive to effort ! Oh, teachers, what a motive to
diligence !

IV. These remarks seem to connect themselves with the fourth
argument we deduce from our text in favor of the transmission of
Scriptural truth to posterity, it is derived from the great results

WHICH IT IS intended TO ACCOMPLISH.

God had a most important object to effect by the donation of his
Word to the world, and he intends that by the communication of his
truth to the young, " they might set their hope in God, and not forget
the works of God, but keep his commandments." It is truly delight-
ful to contemplate the possibility, nay, the certainty, of man being
again brought into contact with the Most High. Melancholy, indeed,
is the fact, that he has departed from the fountain of felicity and fixed
his hopes of enjoyment on created objects, that he should have so far
forgotten the character and just claims of Jehovah as to engage in
actual rebellion against his government, and to have formed an agree-
ment with fallen angels to hurl Deity from his throne. But this state
of things is not always to continue. He who sent his Son into our
world to die for man, graciously engaged that he should see the full
desires of -his soul in the renovation of the moral world. We are
even now contemplating the new creation of earth ; the command is
gone forth to that end, and Jehovah calls upon us to behold him making
his world anew. The sons of men must be brought to fix their best
affections on the great source of all excellence, to study every part of
his will, and to give every energy they possess to the advancement of
his glory. This is, indeed, a scene on which the attention of angels
may be well fixed, and which is every way adapted to call forth their
warmest admiration. Over such facts they may again sing, and these
sons of God may shout aloud for joy.

It is eminently adapted, my brethren, to increase and to purify our
zeal, to remember that we are not now rejoicing in the mere paintings
of imagination ; but that we are exulting in what shall soon prove
sober and blessed reality ! He who created the world hath confirmed
the fact, staking his very existence upon it, that the whole earth shall
be filled with his glory.

Oh, how blissful the reflection, that a period shall arrive in the his-
tory of our race when the evil dispositions which are now the founda-
tion of misery, shall be destroyed, when man shall cease to be filled
with envy, and wrath, and all uncharitableness, and when he shall be



SPIRITUAL TRUTH.

filled with love to God and man — at once happy in himself, and doing
whatever may lie in his power to make others happy.

Equally interesting is it to remark, that this mighty change is not
to be brought about by miraculous agency, but simply by means of
man communicating to man the knowledge of God. Those who possess
this knowledge will give it to others till all the Avorld shall rejoice in its
light. Every individual who receives the knowledge of God, in the
love of it, becomes a moral sun, diffusing light and warmth around
him, the glorious effects of which shall be felt through all the changes
of time, and in eternity itself. When we contemplate, for instance,
the thousands of the young who, in connection with this congregation,
have been taught in the knowledge of the Scriptures ; and especially
when we remember the many scores who have been morally renewed
by it, it is impossible for us to calculate the good which it has effected,
or fully to conceive of the infinite ramifications of this river of life,
scattering its blessings through the world, down to the very end of
time — and then anew displaying themselves in the eternal world.

But we must hasten to a close. The very soul of preaching is
practical application. "VVe have seen something in the history of the
people of God which tends to confirm all that we have said ; and have
been fully convinced, that the church of Christ has been most prosper-
ous when it has been most attentive to the spiritual interests of the
rising generation. But we are desirous of leading you very fully to
act on our text.

"Will you permit the preacher to indulge for a moment or two in the
narration of a plain, unvarnished tale ? Some three or four and thirty
years ago, a little company of the followers of the Redeemer, in con-
nection with this Christian church — some of whom continue to this
day, but many are fallen asleep — resolved on directing the attention
of the children of the poor more fully to Christ. Their number was
not large, their attainments, generally speaking, were not great, and,
in the esteem of the world, their prospect was not cheering ; but God
has always commenced his great proceedings with small means ; among
some of the earliest of its scholars was a little orphan boy,

" The son of parents passed into the skies,"

both of whom once communed with this Christian society. The Sun-
day School taught him to read his Bible, to weep over sin, and to en-
tertain high thoughts of the Savior ; while its best friends provided
for each of his temporal wants. As time rolled along it brought with
it new mercies, till that boy, it was humbly hoped^ became a follower
of Jesus, was numbered with his people, entered the Christian min-



340 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

istrj, and labored in the Christian cause of Christ it is believed not
without success. And now at the end of eight-and-twenty years, he
appears among you this morning to erect his stone of Ebenezer in
grateful remembrance of divine mercies, to weep over parental and
friendly dust, and to avow his increasing attachment to Sabbath
schools. The fathers are gone ; the very prophets depart hence ; but
turning to these young persons, we say to your pastor, your deacons,
and to every Christian, " These same shall comfort you concerning the
work and the toil of your hands."

Pardon, my brethren, this allusion to the personal history of the
preacher ; it has been called forth by grateful recollections of bygone
days. " If I forget thee," 0, thou Sunday school, " let my right
hand forget her cunning, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I prefer not thee to my chief joy. For my brethren and compan-
ions' sakes I will now say, peace be within thee. Because of the
house of the Lord my God I will seek thy good.'^



SERMON XXVIII.

WHAT IS THE NATURE OF JUSTIFYING FAITH?
BY THE HON. AND REV. B. W. NOEL.

" Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." — Rom. iii. 25.

The previous verses of this passage teach us these important truths :
that all of us are, by nature and practice, condemned by the law of
God, and consequently that no obedience to that law which condemns,
can justify us ; but that there is, notwithstanding, a justification pro-
vided for a certain class of persons by God himself, which is here
termed " His righteousness : " that this justification is a free gift to
sinners — absolutely, divinely free ; yet, nevertheless, that it has been
obtained for them by the costly sacrifice of the Son of God, and is not
granted of mere mercy, but is granted to them of mercy " through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Having stated these truths, the
apostle tells us, in the words which I have read, to what class of per-
sons that blessing is restricted. It is not granted to all mankind, but
it is granted to tlmse who believe in Christ ; " whom God hath set
forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.^^



WHAT IS JUSTIFYING FAITH? 341

The original cause, then, of the justification of a sinner, is the abso-
lute mercy of God ; the meritorious cause of a sinner's justification, is
the obedience and the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ ; and the
instrumental cause of a sinner's justification is faith in that Redeemer.
There is but one original cause, — which is mercy ; there is but one
meritorious cause, — and that is redemption by Christ ; and there is
but one instrumental cause, — and that is faith in Christ. " Whom
God hath set forth to be a propitiation fhrongh faith in his blood."

Let us look to God the Spirit, who alone can make his own word
profitable, while we consider what is the nature of justifying faith, the
extent to which it justifies, and the manner in which it justifies. The
whole statement is very simple, but it is of great moment to every sin-
gle person of this congregation. It is of the last consequence to us,
that we not only know what this faith is, but have it. It is of the
utmost moment to you and me, that we have this faith ; and it is my
object, in the simple exposition which may follow these words, to lead
you, as an instrument in the hands of the great God, not only to know
what justifying faith is, but to have it.

Let us think, first, wLdA it is not : because, this may enable us the
more clearly to observe what it is.

The faith, of which the apostle speaks in these words, through which
Christ becomes a propitiation for any individual sinner, is not a beUef
in the truth of the fact, that Christ is come, or that the New Testa-
ment is a divinely inspired revelation of that fact and its consequences.
Because, faith in Christ is evidently trust in Christ ; it is the meaning
of the word. No man can pretend to have faith in Christ, and not
trust Christ : just as a person could not pretend to have faith in hia
physician, and not trust his physician. But a person may believe in
the truth that Christ is come, and may believe that the New Testament
reveals that fact, its character and its consequences, and yet have no
trust in Christ, and therefore not have the " faith in his blood," which
is spoken of here.

It is not, further, a belief in the truth of all the principal doctrines
of the gospel. This is a step beyond the last ; for there are many
persons, that do credit the gospel to be a revelation from God, and yet
know little of the doctrines it contains ; nay, reject most of its doc-
trines. But a person may reject none of them — may admit in terms
their truth, see the proofs of them in the Scripture, and maintain them
all, and yet that person may have no faith in Christ. Because, Christ
has come to offer salvation to us as sinners ; but it is obvious, that a
person may credit the truth of these doctrines, and not trust in Christ



342 THE ENGLISH PULPIT.

to save his soul. And if so, he is an unbeliever : he disbelieves that
Christ has come to save liis soul. He may be destitute of all trust in
Christ, and yet believe the great facts of the gospel, to a certain de-
gree and in a certain sense. And this faith is that which is possessed
by fallen spirits, who know very well the great truths of the gospel,
and are busily engaged in opposing them in the world. That which a
man only shares with the great enemies of God and man, cannot be the
faith which saves.

The same remarks will apply to this further stage — the state of a



Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 38 of 45)