Sermon 951. The Unrivalled Eloquence Of Jesus
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 18, 1870,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The officers answered, Never man spoke like this Man." John 7:46.
THE chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to lay hold upon the Savior lest His preaching should altogether overthrow theirpower. While the constables who had mingled with the throng were waiting for an opportunity of arresting the Lord Jesus, theythemselves were arrested by His earnest eloquence. They could not take Him, for He had fairly taken them, and when they cameback without a prisoner, they gave their reason for not having captured Him in these memorable words, "Never man spoke likethis Man."
Two or three remarks as a preface to our discourse. It is a sure sign of a falling Church when its leaders call in the aidof the secular arm. The rule of the Scribes and Pharisees must have been weakness, itself, when it needed to wield the truncheonof the civil magistrate as its only sufficient argument against its antagonist. That Church which has been supported by bayonets,is in all probability, not far off its demise. Any Church which long collects its tithes and its offerings by the hand ofthe police, and by legal process and distraint, is also, depend upon it, none too strong.
The Church which is unable to maintain itself by spiritual power is dying, if not dead. Whenever we think of calling in anarm of flesh to defend the faith, we may very seriously question whether we have not made a mistake, and whether that whichcan be supported by the sword must not greatly differ from the Savior's kingdom, of which He said, "My kingdom is not of thisworld, else would My servants fight."
The more a man leans on a big staff the more sure are you that he is feeble. In proportion as Churches rely on Acts of Parliament,human prestige, and legal authority-in that very degree they show their weakness. Call in the sheriffs officer, and you havevirtually called in the gravedigger! In this respect it is peculiarly true, "All they that take the sword shall perish withthe sword." A Church is buried by the State, and not supported, when it draws its sustenance from forced tithes and legalizedexactions.
Observe, next, that in the end the spiritual power will always baffle the temporal. The officers are fully armed and quiteable to complete the arrest of the Preacher. He has no weapons with which to oppose them. He stands unarmed amid the throng-probablynone of His disciples would lift a finger to defend Him-or if they did, He would bid them put up their sword into its sheath.And yet the officers cannot seize the non-resistant Preacher. What stays their hands? It has come to a combat between bodyand mind, and mind prevails.
The eloquent tongue is matched against the two-edged sword, and it has won the day. No fears or qualms of conscience hamperedthe constables and yet they could not lay their hands on Him. They were chained to the spot where they stood-spellbound bythe mystic power of His speech. His very tones fascinated them! The discourse which He poured forth so fluently held themfast as His willing captives. It has always been so-the spiritual has conquered the physical. Though at first it seemed anunequal conflict, yet in the long run the elder has served the younger.
The club of Cain may lay Abel level with the dust, but it does not silence him-from the ground the blood of Abel continuesstill to cry. Martyrs may be consigned to prison, and dragged from prison to the stake-so that to all appearance a full endis made of the good men-but "even in their ashes live their wonted fires." At the stake they find a platform with a boundlessauditory, and from the grave their teaching cries with louder voice than from the pulpit.
Like seeds sown in the earth they spring up and multiply themselves. Others arise to bear the same witness, and if need beto seal it in the same fashion. As Pharaoh's mighty hosts could not combat with the hail and the lightning which plagued thefields of Zoan, and as all their chivalry could not put to flight the darkness that might be felt, even so when God sendsHis Truth with power upon a land, battleaxe and buckler are vain in the opposers' hands. Our appointed weapons of attack arenot carnal, neither can they be withstood by shield or armor. Our bowstrings cannot be broken, or
the edge of our sword blunted. Let but the Lord furnish His ministers, as he did at Pentecost, with wondrous Words insteadof shields, and spears, and swords-and these weapons of the holy war will prove themselves to be irresistible.
Fight on, O Preacher! Tell forth the story of the Cross! Defy opposition and laugh persecution to scorn, for, like your Master,you shall, as His servant, ascend above all your enemies, lead your captivity captive, and scatter good gifts among the sonsof men! Note again that God can get testimonies to the majesty of His Son from the most unlikely places. I do not know whothese constables may have been, or from what class of men they were drawn, but generally the civil authorities do not employthe most refined and intellectual persons to act as officers.
They do not require much tenderness of spirit for such work-a rough hand, a keen eye and a bold spirit are the principal requisitesfor a constable. The priests and Pharisees would naturally select for the seizing of the great Teacher those who were leastlikely to be affected by His teaching. And yet these men-doubtless men of brutal habits, men ready enough to do their masters'bidding-showed within themselves sufficient mental capacity to feel the power of the matchless oratory of Jesus Christ.
Those who were sent as enemies came back to rehearse His praises, and so to vex His adversaries. Truly the Lord can make thestones to cry out of a wall, and the beam out of the timber to answer it if He wills. He can transform the ready instrumentsof opposition into the willing advocates of His righteous cause. Not only as in the case of Saul of Tarsus can He direct ahigh character into the right path, but He can uplift the groveling and put a testimony into their mouths. He makes the wrathof men to praise Him.
He compels His adversaries to do Him homage. Keep good heart, then, O you soldiers of the Cross! Let no thought of discouragementever flit across your spirits. Greater is He that is for us than all they that are against us. He can and will glorify HisSon Jesus. Even the devils shall acknowledge His almighty power. His Word has gone forth and His Oath has confirmed it-"Surelyas I live, says the Lord, all flesh shall see the salvation of God." God will glorify Himself even by the tongues of His enemies!In this hope let us set up our banners.
The text introduces to our notice the eloquence of our Lord Jesus Christ and upon that topic we shall try to speak. May theHoly Spirit enable us. We shall note first the peculiar qualities of it, which amply justified the praise of the constables.Secondly, personal recollections of it, treasured up by ourselves. And, thirdly, prophetic anticipations of the time whenour souls shall hear His voice yet more distinctly, and shall say again, "Never man spoke like this Man."
I. Let us note the PECULIAR QUALITIES of our Lord's eloquence. As among kings He is the King of kings. As among priests Heis the great High Priest. As among Prophets He is the Messiah. And so is He the Prince of preachers, the Apostle of our profession.They who are most excellent as preachers are those who are most like He. But even those who by being most like He have becomeeminent, they are still far short of His excellence. "His lips," says the spouse, "are like lilies, dropping sweet smellingmyrrh." He is a Prophet mighty in word and deed.
To form a right conception of our Lord's ministry it is necessary to note the whole of it, and we may do so without departingfrom the text. For though the officers did not hear all that Jesus said, I have no doubt that the qualities which shone inHis entire ministry were, many of them, apparent in the discourse which He delivered on that particular occasion. Follow me,therefore, as I note the leading qualities of His unrivalled eloquence.
The most casual reader of Christ's discourses would observe that their style is singularly clear and easy to understand. Andyet their matter is by no means trivial or superficial. Did ever man speak like this Man, Christ Jesus, for simplicity? Littlechildren gathered around Him, for much of what He said was interesting, even to them. If there was ever a difficult word inany of Christ's discourses, it is because it must be there owing to the faultiness of human language. But there is never ahard word inserted for its own sake, where an easier word could have been employed.
You never find Him, for the sake of display, speeding upon the wings of rhetoric. He never gives forth dark sayings that Hishearers may discover that His learning is vast and His thinking profound. He is profound, and in that respect, "never manspoke like this Man." He unveils the mysteries of God. He brings to light the treasures of darkness of the ages past whichProphets and kings desired to see, but into which they could not pry.
There is, in His teaching, a depth so vast that the greatest human intellect cannot fathom it. And all the while He speakslike the "holy child Jesus"-in short sentences, with plain words. He speaks in parables with many illustrations of the mosthomely kind-about eggs, and fish, and candles, and bushels, and sweeping houses, and losing pieces of money,
and finding sheep. He never paraded the stale and mildewed metaphors of your mere rhetoricians-"rippling rills, verdant meads,star-bespangled heavens," and I know not what besides.
The hackneyed properties of theatrical orations are not for Him-His speech abounds in the true and most natural of images,and is ever constructed not to display Himself, but to make clear the Truth which He was sent to reveal. "Never man spokelike this Man!" The common people with their common sense heard Him gladly, for even if they could not always grasp the fullcompass of His teaching, yet upon the surface of His plain speech there glittered lumps of golden ore well worthy to be treasuredup.
For this quality our Savior, then, remains unrivalled, easily understood, yet profound. His speech had this also about it-Hespoke with unusual authority. He was a master dogmatist. It was not, "it may be so," or, "it can be proven," or, "it is highlyprobable." No, it was, "Verily, verily, I say unto you." And yet, side by side with this was an extraordinary degree of humility.The Master spoke dogmatically, but never with proud self-sufficiency, after the manner of the children of conceit. He neverpestered you with assumptions of superiority, and claims to official dignity.
He borrowed no assistance from a priestly robe, or from an imposing title. Meek He was as Moses, but like Moses He spoke theWords of the Lord with absolute authority. Lowly and gentle of heart, never extolling Himself, nor bearing witness of Himself,for then, as He says, His witness would not be true. He was nevertheless the unhesitating minister of righteousness, speakingwith power, because the Lord's Spirit had anointed Him.
Coming out of the ivory palaces, fresh from the bosom of His Father-having looked into the unseen and heard the infallibleoracle-He spoke not with bated breath, with hesitancy and debate as the scribes and lawyers. He spoke not with arguments andreasonings as the priests and Pharisees, creating perplexity and pouring darkness upon human minds. "Verily, verily, I sayunto you," were His favorite Words. He spoke that He did know, and testified what He had seen, and demanded to be acceptedas sent forth from the Father.
He did not debate, but declare. His sermons were not guesses, but testimonies. Yet He never magnifies Himself, He lets Hisworks and His Father bear witness of Him. He asserts Truth from His own positive knowledge, and because He has a commissionfrom the Father to do so-but never as mere dogmatists do with an extolling of their own selves, as though they were to beglorified and not the God who sent the Truth and the Spirit by whom it is applied.
Further, in our Lord's preaching there was a wonderful combination of faithfulness with tenderness. He was, indeed, the Princeof faithful preachers. Not even Nathan, when He stood before King David, and said, "You are the man," could be more true tohuman conscience than Christ was. How those cutting words of His must have told, like rifle bullets when they were first hurledagainst the respectability of the age, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" "Woe unto you, lawyers," and soforth.
There was no mincing matters, no winking at wickedness because it happened to be associated with greatness, no excusing sinbecause it put on the sanctimoniousness of religion. He neither fawned on the great, nor pandered to the populace. Jesus reprovedall classes to their faces concerning their sins. It never occurred to Him to seek to please men. He looked to the doing ofHis Father's business, and since that business often involved the laying of righteousness to the line, of judgment to theplummet, He spared not to do it.
Perhaps no preacher ever used more terrible words with regard to the fate of the ungodly than our Lord has done. You shallransack even medieval records to find more fearfully suggestive descriptions of the torments of Hell. Those awful sentenceswhich fell from the lips of the Friend of Sinners prove that He was too much their Friend to flatter them. Too much theirFriend to let them perish without a full warning of their doom. And yet, though He thundered like His own chosen Boanerges,what a Barnabas the Savior was!
What a Son of Consolation! How gentle were His Words! He did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Forthe woman taken in adultery He had no word of curse. For the mothers of Jerusalem bringing their babes He had not a syllableof reprehension. Kind, gentle, tender, loving-the speech which at one time sounded as the voice of Jehovah which breaks thecedars of Lebanon, and makes the hinds to calve-was at other seasons modulated to music, softened to a whisper, and used tocheer the disconsolate and bind up broken hearts. "Never man spoke like this Man," so faithful and yet so tenderly affectionate,so mindful of the least good which He could see in man, and yet so determined to smite hypocrisy wherever His holy eyes coulddiscover it.
You will observe in the Savior's preaching a remarkable mingling of zeal with prudence. He is full of ardor, the zeal of God'sHouse has eaten Him up. He never preached a cold, dull sermon in all His life. He was a pillar of light and fire. When Hespoke, His Words burned their way into men's minds by reason of the Sacred enthusiasm with which He delivered them! And yetHis fervor never degenerated into wildfire like the zeal of ignorant and over-balanced minds. We know some whose zeal, iftempered with knowledge, might be of use to the Church-but being altogether without knowledge-it is dangerous both to themselvesand to their cause.
Fanaticism may spring out of a real desire for God's Glory. There is, however, no need that earnestness should degenerateinto rant. It never did so in the Savior's case. His zeal was red hot, but His prudence was calm and cool. He was not afraidof the Herodians, but yet how quietly did He answer them in that trap concerning tribute-money! They would never forget thepenny and the question, "Whose image and superscription is this?" He was ready to meet the Sadducees at any time, but He wason His guard, so that they could not entangle Him in His speech. He was quite sure to escape their nets, and take them intheir own craftiness.
If a question is asked, which for the moment He does not care to answer, He knows how to ask them another question which they,also, cannot answer-and send them about their business covered with shame. It is a grand thing when a man can be warm andwise-when he can carry about him an unexcitable temperament, and yet the force which excites others-unmoved himself, the manof prudence becomes the power by which others are moved. Such was the Savior.
But I must not let that sentence of mine pass unchallenged-in the higher sense He was always more moved than the people-butI mean as to temper and spirit He was not readily disturbed. He was self-possessed, prudent, wise, and yet when He spoke Heflashed, and burned, and blazed with a sacred vehemence which showed that His whole soul was on fire with love to the soulsof men. Zeal and prudence in remarkable proportions met in Jesus, and, "Never man spoke like this Man."
So, too, everyone who has read our Lord's discourses and marked His character will have perceived that love was among theleading characteristics of His style as a Preacher. He was full of tenderness, brimming with sympathy, overflowing with affection.That weeping over Jerusalem, whose children He would have gathered, was but one instance of what happened many a time in Hislife. His heart sympathized with sorrow whenever His eyes beheld it. He could not bear that the people should be like sheepwithout a shepherd, and He worked many deeds of kindness, and said many words of instruction, because He loved them.
But our Savior's speech was never affected and canting. He used no stale honey, there was nothing of that-I do not know theword to use-that insincere sweetness, which in some people is disgustingly perceptible. He was far removed from the effeminacywhich, in too many cases, passes for Christian love. I loathe in my very soul the talk of those who call everybody, "dear"this, or "dear" that, endearing those whom, perhaps, they never knew, and to whom they would not give a sixpence if they wantedit. I hate this sugar of lead, this spiritual billing and cooing.
Where there is the least of the meat of true charity, we find most of the parsley or the fennel which are used for garnishing.The bottle is empty and so they label it to make it pass for full. No, give me a man, give me a man! Let me hear outspokenspeech, not effeminate canting, whining, and pretended ecstasies of affection. In nine cases out of ten the biggest bigotin the world is the man who preaches up liberality-and the man who can hate you worst is he who addresses you in softest phrases.
No, let a man love me, but let it be with the love of a man. Let no man cast aside that which is masculine, forcible, anddignified under the notion that he is making himself better by becoming soft and babyish. It was never so with the Savior.He condemned this or that evil in no measured terms. There was in Him no apologizing, no guarding of expressions, no fawning,no using of soft words. They who are shaken with the wind and affect flattering phrases stand in kings' palaces. But He, thepeople's Preacher, One chosen out of the people, dwelt among the many, a Man among men.
He was manly all through. Love in Him abounded, love unsurpassed, but also manliness of the noble sort. Far above the pettyarts of professional orators, and the shallow arguments of thinkers, His teaching dealt out Truth with courageous fidelityand generous affection. He held His own position, but trampled on none. He committed Himself to no man, but He was willingto bless every man. His love was no imitation, but a solid ingot of the gold of Ophir. No one else in this matter has so exactlystruck the balance, and therefore, "Never man spoke like this Man."
One memorable Characteristic of our Lord's preaching was His remarkable commingling of the excellences which are found separatelyin His servants. You know, perhaps, a preacher who is admirable when he addresses the mind. He can explain and expound verylogically and clearly-and you feel that you have been instructed whenever you have sat under him. But the light, though clear,is cold like moonlight-and when you retire, you feel that you know more-but yet are none the better for what you know.
It were well if those who can enlighten the head so well would remember that man has also a heart. On the other hand we knowothers whose whole ministry is addressed to the passions and the emotions. During a sermon you shed any quantity of tears,you pass through a furnace of sensation-but as to what is left which is calculated permanently to benefit you-it is difficultto discover. When the sermon is over, the shower and the sunshine have both departed, the fair rainbow has disappeared fromsight, and what remains? It were well if those who always talk to the heart remembered that men have heads as well.
Now the Savior was a Preacher whose head was in His heart, and whose heart was in His head. He never addressed the emotionsexcept by motives which commended themselves to the reason. Nor did He instruct the mind without at the same time influencingthe heart and conscience. Our Savior's power as a speaker was comprehensive. He aroused the con-science-who more than He?With but a single sentence He convicted those who came to tempt Him, so that beginning with the eldest, and ending with theyoungest, they all went out ashamed.
But He was not a mere render open of wounds-a cutter and a killer. He was equally great in the art of holy consolation. Withintonations of matchless music He could say, "Go your way. Your sins, which are many, are forgiven you." He knew how to consolea weeping friend as well as to confront a boisterous enemy. His superiority was felt by all sorts of men. His artillery struckat all ranges-His mind was equal to all emergencies. It was for good, like the sword of the cherubim at the gates of Edenfor evil. It turned every way to keep the gates of Life open for those who would gladly enter there.
My Brethren, I have entered upon a theme which is boundless. I merely touch some of the outer skirts of my Master's robes.As for Himself, if you would know how He spoke you must hear Him. One of the ancients was likely to say that he could havewished to have seen Rome in all its splendor, to have been with Paul in all his labors, and to have heard Christ when preaching.Surely it were worth worlds but once to have caught the round of that serene, soul-stirring voice-to have beheld for oncethe glance of those matchless eyes as they looked through the heart-and that heavenly Countenance as it glowed with love!
His eloquence had, however, this, for its main aspect-that it concerned the greatest truths that were ever made manifest toman. He brought light and immortality to light. He cleared up what had been doubtful. He resolved that which had been mysterious.He declared that which is gracious, that which saves the soul and glorifies God. No preacher was ever laden with so Divinea message as Christ. We who bring the same glad tidings bring the news as second hand, and but in part. He came forth fromthe Father's bosom with the whole Truth, and, therefore, "Never man spoke like this Man."
II. Secondly, let us try to awaken in the saints Some PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS of the Savior's eloquence. Lend me your memories,you people of God. Do you remember when you first heard Him speak? We shall not talk of words which cleave the air, but ofthose spirit-words which thrill the heart and move the soul. Follow me, then, and recall to fondest memory His Words of pity,of which I may truly say, "Never man spoke to me like this Man."
It was in the dim dawning of my spiritual life, before it was yet light, before the sun had fully risen. I felt my sin, Igrieved beneath its weight. I despaired, I was ready to perish. And then He came to me. Well do I remember accents which thenI scarcely could understand, which nevertheless cheered my spirit. They sounded like these, "Come unto Me, all you that laborand are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out."
Soft and sweet were the tones, and tremulous with fond anxiety. They came as from One who had bled and died. Do you rememberwhen you also heard them? I do not mean when you heard them from the pulpit, from the minister-but in your heart-from Gethsemane,the Cross, and the Throne. It was sweet to know that Jesus pitied you. You were not saved, and you were afraid that you nevermight be, for the sea worked and was tempestuous, but He said, "It is I, be not afraid." You began to perceive that therewas mercy if you could get it-that one tender heart felt for you-one strong arm was ready to help you. You could no longerlament, "No man cares for my soul," for you perceived that there was a
Savior, and a great one. Those were sweet sounds that now and then were heard above the tumultuous deep which called untodeep at the noise of God's waterspouts. None else ever spoke as He did.
Do you remember how in those days you heard His voice with words of persuasion? You had often heard Gospel invitations asthe call of man, but then they came to you as the voice of God heard in the silence of your heart, saying, "Turn you, turnyou, why will you die, O house of Israel?" "Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins are as scarlet, they shallbe as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Do you remember how they followed one another,each word suiting your particular condition and having still accumulated power over your mind?
Did not Jesus often seem to say to you, "Yield now, poor Sinner, cast away your weapons of rebellion. Destroy not your ownsoul! Look unto Me and be saved. For I have loved you and made atonement for your sins"? Those were marvelous pleadings whichat last won your heart by force of love. You had much ado to resist those persuasions, and you did resist them for awhile.And like the spouse in the Canticle, you permitted the lover of your soul to wait outside your door, and say, "Open to Me,My head is wet with dew, and My locks with the drops of the night." Yet you found it hard to resist Him, for the persuasionsof His love were mighty upon you as He drew you with cords of love, with bands of a Man, until you could hold out no longer.
Beloved, you surely call to mind when the words of persuasion were by-and-by followed with words of power! "Never man spokelike this Man," when He said to my darkened soul, "let there be light." Well do I remember that admonition, "Arise, shine,for your light is come. Awake, you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Do you rememberwhen He passed by and saw you in your blood, and said to you, "Live," and cast the skirts of covenant love over you, and washedyou, and made you clean, and laid you in His bosom, and made you His forever? "Never man spoke like this Man."
Do you remember when He made all your darkness and sorrow to pass away as in a moment by saying to you, "I am your salvation"?Have you forgotten that word of pardon? I can never forget it-even if I outlive Methuselah, it must still remain green inmy memory! The words came with power when I looked to the Cross, and heard the absolving words, "Your sins are forgiven you.""Never man spoke like this Man."
No priest can give an awakened conscience rest, nor any other, except the great High Priest, Jesus, Melchisedek, the sinner'sPardoner. No words of hope, nor thoughts of consolation can ever breed such peace within the spirit as the blood of Jesusbrings when it speaks within the heart far better things than that of Abel. It reconciles us unto our God and so gives perfectpeace.
Since the time when first we heard His pardoning voice, we, many a time, have heard Him speaking with right royal words, andwe have said, "Never man spoke like this Man." How sweet it has been to sit in the assembly of the saints when the Gospelhas been, indeed, His Word to our souls! Oh, the marrow and the fatness, the feast of fat things, of fat things full of marrowwhich we have fed upon when the King has sat at the table! When our Beloved speaks His Word of promise, how has it revivedour drooping spirit! It came as dew upon the tender herb. It touched our lips as a coal from off the altar. It gave us healing,consolation, joy.
Beloved, cannot you look back to many instances when you had no food for your soul but the promise-when your soul knew nomusic but the word of His love? Blest Master, speak to me thus evermore-
"Each moment draw from earth away
My heart, that lowly waits Your call.
Speak to my inmost soul, and say,
'I am your Love, your God, your All!'
To feel Your power, to hear Your voice,
To taste Your love, is all my choice." And when you have enjoyed His Presence in your solitude, have had communion with Him,and He has revealed His ancient, His unchanging, His never-ending, His boundless love to you-have you not prized His Wordsfar above the choicest joys of earth?
When you have confessed your sins with penitent sorrow and He has given back the word of full remission. When you have revealedyour sorrow and received the assurance of His tender sympathy. When you have laid bare your weakness and received the wordthat strengthens-have you not been ready to challenge all Heaven to compare with Him-and
exclaimed, "Never man spoke like this Man"? To those who are unbelievers, and to those professors who live at a distance fromChrist, this will sound like mere fancy, but believe me, it is not so. If there is anything real beneath the skies, it isthe communion which Christ has with His people by His Spirit.
"Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Christ." We hear His voice, though not with these ears, and we sohear it as to know it, as sheep discern their shepherd's voice. And a stranger we will not follow, for we know not the voiceof strangers. Our ears being opened by the Spirit, we at this hour can say, "I sleep, but my heart wakes. It is the voiceof my Beloved, my soul melts while He speaks."
Now, my dear Friends, there are some words of our Savior spoken long ago, which, since we have known Him have been so quickenedby His Presence that we number them from now on among personal recollections. That word, "I have loved you with an everlastinglove." It is true it is written in the Bible, an old, old saying-but I can say and so can many of you, that it has been anew saying to me. We have by faith been enabled to hear it as spoken to us, and the Spirit of the blessed God has so broughtit home to our hearts that it is as if Christ had never said it before, but had spoken it to us personally. Yes, "I have lovedyou with an everlasting love."
There are many here who have heard Him say, "I have chosen you and not cast you away." The Spirit of God has made many anancient saying a speech from the living Jesus to us. Those words of His when He said, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the Bookit is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O My God"-our faith has stood at Bethlehem's manger and we have seen the Bodyprepared for Him, and Himself putting on the form of a servant. His coming to seek and to save that which was lost has becomea personal coming to us, and we have rejoiced in it exceedingly.
Has not the voice which came of old from the sea when He said, "It is I, be not afraid," been a voice to you? And the voicefrom Jerusalem, "How often would I have gathered you"-has it never bewailed the perishing ones around you? The voice fromBethany, "I am the resurrection and the life"-has it never been heard at the burial of your brother? The voice from the tablewhen He washed His disciples' feet-and bade them wash one another's feet-has it not excited you to humble service of the Brethren?
Have we not again and again heard the cry of Gethsemane, "Not as I will, but as You will"? I cannot convince myself that Idid not actually hear the Redeemer say that. At any rate, I have rejoiced when in the spirit of resignation the echo of ithas been heard in my own spirit. Do I not this very day hear Him saying, though long ago He spoke it, "Father, forgive themfor they know not what they do"? His intercession for my guilty soul. What is it but the continuance of that gentle prayer?And for certain that last concluding sentence, "It is finished," "Consummatum est"-my ears may not have heard it, but my soulhears it now and rejoices to repeat the words!
Who shall lay anything to my charge since Christ has consummated my deliverance from death, Hell, sin, and brought in a perfectrighteousness for me? Yes, these old sayings of Christ heard years ago we have heard in spirit, and our witness is after hearingthem all, "Never man spoke like this Man." None can be compared with Him at their best. His ministers cannot rival Him-theydo but echo His speech.
III. I shall close by mentioning certain PROPHETIC ANTICIPATIONS which lodge in our souls with regard to that eloquence inthe future. Brethren, you have heard the voice of Jesus, but are you expecting to still hear it? As long as ever you liveyou are to speak for Jesus-but your hope for His kingdom does not lie in your speech but in His voice. He can speak to theheart, He can make the Truth which you only utter to the ear penetrate to the mind and heart. We expect that our exalted Lordwill speak before long with louder voice than before.
The Gospel chariot lags awhile. As yet He goes not forth conquering and to conquer, but He will yet gird His sword upon Histhigh and His voice shall be heard marshalling His hosts for the battle. Let but Christ give the word, and the company ofthem that shall publish it shall be exceedingly great. Let Him send forth the Word of His might from Zion, and thousands shallbe born in a day. Yes, nations shall be born at once!
The elect of God, today apparently but few, shall come out from their hiding places, and Christ shall see of the travail ofHis soul and be satisfied. Despite the melancholy belief of some that the world will come to an end with a defeated God andwith only a few saved, I nevertheless am certain that Scripture warrants brighter hopes. One day "the knowledge of the Lordshall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,"this we know, for God has said it. In all things Christ shall have the pre-eminence, and therefore in the matter of soulssaved He will have the pre-eminence over Satan and the souls who are lost.
for an hour of that voice of the Lord which is full of majesty, that voice which breaks the cedars of Lebanon, and makesthem to skip like a calf-Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn! When shall the voice of the Lord shake the wilderness ofKadesh and discover the forests? It shall yet be heard, and in His temple shall everyone speak of His Glory. For the Lordsits upon the flood, yes, the Lord sits King forever. Have hope, then. Let your anticipations be of brighter times, for Hewill speak-He that shakes both Heaven and earth when He wills it. And when He speaks, you will say, "Never man spoke likethis Man."
We expect personally for ourselves, if Jesus comes not before we depart, to hear Him speak sweetly to us in the hour of death.Talk of it solemnly and softly, for put it in whatever light you may, it is dread work to die. But when we lie a dying, andthe sounds of earth are shut out from the lone chamber, and the voice of affection is drowned in mournful sobs, then Jesuswill come and make our bed, and speak as never man spoke, saying "Fear not, I am with you. Be not dismayed, I am your God.When you pass through the rivers I will be with you, the floods shall not overflow you." Dying Christians, by the songs whichthey have lifted up, and by the joy which has sparkled from their eyes have proven that the voice of Jesus is such that, "Neverman spoke like this Man."
Beloved, what will that voice be to our disembodied spirits when our souls shall leave this clay and fly through tracks unknownto see the Savior? I know not with what words of welcome He may address us then. He may reserve His choicest utterances forthe day of His appearing, but He will not take us into His bosom without a love word, nor receive us into our quiet restingplaces without a cordial commendation. What must it be to see His face, to hear His voice in Heaven? Then shall we know that,"Never man spoke like this Man."
And then when the time ordained of old is fulfilled, when the day comes that the dead shall hear the voice of God, when theResurrection and the Life shall speak with trumpet tones, and the righteous shall be raised from their graves- oh, then itwill be seen, as they all obey the quickening word-that "Never man spoke like this Man." He who speaks the resurrection wordis man as well as God. "As by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection from the dead." And then, when you and I shallbe at His right hand. When the body and soul reunited shall receive the final award, and He shall say in inimitable tones,"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world," we shall notneed to say, "Never man spoke like this Man."
When we, with Him, shall enter into the everlasting rest, when He shall deliver up the mediatorial kingdom to God, even theFather, and God shall be All in All, we, in the retrospect of all He said on earth and said in Heaven-we in the constant hearingof His voice who shall wear His priesthood perpetually, looking still like a lamb that has been slain- we shall then bearfullest witness that, "Never man spoke like this Man."
Mark well, my Hearers, that in such confession every soul of you will have to unite. You may live enemies to Christ, and youmay die strangers to Him, but that, "Never man spoke like this Man," you shall be made to feel. If today you will not acknowledgethat His mercy to you is unbounded, that His condescension in inviting you to come to Him today is worthy of loving admiration.If you will not yield, but shut your ears to the invitation of His mercy when He says, "Come unto Me, and I will give yourest," yet at the last, an unwilling assent to our text will be wrung from you.
When He shall say, "Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire in Hell, prepared for the devil and his angels," the thunderof that word shall so torment you, the terror of His speech shall so shake you, and utterly dissolve you, that you shall feel,wondering all the while that it was a Man who could speak thus, that, "Never man spoke like this Man." You have sometimesupbraided the preacher for speaking too severely-you will then know that he was not severe enough.
You have sometimes marvelled that the minister should give such fearful descriptions of the wrath to come-you thought he wenttoo far. But when the pit opens wide her mouth and the devouring flames leap up to devour you at the word of the once crucifiedSavior, then you will say, for terror and for wrath, for overwhelming horror-"Never man spoke like this Man." The lips thatsaid "Come, you weary," shall say, "Depart, you cursed," in tones which none but such lips could give
Love once made angry turns to wrath, intense and terrible. Oil is soft, but how fiercely it burns! Beware, lest His angeris kindled against you, for it will burn even to the lowest Hell. The Lamb of God is as a lion to those who reject His love.Provoke Him no longer. May the Holy Spirit bow you to repentance. God grant that in a far happier sense than this last, youmay learn to say, "Never man spoke like this Man." But one way or other every soul here, and every soul of woman born, shallacknowledge that, "Never man spoke like this Man." To God I commend you. Farewell.