“Seest thou this woman?”—Luke 7:44

My soul, look at this woman at the feet of Jesus; for thy Jesus bids thee look, and gather instruction from the view, as well as the pharisee. Behold how she wept, how she washed the feet of Jesus, and anointed them with ointment. These were sweet tokens of her love and adoration. But were these the causes for which she obtained forgivings? Oh, no. Read what the Lord said to her: “Thy faith hath saved thee.” Learn, then, my, soul, in what salvation lies. Love may bring ointment to Jesus. Sorrow for sin, when grace is in the heart, will cause tears to fall. But faith brings nothing, for it hath nothing: it casts itself wholly upon Jesus. Amidst all its guilt, and fears, and tears, it is Jesus only to whom faith looks; it is Jesus upon whom alone it depends. It hath nothing to do with self; neither our own feelings, nor the exercise of our graces. These are blessed evidences of the work of the Lord upon the heart; but they are not, salvation. It is Jesus, all precious, all glorious, all suitable Jesus! He is the One blessed object of faith’s joy and hope, and pursuit and desire. And, depend upon it, thy God and Father in Christ Jesus, is more pleased, more honoured, by this simple act of faith upon Jesus glorious person and righteousness, than by all the tears in the world; when those tears lead us to place a stress upon the effects of faith, instead of hanging wholly upon the cause, in the glorious object, Jesus. Pause, my soul, over this nice but proper distinction; and this will be to find comfort always in Jesus, “Seest thou this woman?”

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In general, an act of reforming or correcting an error or abuse in religion, discipline, or the like. By way of eminence, the word is used for that great alteration and reformation in the corrupted system of Christianity, begun by Luther in the year 1517.

Before the period of the reformation, the pope had in the most audacious manner declared himself the sovereign of the whole world. All the parts of it which were inhabited by those who were not Christians, he accounted to be inhabited by nobody; and if Christians took it into their heads to possess any of those countries, he gave them full liberty to make war upon the inhabitants without any provocation, and to treat them with no more humanity than they would have treated wild beasts. The countries, if conquered, were to be parcelled out according to the pope’s pleasure; and dreadful was the situation of that prince who refused to obey the will of the holy pontiff. In consequence of this extraordinary authority which the pope had assumed, he at last granted to the king of Portugal all the countries to the eastward of Cape Non in Africa, and to the king of Spain all the countries to the westward of it. In this was completed in his person the character of Antichrist sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself as God. He had long before assumed the supremacy belonging to the Deity himself in spiritual matters; and now he assumed the same supremacy in worldly matters also, giving the extreme regions of the earth to whom he pleased.

Every thing was quiet, every heretic exterminated, and the whole Christian world supinely acquiesced to the enormous absurdities which were inculcated upon them; when, in 1517, the empire of superstition began to decline, and has continued to do so ever since. The person who made the first attack on the extravagant superstitions then prevailing was Martin Luther, the occasion of which is fully related under the article LUTHERANS.

The reformation began in the city of Wittemberg, in Saxony, but was not long confined, either to that city or province. In 1520, the Franciscan friars, who had the care of promulgating indulgences in Switzerland, were opposed by Zuinglius, a man not inferior in understanding and knowledge to Luther himself. He proceeded with the greatest vigour, even at the very beginning, to overturn the whole fabric of popery; but his opinions were declared erroneous by the universities of Cologne and Louvain. Notwithstanding this, the magistrates of Zurich approved of his proceedings; and that whole canton, together with those of Bern, Basil, and Chaffausen, embraced his opinions.

In Germany, Luther continued to make great advances, without being in the least intimidated by the…

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“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, &c.”

(See Gill on “1 Thessalonians 1:1”).

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John Gill And The Cause Of God And Truth, George Ella, Go Publications 1995, Pages 84-90:

Article Xll must come as a major surprise to anyone familiar with the older Baptist creeds, or the creeds of any denominations, for that matter. The article declares: “We also believe that singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, vocally, is an ordinance of the Gospel to be performed by believers; but that as to time, place, and manner, every one ought to be left to their liberty in using it.”

One cannot imagine a modern church meeting deciding to put such a statement into their creed and this entry would appear to tone down the high quality of the declaration, ending it with a remark that is almost amusing in its bathos. The reasons for this statement will become clear when one considers the historical circumstances in church life at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries.[1]

Hymn singing was almost unknown in Baptist church services up to the end of the seventeenth century. The psalms were sung in metrical versions in the Anglican Church but most Dissenting churches had given up this practice in their efforts to rid themselves of all that was attached to Anglicanism. Baptist churches who continued the Anglican practice were looked upon by other ‘purer’ churches as if they had opened the doors to the devil and all his works. Anti-singing Baptists, who were taken by surprise in a meeting where psalms were sung, would immediately put their hats on to indicate that as this was not a display of true worship,[2] they need not doff their caps.

Psalms were sung by some churches to impress the authorities that they were not far removed from the ‘established church’. This ruse sometimes took the oddest forms. During times of persecution, the Baptist preachers would preach behind a curtain, unseen by the congregation. Whenever the approach of government spies was feared, the congregation would start singing a metrical psalm and when the spies arrived they were met with nothing but a crowd of keen ‘Anglicans’ faithfully singing something out of the Prayer Book. All this tended to make singing in the Dissenting churches a mere sham or at best a thing not to be taken seriously.

One of the Baptist pioneers in the field of singing, if not the pioneer, was Benjamin Keach, the former pastor of the Goat Yard congregation. One day he startled his flock with the news that hymns or psalms were to be sung to enhance the…

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Sermon—”The Presence Of Christ Come”


For the full order of service, including hymns and reading, please follow this link…

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“And they shall call his name Emanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us.”—Matthew 1:23

My soul, hast thou never remarked what a peculiar beauty and sweetness there is in every name by which thy God and Saviour is made known to thee in his holy word? Surely, if nothing more had been intended by it, than to identify and prove his sacred person, one name would have answered this purpose: evidently, therefore, somewhat of great importance is designed from his many names. And depend upon it, my soul, so much loveliness is there in every individual name of thy Jesus; and at one time or other, in thy walk of faith, so very much wilt thou need every one, and find the preciousnes of every one, that thou wouldest not part with one of thy Redeemer’s names—no, not for the world. This of Emanuel, by which thou art commanded to call him, is a sweet one to endear him to thee. Had he not been Emanuel, he could not have been Jesus, for none but God can save a sinner: and therefore he is called Emanuel, which signifies, “God with us.” Hence, therefore, he is God. Put this down as a glorious truth in thy esteem. God in our nature: God tabernacling in our flesh. God in us; and God in our hearts, the hope of glory. It is the Godhead of thy Jesus which gives efficacy and value to every act of redemption. As God, his righteousness is the righteousness of God to justify thee. Mark that! his sacrifice to atone—his blood to cleanse—his grace to bless. All these blessed acts of thy Jesus derive efficacy to answer all their glorious purposes, because they are the acts of God. And remark, my soul, yet further, that all that yet remains to be fulfilled, in what he hath in now pleading thy promised concerning salvation, in now pleading thy cause, and hereafter taking thee to glory; these cannot fail—because he who hath promised is Emauel. Go on, my soul, one step futher, and remember that He, whom thou art to call Emanuel, is also God in thy nature. Hense he is so very near and dear, in all tender alliances, as to be bone of thy bone, and flesh of thy flesh. My soul, never, never lose sight of this most sweet and precious name of thy Jesus. Call him as thou art commanded, call his name Emanuel.

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Imports whatever is set apart, separated, or divided; but is most usually meant to express the cutting off of a person from the communion of the faithful. It was practised in the primitive church against notorious offenders. Several councils also have pronounced anathemas against such as they thought corrupted the purity of the faith. Anathema Maranatha, mentioned by Paul, (1 Cor. 4:22,) imports that he who loves not the Lord Jesus will be accursed at his coming. Anathema signifies a thing devoted to destruction, and Maranatha is a Syriac word, signifying the Lord comes. It is probable in this passage there is an allusion to the form of the Jews, who when unable to inflict so great a punishment as the crime deserved, devoted the culprit to the immediate vindictive retribution of divine vengeance, both in this life and in a future state.

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This chapter, besides the inscription and salutation, contains a thanksgiving for the flourishing condition in which the graces of the Spirit were in these saints, and consolation for them under their suffering circumstances. The inscription and salutation are in (2 Thessalonians 1:1,2).

And are as usual: the thanksgiving is in (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

For the growth of their faith, the abounding of their love, and their constant patience under persecutions and afflictions, insomuch that the apostle also gloried of them for these things among other churches, (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

And as an encouragement to them to continue patient under sufferings, he observes that this was a token of the righteous judgment of God, and that they were reckoned worthy of his kingdom for which they suffered, (2 Thessalonians 1:5).

And of which righteous judgment they might be assured, from the nature of God himself, whose justice required a retribution of vengeance to their persecutors, and rest to them with the apostles, (2 Thessalonians 1:6,7).

The time of which rest and ease is pointed at, as that it will be at the coming of Christ; which is described by the place from whence he comes, heaven; by his retinue, his mighty angels; by the manner in which he shall come, in flaming fire; and by the vengeance he will execute: the objects of which are also described, by their ignorance of God, and by their disobedience to the Gospel of Christ; and by the nature of the punishment inflicted on them, which will lie in an expulsion from the presence, power, and glory of God, and in an everlasting destruction of soul and body, (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

But as for them, the persecuted saints, and which is mentioned for their comfort, Christ shall at this day be glorified and admired in them, and by them, (2 Thessalonians 1:10).

Wherefore the apostle prays for this perseverance of them, that the good work of faith might be performed in them, and they enjoy the glory they were called unto; and that Christ might be glorified in them, and they in him; not according to their works, but according to the grace of God through him, (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

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”And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”—Luke 2:7-21

Luke tells us Mary ‘brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn’. With these simple words the presence of the infant Christ in the world is recorded. The conditions of the Saviour’s birth were basic and humble, yet angels rejoiced to see it and the heavenly host sang, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’.

For our sakes He became poor

The grim conditions of Jesus’ birth suggest neither Joseph nor Mary had relatives in Bethlehem, there was no house to go to, no friends waiting to receive them. Since so little notice is taken of them it probably implies relative poverty and meanness. Had they been wealthy, or prominent, they would have been cared for and room made for them, especially since Mary, little more than a girl herself, was about to give birth to her first child. It was heartless to consign her to a stable in this condition.

In the cause of the poor and needy

We learn Mary personally swaddled her new-born baby. There was no midwife, no…

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“What, think ye that he will not come to the feast?”—John 11:56

Is this thy inquiry, my soul, when at any time thou art seeking Jesus in his word, in his ordinances, at his table? Will be not come? Will Jesus not be there? Think how, he hath dealt in times past. Did not Jesus rejoice when the hour arrived for coming into the world for salvation? Doth he not rejoice, when coming to the heart of the poor sinner for conversion? and will he not come with joy in all the renewed visits of his love? Besides, doth not Jesus know that it is a time of need to thee? And hath he not opened a way to the throne of grace, on purpose that his poor helpless children might come boldly to a throne of grace to obtain help, and find grace in every time of need? Oh then, mark it down as a sure thing, thy Jesus will be there. He spreads the feast, and he will be present, He waits to be gracious; waits to be kind to thee. Love is in his heart, and salvation in his hands. Hasten then to his house, to his table, to his bosom, to his heart; and say, with the church, “Come, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart, upon the mountains of Bether.”

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A forsaking or renouncing our religion, either by an open declaration in words, or a virtual declaration of it by our actions. The primitive Christian church distinguished several kinds of apostacy; the first, of those who went entirely from Christianity to Judaism; the second, of those who complied so far with the Jews, as to communicate with them in many of their unlawful practices, without making a formal profession of their religion; thirdly, of those who mingled Judaism and Christianity together; and, fourthly, of those who voluntarily relapsed into paganism. Apostacy may be farther considered as, 1. Original, in which we have all participated, Rom. 3:23;–2. National, when a kingdom relinquishes the profession of Christianity;–3. Personal, when an individual backslides from God, Heb. 10:38;–4. Final, when men are given up the judicial hardness of heart, as Judas.

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This second epistle was written, not from Athens, as the subscription testifies, nor from Rome, as Athanasius supposes; but from Corinth, from whence was sent the former, and where the apostle and Timothy, and Silvanus met; and which was sent about half a year after the other. The design of which is to comfort and support the Thessalonians under the afflictions and persecutions they endured for the sake of the Gospel; and to rectify a mistake they had gone into, and which might be occasioned by what the apostle had said in his former epistle, concerning the second coming of Christ, as though it was just at hand; which might lead them to neglect their worldly business, and duties of civil life, and give the enemies of the Gospel an advantage against the whole of it as false, should not this prove true; as also to exhort this church to take notice of disorderly persons such as were idle, and busy bodies, and withdraw from them, and remove them from their communion, as being not only burdensome to them, but a reproach to their profession.

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I. Distinguishing Propositions

Proposition 1

The Bible is a Divine Revelation given of God to men, and is a complete and infallible guide and standard of authority in all matters of religion and morals; whatever it teaches is to be believed, and whatever it commands is to be obeyed; whatever it commends is to be accepted as both right and useful; whatever it condemns is to be avoided as both wrong and hurtful; but what it neither commands nor teaches is not to be imposed on the conscience as of religious obligation.

Proposition 2

The New Testament is the constitution of Christianity, the charter of the Christian Church, the only authoritative code of ecclesiastical law, and the warrant and justification of all Christian institutions. In it alone is life and immortality brought to light, the way of escape from wrath revealed, and all things necessary to salvation made plain; while its messages are a gospel of peace on earth and of hope to a lost world.

Proposition 3

Every man by nature possesses the right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures, and in all religious concerns; it is his privilege to read and explain the Bible for himself, without dictation from, or dependence on, any one, being responsible to God alone for his use of the sacred truth.

Proposition 4

Every man has the right to hold such religious opinions as he believes the Bible teaches, without harm or hindrance from any one on that account, so long as he does not intrude upon, or interfere with, the rights of others by so doing.

Proposition 5

All men have the right, not only to believe, but also to profess and openly declare, whatever religious opinions they may entertain, providing they be not contrary to common morality, and do no injustice to others.

Proposition 6

All men possess the common right to worship God according to the teachings of the Scriptures, as they understand them, without hindrance or molestation, so long as they do not injure or interfere with the rights of others by so doing.

Proposition 7

Civil governments, rulers and magistrates are to be respected, and in all temporal matters, not contrary to conscience and the word of God, to be obeyed; but they have no jurisdiction in spiritual concerns, and have no right of…

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“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.”—Ephesians 2:7

Pause, my soul, and gather in all the powers of arithmetic, and try if thou art able to count what the exceeding riches of God’s grace amount to. Think how great, how free, how sovereign, how inexhaustible, how everlasting! All that a poor sinner hath in time, all that we can enjoy to all eternity, all is of grace. And what a title hath thy God chosen to be known by among his people, when, to make himself known more fully in Jesus, he styles himself “the God of all grace!” All grace? Yes, all grace, and all sorts and degrees of grace: pardoning grace, renewing grace, quickening grace, strengthening grace, comforting grace; in short, all grace. And is all this treasured up in Jesus? Oh then, my soul, see that Jesus be thine, and all is thine. And mark this down as a sure unerring rule-as grace hath no source but in the Father’s love, so the exalting that grace, in Jesus is the Father’s design in salvation. The brightest pearl in the Redeemer’s crown is that which shines with this inscription: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. “Here, my soul, seek thy daily grace more earnestly than thy daily bread.

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From a rent, clift, fissure; in its general acceptation it signifies division or separation; but is chiefly used in speaking of separations happening from diversity of opinions among people of the same religion and faith. All separations, however, must not, properly speaking, be considered as schisms.

Schism, says Mr. Arch. Hall, is, properly, a division among those who stand in one connection of fellowship: but where the difference is carried so far, that the parties concerned entirely break up all communion one with another, and go into distinct connections for obtaining the general ends of that religious fellowship which they once did, but now do not carry on and pursue with united endeavours, as one church joined in the bonds of individual society; where this is the case, it is undeniable there is something very different from schism: it is no longer a schism in, but a separation from, the body. Dr. Campbell supposes that the word schism in Scripture does not always signify open separation, but that men may be guilty of schism by such an alienation of affection from their brethren as violates the internal union subsisting in the hearts of Christians, though there be no error in doctrine, nor separation from communion. See 1 Cor. 3:3,4. 1 Cor. 12:24-26.

The great schism of the West is that which happened in the times of Clement VII. and Urban VI. which divided the church for forty or fifty years, and was at length ended by the election of Martin V. at the council of Constance.

The Romanists number thirty-four schisms in their church: they bestow the name English schism on the reformation of religion in this kingdom. Those of the church of England apply the term schism to the separation of the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, and Methodists.

“The sin of schism,” says the learned Blackstone, “as such, is by no means the object of temporal coercion and punishment.–If, through weakness of intellect, through misdirected piety, through perverseness and acerbity of temper, or through a prospect of secular advantage in herding with a party, men quarrel with the ecclesiatical establishment, the civil magistrate has nothing to do with it; unless their tenets and practice are such as threaten ruin or disturbance to the state. All persecution for diversity of opinions, however ridiculous and absurd they may be, is contrary to every principle of sound policy and civil freedom. The names and subordination of the clergy; the posture of devotion, the materials and colour of a minister’s garment, the joining in a known or unknown form of prayer, and other matters of the same kind, must be left to the option of every man’s private judgment.” The following have been proposed as remedies for schism. “1. Be disposed to support your brethren by all the friendly attentions in your power, speaking justly of their preaching and character. Never withhold these proofs of your brotherly love, unless they depart from the doctrines or spirit of the Gospel.–2. Discountenance the silly reports you may hear, to the injury of any of your brethren. Oppose backbiting and slander to the utmost.–3. whenever any brother is sinking in the esteem of his flock through their caprice, perverseness, or antinomianism, endeavour to hold up his hands and his heart in his work.–4. Never espouse the part of the factious schismatics, till you have heard your brother’s account of their conduct.– 5. In cases of an open separation, do not preach for separatists till it be evident that God is with them. Detest the thought of wounding a brother’s feelings through the contemptible influence of a party spirit; for through this abominable principle, schisms are sure to be multiplied.–6. Let the symptoms of disease in the patients, arouse the benevolent attention of the physicians. Let them check the froward, humble the proud, and warn the unruly; and many a schismatic distemper will receive timely cure.–7. Let elderly ministers and tutors of academics pay more attention to these things, in proportion as the disease may prevail; for much good may be accomplished by their influence.”

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The subscription to this epistle is not genuine, which runs thus, “The first Epistle unto the Thessalonians was written from Athens”; whereas it appears from (1 Thessalonians 3:1,6) compared with (Acts 18:1,5) that it was written from Corinth, and not from Athens; nor are these last words, “from Athens”, in Beza’s Claromontane copy; though they stand in the Syriac and Arabic versions of the London Polygot Bible, which add, “and sent by Timothy”, and in the Alexandrian copy, and Complutensian edition.

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Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

I. The Holy Scriptures.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired,[1] and our sole, supreme, and all-sufficient guide in every matter of Christian Faith and Practice.[2]

[1] Jn 10:35; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20,21
[2] Psalm 19:9 -11; 119:128; Is 8:20; Lk 16:29-31; Jn 5:39; 2 Tim 3:15,16; 2 Pet 1:20,21



Inspiration Asserted

Note 1.—The passages cited clearly assert that, while the books of the Bible were written by human authors, (whose personal peculiarities are often apparent in their compositions) they were produced under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, which rendered them authentic communications from God.

Thus, we are assured, that the writers of the Old Testament “spake from God, being moved (or borne along) by the Holy Ghost,” (2 Pet. 1:21,) and that every one of these sacred writings was “given by inspiration of God,” (2 Tim. 3:16.)

The writers of the New Testament claim to have produced what they wrote in a similar way. Paul delivered that which he “received of the Lord,” (1 Cor. 11:23,) and “in words which the Holy Spirit” taught him,—as one of the company of inspired men. (1 Cor. 2:13.) John claims to have had “commandment from God.” (1 John 4:21.) Peter asserts that what he wrote was “the word of the Lord.” (1 Pet. 1:26.)

Verbal Inspiration

Note 2.—The Bible was verbally inspired—that is to say that its writers did not simply deliver their messages in a vague and general way, but in the very words which the Holy Spirit induced them to employ.

This is plain from the fact that, in some places, weighty arguments are founded on the very words of other…

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Sermon—“As He Is, So Are We”

For the full order of service, including hymns and reading, please follow this link…

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Sermon—“Comparative Views Of The New Covenant”


Some of the points I cover in this teaching video:

In an effort to clarify my understanding of the New Covenant, I make a comparison of it with that of the Presbyterians, the traditional Reformed Baptists, the 1689 Federalists and the High-Calvinists.
Jared Smith, Muntinlupa, PH (27/01/2023)


For the full order of service, including hymns and reading, please follow this link…

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“If the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go out free. Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door posts; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever.”—Exodus 21:5-6

How sweet is scripture explained by scripture! Jesus saith, when sacrifice and offering under the law were both unprofitable, “Mine ears hast thou opened;” or, as it might have been rendered, “Mine ears hast thou digged.” Ps. 40:6. And elsewhere, “The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious.” Isa. 50:5. The apostle to the Hebrews decidedly explains this in reference to Christ, Heb. 10:5. And what was all this but to shew the voluntary service of Jesus to the office and work of the Redeemer. Was not Jesus, in all that high work, the servant of Jehovah? Though he was in the form of God, and with him it was no robbery to be equal with God, yet he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant. And for whom did he this? Was it not, in effect, saying, like the jewish servant, which was typical of him, “I love my master, my father, in the work of redemption?” John 14:31. “I love my wife, my church, my spouse.” Song 4:10. “I love my children: behold I, and the children thou hast given me.” Isa. 8:18. “I will not go out free.” Oh, precious Lord Jesus! well might the apostle say, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it!” Surely it was thy love, dearest Lord, to thy church, that moved thee to serve Jehovah, “as Israel served for a wife, and for a wife kept sheep.” Hosea 12:12. Oh for grace to love thee, and to serve thee for ever!

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The using a term or expression that has a double meaning. Equivocations are said to be expedients to save telling the truth, and yet without telling a falsity; but if an intention to deceive constitute the essence of a lie, which in general it does, I cannot conceive how it can be done without incurring guilt, as it is certainly an intention to deceive.

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“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, Amen.]”

This is the apostle’s usual salutation in all his epistles, and the token of the genuineness of them, (2 Thessalonians 3:17,18). (See Gill on “Romans 16:20”), (see Gill on “1 Corinthians 15:23”), (see Gill on “2 Corinthians 13:14”).

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“Look upon Zion, the city of solemnities.”—Isaiah 33:29

Without making any remarks upon the context, I shall immediately begin with the passage read as a text; and in doing so I do not intend to say anything upon Zion literally, but shall speak to you of Zion in a spiritual sense; and I mean, so far as the Lord shall be graciously pleased to direct and enable me, to show,

I. What is intended by Zion.
II. Why called a city.
III. Point out the way into this city.
IV. Endeavour to describe a true citizen.
V. Dwell a little upon the solemnities of this city.
VI. Show the blessedness of looking, by a vital faith, upon it.

I. By Zion I understand the real church of Christ, and, in the strictest sense, the whole body elect, chosen, and secured in Christ before the foundation of the world: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Ps 132:13,14)

So that Zion is the spiritual property, the glorious church, and the eternal residence of Jehovah. Here the Lord not only declares but subscribes his name, and maintains all the honours of his glorious nature; and to this blessed Zion every real believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is brought by the power of the Holy Ghost; as it is written, “But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” &c. (Heb 12:22-24) From this statement we learn that Zion is the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the glorious vision of peace, where God lives and dwells as the God of peace, and that it consists of an innumerable company of angels; and if by angels the glorious angelic host above is intended, they are an innumerable company indeed; for “the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels;” (Ps 68:17) and the mountain was full of them for the protection of Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17) Yet there is a sense in which they cannot fully enter into the glories of the redeemed family of God, for the Lord Jesus Christ did not take their nature into union with his personal Godhead: “For verily ho took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” The glory of redemption by the blood of the God-Man they cannot experience. This divine mystery contains in it things that the angels desire to look into; so that, as the poet says,

“If sinless innocence be theirs,
Redemption all is ours.”

There is a glorious measure of the glory of God in the person, blood, and obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ which no creatures but redeemed sinners can enter into, and they can only enter into it as the Holy Ghost reveals it unto them. (1 Cor 2:9-11) If by angels, angels in office are intended, viz., God’s messengers, or ministers of the Spirit and of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, raised up, qualified, and sent forth by the Lord to “preach the unsearchable riches of Christ,” then it takes in all that ever have been, that are now, or ever will be thus employed by the Lord; and though the true ministers of the Spirit appear but few in number at any one time compared with the rest, the whole collected together, as treasured up in the…

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“As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”—2 Corinthians 6:10

My soul, hast thou learnt this holy science? There are three blessed lessons the Holy Ghost teacheth on this ground. As, first, the believer is thoroughly emptied of himself. Art thou thus taught of God? Hast thou been led to see, to feel, to know, to be convinced that, after all thine attainments, after all thy long standing in the school of Jesus, thou hast nothing, canst do nothing, art worse than nothing, and, literally, hast no more in thyself now to recommend thee to Jesus, than the first moment thou didst hear of his name? This is to have nothing; this is to be poor in spirit. Secondly , dost thou possess all things in Jesus? Yes, if so be thou art living out of thyself wholly upon him; and how is this known? Nothing more evident. When a sense of my emptiness endears to me his fulness; my poverty, his riches; my weakness, his strength; my sins, his righteousness; my guilt, his blood; I truly possess all things, as far as I improve what Jesus is to his people, and rest upon him and the blessed fruits of his salvation, as God the Father designed him, who hath made him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to his people. And there is a third precious lesson the Holy Ghost teacheth to the poor that have nothing, and yet possess all things; namely, so to possess Jesus himself that he may not only make his poor ones rich in his riches, but be himself their treasure; so to supply them not only with what they need, but to be himself their fulness; not on to open to them light and life, but to be himself both their light and life; so to impart to them salvation as to shew them that he is himself their salvation; and, in short, so to give them present peace, and the assurance of everlasting happiness in his blood and righteousness, as to give them the perfect enjoyment that he is himself both their present and everlasting happiness and their portion for ever. My soul, hast thou learnt, and art thou ever day more and more learning, these precious truths? Oh, then, look up to thy Jesus, and say with one of old, “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

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As it relates to the mind, is a supposition formed before examination. As it relates to the conduct or moral action, it implies arrogance and irreverence. As it relates to religion in general, it is a bold and daring confidence in the goodness of God, without obedience to his will. Presumptious sins must be distinguished from sins of infirmity, or those failings peculiar to human nature, Ecc. 6:20. 1 John 1:8,9; from sins done through ignorance, Luke 12:48; and from sins into which men are hurried by sudden and violent temptation, Gal. 6:1. The ingredients which render sin presumptuous are, knowledge, John, 15:22; deliberation and contrivance, Prov. 6:14. Psal. 36:4; obstinacy, Jer. 44:16. Deut. 1:13; inattention to the remonstrances of conscience, Acts 7:51; opposition to the dispensations of Providence, 2 Chron. 28:22; and repeated commission of the same sin, Psal. 78:17. Presumptuous sins are numerous; such as profane swearing, perjury, theft, adultery, drunkeness, sabbath- breaking, &c. These may be more particularly considered as presumptuous sins, because they are generally committed against a known law, and so often repeated. Such sins are most heinous in their nature, and most pernicious in their effects. They are said to be a reproach to the Lord, Numb. 15:3; they harden the heart, 1 Tim. 4:2; draw down judgments from heaven, Numb. 15:31; even when repented of, are seldom pardoned without some visible testimony of God’s displeasure, 2 Sam. 12:10. As it respects professors of religion, as one observes, they sin presumptuously, 1. when they take up a profession of religion without principle; 2. when they profess to ask the blessing of God, and yet go on in forbidden courses; 3. when they do not take religion as they find it in the Scriptures; 4. when they make their feelings the test of their religion, without considering the difference between animal passions and the operations of the Spirit of God; 5. when they run into temptation; 6. when they indulge in self- confidence and self-complacency; 7. when they bring the spirit of the world into the church; 8. when they form apologies for that in some which they condemn in others; 9. when professing to believe in the doctrines of the Gospel, they live licentiously; 10. when they create, magnify, and pervert their troubles; 11. when they arraign the conduct of God as unkind and unjust.

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“I charge you by the Lord, etc.]”

Or “I adjure by the Lord”; by the Lord Jesus: it is in the form of an oath, and a very solemn one; and shows that oaths may be used on certain and solemn occasions:

“that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren;”

To all the members of the church, who are called “holy”, because they were sanctified or set apart by God the Father in election; and were sanctified by the blood of Christ, or their sins were expiated, or atoned for by the sacrifice of Christ in redemption; and were sanctified or made holy by the Spirit of God in regeneration; and were enabled by the grace of God to live holy lives and conversations. Now this epistle being directed only to some of the principal members of the church, it may be to one or more of their elders; lest he or they should be tempted on any account to conceal it, the apostle in a very solemn manner adjures, that it be read publicly to the whole church whom it concerned, that all might hear, and learn, and receive some advantage from it; from whence we may learn, as is observed by many interpreters, that the sacred Scriptures, neither one part nor another, nor the whole of them, are to be kept from private Christians, but may be read, and heard, and used by all.

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“He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”—John 16:14

Some precious souls are at a loss to apprehend how the Holy Ghost makes application of Jesus and his benefits to his people. Hence they ask, how am I to know that the righteousness of Jesus, and the blood of Jesus, are applied to me. But be not thou, my soul, ignorant of so important a matter, on the clear apprehension of which thy daily comfort depends. Attend, my soul, to what thy Jesus saith in those precious words; and, under the blessed Spirit’s teaching, the matter will appear abundantly plain. He shall glorify me, saith Jesus. And doth not the Holy Ghost do this in every believer’s view, when he gives the soul to see that all that vast extent of redemption-blessings which the Father treasured up in his dear Son for poor sinners, flow immediately from Jesus? And observe, the Holy Ghost doth not at first shew the sinner that all result from the everlasting love, and grace, and purpose of God the Father; but he leads the sinner to view them, and receive them, as the blessed fruits and effects of Jesus mediation; and then opens more fully the glory of the Father in the original design of them, in this precious way, from everlasting. This is needed to glorify Jesus, and to glorify the Father in him. And how are these blessings applied? The scriptural answer is the best answer:—”He shall receive of mine,” saith Jesus, “and shew it unto you.” And doth not that almighty Teacher do all this most sweetly and effectually, when at any time he so holds up the Lord Jesus, in all the glories of his person, and in all the beauties of his finished work, as to incline the sinner’s heart so to behold the Saviour as to believe in him, and firmly to rely upon him? Is not the righteousness of Jesus received, and his precious blood applied, when the soul is led to the hearty and cordial assurance that that righteousness is effectual to justify, and that blood to cleanse from all sin? Yes, precious Jesus! I praise thee for these blessings in thee. I adore thee, thou Holy Spirit, for thy divine teaching concerning them; and I glorify thee, thou Almighty Father, for thine abundant grace and mercy in the gift of thy dear Son.

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Blame or reprehension spoken to a person’s face. It is distinguished from a reprimand thus. He who reproves another, points out his fault, and blames him. He who reprimands, affects to punish, and mortifies the offended. In giving reproof, the following rules may be observed: 1. We should not be forward in reproving our elders or superiors, but rather to remonstrate and supplicate for redress. What the ministers of God do in this kind, they do by special commission, as those that must give an account, 1 Tim. 5:1. Heb. 13:17.–2. We must not reprove rashly; there should be proof before reproof.–3. We should not reprove for slight matters for such faults or defects as proceed from natural frailty, from inadvertency, or mistake in matters of small consequence.–4. We should never reprove unseasonably, as to the time, the place, or the circumstances.–5. We should reprove mildly and sweetly, in the calmest manner, in the gentlest terms.–6. We should not affect to be reprehensive: perhaps there is no one considered more troublesome than he who delights in finding fault with others. In receiving reproof it may be observed, 1. That we should not reject it merely because it may come from those who are not exactly on a level with ourselves.–2. We should consider whether the reproof given be not actually deserved; and that, if the reprover knew all, whether the reproof would not be sharper than what it is.–3. Whether, if taken humbly and patiently, it will not be of great advantage to us.–4. That it is nothing but pride to suppose that we are never to be the subjects of reproof, since it is human to err.

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“Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.]”

In opposition, to an unchaste and hypocritical one. His meaning is, that they would salute the members of the church in his name, and give his Christian love and affections to them. And his view is to recommend to them brotherly love to each other, and to stir them up to the mutual exercise of it more and more.

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