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Richard Sibbes :: The Seventh Sermon - Isaiah 25:8

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THE GLORIOUS FEAST OF THE GOSPEL
The Marriage Feast
Between
Christ and His Church

 


The Seventh Sermon — Isaiah 25:8

 

And the rebukes of his people shall he take away from all the earth: For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

For comfort to the godly, their rebukes shall be taken away

 

This is a great promise and I pray you be comforted with it. For of all grief that God’s people suffer in the world, there is none greater than reproach, disgrace, and contumely. Movemur contumeliis plus quam injuriis, We are more moved with reproaches than injuries. Injuries come from several causes, but disgrace from abundance of fighting. No man but thinks himself worthy of respect from some or other. Now slanders come from abundance of malice or else abundance of contempt; and therefore nothing sticks so much as reproaches, specially by reason of opinion and fancy that raises them over high.

 

Our Saviour Christ endured the cross and despised the shame (Hebrews 12:2). That shame that vain people cast upon religion and the best things, they despise that and make that a matter of patience. They knew the cross would not be shaken off, persecution and troubles must be endured and therefore they endured the cross and despised the shame. Now to bear crosses take the counsel of the holy Apostle, look up to him, consider Christ and whatsoever disgrace in words or carriage we shall endure we are sure, (though we shall never know it till we feel it by experience). The Spirit of glory shall rest upon us (1 Peter 4:14), and rebuke shall be taken away.

 

Ere long there will be no glory in heaven and earth, but the glory of Christ and of his spouse, for all the rest shall be in their own place. As it was said of Judas, that he went to his place. Their proper place is not to domineer, but to be in hell and ere long they shall be there. Heaven is the proper element of the saints, that is the place of Christ the Head. And where should the body be but with the Head? Where the Spouse, but with the Husband? I say this shall come to pass, that all the wicked shall be in their place, and all the godly in theirs with Christ, and then shall the rebukes of God’s people be taken away. A great matter and therefore it is sealed with a great confirmation, The Lord Jehovah hath spoken it; therefore it must and will be so. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. This is not in vain added, for the Lord knows well enough we need it, to believe so great things that there is such a Feast provided. And that there is such a victory over death our last enemy, and that there will be such glory that all the glory shall be Christ’s and his Spouse’s, that the wicked that are now so insolent shall be cast into their proper place with the devil, by whose spirit they are led. They be great matters, and there is great disproportion between the present condition and that condition in heaven, and infidelity being in the soul, it’s hard to fasten such things on the soul, that so great things should be done.

God is the author of promises

 

But they are no greater than God hath said, and he is able to make good his Word. The Lord hath said it, and when God hath said it heaven and earth cannot unsay it. When heaven hath concluded it, earth and hell cannot disannul it. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it; that is, truth itself hath spoken it, that cannot lie. A man may lie, and be a man, and an honest man too; he may sometimes speak an untruth, it takes not away his nature. But God who is pure truth, unchangeable truth, truth itself, cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18).

Consider God in the promises to help our faith

 

When we hear of great matters, as matters of Christianity be great matters, they be as large as the capacity of the soul and larger too. And yet the soul is large in the understanding and affection too, when were hear of such large matters, we need a great faith to believe them. Great faith needs great grounds and therefore it’s good to have all the helps we can. When we hear of great things promised, great deliverances, great glory to strengthen our faith, remember God hath spoken them. He knows our weakness, our infirmity, and therefore helps us with this problem. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Let us therefore remember those great things are promised in the Word of God, in the Word of Jehovah, that can make them all good, that gives a being to all his promises. He is being itself and gives being to whatsoever he saith, he is able to do it. Set God and his power against all opposition whatsoever from the creature and all doubts that may arise from our own unbelieving hearts, The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

How is it the word of God, Isaiah spake it? He did but write, God did dictate

 

But ye will say, the Prophet Isaiah saith it, whose words they were. I answer, Isaiah was the Pen-man, God the mouth. The Head dictates, the hand writes; Christ the Head dictates, and his servant writes. So that holy men write as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost, a better spirit than their own. Why do ye look on me, saith Isaiah? Think not it is I that say it, I am but a man like yourselves; but the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

We should not so much look on the ministers as from whom they speak

 

We should not regard men, nor the ministry of men, but consider who speaks by men, who sends them, with what commission do they come. Ambassadors are not regarded for themselves, but for them that send them. And therefore Cornelius said well; We are here in the presence of God, to hear what thou wilt speak in the name of God, (Acts 10:33). And so people should come with that reverend expression. We are come in the presence of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the presence of the blessed angels to hear what thou shalt say in the Name of God, by the Spirit of God. We are not to deal with men, but with God. And therefore he saith, The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The Scripture authority from itself

 

Hence may this question be easily answered. Whence hath the Scripture authority? Why from itself, it is the Word; it carries its own Letter’s testimonial with it. Shall God borrow authority from men? No, the authority the Word hath is from itself. It hath a supreme authority from itself.

The Spirit of God in Scriptures judges all controversies

 

And we may answer that question about the Judge of all controversies. What is the supreme Judge? The Word, the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. And who is above God? It is a shameless ridiculous impudency of men, that will take upon them to be judges of Scripture, as if man would get upon the throne and as a judge there judge. The Scriptures must judge all ere long, yea that great Antichrist. Now an ignorant man, a simple man that perhaps never read Scriptures must judge of all controversies; yea, that that is the judge of all and of himself, the Word, which is from the very mouth of God.

 

You will ask me, how shall I know it is the Word of God, if the Church tells us not?

The Word known to be of God by its majesty and mysteriousness

 

A carrier shows us these be letters from such a man, but when we open the letter and see the hand and seal, we know them to be his. The Church knows the Word and explains it, and when we see and feel the efficacy of the Word in itself, then we believe it to be the Word. For there is that in the Word that shows it to be the Word; the majesty that is in it, the matter that is mysterious, forgiveness of sins through a mystery, forgiveness of sin, victory over death, life everlasting in the world to come. Great matters, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the heart of man (1 Corinthians 2:9). If it had not been revealed it could not have entered into the heart of angels. It contains such glorious transcending mysteries.

Witness of the Spirit in warming and comforting

 

And then again the Word to all them that belong to God, hath the Spirit of God, by which it passed, rightly accompanying it, witnessing to the soul of man that it is so, and by a divine efficacy it is mighty in operation. What doth it in the heart? It warms the heart upon the hearing, and speaking, and discoursing of it. As when the disciples went to Emaus. It hath a heat of Spirit going with it to affect the heart with heavenly joy and delight. It hath power going with it by the Spirit to raise joy unspeakable and glorious. It hath a power to pacify the soul amidst all troubles. When nothing will still the soul, the Spirit of God in the Word will do it, by its divine power.

Changing and casting down the soul

 

Yea it will change a man from a beastly or devilish temper, to a higher and happier estate, as you have in (Isaiah 11:6-9). It makes lions lambs, leopards kids. And what is the ground of all? In that very place, the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9). The knowledge of God reconciled is such a powerful knowledge, that it hath a transforming virtue to alter men’s dispositions. What was Paul before conversion, and Zaccheus? Therefore it is the Word because it hath divine operation, to heat the soul, and raise the soul, and change the soul, and cast down the soul, as low in a manner as hell, in sense of its own misery. It will make a Felix to tremble, a man that it doth not effectually work upon. The truths of it are so moving, that it will make a carnal man to quake. When Paul spake of judgment to come, of giving account of all that is done in the flesh, when a possibility of it was apprehended, it made Felix to quake (Acts 24:25). It makes mountains level and it fills up the valleys. The Word can raise up the soul when man is as low as hell, and looks for nothing but damnation, the Spirit with the Word will fetch him from thence. As the jailor in Acts 16, there was little between him and hell. What shall I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30). Why believe in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31). And with these words there went out an efficacy, he believed and he afterward was full of joy.

Adam nearest damnation

 

The first Gospel ever preached in pardon was by God himself. Never was any creature so near damnation as our first father, Adam, cast from the greatest happiness. Miserrimum est fuisse faelicem; for he that enjoyed before communion with God and his angels, having sinned, and having conscience of his sin considering his great parts, and apprehension of the state he had been in, this must needs affect him deeply. And being in this condition, the promise of the seed of the woman to break the Serpent’s head revived him.

 

There is a strange efficacy in the Gospel. The Roman Empire was the greatest enemy that the Church ever had. The ten persecutions you see what they were and yet notwithstanding the Word grew upon them and never rested the spreading of the Gospel, and the Spirit with it till the Cross got above the Crown, as it did in the time of Constantine, and so it continues.

Searching

 

And must not this be a divine Word which hath this efficacy, to revive, comfort, change, cast down, raise up again, search secrets, search the heart to the bottom. A poor idiot that comes to hear the Word of God, when he hears the secrets of his heart laid open by the Word, he concludes certainly, God is in you and you are God’s ministers (1 Corinthians 14:25). The Word divides between the marrow and the bone (Hebrews 4:12), it arraigns the heart before God’s Tribunal Seat. Those that are saved, it hath these effects in them that I have named.

The Word proved to be of God from our experience

 

And if you ask how they know whether the Word be the Word? A man may answer, “I have found it to be so, raising me up, comforting me, and strengthening me. I had perished in my affliction if the Word had not raised me”. Principles are proved, you know from experience, for they have nothing above them. There is no other principle to prove the Word, but experience from the working of it. How know you the light to be the light but by itself? And that fire is hot, but by itself? Principles prove themselves only by experience. And this principle is so proved by itself that there is no child of God but can say by experience that the Word is the Word.

By reason

 

If a man might go to reason, one might bring that which could not be easily answered for the satisfaction of an Atheist. Let him but grant there is a God, he will grant one thing in religion or another. But let him grant there is a God and a reasonable creature, then there must be a service, a religion, and this service must be according to some rules prescribed, for the superior will not be served as the inferior pleases. He must discover what good the superior intends, and what duties he expects. This must be revealed in some word; God and the reasonable creature, and religion make a necessity of a word, and that must be the word we have or another; and what word in the world is probable to be the Word but this?

The Word corrupted? The Jews looked to the Old Testament, Heretics over the New

 

You will say, it may be corrupt. The Jews looked to the Old Testament that it should not be corrupted, for they knew every syllable in it and preserved every letter. It is one part of their superstition, and God blesses that superstition to take away all such cavils. For the New Testament the Jews cared not for, but heretics on their side watch over it that there should be no corruption, they will so observe one another. But what are these reasons to those which the soul of a gracious Christian knows by the operation of the Word upon the heart?

Let us regard and hear Scriptures as the Word of God

 

And therefore let us regard it as the Word of God, hear it as the Word of God, read it as the Word of God. A company of profane wretches you shall have, the scums and basest of the people that will discourse, and to grace their discourse, they must have Scripture phrases. But whose Word is it? It is the Word of the great God. Eglon was a Heathen King, and yet when a message came from God, he arose up and made obeyance. We should never read the Word but with reverence, considering whose book it is, and that we must be judged by it another day.

Know God will make every part good, every threatening ratified in heaven

 

If it be the Word, I beseech you consider what we say, and know that God will make every part of it good. There shall not a jot of it fail, nothing of it shall miscarry. God speaks all these words, and therefore if you be blasphemers you shall not carry it away guiltless. God hath said it. If you continue not to obey you are under God’s curse, unless you repent you shall perish. Every threat God will make good; you must repent and get into Christ, else perish eternally. God hath said it and we may confirm it in the unfolding and reading of it; the time is coming for the execution of it, and then God is peremptory. Now God waits our leisure and entreats us, but if we will not repent, we shall have that arrow in our sides that will never be gotten out till we die in hell. Whose sins are condemned in Scripture, they are condemned by God; and whom we shut heaven to by opening the Scriptures, God will shut heaven to. The opening of the Scriptures is the opening of heaven. If the Scripture saith a man that lives in such a sin shall not be saved, heaven shall be shut to him; he is in a state of death, he is strucken and remains in danger till he repents. How many live in sins against conscience, that are under the guilt and danger of their sins, they be wounded, they be struck by the Word; there is a threat against their sins, although it be not executed. And they be as much in danger of eternal death as a condemned traitor, only God suffers them to live that they may make their peace, so they have blessed times of visitation. O make use of it, it is the Word of God, and know that God will make every part of his Word good in threats, as well as in promises.

Let us take shame to ourselves for our infidelity in the promises

 

Take occasion from hence likewise to shame ourselves for our infidelity in the promises, when we are in any disconsolate estate, we are in Job’s case, being in trouble the consolation of the Almighty seemed light to him, these be the comforts of God. When we come to comfort some, though the sweet promises of the Gospel be opened, yet they do not consider them as being the Word, the consolations of the Almighty, and therefore they seem light to them. But it should not be so. Consider they be the comforts of the Word, and therefore we should hear them with faith, labour to affect them and shame ourselves. Is this God’s Word that gives this direction, that gives this comfort, and shall I not regard it? Is it the consolation of the Almighty, and shall not I embrace it? Therefore we should be ashamed, not to be more affected with the heavenly sweet things promised of God than we are.

 

A man that refuses heavenly comforts to embrace comforts below, how should he reflect upon himself with sin? Hath God promised such things, God that cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), and shall I lose my hope of all these glorious things, for the enjoying of the pleasures of sin for a season? I profess myself to be a Christian, where is my faith? Where is my hope? A man must acknowledge either I have no faith, for if I had faith believing God speaking these excellent things, I would not venture my loss of them to get the enjoyment of poor temporary things here, for the good things promised in another world. Labour therefore to bring men’s hearts to believe the Word, and desire God to seal it to our souls, that it is so.

To regard the Word, labour for that Spirit that indicted them

 

I will give one direction: Labour for the Spirit of God that wrote the Word, that indicted the Word. Beg of God to seal to our souls that it is the Word, and that he would sanctify our hearts to be suitable to the Word, and never rest till we can find God by his Spirit seasoning our hearts. So that the relish of our souls may suit to the relish of divine truths, that when we hear them we may relish the truth in them, and may so feel the work of God’s Spirit, that we may be able to say, “he is our God”. And when we hear of any threatening, we may tremble at it, and any sin discovered, we may hate it. For unless we by the Spirit of God have something wrought in us suitable to the Word, we shall never believe the Word to be the Word. And therefore pray the Lord by his Spirit to frame our hearts to be suitable to divine truths, and so frame them in our affections, that we may find the Word in our joy, in our love, in our patience, that all may be seasoned with the Word of God.

Relishing the Word makes a man a Christian indeed

 

When there is a relish in the Word and in the soul suitable to it, then a man is a Christian indeed to purpose. Till then men will apostatize, turn papist, turn atheist, or anything because there is a distance between the soul and the Word. The Word is not engrafted into the soul; they do not know the Word to be the Word by arguments fetched from the Word, and therefore they fall from the power of the Word. But if we will not fall from divine truths, get truth written in the heart and our hearts so seasoned by it, and made so harmonious and suitable to it, then we may embrace it to death that we may live and die in it.

 

To go on:

 

In that day shall it be said; for this is our God we have waited for him.

 

Here is a gracious promise that shuts up all spoken before. He spake of great things before, and now here is a promise of a day, wherein he will make all things promised good to the soul of every believing Christian.

 

In that day it shall be said, this is our God, we have waited for him, he will save us.

 

It is an excellent portion of Scripture to show the gracious disposition that the Spirit of God will work in all those that embrace the gracious promises of God. The time shall come when they shall say; Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and now we enjoy him.

The points considerable are these:

 

First of all, by supposition that there be glorious excellent things promised to the people of God, rich and precious promises of feasting, of taking away the veil of conquest over death by victory, of wiping away tears and removing rebukes; great things, if we go no farther than my Text.

 

Secondly, these have a day when they shall be performed, which is not presently; for the end of a promise is to support the soul till the performance. God doth not only reserve great things for us in another world, but to comfort us in the way, doth reach out to us promises to comfort us till we come thither. There is a time when he will perform them, and not only a time, but there are likewise promises of performance, at that time the promises of these great things shall be performed.

 

The next thing is that God will stir up in his children a disposition suitable, that is the grace of waiting. As great things were promised before, so the soul hath a grace fit for it. We have waited for thee.

 

And as they wait for them, while they are in performing, so they shall enjoy them. We have waited for thee, and we will be glad in thy salvation. We shall so enjoy them, that we shall joy in them. Good things when they be enjoyed, they be joyed in.

 

Again, we shall rejoice in our salvation; we shall glory in our God. After they be a while exercised in waiting, then comes performance, then they be enjoyed and they be enjoyed with joy in glorying in God. For that is the issue of a Christian, when he hath what he would enjoy, when he enjoys it with joy, when the fruit of it is that God hath his glory, and therefore the heart can rejoice in his salvation.

 

Then there is a day, as for the exercising of his people here by waiting. So there is a day of performing promises. In that day. That is a day of all days. When that day comes, then all Prophecies and Promises shall be accomplished to the uttermost.

 

But before that great day, there is an intermediate performance of promises assisted by waiting, to drop comfort to us by degrees. He reserves not all to that day, there be lesser days before that great day. As at the first coming of Christ, so at the overthrow of Antichrist, the conversion of the Jews, there will be much joy. But that is not that day, these days make way for that day. Whensoever prophecies shall end in performances, then shall be a day of joying and glorying in the God of our salvation forever. And therefore in the Revelations where this Scripture is cited (Revelation 21:3-4), is meant the conversion of the Jews, and the glorious estate they shall enjoy before the end of the world. We have waited for our God and now we enjoy him. Yes, but what saith the Church there? Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. There is yet another come Lord, till we be in heaven. So that though intermediate promises be performed here, yet there is another great day of the Lord to be performed, which is specially meant here.

 

The last thing considerable in the words is the manner of expression. They are expressed full of life and with repetition, to make them sure and more certain. In that day it shall be said, his is our God, we have waited for him, he shall save us. He brings them in speaking these words of affection.

 

Indeed when we come to enjoy the performance of God’s gracious promises, if we should live to see the fullness of the Gentiles come and Jews called, we should speak of it again and again. Affections are large and few expressions will not serve for large affections. It will be no tautology to say, This is our God, we have waited for him.

 

Beloved, times are yet to come which may much affect the hearts of the children of God. Howsoever we may not live to see the performance of these things, yet we shall all live to see that day of judgment, and then we shall say, This is our God, we have waited for him. We now see God in the promises, and then we shall see him face to face whom we have waited for in the promises, and we shall see him in heaven forever.

 

Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him. While we live here we are in state of waiting, we are under promises and a condition under promises is a waiting condition; a condition of performance is an enjoying, condition. We are in a waiting condition till our bodies be raised out of the grave, for when we die we wait for the resurrection of our bodies. We may say as Jacob when he was dying, I have waited for thy salvation. We are in a waiting condition till body and soul be joined together at the day of judgment forever.

 

And therefore we should labour to have those graces that are suitable for this condition. The things we wait for are of so transcending excellency, as glory to come, that they cannot be waited for, but the Spirit by the things waited for, fits us to wait for them. A man cannot wait for glory of soul and body, but the Spirit that raises up faith to believe and hope to wait, will purge, and fit, and prepare him for that glorious condition. He that hath this hope purifies himself, as he is pure (1 John 3:3). O, it is a quickening waiting, and a purging waiting; it is efficacious by the Spirit to fit and purify his soul suitable to that glorious condition he waits for. Where that is not, it is but a conceit; a very slender apprehension of the glory to come will make men better. He that hath hope of heaven and happiness under glory, it will make him suitable to the place he looks for.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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