by JOSEPH IRONS - Delivered in Grove Chapel, Camberwell, Lord's day Morning, November 3rd, 1850
THE first word of our text induces us to look back for its antecedent "Wherefore" on what account? "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him." We need go back no further than the verses preceding our text, of which we will read three: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name." Dwell a few moments in our exordium on this preface, if I may so call it, to His exaltation. Our precious, glorious Lord thought it not robbery to be equal with the Father, but again and again avowed it; and he who does not own it is not a Christian, however he may dare assume that name. Our precious, glorious Christ so loved His Church, that, being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, stooped to appear on earth among His brethren, for their sakes, in the character of a servant, and Jehovah directed His prophet so to designate Him long before, when He said, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth." (Isa. 42:1) He not only descended, and stooped so low as to become a servant, and be found in fashion as a man, but humbled Himself to the position of a slave. The death of the cross was an execution only performed upon slaves in those days; and therefore He stooped to the lowest state of discredit among mortals, and humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, obedient to all the law, obedient to all the requirements of justice, became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. We hope to commemorate that death tonight at His table, and to enjoy His presence there, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, by faith; and as the wondrous scene is now past and over, the debt paid, the fire quenched, the righteousness wrought out, and brought in, the atonement made, satisfaction given, salvation completed, surely we may now speak of His exaltation in the immediate prospect of commemorating His humiliation.
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him." How high? This is for us to ascertain. The apostle, in the epistle to the Colossians, says it is "far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." So high as that! "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him." Oh! my soul feels somewhat fired with anxiety and concern with my dying breath, indeed in the midst of many pains that may be endured, to make everything give place to this point, "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life of by death."
There are many things before us in this portion of God's Word; therefore, without further exordium, I will invite your attention to the language of the text, according to the following order. First, the glory which was essentially His own, which He resumed by appointment at the right hand of God the Father; secondly, His official glory, developed as the covenant Head of His Church; thirdly, the demonstration of both in His Church on earth; and I hope both will be demonstrated to our souls personally. I like demonstration in everything, and I hope the demonstration that is requisite for our position as English Protestants, and that seems a little stirring, will be put forth to its utmost extent in this critical and trying time. But to our point.
I. "God also hath highly exalted Him." This was in answer to His own request, which you read in the 17th of John, "Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory that I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5) This confirms the first point I have stated, that our precious Christ, when He ascended up on high, was but resuming the glory that was essentially and eternally His own, as truly and properly God, agreeable to that sweet and beautiful statement, "I came forth from the Father, and came into the world." (John 16:28) Again, "I leave the world, and go unto my Father." I am not going to assume a higher glory than I possessed before, though another glory, even a Mediatorial glory, shall be added to it; but I am going to appear conspicuously, in the presence of angels and ransomed souls, to all eternity, at the right hand of the Majesty on high. "The glory that I had with thee before the world was." And if you would know whose that glory is, it is my own. "The glory which I had with thee before the world was." This is one of our fundamental points, the essential self-existent Godhead of Christ; and we ought scarcely ever to omit it, because in these days every description of heresy, in the most insidious manner, goes to deny it. You know the Arians and the Socinians openly deny it and disavow it. Papists pretend to own Him as God, but positively deny it by setting up as goddess a poor woman redeemed by precious blood, the Virgin Mary (she was so once) setting her up over Christ. So that they deny Him to be God, by denying Him to be the absolute Sovereign over all worlds. The Arminian denies His Godhead, making Him out to be such a pitiful, poverty-stricken Saviour, that He has done all He can to save sinners from hell, and those that are going to it, but could not save them without their help. Now this is positively denying the Godhead of Christ. We must insist upon it that the eternal self-existence of Christ lies at the bottom of our creed, and Christianity is not worth a straw without it.
I call upon my hearers to investigate this point, as to whether their own souls are accustomed to go forth in acknowledgment of the glorious self-existent Deity of Christ. How shall I view Him in His glorious character of Jehovah, but by insisting upon His greatness, on His graciousness, on His glory essential, for He is a great, a gracious, and a glorious God? He is so great, that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, so great, that He is incomparable, greatness is one of His attributes, He is so great, that His omnipotence defies all restraint, so great, that His omniscience refuses to be eluded or evaded, so great, that He does as He will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and in the greatness of His power He holds the heavenly hosts in their dignity and glory, and commands worlds, and suspends them as upon a balance in His hands, nay, rules devils themselves, and says, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further," and thus proves Himself to be a great God. And is He not a gracious God, that has stooped so low, as we have just seen in our exordium, as to humble Himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross? Was it not gracious, that, without any solicitation on the part of man, without anything to move Him thereto, but His own gracious mind, His own eternal and infinite love, He should come down from His high throne of Majesty which He occupied with the Father from everlasting, on purpose to be made in the form of a servant, and to die the death of the cross? Is He not gracious when He feeds sinners, clothes sinners, watches over sinners, when He feeds hungry sinners, clothes naked sinners, takes up the cause of burdened sinners, and bids them cast all their care upon Him, for He careth for them? He is so gracious, that He casts all their sins behind His back, so gracious, that He declares He will give them grace and glory, so gracious, that He has sworn that He will never leave them nor forsake them; yea, He is so gracious, that He has said, "Where I am, there also shall my servant be" so gracious, that He made this gracious demand of His Father, "I will that all those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." (John 17:24) And He is so glorious, that angels must vail their faces in His presence, so glorious, that creation is shaken to its center at His nod, so glorious, that hosts, and armies, and nations, and empires, are under His control, so glorious, that Zion has no glory without His presence, and Zion's glory can never be eclipsed whilst He vouchsafes to be present with her.
Go on to mark, this precious, glorious Christ of God is not only resuming His own essential Deity with all the attributes of Godhead, inherently His own from everlasting, but He is, as such, Lord of all worlds. There is no creature that His hand has formed that is not under His sovereign control. And we ought to rejoice in the fact, that all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that is made; and that, claiming all worlds as the work of His own hands, He is Law-giver to all worlds, He is the Life-giver to all worlds, and He is the Love-giver to all who possess love to Him. He is the Law-giver to all worlds. And hence the prophet sang concerning Him, "The Lord is our Law-giver, "as well as our King; and woe be to the wretch that dares to make laws contrary to Christ's for His Church. Be it remembered, it is high treason against the King of kings, of which the beast of Rome is constantly guilty, to enact a law in opposition to Christ's for He only is our Law-giver, and our souls rejoice in the fact that no law will stand the test of the day of judgment, no law can or ought to be given as the rule of life for the family of God but Jesus' own. He Himself is our Law-giver. And do add to this (referring again for a moment to His humiliation), that He who was the Law-giver was the Law-fulfiller, went to the end of it for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Just go on to mark, that He is the Life-giver to all worlds. Angels owe their life to Him, and He is said to be the Lord of angels. There is not a living soul on earth that did not derive his existence from Christ. Moreover, He is the Life-giver to animal creation, the Life-giver to spiritual enjoyment, the Life-giver to the glory that shall be inherited by His saints before His throne. And, moreover, He is the Love-giver. I have chosen this phrase for this express purpose. There goes about a notion among poor vain mortals of love to God among His creatures. There is no such thing till Christ gives it. I know the command of the old Decalogue, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," and so on; but I do not know a man that obeys it, or that ever will obey it, till Christ gives him love Divine, shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. And hence, the apostle says concerning it, when he had obtained the boon, "The love of Christ constraineth us;" and then again, "the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost given unto you." So that our precious Christ creates in the souls of all His elect, that love to God which is His own, and can never be destroyed. All natural love amounts to nothing more than enmity against God. "The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, because it is spiritually discerned;" (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14) and if you have any love to Jehovah, such as He can accept of, it must be a supernatural principle, it must be a love that Christ Himself is the author and the Lord of, Nay, add to all this, that the law, and the life, and the love He bestows in the most sovereign manner. Absolute sovereignty belongs to Him. He reigns on high as King of kings, and Lord of lords. He can never, no, never, be deposed. We rejoice in this fact; whatever may take place on the earth, and however the sins of His Church may call for a scourge upon them, which they are about to do, I have no hesitation in saying, yet our precious Christ shall never be deposed. He sits and rules all the armies of heaven, and carries on all the purposes of His love, accomplishing what He will, and defying mortals to stay His hand, or say unto Him, "What doest thou?"
If time allowed, I should like to follow out this point, in regard to the manifestation of His sovereignty, in relation to the Church at large, and to especial churches and congregations in particular, the manifestation of His sovereignty in the work of grace, that He begins and carries on in the hearts of His people, as well as the repelling of all His foes. These are topics that we can only just touch upon cursorily, and we pass on to mark, that this precious Christ, whom God has thus exalted, is owned and adored by all worlds. "O," say you, "surely not!" Indeed He is. First of all, He is owned and adored by all the orthodox upon earth. And this should be the leading point of our standard of orthodoxy. We own none as orthodox, nay, we own none as Christians at all, but such as own Christ as "King of kings, and Lord of lords" such as own His work to be a perfect work, such as own His true and proper deity, and then His essential, and perfect, and pure manhood (our glorious Christ), and adore Him as such. It is not enough to own His name in language. The heart of every orthodox Christian is bound to worship Him, to bow down and adore Him, and I admire the facts recorded in New Testament history concerning Him, that while all His sent servants invariably refuse to receive any acts of worship from their fellow-creatures, Jesus never did. When the lepers worshipped Him, and when the man possessed with unclean spirits worshipped Him, and when the multitudes around worshipped Him, He never said, "Do it not," as His servants said; as in the case of Paul, when they brought oxen and garlands, and would have burnt sacrifice to the apostles, he said, "See thou do it not, for we are men of like passions with yourselves." The angel in Patmos also said, "See thou do it not." But our Lord never refused worship offered to Him, nay, He puts it as a test of discipleship, for He says, "He that owneth me before men, him will I own before my Father, and he that denieth me before men, him will I deny before my Father." Now, see to it, that your Christianity includes the owning and adoring of the precious Christ of God, as co-equal with the Father. And then observe, that all the orders of being in heaven (I have given this phrase, because I do not know how many orders there are. Some tell us there are angels and arch-angels, my Bible tells me there are angels, I do not know anything about archangels; there are archbishops and archdeacons upon earth, and arch enough they are, but these seem to be the inventions of Popery), but there are angels, ministering spirits, and these fall before Him, and behold His glory. And redeemed souls in the inner circle,
"Nearer the throne than angels stand,"
all cast their crowns before Him. So that while the orthodox Christian must own Christ as God, yea the essential eternal Jehovah, to adore Him, and love Him as such, all the orders in heaven join with them in ascribing might, majesty, and honour, and glory to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever. Nay, more, even opposers of His truth, and opposers of His name, and opposers of His Church, shall in a certain sense acknowledge Him. They shall own Him. Why, you know the circumstance in which a legion of devils were obliged to cry out when Christ approached them, "We know thee, who thou art, the holy one of God." They were obliged to own Him publicly before men. And has He not been owned of God the Father Himself? "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." There's a wide contrast. The Father owning Him as His beloved Son, devils owning Him as their tormentor "Art thou come to torment me before our time?" His power, and might, and majesty shall be acknowledged, even by those that oppose Him. Now, the text that I commented a little on in reading, is an illustration of this fact. Those who preached Christ of contention and strife owned Him. They owned that He was the Christ, they owned that there was such a person, they owned that He performed such miracles, they owned that He taught such doctrines; and though they might call Him an impostor, and cry, "Away with Him, away with Him," yet they owned Him, as appears in the character in which His disciples represented Him. So that the testimony of an enemy is worth something, when Jesus is owned and acknowledged as Lord.
II. Now I must hasten, in the second place, to say a word or two about His exaltation in His official character being developed. We have touched upon this in part, but we must enter a little minutely into it. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him."
Here, be it remembered, there is a direct reference to the nature in which His humiliation was seen, that He had humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and was made in the likeness of man, in the form of a servant, made in all things like unto His brethren in the true and proper, though sinless manhood, prepared for Him, He had a human soul, which He offered for sin "He gave His soul an offering for sin;" and this is our joy, that in His resurrection at the right hand of the Majesty on high, the very same body in which He was martyred, and crucified, and murdered, that same body, in union with His essential Godhead, is exalted far above all heavens, to fill all things, a glorified body. To what extent, and in what manner, that glorified body appears in heaven, is not in our power to define. We must see it to know it, we must possess one like it to understand it. This is enough for us, that He is glorified in His humanity before the throne, in order that God might exalt Him who so lowly abased Himself, might give the crown, and dignity, and majesty, to the very God-man Christ Jesus, who "humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Perhaps the brightest view, or finest sample of what His glorified body is, might have been vouchsafed in mere glimpse to the three disciples that were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration, when His face became bright as the light, and His raiment white and glittering, so that no fuller on earth could whiten them, a peculiar glory and splendour about His Person as He appeared upon the mount, so that it was necessary that a cloud should come to overshadow them, "and they feared as they entered into the cloud." This was so short, and so completely a glimpse, that the disciples were charged to tell no man of it till after His resurrection. This has often appeared to me, just a glimpse of what the glorified body of Christ is. And now, if faith can gaze within the veil, and look on Him as the intercessor of the Church, God and man, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, the manhood, not only sinless and pure, but glorified above the brightness of the sun, as Saul saw it when he went to Damascus. Oh! what must His exaltation be in His official character? for that is the idea in my text. I know well that the official character of Christ is lamentably overlooked in the days in which we live, if not lost sight of by multitudes. But we know nothing of the glory of His salvation, unless we see Christ officially. And I shall mention three views of His official character, in which He is exalted. First, as Redeemer, then as Intercessor, then as the Fountain of Life, which He is so emphatically called.
First of all, glance at His exaltation officially as Redeemer. You know I despise the idea of a promiscuous Redeemer, I will have no Popish Redeemers, that leave me unredeemed after all, I will have no Arminian redeemers, that can be disappointed, and lose, after all his pains, and sufferings, what he has redeemed. I would just as soon close my Bible at once, and turn Atheist, as I would believe that system. But our Divine Redeemer, whom God the Father highly exalted, in consequence of His completing His work as a Redeemer, who laid down His own life, and paid the ransom price, a Redeemer that recovers and restores all that He paid a ransom price for, a Redeemer that made Himself responsible for both. I wish I had stronger terms; I feel that the best language man can employ falls far short of expressing a theme so sublime. I do not know that I could get a better subject if I were to ask angels, or ransomed souls around the throne to give me one. As the apostle Peter was directed to set it down "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18,19) That is the ransom price, and our souls rejoice in the fact, that this was official. He did not pay down a promiscuous sum, an uncertain amount, and all the merit and righteousness left in an uncertainty as to whether anybody would the better for it or no, but a stipulated price for His covenant people in ancient covenant settlements and predestinating enactments; He knew who He paid for, He knew what He paid for them, He makes a sovereign demand for the property He has thus purchased. Nay, more, He gave the injunction by the apostle to "feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28)
Moreover, He not only paid the ransom price, and satisfied law and justice, and glorified all the perfections and attributes of Deity in His work, but its recovery is part of His official engagement. Every ransomed soul is to be restored. And hence it is said, "the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come." (Isa. 35:10) I know modern free-willers say that they may return if they like, but they must put forth their powers, that they may return and come, if they will get all the creature aid they can muster. No such "ifs" are to be found in my Bible. "The ransomed of the Lord shall return." All hell may oppose; but they shall return and come unto Zion. Yes, they shall obtain joy and gladness, yes, and they shall obtain everlasting joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Can anything be more positive then, that Jesus Christ as the exalted covenant head, is really and officially engaged for the recovery, the regeneration, the glorification of all that the Father gave into His hand? Come, beloved, help me to exalt Him, tell of His love, adore Him for the riches of His grace. O come, let us magnify His name as Redeemer, and let us exalt His name together.
Moreover, our precious, glorious, exalted Christ is under official responsibility for all this. I know that mortals in these Popish days do not like this, but whether they like it or no, so long as my voice may be uplifted for Jesus, I will insist upon it, that for the ransom price, and for the recovery, and for the entire glorification of His whole Church, Jesus is held responsible, the whole matter is laid on Him officially, as He undertook for them when He said, "Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God;" and in consequence of this responsibility, He put forth the strongest expressions concerning it while tabernacling upon earth, saying, "All that the Father gave me shall come to me;" (John 6:37) and again, appealing to the Father, "Of all whom thou gavest me I have lost nothing;" (John 6:39) the punctuation should be there; "but the son of perdition, he has gone to his own place." "This is the will of the Father, that of all whom He gave me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day." All glory to His name; heaven would not be peopled completely without all that He redeemed; all that He redeemed must be brought to Him; that He may be exalted in their eternal hallelujahs. We view Him as a Redeemer in this sense, not impotent, not helpless, not an object of pity, that would do more if He could, who has done all that He had power to accomplish, but that was not sufficient without man's aid. Really, such detestable Atheism put forth in the name of Christianity is quite odious, and I can never find sufficient energy to depict that which so attempts to dethrone God and dishonour Christ. Well do I know, that all the attributes of His nature, all the perfections of Deity, all the gifts of His Father, all the purchase of His blood, all the registration of the Holy Spirit, all the book of life, together with all the solemnities of His death, and the glory of His resurrection, all are pledged, infallibly pledged for the entire salvation of His whole Church. Away with your contingencies, and ifs, and buts, and peradventures. Send them all to Rome, from whence they came.
I must pass on to mark, that God hath highly exalted Him as intercessor in behalf of His Church. Now we put all others on one side when we have such an one exalted as He is, as intercessor. We do not want the crowd of mock saints, many of whom were Infidels in Christian names, and many of them names that never had an existence upon earth, but who are called saints, and forsooth, the infamous system that is now about to be palmed upon us Englishmen, is to put forth hosts of these saints as intercessors, they are to be palmed upon us, and to be invoked and sought the same as the Virgin Mary. We bless God for the Virgin Mary, and all nations shall call her blessed; but we will not trust her, we will not ask a favour of her, for this one reason, that our glorious Christ is exalted to the right hand of the Father (mark the expression), and He "ever liveth to make intercession for all that come unto God by Him." Now I ask in the name of common sense, if you wanted an intercessor amongst mortals, if you wanted an intercessor with some nobleman, some prince, some monarch, by whose instrumentality you might make your wishes known in some higher grade of society, and some dozen or more offered you their services, would not you pick out the best in your opinion? and suppose the son of the nobleman, prince, or monarch, was to volunteer his services, and say, "I will be an intercessor for you to my Father," would you not pass by all others? Suppose the butler, or the footman, or any of the other servants, were to put themselves forward, and say, "I will intercede for you, I have been in the house so many years;" and then the son were to come forth and offer his services, would you not think all the rest not worth a straw; would you not say to them, "Stand out of the way?" would you not reject them properly and sternly and say, "So long as the Son lives to intercede for me I want no other?" Jesus Christ is our advocate on high; "He ever liveth to make intercession for us;" and while He lives to make intercession, we despise all others except as brethren, we will pray for one another, not meritoriously, not officially, not essentially, but as an act of brotherly love; and I believe you have been praying for me since last Friday, and that I have got the answer this morning.
This is a little digression; but pass on to mark, that our precious Christ intercedes in His exalted state incessantly. He does not suspend His intercession for a single moment. Even when you and I are unable to intercede for ourselves, when darkness overspreads our minds, when we are ready to yield up and say that we never prayed in our lives, and begin to think our prayers are an abomination to the Lord, even then our Jesus never ceases to intercede for all those who come unto God by Him. "Well," say you, "surely I have come, in my poor broken way, and therefore He intercedes for me?" So that we may use one of the stanzas that I wrote when the Lord first met with me
I well remember, more than forty years ago, enjoying the sweetness of these four lines when I first penned them. I pray God they may be sweet to your souls. Our Jesus intercedes constantly in behalf of His Church, and He intercedes as one that is interested: "All mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them." (John 17:10) What He asks for His members He asks for part of Himself. The Head refuses the comfort which He will not minister to all the members, and therefore He says, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one." (John 17:22) Consequently He is interested in His intercession; inasmuch as His own glory, the Father's glory, and the Spirit's glory, are all connected with the prosperity and ultimate glorification of every believer in Jesus.
Moreover, His intercession is so interesting and interested, that it includes things temporal as well as things spiritual. Consequently, He says, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter," then "whatsover things ye shall ask," either things temporal of things spiritual, "I will give you." There He is, at the right hand of God, highly exalted for this express purpose, that temporal blessings may be bestowed as well as spiritual blessings in behalf of the Church and her individual members. In the agony of pain, in the night-watches of the two nights last past, when I felt a slavish fear that I should not be able to stand before you today, I could not help pleading with Him that He would give me strength to do so. He has done it; and I believe in answer to your prayers and mine ,because, like the high priest of old, He comes to the outer courts and receives all complaints and desires of the Israel of God, puts them in His own censer, and presents them before the mercy seat.
Just go on to mark, that He is an infallible Intercessor. He never failed in obtaining any request that He made for the Church. Therefore, He could appeal to the Father, "I know that thou hearest me always." (John 11:42) Well, if the Father could hear Him in humiliation, if the Father could hear Him in Gethsemane, if the Father could hear Him in behalf of His disciples who were tabernacling with Him, will He not hear Him now before the throne, yea, seated upon it, there "ever living to make intercession for all that come unto God by Him?" Again and again I exhort my hearers to despise every other intercessor who comes with his vile pretensions; that if you give him his fee he will say his mass for you. Let him take his mass to Rome, and thence to the bottomless pit, where he must go. My hearers, we want no other intercessor than Jesus Christ the righteous, and we reject and despise every other.
Moreover, He is highly exalted by the Father as the fountain of life. "With thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light shall we see light." (Ps. 36:9) Take the declaration of the apostle John, or rather of the Holy Ghost by the apostle John, in this matter. "This is the record that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." (1 John 5:11) Where, then, is the fountain of this life? in His Son. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life." Will you allow me here to pause and ask, Have you got the Son of God living in your hearts? and is the Son of God not only in your creed, but in your consciences? Does He really dwell in you, and walk in you, and reign in you, and reign over you? you have no life if He does not. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
Pass on to mark, that this fountain of life is full. It has been flowing for ages, and it is not a whit less in amount than it was. It is always full. "Of his fullness," said the apostle in his day, "have all we received, and grace for grace;" (John 1:16) yet, though the apostles, and all the disciples around Him, and all the Old Testament saints, and all that have since lived, have been receiving out of that fullness grace for grace, it is full still. "Full of grace and truth." The fountain of life is with Him, and can never be exhausted.
Moreover, it is as free as it if full. It asks no money nor price, it asks no merit, nor even your free-will, but it will give you one, and make you willing in the day of God's power. It is so emphatically free that it depends upon the voice of the Son of God to communicate it. "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25) They shall not purchase life, they shall not earn it, they shall not desire it when dead; and yet the Son of God will give them life. Oh, the blessedness of beholding our life spiritual and eternal, centering in Christ as its inexhaustible fountain.
Moreover, it is always fresh, it does not become stagnant and offensive. It is as fresh now as it was in Abraham's day, when Abel received from it his life. Oh, the delightful thought, that the things pertaining to Jesus Christ, and the streams of life from Him, are as fresh at this moment as they were when they first poured forth from the throne of God. They are running in all directions, and the waters of life shall continue to run, and no power on earth or hell shall stop them, and shall impart life, and peace, and joy to all the election of grace wherever they flow, as Ezekiel saw in his vision. How wonderful is the privilege of faith! How wonderful the obduracy of unbelief! How wonderful the privilege of faith, to come to this fountain of living waters as often as it thirsts! "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink," says this Fountain of Life. How wonderful the obduracy of unbelief, to prefer the cess-pool of Arminianism, to the pure river of the water of life flowing from this Fountain, this fullness in the Person of Jesus Christ Himself. What is your choice, beloved? Is the Fountain of Life dear to you, and do you love to drink at the Fountain Head? Do you love to come with your empty vessel and receive from the Fountain Head supplies of life day by day?
III. Just pass on, in the third place, to mark that these views of the exaltation of Christ are demonstrated in His Church. This is what we want for the prosperity of the Church of Christ. Christ exalted. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him." Oh that we may exalt Him in our midst, exalt Him in these days of rebuke and blasphemy in the midst of His visible Church on earth. I want Him exalted in a threefold sense, and intend to wear out my life, God helping me, for the purpose. To exalt Him as the infallible head of His Church, that He may be owned and acknowledged as such. I know there are other pretenders to infallible headship, but I know they are blasphemers, and if they will dare to tell us that they are Christ's deputed vicars on earth, let them show us their credentials, let them show us their commission, and when and how Christ deputed them, and if they can give us any Scripture testimony, we will believe them, but not without. We mean to insist that all official headship claimed over the Church of God is a positive rejection of Christ. He is the only infallible head of His Church, and He is infallible, inasmuch as He never resigns His sovereignty or authority, He dieth no more, and will have no successor, and He holds the fullness of all vital influence as the head of His Church, inasmuch as every member of His Church, every subject of His grace, does, and will, and must acknowledge Him as such. Talk about infallibility! I am a very stern advocate for it, but I will not entrust it to man, no, nor I would not even to Moses if he were on earth, with all his nearness and intimacy with heaven, for when he was entrusted with the tables of stone written by the finger of God, he lost his infallibility when he threw them down and broke them to pieces, and God would not trust them to him any more, for they were not safe in his hands. I know the Church of God would not be safe in his hands. I know the Church of God would not be safe in any men's hands, nor in all of them put together. God Himself must take care of His Church and watch over her night and day lest any come near to hurt her. I readily grant that His ministers are as watchmen upon the walls, unto whom is given a certain charge over his flock; but I never can or will concede that there is any deputed authority entrusted to any human being upon earth to take the sovereign control of His Church. I know it is imposture, I know he is set on by the powers of darkness, I know it is that Babylon which must be thrown and utterly perish in God's own time. But the infallible Head of the Church of the living God is God Himself, Jehovah Jesus, the everlasting God the Lord. He who loved His Church, and lived for His Church, and died for His Church, and reigns for His Church, who sways all worlds, in behalf of His Church, and by whose order all things are made to work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose. How glorious the fact that we have but one covenant Head, that we have but one glorious infallible Head, one ruling Head, one Almighty Head, and all the usurpers of His dignity and honour must perish at His rebuke.
Again, we will have Him exalted, by being enthroned in the heart of every one of His subjects. Now, I would have you dwell on that enthronization. We have heard about the idolatry of the enthronement of anti-Christian bishops of late, and I hope all England will be in commotion about it until that throne is demolished; but certainly, Charles James may thank himself for that idolatry in England, by practicing it himself in the Cathedral of London, to his shame. Such idolatry has courted, and invited, and encouraged the man of sin to come and take possession. Such enthroning is mockery, is insult to God, rejection of Christ, delusion of the people, and wickedness of the grossest kind, on the part of those who dare assume it. But our precious Christ is enthroned where they cannot be, for many who saw that enthronement would no doubt despise the being who was the subject of it, but our precious Christ is enthroned in the heart of every elect vessel, every subject of His grace, every real Christian. I should like you to ask individually whether you have this testimony that you are a Christian. Has Jesus the throne of your heart? Are you really desirous that every rebel there should dethroned? Has proud free-will been made to bow to His sceptre. Does His grace reign in you through righteousness into everlasting life? Is He reigning in your souls as King of kings, and Lord of lords, till He has put all things under His feet? What is He doing with your corruption, your depravity, your tempers, your pride, your covetousness, and a thousand other enemies? Is He putting them under His feet? Is He bringing every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ? That is the exaltation we want. Blessings on His dear name; He knows there is not a desire in my soul so uppermost as this, that He would reign in me, and reign over me, and rule, and control, and govern, and make use of every faculty of my soul, under the influence of His own graces, to honour, and glorify, and exalt His precious name. Oh! that I may live to see, and still more to feel all the powers of man prostrate beneath the sovereignty of Christ, the will of Christ, the work of Christ.
One thought more, and I will close. He is exalted as Intercessor on high, and is the infallible Head of His Church for the express purpose of gathering in all His elect. The Father gave Him this promise, and He is demanding its fulfilment now. "Yet will I gather others unto thee beside those that are gathered." (Isa. 56:8) Moreover, in His own declaration concerning it He says, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." He will send forth His angels to gather them from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, into His kingdom. He will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back, that He may bring His children from afar, even from the ends of the earth. Every one owned and called by Him is one of His family. Moreover, in this gathering, the operation of His Spirit is continually employed. His ministers, His sent servants, go forth with this anxious concern, that sinners may be brought nigh to Christ, and gathered to Him. And it is a blessed fact, that while we are throwing forth the little strength He has given to appeal to the hearts of our fellow-mortals, He is throwing forth the mighty operation of His grace, the omnipotence of His arm, the energies of His grace to take possession of their hearts, to melt them, and to reverse their will, and bring them to His footstool to cry for salvation. Go on, thou precious, gathering Christ of God, gather in thine own. Bring to thy feet the purchase of thy blood, and let not one be held fast in Satan's chains much longer, until thou shalt accomplish the number of thine elect (as we sometimes say at the mouth of the grave,) and hasten thy kingdom. And, oh! who shall conceive of that final shout of exultation that shall thrill around His throne when He shall say, "Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me;" and all of them with one consent shout out, with the tune raised to its highest note from each heart, "Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the praise, for thy mercy and thy truth's sake.
Oh, that His life-giving power may go forth with these remarks, and find the way to your consciences, send you to your knees, and impart fresh supplies of life to your personal experience, and His great, and precious, and exalted name shall have all the glory. Amen.