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

The English pulpit : collection of sermons online

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various principles contained in the testimony which has been delivered
concerning Christ can be fulfilled only, satisfactorily and conclusively,
in perfect spiritual obedience to the commandments which the great
Redeemer has promulged. That great spiritual fact was sufficiently
proclaimed during the life-time of the Redeemer himself. " Every
tree," says he, " that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and
cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruit ye shall know them.'*
Again, " not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into
the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which
is in heaven." Again, " Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the
things that I say ? " Again, " If any man love me, he will keep my
commandments." Again, " He that hath my commandments, and
keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." Again, " If ye keep my com-
mandments, ye shall abide in my love. Greater love hath no man
than this, that a man may lay down his life for his friends. Ye are mj-


friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Now, it must be very
clear, that, to understand and perfectly distinguisli all that is present-
ed in the religion of the gospel, and to bring whatever is preceptive in-
to regular and constant action, must be considered as an essential law
of the Christian calling. The Christian is commanded to " crucify the
fleshjWith the affections and lusts." He is commanded to come out
and separate himself from whatever is impure and unholy in the con-
duct and habits of the world. He is commanded to "" bring forth the
fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glo-
ry of God : virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, broth-
erly kindness, charity." All these things are to be in him and abound.
He is commanded to set his affections on things above, and not on
things on the earth. He is commanded to make a public and open
avowal of his attachment to the name of the great Redeemer, whom he
professes to serve, and to dedicate every thing he possesses of wealth,
of talent, or of opportunity, to the diffusion of the cause and glory of
the Redeemer in the world.

It would be an insult to the principles of this great congregation to
state, at length, that those only are Christians by whom these various
commandments are obeyed ; and I will venture to assume, for the
honor of this church and people, that you will not venture to deny,
that those who disobey these commandments have no title to claim the
name of the great Redeemer who delivered them. I know that, in
modern times especially, there are multitudes of men who profess the
name of Christian, who nevertheless are open and avoAved infidels in
principle, and whose habits are hostile to what the great Redeemer
has exempUfied. And I know, too, how grievously the reputation of
religion has suffered in the estimation of the world, by the crimes and
pollution of votaries, which votaries are to be solemnly repudiated and
renounced, as we do now solemnly repudiate and renounce them, as
having no more connection with the worth and religion of the Lord
Jesus Christ, than is possessed by the very spirits of the ^.byss them-
selves. If, in your own sphere of existence, you meet with those who
profess to know God, and yet in practice deny him — if you meet those
persons that assume the name of Christ, and yet refuse to imitate his
example, and obey his commandments, we have but to pronounce res-
pecting them, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ ; " These
are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding
themselves without fear ; clouds they are without water, carried about
of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead,
plucked up by the roots ; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their


own shame ; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of
darkness for ever."

(3.) We observe, in the last place, that a Christian is one ivho re-
ceives his faith and holiness, and his desert in them, hy the Spirit of
Christ. The fact, my brethren, which we now state, with regard to
the origin of the Christian character, is one Avhich has received, in
modern, as well as in ancient times, a very general denial. It being
the judgment of men, especially among the unconverted, that the dis-
pensation of the gospel is nothing more than the dispensation of all
speculative systems, so that it does not require any impulse but Avhat
arises from the intellect and affection of the human mind itself. We
must state, first, the great evangelical principle which it is my desire,
on the present occasion, to announce among you — that the determi-
nation and tendency of the human will towards evil is so strong, so
deep, so inveterate, and so perfectly rooted, that there never would a
single case occur of one individual being brought to the Redeemer,
believing in the doctrines of Christ, and rendering evangelical obe-
dience to the commandments of Christ, apart from the influence of the
Spirit of God. Apart from that influence all remains as the existence
of infidelity and sin ; and, if you see any thing like a state of profes-
sion which appears to argue the possibility of the approach of one
who is unconverted to the character of one who is a Christian, the or-
naments which are around him are but like the flowers which you have
sometimes seen scattered around a corrupting corpse. They may veil
the terrors and deformity of death ; they may shed a transient inter-
est anri b'eauty over the scene before you, but they can do no more,
and they leave it a corpse still. Hear, my brethren, the record of
Scripture on this subject — " But as many as received him to them
gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe
on his name ; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Again, " Except a man
be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom
of God." Again, " No man can come unto me, except the Father
draw him." Again, " The words that I speak unto you they are
spirit, and they are life ; it is the Spirit that quickeneth ; it is the
Spirit that giveth life." Again, " No man can say that Jesus is Lord,
but by the Holy Ghost." And again, " We are saved, not by works
of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he
saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy
Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Sa-
vior." Thus, my brethren, we are brought to a conclusion, which can-
not be mistaken, that every thing which assists to form and to perfect


a Christian's character is truly and essentially Divine ; that every
grace -which flourishes in his heart is implanted there by the power of
the Almighty ; that every principle which is formed around his life,
and breathes a consecrated glory, is an emanation from heaven. The
Alpha and Omega — the beginning and the ending — the first and the
last of a Christian's character — is the sovereign mercy of God ; and
to that mercy, in time and through eternity, he may well ascribe the
praise. We have now presented to you that wliich constitutes a Chris-
tian's character : let us proceed to consider,

2nd. What constitutes a Christiaji^s privileges.

The connection of the text, indeed, you will observe, speaks of the
sufferings of a Christian : — "If any man suffer as a Christian, let him
not be ashamed." But let it not be forgotten that the suflfering of a
Christian does by no means call into question the verity, or diminish
the value, of his privileges ; but, on the other hand, by the wonderful
and mysterious arrangement of Divine mercy, these sufferings are
overruled, so as to become themselves privileges and blessings. He la
taught to glory in tribulation also ; and the glorious fact stands for
ever, that he who is born again, and who, by Divine grace, is brought
into fellowship with Jesus Christ, is possessed of enjoyments, immuni-
ties, and blessings, so vast, that Divinity alone can comprehend them,
and eternity alone can fulfil them. Let us now take a brief survey,
and particularly enumerate the privileges which belong to a Christian.

(1.) A ChvistiSkXi is justified from the guilt and condemnation of
sin. It is an ordination of heaven that the exercise of fa.tli in the
Divine testimony — especially in that department of the Divine testi-
mony which refers to the ability of Christ to save us, and to his pro-
pitiatory sacrifice for sin — shall be the medium of imputing the merit
of Christ to the believer, so that he who believes is justified, is counted
holy — that is the meaning of justification — is counted holy before
God, no longer in a state of condemnation, no longer in peril of per-
dition, no longer in peril at the judgment, 'but secure of acceptance
there ; " we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption
that is in Jesus Christ : whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation,
through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remis-
sion of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God ; to declare,
I say, at this time, his righteousness : that he might be just, and the
justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." This justification once be-
stowed is irrevocable and irreversible, containing a final and inalienable
title to the skies.

(2.) A Chvis{ia,n possesses friendship and constant intercourse with



God. The removal of the guilt and mental alienation, by which, in a
state of nature, he was characterized, is connected with the favor and
kindness of God, from whom he was once estranged. Listen, Christian,
to the statement of the subject, if you think it presumption — " We
have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new
and Uving way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil —
that is to say, his flesh." " In him we have boldness, and access with
confidence, by the faith of him." " We have access by one spirit unto
the Father." " We have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we
cry, Abba, Father." The Christian is a child of God, and enjoys all
the fulness of God, which is comprehended in the protection of a
father's arm, the wisdom of a father's counsels, the constancy of a
father's care, and the tenderness of a father's heart.

(3.) A Chi'istian possesses the certainty of victory over death. The
terrors of death arise, legitimately, only from the curse upon creation,
and the fear of the punishment of eternity. The curse and the terrors
of punishment in a Christian are removed ; and, therefore, the fear of
death is perfectly and entirely destroyed. We, therefore, may say,
in the beautiful language of the apostle Paul, in the second chapter of
Hebrews, " Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh
and blood, he also, himself, likewise took part of the same." Why ? — •
" that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death
— that is, the devil; and deliver them, who, through fear of death,
were, all their life-time, subject to bondage." We, therefore, may
say, in the language of the same apostle, as he looked down to the
coldness of the grave, and contemplated the terrors of the last enemy,
" death, where is thy sting ? grave, where is thy victory ? The
sting of death is sin ; and the strength of sin is the law. But, thanks
be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Other men, without exception, shall fall beneath the stroke of the
king of terrors, in hopeless and helpless ruin ; but the Christian enters
into his territory that he may be the victim of the conqueror, but the
destroyer of the desolated ; and thus death must have his empire, that
the Christian may frustrate and trample him under his feet. And,

(4.) The Christian has the prospect of perfect and immortal happi-
ness and glory. For, why is it that he is born again ? Why is it that
he is brought to the exercise of repentance, and the exercise of faith ?
And why is it that he is made to crucify the flesh, with the afiections
and lusts, but for the single purpose that he may enter into life, and be
saved ? " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again into a


lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an
inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadethnot away."

In a few words, my brethren, contemplate the future hopes of him
who is a Christian. At the moment of his departure, the disembodied
spirit enters into the paradise of the Redeemer, where, being absent
from the body, it is present with the Lord, waiting for the adoption, to
wit, the redemption of the body. At the appointed coming of the
Lord Jesus Christ, with the shout of the archangel, and the trump of
God, his flesh shall answer the summons of the trumpet by rising from
the dust, not in corruption, but in incorruption ; not in dishonor, but
in glory ; not in weakness, but in power ; not a natural body, but a
spiritual body ; not bearing the image of the earthly, but bearing the
image of the heavenly ; shaped into the likeness of his Lord. Stand-
ing in his perfected nature, at the right hand of his Judge, the Judge
shall render to him his applause in the presence of an assembled uni-
verse, and then will ratify his entrance into bliss — that bliss which
comprehends whatever the love of God can prompt, whatever the wis-
dom of God can arrange, whatever the power of God can impart —
that bliss which no sin can pollute — that bliss which no sorrow can
darken — that bliss which no time can impair — that bliss which no
change can affect — that bliss which no calamity can destroy — that
bliss which remains like the throne of God, firm, perfect, unchangeable,
and for ever.

Here, then, my brethren, is presented to you a brief enumeration
of the Christian's privileges — and, my hearers, what think you of
them ? Deem them not, we entreat you, the inventions of a deceiver.
Deem them not, we entreat you, the dreams of an enthusiast. They
are the actual, palpable attendants of the course of every pilgrim
towards eternity, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, excepting
Jesus himself be an impostor, and this, the record of his love, be a lie.
No, my hearers ! they arise not like the unreal, empty vision that
mocks the parched and weary traveller of the oriental desert, setting
before him the lovely green sward, and the shadowy grove, and the
bright and refreshing stream ; and, as he nears it, expecting to receive
his repose, it gradually vanishes into air, leaving nothing still before
him but the broad level of an interminable sand ! No ; these are liv-
ing realities on which the eye of faith, kindled and invigorated by the
power of Jehovah himself, fixes an unwavering gaze ; and, as we ad-
vance, and advance, and still advance, the light that shines upon them
becomes stronger and stronger, and brighter and brighter, until, at
last, Ave bask in all the sunshine and enjoy all the pleasure they reveal.
A Christian's privileges! — what is there in nature to compare with


them ? A Christian's privileges ! — do you not deem wealth, and hon-
or, and fame, and power, and royalty, to be reputed but as nothing
compared with them ? A Christian's privileges ! — do they not give to
him a surpassing grandeur, a halo of inconceivable splendor ? A Chris-
tian's privileges ! — ought they not to bestir a holy startling and kind-
ling in every bosom, exciting a fervent and intense ambition that re-
fuses to be satisfied until we reach the heaven in which they are con-
summated and crowned ?

We have now contemplated the two great divisions which mark the
first part of the subject, and now we proceed,


THE Christian's character and the Christian's privileges ought


My address is, in the

First place, to those hy wliom this character is sustained.

My Christian brethren, we exhort you, first, to live diligently and
carefully in consistency with the religion you have embraced. I am
happy in believing that multitudes who are now in the presence of God
sustain the character, and have a title to those privileges we have de-
scribed ; let me, however, stir up your minds by way of remembrance.
Christians ! the eyes of many arc upon you. " You are a spectacle to
the world, and to angels, and to men ! " In you the honor of religion
is involved ! Your inconsistencies would stain it ; your consistencies
will adorn it ! With regard to your belief in the principles of the gos-
pel to which we have referred, we exhort you, that in them you will
be firm and unwavering ; that you will not be led away by cunningly
devised fables, or carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to de-
ceive ; but that you will be estabhshed in the faith ; that you will hold
fast the form of sound words ; that you will be " steadfast, unmovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord." With regard to your con-
formity to the principles of the gospel, we exhort you, that there you
will be vigilant, watchful, and exact. The state of the times in which
we live, the many avenues which are constantly opened for conformity
between Christians and worldlings, render necessary repeated exhorta-
tions to those that profess the name of Christ to come out and be sep-
arate, to " avoid the very appearance of evil," and by " denying un-
godliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly,
in this present world, adorn the doctrine of God your Savior in all
things." Be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,
in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine


as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. Let your light,
my brethren, in this manner shine before men, and, while your own
character is exalted, and your own enjoyments are multiplied, you will
confer honor on the great cause to which you are attached, and be-
come, in some measure, the instruments in the hands of the Almighty
in propeUing the march of your beloved religion over the heathen and
unenlightened countries of the earth, and in constituting the religion
of the Bible the religion of the world.

We exhort you, secondly, that you will make a public glory of your
connexion with the cause to which you are attached. That you are Chris-
tians, ought to be publicly known before the world, and the ungodly, by
your courage and fortitude for the truth, should be called to take knowl-
edge that you are numbered among those who are chosen, and called,
and faithful. For what on earth is there to render a Christian asham-
ed of the religion with which he is connected ? There are many, in-
deed, in modern times, professing to be connected with the name of
Christ, who, while they avow themselves to be so, do it with a timid
and fearful misgiving, and there are multitudes more who avoid the
avowal altogether, as if to say that they were Christians involved be-
fore the public an avowed disgrace. As a minister of the living God,
knowing not a little of the crimes of the church, knowing not a little of
the needs of the church, knowing not a little of the demands of the
church, I would earnestly and solemnly beseech you who have felt the
stirring of the grace of God in your hearts, to appear before the world
without one compromise : and they will perceive what you are in your
characters, and in your prospects, and in your hopes. Come out pub-
licly from the world ; unite yourselves publicly with the people and with
the servants of God. Let the Christian church be your home — let
the Christian church be your atmosphere — let the Christian church be
your occupation. " Be not thou, therefore, — I would speak particu-
larly to the young — be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the testimony
of the Lord ; " but in every scene of your mortal existence emulate the
spirit of the great apostle of the Gentiles, " God forbid that I should
glory, save in the cross of Jesus Christ my Lord ! "

These days of peace, my brethren, are fallen, mean, and degen-
erate indeed, if the disciples of Christ are to be arrayed beneath
the shadow, refusing to make known their light and principles before
the world, when, in what may be called the heroic age of the church,
martyrs, amid storms and tempests, and when they were brought to the
rack, refused to bend, or compromise, or quail. We are told of one —
and he is but an example — who, when brought before the tribunal of
judgment from whence he was to receive the doom of death, and ask-


ed, " What is thy name ? " replied, " I am a Christian." " What is
thine occupation ? " " I am a Christian." " What is thy native coun-
try ? " " I am a Christian." " Who were thine ancestors ? " "I am
a Christian." And to every question his reply consisted in the words,
" I am a Christian." My brethren, emulate the spirit and imitate the
example ! Rise superior alike to the world's reproach and scorn ! Wear
the badge of your religion like a diadem on your brow, openly and un-
concealed ! In youth, and in age ; in publicity, and in retirement ;
in health, and in sickness ; in life, and in death, be this your proclama-
tion, I am a Christian. We observe, in the

Second place, that an address will properly be directed to those who
from this character are yet estranged.

There are, perhaps, not a few in this congregation, who, although
they have possessed the means of Christian privilege, and have often
heard the language of Christian exhortation, are, nevertheless, at this
very moment, without God, without Christ, and without hope in the
world. Is there not a conscience, testifying that its possessor is with-
out a title to the elements of that character which we have endeavored
to describe ? You, who have reason to believe you are yet unconvert-
ed, allow me to press upon you one great consideration, and that is,
the vast importance of a personal interest in that character which we
have portrayed. I cannot but believe that the plain and perspicuous
statement, as I trust it has been, of what pertains to the Christian's
privileges and the Christian's character, is adapted to inspire something
like a desire on your part to be mingled with them. Perhaps, you feel
as did Balaam, when he ascended the summit of a rock and looked
down upon the tribes of Israel abiding in their tents, with the taberna-
cle in the midst, and the Shechinah and glory of the living God hover-
ing over the encampment ; and, after pausing first, perhaps, in obser-
vation, then in admiration, exclaimed, " How goodly are thy tents,
* Jacob, and thy tabernacles, Israel ! From the top of the rocks I
see him, and from the hills I behold him. Let me die the death of
the righteous, and let my last end be like his ! " Is not the inspira-
tion of the prophet, the inspiration of every reasonable being who has
beheld a spiritual survey of the character and privileges of the sons
and daughters of God.

To the view of their privileges add another consideration, which must
solemnly be pressed upon you, and that is, that without a participation
in the character and privileges of the sons and daughters of God, you
must be finally and eternally miserable. Yea, my hearers, in life, you
will be destitute of the only influence which can console and alleviate
in death. You will have no ray of light beaming upon the darkness of


the grave, and no charm to chase away the terrors that gather thick
around the entrance to eternity ! In judgment you -will have no shield
to ward off the certainty of justice, and prevent the sentence of con-
demnation ! In eternity, you will suffer the untold agonies of the tor-
ments of hell for ever ! Do you want ray warrant ? " He that be-
lieveth not the Son, shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on
him." Do you want another ? " He that believeth not shall be damn-
ed." Do you want another ? " The Lord Jesus Christ shall be re-
vealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking ven-
geance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruc-
tion from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

Online LibraryG. B. F. (Gerard Benjamin Fleet) HallockThe English pulpit : collection of sermons → online text (page 5 of 45)