Sermon 79. The Form of Sound Words
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 11, 1856, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."-2 Timothy 1:13.
MY INCESSANT anxiety for you, dearly beloved in the faith of Jesus Christ, is that I may be able, in the first place, to teachyou what God's truth is; and then, trusting that I have to the best of my ability taught you what I believe to be God's mostholy gospel, my next anxiety is, that you should "hold fast the form of sound words;" that whatever may occur in the future,should death snatch away your pastor, or should anything occur which might put you in perilouscircumstances, so that you were tempted to embrace any system of heresy, you might every one of you stand as firm andas unmoved as rocks, and as strong as mountains be, abiding in "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," whereofye have heard, and which we have proclaimed unto you. If the gospel be worth your hearing, and if it be a true gospel, itis worth your holding, and our anxiety is, that you should be so established in the faith, that you may, "hold fast the professionofyour faith without wavering, for he is faithful that has promised."
The Apostle most earnestly admonished Timothy to "hold fast the form of sound words which he had heard of him in faith andlove which is in Christ Jesus." I do not suppose that by this it is intended that Paul ever wrote out for Timothy a list ofdoctrines; or that he gave him a small abstract of divinity, to which he desired him to subscribe his name, as the articlesof the church over which he was made a pastor. If so, doubtless the document would have been preserved andenrolled in the canons of Scripture as one of the writings of an inspired man. I can scarce think such a creed would havebeen lost, whilst other creeds have been preserved and handed down to us. I conceive that what the Apostle meant was this:-"Timothy,when I have preached to you, you have heard certain grand outlines of truth; you have heard from me the great system of faithin Jesus Christ; in my writings and public speakings you have heard me continually insist upon a certain pattern orform of faith; now I bid you, my dearly beloved son in the gospel, "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hastheard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
This morning I shall first attempt to tell you what I conceive to be a "form of sounds words," which we are to hold fast. In the second place, I shall endeavour to urge upon you the strong necessity of holding fast that form. In the third place, I shall warn you of some dangers to which you will be exposed, tempting you to give up the form of sound words. Then, in the last place I shall mention the two great holdfasts, faith and love in ChristJesus, which are the great means of "holding fast the form of sound words."
1. What is a "FORM OF SOUND WORDS?" Ten thousand persons will quarrel upon this. One will say, "My creed is a form of soundwords;" another will declare that his creed also is sound, if not infallible. We will not, therefore, enter into all the minutiaewhich distinguish creeds from each other, but just simply say, that no system can be a form of sound words unless it is perfectly scriptural. We receive no doctrines as the doctrines of men; whatever authority cometo us which is not the authority of the Holy Spirit, and inspired by God, is no authority at all to us. We laugh to scornall the dogmatism of men; we care for nothing they assert, however strongly they declare it, or however eloquently they pleadfor it; we utterly reject and discard it; we hold it a sin to "take for doctrines the commandments of men;" we give no heedto the traditions that are handed down to us. If our opponent cannot quote text or verse for anything he advances, we holdnoargument with him. Scripture is the only weapon we can acknowledge.
But since it is said that texts may be found to prove almost everything, we must remark, that a form of sound words must beone that exalts God and puts down man. We dare not for a moment think that any doctrine is sound that does not put the crown upon the head of Jesus, and does notexalt the Almighty. If we see a doctrine which exalts the creature, we do not care one fig about what arguments may be broughtto support it; we know that it is a lie, unless it laysthe creature in the very dust of abasement, and exalts the Creator. If it does not do this, it is nothing but a rottendoctrine of pride; it may dazzle us with the brilliant malaria rising from its marshes, but it never can shed a true and healthfullight into the soul; it is a rotten doctrine, not fit to be builded on the gospel, unless it exalts Jehovah Jesus, Jehovahthe Father, and Jehovah the Holy Spirit.
We think, also, that we may judge of the soundness of doctrine by its tendency. We can never think a doctrine sound, when we see plainly upon its very surface that it has a tendency to create sin in men.Unless it be a doctrine according to godliness, we cannot conceive it to be a doctrine of God. Unless the believer of it,earnestly and truthfully believing it, doth give himself to virtue-unless that doctrine has in itself a natural tendency topromote in him alove to the right-we are at first sight suspicious of it; and if we find on examination that it is a licentious doctrine-itmay have all the glitter and the glare of novelty, but we cast it away as not being the doctrine of Christianity, becauseit does not promote holiness in the soul.
We shall, perhaps, be asked what we do regard as a form of sound words, and what those doctrines are which are scriptural, which at the same time are healthfulto the spirit and exalting to God. We answer, we believe a form of sound words must embrace, first of all, the doctrine ofGod's being and nature, we must have the Trinity in Unity, and the Unity in Trinity. Any doctrine, which hath not the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,as equal persons in one undividedessence, we cast aside as being unsound, for we are sure that such doctrines must be derogatory to God's glory; and ifthey be so it is enough for us. If any man despise either Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, we despise him, and despise his teachings,and cannot even say to him, "I wish you God speed."
Now, we hold, that a form of sound words must look upon man aright as well as upon God aright; it must teach that man is utterly fallen, that he is sinful, and for his sin condemned, and in himself altogether hopelessof salvation. If it exalts man by giving him a character which is not a true one, and clothing him with a spurious robe ofrighteousness, woven by his own fingers, we reject and discard it utterly.
And next, we think that a doctrine that is sound must have right views of salvation, as being of the Lord alone; unless we find in it everlasting, unchanging love, working out a salvation for a people "who were not a people," but weremade a people by special grace; unless we find discriminating love, others may say what they will-we cannot consider sucha creed to be a form of sound words, unless we discern redeeming mercy openly and boldly taught; unless we seefinal perseverance, and all those great and glorious truths which are the very bulwarks of our religion, others may embracethe doctrine as being a form of sound words; but we cannot, and we dare not. We love the old system of our forefathers; welove the old truths of Scripture, not because they are old, but because we cannot consider anything to be truth which dothnot hold the scriptural view of salvation. Methinks Paul himself, in this very chapter, gives us a form of sound words, wherehespeaks of "God who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to hisown purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."
I need not stop this morning to prove to you that which I have briefly hinted at as a form of sound words, because you believeit, and believe it firmly. I am not about to urge you to receive it, because I know you have already received it; but whatI have to say is, "Hold fast," I beseech you, "the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me in faith and love whichis in Christ Jesus."
II. Now let me show you THE NECESSITY OF HOLDING FAST THIS FORM OF SOUND WORD, AND KEEPING IT FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, FOR THE CHURCH'SSAKE, FOR THE WORLD'S SAKE.
First, for your own sake, hold it fast, for thereby you will receive ten thousand blessings; you will receive the blessing of peace in your conscience.I protest, before God, that if at any time I ever doubt one of the great things I receive from God, instantly there comesan aching void which the world can never fill, and which I can never get filled until I receive that doctrine again, and believeit with all my heart. When at any time I am cast down and dejected,I always find comfort in reading books which are strong on the doctrines of the faith of the gospel; if I turn to someof them that treat of God's eternal love, revealed to his chosen people in the person of Christ; and if I remember some ofthe exceeding great and precious promises made to the elect in their covenant head, my faith at once becomes strong, and mysoul, with wings sublime, mounts upwards towards its God. You cannot tell, beloved, if you have never tasted, how sweet isthe peacewhich the doctrines of grace will give to the soul; there is nothing like them. They are-
"A sovereign balm for every wound,
A cordial for our fears."
They are God's sweet lullaby, wherewith he singeth his children to sleep, even in storms. They are God's sheet anchors, whichare cast out into the sea, to hold our little vessels fast in the midst of tempests. There is a "peace of God which passethall understanding," which accrues to a man who is strong believer, but you know the tendency of the day is to give up oldland marks and to adopt new ones, and to avow anything rather than the old-fashioned divinity. Well, mydear friends, if any of you like to try new doctrines, I warn you, that if you be the children of God you will soon besick enough of those new-fangled notions, those newly invented doctrines, which are continually taught. You may, for the firstweek, be pleased enough with their novelty; you may wonder at their transcendental spirituality, or something else, whichentices you on; but you will not have lived on them long, before you will say, "Alas! alas! I have taken in my hands the applesofSodom; they were fair to look upon, but they are ashes in my mouth." If you would be peaceful, keep fast to the truth,hold fast the form of sound words: so shall "your peace be like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea."
"Hold fast the form of sound words," again, let me say, because it will tend very much to your growth. He who holds fast the truth will grow faster than he who is continually shifting from doctrine to doctrine. What a mightynumber of spiritual weathercocks we have in this world now. We have men who in the morning hear a Calvinistic preacher, andsay, "Oh, it is delightful;" in the evening they hear an Arminian, and they say, "Oh, it is just as good; and no doubtthey are both true, though one contradicts the other!" The glorious charity of the present day is such, that it believeslies to be as good as truth; and lies and truth have met together and kissed each other; and he that telleth truth is calleda bigot, and truth has ceased to be honourable in the world! Ah! beloved, we know better than to profess such unlimited, butfalse charity; the truth is, we know how to "hold fast the form of sounds words," which has been given to us, because in thisway we grow. Changeable people cannot grow much. If you have a tree in your garden plant it in one place to-day, and tomorrowplace it somehwere else, how much bigger will it be in six months? It will be dead very likely; or if it does not die, itwill not be very much grown; it will be marvellously stunted. So it is with some of you: you plant yourselves there; thenyou are persuaded that you are not quite right, and you go and plant yourself somewhere else. Why, there are men who areanythingarians; who go dodging about from one denomination to another, and cannot tell what they are; our opinion is,of these people, that they believe nothing, and are good for nothing, and anybody may have them that likes; we do not considermen to be worth much, unless they have settle principles, and "hold fast the form of sound words." You cannot grow unlessyou hold it fast. How should I know any more of my faith in ten years' time, if I allowed it to take ten forms in ten years?Ishould be but a smatterer in each, and know nothing thoroughly of one. But he that hath one faith, and knoweth it to bethe faith of God, and holdeth it fast, how strong he becomes in his faith? Each wind or tempest doth but confirm him, as thefierce winds root the oaks, and make them strong, standing firmly in their places; but if I shift and change, I am none thebetter, but rather the worse. For your own peace sake then, and for your growth, "hold fast the form of sound words."
But, my beloved, I would beseech you to hold it fast for your own sakes, from a remembrance of the great evils which will follow the contrary course. If you do not "hold fast the form of sound words," listen to me while I tell you what you will do.
In the first place, every deviation from truth is a sin. It is not simply a sin for me to do a wrong act, but it is a sin for me to believe a wrong doctrine. Lately our ministershave absolved us all from obeying God in our judgments; they have told us point blank, many of them, in their drawing-rooms,and some of them in the pulpit, that we shall never be asked in the day of judgment what we believed. We have been told thatfor our acts we shall be responsible, butfor our faith we shall be irresponsible, or something very much like it; they have told us plainly, that the God who madeus, although he has authority over our hands, our feet, our eyes and our lips, hath but little authority over our judgments;they have told us, that if we make ever such blunders in divinity, they are no sins, so long as we can live right lives. Butis that true? No; the whole man is bound to serve God; and if God gives me a judgment, I am bound to employ that judgmentinhis service; and if that judgment receive an untruth, it has received stolen goods, and I have sinned as much as if Iput forth my hand to take my neighbour's goods. There may be degrees in the sin. If it be a sin of ignorance, it is neverthelessa sin; but it is not so heinous as a sin of negligence, which I fear it is with many. I tell you, beloved, if, for instance,baptism be not by immersion, I commit a sin every time I practice it; and if it be, my brother commits a sin who does notpractise it. If Election be true, I am committing a sin if I do not believe it; and if Final Perseverance be true, I amcommitting a sin before Almighty God, if I do not receive it; and if it be not true, then I sin in embracing what is not scriptural.Error in doctrine is as much a sin as error in practice. In everything we are bound to serve our God with all our might, exercisingthose powers of judging and believing which he has given unto us; and I warn you, Christians, not to think it is alittle thing to hold faith with a feeble hand: it is a sin every time you do aught which makes you waver in the faithof Jesus Christ. Remember, too, that error in doctrine is not only a sin, but a sin which has a great tendency to increase.When a man once in his life believes a wrong thing, it is marvellous how quickly he believes another wrong thing. Once openthe door to a false doctrine-Satan says it is but a little one-ay, but he only puts the little one in like the small end ofthewedge, and he means to drive in a larger one; and he will say it is only a little more, and a little more, and a littlemore. The most damnable heretics who ever perverted the faith of God erred by littles and littles; those who have gone thewidest from truth have only gone so by degrees. Whence came the Church of Rome, that mass of abominations? Why, from gradualdepartures. It did not become abominable at first; it was not the "mother of harlots" all at once; but it first did deck itselfinsome ornaments, then in others, and by-and-bye it went on to commit its fornications with the kings of the earth. It fellby little and little, and in the same way it separated itself from the truth. For centuries it was a Church of Christ, andit is difficult to say, looking at history, when was the exact point in which it ceased to be numbered with Christian Churches.Take care, Christians, if you commit one error, you cannot tell how many more you will commit.
"Hold fast the form of sound words," because error in doctrine almost inevitably leads to error in practice. When a man believes wrongly, he will soon act wrongly. Faith has a great influence on our conduct. As a man's faith, sois he. If you begin to imbibe erroneous doctrines, they soon have an effect on your practice. Keep fast to the bulwarks ofyour fathers' faith. If you do not, the enemy will make sad havoc with you. "Hold fast the form of sound words whichwas delivered unto you."
2. And now, for the good of the Church itself, I want you all to "hold fast the form of sound words." Would you wish to see the Church prosperous? Would you wish to seeit peaceful? Then "hold fast the form of sound words." What is the cause of divisions, schisms, quarrels, and bickerings amongstus? It is not the fault of the truth; it is the fault of the errors. There would have been peace in the Church, entire andperpetual peace, if there had beenpurity-entire and perpetual purity-in the Church. Going down to Sheerness on Friday, I was told by some one on board thatduring the late gale several of the ships there had their anchors rent up, and had gone dashing against the other ships, andhad done considerable damage. Now, if their anchors had held fast and firm, no damage would have been done. Ask me the causeof the damage which has been done to our churches by the different denominations, and I tell you, it is because all theiranchors did not hold fast. If they had held fast by the truth, there would have been no disputing; disputing comes fromerrors. If there be any ill feeling, you must not trace it to the truth-you must trace it to the error. If the Church hadalways kept firm to the faith, and had always been united to the great doctrines of the truth, there would have been no disputes.Keep firm to you belief, and you will prevent discord in the Church.
Keep to your faith, I say again, for the Church's sake, for so you will promote strength in the Church. I saw lying between Chatham and Sheerness a number of ships that I supposed to be old hulks; and I thought how stupid Governmentwas to let them remain there, and not chop them up for firewood, or something else; but some one said to me, those ships cansoon be fitted for service; they look old now, but they only want a little paint, and when the Admiraltyrequires them, they will be commissioned and made fit for use. So we have heard some people say, "There are those olddoctrines-what good are they?" Wait; there is not a doctrine in God's Bible that has not its use. Those ships that you maythink are not wanted, will be useful by-and-bye. So it is with the doctrines of the Bible. Do not say, Break up those olddoctrines, you can do without them." Nay, we want them, and we must have them. Some people say, "Why do you preach againstArminians?we have not much to fear from them now." But I like to practice my men against the time comes for action. We are not goingto burn our ships; they will be wanted by-and-bye, and when we sail out of harbour, the men will say, "Whence came these oldships?" "Why," we will reply, "they are just the doctrines you thought good for nothing; now we bring them out, and we willmake good use of them." Now-a-days we are having new and marvellous hymn-books, full of perfect nonsense; and we are havingnewtheories, and new systems; and they say, "Why be so stringent? our Christian brethren may believe what they like on thosepoints just now;" but as certain as there is a church in this land, they will want our old ships to fight their battles; theymay do very well in times of peace, but they will not do in the time of war. They will then need our broadside to supportthe faith of the gospel, though now they laugh at us. For the strength of the church, my brethren, I bid you "hold fast theformof sound words."
"Well," says one, "I think we ought to hold the truth firmly; but I do not see the necessity for holding the form of it; I think we might cut and trim a little, and then our doctrines would be received better." Suppose, my friends, weshould have some valuable egg, and some one should say, "Well, now, the shell is good for nothing; there will never be a birdproduced by the shell certainly, why not break the shell? I should simply smile in his face and say, "My dearfriend, I want the shell to take care of what is inside. I know the vital principle is the most important, but I wantthe shell to take care of the vital principle." You say, "Hold fast the principle, but do not be so severe about the form.You are an old Puritan, and want to be too strict in religion; let us just alter a few things, and make it a little palatable."My dear friends, do not break the shell; you are doing far more damage than you think. We willingly admit the form is butlittle;but when men attack the form, what is their object? They do not hate the form; they hate the substance. Keep the substancethen, and keep the form too. Not only hold the same doctrines, but hold them in the same shape-just as angular, rough andrugged as they were, for if you do not, it is difficult to change the form and yet to keep fast the substance. "Hold fastthe form of sound words, which thou has heard of me, in faith and love which is in Jesus Christ."
3. Again, I say, "hold fast the form of sound words," for the world's sake. Pardon me when I say that, speaking after the manner of men, I believe that the progress of the gospel has been awfullyimpeded by the errors of its preachers. I never wonder when I see a Jew an unbeliever in Christianity, for this reason, thatthe Jew very seldom sees Christianity in its beauty. For hundreds of years what has the Jew thought Christianity to be? Why,pure idolatry. He hasseen the Catholic bow down to blocks of wood and stone; he has seen him prostrating himself before the Virgin Mary andall saints; and the Jew has said, "Ah! this is my watchword-hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is our Lord; I could not be aChristian, for to worship one God is the essential part of my religion." So the heathen, I believe have seen a false systemof Christianity, and they have said, "What! is that your Christianity?" and they did not receive it. But I believe that whenthegospel is purged from all the rudiments of men, and all the chaff and dust have been winnowed from it, and it is presentedin all its naked simplicity, it will be sure to win the day; and I say again, speaking as a man, the gospel might have madea ten thousand fold greater progress, if it had been preached in all its simplicity, instead of that diluted or rather distortedform in which it is commonly proclaimed. If ye would see sinners saved, if ye would see God's elect gathered in, "Hold fastthe form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
III. And now, very briefly, in the third place, LET ME WARN YOU OF TWO DANGERS.
One is, that you will be very much tempted to give up the form of sound words that you hold, on account of the opposition you will meet with. I do not prophesy that you will have corporeal persecution, though I know there are some poor creatures here that have toendure that from ungodly husbands, and such like; but you will all of you, in some measure, if you hold the truth, meet withthe persecution of the tongue. You will be laughed at: your doctrine will be heldup to ridicule, exhibited in a grotesque manner; you will be caricatured in all that you believe, and you will be sometimestempted to say, "No I do not believe that," though all the while you do. Or if you do not positively say it, you will at timesbe led to turn a little, because the laughter you cannot stand, and the scoff of the worldly-wise is rather too hard for you.Oh! my beloved, let me warn you against being thus drawn aside. "Hold fast the form of sound words" in the midst of allridicule. But the greatest obstacle you will have is a sort of slight and cunning, trying to pervert you to the belief,that your doctrine is the same with one which is just the very opposite. The enemy will try to persuade you that somethinghe holds is quite harmless, though opposed to what you hold; and he will say, "You do not want to be broaching these things,that must bring forth controversy; there is a way of squaring your sentiments with mine." And you know we all like to be thoughtsoliberal! The greatest pride in the world now is to be thought liberal in sentiment; and some of us would run a hundredmiles, rather than be called a bigot or an Antinomian. I beseech you, be not drawn aside by those who are so ready to subvertyour faith, not by openly attacking it, but by insidiously undermining every doctrine, saying, this does not signify, andthat does not signify, while all the while they are trying to pull down every castle and fortress wherewith God has guardedhistruth and his Church.
IV. And now, in the last place, I am to tell you of THE GREAT HOLDFASTS, WHEREBY YOU ARE TO HOLD FAST THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL.
If I might be allowed to mention one or two before coming to those in the text, I should say, in the first place, if you wantto hold fast the truth, seek to get an understanding of it. A man cannot hold a thing fast, unless he has a good understanding of it. I never want you to have the faith of the collierwho was asked what he believed; he said he believed what the Church believed. "Well, but what does the Church believe?" Hesaid the Church believed what hebelieved, and he believed what the Church believed; and so it went all the way round. We do not want you to have thatfaith. It may be a very pertinacious faith, a very obstinate faith, but it is a very foolish faith. We want you to understandthings, to get a true knowledge of them. The reason why men forsake truth for error is, that they have not really understoodthat truth; in nine cases out of ten they have not embraced it with enlightened minds. Let me exhort you, parents, as muchaslieth in you, to give your children sound instruction in the great doctrines of the gospel of Christ. I believe that whatIrving once said is a great truth. He said, "In these modern times you boast and glory, and you think yourselves to be ina high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools and British-schools, and all kinds of schools for teachingyouth. I tell you," he said, "that philanthropic and great as these are, they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they showthatyour land is not a land where parents teach their children at home. They show you more is a want of parental instruction;and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong, for it we all taught ourchildren there would be no need of strangers to say to our children 'Know the Lord.'"
I trust you will never give up that excellent puritanical habit of catechising your children at home. Any father or motherwho entirely gives up a child to the teaching of another has made a mistake. There is no teacher who wishes to absolve a parentfrom what he ought to do himself. He is an assistant, but he was never intended to be a substitute. Teach your children; bringup your old catechisms again, for they are after all blessed means of instruction, and the nextgeneration shall outstrip those that have gone before it; for the reason why many of you are weak in the faith is this,you did not receive instruction in your youth in the great things of the gospel of Christ. If you had, you would have beenso grounded, and settled, and firm in the faith, that nothing could by any means have moved you. I beseech you, then, understandtruth, and then you will be more likely to hold fast by it.
But, then, Christian men, above all things, if you would hold fast the truth, pray yourselves right into it. The way to get a doctrine is to pray till you get it. An old divine says, "I have lost many things I learned in the houseof God, but I never lost anything I ever learned in the closet." That which a man learns on his knees, with his Bible open,he will never forget. Well, have you ever bowed your knees, and said, "Open thou mind eyes, that I may beholdwondrous things out of thy law?" If you have seen that wondrous thing you will never forget it. He that prays himselfinto a truth, will never be got out of it by the very devil himself, though he were to put on the garb of an angel of light.Pray yourselves into the truth.
But the two great holdfasts are here given-faith and love. If ye would hold the truth fast, put your faith in Jesus Christ, and have an ardent love towards him.
Believe the truth. Do not pretend to believe it, but believe it thoroughly. And he who does believe it, and fixes his faithfirst in Christ, and then in all Christ says, will not be likely to let it go. Why, we do not believe religion, most of us.We pretend to believe it, but we do not believe it with all our heart and all our soul, with all our might and all our strength-notwith that "faith which is in Christ Jesus;" for if we did, come storms, come trials, likeLuther of old, we should not flinch because of persecution, but stand fast in the evil day, having our faith fixed upona rock.
And then the second holdfast is love. Love Christ and love Christ's truth because it is Christ's truth, for Christ's sake, and if you love the truth you willnot let it go. It is very hard to turn a man away from the truth he loves. "Oh!" says one, "I cannot argue with you aboutit, but I cannot give it up: I love it, and cannot live without it; it is a part of myself, woven into my very nature; andthough my opponent says that bread is not bread, and I cannot provethat it is, yet I know I go and eat it; it is wonderfully like it to me, and it takes away my hunger. He says that streamis not a pure stream; I cannot prove that it is, but I go and drink of it, and find it the river of the water of life to mysoul." And he tells me that my gospel is not a true one: well, it comforts me, it sustains me in my trials, it helps me toconquer sin and to keep down my evil passions, and brings me near to God, and if my gospel be not a true one, I wonder whatsortof thing a true one is: mine is wonderfully like it, and I cannot suppose that a true gospel would produce better effects.That is the best thing to do, to believe the Word, to have so full a belief in it, that the enemy cannot pull you away. Hemay try to do it, but you will say,-
"Amidst temptations sharp and long,
My soul to the same refuge flies;
Faith is my anchor, firm and strong
When tempests blow or billows rise."
Hold on then, Christian, to "faith and love which are by Christ Jesus"-two blessed holdfasts, wherewith we grasp the truth.
And now, brethren and sisters. I pray that my Master will enable you to see the importance of what I have uttered. Perhapsyou may not think it so important now, especially those of you who are young; but there are some here, the fathers of thischurch, who will tell you that the older they grow and the longer they live, the more they find truth to be valuable. Theymay perhaps in their youth have had a little radicalism in them with regard to truth, but they areconservative in their regard to the truth, we began to be conservative as soon as we believed it, and held it fast andnever let it go. I think the chief fault of the present day is, that in seeking to be liberal we do not hold the truth firmlyenough. I met some time ago with the case of an eminent minister in the gospel, a brother whom I respect and esteem, who preacheda sermon from the text, "Prove all things." A young man was there who was professedly a believer in Christianity; but suchwas the style in which the subject was handled, that after hearing that sermon he went home and bought some infidel works,and the consequence is, that he has become entirely apostate even from virtue itself, and has forsaken everything that heonce held to be true. I say, send your anchor right down, young Christian, and let whatever may come against you, hold onstill by that truth; and you may yet even then "prove all things." But while you are doing it, remember to "hold fast thatwhich isgood." Do not "prove all things" by giving up that which is good to do it.
Now such of you as know not the Lord, if you ever are saved, let me tell you that the most likely place for you to meet withsalvation is under a pure gospel ministry. Therefore there is a lesson for you. Attend where the gospel is preached.
Again: the most likely way for you ever to receive God's grace is to believe God's truths. Never kick against God's doctrines,but receive them. And I have one thing to say to thee this morning, if in thy heart, poor sinner, thou canst say, "I believeGod's gospel to be a glorious gospel," thou art not far from something else. If thou canst say, "I submit to all its demands,I believe God just if he destroys me, and if he saves me, it will be of his sovereign mercy only,"then, sinner, there are good hopes of thee; thou hast proceeded some way on the road to heaven. If thou canst but do onething more, and say, "Though he slay me yet I trust in him," and if thou canst come to the cross of Christ, and say, "Jesus,I love thy gospel and I love thy truth; if I perish, I will perish believing all thy truth, I will perish clasping thy cross;if I die, I will die owning that thou art a just and gracious God, and still in my poor way, holding fast the form of soundwords," I tell thee, poor soul, God will never damn thee. If thou dost believe in Jesus Christ, and holdest fast his words,he will look upon thee in love, he will say, "Poor soul! though he does not know that these truths are his, yet he thinksthem precious; though he dares not hope that they belong to him, yet he will fight for them; though he does not know thathe is really a soldier of the cross, chosen of me ere time began, yet see how valiantly he strives for me;" and the Lord willsay,"Poor soul, thou lovest the things that thou thinkest are not thine own-I will make thee rejoice in them as thine own,by my grace; thou lovest election, though thou thinkest thou art not elect-that is an evidence that thou art mine." "Believeon the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved."
And now, my brethren, stand fast, I beseech you. If my tears, if my bended knees, if my cries, yea, if my blood could prevailwith you to lay to heart what I have said this morning, here should be tears, and cries, and blood too-if I could but makeyou all hold fast in these evil, perilous times. Hold fast, ah! with the tenacity of the dying hand of the sinking mariner-"Holdfast," I beseech you, "the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and lovewhich is in Christ Jesus."