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(caption title) A Refuge from the Storm
Evangelical Tract Society
Evangelical Tract Society (Petersburg, Va.) (Series) ; No. 131.
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EVANGELICAL TRACT SOCIETY,
1. Because he is a sinner. This is the charge which the Scriptures bring against the human race: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; there is none righteous, no, not one. Rom. iii: 10--23. This sad truth is written on every page of human history, on every statute book of every nation, in the records of every court of justice, and it is confirmed by every man's experience and observation. To prove the universality and totality of human depravity is as complete a work of supererogation as it is to prove that a globe is round, or that a triangle is three-sided figure, or that a square has four sides! We know that we are sinners; that we have often done violence to our own sense of right and wrong; that we have transgressed the law of God and exposed ourselves to his displeasure. No man need go out of himself for proof of his fallen condition. He has it in his own heart and life; and if he question this testimony, let him open the Scriptures, and there he will find the proof of his sinfulness written so plainly that he can neither doubt nor deny it; or should he attempt the denial, the proof is so clear and strong against him, that the very attempt is the fullest demonstration of the desperate wickedness of his heart. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Rom. v: 12--19. Man is a sinner; and he is exposed because he is a sinner.
2. And also because God is holy, just and true. God is holy and hates sin; he is just, and will punish it; he is true, and will perform all that he has threatened. Sin is repugnant to his nature: it is the abominable thing that
he hates. Jer. xliv: 4. He can never love it; can never overlook it; can never forgive it, except in that way which his infinite wisdom has devised. His hatred of sin he must and will express. He did express it in the sufferings of Christ our Substitute; and he will express it in the sufferings of the sinner who avails not himself of the Substitute which has been provided. Because the divine character is what it is, the sinner is in danger. Blot out, if you please, every threatening in the Bible; and what does the sinner gain? So long as God is unchanged, so long is he exposed to God's anger. Put together the holy nature of God and the unholy nature of man, and what concord is there between them? While both remained unchanged, what hope is there that man can ever enjoy the presence of God? And think of God's justice, which leads him to punish sin because it is sin, because it deserves punishment; and while God remains just, how can the sinner hope for safety? No; there is no safety, and no escape, to the finally impenitent. While God is holy, just, and true, and man remains what he is by nature and practice, a sinner, there is a threatening storm which may well excite his fears. Be the Bible true or false, it matters not as to this point: the contrariety of man's nature to that of God exposes him to endless misery!
3. Hence the storm is dreadful. It is nothing less that the wrath of God--the expression of the infinite aversion of his nature to that which is unholy. We sometimes see this expression in this world--in the judgments which have fallen upon nations, the chastisements inflicted upon individuals, the calamities which have distressed the world, and in the remorse of conscience which has overtaken some daring transgressors. But the most striking expression of God's anger against sin which the earth has ever seen, was in the agonizing death of the Saviour of sinners. He did no sin; he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; yet he was treated as a sinner, made sin for us, because our sins were laid on him; he bare our sins in his own body on the tree--endured their punishment--and so was made a curse for us. 1 Pet. ii:
22--24. Heb. vii: 26. 2 Cor. V. 21. Isa. liii: 5, 6. Gal. iii: 13. And if these things were done in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? Luke xxiii: 31. If he who did no sin, but only had our sins laid on him, thus suffered, what must the sinner himself suffer, dying unforgiven? If such are the expressions of God's anger against sin in this world, what must be its expression in the world to come, where there is nothing to modify or alleviate it? In what manner the anger of God shall be expressed, we may not be able exactly to determine; nor is it necessary that we should know. The most terrific descriptions of it are given in the Bible. It is a fire, a whirlwind, a tempest, every thing that is dreadful; and if such are the figures by which it is described, what must be the reality?
4. And the storm is eternal. The storm of forty days and forty nights which drowned the old world was long indeed, but it had an end; and in the dispersing clouds was seen the low of promise that the earth should no more be destroyed by a flood. There have been long storms since, but none without an end. Some have been dreadful while they lasted; but their end, when the sun again appeared in the heavens, or the moon and the stars were seen, has filled the hearts of men with joy. But that storm to which the wicked are exposed, shall have no end. Its clouds shall never be dispersed; no bow of promise will ever appear to the tempest-driven souls who experience its merciless peltings; no sun to them will ever rise and shine; no moon, no stars appear. That storm will ever be gathering blackness; it will ever be increasing in fury. No traveler will there ever enquire, Watchman, what of the night? No watchman will ever respond, The morning cometh. Isa. xxi: 11, 12. To that night there will be no morning; to that storm there will be no termination. An eternal storm--the wrath of God for ever inflicted-- the curse of the law for ever enduring--for these shall go away into everlasting punishment--the wrath of God abideth upon them--they shall not see life--eternal death! Matt. xxv: 46. John iii: 36. Rom. vi: 23. Oh, whose heart does not melt within him at the thought of his exposure
to such a doom? Yet this is just the exposure of every impenitent man!
5. For this storm is sure to come, and it is even now impending. The threatening clouds will not disperse; the gathering gloom will not vanish away. God changes not; his word is sure; his nature is immutable. The holiness of his character, as well as his justice and truth, renders the overthrow of the wicked certain. They may flee to their refuges; they may explain away the threatenings of the Bible; yet, while God remains what he is, and they remain what they are, there is no heaven for them-- they and Jehovah cannot live in the same heaven--eternal banishment from God awaits them--a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. Heb. x: 27. 2 Thess. i: 8, 9. They are already condemned. John iii: 18. They are as near to perdition as they are to death. Vengeance is approaching as rapidly as life itself is passing away. Their judgment lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Pet. ii: 3. The gathering storm is hastening on; the rumbling of the distant thunder is heard; the lightnings are flashing athwart the darkness; the rising winds are impelling onwards the thickening tempest; and every moment the storm may burst with all its fury upon the sinner's unprotected head. Oh, sinner, look around you! Where are you? What horrors hang over you! What dangers impend? Is it not time to look for a shelter? Time to enquire for a place of safety? Does not prudence dictate that you should be looking for a refuge from the storm? And is there a refuge? Yes--
1. He came into the world for this very purpose. He was foretold as a Saviour; and he came to seek and to save the lost, to save from sin and from wrath. Isa. ix: 6. Matt. i: 21, and xx: 28. Luke xix:10. 1 Thess. i: 10. He was prefigured by the cities of refuge among the Jews;
and he is spoken of by the prophet Isaiah as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest. Isa. xxxii: 2. When he appeared on earth, it was said to the shepherds, I bring you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord. Luke ii: 10, 11. Jesus Christ came not merely to set an example of obedience to the divine law; nor did he die merely to attest by his death the truth which he had taught and honoured by his life: he came to obey and die as the Substitute of sinners; to redeem men from their exposure to wrath; to reconcile them to God by his death; to be a refuge from the storm. For this he came; and for this he died, the just for the unjust. Gal. iii: 13. Heb. ii: 14--18. 1 Pet. ii: 21-- 24, and iii: 18.
2. Jesus Christ is a refuge adapted to our wants and necessities. His person, character, and offices, are just such as fit him for the work which he has undertaken. All our wants may find in him a full supply, and our necessities are not only met but exceeded. We need a divine Redeemer; and at the same time one who, by the possession of our nature, can sympathize with us in our temptations and trials; and such an one is Jesus Christ, the God-man. 1 Tim. iii: 16. We need a Redeemer who can be, at the same time, a Prophet, a Priest, and a King; and such an one is Jesus Christ, for he sustains all these offices, and by them is able to cure our "threefold misery, ignorance, guilt and bondage." We need a Redeemer who can complete the work which he undertook; and such an one is Jesus Christ, for he said, ere he expired, It is finished, and when he ascended he led captivity captive, and he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. John xix: 30. Eph. iv: 8. Heb. vii: 25. Are we sinners? Jesus can save us from our sins, for he has borne their punishment in our stead. Are we exposed? Jesus can rescue us from our exposure, for he has satisfied the claims of justice and been made a curse for us. The storm has fallen on him, that we might be shielded from it: he has survived the storm, and lives to be the refuge
of those who will flee to him for safety. Just what we need, and all we need, we shall find in Jesus Christ. There is not a want in our natures nor in our circumstances, which is not met by his all-sufficiency by his wonderful adaptation to our wants and necessities.
3. And Jesus Christ is an accessible refuge. He is not one that is unapproachable; one to whom no access can be gained; but a refuge which every eye can see, and to which every soul may fly. Jesus Christ is accessible because he is divine. He is in every place; and wherever we may seek him, there he is found. He is accessible because he possesses our nature, and can sympathize with us in all our anxieties, hopes, and fears. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; he knows how to pity and how to help. Heb. ii: 17, 18, an iv: 14--16. He is accessible because he is willing to save. Of this he has given evidence in all that he has done to redeem us. His body broken and his blood shed for the remission of sins, are a demonstration of his willingness to save. Matt. xxvi: 26--30. The same truth is taught in his gracious invitations. Isa. xlv: 22. He invites the sinner to flee to him for refuge; and he declares that he will not cast out him that that cometh. Matt. xi: 28--30. John vi: 37. Yes sinner, an accessible refuge is placed before you-- a refuge which invites your entrance--and which holds out every inducement for you to enter. Oh enter in, ere the door of hope be closed forever!
4. Jesus Christ is an eternal and all-sufficient refuge. He is from everlasting to everlasting, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Micah v: 2. Heb. xiii: 8. He can protect all who flee to him, for he is God all-sufficient. 2 Cor. iii: 4, 5. There are refuges which are perishable; but this is an imperishable refuge. It will endure when time is no more, for Jesus ever liveth. Heb. vii: 25.
5. And he is a safe refuge. Safe, because he is mighty to save--because his atonement is sufficient--because his righteousness is perfect-- because his Spirit is Almighty; a safe refuge, because his word of promise is sure --because
his blood cleanses from all sin--because his intercession is prevalent. The Father heareth him always; and Jesus will never leave nor forsake them who confide in him. They who take shelter in Jesus Christ shall never be destroyed. Nor storm of wrath shall fall on them; they shall never perish. Isa. lxiii: 1. Heb. vi: 17-- 20. 1 John i: 7. Heb. xiii: 5. John x: 27--30.
There, safe they shall abide,
There, sweet shall be their rest,
And every longing satisfied,
With full salvation blest.
Such is the refuge; but how shall we enter? Not by sitting still, and saying, We can do nothing. Neither could the man with a withered hand heal it himself; nor could he stretch it forth unhealed; but in stretching it forth it was healed by divine power. Matt. xii: 10--13. So the sinner is to flee to Christ; and in his flight there is help and salvation form above. Phil. ii: 12, 13. he is not to build a refuge of his own, nor to strive to prepare the way for entering the refuge which God has provided, but just to flee to this refuge and enter in. And the way to enter and escape the storm, is, by faith. Look to Jesus Christ; come to Christ; believe in him; trust in him; and you are safe. This is the way to enter.
As to the duty of entering. God commands it, and we should obey him. Our necessities also should drive us to Christ. How great are they! We are perishing; the storm is approaching; and how can we escape it, if we flee not to the Saviour? His love should draw us to him. How great his love! And can we slight it? And if we do, how richly we deserve to perish! And how miserable must be our doom!
Do you ask for motives for entering the refuge? They may be drawn from the world, heaven, earth, and hell. They lie thick on every side; they are pressed upon you from every quarter; and it is not the want of motives that keeps you from the cross of Christ, but an evil heart of
unbelief, a heart of sin, of adamant and that will be your ruin!
Do you say you have fled from the storm and entered the refuge? But where is the evidence of it? I do not ask whether you fell the evidence in your own heart, but is it seen in your life? There may be much of obscurity in our exercises and there may seem to us a great mixture of sin and imperfection in our experience, and yet we may be children of God. Faith may be weak, and yet be real. Wherever there is faith, there is union with Christ; and the best evidence we can have of an interest in Christ, is pressing on in a life of obedience to his will. Commit yourself to him; trust in him; and you shall be saved.
Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the Cross I spend,
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner's dying Friend.
Here I'll sit for ever viewing
Mercy's streams, in streams of blood;
Precious drops! My soul bedewing,
Plead and claim my peace with God.
Truly blessed is this station,
Low before his cross to lie,
While I see divine compassion
Floating in his languid eye.
Here it is I find my heaven,
While upon the cross I gaze;
Love I much? I'm much forgiven;
I'm a miracle of grace.
Love and grief my heart dividing,
With my tears his feet I'll bathe;
Constant still in faith abiding,
Life deriving from his death.