Sermon 1266. Paul's Doxology
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 1, 1875,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worksin us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20,21.
This chapter has a whole service of worship within itself. It certainly contains a sermon, for Paul gives a very earnest addressupon the unveiling of the hidden mystery so that the Gentiles are made partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel. Itcontains a prayer, for one of the verses begins, "For this cause I bow my knees." And in the verses before us it closes witha hymn, a hymn of incomparable praise. Thus, in the compass of a short chapter, we have all those devout exercises with whichour assemblies for worship are familiar, namely-instruction, supplication, and praise.
It was meet that the Apostle should close the chapter as he does, for the doxology here given grows out of the chapter. Itis its natural outcome and crowns the whole, even as the flower of the lily is borne up by the stem, completes it and adornsit. The chapter would have been altogether incomplete without the ascription of praise-not perhaps in its sense, but certainlyin its spiritual development.
Mount Zion doubtless possessed in itself both glory and beauty, but the temple on its summit constituted its most sacred charm.Even so to a noble chapter this doxology is a Divine climax, adding glory and sanctity to all the rest. If you look the chapterthrough, you will see that the Apostle has represented the Gospel in its various aspects to different persons and generallyhas set it forth with the word unto. In the fifth verse he speaks of it as manifested unto the sons of men. It was not revealedto them in the olden time so clearly as now, but now unto the holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit, the Gospel is revealedand we live in its clear light, for which we have reason for great thankfulness.
It were a good subject to dwell upon-the relation of the Gospel unto the sons of men. The Apostle, a little lower down, inthe eighth verse, speaks of the relation of the Gospel unto himself, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, isthis Grace given." What the Gospel may do unto other men is of great importance for us to allow, but the knowledge will littleavail us unless we can testify of what it has done unto each one of us personally. All the gold mines of California are ofless worth to a man than the money in his own possession. Can you, beloved Hearers, speak, each one for himself and say ofthe Gospel-"unto me is this Grace given"?
Further on, the Apostle speaks of the angels, and in the 10th verse he says, "To the intent that now unto the principalitiesand powers in heavenly places might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." The Gospel has a relation toangels-they have always had something to do with it, for of old they desired to look into it. And it is written of our Lordthat He was "seen of angels." We know, also, that they rejoice over penitent sinners and that they join in those ascriptionsof Glory which the redeemed in Heaven present to the Lamb of God. Yet further, the Apostle, without exactly using the word,"unto," dwells upon the relation of the Gospel to the people whom he addressed when he declares that he had prayed to theLord that He would grant them, according to the richness of His Glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in theinner man.
Thus having mentioned how the Gospel bears upon mankind at large, upon Inspired men, upon himself, upon angels and then uponthe saints to whom he was writing, he turns with a full heart to look at its bearings upon God Himself. And now it is no longer"unto principalities and powers." It is no longer, even, "unto me," or "unto the holy Apostles and Prophets." But his themeis "unto HIM." I pray God the Holy Spirit to fulfill my desire at this time that every one of us who have tasted that theLord is gracious, may look wholly unto the Lord and spend the little time appointed for our discourse in reverent adorationof Him from whom all Grace comes and to whom all the Glory, ought, therefore, to return, "for of Him, and through Him, andto Him, are all things." If unto Him there should be glory in the Church
throughout all ages, then, to Him should there be glory in this Church at this present moment. O Lord, help us to render itunto You!
In our text we have adoration, not prayer, the Apostle had done with that. Adoration-not even so much the act of praise asthe full sense that praise is due and far more of it than we can render. I hardly know how to describe adoration. Praise isa river flowing on joyously in its own channel, banked up on either side that it may run towards its one object. But adorationis the same river overflowing all banks, flooding the soul and covering the entire nature with its great wa-ters-and thesenot so much moving and stirring as standing still in profound repose, mirroring the Glory which shines down upon it-like asummer's sun upon a sea of glass!
Adoration is not seeking the Divine Presence, but conscious of it to an unutterable degree and, therefore, full of awe andpeace, like the sea of Galilee when its waves felt the touch of the sacred feet. Adoration is the fullness, the height anddepth, the length and breadth of praise! Adoration seems to me to be as the starry heavens which are always proclaiming theGlory of God and yet, "there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard." It is the eloquent silence of a soulthat is too full for language. Adoration is to prostrate yourself in the dust in humility and yet to soar aloft in sublimethought-to sink into nothing and yet to be so enlarged as to be filled with all the fullness of God! It is to have no thoughtand yet to be all thought-to lose yourself in God-this is adoration.
This should be the frequent state of the renewed mind. We ought to set apart far longer time for this sacred engagement, orwhat shall we call it? Act or state? It were for our highest enrichment if we made it our daily prayer that the blessed Spiritwould frequently bear us right out of ourselves and lift us above all these trifles which surround us till we were only consciousof God and His exceeding Glory. Oh that He would plunge us into the Godhead's deepest sea till we were lost in His immensityand could only exclaim in wonder, "Oh! The depths! Oh! The depths!"
In that spirit I desire to approach the text and I ask you to turn your eyes away from all else to HIM, even to the Lord GodAlmighty and the Lamb. I do not ask you to remember what the Gospel does for you except as you remember it to render praisefor it. I do not ask you to contemplate the Gospel in its reference to men and angels, but only to consider the Lord Himselfand to render Him Glory for ability to bless, enrich and sanctify above all our asking or thinking. Looking to the Lord, alone,let us draw near unto Him in spirit and in truth.
I. Our first consideration shall be, UPON WHAT PART OF HIS GLORIOUS CHARACTER SHALL OUR MINDS REST? The text guides us tothe Divine ability. "Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly." And it selects the Divine ability to bless-"todo according to the power that works in us." This, then, is the subject. What does the Apostle say of it? He declares thatthe Divine ability to bless is above what we ask.
We have asked great things in our time. We remember when it seemed the greatest conceivable thing for us to say, "Father,forgive me." We asked a large thing when we requested the pardon of all our sins and an equally great thing when we prayedto be cleansed in spirit. When we felt our hearts hard and our natures depraved, it seemed almost too great a blessing toexpect the heart of stone to be turned to a heart of flesh. We did, however, cry for gracious renewal, and the prayer washeard! Full many a time since then, in deep distress, we have besought the Lord for great deliverances. In abject need wehave sought great supplies and in terrible dilemmas we have asked for great guidance-and we have received all these againand again.
The blessings sought and obtained have assuredly been neither few nor small. Some of us would almost seem to have tried thelimit of prayer in the matters for which we have cried unto the Lord. We have, in times of holy boldness and sacred access,asked large things, such as one could only ask of the Great King. And yet our asking has been too short a line to reach thebottom of Divine ability-He is able to do above what we ask! Our prayer at its best and boldest has many a boundary. It islimited often by our sense of need. We scarcely know what we need! We need to be taught what we should pray for, or we neverask aright. We mistake our condition. We know not how deep and numerous our needs are.
Our soul's hunger is not keen enough-sin has taken the edge from our spiritual appetites and, therefore, we limit and crampour prayers. But, blessed be God, He is not limited by our sense of need! His guests do but ask for bread and water, but behold,His oxen and fatlings are killed and a feast is made of fat things-"of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees wellrefined." Yes, and our need, itself, is limited. We do not need everything. Empty as we are, there are some things that canfill us even to the brim. But God is able to go beyond our absolute needs and He has often al-
ready done so. He has given to His redeemed more than, as creatures, they absolutely require to make them happy and blessed!
We might have been restored to the full stature of unfallen manhood and in consequence have been as Adam was before his sin,but, wonder of wonders, the Lord has done more, for He has made us His children and His heirs, heirs of God, joint heirs ofJesus Christ! This is not the supply of necessity-it is the bestowal of honor, dignity and exceedingly great glory! And now,although our needs are, in themselves, very terrible and far greater than can be supplied by anything short of all-sufficiency,yet God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we actually need!
He will not treat us as men treat a pensioner, to whom they allot barely enough to live upon and count themselves generousfor doing so. He will treat us as kings and princes and do exceedingly abundantly above all that we need! Thus does He leaveour prayers far behind, outstripping both our sense of need and the need itself. Our prayer is also limited by our desire.Of course a man does not pray any further than his desires go-and our desires are not always as much awake as they shouldbe. We are sometimes very cold and slow in desiring good things. The nether springs make us forget the upper fountains.
Alas, like the foolish king of Israel, we shoot but two or three arrows when we ought to have emptied out our quiver! We bringbut small cups to the well and take home but little water. Our mouths are not opened wide enough, for our hearts are not warmenough to melt the ice which closes our lips. But, blessed be God, He is not limited by our desires! He is able to bless usbeyond what our souls have yet learned to wish for! And, alas, when we do desire great things our faith is often weak andthere we are restrained. We cannot believe God to be so good as to give us such unspeakable blessings and so we fail. Howmuch we lose thereby I scarcely dare pause to consider! Our unbelief is a great impoverishment to us.
Even when faith does become developed, and sometimes it does, yet I guarantee you its stature never reaches the height ofthe promise. No man ever believed God as much as he might believe, nor trusted His promise so implicitly as he might do, orput so large a construction upon the Divine Word as it would bear. O Brothers and Sisters, we have to thank God that He isnot bounded by our narrow faith, but even goes beyond what we believe concerning Him! How often, too, we are limited in prayerby our lack of comprehension-we do not understand what God means. Search to see if there is a single promise in the wholeCovenant of Grace which any child of God perfectly understands. There is a meaning in the Covenant promises-a breadth, a length,a height, a depth not yet compassed.
God condescends to use human language and to us the words mean silver, but He uses them in a golden sense. He never meansless than He says, but He always means far more than we think He says. For this let us magnify the Lord! His power to blessus is not bounded by our power to understand the blessing! Grace is not measured to us according to our capacity to receive,but according to His efficacy to bestow! He can enlarge us, my Brethren! O that He would do so now! Prayer is an exercisein which our minds ought to be expanded and our hearts enlarged! Has not the Lord said, "Open your mouth wide and I will fillit"? Yet our widest mouth is not the measure of what He can give us! Our boldest prayer is not the boundary of what He isable to bestow! Pray at your utmost, like Elijah upon Carmel! Pray as you will till the keys of Heaven seem to swing at yourside and yet you can never outrun that Omnipotence to bless which dwells in the Lord God Almighty!
The Apostle then goes on to say that the ability of God to bless is above what we think. Now we can think of some things wedare not pray for! Thought is free and scarcely can space contain it. Its wings bear it far beyond all visible things. Itcan even soar into the impossible, yet thought cannot attain to the power of God to bless, for that is immeasurable! Haveyou not, at times, been filled with great thoughts of what God might do with you? Have you not imagined how He might use youfor His Glory? He can do more than you have dreamed! Turn your pleasant dreams into fervent prayers and it may yet pleasethe Lord to make you useful to an amazing degree-so that you shall be astonished at what you will accomplish. If of a humbleshepherd lad He made a David, He may do the same with you!
Have you not, at other times, conceived great ideas of what the Lord will make out of you when you shall be washed, cleansed,delivered from sin and carried away to serve Him in Heaven? Ah, but you have no idea what you will be! You do not know, whenyou have guessed your greatest, how perfect and pure and blessed you will be in your Father's house on high when He has completedin you all the good pleasure of His will! You have sung sometimes-
"What must it be to dwell above!"
And your thoughts and imaginations have gone to very great lengths in picturing the repose, the security, the wealth, theenjoyment, the perfect satisfaction of Heaven! Ah, yes, but the Lord is able to do more than has ever entered into your heart.There, fling the bridle on the neck of your imagination and let it, like a winged horse, not only scour the plains of earth,but fly through the clouds and mount above the stars-but its furthermost flight on the most rapid wings shall not bring younear the confines of the possibilities of God!
Your thoughts, even at their best, are not His thoughts! As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are His thoughtsabove yours, think however you may! How amazing a subject is now before us! What language of mine can adequately set forththe Divine ability to bless, when both the eagle eye of prayer and the eagle wing of thought fail to discover a boundary?
Now, I need to call your attention, in this passage, to every word of it, for every word is emphatic. "He is able to do exceedinglyabundantly above all that we ask or think." Not above some things that we ask, but, "ALL." Not above some of our dimmer conceptions,our lower thoughts, but above "ALL" that we think! Now just put together all that you have ever asked for. Heap it up andthen pile upon the top all that you have ever thought of concerning the riches of Divine Grace. What a mountain! Here we havehill on hill, Pelion on Ossa, as though Alp on Alp were heaped on end to build a staircase or a Jacob's ladder to the verystars!
Go on! Go on! It is no Babel tower you build and yet its top will not reach unto Heaven. High as this pyramid of prayers andcontemplations may be piled, God's ability to bless is still higher-"above all that we ask or even think." Some render it,"Now unto Him that is able to do above all things exceedingly abundantly," and so on. Well, take it so. God is able to blessus above all things! Above all the blessings that others could give us-that is little. Above all the blessedness which residesin creatures-that is great, but not comparable to what He can do! Above all the blessings which can be imagined to be conveyedto us by all the creatures that are useful and beneficial to us-He is able to do above all good things for us. O Lord, helpus to understand all this! Give us faith to get a grip of this and then to magnify and adore You! Alas, our adoration cannever be proportionate to Your goodness!
Now, dwell on another word, "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." The we refers to theApostles as well as to ourselves. Paul was a mighty man in prayer. What a wonderful prayer this chapter con-tains-how he finishesup, "That you might be filled with all the fullness of God." I will defy any man to bring out the meaning of those words tothe fullest. Yet when he had prayed that prayer, Paul felt that God could go far beyond his comprehension of it. I do notknow how, but he says so-above all that we ask-and, of course, this includes himself!
Paul, in that, we, may be viewed as including the Apostles-we, the 12 who have come nearest to Jesus and have been personallytaught how to pray by Him-we who have seen Him face to face and upon whom His Spirit specially rests. "He is able to do exceedinglyabundantly above what we ask"! The Apostles were Inspired. The Spirit of God was in them to an unusual degree. Their thoughtswere larger than ours, but, says Paul, He is able to do above what we think, even we, His Apostles, the best, the most holy,the most spiritual of Christian men!
Oh, then, Brethren, I am sure He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or think, for it is a terrible comedown from the Apostles' asking and thinking to ours! He must be able to do exceedingly abundantly above the asking or thoughtsof such poor, puny saints as we are! Now, notice the Apostle's use of the word, "abundantly." He says, not only that God isable to do above what we ask or think, but "abundantly." We might say of a man, "He has given much, but he has still somethingleft." That expression would fall sadly short if applied to the Most High! He has not only something left, but all abundanceleft! We have already understood but a part of His ways. We have been able to comprehend the mere remnant of His gloriousGrace.
The reserve of goodness, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him far exceed our thoughts. Our Apostle, notcontent with the use of the word "abundantly," adds another word, and says, "exceedingly abundantly." He has constructed here,in the Greek, an expression which is altogether his own. No language was powerful enough for the Apostle-I mean for the HolySpirit speaking through the Apostle-for very often Paul has to coin words and phrases to show forth his meaning and here isone-"He is able to do exceedingly abundantly"-so abundantly that it exceeds measure and description! Yonder ship is on thesea and the sea can bear it up, though it weighs several thousand tons.
Does that surprise you, my Brethren? No, for you know that the ocean could float not merely one such ship, but a navy, yes,and more navies than you could count if you continued to number them throughout the lifelong day. The far-
reaching main is able to bear upon its bosom, ships innumerable! It supports them "exceedingly abundantly." God is as thegreat ocean. What you have seen Him do is but as it were the floating of one single boat! But what He can do, ah, that is"exceedingly abundantly" above what you ask or think! There flows our beautiful river among the meadows and the child dipsits cup to drink and is fully refreshed. Yet all that the child can take is as nothing compared with what still remains-andif along the banks of Father Thames, crowds of thirsty ones should congregate and drink their fill, both men and cattle-yetall they could abstract from the waters would bear a very inconsiderable proportion to the volume which would still flow tothe sea!
Lo, I see thousands of the redeemed crowding down to the all-sufficiency of God! I see them lie down to drink like men thatmust take draughts both long and deep or die! But after they have all drunk and all the creatures that live have all beensupplied, I see no lessening in the blessedness which pours forth from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, which can only bedescribed in these words, "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think." Now to help you toadore the Lord-for that is my one objective this morning-think how blessed you are in having such an all-sufficient God! Itis always pleasant to take out of a great heap and to know that what you receive does not deprive others of their share.
Who cares to sit at a table where every morsel must be counted, for if you have more somebody must have less? It is a scantfeast where the provision is exactly measured. Here, at the table of our God, there is need of no such economy. "Eat, O Friends,drink, yes, drink abundantly, O Beloved," for the feast is of the King and His provisions are infinite! Thus we see that thereneed be no limit to our prayers. You need never rise from your knees and say, "Perhaps I was presumptuous. Perhaps I haveasked more than God will give?" Down on your knees, Brother, Sister, and ask God to forgive you for dishonoring Him by harboringsuch a thought! He is able to give exceedingly abundantly above what you ask. Thus we see, also, that He is still able tobless us, upon whom the ends of the earth are come, for if He was able to do exceedingly abundantly in the Apostle's time,He is quite as able, still, and we may come to Him without fear.
Now, I see, also, that if my case is very special, still I need not tremble or stand in dread of need. What if I require superabundantGrace? I may have it! If I need exceedingly abundant help, I can have it. Ah, if I need more Grace than I dare ask for, Ican have it! Yes, and if I require more than I think, I may have it, for still my Lord is able to give it to me, and whatHe is able to do, He is willing to do. What comfort this should afford even to poor sinners who are far away from God. Heis able to give you great forgiveness for the greatest possible sin! Sins that you have not yet thought of, He can pardon!Do but come to God in Christ Jesus and you shall find Him able to save to the uttermost.
If this little hint is taken up by some despairing heart, it may give it immediate peace! It cannot be true that God cannotforgive, for in Christ Jesus, "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or even think."
II. Our second business is to answer the enquiry, IN WHAT WAY DO WE PERCEIVE THIS ABILITY? We cannot
well praise what we cannot in any measure discern. The Apostle says, "according to the power that works in us." We know thatGod can give us more than we ask or think, for He has given us more than we have asked or thought. Our regeneration came tous before prayer, for prayer was the first sign of the new birth already given. To pray for life is not a faculty of the dead-butregeneration puts into us the living desire and the spiritual longing. The first principle of life imparted makes us longafter more life.
We were dead in sin and far from God and He surprised us with His preventing mercy. And in us was fulfilled the words, "Iwas found of them that sought Me not." In this case He did for us above what we asked or thought. Redemp-tion-whoever soughtfor that? Had it not been provided from of old, who would have dared to ask the Lord to give His Son as a Substitute to bleedand die for man? Sirs, in providing a Substitute for us from before the foundation of the world, the Lord has already gonebeyond man's thoughts or requests! Thanks be unto Him for His unspeakable Gift! He gave us Christ and then gave us His blessedSpirit, another surprising blessing which man could not have supposed possible for him to have obtained. Having done thatwhich we never sought for, nor thought of, He is still able to amaze us with unlooked for Grace!
Moreover, where prayer has been offered, our heavenly Father has gone far beyond what we have asked or thought. I said untothe Lord, in the anguish of my soul, that if He would forgive my sins I would be content to be the meanest servant in Hishouse and would gladly lie in prison all my life, and live on bread and water. But His mercy did not come to me in that scantyway, for He put me among His children and gave me an inheritance! "Make me as one of Your hired servants"
is a prayer the Father does not hear-He puts His hand on His child's mouth when he begins to talk so, and says, "Bring forththe best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet." We have asked for a stone and He has givenus bread! We have asked for bare bread and he has given us angels' food. For brass He has given silver and for silver, gold.We looked for a drop and the rain has filled the pools! We sought a morsel and He has filled us with good things! And thereforewe are warranted in expecting that in the future He will continue to outdo our prayers.
Look at the plan of salvation, in the next place, and you will see how it suggests the ability of God to do more for us. Whois He that chose us? Who is He that has begotten us again unto a lively hope? It is God the Father! And when you mention Himas having put His hand to the work of Grace, you have opened a wide door of hope, for what is there He cannot do? He who hasfilled yon heavens with stars, scattering them broadcast as the sower sows corn, and could have made a thousand universesall full of worlds with as much ease as man speaks a word-has He begun to bless us and can there be any limit to His powerto deal graciously with us? Impossible!
Look next at His dear Son. He that created the heavens and the earth is made a Man and lies in a manger! He whom angels obeyis despised and rejected of men! He who only has immortality, hangs on a tree and bleeds and dies! There must be, in thosegroans and those drops of sweat, and those wounds, and that death of His, a power to save altogether inconceivable! Immanuelmade a Sacrifice! What ability to bless must dwell in Him! He must be able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we askor think!
And who is this, the Divine Spirit, who comes to dwell in us? Yes, literally to dwell in these mortal bodies and make thesetabernacles of clay His temples! He has already mortified our lusts, already changed our hearts, already made us partakersof the Divine Nature! My Brothers and Sisters, is there any limit to the possibilities of the Spirit's work in us? May wenot fairly conclude that when God, Himself, comes to inhabit our bodies, He will deliver us from every sin and make us spotlessas God is spotless-till in us shall be fulfilled the command-"Be you holy, for I am holy"? Look at the plan-it is drawn toa wondrous scale! The Trinity in Unity is manifest in the Divine working within us and there must be something inconceivablygreat possible to us through the working of such mighty power!
Come then, dear Friends, and for a moment think of the power which actually dwells in you! If you are a Christian you mustbe conscious of a power in you far too great for your mental or physical constitution to bear if it were not restrained. Doyou never experience groans which cannot be uttered, deep and terrible, like the moving of an earthquake, as though everythingwere loosed within you with extreme heaviness, anguish and travailing in birth? These pangs and throes betray the latent Godwithin you, cramped for room within the narrow bounds of your new created and growing spiritual nature! Have you never feltthe working and striving of strong desires, fierce hunger and insatiable thirsts? Have you not felt mysterious energies workinglike pent-up springs within your spirit, demanding space and vent, or threatening to burst your heart?
Are you never conscious of the Infinite struggling within you? Have you never felt like a little bird shut up within its egg,chipping at the shell to gain liberty? Are you not conscious that you are not what you shall be? Do you not feel Omnipotencerush through you, sometimes, with unutterable joy, till you have to cry, "Hold, my Lord, this joy becomes not man-it is thejoy of Christ fulfilled in me and if I feel it any longer I must die, for in this body it is insupportable!"? There are ecstasies,but we must not tell of them here. There are high mysterious delights of which it is scarcely lawful to speak! There are liftingup in which man so communes with his Maker as to rise above himself and to be far more than man-even as the bush in Horeb,though but a bush, was rendered capable of burning with fire without being con-sumed-and so was more than a bush, for it blazedwith Deity!
Are not your hearts familiar with these sacred mysteries of the Heaven-born life? If they are, then you have the means ofguessing at the Apostle's meaning when he said, "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think,according to the power that works in us." God grant us to know this more fully.
III. Our third consideration is-WHAT, THEN, SHALL BE RENDERED TO GOD? "Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughoutall ages, world without end." "Unto Him be glory." Oh, my Soul, adore Him! Feel His splendor, let His exceeding goodness shinefull upon your soul and warm you with its rays and let the warmth be adoring love! Oh, my Soul, proclaim His goodness andreflect the light which falls upon you from Himself-and so glorify Him by manifesting to the sons of men what He manifeststo you!
Yes, my Soul, let all that is within you bathe in His boundless goodness and then glorify Him by perpetual service. Bow yourstrength to obedience! Be yoked to that mighty chariot in which Jesus rides forth conquering and to conquer, saving the sonsof Adam. God deserves glory in the most emphatic sense and in the most practical meaning of that term. Oh, my Brothers andSisters, let us try to render it to Him!
But the Apostle felt that he must not say, "Unto Him be glory in my soul." He wished that, but his one soul afforded far toolittle space and so he cried, "unto Him be glory in the Church." He calls upon all the people of God to praise the Divinename! If all the world but it were dumb, the Church must always proclaim the Glory of God. If moon and stars and sun and seano more reflect the majesty of the Creator, yet let the redeemed of the Lord praise Him, even those whom He has redeemed outof the hand of the enemy! As Israel sung at the Red Sea with dances and timbrel, so let the Church of God exult, for He hasbrought us through the sea and drowned our adversaries-"The depths have covered them, there is not one of them left." You,O Jesus, have redeemed our souls with blood, have set the prisoners free and made us to be a royal priesthood and, therefore,Your Church must praise You without ceasing!
But as if he felt that the Church, herself, was unequal to the task, though she is ordained to be the sphere of the DivineGlory, note how he puts it. "In the Church by Christ Jesus." You, Lord Jesus, You are He alone among men eloquent enough toexpress the Glory of God. Grace is poured into Your lips and You can declare our praises for us! Brethren, do you not rememberhow our blessed Lord vowed to praise the Divine name among His brethren? Read the 22nd Psalm, and you will see how He becomesthe chief musician, the leader of the choirs of the blessed! By Christ it is that our praises ascend to Heaven! He is theSpokesman for us, the Interpreter, One of a thousand before the Throne of the Infinite Majesty!
O Christ-we are Your body, and every member of the body praises God! But You are the Head and You must speak for us with thosedear lips that are like lilies dropping sweet smelling myrrh! You must offer our praises to the great High Priest and theyshall be accepted at Your hands. Yet the Apostle was not satisfied, for he adds, "Unto Him be glory in the Church by ChristJesus through all ages." And the Greek runs exactly thus, "unto all the generations of the age of ages." Perhaps the Apostlehalf expected the world to last for ages although he did not know when Christ might come, and therefore stood watching forHim.
At any rate, he desired that generation after generation might show forth the Glory of God and when there were no more succeedingraces of men, he desired that that age of ages, the golden age, God's age, the age of peace and joy and blessedness, whateverphases it might pass through, might never cease to resound with the Glory of God! Oh, blessed words of the Apostle! We cannotreach their meaning and if we did, still that meaning would be short of what God deserves-
"M praise Him while He lends me breath; And when my voice is lost in death! Praise shall employ my nobler powers My days ofpraise shall be never past,
While thought and life and being last,
Or immortality endures."
Our children shall follow after us and they shall praise the Lord. And their children and they shall praise Him and theirchildren and they shall praise Him. And when the time comes that the earth grows old and Christ, Himself, shall descend fromHeaven to renew all things, His saints shall magnify Him when He comes!
When He smites His foes and breaks them in pieces like potter's vessels, the saints shall still adore Him! And when comesthe end and He shall have delivered up the power to God, even the Father, still the everlasting song shall go up to God andthe Lamb! And through the ages of ages when God shall be All in All, it shall be the bliss of every redeemed one forever andforever to say, "Unto Him be Glory, unto Him be Glory forever and ever!"
IV. I have done when you have done-and the last point concerns what you have to do. WHAT SHALL WE SAY TO ALL THIS? The texttells us in one word. It concludes with your part of it-"Amen." Some of you have newly been born to God. You are babes inHis family. I pray you to glorify Him, this morning, who can do for you exceedingly abundantly above what you ask or think.Say "Amen" while we unite in ascribing Glory to Him!
And you, my Brothers and Sisters, who, like myself are in the vigor of manhood, in the very prime of life, working for God,let us heartily say, "Amen," as well we may, for all the Grace we have had and still have comes from Him. And
you, my venerable Brothers and Sisters who are getting near to Heaven, there is more mellowness in your voices than in ours,for there is a ripeness and maturity in your experience! Therefore say you first and foremost, "Unto Him be Glory in the Church."Say it now, all classes of Believers-you who are rejoicing in the Lord this morning, and you, also, who are sorrowful andsad, say, "Amen." Though you have not the present joy, yet say, "Amen" in the expectation of it!
Be not laggard any one of you to say, "Unto Him be Glory in the Church throughout all ages. Amen." Say it, O Church, below,without exception! Say it, all you militant ones. You saints that lie upon your sick beds and you that are near to death,yet say, "Amen." You that suffer and you that labor, you who sow and you who reap, say, "Amen." And when the whole Churchbelow has said, "Amen," O Church above take up the grand, "Amen." You triumphant ones who have washed your robes in the bloodof the Lamb, I need not challenge you to say, "Amen," for I know you do it louder and more sweetly than saints below!
You sinners who have not yet tasted of His Grace, I think I might almost urge you to say, "Amen," for if you have not yetobtained mercy, He is able to give it to you! You have come here, this morning, thirsty like Hagar and God sees you. You aresearching for a little water to fill your bottle. See, yonder is a well, a well which flows finely. Drink of it, drink andlive, and say, "Amen," as you bless the Lord who looks on you in love! Perhaps you came here like Saul, seeking your father'sdonkeys, or some such trifles. Behold, He gives you a kingdom-He gives you more than you ask or think-freely He gives it accordingto the riches of His Grace!
Accept it, and then say, "Amen." Oh, with one heart and one soul let all of you that have been redeemed from death and Hell,or even hope to be so, join in this ascription-
"Now to the Lord, whose power can do
More than our thoughts or wishes know,
Be everlasting honor done,
By all the Church, through
Christ His Son."
Amen and amen!
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Ephesians 3. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-166, 450, 412.