‘Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness?’ Song of Solomon 3:6
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 17:16–23
‘Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness?’ The equipage excites the attention of the onlooker; his curiosity is raised, and he asks, ‘Who is this?’ Now, in the first progress of the Christian church, in her very earliest days, there were persons who marvelled greatly: and though they put down the wonders of the day of Pentecost to drunkenness, yet ‘they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?’ In after years many a heathen philosopher said, ‘What is this new power which is breaking the idols in pieces, changing old customs, making even thrones unsafe? What is this?’ By and by, in the age of the Reformation, there were hooded monks, cardinals in their red hats, and bishops, and princes, and emperors, who all said, ‘What is this? What strange doctrine has come to light?’ In the times of the modern reformation, a century ago, when God was pleased to revive his church through the instrumentality of Whitefield and his brethren, there were many who said, ‘What is this new enthusiasm, this Methodism? Whence came it, and what power is this which it wields?’ And, doubtless, whenever God shall be pleased to bring forth his church in power, and to make her mighty among the sons of men, the ignorance of men will be discovered breaking forth in wonder, for they will say, ‘Who is this?’ Spiritual religion is as much a novelty now as in the day when Greek sages scoffed at it on Mars’ hill. The true church of God is a stranger and pilgrim still; an alien and a foreigner in every land; a speckled bird; a dove in the midst of ravens, a lily among thorns.
For meditation: The church will not arouse any worthwhile curiosity unless it is preaching the Lord Jesus Christ as he really is. Pray that Christ will be preached in truth (Philippians 1:18) in these days, and that men and women will be caused to ask, as when he was on earth, ‘Who is this?’ (Matthew 21:10; Luke 5:21; 7:49; 9:9; 19:3).
Sermon no. 482
30 November (1862)