1 Peter 1:24-25
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass wither, and the flower thereof falls away:…
I am glad to have deliverance like this, so distinct, so comprehensive, and at the same time so authoritative. Men sometimes ask us what it is that we mean when we speak so positively about the Word of the Lord. In one phrase, we answer, we mean the glad tidings of great joy which are unto all people, that unto them was born on a given day in a city of David a Saviour, who was Christ the Lord. This emphatically is the Word of the Lord. The facts which relate to the sufferings of our Redeemer and the facts which relate to His subsequent acts of everlasting glory are a message from God unto man. And the predictions, the narrations, the explanations, the invitations, and the promises altogether make up what the apostle is here designating; put altogether, they constitute the glorious gospel of the blessed God. The adversaries of the Christian faith tell us that our old gospel will presently be disproved. Strange, if it is to come to nothing, that it has survived for nineteen centuries already!
I. IT IS SECURE, WHATEVER MAY BE THE EFFORTS OF POSSIBLE PERSECUTION. I do not say that you will not have apparent triumphs on the part of the persecutors. False brethren will fall away, but God's truth, somehow or other, will still survive, and He to whom that truth pertains and whose Word we are speaking will make it good in spite of opposition, and make it good in the oppressions of His faithful servants, strengthening them with strength in their souls, turning curse into blessing, and making the wrath of man to praise Him, whilst the remainder of that wrath He will restrain.
II. THE OLD GOSPEL IS IN NO DANGER WHATEVER FROM THE INTELLECTUAL OPPOSITION OF OUR MODERN INFIDELS. Here and there we have the sound of triumph on the part of our adversaries. Reading their literature, as some of us do, we find those triumphs much more frequent perhaps than some of you may suppose; but what are the triumphs? They are not triumphs over the old gospel as it came down from heaven. You have had things incorporated with Christianity which God never put there — they are disproved; you have had opinions foisted upon the gospel from the traditions of men — they are being detached; you have had interpretations of Holy Scripture which are undoubtedly untrue — you have had them put to silence. But need I say that such victories are not against us? They are on our side! To get rid of error is to get rid of so much dead weight; and although the discomfiture of a Christian man, when the traditions which he has maintained are taken from beneath him, may not be that which he likes, yet such discomfiture is so much clear gain to the Christian cause, and that clear gain it will go on to acquire.
III. THE OLD GOSPEL IS IN NO DANGER FROM THE DISCOVERIES OF OUR SCIENTIFIC MEN. I know of no statement so popular amongst the foes of the Christian faith as this, that the teachings of our sacred books are at variance with the teachings of the natural sciences; at variance, for example, with the teachings of astronomy, of archaeology, and especially of geology. Not one of those sciences whispers a coming contradiction to your Bibles; not one of them foretokens a coming time when you will have either to give up that book or to deny indisputable facts.
IV. THE OLD GOSPEL IS IN NO DANGER FROM THE ADVANCEMENT OF CIVILISATION. How is civilisation advancing! What a power is that of our commerce, our literature, our science, our art, our philanthropy, our moral and intellectual philosophy! There is much about it to be admired; it softens asperities, conciliates antagonism, refines the manners, elevates the character, combines and consolidates into one the entire family of man. Wondrous is the good which it has been doing, and wondrous is the good of which it is itself the representative and the embodiment. Tell us that civilisation will be the destroyer of Christianity! Why, abstract from your modern civilisation that which Christianity has imparted to it, and you have just that which very presently, by common consent, would be buried and out of sight. Why, it is the very child which your Christianity has brought forth; it is the very creation of which Christianity in her pure exuberance is instrumentally the creator. You might just as well think of this great superstructure in which we are assembled existing without a foundation as to think of modern civilisation existing without Christianity.
V. THE OLD GOSPEL IS IN NO DANGER FROM THE ULTERIOR NECESSITIES OF HUMANITY. There may be species of human necessity that have never yet come to light in our acquaintance with mankind; and there may be species that never will come to light, except it be in some further and advanced stage of the history of our race. The capacities, the susceptibilities, and the activities of the human soul are perfectly wonderful. Give to that human soul the opportunity, the means, and the appliances which may be requisite, and where is the man that will tell me what deeper depths of the emotional he may evince, what mightier forces of the intellectual he may disclose, what intenser sympathy with the diabolical he may display, and what more glowing apprehensions of the immortal he may manifest? Abide by your old gospel with an unfaltering faith. Let that time come, and be it present to your eye now, when there shall be powers of investigation to which there is no parallel now; there will be the message to the man who possesses that power of investigation — Go and investigate the great "mystery of godliness." Be your power what it may, it will find its occupation there. Be it so, that there shall be a capability for apprehension to which there is no parallel now: the commandment will be — Go and take the "unspeakable gift" of God, and try and find the occupation for your apprehension there. Be it so that there is guilt perpetrated — and who can tell after what we see ourselves what forms of guilt may be perpetrated? — be it that guilt is perpetrated at which even the devil stands aghast: there is "the blood that cleanseth from all sin"; let the sinner go and be cleansed and pardoned by that. Be it so that there will be unparalleled sympathy with and aspiration for the immortal; let the man who is the subject of such aspirations go and try to understand the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Oh! there is no danger for the old gospel! You may have philosophy sublimated, until that with which we are familiar shall be as nothing side by side with your philosophy; transcendently superior will be the glorious gospel of the blessed God, and so far from being inadequate to man's requisitions then, it will supply, with an amplitude which is imperial, all that shall be required. So far from being effete and obsolete, it will exist with living and with royal power; so far from being, as we are told, an exploded superstition, an exhausted fountain, an ancient, decrepit, infirm, unavailable messenger of good, there it will be, in all the vigour of its youth, proclaiming salvation through the blood of the Lamb, and declaring to mankind in its highest elevation there is a higher elevation still. "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding." This Word of the Lord wilt be all adequate to the necessities and the requirements of humanity.
Parallel VersesKJV: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: