The True Church
by J. C. Ryle, 1858
"On this rock I will build My church, and the
gates of hell will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18
We live in a world in which all things are passing away.
Kingdoms, empires, cities, institutions, families—all are liable to change
and corruption. One universal law seems to prevail everywhere—in all created
things there is a tendency to decay. There is something sad and depressing
in this. What profit has a man, in the labor of his hands? Is there nothing
that shall stand? Is there nothing that shall last? Is there nothing that
shall endure? Is there nothing of which we can say—This shall continue
You have the answer to these questions in the words of
our text. Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of something which shall continue,
and not pass away. There is one created thing which is an exception to the
universal rule to which I have referred. There is one thing which shall
never perish and pass away. That thing is the building founded upon the
rock—the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. He declares, in the words you have
heard tonight: "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell
will not overcome it." There are five things in these words which demand
1. A Building: "My Church"
2. A Builder: Christ says, "I will build My Church"
3. A Foundation: "On this rock I will build My Church"
4. Perils Implied: "The gates of hell"
5. Security Asserted: "The gates of hell will not
May God bless the words that shall be spoken. May we all
search our own hearts tonight, and know whether or not we belong to this one
Church. May we all go home to reflect and to pray!
1. First, you have a "Building" mentioned in the text.
The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of "My Church." Now what is this Church? Few
inquiries can be made of more importance than this. For lack of due
attention to this subject, the errors that have crept into the Church, and
into the world, are neither few nor small. The Church of our text is no
material building. It is no temple made with hands, of wood, or brick, or
stone, or marble. It is a company of men and women. It is no particular
visible Church on earth. It is not the Eastern Church or the Western Church.
It is not the Church of England, or the Church of Scotland—much less is it
the Church of Rome. The Church of our text is one that makes far less show
in the eyes of man, but is of far more importance in the eyes of God.
The Church of our text is made up of all true believers
in the Lord Jesus Christ. It comprehends all who have repented of sin, and
fled to Christ by faith, and been made new creatures in Him. It comprises
all God's elect, all who have received God's grace, all who have been washed
in Christ's blood, all who have been clothed in Christ's righteousness, all
who have been born again and sanctified by Christ's Spirit. All such, of
every nation, and people, and tongue, compose the Church of our text. This
is the body of Christ. This is the flock of Christ. This is the bride. This
is the Lamb's wife. This is the Church on the rock.
The members of this Church do not all worship God in the
same way, or use the same form of government. Our own 34th Article declares,
"It is not necessary that ceremonies should be in all places one and alike."
But they all worship with one heart. They are all led by one Spirit. They
are all really and truly holy. They can all say "Alleluia," and they can all
reply "Amen." This is that Church, to which all visible Churches on earth
are servants. Whether they are Episcopalian, Independent, or Presbyterian,
they all serve the interests of the one true Church. They are the
scaffolding, behind which the great building is carried on. They are the
husk, under which the living kernel grows.
They have their various degrees of usefulness. The best
and worthiest of them, is that which trains up most members for Christ's
true Church. But no visible Church has any right to say, "We are the only
true Church. We are the men, and truth shall die with us." No visible
Church should ever dare to say, "We shall stand forever. The gates of
hell will not overcome us." This is that Church to which belong the
Lord's precious promises of preservation, continuance, protection, and final
glory. "Whatever," says Hooker, "we read in Scripture, concerning the
endless love and saving mercy which God shows towards His Churches, the only
proper subject is this Church, which we properly term the mystical body of
Christ." Small and despised as the true Church may be in this
world, it is precious and honorable in the sight of God. The
temple of Solomon in all its glory was nothing, in comparison with that
Church which is built upon a rock.
Men and brethren, see that you hold sound doctrine on the
subject of "the Church." A mistake here may lead to dangerous and
soul-ruining errors. The Church which is made up of true believers, is the
Church for which we, who are ministers, are specially ordained to preach.
The Church which comprises all who repent and believe the Gospel, is the
Church to which we desire you to belong. Our work is not done, and our
hearts are not satisfied, until you are made new creatures, and are members
of the one true Church. Outside of this Church, there can be no salvation. I
pass on to the second point, to which I proposed to call your attention.
2. Our text contains not merely a building, but a
"Builder". The Lord Jesus Christ declares, "I will build
My Church." The true Church of Christ is tenderly cared for by all the three
persons of the blessed Trinity. In the economy of redemption, beyond all
doubt, God the Father chooses, and God the Holy Spirit
sanctifies, every member of Christ's mystical body. God the Father, God the
Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three Persons in one God, cooperate for the
salvation of every saved soul. This is truth, which ought never to be
forgotten. Nevertheless, there is a peculiar sense in which the help of the
Church is laid on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is peculiarly and preeminently
the Redeemer and the Savior. Therefore it is, that we find Him saying in our
text, "I will build—the work of building is my special work."
It is Christ who calls the members of the Church in due time. They are "the
called of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:6). It is Christ who gives them life. "The
Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it" (John 5:21). It is Christ
who washes away their sins. He "who loves us and has freed us from our sins
by his blood" (Revelation 1:5). It is Christ who gives them peace. "Peace I
leave with you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27). It is Christ who gives
them eternal life. "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish"
(John 10:28). It is Christ who grants them repentance. "God exalted him to
his own right hand as Prince and Savior, that he might give repentance"
(Acts 5:31). It is Christ who enables them to become God's children. "To all
who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God" (John 1:12). It is Christ who carries on the work
within them, when it is begun. "Because I live, you also will live" (John
In short, "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell
in him [Christ]" (Colossians 1:19). He is the author and finisher of faith.
From Him every joint and member of the mystical body of Christians is
supplied. Through Him they are strengthened for duty. By Him they are kept
from falling. He shall preserve them to the end, and present them faultless
before the Father's throne with exceeding great joy. He is all things, and
all in all to believers.
The mighty agent by whom the Lord Jesus Christ
carries out this work in the number of His Churches, is, without doubt, the
Holy Spirit. He it is who applies Christ and His benefits to the
soul. He it is who is ever renewing, awakening, convincing, leading to the
cross, transforming, taking out of the world, stone after stone, and adding
it to the mystical building. But the great Chief Builder, who has undertaken
to execute the work of redemption and bring it to completion, is the Son of
God—the Word who was made flesh. It is Jesus Christ who "builds."
In building the true Church, the Lord Jesus condescends
to use many subordinate instruments. The ministry of the Gospel, the
circulation of the Scriptures, the friendly rebuke, the word spoken in
season, the drawing influence of afflictions—all, all are means and methods
by which His work is carried on. But Christ is the great superintending
architect, ordering, guiding, directing all that is done. What the sun is to
the whole solar system—that Christ is to all the members of the true Church.
"Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God gives the increase."
Ministers may preach, and writers may write, but the Lord Jesus Christ alone
can build. And except He builds, the work stands still.
Great is the wisdom with which the Lord Jesus
Christ builds His Church. All is done at the right time, and in the right
way. Each stone in its turn is put in the right place. Sometimes He chooses
great stones, and sometimes He chooses small stones. Sometimes the work
moves fast, and sometimes it moves slowly. Man is frequently impatient, and
thinks that nothing is happening. But man's time is not God's time. A
thousand years in His sight are but as a single day. The great Builder makes
no mistakes. He knows what He is doing. He sees the end from the beginning.
He works by a perfect, unalterable and certain plan. The mightiest
conceptions of architects, like Michaelangelo are mere insignificant child's
play, in comparison with Christ's wise counsels respecting His Church.
Great is the condescension and mercy, which
Christ exhibits in building His Church. He often chooses the most unlikely
and roughest stones, and fits them into a most excellent work. He despises
no one, and rejects none—on account of former sins and past transgressions.
He delights to show mercy. He often takes the most thoughtless and ungodly,
and transforms them into polished corners of His spiritual temple.
Great is the power which Christ displays in
building His Church. He carries on his work in spite of opposition from the
world, the flesh, and the devil. In storm, in chaos, through troublesome
times—silently, quietly, without noise, without stir, without excitement—the
building progresses. "I will work," He declares, "and none shall hinder it."
Brethren, the children of this world take no interest in the building of
this Church, they care nothing for the conversion of souls. What are broken
spirits and penitent hearts to them? It is all foolishness in their eyes.
But while the children of this world care nothing, there is joy in the
presence of the angels of God. For the preserving of that Church, the laws
of nature have oftentimes been suspended. For the good of that Church, all
the providential dealings of God in this world are ordered and arranged. For
the elect's sake, wars are brought to an end, and peace is given to a
nation. Statesmen, rulers, emperors, kings, presidents, heads of
governments, have their schemes and plans, and think them of vast
But there is another work going on of infinitely greater
significance, for which they are all but as the axes and saws in God's
hands. That work is the gathering in of living stones into the one true
Church. How little are we told in God's Word about unconverted men, compared
with what we are told about believers! The history of Nimrod, the mighty
hunter, is dismissed in a few words. The history of Abraham, the father of
the faithful, occupies several chapters. Nothing in Scripture is so
important as the concerns of the true Church. The world makes up little of
God's Word. The Church and its story make up much.
Forever let us thank God, my beloved brethren, that the
building of the one true Church is laid on the shoulders of One who is
mighty. Let us bless God that it does not rest upon man. Let us bless God
that it does not depend on missionaries, ministers, or committees. Christ is
the almighty Builder. He will carry on His work, though nations and visible
Churches do not know their duty. Christ will never fail. That which He has
undertaken He will certainly accomplish! I pass on to the third point, which
I proposed to consider—
3. The FOUNDATION upon which this Church is built.
The Lord Jesus Christ tells us, "On this rock I will build my
church." What did the Lord Jesus Christ mean, when He spoke of this
foundation? Did He mean the Apostle Peter, to whom He was speaking? I think
assuredly not. I can see no reason, if he meant Peter, why did He not say,
"On you" will I build My church. If He had meant Peter, He would have said,
I will build My Church on you, as plainly as He said, "I will give you the
keys." No! it was not the person of the Apostle Peter, but the good
confession which the Apostle had just made. It was not Peter, the
erring, unstable man; but the mighty truth which the Father had revealed to
Peter. It was the truth concerning Jesus Christ himself, which was
the Rock. It was Christ's Mediatorship, and Christ's Messiahship. It was the
blessed truth, that Jesus was the promised Savior, the real Intercessor
between God and man. This was the rock, and this was the foundation on which
the Church of Christ was to be built.
My brethren, this foundation was laid at a mighty cost.
It was necessary that the Son of God should take our nature upon Him, and in
that nature live, suffer, and die, not for His own sins, but for ours. It
was necessary that in that nature Christ should go to the grave, and rise
again. It was necessary that in that nature Christ should go up to heaven,
to sit at the right hand of God, having obtained eternal redemption for all
His people. No other foundation but this could have borne the weight of that
Church of which our text speaks. No other foundation could have met the
necessities of a world of sinners.
That foundation once obtained, is very strong. It can
bear the weight of the sin of all the world. It has borne the weight of all
the sins of all the believers who have built on it. Sins of thought, sins of
the imagination, sins of the heart, sins of the head, sins which everyone
has seen, and sins which no man knows, sins against God, and sins against
man, sins of all kinds and descriptions—that mighty rock can bear the weight
of all these sins, and not give way. The mediatorial office of Christ is a
sufficient remedy for all the sins of all the world.
To this one foundation every member of Christ's true
Church is joined. In many things believers are disunited and disagreed. In
the matter of their soul's foundation they are all of one mind. They are all
built on the rock. Ask where they get their peace, and hope, and joyful
expectation of good things to come. You would find that it all flows from
that one mighty truth—Christ the Mediator between God and man, and the
office that Christ holds, as the High priest and Promise of sinners.
Here is the point which demands our personal attention.
Are we on the rock? Are we really joined to the one foundation? What does
that godly man, Leighton say? "God has laid this precious stone for this
very purpose—that weary sinners may rest upon it. The multitude of imaginary
believers lie all around it, but they are not any better for that, any more
than stones that lie loose in heaps, near a foundation, but not joined to
it. There is no benefit to us by Christ, without union with Him."
Look to your foundation, my beloved brethren, if you
would know whether or not you are members of the one true Church. It is a
point that may be known to yourselves. Your public worship we can see—but we
cannot see whether you are personally built upon the rock. Your attendance
at the Lord's table we can see—but we cannot see whether you are joined to
Christ, and one with Christ, and Christ in you. But all shall come to light
one day. The secrets of all hearts shall be exposed. Perhaps you go to
church regularly and you pray faithfully. All this is right and good, so far
as it goes. But see that you make no mistake about your own personal
salvation. See that your own soul is on the rock. Without this, all else is
nothing. Without this, you will never stand in the day of judgment. Better a
thousand times in that day to be found in a poor cottage on the rock, than
in a stately palace on the sand! I proceed, in the fourth place, to speak
4. The implied TRIALS of the Church, to which
our text refers. There is mention made of "the gates of hell." By that
expression we are to understand the power of the devil! The history of
Christ's true Church has always been one of conflict and war. It has been
constantly assailed by a deadly enemy, Satan, the prince of this world. The
devil hates the true Church of Christ with an undying hatred. He is ever
stirring up opposition against all its members. He is ever urging the
children of this world to do his will, and injure and harass the people of
God. If he cannot bruise the head, he will bruise the heel. If
he cannot rob believers of heaven, he will aggravate them as they
travel the road to heaven.
For six thousand years this hostility has gone on.
Millions of the ungodly have been the devil's agents, and done the devil's
work, though they did not know it. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the
Julians, the Diocletians, the bloody Marys—were Satan's tools, when they
persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ. Warfare with the powers of hell
has been the experience of the whole body of Christ. It has always been a
bush burning, though not consumed—a woman fleeing into
the wilderness, but not swallowed up. The visible Churches have their
times of prosperity and seasons of peace, but never has there been a time of
peace for the true Church. Its conflict is perpetual. Its battle never ends.
Warfare with the powers of hell is the experience of
every individual member of the true Church. Each has to fight. What are the
lives of all the saints, but records of battles? What were such men as Paul,
and James, and Peter, and John, and Polycarp, and Ignatius, and Augustine,
and Luther, and Calvin, and Latimer, and Baxter—but soldiers engaged in a
constant warfare? Sometimes their persons have been assailed, and sometimes
their property. Sometimes they have been harassed by slander, and sometimes
by open persecution. But in one way or another the devil has been
continually warring against the Church. The "gates of hell" have been
continually assaulting the people of Christ.
Men and brethren, we who preach the Gospel can hold out
to all who come to Christ, exceeding great and precious promises. We can
offer boldly to you in our Master's name, the peace of God which passes all
understanding. Mercy, free grace, and full salvation, are offered to
everyone who will come to Christ, and believe on Him. But we promise you no
peace with the world, or with the devil. We warn you, on the contrary, that
there must be warfare, so long as you are in the body. We would not keep you
back, or deter you from Christ's service. But we would have you count the
cost, and fully understand what Christ's service entails. Hell is behind
you. Heaven is before you. Home lies on the other side of a troubled sea.
Thousands, tens of thousands have crossed these stormy
waters, and in spite of all opposition, have reached the haven where they
would be. Hell has assailed them, but has not prevailed. Go forward, beloved
brethren, and fear not the adversary. Only abide in Christ, and the victory
is sure. Marvel not at the hatred of the gates of hell. "If you were of the
world, the world would love as its own." So long as the world is the world,
and the devil the devil—there must be warfare, and believers in Christ must
be soldiers! The world hated Christ, and the world will hate true
Christians, as long as the earth stands. As the great reformer, Luther,
said, "Cain will go on murdering Abel so long as the Church is on earth."
Be prepared for the hostility of the gates of hell. Put
on the whole armor of God. The tower of David contains a thousand shields,
all ready for the use of God's people. The weapons of our warfare have been
tried by millions of poor sinners like ourselves, and have never been found
to fail. Be patient under the bitterness of the gates of hell. It is all
working together for your good. It tends to sanctify. It keeps you awake. It
makes you humble. It drives you nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ. It weans
you from the world. It helps to make you pray more. Above all, it makes you
long for heaven, and say with heart as well as lips, "Come, Lord Jesus."
Do not be cast down by the hatred of hell. The warfare of
the true child of God is as much a mark of grace as the inward peace which
he enjoys. No cross, no crown! No conflict, no saving Christianity! "Blessed
are you," said our Lord Jesus Christ, "when people insult you, persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." There remains
one thing more to be considered—
5. The SECURITY of the true Church of Christ.
There is a glorious promise given by the mighty Builder, "The gates of Hades
will not overcome it." He who cannot lie, has pledged His royal word, that
all the powers of hell shall never overthrow His Church. It shall continue,
and stand, in spite of every assault. It shall never be overcome.
All other created things perish and pass away, but not
the Church of Christ. The hand of outward violence, or the moth of inward
decay, prevail over everything else, but not over the church that Christ
builds. Empires have risen and fallen in rapid succession. Egypt, Assyria,
Babylon, Persia, Tyre, Carthage, Rome, Greece, Venice—where are all these
now? They were all the creations of man's hand, and have passed away. But
the Church of Christ lives on. The mightiest cities have become heaps of
The broad walls of Babylon are sunk to the ground. The
palaces of Nineveh are mounds of dust. The hundred gates of Thebes are only
matters of history. Tyre is a place where fishermen hang their nets.
Carthage is a desolation. Yet all this time the true Church stands. The
gates of hell do not prevail against it.
The earliest visible Churches have in many cases decayed
and perished. Where is the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Antioch?
Where is the Church of Alexandria and the Church of Constantinople? Where
are the Corinthian, and Philippian, and Thessalonian Churches? Where,
indeed, are they all? They departed from the Word of God. They were proud of
their bishops, and synods, and ceremonies, and learning, and antiquity. They
did not glory in the true cross of Christ. They did not hold fast the
Gospel. They did not give Jesus His rightful office, or faith its rightful
place. They are now among the things that have been. Their candlestick has
been taken away. But all this time the true Church has lived on.
Has the true Church been oppressed in one country? It has
fled to another. Has it been trampled on and oppressed in one soil? It has
taken root and flourished in some other climate. Fire, sword, prisons,
fines, punishments—have never been able to destroy its vitality. Its
persecutors have died and gone to their own place, but the Word of God has
lived, and grown and multiplied.
Weak as this true Church may appear to the eye of man, it
is an anvil which has broken many a hammer in times past, and perhaps will
break many more before the end. He who lays hands on it, is touching the
apple of God's eye!
The promise of our text is true of the whole body of the
true Church. Christ will never be without a witness in the world. He has had
a people in the worst of times. He had seven thousand in Israel even in the
days of Ahab. The devil may rage horribly. The Church may in some countries
be brought exceedingly low. But the gates of hell shall never entirely
prevail. The promise of our text is true of every individual member of the
Some of God's people have been brought very low, so that
they despaired of their safety. Some have fallen sadly, as David and Peter
did. Some have departed from the faith for a time. Many have been tried by
cruel doubts and fears. But all have gotten safely home at last, the
youngest as well as the oldest, the weakest as well as the strongest. And so
it will be to the end. Can you prevent tomorrow's sun from rising? Can you
prevent the tide in the channel from ebbing and flowing? Can you prevent the
planets moving in their respective orbits? Then, and then alone, can you
prevent the salvation of any believer, however feeble—of any living stone in
that Church which is built on the rock, however small or insignificant that
stone may appear.
The true Church is Christ's body. Not one bone in
that mystical body shall ever be broken. The true Church is Christ's
bride. They whom God has joined in everlasting covenant, shall never be
put asunder. The true Church is Christ's flock. When the lion came
and took a lamb out of David's flock, David arose and delivered the lamb
from his mouth. Christ will do the same. He is David's greater son. Not a
single sick lamb in Christ's flock shall perish! He will say to His Father
in the last day, "I have not lost one of those you gave me!" The true Church
is the wheat of the earth. It may be sifted, winnowed, buffeted,
tossed to and fro. But not one gain shall be lost. The tares and chaff shall
be burned. The wheat shall be gathered into the barn.
The true Church is Christ's army. The Captain of
our salvation loses none of his soldiers. His plans are never defeated. His
supplies never fail. His roll call is the same at the end—as it was at the
beginning! Of the men that marched gallantly out of England a few years ago
in the Crimean war, how many never came back! Regiments that went forth,
strong and cheerful, with bands playing and banners flying, laid their bones
in a foreign land, and never returned to their native country. But it is not
so with Christ's army. Not one of His soldiers shall be missing at last. He
Himself declares "They shall never perish."
The devil may cast some of the members of the true Church
into prison. He may kill, and burn, and torture, and hang. But after he has
killed the body, there is nothing more that he can do. He cannot hurt the
soul. When the French troops took Rome a few years ago, they found on the
walls of a prison cell, under the Inquisition, the words of a prisoner. Who
he was, we do not know. But his words are worthy of remembrance. Though
dead, he still speaks. He had written on the walls, very likely after an
unjust trial, and a still more unjust excommunication, the following
striking words, "Blessed Jesus, they cannot cast me out of Your true
Church!" That record is true. Not all the power of Satan can cast out of
Christ's true Church one single believer! The children of this world may
wage fierce warfare against the Church, but they cannot stop the work of
What did the sneering Emperor Julian say, in the early
ages of the Church, "What is the carpenter's son doing now?" An aged
Christian made answer, "He is making a coffin for Julian himself." But a few
months passed away, when Julian, with all his pomp and power, died in
battle. Where was Christ when the fires of Smithfield were lighted, and when
Latimer and Ridley were burnt at the stake? What was Christ doing then? He
was still carrying on His work of building. That work will ever go on, even
in troublesome times.
Fear not, beloved brethren, to begin serving Christ. He
to whom you commit your souls has all power in heaven and earth, and He will
keep you. He will never let you be cast away. Relatives may oppose.
Neighbors may mock. The world may slander and sneer. Fear not!
Fear not! The powers of hell shall never prevail against your soul. Greater
is He who is for you—than all those who are against you.
Fear not for the Church of Christ, my brethren, when
ministers die, and saints are taken away. Christ can ever maintain His own
cause, He will raise up better and brighter stars. The stars are all in His
right hand. Leave off all anxious thought about the future. Cease to be cast
down by the measures of statesmen, or the plots of wolves in sheep's
clothing. Christ will ever provide for His Own Church! Christ will take care
that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! All is going on
well—though our eyes may not see it. The kingdoms of this world shall yet
become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.
Allow me now to say a few words of
PRACTICAL APPLICATION of this sermon. I speak to many, whom I
speak to for the first time. I speak, perhaps, to many whom I speak to for
the last time. Let not this service conclude without an effort to press home
the sermon on each heart.
1. My first word of application shall be a QUESTION.
What shall that question be? How shall I approach you? What shall I ask? I
ask you, whether you are a member of the one true Church of Christ? Are you
a member of the Church built upon the rock. I ask you, with all
solemnity—Are you a member of that one Church of Christ? Are you joined to
the great Foundation? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Does the Spirit
witness with your spirit, that you are one with Christ, and Christ with you?
I beseech you, in the name of God, to lay to heart this question, and to
ponder it well. Take heed to yourselves, dear brethren, if you cannot give a
satisfactory answer to my inquiry. Take heed, take heed, that you do not
make shipwreck of faith. Take heed, lest at last the gates of hell prevail
against you, the devil claim you as his own, and you be cast away forever.
Take heed, lest you go down to the pit from the land of Bibles, and in the
full light of Christ's Gospel.
2. My second word of application shall be an INVITATION.
I address it to all who are not yet true believers. I say to you—Come and
join the one true Church without delay. Come and join yourselves to the Lord
Jesus Christ in an everlasting covenant not to be forgotten. Come to Christ
and be saved. The day of decision must come some time. Why not this very
evening? Why not today, while it is called today? Why not this very night,
before the sun rises tomorrow morning? Come to my Master, Jesus Christ.
Come, I say, for all things are now ready. Mercy is ready for you, heaven is
ready for you, angels are ready to rejoice over you, Christ is ready to
receive you. Christ will receive you gladly, and welcome you among His
children. Come into the ark, the flood of God's wrath will soon break upon
the earth, come into the ark and be safe. Come into the life-boat. The old
world will soon break into pieces! Do you not hear the tremblings of it? The
world is but a wreck stuck on the sandbar. The night is far spent—the waves
are beginning to rise—the winds are rising—the storm will soon shatter the
old wreck! But the life-boat is launched, and we, the ministers of the
Gospel, beseech you to come into the life-boat and be saved.
Do you ask—How can I come, my sins are so many? Do you
ask how you shall come? Hear the words of that beautiful hymn: "Just as I
am: without one plea, But that Your blood was shed for me, And that You bid
me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come." That is the way to come to Christ.
You should come, waiting for nothing, and tarrying for nothing. You should
come, as a hungry sinner, to be filled; as a poor sinner to be enriched; as
a vile, undeserving sinner to be clothed with righteousness. So coming,
Christ would receive you. "Him that comes" to Christ, He "will not cast
out." Oh! come, come to Jesus Christ!!
3. Last of all, let me given a word of EXHORTATION to my
believing hearers. Live a holy life, my brethren. Walk worthy of
the Church to which you belong. Live like citizens of heaven. Let your light
shine before men, so that the world may profit by your conduct. Let them
know whose you are, and whom you serve. Be epistles of Christ, known and
read by all men; written in such clear letters, that none can say—we do not
know whether he is a member of Christ or not. Live a courageous life, my
brethren. Confess Christ before men. Whatever station you occupy, in that
station confess Christ. Why should you be ashamed of Him? He was not ashamed
of you on the cross. He is ready to confess you now before His Father in
heaven. Why should you be ashamed of Him? Be bold. Be very bold. The good
soldier is not ashamed of his uniform. The true believer ought never to be
ashamed of Christ.
Live a joyful life, my brethren. Live like men who look
for that blessed hope—the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the
prospect to which we should all look forward. It is not so much the thought
of going to heaven, as of heaven coming to us, which should fill our minds.
There is a good time coming for all the people of God—a good time for all
the Church of Christ—a good time for all believers. But there is a bad time
coming for the impenitent and unbelieving—a bad time for those who serve
their own lusts, and turn their backs on the Lord—but a good time for true
Christians. For that good time, let us wait, and watch, and pray. The
scaffolding will soon be taken down—the last stone will soon be brought
out—the top-stone will be placed upon the edifice. In a little while, and
the full beauty of the building shall be clearly seen. The great master
Builder will soon come himself. A building shall be shown to assembled
worlds, in which there shall be no imperfection. The Savior and the
saved shall rejoice together. The whole universe shall acknowledge,
that in the building of Christ's Church all was well done!