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XIX.

“ NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM

OF GOD."

St. MARK xii. 34.

“Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."

Such were the words that our Lord addressed to the Scribe who had "answered discreetly;" we know not with what meaning they reached him, whether the testimony of conscience enabled him to rejoice in them as words of comfort, or whether though pride might at the moment swell at the approval, yet truth compelled him to own, that “not far” touched a chord of sorrow, not of joy, to one, long perhaps almost persuaded, yet still undecided, “not far from," and yet not within, “the kingdom of God.” Thus much we know, that these words have come down to us for our instruction, and that we shall do well to ponder the message that they bring. They bid us all to search and see how it is with ourselves, whether we are distant from, or near to, the kingdom of God; they bid us rejoice, or tremble, as the marks of the Lord Jesus, the signs of conversion, the fruits of the Spirit, be in us or not. Gracious God! make us honest in our search, send home Thy words to our hearts, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee, and that those yet afar off, may be brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Grant it, O Heavenly Father, for Jesus' sake! Amen.

Our text may be considered in three points of view, as

I. A Word of Searching.
II. A Word of Warning.
III. A Word of Blessing.

I. A Word of Searching. In this respect it comes home to all. Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Thus said the Saviour to the Scribe; what saith that same Saviour to you and to me? To some, the subject may bring strange sounds to their ears; "THE KINGDOM OF GOD,” and their nearness to, or distance from that kingdom, has not found any lodgement in their thoughts: present prospects, future expectations, with respect to this world, these, it may be, have given them many a sleepless night, and many an anxious day; but things eternal, the world to come, these

are new to them. Oh! let them be new to you no longer; the night cometh on apace; search, see, inquire, whether that night of death will usher in to you the joys of Heaven, or the blackness of despair. Brethren! would you come to a settled happy conviction on this all-important point--would you desire that “ hope that maketh not ashamed” to be yours—would you honestly, strictly, examine your state—then are there three tests to which I would direct you.

1. Look at God's Truth, search the Scriptures, learn how these distinguish between the people of God and the men of the world, the godly and the ungodly. What saith that Word of God, of the wicked ? it saith, that “there is no fear of God before their eyes;"! “ through the pride of their countenance they will not seek after God;"? “ they profess that they know Him but in works deny Him;" they are “ double minded,

unstable ;

;*4 “ they call not upon the Lord;" they “love not the Lord Jesus Christ ;"6" they live after the flesh;" yea their “ God is their belly, they glory in their shame, they mind earthly things ;" such

."7

1

Psa. xxxvi. 1. 2 Psa. x. 4. 8 Titus i. 16. * James i. 8.

5 Psa. xiv. 4. 61 Cor. xvi. 22. 7 Romans viii. 13. 8 Phil. iji. 19.

are some of the marks of those whose end is destruction;" look well to it that you be not found amongst them, “reprobate concerning the faith,” far from the kingdom of God... That same Word describes the saints of the Most High; they are “ born again of God;"! “new creatures in Christ;" they " through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ;"3 “ meek and humble,” “ hungering and thirsting after righteousness,” “ pure in heart;"4 “ they are a peculiar people, zealous of good works ;"5 and yet they trust not in those works; “by grace are they saved, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God;"6 all their “righteousnesses they count as “ filthy rags ;' they say with Paul, “ God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world ;" “ pilgrims and strangers upon earth,” they “watch and pray" lest they should enter into temptation, they look for that city that hath foundations whose Maker and Builder is God...... These, and such as

1 John iii. 3.
* Matt. vi.
9 Isa lx. 6.

2 2 Cor. v. 17.
5 Titus ii. 14.

8 Gal. vi. 14.
10 Heb. xi. 10, 13.

3 Romans viii. 13.
• Ephe. ii. 8.
• Mark 13, 33.

these, are the children of God. Brethren! if we will search the Bible with a real and prayerful desire to ascertain what are our prospects for eternity, we can hardly fail of knowing whether or no the pearl of great price, the kingdom of God, be ours. But I

would bid you,

2. Look at your Lives, search them also, and compare them with the Word. Do

lives show the fruits of faith? do you walk in love, forbearing and forgiving, "doing unto others as ye would they should do unto you ?" "do you honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of your increase," be that substance little or great ? are you living, “ not conformed to this world” and its ways, but “ transformed by the renewing of your mind,” holding communion with the people of God, taking pleasure in their society, your path the narrow way? If you are masters, does your example tend to God's glory ? do you care for the souls as well as for the temporal wellbeing of your servants, “ remembering that you also have a master in Heaven ?" If servants, are ye “shewing all good fidelity,” not with eye service was men pleasers, but in singleness of heart fearing God ?” “not answering again, but adorning the doctrine of

your

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