A New Year's Address
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" Hebrews 13:8
Everything around us is changing and fast passing away! Nothing appears settled or secure! The old year has fled and has told its tale; a new year begins today and will introduce mercies and trials, comforts and distresses, darkness and light. Who can tell what is folded up in the bosom of this year?
Could we look through the coming hours, days, weeks, and months of this year; could we count the head-aches and the heart-aches which await us; the disappointments we shall meet, the vexations we shall experience, the distresses we must pass through—our hearts would perhaps be wrung with anguish, and our minds be clouded with gloom! But these are wisely concealed from our view, and whatever may be our anticipations or forebodings, the Lord meets us on the threshold of this year and assures us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" This is our encouragement, beloved friends.
God himself in pity and compassion gives us this sweet, cheering, and animating assurance. Could Jesus change, then we might sink into gloom, despondency, and despair! Creatures may change, and do change for the worse instead of the better—but Jesus is the same. It is impossible that he should be better—for he is altogether perfect. And being perfect—he can never change for the worse. He embodies everything that is amiable, glorious, and inviting in deity; and everything that is excellent, admirable, and sweet in humanity. He blends the attributes of God—and the perfections of man in his sacred character. He is at once our Brother—and our God; our Maker—and our Fellow; our Lord—and our Husband. O admirable mystery! O encouraging connection! O delightful truth!
Brethren, what have the Lord's people found Jesus to be in bygone days? That, all that—is Jesus NOW. Yes, this new year's morning he has all that love, kindness, tenderness, pity, compassion, verity, and majesty—which his people in every age have proved him to possess. He who sympathized with the widow of Nain, who had compassion on the hungry multitude, and wept with the sisters of departed Lazarus—is just the same now—as then. He has the same nature, the same heart, and the same fellow feeling.
True we have not the same visible expressions of his tenderness and pity—but they are nevertheless real; he is the same today as he was yesterday, and will be the same forever. We have the same Jesus to deal with—as had the Syrophenician woman, the adulteress at Jacob's well, or the thief upon the cross. He is deeply interested in our welfare, lovingly concerned to do us good, and ready to help us in every time of trouble.
His ear is at every believer's heart—listening to the voice of his sighs, groans, and desires.
His eye is observant of the Christian's goings, and marks every step he takes.
His hand is stretched out to help him in every time of trial, or circumstance of difficulty.
His affections yearn over him with indescribable affection and pity in every affliction or trouble.
He loves us dearly.
He knows our frame.
He considers our circumstances.
He pities our weaknesses.
He watches our movements.
He orders our steps.
He instructs our minds.
He subdues our sins.
He frustrates our enemies.
He will never for one moment leave us, nor on any account forsake us!
No, he will never turn away from doing of us good—but will rejoice over us to do us good with his whole heart, and with his whole soul. Jesus is the same. He is one with us, has suffered like us, and knows by experience what our temptations, trials, and distresses are! He is no stranger to a troubled heart, a pained body, or the distress occasioned by the loss of the divine presence, he has passed through the whole. Therefore my poor, tried, tempted, and distressed brother, or sister in the Lord, learn to look to Jesus—as Jesus—as one touched with the feeling of your infirmities. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are!"
We are apt to think the Lord changes—when his dispensations change. But no! The change of his dispensations proceeds from the immutability of his purpose respecting us, and his love to us. He is determined to bless us indeed, and this being the case—he must empty us from vessel to vessel, and change his dealings according to the state of our hearts, our enemies, or our temptations. Our immutable Jesus always pursues one steady course, and has one gracious design towards us—all must work to produce our sanctification, and eternal salvation.
The Lord Jesus will not indulge us—when indulgence will harm us. He will only correct us—when correction will do us good. His infinite wisdom devises our way, and inconceivable love directs our steps. Creatures, providences, experiences may change—but Jesus is the same!
His heart is as tender,
His eye is as penetrating,
His ear is as attentive,
His arm is as powerful,
His presence is as near,
His name is as sweet,
His blood is as efficacious,
His righteousness is as glorious,
His promises are as certain,
His oath is as sure,
His throne is as accessible,
His love is as great,
His concern for us is as deep,
His intercession is as prevalent
—as it ever was! And will be so through every week, day, hour—yes, minute of the present year! May we always keep this in remembrance!
Beloved, you must trust no one, depend on no one, look to no source either for peace, comfort, or supply, through this year—but Jesus! He is willing and waiting to supply all your needs, according to his glorious riches! Soul needs, body needs, family needs, church needs; needs in sickness, needs in health; needs at home, needs abroad; needs while living, needs when dying—Jesus can, will, yes wishes to supply them all.
He will keep his seat on the throne of grace throughout the whole of the year! You will never find him absent for any one moment, or so engaged—that he cannot attend to you. He will always be pleased to see you come, and will at all times consider your case. But you must go to him first—be sure you remember this, for he has a jealous eye!
You must go to him alone,
you must go to him for all,
you must go to him frequently,
you must go to him perseveringly,
and as sure as his name is Jesus—you shall not go in vain!
I proclaim to you in my Master's name, that he has everything you can need for body or soul—for time or eternity! And as his herald I cry, "Ho! everyone who thirsts, and whenever you thirst—come to the waters, come buy and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk—without money and without cost!"
I have a complaint against some—that they have not come often enough; and against others—that they have gone to some other market! But let me interrogate you a little:
Did ever my Master frown you away?
Did you ever find him lacking in kindness, pity, or love?
Did you ever need any blessing which was not to be found in his fullness, or to be had at his throne?
Did you ever do better, or so well anywhere else?
You must all to a man say, No! Why then do you forsake the fountain of living waters? Why do you wander upon every mountain and hill—and forget your true resting place? Jesus addresses you through me, and says, "O my people, what have I done unto you? Wherein have I wearied you? Testify against me!"
None have come too frequent; no—nor ever will. Come, then, and receive, and so glorify Jesus.
But I must draw to a conclusion, there are seven things I wish you may all more fully EXPERIENCE this year:
His Spirit working in your hearts,
His blood speaking in your consciences,
His power subduing your corruptions,
His blessing resting upon your souls,
His presence cheering your way,
His righteousness covering your sins,
His peace keeping your hearts and minds.
There are seven things I wish you may know it is your privilege to HAVE this year:
a name in his book,
a sight of his covenant,
a tear in his bottle,
a place in his heart,
a title to his fullness,
a right to his promises, and
an interest in his prayers.
There are seven things I wish you may DO this year:
weep at his cross,
wrestle at his throne,
cleave to his truth,
walk in his ways,
aim at his honor,
comfort his people, and
spread his fame in every direction.
There are seven things which I wish you may ENJOY this year:
the light of his countenance,
the power of his love,
the hope of his calling,
the blessings of his chosen,
contentment under all dispensations,
liberty in performing his commands,
and victory over every foe.
There are seven things from which I hope you may be PRESERVED from, this year:
a hard heart,
a seared conscience,
a Laodicean state,
a proud look,
an unforgiving spirit,
an envious eye, and
from distrusting God.
And now, brethren, Jesus can give all that I wish you to experience, to know, to enjoy! And he can preserve you from all I wish you to be kept from. But he says, "I will be inquired of, by the house of Israel, to do it for them." You must ask, seek, knock, plead, wrestle, and agonize at his throne—for he loves a determined, importunate, perservering beggar; as is evident from Luke 11:1-14; 18:1-9.
"May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace."