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AT ST. GEORGE THE MARTYR'S, SOUTHWARK, LONDON,
WEDNESDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 4TH, 1876.
The 147th Psalm, and the 3rd verse.
“HE HEALETH THE BROKEN IN HEART, AND BINDETH UP THEIR
This Psalm opens as it closes with a Hallelujah !—“Praise ye the Lord.” Several things are mentioned in this psalm for which the Psalmist calls upon persons to praise God. He is to be praised for His great care of the Church, for His power, for His mercies, for His providential dealings, for His blessings bestowed upon the kingdom, and for His marvellous power over the meteors, and also for His ordinances which He has appointed in the Church of God. You will perceive that I have been reading from the heading of the psalm. It is a very fair summary; and for all these good and excellent things the Psalmist says :--"Praise ye the Lord.” Praise is described in the 1st verse as being good :
“For it is good to sing praises unto our God.” Why is it good ? Because it comes from the hearts of those who are loved of God, and who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and who have been quickened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. From such persons praise is good, it is well, it is acceptable, it is the right and proper thing to offer unto God. This praise is said to be pleasant : "for it is pleasant.
It is pleasing is this praise unto God, who has done so many and great things for His children. Praise is pleasant and agreeable, because it is offered up to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is the spiritual offering of a broken and contrite heart. Praise is also comely. It is becoming a child of God, who is saved with an everlasting salvation, to give praise to the Lord. Praise the Lord for His great love, for His eternal redemption, for His quickening and renewing spirit, for His preserving and sustaining power and grace. It is comely or becoming a sinner saved to praise the Lord. 6. The Lord doth build
Jerusalem.” I shall not speak of Jerusalem literally, but of Jerusalem spiritually, I look upon Jerusalem here as the Church of God. The spiritual Jerusalem which is not of this world, but which is from above. This is the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from God. The divine architect is God himself. The foundation stone is Christ. The stones are all believers. Sovereign grace is the cement which binds the whole and every stone together. These stones were hewn out of the quarry of corrupt nature by the Holy Spirit. By him they were dressed, and squared, and polished, and beautified, and are now aptly described as the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem. " The Lord doth build up Jerusalem.” Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together. How blessed are they who dwell in this city of which it is said, the Lord is the Builder thereof. The Lord dwells in this city Jerusalem. He keeps it, and there are peace and prosperity within its walls. Again : “He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.” Outcasts—this is just the state in which we all are by nature, outcasts.
Go back to the account as it is given of our first parents. It is said that they were cast out, or driven out of the garden. This is true of all their offspring—all are outcasts, lying in the open field of this world, in their sins, in their shame, and in their blood, to the loathing of their person as Ezekiel has it, 16th chapter. In this polluted condition they would remain for ever, were it not that the Spirit of God in mercy goes forth in His quickening and drawing power, and thus “He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.” It is of no consequence where they are scattered throughout the world. They may be as far apart as the poles, but the Spirit knows them, and He brings them to Jesus in His own time. He brings them to rest upon that foundation which never gives way.
This is the work of the Spirit of God, wbich has been going on for ages, and is still going on, and will continue to go on until the last vessel of mercy has been gathered out. “He healeth the broken in heart, and He bindeth up their wounds." A word or two upon the 4th verse “ He telleth the number of the stars.” All God's children are stars in His right hand. The Lord spake to Abraham in the 15th chapter of Genesis, when he was childless, and said, “Look, Abraham, and see if thou canst tell the stars, and number them ; so shall thy seed be.” And then it is said in the next verse : “ Abraham believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.” God can accomplish whatever He pleases. Abraham believed in the Lord. But, now, look how this appears when we turn to the New Testament. It is said in the last verse of the 3rd chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians : “ If ye be Christ's,”“ If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." These are the stars, and He telleth them all. He knoweth their number. This points out to us the exact knowledge of Jehovah, not only as regards the heavenly bodies, but also as regards the number of His saints, and they are a great number. Look at the 7th chapter of the Book of the Revelation, and you will find there, gathered together out of all nations, a great multitude, or number, which no man can number. They are all redeemed and saved through the blood of Christ, and now they appear before the throne of God and the Lamb, and say, salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Are not these saints stars in the crown of Christ? But it is said that He knoweth them all, and that He calleth them all by their names.
Here again you have the exactness of the knowledge of God brought out. He knows the stars and their names. He knows His saints and their names. He always knew them. He knew them in Christ from everlasting. He knew them in Adam. He knew them in their fall, and in their sins, and in their wanderings from Him. He knew where and when to catch them. And when He has caught them He reveals to them that He knows His sheep by name, and then He makes His sheep to know Him (John x). There is mutual knowledge between Christ and His church. Christ always knows His sheep before they know Him. It is so all the way through in the salvation of a sinner. God is always the first. I hope I shall never be allowed to contradict this by putting the efforts of a fallen creature in the place of sovereign grace. It is no uncommon thing to hear man magnified as to what he can do in the work of salvation, as if he could save
himself. How often are dead sinners told to love God, and then God will love them. That they must be good and then God will be good to them. That they must repent and believe, and then the Lord will be merciful and gracious to them. Fallen man is too often addressed as if God could do nothing without the permission of His sinful creatures. Man is treated as if he were all powerful, whilst God is spoken of as if He were all weakness. If it should ever come to pass that I should preach after this carnal and ignorant sort, I hope the Lord will scatter this large congregation, or close this pulpit and every other pulpit to me. My beloved brethren, God is indeed the first, the last, and the all in the salvation of His people. And this is the best for those who are broken in heart and have wounds which need binding up.
Let us now turn to our text. In the first place, consider the persons therein described. " They are the broken in heart," and have wounds or griefs. And in the second place, consider the Lord's kindness in dealing with these persons. “ The Lord healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Or, as it is in the Prayer Book version—"The Lord healeth
those that are broken in heart, and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.” A very good translation, although an old one. Now in the first place. Consider the persons who are broken in heart, and who have their wounds, or griefs ? Look at the verse and think for a moment. What is meant by the “HEART”? And what by “the BROKEN in heart.” Who has broken it? And with what did He break it? And what are these wounds and griefs which have been made? I shall just say a few words upon each of these points.
The heart. Well, the original word for heart, means to vibrate, or to move to and fro. Hence, pulsation and breathing. Let us see how this applies to a natural man's heart. I look into the 6th chapter of the book of Genesis, and I read there in the 5th verse that God looked down upon men; and what did He see? He saw “ that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil, and that continually." This was the vibration, this was the way the heart moved, this was its pulsation and breathing then. Its vibrations and pulsations were the same in the time of the Psalmist. 6. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Now, was this a good vibration ? I think that it just shows this, that it moved, but only in one direction, and that an
Let us look again. I find in the 44th chapter of the book of the Prophet Isaiah, that “A deceived heart hath turned him aside, he feedeth on ashes.' The ashes there referred to, if you examine the context, is idolatry. They had made a god and worshipped it, and then with part of the wood they made a fire, and warmed themselves, and said “ Aha, I am warm. Well, the Lord says of all such things : “ A deceived heart hath turned him aside.” This is the way which the natural heart vibrates. It is always tending to idolatry. There always has been and there always will be idolatry. It is the natural element of the depraved and corrupted heart of man. But when the Lord Himself comes again, He will destroy all idolatry and all idolaters too. Look again how the heart is spoken of by Jeremiah : “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked : who can know it ?” (Jeremiah xvii. 9). I dare say you
you know a great deal about your own hearts, but you do not know how bad they really are. You only know a little about them. I think, if you knew the full extent of the depravity of
hearts by nat re,—you would wish even as natural men to fly from them. We read that the Lord knows the heart, that He tries the reins, and the heart of man. This is what the prophet Jeremiah said about the natural man's heart. Another passage bearing directly upon this point is in the 7th chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark, and the 20th and two following verses, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness : all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” This is our Lord's account of man's corrupt nature. I have no words to add to those which our Lord has uttered. This being our Lord's estimate of man's heart, I may remind you that I
do not know how bad you are. Now, when you think that you see someone much worse than yourselves, think again of your own sinful nature, and look upon him rather as an object of sympathy, and compassion, and pity. He is naturally no worse than yourselves.
What are we to understand by “ The broken in heart.” It is of a broken heart that the text speaks. It is a grand thing to have a broken heart after all. Persons die of a broken heart, and especially of such a broken heart as this. They die unto sin, they die unto the law, and unto themselves. You may rely upon it that this broken heart brings death with it. Now what is the meaning of this word broken? What does it mean in the Scriptures ? It means disabled. You will find this to be so if you turn to the 30th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, and the 21st verse : “Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and lo, it shall not be bound up to be healed, to put a roller to bind it, to make it strong.” So again—“I will break his arms." And in the 24th verse—“I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and put my sword in his hand : but I will break Pharaoh's arms, and he shall groan before him with the groanings of a deadly wounded man. But I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” Thus it was that the Lord disabled Pharaoh, He broke his arms. It is the same idea in our text: “ broken in heart.” Disabled ! what can a man do when he has got a broken heart? Can he mend it ?
A man with broken legs cannot walk; a man with broken arms is disabled. Now, this is just what I understand by a broken heart. God has disabled the man from going on in his own wicked ways. Now this broken heart is in the sight of God of great price. You may rely upon this. What does David say in the 51st Psalm, and the 17th verse ? “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." Why should God despise a broken and contrite heart ? It is the work of His own Hands. You cannot break your own hearts. But you will perceive here that the broken heart and the contrite spirit are excellent sacrifices in the sight of God. Brethren, have you been thus disabled ? Have your legs been broken so that you cannot walk in your old paths of sin and wickedness ? Have your arms been disabled, so that you cannot now lend your hand to work that which is evil ? After all, this is the practical and experimental part of religion,-breaking a man's heart, bringing it down, and laying it low. Such a heart as this is an excellent heart. soft and tender heart. It is a very precious heart. Why! the Spirit of God dwells in it. He dwells in the high and lofty place, inhabiting eternity ; but he also dwells with the humble, lowly, and contrite spirit. This is the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty. The Lord dwells in broken hearts that He may revive the spirit of the humble, and revive the heart of the contrite ones. The broken heart is the dwelling place of Jehovah, and wherever He abides, He blesses and sanctifies. The broken heart is peculiar, and is the property only of those who are born of God.
Again, who is the breaker ? Well, the Breaker has gone up, and broken into the heart. Jehovah has broken into the heart. He has
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