From Dr. Joseph Parker’s sermon on Matthew 4:18-25
Almighty God, if thou dost answer us out of thy mercy, who then can tell the measure of thy reply to our prayer and our Thanksgiving? Behold, thy love is a sea whose depths have never been searched, and thy mercy is higher than the sky, yea, no man can lay a line upon all the pity and compassion of God. Our life stands in thy goodness; we are surrounded by thy mercy, verily we live and move and have our being in God. Show us that thou art, not a God far off, but a God nigh at hand, yea, within us, nearer than our own breath and our own life, without whom, indeed, we could not live. We bless thee for the house of prayer, the place of silence and of song, the house of inspiration, the sanctuary of defence, the place where prayer is wont to be made, and we bless thee for the wide and open way to thy throne through Jesus Christ our only Saviour. We keep that living way, we are all found in it this very moment, so is the moment the sweetest in our life, and there is in it a brightness above the light of the sun, and it is alive with the most sacred and elevating hope.
Thou dost not disappoint the heart of man; when his soul is lifted up towards thee thou dost bathe it with all the light of heaven’s morning, and when his cry rises from his heart to thy throne, thou dost turn it into a sweet hymn and enrich the heart with all the graciousness of thy love. We have come to thine house today with no small expectancy, our hearts are inflamed into a great desire, our tongue is open before thee with speech, demanding in the name of Christ, and not our own, all the promises to he fulfilled: yea, is ours a violence— we come to take the kingdom of heaven by force. So hast thou allowed us to do, yea, thou hast charged us to seize the gates of thy kingdom and to open them with the violence of importunate love. We bless thee for these heavenly desires, we thank thee for influences that move the heart upwards from the dust and through the stars, and onward to things divine and everlasting. May those noble desires never die, may our life be a continual petition for enlargement and sanctification. We have been content too long to live in the dust and eat its perishing roots; we would now live in the heavens, and sustain our hearts on God.
We bless thee for all thy Bible of love, wide as the heavens and green as the earth in summer-time, and tender as all the songs of love. We bless thee for that inner revelation of the spirit, that sacred ministry which is beyond all words, and too holy for song. O dwell within us, abide with us, soothe us with all the comforting, stimulate us with all the hopefulness which thou dost bring to bear upon the lives of men who are given to thee wholly, body, soul, and spirit. Turn the discipline of thy rod to the advantage of our souls, save us amid the gathering gloom from the last darkness of despair; when every earthly prop and hope is given up, do thou grant unto us the defences and assurances of thy sanctuary and thy presence.
Thou knowest us altogether; the old and the young, the rich and the poor are here, the head hoary with the snows and frosts of many a winter, and the face bright and unwrinkled and young, and the life full of charming hope. Thou knowest those who are in bitterness and sorrow of soul, thou understandest all our life; we therefore come before thee assured that in Christ Jesus all our wants shall be supplied and our poverty shall become the occasion of our wealth.
The Lord help us to do every good work with earnestness, the Lord work in us a holy dislike and detestation of all evil things, and the Lord grant unto us such answers in the course of his providence to our best desires and holiest vows as shall assure us that the voice of the heart does not fall to the ground.
We would read thy word attentively, we would listen to every tone of thy revelation, as if our soul’s best interests depended upon hearing it. Whilst thus we attend thou wilt not withhold the illuminating and confirming spirit, but thou wilt pour out upon us all that we need as zealous and adorning students of thy holy book.
Bless us altogether, those of us who are old friends and old fellow-students of thy word, well known to one another as common suppliants at thy throne, and bless the stranger within our gates, who joins our worship today for the first and only time: destroy all feeling of distance and strangeness and exile, and fill his soul with all the light and love of heaven, and thus in the unity of the spirit, with common and un-distracted fellowship, may we wait upon God to our soul’s profiting.
The Lord speak to the indifferent man and awake him to attention, the Lord rebuke the worldly man whose heart is at this moment far away from thy house though his body is here, and the Lord grant great rich answers of peace and assurance, pardon and love, to those whose best desire is to know the Lord more fully, and to serve him with increasing earnestness and delight. Amen.”
- Parker, Joseph (2015-09-03). Matthew: The Inner Life of Christ (The People’s Bible Book 21) (Kindle Locations 2804-2841). Chariot Ebooks. Kindle Edition.