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G Campbell Morgan

(13 posts)

Spacious Liberty

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. —1 Corinthians 6:12, cf. 10:23 I thank God for the breadth and the narrowness of Christian liberty, and I pray that we may ever remember that there are limits to the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and that to keep within the limits is to live in spacious liberty. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Limitations of Liberty) (Baker, 2006), 22–23.
. . . to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. —Colossians 1:27 The word “hope” is most often used when “wish” would be more appropriate. At work, you hope you get a raise or promotion. In a hurry and driving too fast, you hope you don’t get stopped. You hoped the Packers would make the Superbowl . . . biblical hope is nothing like that. Now let us return to the experience resulting, “the hope of glory.” The word “glory” here refers to the great consummation in which God’s purposes are to be perfectly fulfilled; in which Christ, seeing the travail of His soul, is to be satisfied; in which the Church, with one voice of perfect song, will say, “Thou, O Christ, art all I want”; and in which the whole creation, which is still waiting in its groaning for the manifestations of the sons of God, will find its groaning cease, and join the chorus of praise to Him who sits upon the throne. God’s glory consists in the realization of the purpose of His love in all that His hands have made. Christ in you is the hope of His glory. What is hope? I often wish we bore in mind more carefully the real significance of the good old Anglo-Saxon word “hope.” It does not mean foundationless expectation, but rather confidence in something yet to be, with an accompanying endeavor to reach it. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: Christ in You, the Hope of Glory) (Baker, 2006), 29. To truly hope is to know. It is to rest in certainty. Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He might as well have said, “we can hope for nothing but . . .” having said “in this world,” he was nearly correct. But from an eternal perspective, we all can know for certain that death is only the transition from this life to the next. For every disciple of Christ, that is a glorious hope.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” —Matthew 16:24 Jesus made serious demands of his disciples, demands that are daunting and discouraging if we approach them from the wrong perspective. If you stand where I stand you are appalled at the tremendous claim of Jesus. How can I ever deny myself and take up my cross? I come from the negative to the positive, and say to you that the only way in which you will ever be able to deny yourself and take up your cross is by fixing your eye upon Him and crowning Him. If I must stretch out my hands to the rugged cross in order to get to Him I can do it in only one way, that is by seeing Him and doing it for His sake. If I do it for my own sake, or for the sake of men, I shall fail, for I am such a coward; but if I may but look at His face as I come to my dying, I can say, “I am crucified with Christ, but nevertheless I live.” From the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Terms of Discipleship) (Baker, 2006), 45.

The Potter’s Purpose for the Clay

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; —1 Peter 2:9 While Purpose-Driven® may be—we can hope—by now very well be passé, we can still find a purpose by looking to the word of God. The potter [Jeremiah 18:3] has a thought in his mind for the clay, and he alone can transfer that thought to the clay. The clay is necessarily ignorant of the thought in the potter’s mind, but can find that thought, and realize and manifest it by quiet submission to the hand of the potter. My brethren, when I pass from this great principle, which I confess taken alone fills me with fear, to notice that there is a purpose, my heart begins to find comfort. The potter, as the wheel revolves, is not dealing capriciously with the clay; his fingers are not working aimlessly. As I watch him in the beginning of the work I cannot see what he means, but he knows what he means, and as his hands rest upon the clay he is translating into the outward and manifest the thought of beauty and use which is in his own mind and heart. The clay gains in the potter; the potter gains in the clay. The clay is shapeless as clay, but the clay plus the potter becomes a thing of beauty and of use. The potter has in his mind a thought of beauty, which none but himself can see apart from the clay, but the potter plus the clay can express his thought so that others may see it. Here I think we touch one of the deepest mysteries of human life. Man is created that God may have a medium through which He can manifest the things in His own mind. Man is fashioned in His likeness, in His image, that those who cannot see the essential and eternal Spirit may yet see the things of the essential and eternal Spirit in man. How man has missed his mark, and yet by the redemption of Jesus Christ this great purpose is fulfilled. Paul declared: “We are His workmanship.” What Paul really writes is, “We are His poetry,” not that the Apostle meant we are His poetry, but His work of art, that through which He gives others to see the things of beauty resident in His own infinite mind. This same truth is expressed in Peter’s words: “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may shew forth the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God gains in men that through which he can express his thought. But the other side is also true. See what the clay has gained. It was but a shapeless thing, lacking beauty, lacking expression of anything that has refinement in it, lacking utility; but it gains from the hand of the potter form and shape and usefulness. Man alone is as the clay, lacking beauty, lacking true utility, making a shipwreck of his own personality; but let man find God’s throne and yield to it, submit his whole life to the hand of the great Master Potter, and he finds to poor clay of his life made into something fair and beautiful and full of use to God and to man. You came into this house tonight saying, my life is purposeless. Give it to God, and it will be purposeful. You said, These years have gone from me, twenty, thirty, forty, and I have done nothing. Yield to God and the Potter’s hand will be upon you to mold and to make. It may be that the molding and making will not yet be recognized by your fellow men. That matters nothing. It may be that the molding and making will be that of a thing of use rather than beauty. It may be that He will mold you to some service that men count menial. There is no menial service which the King appoints. There must be yielding to the Potter, but then, oh, soul of mine, when thou art so yielded purpose is the story of thy life. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Potter’s Work on the Wheel) (Baker, 2006), 1:51–53.

I Am Unclean

In our conceit, it is easy to consider ourselves good until we meet the one who truly is. Standing in imagination among the multitudes of old, and listening to Him, I am constrained to say, “I have found my King.” . . . Having been brought up in a godly home, and saved thereby from many of the vulgar forms of sin into which others who have lacked my privilege have fallen, I never trembled in the presence of Mount Sinai. I always felt the profoundest sympathy with the young man who looked into the face of Jesus, and said, “All these things have I kept from my youth up.” But while the majestic mountain of the ancient law never filled me with trembling, when I came to the clear shining of the ethic of Jesus, and stood in the presence of the rare and radiant loveliness of his perfect humanity, then I cried, “I am unclean, a sinner before God.” —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Authority of Jesus) (Baker, 2006), 1:78, 83.

Surprising Grace

In Luke 24, we read of two of Jesus’ followers on the road to Emmaus, discussing the events of the previous days in which Jesus, whom they “were hoping . . . was going to redeem Israel” (verse 21), was crucified and buried. They were confused and discouraged. Then Jesus joined them. How does Christ deal with these men? . . . If I am surprised, looking back over these centuries, at the attitude of the men, I confess I am far more surprised at Jesus. I am surprised at the wonder of His coming to these men. I know my confession of surprise is a revelation of the fact that I have not perfectly learned the lesson of his love. I know it, and yet I am surprised. If I may turn aside from the main line of my argument I would like to say to you, Be very much afraid of yourself if Jesus Christ is ceasing to surprise you. If you are losing your sense of amazement that startled you in the olden days there is something wrong with your life. He is always surprising us if we will but follow Him simply. He surprises us now by the fact that He comes to these men. Listen to His own estimate of them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe.” That is not my criticism of them. That is His estimate of them, and He knew them. O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe; and yet He comes to them and joins Himself to them, and walks at their side, and deals with their foolishness, and stirs up the slow heart until it burns and flames. That is the grace of God, and I am amazed. It is a radiant revelation of the tenderness of His heart and of the strength of His love for us. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Burning of Heart) (Baker, 2006), 1:90.

True Friendship, and a True Friend

A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24 The word friend, I’m afraid, has lost its meaning. People speak of almost any acquaintance with whom they are on cordial terms as “friends,” whether or not the word applies. This has been true since before the internet age, but Facebook has mangled the concept of friendship almost beyond restoration. But there is such a thing as true friendship, and we would do well to rediscover it. Of this true friendship, G. Campbell Morgan writes, The heart of man is forever craving friendship. Let every man beware of the crowd of acquaintances. Let every man value at the very highest the friend who is a true lover. It is a little difficult in June days to distinguish between the acquaintance and the friend. We have to wait for November and December. It is not easy to know your friends when the sea is smooth and reflects heaven’s blue. You will find them when the sky is overcast and Euroclydon* beats the deep into fury, and you are in peril. It is not quite easy to distinguish between acquaintances and friends in your days of prosperity. “A brother is born for adversity.” You discover him only then. Friendship is tested by tempest. May we not say that the difference between acquaintances and friends is the difference between reeds that grow by the river side and the rough, gnarled old oak stick when you are contemplating climbing hills. If I have a rough hill to climb give me one rugged old oak stick to lean on rather than a hundred reeds that grow in perpetual green by the river bank. If I have difficulty to fear and burdens to bear and tempests to weather, give me my friend—he might be very rough, a curious specimen of humanity, but he loves me and he sticks—rather than a hundred butterflies who are round me when the sun shines and are gone when storms lower. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: My Friend) (Baker, 2006), 1:112. This is the kind of friendship we should seek. This is the kind of friend we should aspire to be. The only friend who perfectly fits the bill is, of course, Jesus our Lord. He calls his disciples “friends” (John 15:12–17), and has sealed that friendship with his blood. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:13 * “A cyclonic tempestuous northeast wind which blows in the Mediterranean, mostly in autumn and winter.” —Wikipedia.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 The following note was addressed to G. Campbell Morgan: The writer begs leave to call to the Rev. Campbell Morgan’s remembrance a statement he made last Sunday evening, viz., “My Friend has proved His love to me so as to bring conviction to my heart.” Then why does he not convince every person of His love? Why is He not just to all? Since the note was unsigned, Morgan responded in the following week’s sermon. It will be seen that my Friend had brought conviction of His love to my heart I made the statement on the basis of the text which I take tonight. I do not think the thinking of that letter is lonely, even though the writing of it is singular. I can well imagine that many people would go away lat Sunday evening saying in their hearts practically the same things. “The Preacher declared that God had demonstrated His love to the conviction of his heart, but He has not done so in my experience, and if not, why not?” To that attitude of mind I want to say that the proof given to me of the love of God has been given to all. I did not mean to say that in some flaming vision of the night or apocalypse of the day God had done for me what He has not done for others. . . . My Friend’s proof of His love is not given to me alone, but to all men. No proof in mystic words spoken in loneliness to my own heart and no proof by some sudden and exceptional vision could begin to be so conclusive to my reason as the great proof which belongs to all quite as much as it belongs to me. I venture to say—I know I speak within the realm of the finite, and limited and human, and yet I say it of profound conviction—God Himself could not have thought of any other way to prove His love so conclusive as the way He has taken. Will you let me, in all love and tenderness, and yet with great earnestness, say to you, my friend who wrote to me, and to all such, that if God’s love has not carried conviction to your heart, I think it is because you have not taken time to consider that great proof? You have heard of it, you have sung of it. You could recite the proof texts, my text and the text in John, and many other such. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” That is the proof. “God commendeth His own love toward is, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That is the proof. I have no other. . . . What can be said when Scripture has spoken? —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: Amazing Love) (Baker, 2006), 1:126–127.

Sin Is Unbelief

The root of all sin is unbelief. You tell me, my brother, that your sin consists of some particular failing. That is not your sin. Your sin is that you believe not on Him. If you would believe on Him, if you would believe on Him with abandonment of the life, all the guilt would be put away, all the power of the sin would be broken. . . . Here is a man lying sick of a fell disease. I bring him the one absolutely sure remedy for his disease. He puts it away and dies. You tell me he dies of his disease? In some senses you are right; but he died because he declined the remedy. That is the story of sin in the light of the mission of Jesus and the ministry of the Spirit. Whatever sin you are in the grip of, that sin must loosen its hold in the moment when you believe on Him and He commits to you the efficacy of His cross and the dynamic of His resurrection. You say, “My besetting sin is my temper, my love of drink, some form of impurity.” Nothing of the kind. You have not named your besetting sin. Your besetting sin is your persistent unbelief in Jesus. Sin is unbelief. If you would believe on Him your evil temper would be changed, the very fire and force of your love of alcohol would die out, quenched by the power of the spirit. If you would but believe on Him the feverish fire of your impurity would be dealt with. Some of you go mourning all the days, with a mourning which insults heaven and grieves the Spirit, over some besetting sin which you cannot cure. If you would but believe on Him! The Spirit comes to give sin its relation to Jesus Christ, to reveal to men the perfect Saviour in order that they may understand that if any suffer the penalty of sin it is because they have refused God’s one great all-sufficient remedy for sin. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Spirit’s Testimony to the World) (Baker, 2006), 1:158–159.

The Fruit of the Spirit Is Love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. —Galatians 5:22–23 Now we come to the plain meaning of the text. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” I can well understand some of you saying, “Why do you take this one word ‘love’?” Because when this one word is uttered there is no more to say. It is perfectly correct to take all the words which follow. The Apostle wrote them under inspiration and with deep significance. You will see at once there is difficulty in the text. It reads, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” You feel there is difficulty in saying, “The fruit of the Spirit is,” and then reciting nine words. Men have recognized the grammatical difficulty of the “is,” and quote the passage, “The fruits of the Spirit are . . .” That is grammatical. That reads smoothly. Hence the popular supposition that there are nine fruits of the Spirit. But we have no right to interfere with the text in that way. Our business is to find out what the text really means. The Apostle wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” It is one, not nine! It may be objected that the affirmation does not remove the difficulty in the text. The one thing in your Bible which is not inspired is the punctuation. If I were writing this text out for myself I would feel I was perfectly warranted in changing the punctuation, and I would read it like this: “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” and then I should indicate a pause by some means other than a comma, say a semicolon and a dash, and then read on: “joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” The Apostle reaches his climax, and he writes the full and final fact concerning Christian experience in the words, “The fruit of the spirit is love.” Then there breaks upon his consciousness the meaning of love, and in order that we may not treat the word as a small word, that we may not pass it over and imagine there is nothing very much in it, that it is merely a sentimental word, he gives us the qualities and quantities and flavors of the fruit by breaking it up into its component parts. To change the figure, the Apostle writes the word “love,” and there surges through his soul all the harmonies of the Christian life. It is a great orchestra—love—and he listens and picks out one by one the different qualities of the music, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance. If you have love you have all these things. If you lack love you lack them all. If that can be proved, then I think it is proved that love is the all-inclusive word, and the words which follow break it up and explain its meaning. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Fruit of the Spirit) (Baker, 2006), 1:171–172.

Dig Up the Hatchet

Two people are at strife in the Church. . . . They come to me as their pastor and say, “We have settled this business.” “How have you settled it?” I ask. “We have agreed that it cannot be settled, so we have decided to bury it and never talk of it again.” Then, in God’s name, dig it up. That is not peace. The buried hatchet can always be unearthed. Learn to love, and you will have peace. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: “The Fruit of the Spirit”) (Baker, 2006), 1:173.

The True Inspiration of Goodness

What is the inspiration of goodness? Goodness is a word which we have relegated to the nursery. We still tell the children to be good. What, then, is the inspiration of goodness in a child? Love. You may keep your boy good in the externalities by being a moral policeman. If you want to bind him to goodness through the coming years you must make of him such a boy that when he comes up to the city and sin confronts him he will say, “No, I cannot do it. It would whiten father’s hair and break mother’s heart!” Love is the only sufficient inspiration of goodness. “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.” That is the whole philosophy of goodness, and you will never be good while you are aiming to be good because you may lose your respectability by badness. When love is in your heart, and you can say, “I cannot grieve my Father,” that is the true inspiration of goodness. Goodness is love’s quality. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: “The Fruit of the Spirit”) (Baker, 2006), 1:176.

Watch and Pray

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. —1 Corinthians 10:12 What follows boastfulness? Always the same thing, lack of prayer and lack of watching. Young man, when you commenced your Christian life you were very regular in your habits of prayer, you were afraid of yourself and watched constantly for the coming of the enemy. You burned bridges behind you which, alas, you are beginning to reconstruct today. You dared not walk down certain streets after you broke with evil and set your face toward following Jesus Christ, but you are beginning to frequent those old paths again. You are not quite so watchful as you were, and you excuse your lack of watchfulness by saying that there is no necessity for that carefulness and narrowness which characterize some people. There is great need for narrowness when you are walking amid precipices. The man who is sure he is safe, and who ceases to watch and drops prayer out of his life, who imagines he can live an independent life as a Christian soul, is falling already. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: “The Sifting of Peter”) (Baker, 2006), 1:198.


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