MARY’ SONG

Mary’s song

 

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And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour

Luke 1:4617

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

When we meet with our kinsfolk and acquaintances, let it be our prayer to God that our communion may be not only pleasant, but profitable; that we may not merely pass away time and spend a pleasant hour, but may advance a day’s march nearer heaven, and acquire greater fitness for our eternal rest. Observe the sacred joy of Mary that you may imitate it. This is a season when all men expect us to be joyous. We compliment each other with the desire that we may have a ‘Merry Christmas.’ Some Christians who are a little squeamish, do not like the word ‘merry.’ It is a right good old Saxon word, having the joy of childhood and the mirth of manhood in it; it brings before one’s mind the old song of the waits, and the midnight peal of bells, the holly and the blazing log. This is the season when we are expected to be happy; and my heart’s desire is, that in the highest and best sense, you who are believers may be ‘merry’. Mary’s heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of her joy, it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was not such merriment as worldlings will revel in today and tomorrow, but such merriment as the angels have around the throne, where they sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest,’ while we sing ‘On earth peace, good will toward men.’ Such merry hearts have a continual feast. I want you, children of the bride-chamber, to possess today and tomorrow, and all your days, the high and consecrated bliss of Mary, that you may not only read her words, but use them for yourselves, ever experiencing their meaning: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’

For meditation: The reasons why Mary’s soul magnified the Lord were—God’s might and majesty (Luke 1:49), God’s mercy (Luke 1:50) and God’s memory (Luke 1:54–55). Such holy mirth is good for the soul (2 Chronicles 7:10; Proverbs 15:13,15; 17:22; James 5:13) and makes for a truly ‘Merry Christmas’.

Sermon no. 606 25 December (1864)

All rights belong to the collection of Charles A

The first day we came to Christ!

Life and walk of Faith

 2 Corinthians 5:17  17 Therefore if any man be gin Christ, the is ha new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.  

 Colossians 2:6

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 2:3-11

There are many Christians whose lives really are not consistent. I cannot understand this if they are walking in Christ; in fact, if a man could completely walk in Christ he would walk in perfect holiness. We hear an instance, perhaps, of a little shopkeeper who puffs and exaggerates as other shopkeepers do; he does not exactly tell a lie, but something very near it. Now I want to know whether that man was walking in Christ when he did that. If he had said to himself, Now I am in Christ, do you think he would have done it? We hear of another who is constantly impatient, always troubled, fretting, mournful. I want to know whether that man is really walking in Christ as he walked at first, when he is doubting the goodness, the providence, the tenderness of God. Surely he is not. I have heard of hard-hearted professors who take a Christian brother by the throat with, Pay me that thou owest.  Do you think they are walking in Christ when they do that? We hear of others who, when their brothers have need, shut up the bowels of their compassion and are mean and stingy; are they walking in Christ when they do that? Why, if a man walks in Christ, then he acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Christ; he is the glass into which Christ looks; and then the image of Christ is reflected, and men say of that man,He is like his Master; he lives in Christ.  O dear brethren, if we live now as we did the first day we came to Christ, we should live very differently from what we do.

For meditation: Christ gave us a perfect example in service (Mark 10:43–45; John 13:14–15), in kindness, forgiveness and love (Ephesians 4:32–5:2), and in suffering (1 Peter 2:21–23). Could you honestly encourage other Christians to imitate you, as you imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)?

Sermon no. 483 7 December (1862)

All rights belong to the collections of Charles Spurgeon(C)

 

CHRIST, “REMEMBER ME!”

A Sermon (No. 2) Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 7th, 1855, by the REV. C. H. Spurgeon At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.wedding feast

“This do in remembrance of me.”—1 Corinthians 11:24.

T SEEMS, then, that Christians may forget Christ. The text implies the possibility of forgetfulness concerning him whom gratitude and affection should constrain them to remember. There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous, and our remembrance superficial in its character, or changing in its nature. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas, too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It seems at first sight too gross a crime to lay at the door of converted men. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb should ever forget their Ransomer; that those who have been loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should ever forget that Son; but if startling to the ear, it is alas, too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the fact. Forget him who ne’er forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault of all of us, that we can remember anything except Christ. The object which we should make the monarch of our hearts, is the very thing we are most inclined to forget. Where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, that is the spot which is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness, and that the place where memory too seldom looks. I appeal to the conscience of every Christian here: Can you deny the truth of what I utter? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should have your eye steadily fixed upon the cross. It is the incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth, that takes away the soul from Christ. Oh! my friends, is it not too sadly true that we can recollect anything but Christ, and forget nothing so easy as him whom we ought to remember? While memory will preserve a poisoned weed, it suffereth the Rose of Sharon to wither.     The cause of this is very apparent: it lies in one or two facts. We forget Christ, because regenerate persons as we really are, still corruption and death remain even in the regenerate. We forget him because we carry about with us the old Adam of sin and death. If we were purely new-born creatures, we should never forget the name of him whom we love. If we were entirely regenerated beings, we should sit down and meditate on all our Saviour did and suffered; all he is; all he has gloriously promised to perform; and never would our roving affections stray; but centered, nailed, fixed eternally to one object, we should continually contemplate the death and sufferings of our Lord. But alas! we have a worm in the heart, a pest-house, a charnel-house within, lusts, vile imaginations, and strong evil passions, which, like wells of poisonous water, send out continually streams of impurity. I have a heart, which God knoweth, I wish I could wring from my body and hurl to an infinite distance; a soul which is a cage of unclean birds, a den of loathsome creatures, where dragons haunt and owls do congregate, where every evil beast of ill-omen dwells; a heart too vile to have a parallel—”deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” This is the reason why I am forgetful of Christ. Nor is this the sole cause; I suspect it lies somewhere else too. We forget Christ because there are so many other things around us to attract our attention. “But,” you say, “they ought not to do so, because though they are around us, they are nothing in comparison with Jesus Christ: though they are in dread proximity to our hearts, what are they compared with Christ?” But do you know, dear friends, that the nearness of an object has a very great effect upon its power? The sun is many, many times larger than the moon, but the moon has a greater influence upon the tides of the ocean than the sun, simply because it is nearer, and has a greater power of attraction. So I find that a little crawling worm of the earth has more effect upon my soul than the glorious Christ in heaven; a handful of golden earth, a puff of fame, a shout of applause, a thriving business, my house, my home, will affect me more than all the glories of the upper world; yea, than the beatific vision itself: simply because earth is near, and heaven is far away. Happy day, when I shall be borne aloft on angels’ wings to dwell for ever near my Lord, to bask in the sunshine of his smile, and to be lost in the ineffable radiance of his lovely countenance. We see then the cause of forgetfulness; let us blush over it; let us be sad that we neglect our Lord so much, and now let us attend to his word, “This do in remembrance of me,” hoping that its solemn sounds may charm away the demon of base ingratitude.     We shall speak, first of all, concerning the blessed object of memory; secondly, upon the advantages to be derived from remembering this Person; thirdly, the gracious help, to our memory—”This do in remembrance of me;” and fourthly, the gentle command, This do in remembrance of me.” May the Holy Ghost open my lips and your hearts, that we may receive blessings.     I. First of all, we shall speak of THE GLORIOUS AND PRECIOUS OBJECT OF MEMORY—”This do in remembrance of ME.” Christians have many treasures to lock up in the cabinet of memory. They ought to remember their election—”Chosen of God ere time began.” They ought to be mindful of their extraction, that they were taken out of the miry clay, hewn out of the horrible pit. They ought to recollect their effectual calling, for they were called of God, and rescued by the power of the Holy Ghost. They ought to remember their special deliverances—all that has been done for them, and all the mercies bestowed on them. But there is one whom they should embalm in their souls with the most costly spices—one who, above all other gifts of God, deserves to be had in perpetual remembrance. One I said, for I mean not an act, I mean not a deed; but it is a Person whose portrait I would frame in gold, and hang up in the state-room of the soul. I would have you earnest students of all the deeds of the conquering Messiah. I would have you conversant with the life of our Beloved. But O forget not his person; for the text says, “This do in remembrance of me.” It is Christ’s glorious person which ought to be the object of our remembrance. It is his image which should be enshrined in every temple of the Holy Ghost.     But some will say, “How can we remember Christ’s person, when we never saw it? We cannot tell what was the peculiar form of his visage; we believe his countenance to be fairer than that of any other man—although through grief and suffering more marred—but since we did not see it, we cannot remember it. We never saw his feet as they trod the journeys of his mercy; we never beheld his hands as he stretched them out full of lovingkindness; we cannot remember the wondrous intonation of his language, when in more than seraphic eloquence, he awed the multitude, and chained their ears to him; we cannot picture the sweet smile that ever hung on his lips, nor that awful frown with which he dealt out anathemas against the Pharisees; we cannot remember him in his sufferings and agonies, for we never saw him.” Well, beloved, I suppose it is true that you cannot remember the visible appearance, for you were not then born; but do you not know that even the apostle said, though he had known Christ after the flesh, yet, thenceforth after the flesh he would know Christ no more. The natural appearance, the race, the descent, the poverty, the humble garb, were nothing in the apostle’s estimation of his glorified Lord. And thus, though you do not know him after the flesh, you may know him after the spirit; in this manner you can remember Jesus as much now as Peter, or Paul, or John, or James, or any of those favoured ones who once trod in his footsteps, walked side by side with him, or laid their heads upon his bosom. Memory annihilates distance and over leapeth time, and can behold the Lord, though he be exalted in glory.     Ah! let us spend five minutes in remembering Jesus. Let us remember him in his baptism, when descending into the waters of Jordan, a voice was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Behold him coming up dripping from the stream! Surely the conscious water must have blushed that it contained its God. He slept within its waves a moment, to consecrate the tomb of baptism, in which those who are dead with Christ are buried with him. Let us remember him in the wilderness, whither he went straight from his immersion. Oh! I have often thought of that scene in the desert, when Christ, weary and way-worn, sat him down, perhaps upon the gnarled roots of some old tree. Forty days that he fasted, he was an hungered, when in the extremity of his weakness there came the evil spirit. Perhaps he had veiled his demon royalty in the form of some aged pilgrim, and taking up a stone, said, “Way-worn pilgrim, if thou be the Son of God command this stone to be made bread.” Methinks I see him, with his cunning smile, and his malicious leer, as he held the stone, and said, “If,”—blasphemous if,—”If thou be the Son of God, command that this stone shall become a meal for me and thee, for both of us are hungry, and it will be an act of mercy; thou canst do it easily; speak the word, and it shall be like the bread of heaven; we will feed upon it, and thou and I will be friends for ever.” But Jesus said—and O how sweetly did he say it—”Man shall not live by bread alone.” Oh! how wonderfully did Christ fight the tempter! Never was there such a battle as that. It was a duel foot to foot—a single-handed combat—when the champion lion of the pit, and the mighty lion of the tribe of Judah, fought together. Splendid sight! Angels stood around to gaze upon the spectacle, just as men of old did sit to see the tournament of noted warriors. There Satan gathered up his strength; here Apollyon concentrated all his satanic power, that in this giant wrestle he might overthrow the seed of the woman. But Jesus was more than a match for him; in the wrestling he gave him a deadly fall, and came off more than a conqueror. Lamb of God! I will remember thy desert strivings, when next I combat with Satan. When next I have a conflict with roaring Diabolus, I will look to him who conquered once for all, and broke the dragon’s head with his mighty blows.     Further, I beseech you remember him in all his daily temptations and hourly trials, in that life-long struggle of his, through which he passed. Oh! what a mighty tragedy was the death of Christ! and his life too? Ushered in with a song, it closed with a shriek. “It is finished.” It began in a manger, and ended on a cross; but oh, the sad interval between! Oh! the black pictures of persecution, when his friends abhorred him; when his foes frowned at him as he passed the streets; when he heard the hiss of calumny, and was bitten by the foul tooth of envy; when slander said he had a devil and was mad: that he was a drunken man and a wine-bibber; and when his righteous soul was vexed with the ways of the wicked. Oh! Son of God, I must remember thee; I cannot help remembering thee, when I think of those years of toil and trouble which thou didst live for my sake. But you know my chosen theme—the place where I can always best remember Christ. It is a shady garden full of olives. O that spot! I would that I had eloquence, that I might take you there. Oh! if the Spirit would but take us, and set us down hard by the mountains of Jerusalem, I would say, see there runs the brook of Kedron, which the king himself did pass; and there you see the olive trees. Possibly, at the foot of that olive, lay the three disciples when they slept; and there, ah! there, I see drops of blood. Stand here, my soul, a moment; those drops of blood—dost thou behold them? Mark them; they are not the blood of wounds; they are the blood of a man whose body was then unwounded. O my soul picture him when he knelt down in agony and sweat,—sweat, because he wrestled with God,—sweat, because he agonized with his Father. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” O Gethsemane! thy shades are deeply solemn to my soul. But ah! those drops of blood! Surely it is the climax of the height of misery; it is the last of the mighty acts of this wondrous sacrifice. Can love go deeper than that? Can it stoop to greater deeds of mercy? Oh! had I eloquence, I would bestow a tongue on every drop of blood that is there; that your hearts might rise in mutiny against your languor and coldness, and speak out with earnest burning remembrance of Jesus. And now, farewell, Gethsemane.     But I will take you somewhere else, where you shall still behold the “Man of Sorrows.” I will lead you to Pilate’s hall, and let you see him endure the mockeries of cruel soldiers: the smitings of mailed gloves; the blows of clenched fists; the shame; the spitting, the plucking of the hair: the cruel buffetings. Oh! can you not picture the King of Martyrs, stript of his garments; exposed to the gaze of fiend-like men? See you not the crown about his temples, each thorn acting as a lancet to pierce his head? Mark you not his lacerated shoulders, and the white bones starting out from the bleeding flesh? Oh, Son of Man! I see thee scourged and flagellated with rods and whips, how can I henceforward cease to remember thee? My memory would be more treacherous than Pilate, did it not every cry, Ecce Homo,—”Behold the man.”     Now, finish the scene of woe by a view of Calvary. Think of the pierced hands and the bleeding side; think of the scorching sun, and then the entire darkness; remember the broiling fever and the dread thirst; think of the death shriek, “It is finished!” and of the groans which were its prelude. This is the object of memory. Let us never forget Christ. I beseech you, for the love of Jesus, let him have the chief place in your memories. Let not the pearl of great price be dropped from your careless hand into the dark ocean of oblivion.     I cannot, however, help saying one thing before I leave this head: and that is, there are some of you who can very well carry away what I have said, because you have read it often, and heard it before; but still you cannot spiritually remember anything about Christ, because you never had him manifested to you, and what we have never known, we cannot remember. Thanks be unto God, I speak not of you all, for in this place there is a goodly remnant according to the election of grace, and to them I turn. Perhaps I could tell you of some old barn, hedge-row, or cottage; or if you have lived in London, about some garret, or some dark lane or street, where first you met with Christ; or some chapel into which you strayed, and you might say, “Thank God, I can remember the seat where first he met with me, and spoke the whispers of love to my soul, and told me he had purchased me.”

“Dost mind the place, the spot of ground, Where Jesus did thee meet?”Yes, and I would love to build a temple on the spot, and to raise some monument there, where Jehovah-Jesus first spoke to my soul, and manifested himself to me. But he has revealed himself to you more than once—has he not? And you can remember scores of places where the Lord hath appeared of old unto you, saying, “Behold I have loved you with an everlasting love.” If you cannot all remember such things, there are some of you that can; and I am sure they will understand me when I say, come and do this in remembrance of Christ—in remembrance of all his loving visitations, of his sweet wooing words, of his winning smiles upon you, of all he has said and communicated to your souls. Remember all these things tonight, if it be possible for memory to gather up the mighty aggregate of grace. “Bless the Lord. O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”     II. Having spoken upon the blessed object of our memory, we say, secondly, a little upon THE BENEFITS TO BE DERIVED FROM A LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF CHRIST.     Love never says, “Cui bono?” Love never asks what benefit it will derive from love. Love from its very nature is a disinterested thing. It loves; for the creature’s sake it loves, and for nothing else. The Christian needs no argument to make him love Christ; just as a mother needs no argument to make her love her child. She does it because it is her nature to do so. The new-born creature must love Christ, it cannot help it. Oh! who can resist the matchless charms of Jesus Christ?—the fairest of ten thousand fairs, the loveliest of ten thousand loves. Who can refuse to adore the prince of perfection, the mirror of beauty, the majestic Son of God? But yet it may be useful to us to observe the advantages of remembering Christ, for they are neither few nor small.     And first, remembrance of Jesus will tend to give you hope when you are under the burden of your sins. Notice a few characters here tonight. There comes in a poor creature. Look at him! He has neglected himself this last month; he looks as if he had hardly eaten his daily bread. What is the matter with you? “Oh!” says he, “I have been under a sense of guilt; I have been again and again lamenting, because I fear I can never be forgiven; once I thought I was good, but I have been reading the Bible, and I find that my heart is ‘deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;’ I have tried to reform, but the more I try, the deeper I sink in the mire, there is certainly no hope for me. I feel that I deserve no mercy; it seems to me that God must destroy me, for he has declared, ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die;’ and die I must, be damned I must, for I know I have broken God’s law.” How will you comfort such a man? What soft words will you utter to give him peace? I know! I will tell thee that there is one, who for thee hath made a complete atonement; if thou only believest on him thou art safe for ever. Remember him, thou poor dying, hopeless creature, and thou shalt be made to sing for joy and gladness. See, the man believes, and in ecstasy exclaims, “Oh! come all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.”

“Tell it unto sinners, tell, I am, I am out of hell.”Hallelujah! God hath blotted out my sins like a thick cloud! That is one benefit to be derived from remembering Christ. It gives us hope under a sense of sin, and tells us there is mercy yet.     Now, I must have another character. And what does he say? “I cannot stand it any longer; I have been persecuted and ill-treated, because I love Christ; I am mocked, and laughed at, and despised: I try to bear it, but I really cannot. A man will be a man; tread upon a worm and he will turn upon you; my patience altogether fails me; I am in such a peculiar position that it is of no use to advise me to have patience, for patience I cannot have; my enemies are slandering me, and I do not know what to do.” What shall we say to that poor man? How shall we give him patience? What shall we preach to him? You have heard what he has to say about himself. How shall we comfort him under this great trial? If we suffered the same, what should we wish some friend to say to us? Shall we tell him that other persons have borne as much? He will say, “Miserable comforters are ye all!” No, I will tell him, “Brother, you are persecuted; but remember the words of Jesus Christ, how he spake unto us, and said, ‘Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” My brother! think of him, who, when he died, prayed for his murderers, and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” All you have to bear, is as nothing compared with his mighty sufferings. Take courage; face it again like a man; never say die. Let not your patience be gone; take up your cross daily, and follow Christ. Let him be your motto; set him before your eyes. And, now, receiving this, hear what the man will say. He tells you at once—”Hail, persecution; welcome shame. Disgrace for Jesus shall be my honor, and scorn shall be my highest glory.

“‘Now, for the love I bear his name, What was my gain I count my loss, I pour contempt on all my shame, And nail my glory to his cross.'”There is another effect, you see, to remembering Christ. It tends to give us patience under persecution. It is a girdle to brace up the loins, so that our faith may endure to the end.     Dear friends, I should occupy your time too much if I went into the several benefits; so I will only just run over one or two blessings to be received. It will give us strength in temptation. I believe that there are hours with every man, when he has a season of terrific temptation. There was never a vessel that lived upon the mighty deep but sometimes it had to do battle with a storm. There she is, the poor barque, rocked up and down on the mad waves. See how they throw her from wave to wave, and toss her to mid heaven. The winds laugh her to scorn. Old Ocean takes the ship in his dripping fingers, and shakes it to and fro. How the mariners cry out for fear! Do you know how you can put oil upon the waters, and all shall be still? Yes. One potent word shall do it. Let Jesus come; let the poor heart remember Jesus, and steadily then the ship shall sail, for Christ has the helm. The winds shall blow no more, for Christ shall bid them shut their mighty mouths, and never again disturb his child. There is nothing which can give you strength in temptation, and help you to weather the storm, like the name of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Then again, what comfort it will give you on a sick bed—the name of Christ! It will help you to be patient to those who wait upon you, and to endure the sufferings which you have to bear; yea, it shall be so with you, that you shall have more hope in sickness than in health, and shall find a blessed sweetness in the bitterness of gall. Instead of feeling vinegar in your mouth, through your trouble, you shall find honey for sweetness, in the midst of all the trial and trouble that God will put upon you, “For he giveth songs in the night.”     But just to close up the advantages of remembering Christ, do you know where you will have the benefit most of all? Do you know the place where chiefly you will rejoice that you ever thought of him? I will take you to it. Hush! Silence! You are going up stairs into a lonely room. The curtains hang down. Some one stands there weeping. Children are around the bed, and friends are there. See that man lying? That is yourself. Look at him; his eyes are your eyes; his hands are your hands. That is yourself. You will be there soon. Man! that is yourself. Do you see it? It is a picture of yourself. Those are your eyes that soon will be closed in death—your hands, that will lie stiff and motionless—your lips that will be dry and parched, between which they will put drops of water. Those are your words that freeze in air, and drop so slowly from your dying lips. I wonder whether you will be able to remember Christ there. If you do not, I will picture you. Behold that man, straight up in the bed; see his eyes starting from their sockets. His friends are all alarmed; they ask him what he sees. He represses the emotion; he tells them he sees nothing. They know that there is something before his eyes. He starts again. Good God! what is that I see—I seem to see? What is it? Ah! one sigh! The soul is gone. The body is there. What did he see? He saw a flaming throne of judgment; he saw God upon it, with his sceptre; he saw books opened; he beheld the throne of God, and saw a messenger, with a sword brandished in the air to smite him low. Man! that is thyself; there thou wilt be soon. That picture is thine own portrait. I have photographed thee to the life. Look at it. That is where thou shalt be within a few years—ay, within a few days. But if thou canst remember Christ, shall I tell thee what thou wilt do? Oh! thou wilt smile in the midst of trouble. Let me picture such a man. They put pillows behind him; he sits up in bed, and takes the hand of the loved one, and says, “Farewell! weep not for me; the kind God shall wipe away all tears from every eye.” Those round about are addressed, “Prepare to meet your God, and follow me to the land of bliss.” Now he has set his house in order. All is done. Behold him, like good old Jacob, leaning on his staff, about to die. See how his eyes sparkle; he claps his hands; they gather round to hear what he has to say; he whispers “Victory!” and summoning a little more strength, he cries, “Victory!” and at last, with his final gasp, “Victory, through him that loved us!” and he dies. This is one of the great benefits to be derived from remembering Christ—to be enabled to meet death with blessed composure.     III. We are now arrived at the third portion of our meditation, which is a SWEET AID TO MEMORY.     At schools we used certain books, called “Aids to Memory.” I am sure they rather perplexed than assisted me. Their utility was equivalent to that of a bundle of staves under a traveller’s arm: true he might use them one by one to walk with, but in the mean time he carried a host of others which he would never need. But our Saviour was wiser than all our teachers, and his remembrances are true and real aids to memory. His love tokens have an unmistakeable language, and they sweetly win our attention.     Behold the whole mystery of the sacred Eucharist. It is bread and wine which are lively emblems of the body and blood of Jesus. The power to excite remembrance consists in the appeal thus made to the senses. Here the eye, the hand, the mouth, find joyful work. The bread is tasted, and entering within, works upon the sense of taste, which is one of the most powerful. The wine is sipped—the act is palpable. We know that we are drinking, and thus the senses, which are usually clogs to the soul, become wings to lift the mind in contemplation. Again, much of the influence of this ordinance is found in its simplicity. How beautifully simple the ceremony is—bread broken and wine poured out. There is no calling that thing a chalice, that thing a paten, and that a host. Here is nothing to burden the memory—here is the simple bread and wine. He must have no memory at all who cannot remember that he has eaten bread, and that he has been drinking wine. Note again, the mighty pregnancy of these signs—how full they are of meaning. Bread broken—so was your Saviour broken. Bread to be eaten—so his flesh is meat indeed. Wine poured out, the pressed juice of the grape—so was your Saviour crushed under the foot of divine justice: his blood is your sweetest wine. Wine to cheer your heart—so does the blood of Jesus. Wine to strengthen and invigorate you—so does the blood of the mighty sacrifice. Oh! make that bread and wine to your souls tonight a sweet and blessed help of remembrance of that dear Man who once on Calvary died. Like the little ewe lamb, you are now to eat your Master’s bread and drink from his cup. Remember the hand which feeds you.     But before you can remember Christ well here, you must ask the assistance of the Holy Spirit. I believe there ought to be a preparation before the Lord’s Supper. I do not believe in Mrs. Toogood’s preparation, who spent a week in preparing, and then finding it was not the Ordinance Sunday, she said she had lost all the week. I do not believe in that kind of preparation, but I do believe in a holy preparation for the Lord’s Supper: when we can on a Saturday if possible, spend an hour in quiet meditation on Christ, and the passion of Jesus; when, especially on the Sabbath afternoon, we can devoutly sit down and behold him, then these scenes become realities, and not mockeries, as they are to some. I fear greatly that there are some of you who will drink the wine, and not think of his blood: and vile hypocrites you will be while you do it. Take heed to yourselves, “He that eateth and drinketh” unworthily, eateth and drinketh—what?—”damnation to himself.” This is a plain English word; mind what you are doing! Do not do it carelessly; for of all the sacred things on earth, it is the most solemn. We have heard of some men banded together by drawing blood from their arms and drinking it all round; that was most horrid, but at the same time most solemn. Here you are to drink blood from the veins of Christ, and sip the trickling stream which gushed from his own loving heart. Is not that a solemn thing? Ought anybody to trifle with it? To go to church and take it for sixpence? To come and join us for the sake of getting charities? Out upon it! It is an awful blasphemy against Almighty God; and amongst the damned in hell, those shall be among the most accursed who dared thus to mock the holy ordinance of God. This is the remembrance of Christ. “This do in remembrance of me.” If you cannot do it in remembrance of Christ, I beseech you, as you love your souls, do not do it at all. Oh! regenerate man or woman, enter not into the court of the priests, lest Israel’s God resent the intrusion.     IV. And now to close up. Here is a sweet command: “This do in remembrance of me.” To whom does this command apply? “This do ye.” It is important to answer this question—”This do ye,” Who are intended? Ye who put your trust in me. “This do ye in remembrance of me.” Well, now, you should suppose Christ speaking to you tonight; and he says, “This do ye in remembrance of me.” Christ watches you at the door. Some of you go home, and Christ says, “I thought I said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of me.'” Some of you keep your seats as spectators. Christ sits with you, and he says, “I thought I said, ‘This do ye in remembrance of me.'” “Lord, I know you did.” “Do you love me then?” “Yes, I love thee; I love, Lord; thou knowest I do.” “But, I say, go down there—eat that bread, drink that wine.” “I do not like to, Lord; I should have to be baptized if I joined that church, and I am afraid I shall catch cold, or be looked at. I am afraid to go before the church, for I think they would ask some questions I could not answer.” “What,” says Christ, “is this all you love me? Is this all your affection to your Lord. Oh! how cold to me, your Saviour. If I had loved you no more than this, you would have been in hell: if that were the full extent of my affection, I should not have died for you. Great love bore great agonies; and is this all your gratitude to me?” Are not some of you ashamed, after this? Do you not say in your hearts, “it is really wrong?” Christ says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and are you not ashamed to stay away? I give a free invitation to every lover of Jesus to come to this table. I beseech you, deny not yourselves the privilege by refusing to unite with the church. If you still live in sinful neglect of this ordinance, let me remind you that Christ has said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me in this generation, of him will I be ashamed, when I come in the glory of my Father.” Oh, soldier of the cross, act not the coward’s part!     And not to lead you into any mistakes, I must just add one thing, and then I have done. When I speak of your taking the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, do not imagine that I wish you for one moment to suppose that there is anything saving in it. Some say that the ordinance of baptism is non-essential, so is the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, it is non-essential, if we look upon it in the light of salvation. Be saved by eating a piece of bread! Nonsense, confounded nonsense! Be saved by drinking a drop of wine! Why, it is too absurd for common sense to admit any discussion upon. You know it is the blood of Jesus Christ; it is the merit of his agonies; it is the purchase of his sufferings; it is what he did, that alone can save us. Venture on him; venture wholly, and then you are saved. Hearest thou, poor convinced sinner, the way of salvation? If I ever meet thee in the next world, thou mightest, perhaps, say to me, “I spent one evening, sir, in hearing you, and you never told me the way to heaven.” Well, thou shalt hear it. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, trust in his righteousness, and thou art saved beyond the vengeance of the law, or the power of hell. But trust in thine own works, and thou art lost as sure as thou art alive.     Now, O ever glorious Son of God, we approach thy table to feast on the viands of grace, permit each of us, in reliance upon thy Spirit, to exclaim in the words of one of thine own poets:

“Remember thee, and all thy pains, And all thy love to me— Yes, while a pulse or breath remains, I will remember thee.And when these failing lips grow dumb, And thought and memory flee; When thou shalt in thy kingdom come, Jesus, remember me!”

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FAVOR OF GOD OR FAVOR OF MANKIND!

The loved ones chastened

MY ROSE

MY ROSE

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Revelation 3:19

Suggested Further Reading: Job 12:1-6

See how the righteous are cast down. How often is virtue dressed in the rags of poverty! How frequently is the most pious spirit made to suffer from hunger, and thirst, and nakedness! We have sometimes heard the Christian say, when he has contemplated these things, Surely, I have served God in vain; it is for nothing that I have chastened myself every morning and vexed my soul with fasting; for lo, God hath cast me down, and he lifteth up the sinner. How can this be?  The wise of the heathen could not answer this question, and they therefore adopted the expedient of cutting the intricate knot.  We cannot tell how it is, they might have said; therefore they flew at the fact itself, and denied it.  The man that prospers is favoured of the gods; the man who is unsuccessful is obnoxious to the Most High.  So said the heathen, and they knew no better. Those more enlightened people who talked with Job in the days of his affliction, did not get much further; for they believed that all who served God would have a hedge about them; God would multiply their wealth and increase their happiness; while they saw in Job’s affliction, as they conceived, a certain sign that he was a hypocrite, and, therefore God had quenched his candle and put out his light in darkness. And alas! Even Christians have fallen into the same error. They have been apt to think that if God lifts a man up, there must be some excellence in him; and if he chastens and afflicts, they are generally led to think that it must be an exhibition of wrath. Now hear the text, and the riddle is all made clear; listen to the words of Jesus, speaking to his servant John, and the mystery is solved.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.€

For meditation: God is good to his children, both providing for them and disciplining them (Deuteronomy 8:1-5). Teachings such as the Prosperity Gospel and Healing being in the Atonement miss the point that such blessings are guaranteed to the believer only in the Glory (Revelation 21:3-7).

Sermon no. 164 22 November (1857)

all rights belong to the collections of Charles Spurgeon(C)

 

GOD MENDS ALL FENCES

The Broken Fence

Stone Wall 3

Stone Wall 3 (Photo credit: Mike_tn)

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.”—Proverbs 24:30-32.

HIS slothful man did no hurt to his fellow men: he was not a thief, nor a ruffian, nor a meddler in anybody else’s business.  He did not trouble himself about other men’s concerns, for he did not even attend to his own,—it required too much exertion.  He was not grossly vicious; he had not energy enough to care for that.  He was one who liked to take things easily.  He always let well alone, and, for the matter of that, he let ill alone, too, as the nettles and the thistles in his garden plainly proved.  What was the use of disturbing himself?  It would be all the same a hundred years hence; and so, he took things just as they came.  He was not a bad man, so some said of him; and yet, perhaps, it will be found at last there is no worse man in the world than the man who is not good, for in some respects he is not good enough to be bad; he has not enough force of character about him to serve either God or Baal.  He simply serves himself, worshipping his own case and adoring his own comfort.  Yet he always meant to be right.  Dear me! He was not going to sleep much longer, he would only have forty winks more, and then he would be at his work, and show you what he could do.  One of these days he meant to be thoroughly in earnest, and make up for the last time.  The time never actually came for him to begin, but it was always coming.  He always meant to repent, but he went on in his sin.  He meant to believe, but he died an unbeliever.  He meant to be a Christian, but he lived without Christ.  He halted between two opinions because could not trouble himself to make up his mind; and so he perished of delay.     This picture of the slothful man and his garden and field overgrown with nettles and weeds represents many a man who has professed to be a Christian, but who has become slothful in the things of God.  Spiritual life has within in him.  He has backslidden; he has come down from the condition of healthy spiritual energy into of listlessness, and indifference to the things of God; and while things have gone wrong within his heart, and all sorts of mischiefs have come into him and grown up and seeded themselves in him, mischief is also taking place externally in his daily conduct.  The stone wall which guarded his character is broken down, and he lies open to all evil.  Upon this point we will now meditate.  “The stone wall thereof was broken down.”     Come, then, let us take a walk with Solomon, and stand with him and consider and learn instruction while we look at this broken-down fence.  When we have examined it, let us consider the consequences of broken-down walls; and then, in the last place, let us try to rouse up this sluggard that his wall may yet be repaired.  If this slothful person should be one of ourselves, may God’s infinite mercy rouse us up before this ruined wall has let in a herd of prowling vices.     I.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First let us take a LOOK AT THIS BROKEN FENCE.     You will see that in the beginning it was a very good fence, for it was a stone wall.  Fields are often surrounded with wooden palings which soon decay, or with hedges which may very easily have gaps made in them; but this was a stone wall.  Such walls are very usual in the East, and are also common in some of our own counties where stone is plentiful.  It was a substantial protection to begin with, and well shut in the pretty little estate which had fallen into such bad hands.  The man had a field for agricultural purposes, and another strip of land for a vineyard or a garden.  It was fertile soil, for it produced thorns and nettles in abundance, and where these flourish better things can be produced; yet the idler took no care of his property, but allowed the wall to get into bad repair, and in many places to be quite broken down.     Let me mention some of the stone walls that men permit to be broken down when they backslide.     In many cases sound principles were instilled in youth, but these are forgotten.  What a blessing is Christian education!  Our parents, both by persuasion and example, taught many of us the things that are pure and honest, and of good repute.  We saw in their lives how to live.  They also opened the word of God before us, and they taught us the ways or right both towards God and towards men.  They prayed for us, and they prayed with us, till the things of God were placed round about us and shut us in as with a stone wall.  We have never  been able to get rid of our early impressions.  Even in times of wandering, before we knew the Lord savingly, these things had a healthy power over us; we were checked when we would have done evil, we were assisted when we were struggling towards Christ.  It is very sad when people permit these first principles to be shaken, and to be removed like stones which fall from a boundary wall.  Young persons begin at first to talk lightly of the old-fashioned ways of their parents.  By-and-by it is not merely the old-fashionedness of the ways, but the ways themselves that they despise.  They seek other company, and from that other company they learn nothing but evil.  They seek pleasure in places which it horrifies their parents to think of.  This leads to worse, and if they do not bring their fathers’ grey hairs with sorrow to the grave it is no virtue of theirs.  I have known young men, who really were Christians, sadly backslide through being induced to modify, conceal, or alter those holy principles in which they were trained from their mother’s knee.  It is a great calamity when professedly converted men become unfixed, unstable, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.  It shows great faultiness of mind, and unsoundness of heart when we can trifle with those grave and solemn truths which have been sanctified by a mother’s tears, and by a father’s earnest life.  “I am thy servant,” said David, “and the son of thy handmaid”: he felt it to be a high honour, and, at the same time a sacred bond which bound him to God, that he was the son of one who could be called God’s handmaid.  Take care, you who have had Christian training, that you do not trifle with it.  “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.”     Protection to character is also found in the fact that solid doctrines have been learned.  This is a fine stone wall.  Many among us have been taught the gospel of the grace of God, and they have learned it well, so that they are able to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.  Happy are they who have a religion that is grounded upon a clear knowledge of eternal verities.  A religion which is all excitement, and has little instruction in it, may serve for transient use; but for permanent life-purposes there must be a knowledge of those great doctrines which are fundamental to the gospel system.  I tremble when I hear of a man’s giving up, one by one, the vital principles of the gospel and boasting of his liberality.  I hear him say, “These are my views, but others have a right to their views also.”  That is a very proper expression in reference to mere “views,” but we may not thus speak of truth itself as revealed by God: that is one and unalterable, and all are bound to receive it.  It is not your view of truth, for that is a dim thing;  but the very truth itself which will save you if you faith embraces it.  I will readily yield my way of stating a doctrine, but not the doctrine itself.  One man may put it in this way, and one in another; but the truth itself must never be given up.  The spirit of the Broad School robs us of everything like certainty.  I should like to ask some great men of that order whether they believe that anything is taught in the Scriptures which it world be worth while for a person to die for, and  whether the martyrs were not great fools for laying down their lives for mere opinions which might be right or might be wrong?  This Broad-churchism is a breaking down of stone walls, and it will let in the devil and all his crew, and do infinite harm to the church of God, if it be not stopped.  A loose state of belief does great damage to any man’s mind.     We are not bigots, but we should be none the worse if we so lived that men called us so.  I met a man the other day who was accused of bigotry and I said, “Give me your hand, old fellow.  I like to meet with bigots now and then, for the fine old creatures are getting scarce, and the stuff they are made of is so good that if there were more of it we might see a few men among us again and fewer molluses.”  Lately we have seen few men with backbone; the most have been of the jelly-fish order.  I have lived in times in which I should have said, “Be liberal, and shake off all narrowness”; but now I am obliged to alter my tone and cry, “Be steadfast in the truth.”  The faith once delivered to the saints is now all the more attractive to me because it is called narrow, for I am weary of that breadth which comes of broken hedges.  There are fixed points of truth, and definite certainties of creed, and woe to you if you allow these stone walls to crumble down.  I fear me that the slothful are a numerous band, and that ages to come may have to deplore the laxity which has been applauded by this negligent generation.     Another fence which is too often neglected is that of godly habits which had been formed: the sluggard allows this wall to be broken down.  I will mention some valuable guards of life and character.  One is the habit of secret prayer.  Private prayer should be regularly offered, at least in the morning and in the evening.  We cannot do without set seasons for drawing near to God.  To look into the face of man without having first seen the face of God is very dangerous: to go out into the world without locking up the heart and giving God the key is to leave it open to all sorts of spiritual vagrants.  At night, again, to go to your rest as the swine roll into their sty, without thanking God for the mercies of the day, is shameful.  The evening sacrifice should be devoutly offered as surely as we have enjoyed the evening fireside: we should thus put ourselves under the wings of the Preserver of men.  It may be said, “We can pray at all times.”  I know we can: but I fear that those who do not pray at stated hours seldom pray at all.  Those who pray in season are the most likely persons to pray at all seasons.  Spiritual life does not care for a cast-iron regulation, but since life casts itself into some mould or other, I would have you careful of its external habit as well as its internal power.  Never allow great gaps in the wall of your habitual private prayer.     I go a step farther, I believe that there is a great guardian power about family prayer, and I feel greatly distressed because I know that very many Christian families neglect it.  Romanism, at one time, could do nothing in England, because it could offer nothing but the shadow of what Christian men had already in substance.  “Do you hear that bell tinkling in the morning?”  “What is that for?”  “To go to church to pray.”  “Indeed,” said the Puritan, “I have no need to go there to pray.  I have had my children together, and we have read a passage of Scripture, and prayed, and sang the praises of God, and we have a church in our house.”  Ah, there goes that bell again in the evening.  What is that for?  Why, it is the vesper bell.  The good man answered that he had no need to trudge a mile or two for that, for his holy vespers had been said and sung around his own table, of which the big Bible was the chief ornament.  They told him that there could be no service without a priest, but he replied that every godly man should be a priest in his own house.  Thus have the saints defied the overtures of priestcraft, and kept the faith from generation to generation.  Household devotion and the pulpit are, under God, the stone walls of Protestantism, and my prayer is that these may not be broken down.     Another fence to protect piety is found in week-night services.  I notice that when people forsake week-night meetings the power of their religion evaporates.  I do not speak of those lawfully detained to watch the sick, and attend to farm-work and other business, or as domestic servants and the like; there are exceptions to all rules; but I mean those who could attend if they had a mind to do so.  When people say, “It is quite enough for me to be wearied with the sermons of the Sunday; I do not want to go out to prayer-meetings, and lectures, and so forth,”—then it is clear that they have no appetite for the word; and surely this is a bad sign.  If you have a bit of wall built to protect the Sunday and then six times the distance left without a fence, I believe that Satan’s cattle will get in and do no end of mischief.     Take care, also, of the stone wall of Bible reading, and of speaking often one to another concerning the things of God.  Associate with the godly, and commune with God, and you will thus, by the blessing of God’s Spirit, keep up a good fence against temptations, which otherwise will get into the fields of your soul, and devour all goodly fruits.     Many have found much protection for the field of daily life in the stone wall of a public profession of faith.  I am speaking to you who are real believers, and I know that you have often found it a great safeguard to be known and recognized as a follower of Jesus.  I have never regretted—and I never shall regret—the day on which I walked to the little river Lark, in Cambridgeshire, and was there buried with Christ in baptism.  In this I acted contrary to the opinions of all my friends whom I respected and esteemed, but as I had read the Green Testament for myself, I felt bound to be immersed upon the profession of my faith, and I was so.  By that act I said to the world, “I am dead to you, and buried to you in Christ, and I hope henceforth to live in newness of life.”  That day, by God’s grace, I imitated the tactics of the general who meant to fight the enemy till he conquered, and therefore he burned his boats that there might be no way of retreat.  I believe that a solemn confession of Christ before men is as a thorn hedge to keep one within bounds, and to keep off those who hope to draw you aside.  Of course it is nothing but a hedge, and it is of no use to fence in a field of weeds, but when wheat is growing a hedge is of great consequence.  You who imagine that you can be the Lord’s, and yet lie open like a common, are under a great error; you ought to be distinguished from the world, and obey the voice which saith, “Come ye out from among them, be ye separate.”  The promise of salvation is to the man who with his heart believeth and with his mouth confesseth.  Say right boldly, “”et others do as they will; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  By this act you come out into the king’s highway, and put yourself under the protection of the Lord of pilgrims, and he will take care of you.  Oftentimes, when otherwise you might have hesitated, you will say, “The vows of the Lord are upon me; how can I draw back?”  I pray you, then, set up the stone wall, and keep it up, and if it has at any corner been tumbled over, set it up again, and let it be seen by your conduct and conversation that you are a follower of Jesus, and are not ashamed to have it known.     Keep to your religious principles like men, and do not turn aside for the sake of gain, or respectability.  Do not let wealth break down your wall, for I have know some make a great gap to let their carriage go through, and to let in wealthy worldlings for the sake of their society.  Those who forsake their principles to please men will in the end be lightly esteemed, but he who is faithful shall have the honour which cometh from God.  Look well to this hedge of steadfast adherence to the faith, and you shall find a great blessing in it.     There is yet another stone wall which I will mention, namely, firmness of character.  Our holy faith teaches a man to be decided in the cause of Christ, and to be resolute in getting rid of evil habits.  “If thine eye offend thee”—wear a shade?  No; “pluck it out.”  “If thine arm offend thee”—hang it in a sling?  No; “cut it off and cast it from thee.”  True religion is very thorough in what it recommends.  It says to us, “touch not the unclean thing.”  But many persons are so idle in the ways of God that they have no mind of their own: evil companions tempt them, and they cannot say, “No.”  They need a stone wall made up of noes.  Here are the stones “no, no, NO.”  Dare to be singular.  Resolve to keep close to Christ.  Make a stern determination to permit nothing in your life, however gainful or pleasurable, if it would dishonour the name of Jesus.  Be dogmatically true, obstinately holy, immovably honest, desperately kind, fixedly upright.  If God’s grace sets up this hedge around you, even Satan will feel that he cannot get in, and will complain to God “hast thou not set a hedge about him?”     I have kept you long enough looking over the wall, let me invite you in, and for a few minutes let us CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF A BROKEN-DOWN FENCE.     To make short work of it, first, the boundary has gone.  Those lines of separation which were kept up by the good principles which were instilled in him by religious habits, by a bold profession and by a firm resolve, have vanished, and now the question is, “Is he a Christian, or is he not?”  The fence is so far gone that he does not know which is his Lord’s property and which remains an open common: in fact, he does not know whether he himself is included in the Royal domain or left to be mere waste of the world’s manor.  This is for want of keeping up the fences.  It that man had lived near to God, if he had walked in his integrity, if the Spirit of God had richly rested on his in all holy living and waiting upon God, he would have known where the boundary was, and he would have seen whether his land lay in the parish of All-saints, or in the region called No-man’s-land, or in the district where Satan is the lord of the manor.  I heard of a dear old saint the other day who, when she was near to death, was attacked by Satan, and, waving her finger at the enemy, in her gentle way, she routed him by saying, “Chosen! Chosen! Chosen!”  She knew that she was chosen, and she remembered the text, “The Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee.”  When the wall stands in its integrity all round the field, we can resist the devil by bidding him leave the Lord’s property alone.  “Begone!  Look somewhere else.  I belong to Christ, not to you.”  To do this you must mend the hedges well so that there shall be a clear boundary line, and you can say, “Trespassers, beware!”  Do not yield an inch to the enemy, but make the wall all the higher, the more he seeks to enter.  O that this adversary may never find a gap to enter by.     Next, when the wall has fallen, the protection is gone.  When a man’s heart has its wall broken, all his thoughts will go astray, and wander upon the mountains of vanity.  Like sheep, thoughts need careful folding, or they will be off in no time.  “I hate vain thoughts,” said David, but slothful men are sure to have plenty of them, for there is no keeping your thoughts out of vanity unless you stop every gap and shut every gate.  Holy thoughts, comfortable meditations, devout longings, and gracious communings will be off and gone if we sluggishly allow the stone wall to get out of repair.     Nor is this all, for as good things go out so bad things come in.  When the wall is gone every passerby sees, as it were, an invitation to enter.  You have set before him an open door, and in he comes.  Are there fruits?  He plucks them, of course.  He walks about as if it were a public place, and he pries everywhere.  Is there any secret corner of your heart which you would keep for Jesus?  Satan or the world will walk in; and do you wonder?  Every passing goat, or roaming ox, or stray ass visits the growing crops and spoils more than he eats, and who can blame the creature when the gaps are so wide?  All manner of evil lusts and desires, and imaginations prey upon an unfenced soul.  It is of no use for you to say, “Lead us not into temptation.”  God will hear your prayer, and he will not lead you there; but you are leading yourself into it, you are tempting the devil to tempt you.  If you leave yourself open to evil influences the Spirit of God will be grieved, and he may leave you to reap the result of your folly.  What think you, friends?  Had you not better attend to your fences at once?     And then there is another evil, for the land itself will go away.  “No,” say you; “how can that be?”  If a stone wall is broken down round a farm in England a man does not thereby lose his land, but in many parts of Palestine the land is all ups and downs on the sides of the hills, and every bit of ground is terraced and kept up by walls.  When the walls fall the soil slips over, terrace upon terrace, and the vines and trees go down with it; then the rain comes and washes the soil away, and nothing is left but barren crags which would starve a lark.  In the same manner a man may so neglect himself, and so neglect the things of God, and become so careless and indifferent about doctrine, and about holy living, that his power to do good ceases, and his mind, his heart, and his energy seem to be gone.  The prophet said, “Ephraim is a silly dove, without heart”: there are flocks of such silly doves.  The man who trifles with religion sports with his own soul, and will soon degenerate into so much of a trifler that he will be averse to solemn thought, and incapable of real usefulness.  I charge you, dear friends, to be sternly true to yourselves and to your God.  Stand to your principles in this evil and wicked day.  Now, when everything seems to be turned into marsh and mire and mud, and religious thought appears to be silently sliding and slipping along, descending like a stream of slime into the Dead Sea of Unbelief,—get solid walls built around your life, around your faith, and around your character.  Stand fast, and having done all, still stand.  May God the Holy Ghost cause you to be rooted and grounded, built up and established, fixed and confirmed, never “casting away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”     Lately, I want, if I can, TO WAKE UP THE SLUGGARD.  I would like to throw a handful of gravel up to his window.  It is time to get up, for the sun has drunk up all the dew.  He craves “a little more sleep.”  My dear fellow, if you take a little more sleep, you will never wake at all till you lift up your eyes in another world.  Wake at once.  Leap from your bed before you are smothered in it.  Wake up!  Do you not see where you are?  You have let things alone till your heart is covered with sins like weeds.  You have neglected God and Christ till you have grown worldly, sinful, careless, indifferent, ungodly.  I mean some of you who were once named with the sacred name.  You have become like worldlings, and are almost as far from being what you ought to be as others who make no profession at all.  Look at yourselves, and see what has come of your neglected walls.  Then look at some of your fellow-Christians, and mark how diligent they are.  Look at many among them who are poor and illiterate, and yet they are doing far more than you for the Lord Jesus.  In spite of your talents and opportunities, you are an unprofitable servant, letting all things run to waste.  Is it not time that you bestirred yourself?  Look, again, at others who, like yourself, went to sleep, meaning to wake in a little while.  What has become of them?  Alas, for those who have fallen into gross sin, and dishonoured their character, and who have been put away from the church of God; yet they only went a little further than you have done.  Your state of heart is much the same as theirs, and if you should be tempted as they have been, you will probably make shipwreck as they have done.  Oh, see to it, you that slumber, for an idle professor is ready for anything.  A slothful professor’s heart is tinder for the devil’s tinder-box: does your heart thus invite the sparks of temptation?     Remember, lastly, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Shall he come and find you sleeping?  Remember the judgment.  What will you say to excuse yourself, for opportunities lost, time wasted, and talents wrapped up in a napkin, when the Lord shall come?     As for you, my unconverted friend, if you go dreaming through this world, without any sort of trouble, and never look to the state of your heart at all, you will be a lost man beyond all question.  The slothful can have no hope, for “if the righteous scarcely are saved,” who strive to serve their Lord, where will those appear who sleep on in defiance of the calls of God?  Salvation is wholly and alone of grace, as you well know; but grace never works in men’s minds towards slumbering and indifference; it tends towards energy, activity, fervour, importunity, self-sacrifice.  God grant us the indwelling of his Holy Spirit, that all things may be set in order, sins cut up by the roots within the heart, and the whole man protected by sanctifying grace from the wasters which lurk around, hoping to enter where the wall is low.  O Lord, remember us in mercy, fence us about by thy power, and keep us from the sloth which would expose us to evil, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

 All rights belong to the collections of Charles Spurgeon(C)

 

Christianâ’s heaviness and rejoicing

The Christianâ’s heaviness and rejoicing

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” 1 Peter 1:6

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:25-30

“Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness.” It does not say, “Though now for a season you are suffering pain, though now for a season you are poor”; but “you are in heaviness;” your spirits are taken away from you; you are made to weep; you cannot bear the pain; you are brought to the very dust of death, and wish that you might die. Your faith itself seems as if it would fail you. That is the thing for which there is a ‘need be’. That is what my text declares, that there is an absolute ‘need be’ that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart; there is a ‘need be’ that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child, smitten beneath the hand of God. Ah! Beloved, we sometimes talk about the rod, but it is one thing to see the rod, and it is another thing to feel it; and many a time have we said within ourselves, “If I did not feel so low spirited as I now do, I should not mind this affliction;” and what is that but saying, “If I did not feel the rod I should not mind it?” It is that breaking down of the spirit, that pulling down of the strong man, that is the very festering of the soreness of God’s scourging—the blueness of the wound, whereby the soul is made better.

For meditation: Whenever you are overwhelmed by such distress, remember that your Saviour also experienced it on your behalf (Mark 14:33-34). He knows what it is like and can help you (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).

Sermon no. 222 7 November (1858)