No man, who is a stranger to the fountain opened for sin, can be a Christian. No one who is a stranger to closet religion can be a Christian. No one who is without communion with the living God can be a Christian. No man who is not forsaking every known sin can be a Christian. No man who refuses to discover to be sin that which God’s Spirit in His word has discovered to be Christ-dishonouring, can be a Christian. No; sin cannot live in the chambers of God’s people, it cannot be carried into the secret of His presence, it cannot be indulged in the holiest of all. Those who are holding their idols to their hearts, and setting up their sins as stumbling blocks before their eyes, are not Christians, but hollow professors and self-deceivers. Where will they be in a day of trial; when false refuges are wholly swept away, when all that is not hid in the secret of His pavilion, shall be devoured by the overflowing scourge? Friends, when God’s wrath shall sweep over every place but one, -- and that the secret of His own pavilion, -- what will you do then, if you are not there, -- if you have not obeyed this invitation, “Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be over past?”
In application of this subject, we call upon all of you who are still strangers to God, to believe that His courge will soon sweep over this earth. Some of you think you can be safe at a distance, without delight in Him, or communion with Him. Fellow-sinners, what will you feel at the day of judgment, when you find yourself so far from God that when you call He will not answer. Because, when He called you, you would not hear, but tried to hide in the darkness of your own mind, in the darkness of a dead world, and a deceitful devil, and so remained a stranger to His love.
Poor formalist! whither will you flee when you see Him face to face? And you who are regarding iniquity in your heart, where will you turn to? Forms and ceremonies won’t screen you from that tempest. They will not make a break-water to the billows of His wrath. Even the most scriptural and sound belief will be worthless to you, if you have not made it your own. What would a mere good creed be at the day of judgment? The visible church will be no covert then. What avails the union of a dead member to a living body, if it never was connected with the life-giving head? A profession will not shelter you from the glance of the eye of fire. You may profess Christ till death, as many have done before you, and never know His gospel as the power of God. You may rank among God’s people, you may appear to belong to the sheep, even till the day when the sheep shall be separated from the goats, but no longer; you will be on the left hand then. You may pass for Christians among Christians, among men, and under the eye of ministers. You may pass for such before the session; the elders may add your name to the communion roll. Yes; sad though this may seem, it is too often the case, that men’s hypocrisy eludes the eye of ministers, of elders, and of God’s own people; and yet they are hypocrites still. Have you met with God who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all? Have you met with God through the sprinkling of the blood? Is His Holy Spirit within you, getting the mastery over sin, and the victory over temptation? Or are you cleaving to that which he is urging you, or once urged you, to cast away, even after you had promised, as in the sight of God, to forsake it?
Yes, you shun the light lest your deeds be made manifest, while you make a fair show before men, cleaving to sin in your heart, and yet coming to the people of God, and to the ministers of God, and asking concerning Him. Truly you will have a fearful end: for God says of such, that “every one which separateth himself from Me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me; I the Lord will answer him by Myself; and I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 14:7-8)
Not union with the visible church, not a profession of godliness, not a form of religion, not prayers and fastings, not good works, not tears and repentance, will save the soul in the day when earth shall disclose her dead, and shall no more cover her slain. Nothing less than the shelter of Christ’s blood, in the secret place of Jehovah, the pavilion of Him who is Almighty, will cover the sinner then. But blessed be God, though judgment may overtake us in a false security, and surprise us in an imagined faith, with a hypocrite’s hope, it cannot follow us to, or overtake us in, the secret of God’s pavilion. Ah! the roaring lion cannot come under that shade; he cannot find you there, feeble believer! Death and hell cannot shoot their arrows within the veil. The law cannot bring its summons into the holiest of all, nor the avenger of blood pursue. And why? Because it is sprinkled with the blood of Jesus.
Death will soon be here. Since last we met, many, many have been summoned to the bar of judgment, and have got their sentence sealed; and we wait to hear the voice that is to call us to Himself. Not knowing when we may again be permitted to entreat you to return to God, we would the more urgently plead with you to be reconciled to Him now by His son. Are you dealing with the blood of Christ? Do you only make use of it to keep you at a distance from God? or, as some do, to despise God and His law altogether? If so, you have never had it applied to you at all – never. Christ’s blood avails nothing except in so far as it brings you near to the Father of your spirits. Christ’s blood is just a holy path to a holy nature.
We would address a word of caution to God’s people, and it is this. Always seek in religion to feel and realize more than you express to others. Do not dwell on past experiences, as it were to comfort yourselves under the want of present grace; or speak of the experience to others, when the grace is almost gone. Ah, beloved! if this be a snare to any of you, you have need to learn to say with Paul, “This one thing I do; forgetting those things which are behind,: &c. (Philippians 3:13) Press toward the mark, not your mark, or any man’s mark, but God’s mark. And what is God’s mark? Perfection: “Be ye also perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Have your eye fixed there. Some never look so high as God’s mark.
Your faith has many a victory to gain. Faith is a battle – a mighty warfare. It is a fight against all that is natural to you, against everything around you – that you may live on Christ alone. Faith is a trampling upon all, a despising and hating of all that comes between you and a fully revealed Christ – a suffering the loss of all things to win Christ, and be found in Him.
Be not surprised to find obstructions in the walk of faith. You will find them every hour. It is no slight grasp that must be taken of the kingdom of heaven in order to make a man safe amid the ruin and the wreck of a perishing world. Believe me, it is not with folded hands and drowsy consciences, and hearts full of the cares of this life, but denying ourselves, taking up the cross, bearing the reproach, and by following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, that we shall enter the kingdom.
Young men! I see multitudes of your around me, and I rejoice at it. Ah, brother! will you not give your heart to Christ now? If you are troubled and kept back by the fear of man, we entreat you to remember for your encouragement, that God is known in Zion’s palaces for a refuge. These are the words of the royal psalmist, who knew well what it was to need a refuge, and to find it in His God in many a trying hour. Our God cannot be truly known, without becoming a refuge. He is willing this hour to lead you the first step to the secret place of his own pavilion. There, every one of His perfections is pledged to protect you; and if so, what have you to fear? What power can you fear when hidden in Omnipotence? What wisdom or what device of the enemy, when Christ is made unto you wisdom, and sanctification, and complete redemption --, when your Counsellor shall be the mighty God?
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Come under the covert of the Rock of Ages, get your soul sheltered here, and rejoice at once in the knowledge of this: that the guiltiest creature may dwell in the holiest place without any injury to the character of God. Our Great High Priest entered into the holiest of all, and he carried in with Him His own blood as an eternal sacrifice for sin; and He hath, by one offering, perfected for ever them that are sanctified. It is high time to get the mark of the blood of the Son of God upon your foreheads.