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FROM THE FAITHFUL MINISTRY
OF THE LATE
DELIVERED DURING THE LAST TWO YEARS
OF HIS LIFE;
J. BENSON, 1, REGENT'S PARK PLACE, GLOUCESTER GATE, N.W.
TO THE READER.
THESE SERMONS, with others of Mr. Ford's, were taken down by the Editor during delivery, not in shorthand, but the quotations giving time in many parts to note nearly every word. The object was not to publish any, but to aid attention and recollection, with the hope that the weighty things spoken might not be let slip, but be fastened in the heart.
Some who read the notes and found power in Mr. Ford's ministry expressed a wish that a few of his sermons might be printed, feeling that in the present day, when so much that is unprofitable and hurtful issues from the press, the Lord may be pleased to bless such simple expressions of His own teaching. Under much felt weakness and insufficiency, the Editor was encouraged towards the preparation of a small volume, in preference to tracts, which often get lost and forgotten; but, finding the work involved time and attention, which, especially through heavy and absorbing afflictions and anxieties, he felt unable to bestow, it has been delayed so long that many of the small circle who knew Mr. Ford have followed him whence there is no return, and his memory has no doubt much perished here below; but there are no hindrances to the Lord, and He can still, according to the prayer with which Mr. Ford often closed his sermons, “in mercy bless His own word "--spoken or written. It may
be noticed that these discourses were spoken in much simplicity, as the mind ran from one thought to another, without such attempt at order, or to open every part of the text, as some may consider proper in a sermon. The SUMMARIES appended to them are not, therefore, intended for statements of subjects treated on, but to give a general outline of the points touched on, which may be profitable in recalling any part noticed or may present ground for meditation or examination. But all true profit is of the Lord alone.
These simple discourses do not perhaps contain much
that is striking or attractive to the natural mind, or to any not in a measure under the humbling work described in them. Bold declarations of doctrine, relations of wonderful experiences of some peculiar dealings of God in grace or providence-most blessed as such things are if truly of Him and accompanied with godly fear and humility-were not in themselves the especial features of Mr. Ford's ministry; but the safe, tender, yet powerful workings of the fear of God; the secret labour of the Spirit of life in the soul convinced of sin and opposed by nature's evil; the need of continual coming to Christ, of the Word of exhortation, the precepts of the Gospel, being given and received with life and power in the obedience of faith; the hungering and thirsting of the living soul after the God of life, and other blessed operations of the Spirit of God in the broken-hearted sinner who is in the hand of the Lord, and desires to be more and more wrought upon by Him, and to be made a vessel as pleaseth Him for His glory; the certainty of abundant satisfaction in a prayerhearing God, and of free salvation for needy sinnersthese are some of the things which, from heartfelt exercise in them, Mr. Ford was led to dwell on, and to urge on his hearers; and such as possessed these things in ever so small a measure, or felt their need of them, he desired to encourage in their humble and heavenward road.
Lofty professors, whose mountain-not Mount Zionstands strong, whose battlements are not the Lord's, who are not humbled or chastened for sin, but look on Gospel exhortations as bondage, who speak of completeness and security in Christ, but do not want Him to reign over them by subduing grace, would not find unity with such needy longings after a Saviour to save them in His own way, or receive the practical truths of wisdom, the fear of the Lord. And some of the Lord's true people, who may be at ease in Zion through the deceitfulness of their own hearts, who perhaps have been favoured in time past with some powerful deliverance, but are not at present tried or exercised in their daily walk with God, may be ready to think that the spirit of the publican-"God be merciful to me a sinner”-breathed throughout these discourses, with a tender hope in His mercy, is beneath or behind them. Nevertheless, the Lord may be pleased to draw near to them (or even behold them afar off) in such infinite greatness, holiness and majesty, as will show them more deeply their nothingness and sin, and bring them
down to have fellowship with their smitten and afflicted Saviour, who cried, “ My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? and then they may be glad to come as needy beggars at the door of mercy, and will esteem one hope, one look, or fresh answer from the Lord more than all their long boasted experience.
“ The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” Yet many, even preachers, who hold truthful views, continually dwell upon some particular line of doctrine, conversion or experience, taking parts of the truth to the neglect of other parts inseparable from it, and vitally one with it in the teaching of God. But wbat a mercy it is to be made, like Mr. Ford, to receive with love and power the whole Word of God-to feel its weight and reality, as truly bearing upon our present state, and the eternal importance of being truly right and walking. aright in Christ Jesus—to be made tenderly sensible of our utterly ruined state by nature and in ourselves! or, as Mr. Ford expresses it, to have the foundation laid in our hearts of God's righteous and eternal judgment and punishment of sin, that it may be hateful to us as it is to Him, and to find deliverance by a living union with the Saviour, and not take that for granted which, though eternally sure to all His own, He will have us attain to and retain with spiritual labour in Him,-made" perfect through sufferings." Thus Mr. Ford enforces the joint importance of both clauses in the words of the Good Shepherd—“I KNOW my sheep, and am KNOWN of mine.” And again, "He goeth before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” And O the infinite depth of His knowledge, and “ His goings forth” for them from everlasting," and also in time, whereby all the work of their salvation was wholly accomplished without them! In all this they are beheld complete in and with Him. But this is not all, for they shall hear His voice effectually calling them; they shall follow Him in their measure, and know Him in the whole. They “ follow the Lamb, whithersoever He goeth,”. being partakers of His Spirit, suffering with Him, dying to sin, made conformable to His death, and being raised with Him to walk in newness of life. And surely these are things which, as enforced by the whole tenor of this ministry, do most immediately concern us in this life ; for they form, as it were, the middle part of the wonderful chain of salvation reaching from eternity past to eternity to come—the part which passes through this