Page images


and the sordid. It is not my office to indicate how God metes out punishment; but I want to put this before you, and before myself: If you are a sinner, you are condemned. There is no escape from that position. You may say, “I am only a little sinner.” Nay, but thou art a sinner, and the sentence of condemnation is gone forth against thee. There are some people who seem to think that if they can only extenuate their sins, and shew that they are not so great as their neighbour's,” they will be in a position to hold up their heads with confidence before Almighty God, but I want to point out to you that God's sentence has gone forth, “The soul that sinneth-not, the soul that sinneth' much, or the soul that sinneth littlebut “the soul that sinneth it shall die." And to every man and woman in this church the sentence of God's justice is the same. “O wicked man,”—whether thy sins are outward, or whether they are merely the sins of the heart, which the eye of man has never seen, but which lie patent before the eye of the Almighty,—“O wicked man, thou shalt surely die!” That is God's sentence against you.

Do you ask what God means by the sentence? I take you back to the first occasion on which it was carried into execution. When was that ? At the moment when Adam disobeyed God. Was Adam damned the moment he sinned ? No: but he died. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Death entered into him the very moment that he sinned against God. Well," you say, this death ?” He did not drop down dead in the Divine presence; he was not suddenly paralysed by the message of “ that stern serjeant, death." No, he lived hundreds of years afterwards. But he was “ dead” at that moment. I believe he had a resurrection subsequently; but then and there he died. What was that death? When he was created, “ God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” There came into man's nature a power that emanated from God Himself, and bound him to its source. But the moment that that first-created man sinned, that moment the blessed connecting link between God, the Author of life, and man, the recipient of life, was severed, and the result was death.

Go to that splendid, stately oak. Look at one of its branches, full of life and vigour, putting forth its leaves in all its verdure. Where does it get its life from? It gets its life

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"what was

from the trunk. Suppose you draw a saw across that branch, and sever it from the trunk, it remains green still. The leaves do not suddenly wither; there is no particular external difference in its appearance. Yet is there not a difference ? What is it? It is here. In the one case it is alive, in the other it is practically dead. All the botanists in Europe cannot make it alive. So it is with the human soul. The keen edge of sin slips in between God, who is the source of life, and man who is its recipient ;-take away the breath of the Most High, and the connection between me and my God ceases; that moment, dying, we die! Look at the branch, it is not dead, and yet it is dead; in a sense it is dying. You pass it day by day, and you see the green leaves gradually sereing; the lithesome branches becoming more and more brittle. Let a few months pass over it, and its leaves will be rotten and its wood be dry: its death has been perfected; but it began the moment that branch was severed from the trunk.

In that branch we may learn the mystery of spiritual death. Wherever sin is, it cuts me off from God; and therefore if there are any here who think themselves “ little sinners,” I would like to say to them, it may have been a very thin and keen-edged tool, but it has done its work. It has severed between

you and your God. That is all. And therefore “you are dead in trespasses and sins.” In God's sight the fatal issue is already preconceived. God already sees you lost. Hell differs from the sinner's life on earth in degree, and not in kind. Hell is eternal death ; but it is only the perpetual development of a death which has begun already.

My dear friends, we have merited not only the first death, not only the severance from God, but we have merited the full development of death; for when once we are dead, we go on adding sin to sin, hastening the final corruption. Thus, with all their amiability and good desires, there are men and women who come to church regularly, say their prayers, and do a great many good things, as they think, yet all the while death is eating into them, paralysing their spiritual powers, rendering it more and more improbable, until it becomes utterly impossible, that they should be renewed into spiritual vitality.

This is the first great lesson which “ the passover” teaches. If God were to pass over this congregation to-night, the


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ears; Jesus, who breaks the cords of death that have been binding me down : Jesus, who opens his own sepulchre to receive the fatal, crushing load of my guilt; Jesus, my Jesus. Is He your Jesus, my friend? Can you look up into His face and say, He is my Jesus, He cleanseth me from all sin.

If you get that sermon into your heads, it is the best sermon you ever heard. I can't preach a better. If I could only stand and weep “preaching Jesus ” I feel nothing could be more eloquent, nothing could be more powerful, nothing would more than that go home to men's hearts.

“ Jesus, the name that charms my fears

And bids my sorrows cease;
It's music in the sinner's ears,

'Tis life, 'tis health, 'tis peace.”
And you who heard that precious Name, and trusted in it
like that happy man, would go on your way rejoicing.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


The Sprinkled Blood.

“And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”—Exodus xii. 22, 23.

UR text leads us to the consideration of an episode

which must be regarded as altogether unique in sacred

history. It a night much to be remembered,” that strange “night” in which the Lord “passed over the land of Egypt." It was a "night" which has been much


remembered. Wherever the Bible has gone, the story of that “night" has passed with it. Wherever a Jew exists, on the face of God's earth, it is to this “night” he points, as the proudest epoch in his national history. Yes, although at that moment they were but a nation of slaves, there is something in this incident which distinguished it from all historical incidents. It stands alone as an instance of Divine intervention, direct and unmistakeable, by virtue of which a nation of slaves was suddenly exalted, lifted up from a state of serfdom; the staff of the oppressor—the rod of Pharaoh broken, as by the arm of Omnipotence, and they themselves exalted to be a nation of priests unto their Father in heaven.

Now it seems as though God in arranging, in His own mysterious providence, the details of this wonderful “ night,” had so contrived-if I might use such an expression of God's dealings—that it should be as full of typical import as possible ; so that while devout and prophetically-minded saints, who lived under a dark dispensation, might look forward, through the mysterious imagery of this nemorable “night” to discover the glories of the gospel dispensation, you and I who live in brighter days, in the sunlight of God's revealed love in Christ, might be able to look back upon the mystic record of that night, and discover in it a most striking and marvellously complete illustration of the glorious work which was performed upon the Cross of Calvary.

To pass at once to the consideration of the subject that lies before us, let us remember, first of all, that this was a little judgment day. It was a time when God went forth in judgment. There have been several such occasions in the history of mankind.

It was a judgment day when the voice of God was heard in the garden of Eden, calling to his fallen creature Adam, “Where art thou ? ” It was a judgment day when the avenging waters of the flood burst upon the trembling world. It was a little judgment day when Lot went out towards Zoar, and when from the opening heavens there came down a fearful shower of fire and brimstone upon the doomed cities of the plain. This, too, was a judgment day, and none theless real and awful.

This judgment arose from the fact that God Himself was going to pass through" Egypt. Wherever God goes, He carries with Him His own eternal equity and holiness. And, wherever God is brought into direct and personal contact with

result would be the same as in Egypt of old—wherever God's eye fell, unless the sin had been washed away, there would be in His presence a lost soul! Yes, the proudest Pharisee in this church to-night, if he came face to face with God, would fall prostrate, like Isaiah of old, and would cry out, “ Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips !”

Now, dear friends, that is not a very comforting consideration for you, is it? We don't envy the case of the man upon whom sentence of death has been pronounced, and who is waiting in the condemned cell for his execution! Go to your balls, go to your theatres, buy your property, deck your houses, bedizen your body, rush into all sorts of worldly excitements, and all the while just repeat to yourself, “I am a sinner, under sentence of death, condemned, condemned, CONDEMNED ALREADY! It is not “the Mission Preacher' who says that. It is a greater than any mere man. The voice of Eternal Truth hath said it,—“He that believeth not is condemned already.” There is no necessity to wait for the judgment day. O men and women, there are some of you who know as well as possible that if God were to look you in the face to-night, you would not have to ask Him—"Dost Thou judge me to be guilty or innocent?” You would not say, “ I do not know whether He is going to acquit or damn me:"-but


would “call to the rocks and the mountains to hide you,” for you would know, alas, how well! that the brand of God's condemnation was upon your brow; and, as you sit quietly, unconcernedly in your seat now,--you are a condemned soul. Devils know it, and exult in it; angels know it, and mourn over it; God knows it; your own conscience knows it; and the sooner you confess it to God, and make common cause with Him in this matter, the better for yourselves.

This, then, is the first great lesson we learn from this passage, universal condemnation: If any of you

think yourself like the Israelites a great deal better than the Egyptians-God will say to thee, “Know it, thou, O child of Abraham,—thou circumcised Israelite,-thou who hast been baptised into the outward church, thou who art surrounded with all the outward privileges of the sanctuary,—that unless thy sins are purged away by the blood of the Son of God, thou, O Israelite, art just as surely guilty in God's presence as any Egyptian !” It is not that there is one sentence for the wicked man down

« PreviousContinue »