A SERMON – Preached on Sunday Morning July 21th 1867, by
MR. JAMES WELLS
AT THE NEW SURREY TABERNACLE, WANSEY STREET
"And judgment was given unto them."-Revelation xx. 4."
WE proved, I hope, pretty clearly last Lord's Day morning, in connection with these words as our text, that there are two manners of nations spoken of in the Bible -the Lord's nations, that were to be blessed; and Satan’s nations, that he has deceived, does deceive, and will finally deceive. We also showed that the words bottomless pit do not mean hell, not in one of the seven places in which they are named; but simply signify "the abyss," meaning this world itself, with its deeps of iniquity; and Satan is cast down into this world, into the deeps of its iniquity, in which deeps thousands upon thousands from time to time are drowned as in perdition. We showed that hell is spoken of in a very different way. The hell of the lost is described in the 10th verse of this chapter, where we find Satan is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. You will observe, if it be a lake, then it is liquid; and here the wrath of God is represented as a rolling lake of liquid fire, into which Satan is cast, and the beast, meaning the whole body of the ungodly that make up the one wild beast, alien to God and to Christ; and the false prophet, meaning the whole body of false ministers, that advocate those errors by which souls are deceived, and God is insulted; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. We also observed the seal by which Satan is known. But I will not recapitulate all these points, because there they are in our printed sermon of last Lords day morning. I may just observe that the nations that are saved are said to bring their wealth and honor and Glory into the city of God. Now by their wealth and honor and glory you must understand their testimony. It does not mean their literal wealth, nor their literal honor, nor their literal glory; for nothing can be added to that city, nothing can be added to God. If you could bring as much wealth into the church of God as would build as many places of worship in the land as there are public-houses, and doctors, and lawyers, and undertakers (I put those four together because they go together, and one helps the other); why, even all that certainly would not convert the world. The wealth that they shall bring into the city then, is their testimony. Each soul as arrives in glory carries with it this testimony and that testimony will Include its honor, its wealth, and its glory;-"Unto him that loved me, and washed me from my sins in his own blood, and hath made me a king and a priest unto God and to his Father, to him be glory forever and ever.” This is their wealth. Here, then is your treasure, here is your honor, and here is your glory. And so says the apostle, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. When thou dies, this is the honor, this is the wealth, and this is the glory, that thou wilt carry with thee. And thou canst not be welcome into heaven by carrying anything else with thee; for the Lord hah said, “None shall appear before me empty." He will take care to furnish each with faith In Christ he will take care to furnish each with life in the soul, grace in the heart; and so it is, then, precious faith that shall accompany us to the last, and give us an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I have two things that I want to make clear this morning: not so much from the words of our text as from the things connected with our text though we shall come to the things contained in the text,-after I have just observed that our text is a quotation from the 7th chapter of the Book of Daniel. We there read of the little horn, which in due time waxed exceedingly great. So if you admit a little error into the church it will soon become great. Admit a little humble, pious, sleek professor into the church who is secretly full of the devil, but pretends to the truth; and by and by out comes the error, that will involve others and will by and by become a great horn, which will be more stout then its fellows, and will speak terrible things against those dangerous high doctrine people. And so this little horn became a great horn, and when it became big enough it made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, not to make them give up the truth, but to subject them to suffering, until the Ancient of days did come-that is, Christ Jesus;-when he came in his eternity, then judgment was given in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. You will therefore observe that, a judgment was thus given in their favor by the coming in of him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; as it was then, so it must be now.
First, then, the manner after which Satan is bound. Secondly, the judgment given in favor of the people of God.
First, then, the manner after which Satan is bound,-premising again that I take the thousand years to be a definite for an indefinite period. I take these thousand years just as I take every chronogram, or note of time, recorded in this book-a definite for an indefinite period. I will repeat that to my mind the 8th verse of the 105th Psalm is a kind of key to these thousand years. "He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations." I therefore take the thousand generations there and the thousand years here to mean the gospel dispensation from first to last. And do not think me extravagant in thus viewing the thousand years as being so extended; for a greater man than I shall ever be-namely, Dr. Cumming-thinks that the thousand years may mean 365,000 years. If the Doctor be right, see what a long way we are off from the end of the world. And if we are a long way off from the end of the world, we are farther off still from the millennium, for I believe the millennium will never come. I do believe the end of the world will come, but I do not believe the millennium will ever come. I remain quite in the dark at present upon that subject. Satan is bound. And you must understand this first idea, or else you will be in the dark all the way through-that Satan is bound only in relation to Gods nations, only in relation to Gods people. He is not bound in relation to others, and even in relation to God's people he has a certain length of chain, and he goes about the whole length of his chain even among them, seeking whom he may devour but still it is only towards the people of God that he is bound. Let us look at the nature of it. First, he is bound legally. What a sweet thought is this to us! - Satan is bound legally; that is to say, there is no law in heaven, there is no law on earth, there is no law under the earth, and there never will be by which Satan can lay one fault; one blemish, one spot, to the charge of God's elect. The blood of Jesus Christ hath freed them entirely from all sin-original sin, heart sin, lip sin, life sin, past sin, future sin; all is gone; and therefore there is no law by which Satan can lay a single fault to their charge. And this the early Christians as well as the ancient saints were made to understand, for ''they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death." Joshua, the high priest, understood this; he fled to the angel of the covenant, and stood before the angel of the covenant, because he knew that there was embodied the blood of the everlasting covenant, the everlasting righteousness that Christ should bring in. And thus Satan is bound by law-that is, legally bound that is to say, there is no means by which he can bring one fault, one spot, and one accusation to your charge. it does appear to me, though I say it with the diffidence I ought to say it with, and you perhaps may read it for yourselves, and if you should see I am wrong, drop a note to me, and point out where it is,-but it does appear to me from this chapter, that when that tremendous day shall come, when the Savior shall range his own people on his right hand, and the others on his left-it does appear to me that Satan himself will not be there; for this chapter shows that he is cast into the lake before the judgement takes place. So he will not be able to lay anything to your charge then, for he will not be there, he will not be admitted into court. You will from your lofty height see into hell; you will see the fiery wrath of God in which Satan is involved, and to which the others must sink. What are we born to witness! What a tremendous day will that be! And yet as sure as we are here this morning we shall see that day, with infinite rapture, or with awful agony and tremendous terror. Oh, then, happy, thrice happy the people that are made acquainted with the only way of escape from the power of Satan; and that only way is experimental acquaintance with the atonement of the dear Savior as having put all sin away. Thus, in relation to God s people, Satan is bound. Again, he is also bound influentially, so that he shall not be able to deceive God s elect. Oh, if Satan could have prevented Saul of Tarsus conviction of his state as a sinner; if Satan could have prevented the arrows of truth pricking- the thousands in their hearts on the day of Pentecost, and if Satan could have prevented the unfolding to them of the mediatorial perfection, triumph, certainty, suitability, and glory of the Redeemer, together with the immutability of God's counsel how gladly would the enemy have done so! But no; he is bound influentially, and so some of us know. He cannot deceive you now. If Satan were to tell you now that you are not a sinner, he could not make you believe it; if he were to tell you now that salvation is partly of works and partly of grace, he could not make you believe it; if he were to tell you now that there is some deficiency in the grace and salvation of God, he could not make you believe it. So that he is not only bound legally, but he is bound influentially; he cannot by any ingenious influence fatally deceive God’s elect. Though we live in a day when I believe myself there is a vast amount of delusion. When I look at the conversions, what are they? Hardly skin deep; a little reformation for a time, and there it stops. If you ask them for any downward conviction, ask them for any deliverance they have realized, ask them for any soul-trouble, ask them for those chastening’s, and wounding, and stripping, and humbling, that bring the sinner to a Savior’s feet, and make him feel that it lies entirely with God how, when, and where he will have mercy upon him, - if you ask for these things you get them not. Oh, they say, we believe. Yes, but it is only a natural belief. I believed the Bible when I was in a state of nature as firmly as I believe it now, in the mere letter of it; but I knew nothing of my condition, I knew nothing of Christ, nothing of the truth. Thus, then, Satan is so bound that though, if it were possible, he should deceive the very elect, the Lord will take care he shall not deceive them; "The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein." And, thirdly, he is bound by force. I cannot help saying it-what a comfort the omnipotence of the blessed God should be to the Christian! When we contemplate the starry heavens, and the globe we inhabit, and its countless wonders, we are ready to say with David, when we thus look at his omnipotence in that light, What is man, that a Being self-existent, and whose power is, without a figure of speech, absolutely unlimited, whose power is omnipotent, what is man, that this Eternal, that this Omnipotent, should thus visit him, and notice him, and make these poor creatures his sons and his daughters?-
"One with Jesus, by eternal union one."
Then we look at this same omnipotence in Christ Jesus the Lord; how the Savior came forth, and by the omnipotence of his arm crushed sin to chaff, as it were, of the summer threshing-floor, and crushed all the powers of Satan, of death, and of tribulation,-that all these things should pass away like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor Here are we, poor creatures, fainting and failing from time to time; but God himself, in his almighty and eternal power, is our strength; he is never exhausted, he will never die, he is never weary, he is never weak; he sustains us with infinite delight and pleasure. And Abraham, when he felt what a weak, miserable creature he was, the Lord came to him and said, "Abraham, walk before me, and be thou perfect,"-that is, be sincere, which he was; and be decided;-"for I am God Almighty;" therefore whatever is needful for you to do, I can and will enable you to do it. You see how Job delighted in this. "Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me." Ah, when I think of God in his omnipotence, both in grace and in providence, I must say that I have drunk much consolation from these considerations-that he is almighty in his grace and almighty in the movements of his providence. We may well sing therefore,-
"Where is the power can reach them there?
Or what can force them thence"
Why should we fear Satan? He is detained by force. He must have looked very foolish in the eyes of his followers when the Savior foiled him in the temptations he offered to the Savior; and especially when the Savior died. Just as Satan thought be had got the Savior, the Savior had got Satan. Just as Satan was bruising the Savior’s heel, and saying, Ah, have got to his heel, I shall get to the vital part presently; but before Satan could get to the Savior’s vital part, the Savior got to Satan's vital part,-crushed his head. His power was thus trodden under the Savior’s feet, for the Savior did in his life, and especially in his death, what is predicted in the 91st Psalm,-"Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet." So, then, Satan is bound, first legally, secondly influentially, and thirdly by force. David, and indeed all the saints, may well rejoice, and ask what they have to fear, with such a God as this. And then there is no uncertainty about it; the Lord has engaged to do it in an absolute form. "God shall tread Satan down under your feet." And the Savior says, "Behold, give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you." If you were killed, it would not hurt you. And if you are like a man we read of in history-had only twelve ounces of bread and water a day; made sure he should soon die; why instead of that he lived to 180; it did not hurt him. I dare say you will not try it, though, any the more or what I am now saying. But while we fear that adverse circumstances will hurt us, the Lord has said, "I give unto you power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Satan, then, is bound forcibly.
"Force doth him detain,"
He must get permission of the Most High before he can step an inch beyond a certain bound. "He goes about seeking whom he may devour." What a God is our God!
But, fourthly, he is bound also subserviently. I should reckon that to be one of the most mortifying aspects of his bondage,-that be is bound subserviently. Whatever he does, as sure as his name is what it is, it turns out against himself. Job is an instance of this. When he got the assembly of the wicked to enclose the Savior and crucify him, Satan was in hopes then that something out of that would come in his favor; whereas it was the very means by which he himself was conquered, by which prediction was fulfilled, the law of God magnified, the salvation of man accomplished, the promises confirmed, his throne established to all eternity; so that nothing ever forwarded the welfare of the people of God so much as that great event;-"gathered together to do whatsoever thine hand and thy counsel determined to be done." And then, in the next place, Satan sets to and persecutes the people in Judea; and there was the Savior’s direction, "If they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another." Away they went into the Gentile world. Why, says Satan, I had better have been quiet. I thought I should frighten the men; but I cannot think how it is, I cannot frighten them. They have now really set my kingdom on fire in the Gentile world; they have gone everywhere pretty well. So the apostle says to the Romans, "Ye have obtained mercy through their unbelief." Now, says the devil, if I can get this Paul into chains, once get him into Caesars’ palace, he will never get out again. Well, he did get him into Caesar’s’ palace, and people came to see what this man was, and he preached, and very soon, to the mortification of Satan, there was a church formed in Caesar’s palace, and the apostle had to write to congratulate "them of Caesars’ household. “ So, if Satan be allowed to toss us about, persecute us one way and the other, why, if we are of the right stuff: mind-not else-we shall gain by it, because it will drive us to the Lord; it will make us more simple, and more sincere, and more decided, and more determined. Then the Lord will step in and show his goodness, and thus fulfil his own blessed word, that "all thing work together for good to them that love him, to them that are the called according to his purpose."
And then, also, Satan is bound finally. Well, but, say you, your chapter says he is bound a thousand years. That relates to time; and at the end of that thousand years-I just repeat this part-he will have a wider range. He will be loosed for a little season; when the true church of that time, just before the end of the world, will be but few in number. That is the sign of the end of the world-the fewness of the people of God. "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" And that will be the last open, general attack that the enemy shall make upon the church, which he makes then by the instrumentality of Gog and Magog- a world full of ungodly people. Do not forget that either-that during the whole of this dispensational thousand years there is a world full of ungodly people, called Gog and Magog. Therefore the universal conversion of all men in any age is a mere myth; it is mere delusion; it is a mere figment; it has no foundation whatever in the word of God. In fact, we have got all in this world we shall ever have. We have the gospel of God, we have the Spirit of God, we have the Christ of God, we have God himself and we shall never have more -not in this world. It is in the future world, where mortality is swallowed up of life, that we are to know even as we are known; there, and there only, are the spirits of just men made eternally perfect. Thus, then, Satan is bound. That means that sin is bound, trouble is bound, every one of your adversaries bound -mind that-because Satan being bound includes all that are on his side; all the accusers of the brethren, all the haters of the people of God, they are all the emissaries of Satan. "Hitherto thou shalt come, and no farther." I hope it will never come true of any of you that you will be inclined to have a little bit of duty-faith mixed up with your belief. Once begin to slip into that quagmire, and away you go. Trample it under your feet; disdain it, hate it, loathe it, cast it out. I say nothing unkind of persons, but I detest false principles. I hate a principle that insults the Savior, perverts the gospel, and deceives the souls of men, palms the damnation of the sinner upon the sufferings of Christ, instead of palming the damnation of the sinner upon his own original, personal, and practical sins. I sincerely wish that those who hold such a doctrine could see that it is a false doctrine. But I freely give them the credit of sincerely believing that they are right. These systems put a responsibility upon man where no responsibility exists; they pass by the responsibility that does exist and thus get rid, in a great measure, of the suretyship responsibility of the Lord Jesus Christ. You that know your need, depend upon it you want the whole armor of God to stand against all the wiles of the devil, and having done all, to stand, and to say at the last that through mercy you have kept that faith that makes it all of grace, wherein the promise is sure to all the seed.
I now come, secondly, to the judgment given in favor of the people of God,-"judgment was given unto them." All the truths of the gospel are pleasing. And what think you is the kind of judgment with which the Lord judges his people? I am utterly unable to tell you-utterly unable. Especially the first element of the judgment with which the Lord judges his people baffles me altogether-it confounds me altogether. I feel almost as though I could not speak upon it, because I know that, say what I may, I shall come in what I say infinitely short of the excellency of it. He judges his people-that is the first element-as objects of his everlasting love. Why, who will undertake to describe the endearment that God has placed between himself and you? Who will undertake to describe the burning affection that he has to you every moment of your existence, night and day, in all places and at all times? Who will undertake to describe the high estimation in which he holds you? Who will undertake to describe the infinity and eternity of delight resulting from his love to you that he hath in you? For those of you that are not unnatural, that know what natural love is, well know that love will always clothe its object with its own qualities, with its own elements, with its own attributes. And if this be the case, why, how infinitely must Jehovah disdain to lay a single fault to the charge of one of his people, or suffer it so to be done! He judges them as objects of his eternal love. And the best explanation we can get of it is in what Jesus Christ has done, in what he has suffered. There this love breaks forth in all its endearment, wherein many waters could not quench it, nor do the floods drown it. Just look at Solomon's Song, look at the language there. I should not dare use such language if the Lord himself had not used it. But do not wonder at it, nor do at all wonder at what the apostle says of the language of heaven,-" heard unspeakable words." When the Lord comes to tell of his love to you in the upper world, Ah, you will say, used to admire Solomon's Song, and to hear the great Creator say to the creature, "Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck; thou hast set me as on the chariots of Amminadib "-carried away. "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? You know the endearments there used. And you will say, When I was down there I thought that was wonderful language; but it is nothing in comparison of the language the Lord now uses. Is it any wonder judgment was given unto them? You know my old story upon this, to illustrate it by a creature circumstance that has charmed me many times-I mean that in the Book of Esther. Its wonderfully instructive, and l have no doubt it is there recorded to heighten the Lord in our estimation, that we should transfer what we there read to a higher sphere, for the Scriptures very often make use of human feelings and human affections to illustrate eternal things. I mean the petition of Esther, or rather the manner of her petition to king Ahasuerus. Now the king loved her above all the women he ever saw; there was none he so loved, and she knew that, for women are very discerning in such matters, very keen. Well, he said, "What is thy petition? What is the matter? She knew where the tender string was. "Let my life be given me at my petition "-let it be spared. '"Why who, where is he that dare presume me in his heart to take your life my Esther's life? The infamous wretch! Who is he? It is Haman. Very well; he shall he hanged on his own gallows, then; we will soon settle him. So it is, then. Judgment was given to Esther-she was free. So shall it be with the soul, because of God's everlasting love, the love that hides the multitude of faults, the love that buries all our sins, the love that scorns to reproach us with anything. We do not half love God; we do not half appreciate him. Yet we are to be perfect in love by and by. Why, say some, I did not think such a narrow-minded, hard, stern fellow as you knew anything about love. I know something of the love of God, at any rate-yes; and bless God that you do too, and that you can understand the transfer of the idea from the natural to the spiritual. If ye, being evil, know how to appreciate these things, the natural endearments of life, how much more you’re heavenly Father will do great things for them that love him! He judges them as the objects of his love. Why, whatever will he adjudge them to? John tries to get at it; so John just peeps at it, and then falls back. The subject is too great for me to manage. "Behold, what manner of love"-what manner indeed!-"the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not," in this secret of God's everlasting, immutable love, "because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." Why, the love is so great, I cannot definitely explain the mercy, the provision of that love. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him"-there it is;-" for we shall see him as he is." How is he? Why, in love with us forever: "Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end." We shall see him as he is. How is he? Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. I shall not see him another when I meet him, I shall see him as he is; and what he is now he will be then: "Judgment was given unto them," as objects of his everlasting love.
I see I shall not get nearly to the end of my subject this morning, and so must say a few things more, and then close. Second, they are judged as objects of a singular, special, absolute, gracious, and eternal choice. There is but one more choice in the whole range of being that bears any analogy to the eternal election of these people to eternal salvation, to eternal life, to eternal glory; there is but one election in the whole range of being that bears a close analogy to it, and that is the election of Jesus Christ. Now come, let us ask a question here. Do you think, when the Lord wanted a Savior for his people, when the Lord wanted a shepherd for his sheep, when the Lord wanted a physician for his family, when the Lord wanted a surety for these debtors whom he had loved,-do you think that God acted wisely and lovingly in choosing Jesus Christ to be all this? O yes, say you, I do. And you believe that God is satisfied with his choice of Jesus Christ? Why, I never though the contrary. Very good: I am glad you do. Just so the people: he has chosen to be that to them that shall make them like him, and their election is as sure as his election; it stands just as long, just as firm, on the same footing, namely, love; and when the Lord shall reject the savior, he will reject one of his brethren, but not before, for they are loved even as he is loved. So, then, judgment is given unto them as the objects of his choice. When the Lord chose the Jews, he chose them only for a temporal purpose; when he chose Judas, he chose him only for a temporal purpose. But his own people are chosen in Christ-that is, for an eternal purpose. And shall he ever repent of his choice? Shall the great God turn round and say, I see something different in the people now from what saw in them when made choice of them? We may choose a thousand things. Well, circumstances arise, perhaps, that prove we have not chosen over-wisely. But no such drawback as this can ever occur in God's choice, in his eternal election. And if he judge them as the objects of his choice, he does it thus:-" Who"-let the voice rise as high as heaven, and resound through all the caverns of hell, and ring to earth's remotest bounds, and down to the last moment of time,-" who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" There are two reason why men do not prize eternal election. One is, they do not know their need of it-let us pray the Lord would teach them their need of it; and the other is, they do not understand the excellency of it. But the man that knows his need of it, and understands the excellency of it, he will easily see how judgment is given in favor of the people of God as the objects of his love and of his eternal choice.
Thirdly, judgment was given unto them also as the objects of mediation. To lay anything to the charge of that man whose debt the Savior hath paid; to lay anything to the charge of that man who is righteous before God by faith in him who is Jehovah our righteousness; to lay anything to the charge of that man that is complete in Christ, approved in Christ, accepted in Christ,-why, it would be to put a negative upon the mediation of Jesus Christ. And yet we have plenty of ministers that would take the things that accompany salvation away from the mediation of Christ, and rest them upon the shoulders of the creature. Ah, they say, Christian, you might walk boldly on in the heavenly life, and not be that poor crawling creature; you might always hear well if you would always pray before you came out; you might always be happy if you would only do this and that and the other. This is very feasible,-the devil always gets up a feasible story; but they are nothing but the lies of hypocrites -that is what they are. The Lord makes his people complete in Christ, and leaves nothing conditional with them. Oh, but it is said, after all, we are to work out our salvation-which means our preservation-with fear and trembling. Certainly we are. What do you say to that? say some. Nothing; but I will tell you what the Lord says to it presently our salvation there means your preservation. You must work it out by holding fast God's truth, and that will keep you there; for if you hold fast his truth, then you will go where it leads you. You are to work out your salvation with fear and trembling; yes, just as you like, I suppose? Yes, sir, just as we like. Do you think so? The apostle knew he should put us in to a fix if be left it there; he knew how people would read it, and therefore he says, "It is God that worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The Lord works in me, sometimes weakly, so that I can just get along; at other times mightily, so that I am a flying eagle: can rise with wings as eagles, bask in the sunlight of the Sun of righteousness, glory in eternal things, and feel that I fear neither life nor death, tribulation, persecution, nor anything else; for what cannot the presence of the Lord enable one to endure; "It is God that worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure.”