Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

" The True Church" by J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The following Sermon was preached in England, in August, 1858.

"On this rock I will build my church, 
and the gates of hell will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18)  

We live in a world in which all things are passing away.  Kingdoms,  empires, cities, institutions, families, all are liable to change and corruption.  One universal law seems to prevail everywhere.  In all created things there is a tendency to decay.
There is something sad and depressing in this.  What profit has a man in 
the labor of his hands?  Is there nothing that shall stand?  Is there 
nothing that shall last?  Is there nothing that shall endure?  Is there 
nothing of which we can say--This shall continue forever?  You have the 
answer to these questions in the words of our text.  Our Lord Jesus 
Christ speaks of something which shall continue, and not pass away.  
There is one created thing which is an exception to the universal rule to 
which I have referred.  There is one thing which shall never perish and 
pass away.  That thing is the building founded upon the rock--the Church 
of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He declares, in the words you have heard 
tonight: "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell 
will not overcome it."  

There are five things in these words which demand your attention:

1. A Building: "My Church"
2. A Builder: Christ says, "I will build My Church"
3. A Foundation: "On this rock I will build My Church"
4. Perils Implied: "The gates of hell"
5. Security Asserted: "The gates of hell will not overcome it"

May God bless the words that shall be spoken.  May we all search our own 
hearts tonight, and know whether or not we belong to this one Church.  
May we all go home to reflect and to pray!

1. First, you have a "Building" mentioned in the text.  The Lord Jesus 
Christ speaks of "My Church."

Now what is this Church?  Few inquiries can be made of more importance 
than this.  For want of due attention to this subject, the errors that 
have crept into the Church, and into the world, are neither few nor 

The Church of our text is no material building.  It is no temple made 
with hands, of wood, or brick, or stone, or marble.  It is a company of 
men and women.  It is no particular visible Church on earth.  It is not 
the Eastern Church or the Western Church.  It is not the Church of 
England, or the Church of Scotland--much less is it the Church of Rome.  
The Church of our text is one that makes far less show in the eyes of 
man, but is of far more importance in the eyes of God.

The Church of our text is made up of all true believers in the Lord Jesus 
Christ.  It comprehends all who have repented of sin, and fled to Christ 
by faith, and been made new creatures in Him.  It comprises all God's 
elect, all who have received God's grace, all who have been washed in 
Christ's blood, all who have been clothed in Christ's righteousness, all 
who have been born again and sanctified by Christ's Spirit.  All such, of 
every nation, and people, and tongue, compose the Church of our text.  
This is the body of Christ.  This is the flock of Christ.  This is the 
bride.  This is the Lamb's wife.  This is the Church on the rock.

The members of this Church do not all worship God in the same way, or use 
the same form of government.  Our own 34th Article declares, "It is not 
necessary that ceremonies should be in all places one and alike."  But 
they all worship with one heart.  They are all led by one Spirit.  They 
are all really and truly holy.  They can all say "Alleluia," and they can 
all reply "Amen."

This is that Church, to which all visible Churches on earth are servants.  
Whether they are Episcopalian, Independent, or Presbyterian, they all 
serve the interests of the one true Church.  They are the scaffolding, 
behind which the great building is carried on.  They are the husk, under 
which the living kernel grows.  They have their various degrees of 
usefulness.  The best and worthiest of them is that which trains up most 
members for Christ's true Church.  But no visible Church has any right to 
say, "We are the only true Church.  We are the men, and wisdom shall die 
with us."  No visible Church should ever dare to say, "We shall stand for 
ever.  The gates of hell will not overcome us."  

This is that Church to which belong the Lord's precious promises of 
preservation, continuance, protection, and final glory.  "Whatsoever," 
says Hooker, "we read in Scripture, concerning the endless love and 
saving mercy which God shows towards His Churches, the only proper 
subject is this Church, which we properly term the mystical body of 
Christ."  Small and despised as the true Church may be in this world, it 
is precious and honorable in the sight of God.  The temple of Solomon in 
all its glory was nothing, in comparison with that Church which is built 
upon a rock.

Men and brethren, see that you hold sound doctrine on the subject of "the 
Church."  A mistake here may lead to dangerous and soul-ruining errors.  
The Church which is made up of true believers, is the Church for which 
we, who are ministers, are specially ordained to preach.  The Church 
which comprises all who repent and believe the Gospel, is the Church to 
which we desire you to belong.  Our work is not done, and our hearts are 
not satisfied, until you are made new creatures, and are members of the 
one true Church.  Outside of this Church there can be no salvation.

2. I pass on to the second point, to which I proposed to call your 
attention.  Our text contains not merely a building, but a Builder.  The 
Lord Jesus Christ declares, "I will build My Church."

The true Church of Christ is tenderly cared for by all the three persons 
of the blessed Trinity.  In the economy of redemption, beyond all doubt, 
God the Father chooses, and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies, every member 
of Christ's mystical body.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy 
Spirit, three Persons and one God, cooperate for the salvation of every 
saved soul.  This is truth, which ought never to be forgotten.  
Nevertheless, there is a peculiar sense in which the help of the Church 
is laid on the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is peculiarly and preeminently the 
Redeemer and the Savior.  Therefore it is, that we find Him saying in our 
text, "I will build: the work of building is my special work."

It is Christ who calls the members of the Church in due time.  They are 
"the called of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:6).  

It is Christ who gives them life.  "The Son gives life to whom he is 
pleased to give it" (John 5:21).  

It is Christ who washes away their sins.  He "who loves us and has freed 
us from our sins by his blood" (Revelation 1:5).  

It is Christ who gives them peace.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I 
give you" (John 14:27).  

It is Christ who gives them eternal life.  "I give them eternal life, and 
they shall never perish" (John 10:28).  

It is Christ who grants them repentance.  "God exalted him to his own 
right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance" 
(Acts 5:31). 

It is Christ who enables them to become God's children.  "To all who 
received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to 
become children of God" (John 1:12).  

It is Christ who carries on the work within them when it is begun.  
"Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19).

In short, "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him 
[Christ]" (Colossians 1:19).  He is the author and finisher of faith.  
From Him every joint and member of the mystical body of Christians is 
supplied.  Through Him they are strengthened for duty.  By Him they are 
kept from falling.  He shall preserve them to the end, and present them 
faultless before the Father's throne with exceeding great joy.  He is all 
things, and all in all to believers.

The mighty agent by whom the Lord Jesus Christ carries out this work in 
the number of His Churches, is, without doubt, the Holy Spirit.  He it is 
who applies Christ and His benefits to the soul.  He it is who is ever 
renewing, awakening, convincing, leading to the cross, transforming, 
taking out of the world, stone after stone, and adding it to the mystical 

But the great Chief Builder, who has undertaken to execute the work of 
redemption and bring it to completion, is the Son of God: the Word who 
was made flesh.  It is Jesus Christ who "builds."

In building the true Church, the Lord Jesus condescends to use many 
subordinate instruments.  The ministry of the Gospel, the circulation of 
the Scriptures, the friendly rebuke, the word spoken in season, the 
drawing influence of afflictions--all, all are means and methods by which 
His work is carried on.  But Christ is the great superintending 
architect, ordering, guiding, directing all that is done.  What the sun 
is to the whole solar system, that Christ is to all the members of the 
true Church.  "Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God gives the 
increase."  Ministers may preach, and writers may write, but the Lord 
Jesus Christ alone can build.  And except He builds, the work stands 

Great is the wisdom with which the Lord Jesus Christ builds His Church.  
All is done at the right time, and in the right way.  Each stone in its 
turn is put in the right place.  Sometimes He chooses great stones, and 
sometimes He chooses small stones.  Sometimes the work moves fast, and 
sometimes it moves slowly.  Man is frequently impatient, and thinks that 
nothing is happening.  But man's time is not God's time.  A thousand 
years in His sight are but as a single day.  The great Builder makes no 
mistakes.  He knows what He is doing.  He sees the end from the 
beginning.  He works by a perfect, unalterable and certain plan.  The 
mightiest conceptions of architects, like Michael Angelo are mere 
insignificant child's play, in comparison with Christ's wise counsels 
respecting His Church.

Great is the condescension and mercy, which Christ exhibits in building 
His Church.  He often chooses the most unlikely and roughest stones, and 
fits them into a most excellent work.  He despises no one, and rejects 
none, on account of former sins and past transgressions.  He delights to 
show mercy.  He often takes the most thoughtless and ungodly, and 
transforms them into polished corners of His spiritual temple.

Great is the power which Christ displays in building His Church.  He 
carries on his work in spite of opposition from the world, the flesh, and 
the devil.  In storm, in chaos, through troublesome times, silently, 
quietly, without noise, without stir, without excitement, the building 
progresses, like Solomon's temple.  "I will work," He declares, "and none 
shall stop it."

Brethren, the children of this world take little or no interest in the 
building of this Church, They care little for the conversion of souls.  
What are broken spirits and penitent hearts to them?  It is all 
foolishness in their eyes.  But while the children of this world care 
nothing, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God.  For the 
preserving of that Church, the laws of nature have oftentimes been 
suspended.  For the good of that Church, all the providential dealings of 
God in this world are ordered and arranged.  For the elect's sake, wars 
are brought to an end, and peace is given to a nation.  Statesmen, 
rulers, emperors, kings, presidents, heads of governments, have their 
schemes and plans, and think them of vast importance.  But there is 
another work going on of infinitely greater significance, for which they 
are all but as the axes and saws in God's hands.  That work is the 
gathering in of living stones into the one true Church.  How little are 
we told in God's Word about unconverted men compared with what we are 
told about believers!  The history of Nimrod, the mighty hunter, is 
dismissed in a few words.  The history of Abraham, the father of the 
faithful, occupies several chapters.  Nothing in Scripture is so 
important as the concerns of the true Church.  The world makes up little 
of God's Word.  The Church and its story make up much.

For ever let us thank God, my beloved brethren, that the building of the 
one true Church is laid on the shoulders of One that is mighty.  Let us 
bless God that it does not rest upon man.  Let us bless God that it does 
not depend on missionaries, ministers, or committees.  Christ is the 
almighty Builder.  He will carry on His work, though nations and visible 
Churches do not know their duty.  Christ will never fail.  That which He 
has undertaken He will certainly accomplish.

3. I pass on to the third point, which I proposed to consider--The 
Foundation upon which this Church is built.  The Lord Jesus Christ tells 
us, "On this rock I will build my church."

What did the Lord Jesus Christ mean, when He spoke of this foundation? 
Did He mean the Apostle Peter, to whom He was speaking?  I think 
assuredly not.  I can see no reason, if he meant Peter, why did He not 
say, "On you" will I build My church.  If He had meant Peter, He would 
have said, I will build My Church on you, as plainly as He said, "I will 
give you the keys."  No! it was not the person of the Apostle Peter, but 
the good confession which the Apostle had just made.  It was not Peter, 
the erring, unstable man; but the mighty truth which the Father had 
revealed to Peter.  It was the truth concerning Jesus Christ himself 
which was the Rock.  It was Christ's Mediatorship, and Christ's 
Messiahship.  It was the blessed truth, that Jesus was the promised 
Savior, the true Guarantee, the real Intercessor between God and man.  
This was the rock, and this was the foundation on which the Church of 
Christ was to be built.

My brethren, this foundation was laid at a mighty cost.  It was necessary 
that the Son of God should take our nature upon Him, and in that nature 
live, suffer, and die, not for His own sins, but for ours.  It was 
necessary that in that nature Christ should go to the grave, and rise 
again.  It was necessary that in that nature Christ should go up to 
heaven, to sit at the right hand of God, having obtained eternal 
redemption for all His people.  No other foundation but this could have 
borne the weight of that Church of which our text speaks.  No other 
foundation could have met the necessities of a world of sinners.

That foundation once obtained, is very strong.  It can bear the weight of 
the sin of all the world.  It has borne the weight of all the sins of all 
the believers who have built on it.  Sins of thought, sins of the 
imagination, sins of the heart, sins of the head, sins which every one 
has seen, and sins which no man knows, sins against God, and sins against 
man, sins of all kinds and descriptions--that mighty rock can bear the 
weight of all these sins and not give way.  The mediatorial office of 
Christ is a sufficient remedy for all the sins of all the world.

To this one foundation every member of Christ's true Church is joined.  
In many things believers are disunited and disagreed.  In the matter of 
their soul's foundation they are all of one mind.  They are all built on 
the rock.  Ask where they get their peace, and hope, and joyful 
expectation of good things to come.  You would find that it all flows 
from that one mighty truth--Christ the Mediator between God and man, and 
the office that Christ holds, as the Highpriest and Promise of sinners.

Here is the point which demands our personal attention.  Are we on the 
rock?  Are we really joined to the one foundation?  What does that good 
old godly man, Leighton say?  "God has laid this precious stone for this 
very purpose, that weary sinners may rest upon it.  The multitude of 
imaginary believers lie all around it, but they are not any better for 
that, any more than stones that lie loose in heaps, near a foundation, 
but not joined to it.  There is no benefit to us by Christ, without union 
with Him."

Look to your foundation, my beloved brethren, if you would know whether 
or not you are members of the one true Church.  It is a point that may be 
known to yourselves.  Your public worship we can see, but we cannot see 
whether you are personally built upon the rock.  Your attendance at the 
Lord's table we can see, but we cannot see whether you are joined to 
Christ, and one with Christ, and Christ in you.  But all shall come to 
light one day.  The secrets of all hearts shall be exposed.  Perhaps you 
go to church regularly and you pray faithfully.  All this is right and 
good, so far as it goes.  But see that you make no mistake about your own 
personal salvation.  See that your own soul is on the rock.  Without 
this, all else is nothing.  Without this, you will never stand in the day 
of judgment.  Better a thousand times in that day to be found in a 
cottage on the rock, than in a palace on the sand!

4. I proceed, in the fourth place, to speak of the Implied Trials of the 
Church, to which our text refers.  There is mention made of "the gates of 
hell."  By that expression we are to understand the power of the devil!

The history of Christ's true Church has always been one of conflict and 
war.  It has been constantly assailed by a deadly enemy, Satan, the 
prince of this world.  The devil hates the true Church of Christ with an 
undying hatred.  He is ever stirring up opposition against all its 
members.  He is ever urging the children of this world to do his will, 
and injure and harass the people of God.  If he cannot bruise the head, 
he will bruise the heel.  If he cannot rob believers of heaven, he will 
aggravate them as they travel the road to heaven.

For six thousand years this hostility has gone on.  Millions of the 
ungodly have been the devil's agents, and done the devil's work, though 
they did not know it.  The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the Julians, 
the Diocletians, the bloody Marys--were Satan's tools, when they 
persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ.

Warfare with the powers of hell has been the experience of the whole body 
of Christ.  It has always been a bush burning, though not consumed--a 
woman fleeing into the wilderness, but not swallowed up.  The visible 
Churches have their times of prosperity and seasons of peace, but never 
has there been a time of peace for the true Church.  Its conflict is 
perpetual.  Its battle never ends.

Warfare with the powers of hell is the experience of every individual 
member of the true Church.  Each has to fight.  What are the lives of all 
the saints, but records of battles?  What were such men as Paul, and 
James, and Peter, and John, and Polycarp, and Ignatius, and Augustine, 
and Luther, and Calvin, and Latimer, and Baxter, but soldiers engaged in 
a constant warfare?  Sometimes their persons have been assailed, and 
sometimes their property.  Sometimes they have been harassed by slander, 
and sometimes by open persecution.  But in one way or another the devil 
has been continually warring against the Church.  The "gates of hell" 
have been continually assaulting the people of Christ.

Men and brethren, we who preach the Gospel can hold out to all who come 
to Christ, exceeding great and precious promises.  We can offer boldly to 
you in our Master's name, the peace of God which passes all 
understanding.  Mercy, free grace, and full salvation, are offered to 
every one who will come to Christ, and believe on Him.  But we promise 
you no peace with the world, or with the devil.  We warn you, on the 
contrary, that there must be warfare, so long as you are in the body.  We 
would not keep you back, or deter you from Christ's service.  But we 
would have you count the cost, and fully understand what Christ's service 
entails.  Hell is behind you.  Heaven is before you.  Home lies on the 
other side of a troubled sea.  Thousands, tens of thousands have crossed 
these stormy waters, and in spite of all opposition, have reached the 
haven where they would be.  Hell has assailed them, but has not 
prevailed.  Go forward, beloved brethren, and fear not the adversary.  
Only abide in Christ, and the victory is sure.

Marvel not at the hatred of the gates of hell.  "If you were of the 
world, the world would love as its own."  So long as the world is the 
world, and the devil the devil, there must be warfare, and believers in 
Christ must be soldiers.  The world hated Christ, and the world will hate 
true Christians, as long as the earth stands.  As the great reformer, 
Luther, said, "Cain will go on murdering Abel so long as the Church is on 

Be prepared for the hostility of the gates of hell.  Put on the whole 
armor of God.  The tower of David contains a thousand shields, all ready 
for the use of God's people.  The weapons of our warfare have been tried 
by millions of poor sinners like ourselves, and have never been found
to fail.

Be patient under the bitterness of the gates of hell.  It is all working 
together for your good.  It tends to sanctify.  It keeps you awake.  It 
makes you humble.  It drives you nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It 
weans you from the world.  It helps to make you pray more.  Above all, it 
makes you long for heaven, and say with heart as well as lips, "Come, 
Lord Jesus."

Do not be cast down by the hatred of hell.  The warfare of the true child 
of God is as much a mark of grace as the inward peace which he enjoys.  
No cross, no crown!  No conflict, no saving Christianity!  "Blessed are 
you," said our Lord Jesus Christ, "when people insult you, persecute you 
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."  

5. There remains one thing more to be considered: the Security of the 
true Church of Christ.  There is a glorious promise given by the mighty 
Builder, "The gates of Hades will not overcome it."  He who cannot lie 
has pledged His royal word, that all the powers of hell shall never 
overthrow His Church.  It shall continue, and stand, in spite of every 
assault.  It shall never be overcome.  All other created things perish 
and pass away, but not the Church of Christ.  The hand of outward 
violence, or the moth of inward decay, prevail over everything else, but 
not over the church that Christ builds.

Empires have risen and fallen in rapid succession.  Egypt, Assyria, 
Babylon, Persia, Tyre, Carthage, Rome, Greece, Venice--where are all 
these now?  They were all the creations of man's hand, and have passed 
away.  But the Church of Christ lives on.

The mightiest cities have become heaps of ruins.  The broad walls of 
Babylon are sunk to the ground.  The palaces of Nineveh are mounds of 
dust.  The hundred gates of Thebes are only matters of history.  Tyre is 
a place where fishermen hang their nets.  Carthage is a desolation.  Yet 
all this time the true Church stands.  The gates of hell do not prevail 
against it.

The earliest visible Churches have in many cases decayed and perished.  
Where is the Church of Ephesus and the Church of Antioch?  Where is the 
Church of Alexandria and the Church of Constantinople?  Where are the 
Corinthian, and Philippian, and Thessalonian Churches?  Where, indeed, 
are they all?  They departed from the Word of God.  They were proud of 
their bishops, and synods, and ceremonies, and learning, and antiquity.  
They did not glory in the true cross of Christ.  They did not hold fast 
the Gospel.  They did not give Jesus His rightful office, or faith its 
rightful place.  They are now among the things that have been.  Their 
candlestick has been taken away.  But all this time the true Church has 
lived on.

Has the true Church been oppressed in one country?  It has fled to 
another.  Has it been trampled on and oppressed in one soil?  It has 
taken root and flourished in some other climate.  Fire, sword, prisons, 
fines, penalties, have never been able to destroy its vitality.  Its 
persecutors have died and gone to their own place, but the Word of God 
has lived, and grown and multiplied.  Weak as this true Church may appear 
to the eye of man, it is an anvil which has broken many a hammer in times 
past, and perhaps will break many more before the end.  He that lays 
hands on it, is touching the apple of God's eye.

The promise of our text is true of the whole body of the true Church.  
Christ will never be without a witness in the world.  He has had a people 
in the worst of times.  He had seven thousand in Israel even in the days 
of Ahab.  There are some now, I believe, in the dark places of the Roman 
Catholic and Greek Churches, who, in spite of much weakness, are serving 
Christ.  The devil may rage horribly.  The Church may in some countries 
be brought exceedingly low.  But the gates of hell shall never entirely 

The promise of our text is true of every individual member of the Church.  
Some of God's people have been brought very low, so that they despaired 
of their safety.  Some have fallen sadly, as David and Peter did.  Some 
have departed from the faith for a time.  Many have been tried by cruel 
doubts and fears.  But all have gotten safely home at last, the youngest 
as well as the oldest, the weakest as well as the strongest.  And so it 
will be to the end.  Can you prevent tomorrow's sun from rising?  Can you 
prevent the tide in the channel from ebbing and flowing?  Can you prevent 
the planets moving in their respective orbits?  Then, and then alone, can 
you prevent the salvation of any believer, however feeble--of any living 
stone in that Church which is built on the rock, however small or 
insignificant that stone may appear.

The true Church is Christ's body.  Not one bone in that mystical body 
shall ever be broken.  

The true Church is Christ's bride.  They whom God has joined in 
everlasting covenant, shall never be put asunder.  

The true Church is Christ's flock.  When the lion came and took a lamb 
out of David's flock, David arose and delivered the lamb from his mouth.  
Christ will do the same.  He is David's greater son.  Not a single sick 
lamb in Christ's flock shall perish.  He will say to His Father in the 
last day, "I have not lost one of those you gave me."  

The true Church is the wheat of the earth.  It may be sifted, winnowed, 
buffeted, tossed to and fro.  But not one gain shall be lost.  The tares 
and chaff shall be burned.  The wheat shall be gathered into the barn.  

The true Church is Christ's army.  The Captain of our salvation loses 
none of his soldiers.  His plans are never defeated.  His supplies never 
fail.  His roll call is the same at the end as it was at the beginning.  
Of the men that marched gallantly out of England a few years ago in the 
Crimean war, how many never came back!  Regiments that went forth, strong 
and cheerful, with bands playing and banners flying, laid their bones in 
a foreign land, and never returned to their native country.  But it is 
not so with Christ's army.  Not one of His soldiers shall be missing at 
last.  He Himself declares "They shall never perish."

The devil may cast some of the members of the true Church into prison.  
He may kill, and burn, and torture, and hang.  But after he has killed 
the body, there is nothing more that he can do.  He cannot hurt the soul.  
When the French troops took Rome a few years ago, they found on the walls 
of a prison cell, under the Inquisition, the words of a prisoner.  Who he 
was, we do not know.  But his words are worthy of remembrance.  Though 
dead, he still speaks.  He had written on the walls, very likely after an 
unjust trial, and a still more unjust excommunication, the following 
striking words, "Blessed Jesus, they cannot cast me out of Your true 
Church."  That record is true.  Not all the power of Satan can cast out 
of Christ's true Church one single believer.
The children of this world may wage fierce warfare against the Church, 
but they cannot stop the work of conversion.  What did the sneering 
Emperor Julian say, in the early ages of the Church, "What is the 
carpenter's son doing now?"  An aged Christian made answer, "He is making 
a coffin for Julian himself."  But a few months passed away, when Julian, 
with all his pomp and power, died in battle.  Where was Christ when the 
fires of Smithfield were lighted, and when Latimer and Ridley were burnt 
at the stake?  What was Christ doing then?  He was still carrying on His 
work of building.  That work will ever go on, even in troublesome times.

Fear not, beloved brethren, to begin serving Christ.  He to whom you 
commit your souls has all power in heaven and earth, and He will keep 
you.  He will never let you be cast away.  Relatives may oppose.  
Neighbors may mock.  The world may slander and sneer.  Fear not!  Fear 
not!  The powers of hell shall never prevail against your soul.  Greater 
is He that is for you, than all they that are against you.

Fear not for the Church of Christ, my brethren, when ministers die, and 
saints are taken away.  Christ can ever maintain His own cause, He will 
raise up better and brighter stars.  The stars are all in His right hand.  
Leave off all anxious thought about the future.  Cease to be cast down by 
the measures of statesmen, or the plots of wolves in sheep's clothing.  
Christ will ever provide for His Own Church.  Christ will take care that 
the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  All is going on well, 
though our eyes may not see it.  The kingdoms of this world shall yet 
become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.                   

Allow me now to say a few words of practical application of this sermon.  
I speak to many, whom I speak to for the first time.  I speak, perhaps, 
to many whom I speak to for the last time.  Let not this service conclude 
without an effort to press home the sermon on each heart.

1. My first word of application shall be a question.  What shall that 
question be?  How shall I approach you?  What shall I ask?  I ask you, 
whether you are a member of the one true Church of Christ?  Are you in 
the highest, the best sense, a "Churchman" in the sight of God?  You know 
what I mean.  I look far beyond the Church of England.  I speak of the 
Church built upon the rock.  I ask you, with all solemnity--Are you a 
member of that one Church of Christ?  Are you joined to the great 
Foundation?  Have you received the Holy Spirit?  Does the Spirit witness 
with your spirit, that you are one with Christ, and Christ with you?  I 
beseech you, in the name of God, to lay to heart this question, and to 
ponder it well.

Take heed to yourselves, dear brethren, if you cannot give a satisfactory 
answer to my inquiry.  Take heed, take heed, that you do not make 
shipwreck of faith.  Take heed, lest at last the gates of hell prevail 
against you, the devil claim you as his own, and you be cast away for 
ever.  Take heed, lest you go down to the pit from the land of Bibles, 
and in the full light of Christ's Gospel.

2. My second word of application shall be an invitation.  I address it to 
all who are not yet true believers.  I say to you, Come and join the one 
true Church without delay.  Come and join yourselves to the Lord Jesus 
Christ in an everlasting covenant not to be forgotten.  Come to Christ 
and be saved.  The day of decision must come some time.  Why not this 
very evening?  Why not today, while it is called today?  Why not this 
very night, before the sun rises tomorrow morning?  Come to Him, whose I 
am, and whom I serve.  Come to my Master, Jesus Christ.  Come, I say, for 
all things are now ready.  Mercy is ready for you, heaven is ready for 
you, angels are ready to rejoice over you, Christ is ready to receive 
you.  Christ will receive you gladly, and welcome you among His children.  
Come into the ark, the flood of God's wrath will soon break upon the 
earth, come into the ark and be safe.

Come into the life-boat.  The old world will soon break into pieces!  Do 
you not hear the tremblings of it?  The world is but a wreck stuck on the 
sandbar.  The night is farspent--the waves are beginning to rise--the 
winds are rising--the storm will soon shatter the old wreck.  But the 
life-boat is launched, and we, the ministers of the Gospel, beseech you 
to come into the life-boat and be saved.
Do you ask, How can I come, my sins are so many?  Do you ask how you 
shall come?  Hear the words of that beautiful hymn:

                    "Just as I am: without one plea,
                   But that Thy blood was shed for me,
                   And that Thou bids me come to Thee, 
                         O Lamb of God I come."

That is the way to come to Christ.  You should come, waiting for nothing, 
and tarrying for nothing.  You should come, as a hungry sinner, to be 
filled, as a poor sinner to be enriched, as a bad, undeserving sinner to 
be clothed with righteousness.  So coming, Christ would receive you.  
"Him that comes" to Christ, He "will not cast out."  Oh! come, come to 
Jesus Christ.

3. Last of all, let me given a word of exhortation to my believing 

Live a holy life, my brethren.  Walk worthy of the Church to which you 
belong.  Live like citizens of heaven.  Let your light shine before men, 
so that the world may profit by your conduct.  Let them know whose you 
are, and whom you serve.  Be epistles of Christ, known and read of all 
men; written in such clear letters, that none can say, we do not know 
whether he be a member of Christ or not.

Live a courageous life, my brethren.  Confess Christ before men.  
Whatever station you occupy, in that station confess Christ.  Why should 
you be ashamed of Him?  He was not ashamed of you on the cross.  He is 
ready to confess you now before His Father in heaven.  Why should you be 
ashamed of Him?  Be bold.  Be very bold.  The good soldier is not ashamed 
of his uniform.  The true believer ought never to be ashamed of Christ.

Live a joyful life, my brethren.  Live like men who look for that blessed 
hope--the second coming of Jesus Christ.  This is the prospect to which 
we should all look forward.  It is not so much the thought of going to 
heaven, as of heaven coming to us, that should fill our minds.  There is 
a good time coming for all the people of God--a good time for all the 
Church of Christ--a good time for all believers--a bad time for the 
impenitent and unbelieving--a bad time for them that will serve their own 
lusts, and turn their backs on the Lord, but a good time for true 
Christians.  For that good time, let us wait, and watch, and pray.
The scaffolding will soon be taken down--the last stone will soon be 
brought out--the top-stone will be placed upon the edifice.  Yet a little 
time, and the full beauty of the building shall be clearly seen.

The great master Builder will soon come himself.  A building shall be 
shown to assembled worlds, in which there shall be no imperfection.  The 
Savior and the saved shall rejoice together.  The whole universe shall 
acknowledge, that in the building of Christ's Church all was well done.


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