“A new heart will I give you, and a right spirit will I put within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh.”—Ezekiel 36:26
What a precious cluster of solemn declarations of undeserved mercy and free grace are here! Blessed, thrice blessed, art thou, O Israel! Thy God,—O the wonders of his love! Thy God has connected his own glory and thy well-being together; so that, though thy froward heart has led thee to profane his Name among the heathen, and though there be nothing in thee, nor of thee, considered in thyself, but what is awfully depraved, the regard the glorious God has to the honour of his own Name, and by inseparable connection with his honour, binds his blessed Majesty, by all the ties of infinite love to thee and by all that is dear to himself, to do thee good.
Brethren, beloved of the Lord, read the account, pause as you read, and stand astonished at the matchless methods the Lord takes of making known his love and loveliness to you, and with deep humility say, “Dear and blessed Lord! Shall I still insult such matchless love as this? Shall I still mix with the men of the world and make them my chief companions? And shall the things of the world be the principal objects of my pursuits, and thus profane thy great and glorious Name among the heathen? God forbid! Let the honour of thy Name and the greatness of thy love lead me to love, worship, and adore thee; and may it be my great concern from henceforth to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, being assured that all other needful things shall be added unto me. O thou Fountain of blessedness! Make me more watchful, prayerful, and thankful, and enable me to stand fast in the glorious liberty of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Beloved, it is the church’s blessedness that Jehovah has inseparably connected his glory with her real good; so that, while his blessed Majesty regards his own honour, he cannot, he will not, forsake or neglect his dear people. This is a blessing big with infinite importance. O that we were able at all times, under the blessed teaching of God the Holy Ghost, to fix a right estimate upon this glorious truth! Then we should find that in the greatest straits and difficulties, and even when our own worthlessness and sinfulness appear in their deepest hue, we have every encouragement to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mark that!—”the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
The church of Christ is called the City of our Solemnities; and it is one of the solemn acts of faith to plead with God for his Name’s sake. David, the man after God’s own heart, put in his plea upon that sacred ground: “For thy Name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” (Ps. 25:11.) But he not only pleaded for himself but also for the whole church upon this blessed ground: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy Name, and deliver us and purge away our sins, for thy Name’s sake.” And under the glorious teachings of the blessed Spirit, Jeremiah goes upon the same sure ground: “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy Name’s sake; for our backslidings are many. We have sinned against thee.” (Jer. 16:7.) But, beloved, though the Lord has in infinite love determined to bestow the greatest blessings of his heart upon his people, he has made it their great privilege, as his children, to ask these blessings at his hands. Hence he says, in connection with that matchless cluster of blessings promised in Ezek. xxxvi., “Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.”
Do I hear some poor sensible sinner say, “Alas for me! I am such a poor sinful, wretched creature that I fear Jehovah would consider his solemn Majesty insulted were I to crave a single blessing at his hands. I have awfully backslidden from him and have given the professed enemies of God cause to blaspheme his holy Name; and what can I expect but the doom of those who trample underfoot the Son of God, and who do despite to the Spirit of grace? Wretch that I am! I am more brutish than any man!” Come, come, poor desponding soul! Sink not into despair! Thy base proceedings cannot make the Lord cease to regard his own glory. That is as dear to him as ever; and this should encourage thee to plead with the Lord, not for your sakes, but for his great Name’s sake. God puts within his people a new heart and a right spirit, and cleanses them from all their idols and filthiness.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist.