SELECTED SERMONS FROM
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, January 29th, 1871,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior; the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself,"—Philippians 3:20,21.
I SHOULD MISLEAD YOU if I called these verses my text, for I intend only to lay stress upon the closing expression, and I read the two verses because they are needful for its explanation. It would require several discourses to expound the whole of so rich a passage as this.
Beloved, how intimately is the whole of our life interwoven with the life of Christ! His first coming has been to us salvation, and we are delivered from the wrath of God through him. We live still because he lives, and never is our life more joyous than when we look most steadily to him. The completion of our salvation in the deliverance of our body from the bondage of corruption, in the raising of our dust to a glorious immortality, that also is wrapped up with the personal resurrection and quickening power of the Lord Jesus Christ. As his first advent has been our salvation from sin, so his second advent shall be our salvation from the grave. He is in heaven, but, as the apostle saith, "We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." We have nothing, we are nothing, apart from him. The past, the present, and the future are only bright as he shines upon them. Every consolation, every hope, every enjoyment we possess, we have received and still retain because of our connection with Jesus Christ our Lord. Apart from him we are naked, and poor, and miserable. I desire to impress upon your minds, and especially upon my own, the need of our abiding in him. As zealous laborers for the glory of God I am peculiarly anxious that you may maintain daily communion with Jesus, for as it is with our covenant blessings, so is it with our work of faith and labor of love, everything depends upon him.
All our fruit is found in Jesus. Remember his own words, "Without me ye can do nothing." Our power to work comes wholly from his power. If we work effectually it must always be according to the effectual working of his power in us and through us. Brethren, I pray that our eyes may be steadfastly turned to our Master at this season when our special services are about to commence. Confessing our dependence upon him, and resorting to him in renewed confidence, we shall proceed to our labor with redoubled strength. May we remember where our great strength lieth, and look to him and him alone, away from our own weakness and our own strength too—finding all in him in our work for others as we have found all in him in the matter of the salvation of our own souls. When the multitudes were fed, the disciples distributed the bread, but the central source of that divine commissariat was the Master's own hand. He blessed, he brake, he gave to the disciples, and then the disciples to the multitude.
Significant also was one of the last scenes of our Lord's intercourse with his disciples before he was taken up. They had been fishing all the night, but they had taken nothing; it was only when he came that they cast the net on the right side of the ship, and then the net was filled with a great multitude of fishes. Ever must it be so; where he is souls are taken by the men-fishers, but nowhere else. Not the preaching of his servants alone, not the gospel of itself alone, but his presence with his servants is the secret of success. "The Lord working with them," his co-operating presence in the gospel, this is it which makes it "the power of God unto salvation." Lift up your eyes then, my brethren, confederate with us for the spread of the Redeemer's kingdom, to the Savior, the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation, through whom and by whom all things shall be wrought to the honor of God, but without whom the most ardent desires, and the most energetic efforts must most certainly fail. I have selected this text with no less a design than this—that every eye may by it be turned to the omnipotent Savior before we enter upon the hallowed engagements which await us.
In the text notice, first of all, the marvel to be wrought by our Lord at his coming; and then gather from it, in the second place, helps to the consideration of the power which is now at this time proceeding from him and treasured in him; and then, thirdly, contemplate the work which we desire to see accomplished, and which we believe will be accomplished on the ground of the power resident in our Lord.
I. First, we have to ask you to CONSIDER BELIEVINGLY THE MARVEL WHICH IS TO BE WROUGHT BY OUR LORD AT HIS COMING.
When he shall come a second time he will change our vile body and fashion it like unto his glorious body. What a marvellous change! How great the transformation! How high the ascent! Our body in its present state is called in our translation a "vile body," but if we translate the Greek more literally it is much more expressive, for there we find this corporeal frame called "the body of our humiliation." Not "this humble body," that is hardly the meaning, but the body in which our humiliation is manifested and enclosed. This body of our humiliation our Lord will transform until it is like unto his own. Here read not alone "his glorious body," for that is not the most literal translation, but "the body of his glory;" the body in which he enjoys and reveals his glory. Our Savior had a body here in humiliation; that body was like ours in all respects except that it could see no corruption, for it was undefiled with sin; that body in which our Lord wept, and sweat great drops of blood, and yielded up his spirit, was the body of his humiliation.
He rose again from the dead, and he rose in the same body which ascended up into heaven, but he concealed its glory to a very great extent, else had he been too bright to be seen of mortal eyes. Only when he passed the cloud, and was received out of sight, did the full glory of his body shine forth to ravish the eyes of angels and of glorified spirits. Then was it that his countenance became as the sun shining in its strength. Now, beloved, whatever the body of Jesus may be in his glory, our present body which is now in its humiliation is to be conformed unto it; Jesus is the standard of man in glory. "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Here we dwell in this body of our humiliation, but it shall undergo a change, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Then shall we come into our glory, and our body being made suitable to the glory state, shall be fitly called the body of glory. We need not curiously pry into the details of the change, nor attempt to define all the differences between the two estates of our body; for "it doth not yet appear what we shall be," and we may be content to leave much to be made known to us hereafter. Yet though we see through a glass darkly, we nevertheless do see something, and would not shut our eyes to that little.
We know not yet as we are known, but we do know in part, and that part knowledge is precious. The gates have been ajar at times, and men have looked awhile, and beheld and wondered. Three times, at least, human eyes have seen something of the body of glory. The face of Moses, when he came down from the mount, shone so that those who gathered around him could not look thereon, and he had to cover it with a veil. In that lustrous face of the man who had been forty days in high communion with God, you behold some gleams of the brightness of glorified manhood. Our Lord made a yet clearer manifestation of the glorious body when he was transfigured in the presence of the three disciples. When his garments became bright and glistering, whiter than any fuller could make them, and he himself was all aglow with glory, his disciples sew end marvelled. The face of Stephen is a third window as it were through which we may look at the glory to be revealed, for even his enemies as they gazed upon the martyr in his confession of Christ, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. Those three transient gleams of the morning light may serve as tokens to us to help us to form some faint idea of what the body of the glory of Christ and the body of our own glory will be.
Turning to that marvellous passage in the Corinthians, wherein the veil seems to be more uplifted than it ever had been before or since, we learn a few particulars worthy to be rehearsed. The body while here below, is corruptible, subject to decay; it gradually becomes weak through old age, at last it yields to the blows of death, falls into the ground, and becomes the food of worms. But the new body shall be incorruptible, it shall not be subject to any process of disease, decay, or decline, and it shall never, through the lapse of ages, yield to the force of death. For the immortal spirit it shall be the immortal companion. There are no graves in heaven, no knell ever saddened the New Jerusalem. The body here is weak, the apostle says "it is sown in weakness;" it is subject to all sorts of infirmities in life, and in death loses all strength. It is weak to perform our own will, weaker still to perform the heavenly will; it is weak to do and weak to suffer: but it is to be "raised in power, all infirmity being completely removed." How far this power will be physical and how far spiritual we need not speculate; where the material ends and the spiritual begins we need not define; we shall be as the angels, and we have found no difficulty in believing that these pure spirits "excel in strength," nor in understanding Peter when he says that angels are "greater in power and might." Our body shall be "raised in power."
Here, too, the body is a natural or soulish body—a body fit for the soul, for the lowest faculties of our mental nature but according to the apostle in the Corinthians, it is to be raised a spiritual body, adapted to the noblest portion of our nature, suitable to be the dwelling-place and the instrument of our new-born grace-given life. This body at present is no assistance to the spirit of prayer or praise; it rather hinders than helps us in spiritual exercises. Often the spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. We sleep when we ought to watch, and faint when we should pursue. Even its joys as well as its sorrows tend to distract devotion: but when this body shall be transformed, it shall be a body suitable for the highest aspirations of our perfected and glorified humanity—a spiritual body like unto the body of the glory of Christ. Here the body is sinful, its members have been instruments of unrighteousness. It is true that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; but, alas! there are traces about it of the time when it was a den of thieves. The spots and wrinkles of sin are not yet removed. Its materialism is not yet so refined as to be an assistance to the spirit; it gravitates downwards, and it has a bias from the right line; but it awaits the last change, and then it shall be perfectly sinless, as alabaster white and pure, upon which stain of sin did never come; like the newly driven snow, immaculately chaste. "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
Being sinless, the body when it shall be raised again shall be painless. Who shall count the number of our pains while in this present house of clay? Truly we that are in this tabernacle do groan. Does it not sometimes appear to the children of sickness as if this body were fashioned with a view to suffering; as if all its nerves, sinews, veins, pulses, vessels, and valves, were parts of a curious instrument upon which every note of the entire gamut of pain might be produced? Patience, ye who linger in this shattered tenement, a house not made with hands awaits you. Up yonder no sorrow and sighing are met with; the chastising rod shall fall no longer when the faultiness is altogether removed. As the new body will be without pain, so will it be superior to weariness. The glorybody will not yield to faintness, nor fail through languor. Is it not implied that the spiritual body does not need to sleep, when we read that they serve God day and night in his temple? In a word, the bodies of the saints, like the body of Christ, will be perfect; there shall be nothing lacking and nothing faulty. If saints die in the feebleness of age they shall not rise thus; or if they have lost a sense or a limb or are halt or maimed, they shall not be so in heaven, for as to body and soul "they are without fault before the throne of God." "We shall be like him," is true of all the saints, and hence none will be otherwise than fair, and beautiful, and perfect. The righteous shall be like Christ, of whom it is still true that not a bone of him shall be broken, so not a part of our body after its change shall be bruised, battered, or otherwise than perfect.
Put all together, brethren, and what a stretch it is from this vile body to the glorious body which shall be! yet when Christ comes this miracle of miracles shall be wrought in the twinkling of an eye. Heap up epithets descriptive of the vileness of this body, think of it in all its weakness, infirmity, sin, and liability to death; then admire our Lord's body in all its holiness, happiness, purity, perfection, and immortality; and know assuredly that, at Christ's coming, this change shall take place upon every one of the elect of God. All believers shall undergo this marvellous transformation in a moment. Behold and wonder! Imagine that the change should occur to you now. What a display of power! My imagination is not able to give you a picture of the transformation; but those who will be alive and remain at the coming of the Son of God will undergo it, and so enter glory without death. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality," and therefore the bodies of living believers shall in the twinkling of an eye pass from the one state into the other; they shall be transformed from the vile to the glorious, from the state of humiliation into the state of glory, by the power of the coming Savior.
The miracle is amazing, if you view it as occurring to those who shall be alive when Christ comes. Reflect, however, that a very large number of the saints when the Lord shall appear a second time will already be in their graves. Some of these will have been buried long enough to have become corrupt. If you could remove the mould and break open the coffin-lid, what would you find but foulness and putrefaction? But those mouldering relics are the body of the saint's humiliation, and that very body is to be transformed into the likeness of Christ's glorious body. Admire the miracle as you survey the mighty change! Look down into the loathsome tomb, and, if you can endure it, gaze upon the putrid mass; this, even this, is to be transformed into Christ's likeness.
What a work is this! And what a Savior is he who shall achieve it! Go a little further. Many of those whom Christ will thus raise will have been buried so long that all trace of them will have disappeared; they will have melted back into the common dust of earth, so that if their bones were searched for not a vestige of them could be found, nor could the keenest searcher after human remains detect a single particle. They have slept in quiet through long ages in their lonely graves, till they have become absorbed into the soil as part and parcel of mother earth. No, there is not a bone, nor a piece of a bone left; their bodies are as much one with earth as the drop of rain which fell upon the wave is one with the sea: yet shall they be raised. The trumpet call shall fetch them back from the dust with which they have mingled, and dust to dust, bone to bone, the anatomy shall be rebuilded and then refashioned. Does your wonder grow? does not your faith accept with joy the marvel, and yet feel it to be a marvel none the less? Son of man, I will lead thee into an inner chamber more full of wonder yet.
There are many thousands of God's people to whom a quiet slumber in the grave was denied; they were cut off by martyrdom, were sawn asunder, or cast to the dogs. Tens of thousands of the precious bodies of the saints have perished by fire, their limbs have been blown in clouds of smoke to the four winds of heaven, and even the handful of ashes which remained at the foot of the stake their relentless persecutors have thrown into rivers to be carried to the ocean, and divided to every shore. Some of the children of the resurrection were devoured by wild beasts in the Roman ampitheatres or left a prey to kites and ravens on the gibbet. In all sorts of ways have the saints' bodies been hacked and hewn, and, as a consequence, the particles of those bodies have no doubt been absorbed into various vegetable growths, and having been eaten by animals have mingled with the flesh of beasts; but what of that? "What of that?" say you, how can these bodies be refashioned? By what possibility can the selfsame bodies be raised again? I answer it needs a miracle to make any of these dry bones live, and a miracle being granted, impossibility vanishes. He who formed each atom from nothing can gather each particle again from confusion.
The omniscient Lord of providence tracks each molecule of matter, and knows its position and history as a shepherd knows his sheep; and if it be needful to constitute the identity of the body, to regather every atom, he can do it. It may not, however, be needful at all, and I do not assert that it will be, for there may be a true identity without sameness of material; even as this my body is the same as that in which I lived twenty years ago, and yet in all probability there is not a grain of the same matter in it. God is able then to cause that the same body which on earth we wear in our humiliation, which we call a vile body, shall be fashioned like unto Christ's body. No difficulties, however stern, that can be suggested from science or physical law, shall for a single instant stand in the way of the accomplishment of this transformation by Christ the King. What marvels rise before me! indeed, it needs faith, and we thank God we have it. The resurrection of Christ has for ever settled in our minds, beyond all controversy, the resurrection of all who are in him; "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Still it is a marvel of marvels, a miracle which needs the fullness of the deity. Of whom but God, very God of very God, could it be said that he shall change our bodies, and make them like unto his glorious body?
I know how feebly I have spoken upon this sublime subject, but I am not altogether regretful of that, for I do not wish to fix your thoughts on my words for a single moment; I only desire your minds to grasp and grapple with the great thought of the power of Christ, by which he shall raise and change the bodies of the saints.
II. We will now pass on. Here is the point we aim at. Consider, in the second place, that THIS POWER WHICH IS TO RAISE THE DEAD IS RESIDENT IN CHRIST AT THIS MOMENT.
So saith the text, "according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself." It is not some new power which Christ will take to himself in the latter days and then for the first time display, but the power which will arouse the dead is the same power which is in him at this moment, which is going forth from him at this instant in the midst of his church and among the sons of men. I call your attention to this, and invite you to follow the track of the text.
First notice that all the power by which the last transformation will be wrought is ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ now as the Savior.
"We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus." When Christ raises the dead it will be as a Savior, and it is precisely in that capacity that we need the exercise of his power at this moment. Fix this, my brethren, in your hearts; we are seeking the salvation of men, and we are not seeking a hopeless thing, for Jesus Christ is able as a Savior, to subdue all things, to himself; so the text expressly tells us. It doth not merely say that as a raiser of the dead he is able to subdue all things, but as the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. His titles are expressly given, he is set forth to us as the Lord, the Savior, the Anointed, and in that capacity is said to be able to subdue all things to himself. Happy tidings for us! My brethren, how large may our prayers be for the conversion of the sons of men, how great our expectations, how confident our efforts! Nothing is too hard for our Lord Jesus Christ; nothing in the way of saving work is beyond his power. If as a Savior he wakes the dead in the years to come, he can quicken the spiritually dead even now. These crowds of dead souls around us in this area and in these galleries, he can awaken by his quickening voice and living Spirit. The resurrection is to be according to the working of his mighty power, and that same energy is in operation now. In its fullness the power dwells in him, let us stir him up, let us cry unto him mightily, and give him no rest till he put forth that selfsame power now. Think not, my brethren, that this would be extraordinary and unusual.
Your own conversion, if you have truly been raised from your spiritual death, was by the same power that we desire to see exerted upon others. Your own regeneration was indeed as remarkable an instance of divine power as the resurrection itself shall be. Ay, and I venture to say it, your spiritual life this very day or any day you choose to mention, is in itself a display of the same working which shall transform this vile body into its glorious condition. The power of the resurrection is being put forth to-day, it is pulsing through the quickened portion of this audience, it is heaving with life each bosom that beats with love to God, it is preserving the life-courses in the souls of all the spiritual, so that they go not back to their former death in sin. The power which will work the resurrection will be wonderful, but it will be no new thing. It is everywhere to be beheld in operation in the church of God at this very moment by those who have eyes to see it; and herein I join with the apostle in his prayer "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places' far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."
Note next that the terms of our text imply that opposition may be expected to this power, but that all resistance will be overcome. That word "subdue" supposes a force to be conquered and brought into subjection. "He is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Herein is a great wonder! There will be no opposition to the resurrection. The trumpet sound shall bring the dead from their graves, and no particle shall disobey the summons; but to spiritual resurrection there is resistance—resistance which only omnipotence can vanquish. In the conversion of sinners natural depravity is an opposing force; for men are set upon their sins, and love not the things of God, neither will they hearken to the voice of mercy.
My brethren, to remove all our fears concerning our Lord's ability to save, the word is here used, "He is able," not only to raise all things from the dead, but "to subdue all things to himself." Here again I would bid you take the encouragement the text presents you. If there be opposition to the gospel, he is able to subdue it. If in one man there is a prejudice, if in another man the heart is darkened with error, if one man hates the very name of Jesus, if another is so wedded to his sins that he cannot part from them, if opposition has assumed in some a very determined character, does not the text meet every case? "He is able to subdue all things," to conquer them, to break down the barriers that interpose to prevent the display of his power, and to make I hose very barriers the means of setting forth that power the more gloriously. "He is able even to subdue all things." O take this to the mercy-seat, you who will be seeking the souls of men this month! Take it to him and plead this word of the Holy Spirit in simple, childlike faith. When there is a difficulty you cannot overcome, take it to him, for he is "able to subdue."
Note next, that the language of our text includes all supposable cases. He is able to "subdue all things unto himself," not here and there one, but "all things." Brethren, there is no man in this world so fallen, debased, depraved, and wilfully wicked, that Jesus cannot save him—not even among those who live beyond the reach of ordinary ministry. He can bring the heathen to the gospel, or the gospel to them. The wheels of providence can be so arranged that salvation shall be brought to the outcasts; even war, famine, and plague, may become messengers for Christ, for he, too, rides upon the wings of the wind. There lived some few years ago in Perugia, in Italy, a man of the loosest morale and the worst conceivable disposition. He had given up all religion, he loathed God, and had arrived at such a desperate state of mind that he had conceived an affection for the devil, and endeavored to worship the evil one. Imagining Satan to be the image and embodiment of all rebellion, free-thinking, and lawlessness, he deified him in his own mind, and desired nothing better than to be a devil himself. On one occasion, when a Protestant missionary had been in Perugia preaching, a priest happened to say in this man's hearing, that there were Protestants in Perugia, the city was being defiled by heretics. "And who do you think Protestants are?" said he. "They are men who have renounced Christ and worship the devil."
A gross and outrageous lie was this, but it answered far other ends than its author meant. The man hearing this, thought, "Oh, then, I will go and meet with them, for I am much of their mind;" and away he went to the Protestant meeting, in the hope of finding an assembly who propagated lawlessness and worshipped the devil. He there heard the gospel, and was saved. Behold in this and in ten thousand cases equally remarkable, the ability of our Lord to subdue all things unto himself. How can any man whom God ordains to save escape from that eternal love which is as omnipresent as the deity itself? "He is able to subdue all things to himself." If his sword cannot reach the far off ones his arrows can, and even at this hour they are sharp in his enemy's hearts. No boastful Goliath can stand before our David; though the weapon which he uses to-day be but a stone from the brook, yet shall the Philistine be subdued. If there should be in this place a Deist, an Atheist, a Romanist, or even a lover of the devil, if he be but a man, mercy yet can come to him. Jesus Christ is able to subdue him unto himself. None have gone too far, and none are too hardened. While the Christ lives in heaven we need never despair of any that are still in this mortal life—"He is able to subdue all things unto himself."
You will observe, in the text that nothing is said concerning the unfitness of the means. My fears often are lest souls should not be saved by our instrumentality because of faultiness in us; we fear lest we should not be prayerful enough or energetic or earnest enough; or that it should be said, "He could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." But the text seems to obliterate man altogether—"He is able to subdue all things unto himself"—that is to say, Jesus does it, Jesus can do it, will do it all. By the feeblest means he can work mightily, can take hold of us, unfit as we are for service, and make us fit, can grasp us in our folly and teach us wisdom, take us in our weakness and make us strong. My brethren, if we had to find resources for ourselves, and to rely upon ourselves, our enterprise might well be renounced, but since he is able, we will cast the burden of this work on him, and go to him in believing prayer, asking him to work mightily through us to the praise of his glory, for "He is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
Note that the ability is said in the text to be present with the Savior now. I have already pointed that out to you, but I refer to it again. The resurrection is a matter of the future, but the working which shall accomplish the resurrection is a matter of the present. "According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself," Jesus is as strong now as he ever will be, for he changes not. At this moment he is as able to convert souls as at the period of the brightest revival, or at Pentecost itself. There are no ebbs and flows with Christ's power. Omnipotence is in the hand that once was pierced, permanently abiding there. Oh, if we could but rouse it; if we could but bring the Captain of the host to the field again, to fight for his church, to work his servants! What marvels should we see, for he is able. We are not straitened in him, we are straitened in ourselves if straitened at all.
Once more, for your comfort be it remembered that the fact of there having been, as it were, a considerable time in which few have been converted to Christ, is no proof that his power is slackening; for it is well known to you that very few have as yet been raised from the dead, only here and there one like Lazarus and the young man at the gates of Nain, but you do not therefore doubt the Lord's power to raise the dead. Though he tarrieth we do not mistrust his power to fulfill his promise in due time. Now the power which is restrained, as it were, so that it does not work the resurrection yet, is the same which may hare been restrained in the Christian church for awhile, but which will be as surely put forth ere long in conversion as it will be in the end of time to accomplish the resurrection. Let us cry unto our Lord, for he has but to will it and thousands of sinners will be saved; let us lift up our hearts to him who has but to speak the word and whole nations shall be born unto him. The resurrection will not be a work occupying centuries, it will be accomplished at once; and so it may be in this house of prayer, and throughout London, and throughout the world, Christ will do a great and speedy work to the amazement of all beholders. He will send forth the rod of his strength out of Zion, and rule in the midst of his enemies. He will unmask his batteries, he will spring his mines, he will advance his outworks, he will subdue the city of his adversaries, and ride victoriously through the Bozrah of his foes. Who shall stay his hand? Who shall say unto him, "What doest thou?"
I wish we had time to work out the parallel which our text suggests, between the resurrection and the subduing of all things. The resurrection will be worked by the divine power, and the subduing of sinners is a precisely similar instance of salvation. All men are dead in sin, but he can raise them. Many of them are corrupt with vice, but he can transform them. Some of them are, as it were, lost to all hope, like the dead body scattered to the winds, desperate cases for whom even pity seems to waste her sighs; but he who raises the dead of all sorts, with a word can raise sinners of all sorts by the selfsame power. And as the dead when raised are made like to Christ, so the wicked when converted are made like to Jesus too.
Brilliant examples of virtue shall be found in those who were terrible instances of vice; the most depraved and dissolute shall become the most devout and earnest. From the vile body to the glory-body, what a leap, and from the sinner damnable in lust to the saint bright with the radiance of sanctity, what a space! The leap seems very far, but omnipotence can bridge the chasm. The Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ is able to do it; he is able to do it in ten thousand thousand cases, able to do it at this very moment. My anxious desire is to engrave this one thought upon your hearts, my brethren and sisters, yea, to write it on the palms of those hands with which you are about to serve the Lord, learn it and forget it not—almighty power lies with Jesus to achieve the purpose upon which our heart is set, namely, the conversion of many unto himself.
III. I said I would ask you to consider, in the third place, THE WORK WHICH WE DESIRE TO SEE ACCOMPLISHED. I will not detain you however, with that consideration farther than this.
Brethren, we long to see the Savior subduing souls unto himself. Not to our way of thinking, not to our church, not to the honor of our powers of persuasion, but "unto himself." "He is able even to subdue all things unto himself." O sinner, how I wish thou wert subdued to Jesus, to kiss those dear feet that were nailed for thee, to love in life him who loved thee to the death. Ah! soul, it were a blessed subjection for thee. Never subject of earthly monarch so happy in his king as thou wouldst be. God is our witness, we who preach the gospel, we do not want to subdue you to ourselves, as though we would rule you and be lords over your spirits. It is to Jesus, to Jesus only that we would have you subdued. O that you desired this subjection, it would be liberty, and peace, and joy to you!
Notice that this subjection is eminently to be desired, since it consists in transformation. Catch the thought of the text. He transforms the vile body into his glorious body, and this is a part of the subjection of all things unto himself. But do you call that subjection? Is it not a subjection to be longed after with an insatiable desire, to be so subdued to Christ that I, a poor, vile sinner, may become like him, holy, harmless, undefiled? This is the subjection that we wish for you, O unconverted ones. We trust we have felt it ourselves, we pray you may feel it too. He is able to give it to you. Ask it of him at once. Now breathe the prayer, now believe that the Savior can work the transformation even in you, in you at this very moment. And, O my brethren in the faith, have faith for sinners now. While they are pleading plead for them that this subjection which is an uplifting, this conquering which is a liberating, may be accomplished in them.
For, remember again, that to be subjected to Christ is, according to our text, to be fitted for heaven. He will change our vile body and make it like the body of his glory. The body of the glory is a body fitted for glory, a body which participates in glory. The Lord Jesus can make you, sinner, though now fitted for hell, fitted for heaven, fitted for glory, and breathe into you now an anticipation of that glory, in the joy and peace of mind which his pardon will bring to you. It must be a very sad thing to be a soldier under any circumstances; to have to cut and hack and kill and subdue, even in a righteous cause, is cruel work; but to be a soldier of King Jesus is an honor and a joy. The service of Jesus is a grand service. Brethren, we have been earnestly seeking to capture some hearts that are here present, to capture them for Jesus. It has been a long and weary siege up till this hour. We have summoned them to surrender, and opened fire upon them with the gospel, but as yet in vain. I have striven to throw a few live shells into the very heart of their city, in the form of warning and threatening and exhortation. I know there have been explosions in the hearts of some of you, which have done your sins some damage, killed some of the little ones that would have grown up to greater iniquity. You have been carefully blockaded by providence and grace. Your hearts have found no provision for joy in sin, no helps to peace in unrighteousness.
How I wish I could starve you out until you would yield to my Lord, the crown Prince, who again to-day demands that you yield to him. It is dreadful to compel a city to open its gates unwillingly to let an enemy come in; for however gentle be the enemy his face is an unwelcome sight to the vanquished. But oh! how I wish I could burst open the gates of a sinner's heart to-day, for the Prince Emmanuel to come in. He who is at your gates is not an alien monarch, he is your rightful prince, he is your friend and lover. It will not be a strange face that you will see, when Jesus comes to reign in you. When the King in his beauty wins your soul, you will think yourselves a thousand fools that you did not receive him before. Instead of fearing that he will ransack your soul, you will open all its doors and invite him to search each room. You will cry, "Take all, thou blessed monarch, it shall be most mine when it is thine. Take all, and reign and rule." I propound terms of capitulation to you, O sinner. They are but these: yield up yourself to Christ, give up your works and ways, both good and bad, and trust in him to save you, and be his servant henceforth and for ever. While I thus invite you, I trust he will speak through me to you and win you to himself. I shall not plead in vain, the word shall not fall to the ground. I fall back upon the delightful consolation of our text, "He is able to subdue all things unto himself." May he prove his power this morning. Amen and Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Philippians 3.