SERMONS BY JOHN KERSHAW
This is the title of a book which has been recently published by the Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 12b Roundwood Lane, harpenden, Herts, AL5 3AD. It is a collection of sermons and fragments of sermons by John Kershaw (1792-1870) who was pastor of Hope Chapel, Rochdale, for over fifty years where he presided over a growing Baptist church. The book is attractively produced and forms an excellent companion volume to his autobiography published by Gospel Tidings, also another collection of his sermons entitled, Grace Alone, published by Zoar Publications, both of which are available from The Christian Bookshop, 21 Queen Street, Ossett, W. Yorks, WF5 8AS.
To give a little indication of the contents of these sermons there follows a few brief extracts.
From a sermon on The Prince of Peace,
And he is our great Peacemaker; and him has God exalted, and lifted up as an ensign to the nations, that every guilty, burdened and distressed soul might flee to him for rest. Peace, my friends, is made for us, and is not made by ourselves; for Christ, the Prince of Peace, is our peace, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile by blotting out the handwriting of ordinances, and by removing every obstacle in our way to Jehovah the Father. In him (that is, in Christ) mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed and embraced each other; in him, and his glorious death, and blood-shedding on Mount Calvary. And, O my friends, where shall a poor, distressed soul look for peace and joy and rest but in this blessed Jesus, exalted at the Father’s right hand as the Prince of Peace?
A great many people are for doing the work of this Prince of
Peace themselves. I recollect a minister visiting a poor woman who knew something of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he asked her, “Have you made your peace with God?” She smiled, looked up at him, and said, “What! have I made peace with God? O no!” “Then,” said he, “it is time you did.” “Ah! but,” said the poor woman, “my peace with God was made eighteen hundred years before I was born.” He asked her how it was that her peace was made so long back. Why, my friends, she had to turn preacher, and directed his attention to Christ, the great Prince of Peace, who had made peace for her by the shedding of his blood, whom God has exalted as “a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” p 27.
But, to conclude, my friends, do you know the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you know this Prince of Peace? Do you know the character of this Prince? It is often said, “As rich as a prince.” So likewise he is very rich; none have so many honours as he. All blessings and treasures are at his disposal, and he is ready to give them to all who ask him. O, then, acknowledge him, receive him, remember him, come to him for mercy and consolation, and enjoy his peace in your souls for evermore. Amen. p 35.
And from a sermon on The New Birth,
We had some years ago a singular incident illustrating this. There lived in a village an old grey-headed sinner, bordering upon fourscore years old. There were two God-fearing men in the village, who felt for the old man, and one of them said to him, “Our minister is going to preach at a friend’s house on such a night; I will call for you. Will you go with me?” “No,” he said, “I won’t. I will have nothing to do with you dissenters. I am a churchman. All my ancestors were church people. I was christened, confirmed and married at church, and I intend to be buried there; and it is enough for me.” “Well,” said the other, Â“you and I have been good friends. I have several times done you a kindness, and I should take it as a kindness if you would come with me and hear our minister preach the Word of eternal life.” “Well,” said the old man, “you certainly have been a good neighbour and have done me many kindnesses, and if it will oblige you, I will go.”
The time came, and the God-fearing man called for the greyheaded sinner and poured out his heart in prayer that the Holy Ghost would wound the conscience of the old man. The minister drew the bow at a venture, the Holy Ghost directed the arrow, and the man felt a wounded conscience. He went home, and, sitting by the fire, he reflected, and looked into the grate, but he said not a word for a considerable time. His old wife, an ignorant
woman, said to him in the Lancashire dialect, “What’s to do?” “I cannot tell,” said the old man; “but yonder minister said words that sank deeper into my soul than any that ever dropped from the lips of man in all my born days.” “Ah!” she said, “I thought how it would be. They’ll make us as bad as themselves. We’ll not desert our religion. Thou shalt go no more.” So much for her ignorance. But when the word of the Lord is rivetted in the conscience like a nail in a sure place, it cannot be erased.
The next time the old man did not need to be called for; he longed for the time to come, and he went again, and the Lord wrought more powerfully and effectually than before. He returned with greater exercises and soul-concern about eternal realities than ever he felt before. He sat in the same position before the fire as he did on the previous occasion, and as a new-born babe this man of fourscore years desired the sincere milk of the Word. “I wish,” he said to his wife, “you would find me our old Bible.” It needed to be found, for it had not been used for months, or perhaps for years. The Bible was found. The wife takes her apron and rubs off the dust, and gives the Book to her husband. He reads a little here and there, and ponders it over in his mind, and then he says, “I say, wife, is this our right old Bible that we had ever since we were married?” “Yes,” she said; “you know we never had any other.” Then he reads again, and after thinking, with greater earnestness he says, “I say, is this our right old Bible?” “Yes,” she says; “why, can’t you believe me? We never had another.” “Well, then,” says he, “if it’s our right old Bible, I’ve got new een” – that is, new eyes. Yes, the eyes of his understanding were opened; the veil of ignorance was rent off;
he had a new heart, new desires, and he began to see the wonders recorded in the sacred Scriptures.
As sure, my friends, as a soul is born of God, so sure will that soul have a desire for the Word of God, and though it condemns and reproves him, he must come to the light. “Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” “O Lord, teach me! I am dark and ignorant;
instruct me.” If we are born of God we shall be glad that we have the Scriptures in our own mother tongue, and we shall read them for edification, comfort and profit and say as Jeremiah did: “Thy words were found and I did eat them, and thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” “How sweet,” said David, ‘are thy words to my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” The soul that is not born of God does not enjoy this sweetness; he does not eat the Word of God and inwardly digest it and live upon it by precious faith, pp 252-4