John M'Kenzie Sermons

Some Good Thing Toward The Lord

A Sermon Preached by John M’Kenzie at Bedworth on Monday evening, June 1st, 1846

“And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.”—1 Kings 14:13

The Lord appeared to Solomon twice, and told him if he would keep his commandments, and walk before him as his father David had walked, that the kingdom should not depart from him; but if he forgat the Lord and departed from him, the Lord would depart from Solomon in a temporal sense, as it respected the kingdom of Israel. Solomon sinned and did not keep the commandments of the Lord, for his heart was led away by his wives; he married idolators, practical idolators; they were worshippers of the abominations of the Zidonians, Hittites, Ammonites, and various other wicked nations whom the Lord had said he would cut off. He worshipped idols, departing from the true God, inasmuch as Solomon assented to this abominable worship. He built high places for the worship of these false gods, dishonouring the true God. He even had the wickedness to build a place immediately opposite Jerusalem; thus insulting the Lord to his face; which greatly displeased the Almighty, who, according to his threatening, executes judgment. Although we must not class Solomon with Saul, who was wicked in heart as well as practice, and knew not God; as we read that the mercy of the Lord did not depart from Solomon as it did from Saul; that is, his eternal, gracious, saving mercy did not depart from Solomon, notwithstanding his vile sin. Yet the Lord took judgment on his vile iniquity in a national point of view, and therefore, according to the word of the prophet, declares the kingdom shall be rent from him, because he had not kept the commandment of the Lord, as his father. David was a great sinner, perhaps a worse sinner than Solomon in certain points; but in the grand point David was not; therefore was called the man after God’s own heart. All David’s sins and failings might be called infirmities of the flesh, as compared with idolatry; for he clave to the Lord his God, and loved no other God.

Idolatry was the curse and ruin of the Jewish nation. What could the people expect who had set up a god in opposition to the very God that placed them in the land? It is impossible to be a true spiritual worshipper and deny and depart from God. In all his sin David never did this. He was zealous for the glory of the true God. He worshipped and believed in the true God. Solomon believed the same, but his practice denied it. He followed strange women, and built a house for idol gods; so that the land stank with their vile abominations and idolatry. The Lord, therefore, sends him a message that the kingdom should be rent from him. Nevertheless he would not rend it all, but keep the tribe of Judah for the sake of his father David. He would not cut off the nation in his day, but in the days of his son Rehoboam.

Time passes on; men forget the threatenings, judgments and denunciations of God against sin. The time arrives, the Lord executes his word. God is faithful to his mercy, to his promise, and to his kindness; but so also he is true to his threatenings and his judgments against sin. The time comes. Rehoboam is installed in his kingdom. He consults the old men, then the young ones. The old men gave him wholesome, the young foolish advice. The thing was of God, and led to the transition of the kingdom. Thus the providence of God brings the things about according to his word. The king followed the advice of his new counsellors who had no experience. Therefore the people turned away from him to Jeroboam, who had been a servant of Solomon, as the Lord had said he would give him ten tribes.

Now, you mark well, when the Lord announces his judgments, though he will be gracious and just to all his creatures, truly saving the souls of the redeemed, notwithstanding, if a man sin against him in a national point of view, he visits him with national judgments. According to his word, by the prophet, he sent to Jeroboam, who was king of the ten tribes. The prophet had told him of this before it came to pass; likewise, if he would keep the word of the Lord his God, and walk in his ways, the Lord would establish him in the kingdom, and bless him with his favour. The time at length arrived; all the before-mentioned circumstances took place. Jeroboam had the ten tribes. He took his stand in a place called Shechem, the northern part of Canaan. He reigned but a short time before he committed sin; yea, he fell into sin worse than Solomon. Now mark. As soon as the Lord had installed him in the kingdom, king of the ten tribes, he did so wickedly that the Lord declared for his sin he would not only cut him off but his whole house. As soon as he became king he committed five or six sins one after the other. You mark particularly what they were. First, he used carnal reason instead of consulting the Word of God. This is a great insult to the Almighty. Mark this sin of Jeroboam. The Lord sent him a message by his prophet, and told him what to do. Instead of listening to the prophet, considering the message, analysing every sentence, see how his mind turns about. Jerusalem was the place in which the Lord allowed his people to worship him. Jeroboam reasoned thus: “If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the king steal die hearts of this people; they will turn about and murder me.” The Lord had never said any such thing; but such is fallen nature, one sin begets another. Paul says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” People who are in the habit of lying tell one lie; then, being fearful it will be found out, tell another; and so they go on, till at last they tell many. Just so is sin. Whatever sin you commit, whatever kind it is we are left to commit, if the Lord does not rebuke us for it, we commit another, then a third, after that a fourth, and go on in the way of deceit and sin till the conscience is hardened. So it was with Jeroboam. He was not a man of grace; he knew nothing of the grace of God. Instead of being guided by the Word of God to do that which was right in obeying the Lord and not carnal reason, he says, “If I let the people go up 1 shall be ruined.” This led him to a second sin. He made two calves, two golden images, and set one in Bethel, at one end of the kingdom, and the other he put in Dan, at the other end, as gods for the people. Thus, having them at the extremities of the kingdom, he ensnared the people, and kept them from going up to worship at Jerusalem. They worshipped false gods, the very sin for which Solomon was told the kingdom would be rent from him. Without the grace of God, even with the judgment of God before their eyes, natural men go into sin. As Job says, “They drink up iniquity like water.”

This second sin leads to a third. After consulting carnal reason, making false gods, he builds a house in the high places. He had no right to build any house for God only at Jerusalem; for the Lord had said before that his house should be at Jerusalem, the temple in which Solomon prayed that when any man, who knew the plague of his own heart, looked toward this holy place, the Lord would hear him. But this man built the high places in Samaria, and drew the people’s hearts away from the temple, which was a type of Christ; thus committing the very thing the Lord commanded should not be.

A fourth sin. He made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not the sons of Levi. By the lowest of the people I do not mean poor people, for many of the tribe of Levi were very poor. They being appointed by the Lord to be priests, they had no inheritance, neither any part nor lot of land in Canaan. They were to live by the offerings of the people. They were appointed for God’s ministers, to offer sacrifices to the Lord. Jeroboam casts this behind his back, makes priests of any man who would come and offer himself. Let him be as vile as he chose, if he came and offered himself, and said he wished to be a priest, he made him one.

He commits another sin. Instead of the priests offering the sacrifice, which was to be done by them alone, he comes himself and offers sacrifice.

This leads to another sin. He changes the Day of Atonement. Instead of the tenth day of the seventh month, as the law of God commanded, out of his own heart he appointed the fifteenth day of the eighth month. To some this may appear very simple, that it was not of much consequence changing the month. Simple or not, the change was not according to the command of God, and therefore insulting to his blessed Majesty. There are many things in the New Testament that appear simple, and we may be indifferent whether we do the things or not; but it is not the things, but what the Lord has commanded. He in his wisdom has ordered such things to be done. If we neglect his ordinances, or change them, or alter his commands, it is as much as saying, “This is better; I know better than the Lord.” So Jeroboam set at nought the wisdom of God in his law, by changing the Day of Atonement.

Thus you see how one sin follows another. Let us look at the consequences. Friends, it becomes us to be spiritual in our worship and discipline; simple, spiritual and pure, so far as we are taught by the Lord, in all church matters, in all spiritual things; not heeding what people say, or what men do, but what saith the Lord. To the law and the testimony of the New Testament, for all matters pertaining thereto, for the faith and practice of all God’s children. But instead of this, such is the force of example, we see young persons following the practice of older ones, old ones following the practice of their forefathers, never once asking, “What is truth?” or “What is error?” But to the New Testament we must come; and it is our mercy that we have a book from which we can get instruction, in which are set before us the spiritual precious doctrines and truths of the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

After this Jeroboam’s house was cut off because of his manifold sins. Before this took place we see the Lord sent him a prophet to warn him. However wicked men are, the Lord does not cut them off by natural judgments without warning. It seems to be the mind and will of God in general, before he lets loose the rod, draws the sword, or strikes the blow, to give warning. But when a man’s heart is callous, and bent upon his own notions of wisdom and self-will, the judgments of hell or heaven will not warn him. Nothing will be a warning, unless the precious mercy of God steps in and plucks the man as a brand from the fire. So it was with this man in a literal sense. I am now speaking of natural things; for he was not a gracious man. The Lord sent a prophet to warn him of his sin. This faithful man came from Judah to Samaria, to Bethel, nearly a distance of eighty miles. Here he finds Jeroboam offering on the altar his abominations, in the very act of committing his sin, himself taking the priest’s office, offering to his golden gods. The mouth of the Lord’s prophet is opened. In the light and power of the Spirit he lifts up his voice like a trumpet to show unto Israel his sin. He tells King Jeroboam, in the face of all the people, that God would scatter his kingdom, and cut him and his house off for his wickedness. Here is the message of God to man. Does he receive it and fall under it? David said, “O Lord, cleanse me from blood guiltiness,” and Job said, “Behold, I am vile,” and others said, “I have sinned against him.” Did Jeroboam do this? No. Instead of receiving the prophet’s rebuke and denunciation against his sin, all the rage and passion of his evil nature rise within. He stretches forth his hand to lay hold of the man of God. The judgment of God has gone out against him. His arm is smitten with stiffness; he cannot draw it in again. Thus he was caught in his own snare. The prophet of God went on with his judgments against him, saying they should surely come to pass. On the altar upon which he was offering sacrifice, the son of another king should offer the bones of those priests who offered sacrifice upon it; and he gave a sign that the altar should be rent and the ashes upon it poured out. No sooner are the words out of his mouth, than the altar is rent in twain. The king, finding he is caught in his own snare, acts in the same spirit as Simon Magus when he offered Peter money, thinking the Spirit could be bought with money. Peter said, “Thy money perish with thee. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” And he said to Peter, “Pray ye to the Lord for me that none of the things that ye have spoken come upon me.” He could not pray for himself; he wanted the man of God to pray for him. Thus Jeroboam said to the prophet, “Pray to the Lord thy God.” He could not say, “The Lord my God,” but, “Pray to the Lord thy God that my hand may be restored,” that it may be healed. The prophet prayed to the Lord. He heard him, and, wicked as this man was, the Lord restored the use of his arm.

Thus the wicked will do wickedly. Say what you will, preach or write as you may, still he will do wickedly. Nothing but wickedness is in his heart. Though the Lord healed him, Jeroboam tried the prophet in various ways, just like Satan. First he uses violence, stretching forth his arm against the prophet, but is caught in his own snare. Then he comes another way, and tries to bribe him: “Come home with me and refresh thyself, and 1 will give thee a reward.” The man of God refuses to accept anything. The Lord told him to go direct to the altar and speak against the sins of the king, telling him what judgments would follow, and to return another way; also that he should neither eat nor drink in the land. He was not to go back the way he came.

Now mark the solemn judgment of God against his own true prophet, when not faithful and minding the Lord’s work. The man of God returns to go home. If you are in the way snares, gins, and traps are laid in every possible direction. Really you are not aware of the traps in this world. Snares amongst professors, snares amongst foes, snares amongst friends, and snares amongst worldly people. Though we may look at professors, yet if we look into our own heart we shall see worse than all put together. The danger in the snare is, it is such a subtle thing; it is hid; we see it not till we feel our feet therein. There would be no snare if it was before our eyes. “In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.” When a poacher wants to snare a hare, in setting the gin, it is so placed that the hare may leap or run into it; then he is caught fast. This is the devil’s way of trying to catch souls. He sets a trap; we do not see it till we are caught. Things are brought before the eyes of our mind. We think of them, do them, and some way or other it turns up to be a snare, wounds the soul, and brings us into trouble, guilt and darkness, feeling we have lost the comfortable presence of God and are got into barrenness. Above all, my friends, try to keep a watch against this, like a skilful warrior. The commander of an army, who exercises many skilful manoeuvres in order that he may deceive another army, if he can catch them off their guard, he comes upon them unawares and gains the advantage. So Satan eyes the people of God that he may find them off their guard. Our Lord did not say in vain, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation;” just as if the next step we took would be into temptation. It is one thing to be in temptation and another thing to be overcome by it. This brings distress on the soul. The prophet found it cost him his life. This shows the necessity of all the Lord’s people sticking fast by all the Lord’s testimonies, as far as in them lies. David says, “I have stuck unto thy testimonies,” not merely sticking to the written Word of God, but to other visitations and manifestations to our soul. Whatever the Lord teaches us, let us stick to these. A man who gets any testimony that he is a lost sinner, and a powerful testimony and conviction of the pardoning mercy and manifestation of love through the application of the blood of sprinkling, he will stick fast by these. Though he may be unable to find out deceivers in religion by quoting the Bible, because they will talk as fast as he, and probably out-talk him; though he may be unable to find them out this way, yet when he comes to the real work of grace as revealed in his conscience, here they will not agree with him.

But to return: when the king could not detain the prophet, a wicked prophet, a lying, conniving old vagabond of a prophet follows him, goes after him, overtakes him, and invites him back. The man of God said he would not return, for the Lord had commanded him neither to eat bread nor drink water in the place. The lying prophet said, “An angel appeared to me, and told me to bring thee back.” This looked very plausible. Perhaps any of us would have been entrapped. Paul said, “If an angel from heaven preach any other doctrine let him be accursed.” So the prophet should have said, “Though an angel from heaven told me to eat, the Lord commanded me not, and I cannot.” But he believed another man before the testimony of the Lord. This shows me the blessed testimony of revealed religion before all head knowledge. One text of God in the heart, one manifestation, one powerful sense of God’s love, one melting time in the soul, a sorrowful time, one sweet drop of pardoning love, coming with the powerful influence of the blessed Spirit, is of more worth than all the head knowledge that exists in the world. Let us stand last by this. But he believed the lying prophet, went back, and ate bread at his table. While eating bread, the Lord spoke to the lying prophet the same as to Balaam, and he told the prophet that because he had disobeyed the word of the Lord, his carcase should not come to the sepulchre of his fathers. As he said, so it came to pass. A lion met him and slew him by the way. I would rather be the dear man of God, though slain, than the lying prophet that deceived him.

Well, the judgments of God were fulfilled against Jeroboam. The Lord declared he would cut off both him and his house, that there should be neither man nor beast left; none should succeed him. His only hope was in his living child. He had fixed all his affections on him; had in his heart given him the kingdom. The little lad was called Abijah. He concluded now that the man of God was slain by the lion he could now live in the sin; because, to wicked men, it is a torment to have a faithful witness; they call them troublers in Israel. As soon as he heard of the death of the man of God, no doubt his language was, “There is an end of that fellow. His word will never come to pass, else he would not have been slain by the way.”

This shows that the Lord is no respecter of persons. I believe, though the lion destroyed his carcase, the roaring lion did not destroy his soul. It was for the destruction of his flesh that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. He was slain for a warning to us in these days. May the Lord give us grace to observe this, that though the true prophets of the Lord die, his word that goeth forth from his mouth shall never return to him void, but shall accomplish the end for which it was sent. It shall not prove false, though all the prophets die. The Lord liveth; therefore his word shall come to pass.

Little Abijah, upon whom all the king’s hopes were centred, on whom his heart was fixed, is to be taken away, not smitten on account of his own sins, or because he had committed any sin in particular, but was taken away as a judgment upon his parents. He was the only soul God loved in that house; yet he took him away. I do not say all children taken away at a tender age are a judgment upon their parents, though the Lord frequently visits wicked parents with his judgments, as it was with Jeroboam.

This king remembered there was an old prophet living somewhere, who had told him before he came to the kingdom that he should be king; and his heart having still some of the subtlety of the old serpent, he commanded his wife to go to this man of God, who lived at Shiloh, to take ten cakes and some other things, as it was customary to make presents to the prophets at the time they went to inquire of them. Jeroboam said to her, “Feign thyself to be another woman.” I have often thought of this. “Put on hypocrisy” (old Satan like). “Do not appear what you are; be really a thorough hypocrite.” The devil likes hypocrites. Hypocrisy is the real cast of the devil’s kingdom, the real bullion of Satan. “Feign thyself to be another woman.” Appear what you are not. So said the king to his wife. “Go as some poor woman. Put on old apparel and go to him with a present.” Though the devil may make hypocrites, and work hypocrisy in men and women, yet the Lord reveals the secrets of hypocrites to his servants.

A servant of God who is lately deceased knew well that some wickedness was carrying on in his congregation. It was the filthiest, the vilest, not fit to be named, or even hinted at in the pulpit. The Lord revealed it to him in a dream; he saw the men in his dream before his eyes. In the pulpit he pointed out the men in the pews. So convinced was one of his sin that he was obliged to confess it, to acknowledge his iniquity; and the Lord made it the means of his deliverance. Another went out of the place, and he became an Owenite. There is no darkness where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves. Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets to his servants the prophets. Just so with the old prophet of God to whom the king sent his wife. He was blind with age, sitting in his old seat. Most probably the wife of the king put on such disguise that she thought he would never see her. The Lord was not blind if the prophet was. The God of heaven saw the secrets of both their hearts, and revealed it to his servant, telling him the wife of Jeroboam was coming, and that she would feign herself another woman. As soon as she came to the door of the prophet’s house and opened it, he met her with this solemn message: “Come in, thou wife ofJeroboam. Why feignest thou thyself to be another? The Lord hath sent me with heavy tidings.” He told her the Lord would cut them all off because of their sin. The child should die as soon as her feet entered the city. No doubt she returned with a heavy heart; and as soon as she put her feet on the threshold of the door, the child died.

Therefore the word of the Lord came to pass; and this, you perceive, gave rise to the language of the text. It is a portion of the prophet’s words to this woman. He tells her, “Arise thou, therefore; get thee to thine own house, and when thy feet enter the city the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.”

“All Israel shall mourn for him.” This shall not be the case with thy husband, or any other of his house; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave.

In eastern countries persons of some standing in the city had their bodies embalmed. They were wrapped in several clothes prepared for the purpose. By this art their bodies were preserved for a long time. This accounts for the Egyptian mummies, some of which have been preserved three thousand years. The burial of persons of rank and station was performed with great ceremony; it was the highest mark of respect; but to cast a man’s body out in the fields, so that the fowls of the air hovered over the body and picked the flesh from the bones of the bloated carcase was a mark of ignominy and disgrace. The prophet told Jeroboam’s wife none should be buried, but their bodies should be thrown out as rotten carcases, except this boy. Why shall they mourn for him? “Because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel.” There was no good thing either in the heart ofJeroboam or his deceitful and hypocritical wife; no good thing in any of the house beside this boy. He shall be taken from the evil to come, and shall be buried honourably, and the people shall lament for him, because in the heart of him some good thing is found.

If you ask me what good thing we have in us by nature, my answer is, there is not a soul of us here tonight who has any good thing of his own. If any think he has a good thing in him, that by cultivating and watering it he can make it grow, and come to something worth, he is deceived. The devil is deceiving him, as the lying prophet deceived that man of God. That there is not any good thing in us by nature we have the testimony of a greater than you or I. The great Apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, after twenty-two years of bold, holy and righteous preaching, cries out, “O wretched man that I am!” Why, Paul? “For in me dwelleth no good thing; that is, in my flesh.” We come into this world nothing but flesh, and as it respects godliness, there is none in us. If we have any, if any one of us is favoured or blessed with a good thing in our heart, it is the gift of God. That good thing that delights the Lord God of Israel comes from him. To tell you how some men preach, and how they believe, I cannot make it out. They say that all men have a measure of grace, that all men have some good thing in their hearts. If they set to and watch it, like a hen hatches her eggs, then cultivate and bring it forth and feed it, they will have good things in their hearts. Whence they learned this I cannot tell, unless they got it from the writings of the Arminians. They never got it from the Word of God. The Lord in his Word tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Can you hatch any good thing out of the desperate wickedness of your heart? When we are told it is “only evil, and that continually,” can you get any good thing out of that? No, my friends. Be not deceived. In our nature, as it comes into the world, there is no good thing. We are only like a beast, and with a nature like a beast we come into the world. If there was no sin in us, there could be no death; it would be impossible for death to touch us. Say you, “Do you think if there was no sin there would be no pain? There was no sin in the Saviour. He was holy, harmless, and undefiled; yet he suffered.” That was so; but he was the substitute of sinners. He suffered for his people. He bare their sins in his own body on the tree, took upon him their pains, griefs, and cares; yet was without sin. If there was no sin, there would be no griefs nor sorrow; there would be neither pain of body nor pain of mind. All our members are affected thereby; so many members all crying out, “You are a sinner.” If, then, there is any good thing in us towards the Lord God of Israel, it is the Lord’s work; it has been given us by the Lord.

What, then, is this good thing? Grace in the heart is a good thing. It is a good thing for the heart to be established and rooted therein. “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace,” says Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Say you, “What is grace?” It is the unlimited, unfathomable, unbounded mercy of God. Its first step was electing love, and its last step is raising the body to a state of glory.

Let us endeavour, by the Lord’s help, to confine ourselves to a few particulars, a few appearances of grace, its experimental operations upon the soul. It is a very good thing for a man to repent of his sins, confess them, and forsake them. It is a good thing to have grace in the soul. It is a mark of divine love and interest in the atonement to have the righteousness of Christ; it is a mark of peace and the indwelling of the blessed Spirit. It is a good thing to confess and believe the truth; not a hypocritical confession; it is only a real feeling of confession which is acceptable to God.

Can you, with all your heart, turn back to any solemn moment of your soul, and say, “1 did indeed repent, and feel sorry and grieved for my vile sin? I really did confess it, with an open, feeling, honest heart, not merely because it was a sin, but because I felt it to be a sin against a holy and a good God?” Such confession is a mark of the Spirit dwelling in our heart, and it is a good thing towards the Lord God of Israel.

Repentance is a good thing; but what is repentance? Persons often talk about it, and it is in some like a man handling hot cinders, just turning them over and throwing them away; but with the Lord’s people, like a man handling or looking into a watch, not merely taking it, looking on the outside, and then feeling satisfied he knows all about it; but like a watchmaker, taking it all to pieces, examining all the works, looking at the wheels, pinions, chain, and spring. How he sees that all the wheels harmonize, one working into another, the whole set in motion by the main spring. So the child of God. He wants to know all about his religion, his repentance, his faith, hope, and love. Under the teaching, unctuous, powerful divine teaching of the blessed Spirit, he experiences a change of feelings. He marks what is the change wrought in him, a change of thought and action. Though while in it he mourns, and can make nothing of it, yet when the Lord gives the man true repentance, he views his thoughts and actions, and sees they are not what they once were; and though they may not be what he desires them, still he is not what he once was. He was once blind; now he sees something. He was once unable to see how vile he was. Once he was such a wicked sinner he drank in iniquity like water. He dare not now do those things in which he once delighted though sin follows him; he repents, feeling a godly grief over committing sin. He may not now be so much afraid of going to hell, though this feeling the Lord’s people have in their first convictions, but as they advance farther in the divine life, they grieve and repent over their sin. They see that it is that hateful vile thing that is so abominable and insulting to God. The man hates sin on account of its nature. Oftimes he hates himself for loving sin. “What?” say you, “love sin? What? Do the children of God love sin?” Yes God’s people have in them something that loves sin. Now mind what I say. I do not mean to declare that they love it with their heart, soul and strength of mind, because they have also something in them that hates it with a perfect hatred. It is the flesh in the spiritual man that goes after sin. Paul says it is the flesh that serves the law of sin. This causes the man to hate himself and, hating himself, he confesses his sin. The man who repents with a godly sorrow, with tears and grief in his heart, confesses aright: “Against thee only (or chiefly) have 1 sinned.” He does not, as Saul, repent with a natural repentance, and want to be honoured before the people; but as a man who has broken the laws of his country, who confesses his sin, and is willing to make satisfaction or restitution.

When the Lord is about to deliver his people, he pours into their heart sweet confessions, and godly contrition for their sin. What they feel within they are willing to confess, not like a man who is driven to give a cold reluctant assent to a confession of his guilt. No, no; but he is ready before the church of God to give a free confession, and says, “Lord, 1 am a vile sinner.” As soon as the poor soul is brought here, depend upon it, mercy and blessing to that man’s soul are not far off. When the Lord brings him there, the Lord has sweet mercy in reserve for him, sweet honeycomb in reserve.

When Daniel met with the book of Jeremiah, he found the deliverance of the Jews from captivity was nearer than he expected. He found by computation the time nearly up. He found the cause of their captivity, what they had done, and how they had sinned. He closes the book, throws himself on his face before the Lord, confesses his sins, and cries to the Lord to bring them back. The Lord heard his cry and brought them back. This is the way the Lord deals with his people when confessing their sins, the same as the father to the poor prodigal. As soon as he began confessing his sins, the father fell on his neck, kissed him, ordered his servants to take away his rags, to bring the best robe, and slay the fatted calf; thus feeding him with choice food, and having music and dancing, thus he stopped his confession half way, as it were. So it is with many of the Lord’s people. They come with a full heart and think they will tell the Lord such a tale, confess so much, and do so and so. But sometimes the Lord meets them at the very threshold before they get it half out; meets them with mercy, kills them with love; so that they cry out, “His mercy indeed endureth for ever.” Is it not a good thing, then, for a man to be favoured with a repenting and confessing heart? Young Abijah had this.

Again, the fear of the Lord is a good thing; it is “health to a man’s bones.” “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” It often checks us when tempted to sin. We cry out, “How can we do this wicked thing and sin against God?” So that we are stopped and do it not. Sometimes the temptation is too strong; sometimes we cry not till we are foiled; and sometimes the power of the temptation overcomes us. This horrid state shows the power of temptation, and what a state the soul is in, that none but the Lord would bear with it. The Lord raises up such poor souls, and forgives their abominations; not for their sakes, but for his own name’s sake, for the sake of the blood and righteousness of his dear Son. For the sake of his doing, dying and rising, he forgives these abominations; but though the Lord forgives them, they cannot forgive themselves. Their hearts are melted, their souls are filled with love and gratitude to God, and they are obliged to confess they are but as a beast before him.

“Oh,” says the poor soul, “the devil never sinned as 1 have. He never had grace, light, love, or pardon vouchsafed to him; yet I have sinned against my gracious God. I must say with one of old, ‘I was as a beast before thee.’” The fear of the Lord in the heart, and the grace of God in exercise, when we are tempted to do evil, will make us say with one of old, which lately struck me very sweetly: when a tax was laid on the people which Nehemiah considered an unjust one, though the king allowed it, and men had authority to demand it, he said, “So did not I because of the fear of the Lord.” He would have taken the tax but the fear of the Lord kept him from acting unjustly. So many times the people of God are checked by this fear.

The faith of God’s elect is a good thing: “repentance before God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” Bur let me tell you, faith stands in the power of God. This is a mystery; but I believe the life of faith stands in the love of God. Faith is the life of our spirit, and the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot believe savingly without the life of the Spirit in the soul. Thus faith acts in and keeps alive the soul. The Lord gives it, maintains and supports it. This faith works by love. God gives faith, and sometimes supplies it with sweet intimations of his love: a love token, a smile on the conscience, speaking home some cordial which gives life to the vital part. The words come with power, with a spirit of faith and prayer, by love, by knowledge. By the love of the Father the soul is established, and the man rejoices in God his Saviour. When Mary said, “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour,” that was the Spirit of God working faith in her heart.

Have you never read of Gideon, what he did by faith? It was once shown to me in a very beautiful manner, in reading the Epistle to the Hebrews. I was like a little child, asking if I had any faith. Compared with these worthies, mine appeared as nothing till I came to Gideon. Then what did he do? He blew a trumpet when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. Here I saw the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him, and working faith in his heart. By the spirit and operation of faith he went forth and blew this trumpet. It was God’s trumpet and the Lord’s battle. By the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him, faith struck up, faith went out. There can be no faith going up without the Spirit coming down. Here hope, joy, gladness, and every such experience goes up. Then faith is a good thing. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Without faith we cannot be saved. The people of God know this, and, at times, would give all they possess if they could be certain they had one grain of faith.

Genuine faith will remove mountains. The people of God therefore often say, “Lord, tell me, do I love thee? Have 1 real saving faith?” They look for faith, and pray for faith. Sometimes, in reading the Bible, and in confessions, in troubles of business, troubles in his family, or affliction in his soul, a peculiar light falls upon the Word. Particular sweetness comes with it that seems to melt his soul and break his heart, so that he is able to take comfort thereupon, and believe the very words. That is one part of faith. He is enabled to take and hold the words fast as being the very words of the living God. He believes what the Lord speaks. His heart and soul say, “Lord, it is true.” A poor sinner, mourning on account of his sin, his sins of omission and commission, sometimes tries to reckon them all up, and says, “Lord, I have sinned, greatly sinned.” He comes to this Scripture: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away.” The moment he sees this he feels it to be his own case. He feels disconsolate, and full of grief, sorrow, and sadness. He feels he is the very man; and in this he has the full assurance of faith. Sometimes he feels a crying, a calling on God. He reads the words in Joel: “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” He feels the witness in his heart that he is under the blessing, that he is calling on God; and here again he has the assurance of faith. Thus faith persuades him. All the promises come sweetly flowing into his soul, and are as a lamp to his feet, and a light to his path. All his doubts and fears flee away. This comes with such heavenly unction that his heart is melted and overpowered. He feels bathed and baptised in love and blood, glory and mercy. He feels his heart taken possession of by the Lord.

Is not, then, this precious faith in the heart a good thing toward the Lord God of Israel?

Another good thing I must just tell you is the love of God. Hope in the heart of eternal immortal glory is a good thing. Gratitude to God is a good thing. Praise is a good thing. “They shall show forth thy praise.” It is a good thing to offer praises and sacrifices of thanksgiving. It is a good thing to be found in every good work.

There are other good things, but time will not allow me to enumerate them. If we can trace any of these, though we may not be able to trace them all, the Lord will bury us honourably. I am sure, friends, if the Lord condescends to bury me, they may cast my body to the winds. It the Lord buries my soul in himself, though my body may be cast to the four winds, he will watch over it, and at the last day raise it up a glorious body. No more groaning, no pain as here, which admonishes us he is taking down our tabernacle pin after pin. Then it is solemn work. At last he will take down the covering, and then raise it up a tabernacle that shall never be taken down; raised “like unto his glorious body.” No more cares, or grief, or pains, because of living in this pestilence. No; sorrow and sighing shall flee away. We shall live in gladness, possess the light of his countenance, the love of his heart, celestial blessings, and immortal glories, and be in possession of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, because there is found in our heart some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel.

May he bless the few hints, for his name’s sake. Amen.

John M’Kenzie (?-1849) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He was appointed the Pastor of a few churches and enjoyed a blessed itinerate ministry. He served as joint Editor of the Gospel Standard Magazine between the years 1840-1849.

John M'Kenzie Sermons