The Blessed Christ
“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”
ONE feels very thankful that we have a few Hebrew words in common use in our Christian assemblies–a kind of link between Israel after the flesh and Israel after the spirit. “Hallelujah,” they sang of old, and we sing, “Hallelujah,” too. “Abba Father,” they said. We also say, “Abba Father.” And this word, “Hosanna,” is another of the few that remain to us of which we understand the meaning, though we use them still in a translated form–Hosanna–“save Lord,” “bless Lord.” “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” I did not mention in the reading of the Psalm–(the 118
th verses of that Psalm begin with the word, Hosanna. One is translated, “Save Lord,” and the other is, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” I shall take this common exclamation, then, constantly used among the Jews, and we shall see as to its use among ourselves. And our first point will be to–
- CONSIDER OCCASIONS WHEN THIS EXCLAMATION, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord,” HAS BEEN, OR WILL BE, SUITABLE.
And, first, in the olden times, the Israelites were accustomed to use this cry, “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord,” when their heroes returned victorious from the battlefield. When they went up to the Temple to give thankspublicly to God for victories over their enemies, they were met by the people, with this exclamation of joy, “Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name.” Very unlike the cries of other nations! Some nations only extolled the heroes, but the people of God see the hand of God, and they mark that the hero only comes in the name of the Lord. And while they give him blessings and wish him every good thing for what he has done, yet the praise is ascribed to the Master in whose name he comes–even Jehovah. While the Philistines would be extolling their god and Moab and Ammon would be lifting up the song to the idols they worshipped, Israel took care, in the song of triumph with which they saluted the returning victors, to extol and magnify the glory of the Lord–the Lord God of Israel–“Blessed is he that comes in the name of Jehovah.” So, my dear Friends, whenever we thank men for kindnesses which they render to us–(and it is our duty to be grateful to them)–yet let us thank yet more the Lord our God! Thank God and thank the secondary means, but do not ascribe the honor to the instrument, alone, lest you set up an idol in the Presence of God! Always take care to see that God, whom you worship, makes all things work through your friends for your help and your deliverance. So to each one who shall bring you good–whether spiritual or temporal good–“Blessed is he that comes to me with this mercy. I recognize him as coming in Jehovah’s name.”
This exclamation might again have been most commonly used of the coming of our Lord. The Word became Incarnate and stooped from the Throne of Heaven to the manger of Bethlehem’s stable. I know not that these words precisely were used, but surely in this spirit the angels sang their midnight carol when the Savior descended–“Glory to God in the highest. On earth peace, goodwill towards men.” What is the spirit of all that song but this word, “Hosanna”? What is the essence of it all, but this sentence, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”? The shepherds could not have used a more significant and suitable expression–and the Easterners, as they gathered round that little cradle and offered their gold, their myrrh, and their incense, together with their grateful homage might have looked at Mary and Joseph, and the Child, and said of Him, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” And had but the nations known it, had but Israel known it, had but the kings of the earth recognized it, one universal shout might have gone up to Heaven–“At last the promised One is come! The Seed of the woman is born! The Messiah has appeared! The Prince of Peace has come with innumerable blessings! Blessed is He that comes in Jehovah’s name!” And I think the very sea and land, even the heavens and the Heaven of heavens, might have caught up the spirit of that hour, and the sea, with its waves, might have roared out, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” And you forests–every tree within you–might have burst forth in the same note till all the nations would have become one mouth for song, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”
And this expression was used, according to my text, further on in our SaviorWhen He rode in triumph upon acolt, the foal of an ass, up to the Temple, when He went to take possession of His Father’s House, and drive out the buyers and sellers, who had made it into a den of thieves–then in that day, when He was proclaimed King of the Jews, and the crowd of men mounted the trees and broke down the palm branches, juvenile voices all along the road shouted, “Hosanna.” This was the hour of our Savior’s gladness, and Jerusalem for once seemed as if she would shake off her solid coolness and would acknowledge Him whom God had sent! It were well for her if it had been so, but the Truth of God was hidden from her eyes and she became desolate, because more heartily and truthfully she had not said, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”
And shall I be thought to be fanciful if I suppose that this exclamation would have been most appropriate among the bands of angels and choirs of the blood-washed, when our Savior, having finished His lifework, ascended to His Throne?When they brought His chariot from on high to bear Him to His last place of rest, when He ascended on high, leading captivity captive, and the pearly gates were set open that He might enter, did not all those bright celestial spirits throng the streets of gold and cry “Hosanna: Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”? I can scarcely think they could refrain from the expressions of their delight when they saw Him come with His garments dyed red, fresh from the slaughter of all His foes, triumphant over all that came against Him, the great Conqueror, the Hero who had routed, once and for all, all Israel’s enemies and put them all beneath His feet! Surely they must have said, “Hosanna,” yet again and again, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”!
And surely, to close the list of occasions, I may mention when He who went up from Olivet shall come a second time,in like manner as He went up into Heaven, that is to say, in very Person as He mounted to the skies, He will be saluted, will He not–by all His waiting people, with this grand exclamation, “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”? The coming of the Son of God is no joy to the ungodly world–the day of the Lord to them will be darkness, and not light–the earth will burn as an oven! “The day comes that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, and yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.” To the righteous the coming of Christ is their grandest expectation–it is the day of the manifestation of the sons of God, the day for which the whole creation groans and travails, for it will be the day of our resurrection, when our souls that may have been a long while divorced from our bodies shall be re-married, and the body shall be raised again like unto His glorious body! “For we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like He, for we shall see Him as He is.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come,” and that same Spirit and Bride shall say, “Welcome, welcome, King of Kings!” when He shall come. Those who have watched most, and longed most, and hungered and thirsted most after that glorious Advent shall be they who most joyfully shall go forth to meet King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousal, and this shall be the note of their triumphant greeting, “Hosanna: Blessed is He that comes in Jehovah’s name.” Thus I have very briefly run through the occasions when this exclamation would seem to be exceedingly suitable. Now let us for a while consider–
II. THE SUITABILITY OF THIS CRY FOR CONSTANT USE–not now and then, but always! And it may be viewed in two lights. First, as an exultation. “Blessed is He that comes.” He is blessed. It is a blessed thing that He hascome. It may be viewed, in the next place, as a prayeras anexultation, a note of triumph, He is blessed that He has come in the name of the Lord, and ought we not to be always saying this, “Blessed is He that He should condescend to tabernacle among men! Blessed is He that it should be true that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, that we might behold His Glory, the Glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth”? He is blessed, for He came to earth fully qualified for all His work, endowed with all the wisdom, the knowledge, the unction, the anointing from on high that He could wish. He was blessed in His coming, blessed while He carried on the work. Though His the pain and sorrow, yet it was all blessing to us, from the first act He did as a Man until He said, “It is finished.” When I think of Him coming down as a Man, coming down as a Servant, coming to take upon Himself to die for our sins, I can indeed say, “Blessed is He that comes to all this in the name of the Lord”–comes as our Brother, comes as our Priest, comes as our Substitute, comes as our Scapegoat, comes as our great Deliverer and propitiatory Sacrifice that we might be cleansed from sin! He is blessed–all blessings are in Him, all blessings come through Him, all blessings belong to Him! God has given all blessings to Him because of this. He is blessed. And, Brothers and Sisters, if He is blessed in the work and the carrying of it on, is He not, and shall He not be blessed in our esteem, now that He has mounted to the skies and taken the precious blood within the veil and sprinkled it there–and stands there now pleading as a prevalent High Priest for us? Blessed is He that came in Jehovah’s name–the great Ambassador of Peace between offended Deity and revolted man. He is our Peace and let His name forever be blessed! He is our Prince–let us adore Him! He is all our salvation, all our desire! We ask nothing more than to be like He and be with Him. Blessings in Him! He is blessed! God has blessed Him! Forever and forever shall all generations call Him blessed! It is an exultation, then. We shout to His triumph, “Blessed is He that comes!”
But it is a prayer. My dear Friends, we desire to do all we can for the Lord Jesus Christ, but how very limited are ourcapacities! If we were to give Him all we have, and give our bodies to be burned, it would be very little for us to give to such a Savior. But what a mercy it is that there is no limit to what we may wish. We can bless Him with our wishes, if we cannot with our acts. I was about to say we may bless Him infinitely with our desires. At any rate, there is no limit to our capacity to desire. And those desires may take the very acceptable and prevalent form of prayer. What I cannot do forChrist, I can pray God to be done. What if I cannot preach His Gospel in every land, yet where I can, I will preach it andpray God to raise up many to proclaim it. And if I cannot crown His head with many crowns, yet would I lay at His feet such as I have, and then my desires would crown Him over, and over, and over again, and my prayers would clamber upto His lofty Throne and put fresh coronets upon His dear head, blessing Him that He does not deny me a share of wishing what I cannot do, and of praying for what I cannot give! In this sense, Brothers and Sisters, we can, to a very great extent, bless Him who comes in the name of the Lord–bless Him with our wishes, our desires, our earnestness and especially with our prayers.
Now, what is the blessing, then, which we would seek for our Lord, Jesus Christ? What are the prayers that we would offer for Him? It is written, “Prayer also shall be made for Him continually.” What shall we ask for Him?
We will ask, first, that He that comes in the name of the Lord may be blessed in His Church. Oh, that He would blessthe Church just now. I am afraid we have fallen upon lean times just now. It may be that God is about to chastise His Church, because when we had a revival we had not Grace enough to keep it. Almost universally there is a cloud hanging over Israel–lethargy coming in place of earnestness. God knows we were never very earnest–I mean the Church of God at large was not very earnest–but yet that earnestness which did arise seems now to be vanishing. I pray God it may not vanish, but, on the contrary, may all the zeal which has been in our days be far exceeded–all the agony for souls, all the labor to proclaim the Grace of God to them, all the earnest desires and prayers of God’s people–may all these be renewed with tenfold vigor, and in this way may we have to cry, “The Lord has visited His Church, and let His name be blessed.” We do tonight, I trust, put up the prayer, each one of us who belongs to this Church and people, “Lord prosper Your Word, be pleased to give power to your minister and increased Grace to your servants, holiness of life, separation from the world, power in prayer–give them communion with Yourself! Grant that there may be peace within the borders of your Church, and that the citizens of Zion may be filled with the finest of the wheat.” In this respect we will bless Christ by desiring a blessing on His Church and seeking to promote its prosperity.
Next to this, I say, “Lord save”–“Lord bless”–Him that comes, (putting it as a prayer for the scattering of theChurch’s enemies and His own enemies). Christ still has many enemies in the world. The Pope, the Antichrist of Rome, with all his doctors and counselors, assemble at this very hour–the incarnate Antichrist–at this present moment! And here, in this England of ours, there are priests busy up and down, in every court and lane, in every corner of the land, and our clergy of the Established Church, many of them double-dyed Papists, doing the work of Rome and eating the bread of a Protestant Church at the same time! And then there is infidelity, seeking all it can to make its converts, with a zeal which were commendable if it were used for a right purpose. They compass sea and land to make proselytes, and shame the coldness of many professed followers of Christ. The enemies of Christ are very many. The Church is very feeble, yes, she is like a reed shaken by the wind. Without her Lord, she is less than nothing–like chaff in the whirlwind! But, oh, let us pray that He may be blessed who comes in the name of the Lord by the scattering of all His enemies, by the putting down of spiritual wickedness in high places, and giving the victory to the Truth and to the Gospel–that which saves–putting to flight that which destroys before that which purifies–scattering that which defiles before that which glorifies God, annihilating that which blasphemes His holy name! May Christ be blessed as a Conqueror over His foes!
We may, further, very earnestly pray that the Lord may be blessed in the conversion of souls. Oh, would to God Hewere blessed in that respect in this congregation more and more! Preaching becomes very dead work when there are no converts. Sowing is very well and one likes it at the sowing season, but if a man had to sow all the year round and never saw the golden sheaves, he might well grow weary. Though, indeed, in sowing for God we ought not to be weary, yet the tendency is to be so. How few conversions there are anywhere just now! The Church does not increase at all in the same rate as the population does. Every year I believe that the sin of London is gaining upon the Gospel, and all the efforts that are made do not tell upon the masses. We scarcely hold our ground! Certainly we make very little if any, advance. Of course, we congratulate ourselves that there are so many churches built. Does anybody go to them? We sometimes think there are so many Chapels. Yes, but how many are there that are half empty, or even less occupied than that? And what if they are full, yet in how many places is the Gospel preached very uncertainly and no certain sound is given from the trumpet? It is Christ that is preached in a measure, but preached in a fog–certainly not in the way that is so plain that wayfaring men need not err therein, but in a way that is so perplexing and involved in hard words and gaudy obscurities of rhetoric, that oftentimes many know not their right hand from their left, and look on, marveling at the orator who speaks so grandly, but what he says, or whereof he affirmed, they utterly know not! How many there are that have the key of knowledge, but open not the door! They seem rather to show how delightfully they can lock it and how skillfully they can shut out the multitude! We need to see conversions! May God send them everywhere throughout this land by the tens of thousands! And in other lands, would God there were conversions by the millions! The world teems with population, but Jesus Christ has as yet few who find Him. Straight is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there are that go in at the gate or tread that road. O Lord, how long, how long, how long? Arise and convert sinners to Yourself!
The same thought comes to us only a little enlarged. Our desire in prayer for Christ is that He may the blessed in thesense of being glorious to the ends of the earth. We have no doubts about the issue of the struggle in which we are engaged–against the powers of darkness. It may be a thousand years before Christianity is prevalent. It may be ten thousand years! It may be fifty thousand years, it may be a hundred thousand years! We, none of us, know. To God it will be quick, very quickly–and in but a short time–behold Christ comes quickly! But that, “quickly,” may not mean what we think it does, and they who sit down and say it will be the next twenty, or fifty, or 100 years know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm! We who are working now are very like, as I believe, those coral insects that are about to build a reef. They begin at the bottom of the sea. They lay, first of all, the foundations, broad and strong. It will be a long, long, long, long while before that reef will come to the top of the sea, before it will be seen, before earth and weeds will be attracted to it. It will be still longer before there begins to grow upon it certain tiny plants and mosses–still longer before the cocoanut begins to spring, and before men and animals shall be found there. Now, those first insects that lay the foundation die. They have gone, and the next, and the next, and the next and the reef is still unseen. That is very like what we are. All we can do is to keep on working, working with all our might. Our prayer ought not to be that we should see the whole of our success. I like Moses' prayer–“Let Your work appear unto Your servants! And Your Glory unto their children.” Hence no matter how things are–it may have been that we have hardly stood our ground, and we can hardly say the Lord’s cause has prospered–still, we have only seen the beginning! And we may rest assured that when the latter verses of this grand poem shall come, though the book may have opened somewhat dolorously and gloomily, the end will be, “Sing unto the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider has He cast into the sea.” In any great cause that is undertaken in any country, it is not one generation that succeeds. Many generations have to take part in it. There is a period of contempt for even common political principles–a period of neglect–afterwards a period of contempt–then, perhaps, a period of absolute persecution, and then, perhaps, when we least expect it, there comes the moment of victory. And so it will be with the great cause of Christ! Only let this be our prayer, that the Lord would cut short His work in righteousness. That He would be pleased to soon come forth with His sword girt upon His thigh and take to Himself His great power and reign! Before another year comes, if the Lord wills, the nations may all give up their idols and turn to Christ! God can do as He pleases. Time is nothing to Him. With men, steel and iron must be worked gradually, but in the world of spirits, God has but to strike a spark and the fire will run along the ground and illumine the earth with its sacred conflagration! He can affect all minds at once, and turn the heart of the child to the Father, and the hearts of all men to the great Prince of Peace, if so He wills it! And, perhaps, He means to do that–to save the whole battle for one grand last charge when the King, Himself, shall lead the van, and then the conquering banner shall be seen, and the Lord God Omnipotent shall reign! Be it as He wills, we will always say under every discouragement, at all times when we see not our sign, “Blessed be You, Jesus! You shall get the crown and be Conqueror yet! May Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done as in Heaven, so on earth!”
Now, lastly, there are times, dear Friends, when this exclamation may be used about ourselves personally. I will onlyhint at these times. The first is at our conversion. When we had been in sorrow and trouble, under sin–when the Lawhad made sin revive and we died, when every hope was hurled in despair–you remember how you and I welcomed Christ. I remember the very Sabbath morning and the spot of ground. Some of you may not so distinctly remember–that does not matter–but some of you can. Oh, how blessed was he who came to us in the name of the Lord! Sin was forgiven. Doubts fled, despair vanished, joy and peace flowed in our souls, leapt within us, and we were so happy–we scarcely knew how to express our joy and our love! Oh, dear Savior, on that first day of our spiritual birth, and afterwards while we were yet in the love of our espousals, we could do no other than say, “Blessed is He, the dear precious and exalted Savior, who has come to me in the Lord’s name and saved my soul!” Since that day we have, every now and then, had repetitions of our conversion–renewals of the Presence of God. You had got very dull and worldly, and your soulwas cleaving to the dust, but, perhaps, it was under a sermon or in private prayer. Or it may have been in the middle of your business the Lord returned to you–He became the health of your countenance and restored your soul! Oh, I know how you sang, when your communion with Christ began to be as sweet as it was before, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!” The Lord send such seasons to any of you who are backsliding! May He come to you, now, and knock at the door of your heart! Oh, open to Him and bid Him come in, for there is no power on earth that can revive a decaying heart like the coming of Christ afresh by renewed communion! So too, dear Friends, you and I have said this when we have had some very happy seasons in the house of the Lord. Have you not sometimes, in this very place, when our voicehas gone up in song (the thousands praising God)–when we have been all moved by gracious Words of Scripture, as the trees of the forest are moved with the wind–have you not been inclined to burst out with the note, “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”? Why, the very preacher has been beloved to you for his Master’s sake! But the preacher’s Master–oh, what love you felt in your heart for Him–what joy at the sound of His name! What delight when it has been like ointment poured forth, and the love of God has been shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit which is given unto you! Do you not remember when you went up with the multitude that kept holy day, when you went up to the altar of God with exceeding joy, with the voice of thanksgiving? Ah, then it was–
“Blessings forever on the Lamb,
Who bore the Cross for wretched men.”
And once again, to conclude,
whenever God visits His Church with a revival, then the cry goes up, “Blessed is He
that comes in the name of the Lord"–a revival of religion, I mean, of this kind–when a deep religious concern is upon all, when Christians become more earnest and more prayerful, when they become more attentive to the unconverted and more anxious to see them saved. And when the unconverted, themselves, take a deeper interest in the Word–when they begin to feel their sin, when they cry out for mercy, when they ask the way to Zion! We have had the Lord with us now these 17 years with no bursts of excitement, but with one continual stream of blessing–and I am so anxious that we should not lose it. I could wish that we might see some token of even a larger measure of His Presence than we have had yet. I would ask some of you that have power in prayer to join with me every morning and every night in a prayer that He would come to us afresh. We are not discouraged–very far from it. We have never been without many enquirers and many being added to the Church, but still, there are unconverted ones in the congregation. We have found at the Tabernacle what we had at Park Street, that we have many more members than seats. I remember one man coming one night to have a seat who was very honest and wanted to see me, first, before he took a sitting. “Sir,” he said, “somebody told me that I should be expected to be converted if I took a seat, and I cannot guarantee that.” I said, “My dear Friend, somebody has told you the right thing, but he has not put it exactly right. If you take a seat, we expect that you will be converted. It is not that you are expected to convert yourself, but we expect that if you hear the Word, God will bless you, because,” I said, “I hardly know any who have sat there but have been converted.” I was very glad to find there was all current among the seat-holders that God would bless them! I believe He will. But still, I wish we had more members. We have 4,200, I think, but we can hold more than that. I would like to see six thousand! What a joy it would be! So many that I would be half inclined to say I must go and fish in another pool–they are all caught here! Would not it be a mercy if there were no more fish in the sea to be caught, but all were converted–everyone that comes into this Tabernacle? His power is infinite! There is no limit to that, except that our unbelief in the economy of Grace is sometimes allowed to limit it. What is said converted to God! If you could go out and do good to others, and bring others in, and other churches could be formed, what a blessing might come of it! And why not? “He could not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” Oh, that this might be taken away from us! May we believe, and we shall see! May we trust and pray, and we shall joyfully behold it! Oh, that some poor sinner would come to Jesus Christ tonight! He would, indeed, have to say, “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.” One prayer will bring you to Him, if it is sincere. Simply to trust Him–that is the thing! To rely upon Him–that is all! He died for the guilty. His blood was shed for the foul. Come and trust Him and yield to Him! Amen.