13 October 2013 by Published in: William Gadsby, Sermons No comments yet

A Sermon Preached By William Gadsby In A Village Near Ely.

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”—Hebrews 4:9

The whole human race is comprised in two descriptions of people, viz., the people of God’s election, and the people of God’s curse, against whom he hath indignation for ever. A solemn line of demarcation is made between these two classes by God himself, and it is as impossible for a soul to pass this line as it is for God to cease to exist.

The first thing which the child of God is brought to feel is as contrary to “rest” as hell is to heaven. But the hypocrite may and does walk and live in error and sin, until he sinks into a horrible black despair. The poor child of God may be toiling, tugging, and roaring under horrors and terrors, fears and sorrows of mind and of heart, yet God will preserve him through all these toils of affliction, losses, crosses, and sorrows, until he brings him to feel and believe he has not had one affliction too long, one burden too heavy, one conflict too sharp. His God will overrule them to his eternal rest, and he shall be forced to cry out, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Ps. 23:6.) Thus is sin destroyed, the law of God honoured, justice satisfied, and God glorified in their everlasting salvation, and they are brought to see there remaineth a rest for the people of God.

If there is a self-sufficient hypocrite here to-night, may God the Holy Ghost send him home as damned in his feelings as a soul can feel; and if God the Spirit shall heal up the breach of a poor child of God, I shall be gratified.

I. I shall endeavour to show, that God has a special property iii hits people; they are formed for himself, and they shall show forth his praise.

II. What is intended by this rest; and that whatever changes or vicissitudes they pass through, whatever losses they are called to sustain, whatever projects they form and God blasts, whatever prospects are cut up, nevertheless, there remaineth a rest for God’s people.

I. God’s people are not claimed or chosen for any excellence in them. O no I For when God speaks of them, ho compares them to beasts of the field, dragons of the wilderness, and owls of the desert, saying, “The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls, because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.” (Is. 43:20.) What a wonder it is God did not choose better characters to people heaven with! We all know that a common workman, with good materials, can make a job; but if he has rough materials he cannot get on at all. But our God picks some of the most knotty, crabbed, and rough pieces of timber to make him a house; and yet what a beautiful house it is, as seen by the beloved disciple John in Patmos! If Jehovah compares the church to inanimate creation, then he speaks of her as a desert, or a wilderness, wherein we behold nothing that is comely, beautiful, or entertaining; yet God loves her. If we look into the New Testament, also, the Holy Ghost by Paul hath set forth the fallen state of man’s soul when writing to the Corinthian church: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither formatters, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11.) The apostle further, to set aside all boasting, when speaking of some “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and who mind earthly things,” says, “Are we better than they? No, in no wise; for God hath concluded all under sin.” I do believe God never takes grownup persons but he will make them feel that they deserve to be damned as much and as deep as devils and damned spirits who are now in hell. It is now nearly fifty years since God first began to cut at me, and he has not done yet; and I can heartily say, Amen, to the blazing of the chips he thus cuts off me, for,

“Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight;
But the true-born child of God,
Must not, would not, if he might.”

We shrink from the rod; but our heavenly Father keeps on calling still, and will, until we are led to thank him for it.

I shall now notice that each divine Person in the Godhead has an interest in the church.

God the Father has a special property in them, for they engaged his eternal mind before time. To make an everlasting settlement for the church with and in Christ, and to confirm this settlement, he gave her grace in Christ, who betrothed her: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Eph. 1:3,4.) Therefore she cannot perish, God the Father having made provision for her eternal safety and security before the fall. He foresaw the fall of man; and by this covenant determined that millions should be redeemed to eternal life.

Therefore, when God begins a work upon the heart of a sinner, he sends a dart into his soul, and brings him to Christ, in whom having made ample provision, Jesus the Son of God manifests that he too has a special property in him. He betrothed her unto himself,—as we take our wives, for better, for worse? O no! He took her all for the worse. He knew she would have no better about her. But he presents her unblameable and unreproveable in love.

Now, have you not often wondered how Jesus Christ should fall in love with you, when you can see so many prettier than you that he might have chosen? But Jehovah looked not at you in the Adam fall, but as Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water and the word.” (Eph. 5:25, 26.) Having thus betrothed her unto himself, Jesus Christ took our nature into union with Deity, in order to follow her into and through all the vile places she got into, and to bring her out, and present her before his Father without spot or wrinkle; thereby surrounding her with everlasting arms and walls of flame.

Now there is a great outcry of, “The Church is in danger.” Not so with this church, for she is built upon the Bock of Ages, and is in no danger, for the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. Likewise she is both perfect and pure in Christ her Husband. Which church our dear Lord represented in a figure to his servant Peter, who “fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners and let down to the earth; wherein were all manner of four- footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice; and the vessel was received up again into heaven.” (Acts 10:10-16.) Therefore, this church (or wife) is sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Christ Jesus—there is her eternal safety; and called in time by God the Holy Ghost—there is her cleansing. Now mind. This vessel was let down from heaven three times (to show the equal love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), with all these creatures in it; yet none flew out, none crept out, none ran out, none jumped out, and none got in; all to give the greatest proof of God’s eternal election in the choice, love, preservation, and glorification of his bride; for they were wrapped up in it as the special property of Jesus Christ her Husband.

God the Holy Ghost has an equally peculiar property in this church, which is sweetly set forth in the hymn just now sung; that the sheep ran

“As far from God as sheep can run;”
but they never shall rove
“Beyond the limits of his love;
Fenced with eternal shalls and wills,
firm as the everlasting hills.”

How solemn and awful it is to think they could not and had no will to turn to God, although hell flamed in their faces, and they could see the horrors of the damned, and hear the bellowing of lost souls I Yet some ministers have declared that if the damned in hell could hear the glad tidings of the gospel and were permitted, how gladly would they embrace it! How awful such declarations are! Why, if even they could hear of a Saviour, but had no spiritual hunger or thirst for Christ and his salvation, they could not love God; and if even they could come out of hell upon earth, it would only be to be damned again.

We have many meetings in Manchester. There was one held some time since by a party of infidels. Two persons hearing thereof agreed to go and hear the speeches; when a man got up, and said, “Who is the greatest man—Jesus Christ or Robert Owen?” He paused, and then replied, “Why, Jesus Christ is dead and buried, and we know not what has become of him; but Robert Owen is here; therefore Robert Owen must be the greatest and best man.” This, under God, was the means of conviction to the two strangers. Soon after, they came to sit under my ministry; when God, having thoughts of love to them, led me to speak pointedly on the subject of infidelity; and, pointing undesignedly towards the place where the men were sitting, I said, “That’s the man, and that’s the man;” when both the men nearly swooned away. After a while they visited my chapel again, and God the Holy Ghost led me to speak again to their hearts; and they fainted quite away, and were carried into the vestry. Afterwards they came and related the whole of the matter to me in the vestry.

Moreover, the Holy Ghost manifested his special property in and towards the thief on the cross, by giving him new life and a spirit of prayer. Also by sending Paul and Silas to preach at Philippi, where they were called before the magistrates, who sentenced them to be put into prison. And when led there, the jailer said he had no notion of the justices sending these fanatics to him, for he was troubled enough with common offenders. “Well,” said he, “I will add to their sorrows;” and he fulfilled it, too, by scourging their backs, and then thrusting them into the inner prison, and making their feet fast in the stocks. But God sent an earthquake, both in the prison and into the heart of the jailer. Also by sending the law of God home with divine power into his conscience, so that he would fain have stabbed himself to the heart, but God kept him back, and brought his soul to cry, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” When Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thon shall be saved.”

But some in our day say we need no law-work on the conscience now. Then Paul was wrong when he said, “I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

Further, the Holy Ghost manifested his special love to, and property in Mary Magdalene. She was a wretch indeed; but not too vile for Jesus Christ to visit her and cast out of her seven devils.

Perhaps there may be some here to-night, saying, “It is not so bad with me; for I had pious parents, and received a pious education too, and I do not feel so vile; yes; and I can pray in public as often as I am called upon.” Arid so you may, and be the greatest hypocrite upon earth too. Do not think you are the character intended by God the Holy Ghost in this text. But it is the soul who is under the teaching of God the Holy Spirit; when he lifts up that poor worm, when the burden of guilt and sin is removed, under which he groans, being burdened, he blesses him with the application of the precious blood of Christ. And O! What special pains lie takes to draw these souls, and to anoint their eyes with eye-salve too! Then after a while he plunges them into fires, to burn up all their plans. Then again, he leaves them for a while, like farmers, to dress up and trim their stacks so neat and pretty, and then soon the Holy Ghost burns them down. Many here present know there is generally a deal of vermin in corn; and O! What a cracking and groaning there is heard within, while the fire rages. For our God declares his fire is in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem. Gold must be refined. Afterwards, when the ashes are blown off, then the fine gold appears; then the soul feels his interest in God, and God shows and owns his interest in him. But there are two characters I must notice.

Some here may say, I believe in election, but live in all manner of uncleanness. I tell you that you are almost like devils; for they have knowledge and arrogance; and, like them, you are fitting for eternal damnation.

The other class, not so bold or manifest, had a fine conversion, though not very deep. “I went to hear a minister who offered Christ, and I accepted him.” Poor sinner! The devil has been drugging you with his infernal opium. You may pretend to know God, and at the last die an ignorant fool.

But, there may be some poor child of God here to-night, saying, “There is no hope for me, then; for I can no more believe than I can make a world. I would read the Word and would pray to God, but cannot, for I am like a distracted man.” Why, if you could believe when you please, how would the Bible be true, that faith is the gift of God? Nevertheless, he will bring that soul again amidst it all to believe in Jesus Christ.

II. Rest, what is it? “We that believe do enter into rest.” There is a sweet calmness imparted, distinct from false peace, even a rest in that soul, yes, a believing in that heart. What from? By faith, from the damning consequences, of sin, and the torturings of sin too, and the springing up of old sins. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Hiring God?” (Heb. 9:13, 14.)

Further. It is a solemn rest from law curses and law claims too; for Christ, thy Surety, hath magnified the law and made it honourable. 1 will endeavour to illustrate this by a simile. Now, suppose a man was greatly in debt; and hearing and fearing there is a warrant out and the bailiffs are after him, he, poor man, will not and dare not go out of his house, but keeps all the doors locked, and peeps out of the keyhole and corners of the windows, and sees the men watching at every corner. Poor man, he goes to bed, but fears to go to sleep, fearing they will get in and take him; but, through weariness, he falls asleep, and dreams he is in prison, and awakes and finds it is not so. While thus harassed, day and night, some friend, altogether unknown to him, goes to the officer and pays the debt and all the law expenses too, and somehow sends the poor man the receipt, wherein he finds the debt and law costs are all satisfied. Whereupon the next morning he unlocks his door, and, seeing the bailiff go by, says, “Good morning to you, Mr. Bailiff. Good morning to you, Gentlemen.” He is not afraid of the officers now.

Again. The seventh day was a type of this rest, wherein they were to enjoy the rest of the Sabbath when they arrived in Canaan. The year of Jubilee also was a type of rest, inasmuch as all those who tad sold or mortgaged their inheritance had it restored to them again freely when that year arrived.

Canaan, likewise, may be said to be a type of that rest; for after the Lord had destroyed their enemies, the land (that is, the church) had rest. “There remaineth, therefore, a rest (or keeping of the Sabbath) to the people of God.”

There is also a rest by faith in Christ. But the true rest shall be and end in glory, where there shall be no more hankering after sin, no more infernal workings, no more dismal foreboding thoughts, causing you to feel like a walking plague. There we shall have no more asthmatic lungs; then no more afflictions for ever. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”

Now, the child of God has no promise of rest here. But I labored hard to prove God not true; for the Word of God tells me that it is through much tribulation I must enter the kingdom, while I labored to get through without tribulation and without crosses. But God’s Word is true; therefore these troubles will come on. But though foes increase and trials follow hard upon me, nevertheless, there remaineth a rest to the people of God. When that day arrives, then farewell to all that would hinder!

[We are obliged to the kind friend who has sent us the above Notes, which bear every mark of being authentic. Still, we feel they are bad “notes”—mere loose, disjointed scraps, and give a very inadequate representation of what the sermon doubtless was as preached by Mr. Gadsby.—J.C. Philpot, in “G. 8.,” Dee., 1847.]


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