Thomas Adams sermon from the early 17th century.
The sermon is based upon the text, Hebrews 13:8, Jesus, the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.
The most remarkable things about Adams’ sermons lies in the turn of phrase. The substance is excellent, the theology correct. But the real brilliance lies in way he uses words.
In the first section he considers, “The center is Jesus Christ” (to the all of eternity).
The blessed restorer of all, of more than all that Adam lost; for we have gotten more by his regenerating grace than we lost by Adam’s degenerating sin.
When speaking of the matter of the Scripture, Adams gives a description which would put Neo-orthodoxy (which Adams obviously could not know), on its head. There is no Christ above Scripture:
This Jesus Christ is the center this text; and not only this, but of the whole Scripture. The sum of divinity is the Scripture; the sum of the Scripture is the Gospel; the sum of the Gospel is Jesus Christ; in a word, There is nothing contain in the word of God, but God the Word.
Adams has a long section in which he contrasts the unchangeable Jesus Christ with the fleeting, changing world, where even the greatest things will fail us. In touching on mutability, he considers a topic which was deeply pondered in his age (and a topic which I rarely see considered outside the occasional sermon).
Consider this paragraph about wealth; I can’t imagine it being seriously considered in a business school. (Although as an attorney, I more than once see wealth flee where someone thought it secure):
Wealth is like a bird; it hopes all day form man to man, as that doth from tree to tree; and none can say where it will root or rest at night. It is a like a vagrant fellow, which because he big-boned and able to work, a man takes in a-doors and cherisheth; and perhaps for a while he take pains; but when he spies opportunity, the fugitive servant is gone, and takes away more with him than all service came to. The world may seem to stand thee in some stead for a season, but at last it irrevocably runs day, and carries with it thy joys, thy goods, as Rachel stole Laban’s idols; thy peace and content of heart goes with it, and thou are left desperate.
Our Master, Christ, is constant. We are inconstant, irresolute — although we are told not to be double-minded men:
The double-minded man is a stranger in his own house: all his purposes are but guest, his heart is the inn. If they lodge there fore a night, it is all; they are gone in the morning. Many motions come crowding together upon him; and like a great press at a narrow door, whiles strive, none enter.
He then turns to the constancy of Christ in contrast to the variability of men. Here he finds a comfort in the perseverance of the saint — because it rests upon the act of God:
If God preordained a Savior for man, before he had either made man, or man marred himself, — Paul says to Timothy, ‘He hath saved us according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Tim. 1.9 — then surely he meant that nothing should separate us from the eternal love in that Savior. Rom. viii. 39 Whom he chose before they were created, and when they were lost redeemed, he will not forsake being sanctified.
When he speaks of the continued power of death of Christ to save, he writes,
This is sure comfort to us; though he died almost 1629 years ago, his blood is not yet dry. His woulds are as fresh to do us good, as they were to those saints he that beheld them bleeding on the cross. The virtue of his merits is not abated, though many hands of faith have taken large portions out of his treasury. The river of his grace, ‘which makes glad the City of God,’ runs over its banks, though infinite souls have drank hearty draughts, and satisfied their thirst. But because we cannot apprehend this for ourselves of ourselves, therefore, he hath promised to send us the ‘Spirit of truth, who will dwell with us’ (John xiv. 17) and apply this to us forever.
And here is the plea for repentance:
Time may change thee, though it cannot change him. His is not (but thou art) subject to mutation. This I dare boldly say: he that repent but one day before he dies, shall find Christ the same in mercy and forgiveness. Wickedness itself is glad to hear this; but let the sinner be faithful on his part, as God is merciful on his part; let him be sure that he repent one day before he dies, wherefore he cannot be sure, except he repent every day; for no man knows his last day….
Thou has lost yesterday negligently, thou losest to-day willfully; and therefore mayest lose forever inevitably. It is just with God to punish two-day’s neglect with the loss of the third. The hand of faith may be withered, the spring of repentance dried up, the eye of hope blinded, the foot of charity lame. To-day, then, hear his voice, and make him thine. Yesterday is lost, to-day may be gotten; but that once gone, and thou with it, thou are dead and judged, it will do thee small comfort that, ‘Jesus Christ is the same forever.’
And the conclusion:
Trust then, Christ with thy children; when thy friend shall fail, usury bear no date, oppression be condemned to hell, thyself rotten to the dust, the world itself turned and burned into cinders, still ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for-ever.’ Now then, as ‘grace and peace are from him which is and which was and this is to come;” so glory and honor be to him, which is, and which was, and this is to come; even to Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’