Thomas Chalmers

Lectures on Romans
ROMANS, viii, 31, 32.

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

FOR us all. The apostle may perhaps be confining his regards in this clause to himself and to his converts, to those of whom he had this evidence that they were the elect of God - even that the gospel had come to them with power and with the Holy Ghost and with much assurance. But, notwithstanding this, we have the authority of other passages for the comfortable truth, that Christ tasted death for every man - and so every man, who hears of the expiation rendered by this death, hath a warrant to rejoice therein; and that He is set forth a propitiation for the sins of the world - and so it is competent for every one in the world, to look unto this propitiation and be at peace; and that He gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time - and so might each of you who hears this testimony, embrace it for himself, and feel the whole charm of his deliverance from guilt and from all its consequences.

Christ did not so die for all, as that all do actually receive the gift of salvation. But He so died for all, as that all to whom He is preached have the real and honest offer of salvation. He is not yours in possession, till you have laid hold of Him by faith. But he is yours in offer. He is as much yours, as any thing of which you can say I have it for the taking. You, one and all of you, my brethren, have salvation for the taking; and it is because you do not choose to take it, if it do not indeed belong to you. It is because you have treated it as the worthless thing that you trample under your feet, and will not stoop to seize upon. Or it is because, ere you appropriated it, you would break it into fragments, and either choose or reject of these fragments at your pleasure.. All of you are welcome even now to salvation, if you are only willing for a whole salvation. I can promise nothing, nor can I hold out encouragement, to the man who would grasp at the offered immunity from punishment, but would nauseate the medicine that purifies and heals him - who would cling with all his might to the pardon of the gospel, but would decline its expedients for his sanctification - who can listen, with a charmed ear to the report that is brought to him of the Sacrifice, but shrinks from that great moral revolution of taste and affection and habit that is wrought in every believer by the Spirit. Your mincing and mutilating of the testimony of God will do nothing for you; but your entire faith in. His entire testimony will do every thing. And give me the man, who is desirous of a full rescue both from sin in its condemnation and sin in its hateful ascendancy over him - give me the man as ready to flee from the present worldliness, as to flee from the coming wrath - give me the man who is earnestly set, both on repentance from his sins, and the remission of his sins - And all the treasures of the gospel are open to him. He may come, even now, and share in all the spoils that have been won by the Captain of our salvation. The everlasting righteousness that Christ hath brought in may even now, be to him an investiture of glory. The Holy Ghost, which is the promise of the Father, may even now descend abundantly upon his prayers. The gospel makes no man an outcast, though many is the man who makes an outcast of himself. And so to prevail upon them, as that they might move forward - so to make plain the gospel overture, as that each may put in for his share of its purchased and proclaimed amnesty - so to manifest the way that leadeth unto the fountain opened in the house of Judah for sin, and for uncleanness, as a way that is patent and accessible to every man - so to vindicate the unexcepted goodness of God unto each, as that each may feel himself led thereby unto repentance - For this we have a host of testimonies in the Bible; ana not the least impressive of these is, that God spared not His own Son but delivered Him unto the death for us all.

You know how constantly I have been in the habit of urging this representation upon you, at every returning sacrament - how, in the first instance I have laboured to impress upon every hesitating spirit the perfect freeness of the gospel invitation - how I have attempted to demonstrate in your hearing, that access to this feast is regulated on the very same principle, with access to Him who is the Master of the feast - how even he who, up to this moment has been the chief of sinners, might draw as confidently nigh as when he maketh his first approach unto the Saviour - how there is no barrier of exclusion around this ordinance, which the Founder of the ordinance did not throw around His own person, or around His own office as the High Priest and the Mediator between God and man; and thus have I never felt any restraint in applying to this great festival those precious calls, first of a prophet, and then of an apostle: “Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."

This free invitation of the Old Testament is re-echoed by the New: “And the Spirit and the Bride say come, and let him that heareth say come, and let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." It is thus that I should like to overbear the scruples of the fearful. It is thus that I would divest the communion of that certain air of repulsiveness, in which it stands forth to many a superstitious imagination. It is thus that I would have you to regard it in its true character as a feast of welcome and of good will, from which no past transgression, if repented of and turned from, was ever meant to exclude even those, who, in the darkness of other days, were the most abandoned of our species - And, even now, though smarting under the recency of some sore and melancholy fall - though all trembling and abashed, at some fresh discovery of your weakness - though humbled to the very dust, because of the temptation that assailed and overcame you; and under the mortifying sense of which your memory still is agonlsed, and all the faculties of your soul are in a wild uproar of turbulence and disorder - Even in these circumstances of apparent desperation, if the sinner can only lift up his eyes to the mercy-seat, then may he move his footsteps to that table on which its emblems and its memorials are laid. The heart that can rise in humble and holy confidence to the Saviour, should ever be accompanied with the hand that can stretch itself out to the symbols of His death; and often, have we reason to beheve in the history of our church, often has the appointed use of these been felt as a precious restorative to the broken spirit - often have the weary and heavy-laden penitent risen from the festival, with a reanimated vigour for making good the distance that he has lost, with all the energy of a man refreshed, for the toils of new obedience.

And you further know, how this latitude of invitation to the sacrament can be made to harmonize with the pure and holy character of this ordinance. Just in the very way that the gospel is at one and the same time, both a doctrine of free grace and a doctrine according to godliness. The past iniquities that have taken place in your history form no barrier in the way of your approach to these tables; the purposed iniquities that have now place in your heart, these are what ought to form an invincible barxier. In coming here, yours must be the very state and the very preparation that are indispensable to every sinner on his coming unto Christ. He is freely invited; but with the same breath of utterance he is told that he must forsake all. He has his salvation for the taking; but he is not at liberty to divide it into parts, and to accommodate his own taste by the selection of one, by the refusal of another. He must give himself over wholly to Christ; and be as willing to make use of Him as the Lord his strength, as to confide in Him as the Lord his righteousness. This must characterise his first movement to the gospel; and this must characterise his first and all his following movements to the table of the sacrament. The bread and the wine that he receives there, must be viewed by him, not merely as the symbols of that sacrifice by which he is reconciled, but also as the symbols of that spiritual nourishment by which he is renewed. And he partaketh unworthily, he eateth and he drinketh judgment unto himself - if to the peace of a redeemed creature, he do not add now the firm purpose, and do not experience afterwards the heaven-bestowed power, of a sanctified creature.

You will now perceive then, what the principle is, on which all our debarments from the table of the Lord do turn. It is not on the magnitude or the number of your past offences - for the guilt of these, that blood of which the wine of the table is the memorial, can wholly cleanse away.. It is not even on the weakness of your present energies - for that nourishment from above, of which both the bread and the wine are the symbols, can wholly in vigorate and restore them. But it is the duplicity of a heart, that wavers between its own will and the will of God. It is the want of a thorough-going devotedness to Him who died for you and who rose again. It is a vice not in the performance, for who is there that cometh not short of the pure and the perfect commandment? Far more radical than this, it is a vice in the purpose. It is such a vice in the feelings and inclinations of the inner man, as met the discerning eye of the apostle, when he looked upon Simon Magus, and could perceive in him a heart not right with God. The compromise that he wanted to strike was between godliness and gain; and, in like manner, if you have not the singleness of aim and the singleness of desire - if you would partition the matter between the service of the one master and the service of the other - if you cleave not fully unto the Lord, and are not resolved to be His only and His altogether - You partake unworthily - you add the guilt of hypocrisy to the guilt of your ordinary transgressions - you do what is decent and creditable, it is true, in the eyes of the world; but you do it at the heavy expense of an insult to Him who made the world, of a solemn mockery in the face of Heaven. Beware of thus aggravating your guilt and your danger - "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double-minded."

You may remember that precious verse of our great apostle - " For if when we were sinners we were reconciled by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by his life." There is a close analogy between the sentiment here, and that in our text of the day - He who spared not his own Son but delivered him up to the death for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? This, my brethren, is the great hold, the great security, if I may so speak, which a believer has upon God. He hath a pledge in his hand already, that to him is the warrant or the guarantee of the very largest fulfilments. He hath accepted of Christ, and, having Him in sure possession - and the stronger his faith the surer that possession is - he cannot doubt that with Him he shall receive all things necessary to life and to godliness. God who hath bestowed upon him the greater gift, will not withhold from him the less. He who for his sake put the soul of His well-beloved Son to grief, will not fail, now that the grief is past and the glory of an exalted mediatorship is entered upon - . will not fail to illustrate that glory the more, by the bright accomplishments and virtues of all His disciples. He who gave up Christ unto the sacrifice, will not fail through Christ to give out His Spirit unto the sanctification of all who are redeemed by it. God made a painful surrender, when He consented to the humiliation and death of our Saviour. But now that the Saviour hath arisen - now that the bitterness of the deep expiation is past - now that the toil, and the conflict, and the agony are all over - now that the sore obstruction is moved away, and, through the open portal of a reconciliation that Christ travailed in the greatness of His strength for the purpose of achieving, there is a free and unimpeded channel, through which the mercy of God might descend in fullest exuberance on the guiltiest of us all - Now we have every reason for building ourselves up on the assurance, that He will uphold nothing which can make either for our grace in time, or our glory in eternity.

After so wondrous a demonstration of His love, the believer hath nothing to fear. He is on high vantage-ground. He sees in the mission of Christ to our world, a token and an evidence of friendly regard, that already overpasses his largest expectations. He rejoices in the secure and the wealthy place that he now occupies, under the covering of the ample mediatorship; and when he thinks of the pledge which hath been already given, he delights himself in the abundance of hope - and peace fioweth through his breast like a mighty river.

It is thus that I would have you to arise from these tables, refreshed and reassured by all that you have seen and tasted and handled here of the Word of life. In eating the bread, and in drinking the wine, you have at least received the symbols of the body that was broken, and of the blood that was shed for you; and if there have been a correspondence between the heart and the hand in this solemn transaction, you have really and substantially received the atonement. Christ is yours, and ye are Christ's. The act of reconciliation between you and your offended Lawgiver has been struck; and you may descend from the mount of ordinances with this song of triumph - He hath given His own Son, and how is it possible that He will not with Him freely give us all things?

This is the very reflection by which I would have you to be sustained and comforted under a fear that might naturally enter your hearts, when you look onward to the pilgrimage that is before you. The fear is lest you fail by the way; lest you should again be surprised, and again be overtaken; lest sin and Satan should have some fresh advantage over you; and, in the darkness of a troubled spirit, you should lose the light of the divine countenance, and be cast aback, as it were, on that world from which you had emerged, and a fellowship with which is death. The main anxiety of a truly christianised heart is for its own integrity. Its breathings are after perfect love and perfect holiness. Its most sensitive dread is of moral evil. Its most cherished desire is spiritual excellence. Of the all things which are promised unto the believer, this is the thing which it is most intently set upon. That which Christ signalised above every other privilege by calling it the promise of the Father, that is the promise which every worthy communicant is most in earnest to realise - the Spirit given to all who trust in the Saviour - the Spirit that helpeth all infirmities, and strengthens with all might in the inner man - the Spirit that ever acts as the powerful though unseen auxiliary of the faithful, amid the heat and the hurry and the fierce onsets of the Christian warfare - the Spirit that, even among the familiarities of your daily path and the hourly occasions of your business, operates with real though invisible agency in the secret chambers of thought - He who writes the law of God upon your heart; and is ever ready, if He only be prayed and watched for, is ever ready, with His suggestions of wisdom and of moral energy and even of scriptural admonitions wherewith to meet and to conquer the temptations of the cruel adversary - This is the gift that, now that he hath had his confident hold on the gift of the Saviour, every true Christian most earnestly covets, and whereof he is most insatiable. The gift of the Spirit is that for which he now wrestles in supplication with his God.

Like the law which it imprints on his renovated heart, it is more desired by him than gold, yea than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Now this is what I would propose as your defence, and your main stay, against the melancholy shipwreck of those who return unto the pollutions of the world, are again entangled therein, and at length fall away. It is the Spirit who keeps all who look for Him from this awful catastrophe. This living water descendeth, not upon the heart in one wholesale ministration; but, like your daily nourishment, it is dealt to you in occasional supphes. It is grace to help you in the time of need, and therefore bestowed upon you as you need it. It is distributed in season, and so as to suit the ever-recurring necessities of the soul. You are therefore not to count upon an inherent stock of grace. You are at all times to go as at the first, on the footing of a wholly void and vacant and unfurnished creature; and it is when you go thus, that the promise is verified of “open thy mouth and I will fill it." “The height of creature-perfection" says an eminent divine “hes in the constant habit of bringing our own emptiness to Christ's fulness." You are not to presume on the store of your accumulated energies; you are not to presume on your acquired habits; you are not to shift your confidence from the emanating fountain to that stream which, if not momently fed and upholden therefrom, would soon fleet away, and leave nought but a dry and rocky and unfruitful strand behind it. Your eye must be ever towards that fountain, whence all the supply cometh. You may be grateful and glad, because of the glories of the ascending superstructure. But you do not lean on the superstructure, you lean on the foundation. And so it is, that 1 would have you at all times to have no confidence in yourselves, but to rejoice in the Lord Jesus - to fetch from Him all those influences by which you are enabled from one hour to another, to serve God in the spirit - ever to be intermingling your aspirations with your efforts, your prayers with your practice; striving mightily, yet supplicating constantly; fervent in spirit while not slothful in business: And be assured that it is on the basis of profoundest humility, that the noblest elevations of Christian worth and excellence are reared.

That process by which the prayer of faith and the performance of familiar duty are made thus to reciprocate the one with the other, goeth on among the recesses and the intricacies of experimental religion. It forms the main spring and aliment of that life, which is hid with Christ in God. He who verifies this process in his own heart, realises fellowship with the Father and with the Son. The secret of the Lord is with him; and in the busy chambers of the inner man, there is a joy that the world knoweth not, and a spiritual mechanism at work which the world cannot comprehend: But though they see not the working of the mechanism, they may both see and admire the produce of that working - even as we might have our eye regaled by the beauty of a pattern, though you have not an understanding for the complex machinery by which it is inlaid. Even so it is that the eye of nature, cannot apprehend what that is which hath wrought the true and the lovely and the honourable on the groundwork of your character - yet each one of these features, and many more, can be discerned by the men who are without, and call forth an applauding testimony from them all. And be it your care, that your light so shine before men, that they, who see nought but mysticism in your orthodoxy, and in your high communions with God, and in your life of faith upon His Son, and in your habitual fellowship with His Spirit - that they, utterly in the dark about the secret principles of your character, may at least be compelled to render homage to the visible exhibitions of it. it is thus, my brethren, that Christ is magnified in your body.

It is thus that His doctrine is adorned; and that your souls become a living epistle, read and acknowledged not merely by your fellow-saints, but read and seen of all men. They cannot understand the high and the hidden walk of godliness. But they can understand your common honesty. They can understand your every-day usefulness. They can understand the courtesy of your manners. They can understand your patience under injuries, and the noble sacrifices that you make in the cause of humanity. They can understand all the duties of that varied relationship, which you hold with your fellow-men. They know the distinction between a good and a bad parent, between a kind and a quarrelsome neighbour, between a dutiful and a disobedient son, between a profitable and a pernicious member of society. Make it clear to them as day then, that your Christianity which is a religion of faith is also a religion of virtue - that all the fit and graceful moralities of life follow in its train - and that, while it assimilates to the angels who are above, it scatters beauties and blessings innumerable over the face of society in this lower world. Strive thus to recommend to others the gospel which you profess. Strive mightily according to the grace of God that is given to your prayers, and that worketh in you mightily.

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