God Allows No More Than One Can Bare-He Leaves A Way Out!

A Sermon (No. 2912) Published on Thursday, December 1st, 1904, Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. On Thursday Evening, September 21st, 1876.



“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13.

HIS VERSE IMMEDIATELY follows the warning to “him that thinketh he standeth to “take heed lest he fall.” We none of us know what stuff we are really made of until we are tried and tested. It is a very easy thing to imagine yourself to be strong, but it is a very different matter to find that you have sufficient strength when you actually need it. It has even been found possible, in these modern days, for some brethren and sisters to believe themselves to be perfect,—to believe that sin is entirely conquered within them; but I will warrant you that you will find that the practice of perfection is not nearly so common as the profession of it, and nothing like so easy. And I will venture to go even further, and to say that, if you watch those in whom sin is said to be dead, you will find that, if it is dead, it is not buried, and that it smells remarkably like other dead things, which ought to be buried. It is, possibly, worse than when it was alive, for it has become alive again, in an even worse sense, with a double putridity. Let no one of us imagine himself to be perfect, or to be proof against the temptations of Satan, or even the grosser vices to which the flesh is prone. It may only need for you to be attacked at a certain point, and in a certain way, and you will be overcome even as others have been. Thy wisest way is to believe thyself neither to be wise nor strong, and therefore to lie humbly at his feet who can make thee both wise and strong, and to look away from thyself, up to him who will keep the feet of his saints. It ought to cool the hot blood of self-conceit in any man, to remind him that, although he thinketh that he standeth, it is simply because he has not been tempted as others have been, who have fallen; or, if he has been tempted in a way which overthrew them, while he has stood fast, yet, if the temptations were still further increased, and he were left to himself, he would find that, at the last, the fierce wind from the pit would sweep him off his feet even as it has swept off other men, who thought that they could never be moved.     After the apostle Paul had, by this warning, rebuked the boastings of these who thought they were standing securely, he thought of the far larger number of persons who never think that they can stand, but who are in constant terror lest they should fall. They say they are not the people of God; yet, in almost the next breath, they say they are afraid that they will lose what they just said they had not got! They sometimes hope that they are saved, yet they quickly doubt if it is so with them; and they are troubled with the fear that, even though they are saved, they may yet fall and perish. Their feelings are a strange mingle-mangle of incorrect caution and incorrect doubt; and Paul seems to me, in this verse, to give them a cordial by which their fainting spirits may be revived, and I would like to pass it on to any of you who also need it. You may be tried in two senses,—trial will come, and the trial will often be a temptation, while the temptation will always be a trial.     I. Now comes in the comfort, and the first comfort, even in great trouble, is, that WE HAVE NOT, AFTER ALL, BEEN TRIED IN ANY VERY UNUSUAL WAY: “There hath no temptation (or trial) taken you but such as is common to man.”     YOU may think, my dear brethren and sisters, that you have been tried more than others; but it is only your want of knowledge of the trials of others which leads you to imagine that your own are unique. There are many others, besides yourself, in the furnace, and in quite as hot a part of it as that in which you are now placed. Note what Paul says: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” It is a human temptation, not a superhuman one, which has assailed you; that is to say, one which can be withstood by men,—not one that must inevitably sweep them away. You have never been tempted with an angelic temptation. Satan has tempted you, young man, but not with the same temptation with which he allured the angels who kept not their first estate. There may be other orders of intelligence, for whom there are other forms of temptation, because their intellects are superior to yours; but God has allowed you to be assailed in a way which is suitable as a best to you as a man. The trials that have come upon you have been moderated to your capacity as a man. The Lord knows that you are but animated dust, so he has not permitted you to be treated as if you were made of steel or iron. He has himself dealt with you as an earthen vessel,—a thing of clay in which he has caused life to dwell. He has not broken you with his rod of iron, as he would have done if he had smitten you with it.     “But I am very sorely tempted,” saith one. Yes, perhaps you are; but the Lord has given you the history of the children of Israel in the wilderness, to let you see that you have not been tempted more than they were. “Ah!” says another, “but I find myself placed in a very peculiar position, where I am greatly tried. I have to labor hard, and I have much difficulty in earning my daily bread, and I am beset with trials of many kinds.” Well, dear friend, even though what you say is perfectly true, I am not certain that your position is any more likely to bring temptation than was that of the children of Israel in the wilderness. “Ah!” you say, “but they had not to work to earn their bread. The manna came to them every morning, and they had only to gather it, and to eat it. They were not engaged in commercial transactions, there were no markets in the desert,—no Corn Exchange, no Stock Exchange, no Smithfield, no Billingsgate,—no taking down the shutters in the morning, and putting them up again at night, and going a great part of the day without any customers. They were separated from all other nations, and were in a peculiarly advantageous position. Yet, dear friends, you need not wish to be placed in such a position, because, advantageous as it was, in some respects, the Israelites there were evidently tempted to all sorts of sins, and fell into them very grievously. Having often read the story of their forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness, you know their sad history. With so favorable a position granted to them, under the Lord’s own special guardianship, and enriched with many choice mercies, we might have expected that they would have been free from temptation;—or, at any rate, that they would not have fallen into its snare; yet it was not so, for the devil can tempt in the wilderness quite as well as in the city, as we know from the experience of Christ himself. The devil would tempt you even if your bread was given to you every morning, instead of your having to earn it; he would tempt you if you had no business to attend to, and never had to go into the world to meet with your fellow-men. In fact, the story of the Israelites teaches me that it is best for you to work, and best for you to be poor, and best for you not to make money as fast as you would like, and best for you to be surrounded by cares of various kinds. I think I judge rightly that the people of God, the saved ones, do not fall into such—gross sins as the Israelites did in the wilderness; so that the saints’ position, though it may appear worse than that of Israel, is really better.     To what, my dear brethren and sisters, are you tempted? Are you tempted to lust after evil things? They lusted after the meat that was not suitable to the climate, nor good for their health; and they despised the manna, which was the very best food they could have. Do you ever get a craving for what you ought not to desire? Are you growing covetous? Do you long for ease? Do you wish for wealth? Do you love pleasure? Well, dear friends, this temptation has happened to others before; it happened to those people in the wilderness. You are not the first to be tempted in that fashion; and if divine grace has helped others to overcome the covetous desire, and the lusting of the spirit, it can help you to do the same; but, mark also that, if others have fallen through such temptations, and perished in the wilderness, you, too, apart from divine grace, will do the same. Therefore have you urgent need to cry to the Strong for strength, lest you also should fall even as they did.     Are you tempted to idolatry? It is a very common temptation to make an idol of a child, or of same particular pursuit in which you are engaged; is there anything in the world that is so dear to you that the very thought of losing it makes you feel that you would rebel against God if he took it away from you? Remember what John was inspired to write: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” But if you are tempted to idolatry, do not forget that this is a thing that is common to men. In the wilderness, the Israelites were tempted to set up a golden calf, and to worship it, and even to practice other idolatrous rites which were too foul for me to describe. They were tempted to idolatry, so it is not an uncommon temptation; and if you also are tempted in a similar fashion, you must cry to God for grace to resist and to overcome the temptation.     Are you tried, sometimes, even with that terrible temptation which is mentioned in the verse where Paul says, “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed”? Has strong passion sometimes suggested to you that which your soul abhors? Have you been, at times, forced to the very brink of that, dread abyss of uncleanness, till you have had to cry, with the psalmist, “My feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped”? Ah! this temptation also is not uncommon to men and even those who live nearest to God, and are the most pure in heart, sometimes have to blush before the Lord that such evil suggestions should ever come into their minds.     And have you, too, been tempted “to tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents”? They wanted God to change his plans and purposes concerning them; and they found fault with him, and said that he had brought them into the wilderness to destroy them. Do you feel that your present troubles are too severe,—that they should not have been sent to you,—at least, not so many and so heavy as they are? If so, and if you feel that you have a cause for complaint against the Most High, and that you want him to change his methods of dealing with you so as to suit your whims and fancies,—alas! sad as such a state of mind is, it is only too “common to man.”     And, possibly, you may also have been tempted to murmur, “as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” I must withdraw that word “possibly,” for I am greatly afraid that many professing Christians do murmur, and that they do not always realize what a gross sin it is to murmur, seeing that it is an act of distinct rebellion against God. But, should you, at any time, feel a murmuring spirit rising up within your heart, you must not say, “This is a trial which nobody else has ever experienced.” Alas! it is a very human temptation, which is exceedingly “common to man.”     So, summing up all that I have been saying, and looking round upon this congregation, and upon all of you who know the Lord,—although it would be impossible for me to recount all the different forms of temptation and trial through which you have gone, yet this is a matter of fact,—”there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” We are all in the same boat, brothers and sisters, so far as temptation and trial are concerned. We are all warring the same warfare; your duty may call you to one part of the field, and mine may call me to another part, but the bullets whiz by me as well as by you. There is no nook so quiet but it hath its own special dangers, and there is no Valley of Humiliation so lowly but, is hath its peculiar temptations. Sins are everywhere; they sit down with you at your board, and they go with you to your bed. Snares are set for you in your home and in the street,—in your business and in your recreations. Snares are not absent from your pains, and they are abundant in your pleasures. Everywhere, and under all circumstances, must we expect to be tried; this experience is common to men. The remembrance that it is so ought to be somewhat of a comfort to us in every time of trial and temptation.     II. But, secondly, in our text we have a far better source of comfort than that; it is this: but GOD IS FAITHFUL. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.”     “God is faithful.” Oh, how I love those words! They sound in my heart like heavenly music. “GOD is faithful.” You are not faithful, my brother or sister; at least, I know I am not, in the full sense of the term, faithful,—full of faith, and faithful. “But”—oh, that blessed “but,”—”but GOD is faithful”! “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful,”—always true to every promise he has made,—always gracious to every child whom he has adopted into his family,—”a very present help in trouble,”—preserving us from sinking in our seas of trouble, and delivering us from the trouble when it has accomplished the purpose for which it was sent.     “God is faithful,”—faithful to that first promise of his which came into thy soul when thou didst yield thyself to Jesus, and he whispered to thine heart, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Dost thou remember that promise, and has not the Lord been faithful to it? “God is faithful” also to that promise which he made of old concerning his Son, Jesus Christ: “He shall see his seed.” He has seen his seed in thee, and he will see thee to be his seed for evermore.     “God is faithful” to all his promises; and in thy experience, my brother or sister, he has been faithful to the promises which met thy case in all thy changing circumstances. Has he not been faithful? Canst thou put thy finger upon a single page of thy diary, and say, “God was unfaithful then”? Thy friend, who ate bread with thee, has lifted up his heel against thee; but has thy God forsaken thee? Even thine own children have been unkind and ungrateful to thee; but has the Lord ever treated thee ill? Where thou hadst the most hope, among thine earthly friends and acquaintances, thou hast had the most disappointments; but has Jesus ever been a wilderness unto thee? “All men are liars,” thou hast said, in the bitterness of thy spirit, when thou hast trusted in them, and they have failed thee in the time of trial; but hast thou ever found Christ false to his Word? Canst thou not join thy testimony with that of all the saints above, and the saints below, and say with Paul, “God is faithful”?     Even if any of you are looking forward to a dreaded sickness, or to a painful operation, or to business losses which may sink you from your present comfortable position to one of great trial and poverty,—think of this blessed truth, “God is faithful.” The whole world may reel to and fro, like a drunken man; but the Rock of ages stands secure. The shooting stars of temporary prosperity may die out in everlasting night, but God is “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” “God is faithful.” Whatever thy future briars are to be, put thou this short sweet sentence into thy mouth, and keep it there, as a heavenly lozenge which shall sustain thee at all times. Make it also into a jubilant refrain; and, as thou goest on thy way, sing, again and again, “God is faithful.” Trials and temptations will assail you; “but God is faithful.” Friends will fail and forsake you; “but God is faithful.” Wealth may be lost, and property may vanish; “but God is faithful.” What dost thou want more than this, soldiers of Christ? Here you have breastplate, helmet, sword, shield, spear,—yea, the whole panoply of God.     III. The third comfort for a tried and tempted believer arises from GOD’S POWER, for Paul says, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.”     God, then, has power to limit temptation; it is clear, from the Book of Job, that Satan could not tempt or try the patriarch except by divine permission; and, even then, his power was limited; nor can he tempt us unless God allows him to do so. Although the devil had great power over the elements, so that he brought disaster upon poor Job, yet there was a very definite limit to his chain, even when the Lord let him loose to a certain extent; and when God set up his barriers, Satan could not go beyond them. You remember that the Lord first said to Satan, concerning his servant Job, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” When the devil again in intruded himself among the sons of God, the Lord let out more links of his chain, but there was still a most emphatic limit to his power over the patriarch, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.” The devil would have liked to kill Job outright, but he could go no further than the Lord allowed him to go; and God still has unlimited power over the devil and over every form of temptation or trial that can ever come upon you. If the Lord appoints for you ten troubles, he will not suffer them to be increased to eleven. If he ordains that you shall be in trouble for six years, you will not be in it for six years and a day; but, when the allotted time has expired, you shall come out of it. Nothing can resist, the might of the omnipotent Jehovah, “who makest the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind.” He can put a bit in the mouth of the tempest, and rein in the rushing steeds of the storm; and the fiercest of thy trials and temptations must feel the force of his overruling and restraining hand. When thou art on the dunghill, recollect that God is on his throne. Well did the psalmist sing, “The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice;” but much more may his own people rejoice because his sovereignty is pledged to defend them. Why, if all the armies of the devil were let loose upon a single saint, who felt himself to be weak as a worm, and the Lord said to them, “I am his defense, and ye shall not touch him;” they could not touch him, and he would be able to say, with the utmost confidence, “Greater is he that is for me than all that can be against me.” The adversaries of the righteous may rage as much as they will; but they will have to spend their strength in raging, for that is all they can do against God’s people without his express permission. Not a hair of their head can be scorched by the fires of persecution unless the Lord allows it. The waters of the Red Sea cannot drown them: they march between the watery walls dryshod. The lions cannot devour them: Daniel enjoyed a good night’s rest even in the lions’ den. Even the waves of the sea become the servitors of the saints, for “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights,” in preparation for future service for God. All his people are kept by his almighty power. How greatly this ought to comfort you who are sorely tried! Every twig of the rod of correction has been made by God, and every stroke of it is counted by him. There is not a drop more gall in your cup than the Lord has ordained. He has weighed, in the scales of the sanctuary, every ingredient of your medicine, and mixed it with all his infallible skill so that it may produce the cure of all your ills; should not this make you rejoice in the Lord all the day long, and in the night seasons as well?     IV. Fourthly, not only should tried believers rejoice in God’s power, but they should also rejoice in GOD’S JUDGMENT, for Paul says, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.”     Who beside God knows how much we are able to be? Our consolation arises from the fact that God knows exactly how much we can bear. We have no idea, ourselves, what we can bear. I have, many a time, heard a person say, “If such-and-such a thing were to happen, I should break my heart, and die.” Well, that very thing has happened, but the person concerned did not break his heart, and he did not die. On the contrary, he behaved himself as a Christian in trial should; God helped him wondrously, and he played the man, and became more than conqueror, and was the brighter and the braver, ever afterwards, for all the affliction through which he had passed. Brother, your own strength, in same respects, is greater than you think, and, in other respects, it is less than you think; but God knows just how much you can bear, so leave yourself in his hands.     I have known some people who have wished for trouble; it is a great pity that anybody should be so foolish as that. I remember one, who used to think that he was not a child of God because, he had not had much trouble. He used to be fretting all the day long because he had nothing really to make him fret. I once heard a woman, in the street, say to her child, who was screaming lustily, “If you cry for nothing, I’ll give you something to cry for.” So, when a man wants trouble, he will probably get it; but it is a very silly child or man who asks for the rod. Be content to have as little of it as you really must; you will have quite enough of it before you get to heaven. Do not ask for it; you will have it in due time. God knows, to an ounce, just what his children and his servants can carry, and he never overloads them. It is true that he sometimes sends them more trouble than they could have carried by themselves; but, then, as he increases the weight of their burden, he also increases the strength of the back upon which he places it.     I have often admired the lovingkindness of the Lord to many of my own flock here, and have noted the great joy that our young Christians have had for a number of years, and observed how remarkably God has preserved them from temptation without and from trials within. The Lord does not send his young children out to battle. He does not intend such little boats as these to go far out to sea. He will not overdrive these lambs. Yet the advanced Christians are just as happy as the young people are, and they are stronger and more fit for stern service and more able to sympathize with others, who are in trouble, because of what they have themselves passed through. As they have grown stronger, God has given them more fighting to do for him, while the raw recruits have been kept at home to be drilled and disciplined. You know that, when there is a desperate fight being waged, and the issue of the battle seems in doubt, the commander orders “the old guard” to the front. That is part of the privilege of being an old guardsman,—to go into the hottest place on the field of battle; and it is one of the privileges of the advanced children of God to be tempted more than others, and to suffer more than others. If I could have any trial or temptation, which, otherwise, would fall upon a young brother who has only known the Lord a week or two, I would gladly say, “Let me have it.” It might stagger him, and I should be sorry for him to be staggered by it, so I will willingly endure it. You tried believers must not imagine that God does not love you as much as he did in the days of your spiritual youth, when he did not test you as he does now. He loves you quite as much as he did then, and he trusts you even more than he did then; because he has made you stronger than you used to be, he gives you the honor and privilege of marching with the vanguard of his army, or leading the forlorn hope, or standing foot to foot with old Apollyon.     God knows exactly how much temptation or trial you can bear, and he will not suffer the trial to go beyond that point. But, mark you, it will go right up to that point, for there is no such thing in the world as faith that runs to waste. For every grain of faith that God gives, he usually gives the equivalent trial of some sort or other; for, if faith could ever be in excess, it would degenerate into fanaticism, or some other unholy thing. If the Lord supplies us, at our back door as it were, with his good treasure, we are to dispose of it in our front shop in our holy trading for him.     V. Fifthly, our text seems to intimate that GOD HATH IN STORE SOMETHING TO GO WITH OUR TEMPTATIONS: “He will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that, ye may be able to bear it.”     You know how you treat your own child. There is a dose of nasty physic to be taken, and the little one does not like it. The very sight of the spoon and cup makes it feel queer. But mother says, “Now, Johnny, take this medicine, and then you shall have this lump of sugar, or this fruit, to take away the taste of it.” And when God sends a trial or trouble to one of his children, he is sure to have a choice sweetmeat to go with it. I have heard a child say, “I do not mind taking the physic so long as I get the sugar;” and I have known some of the Lord’s people say, “We will willingly bear sickness, pain, bereavement, temptation, persecution, if we may but have our Savior’s presence in it all.” Some of us will never forget our experiences in sickness; when our pain has been sharpest; and worst, it has also been sweetest and best, at the same time. What do I not personally owe to the file, and the anvil, and the hammer in my Master’s workshop? I have often said, and I say again, that the best piece of furniture in my house is the cross of affliction. I have, long ago, learned to prize it, and to praise God for it, and for that which has come to me with it, for I have often found that, with the trial, the Lord has made a way of escape, that I have been able to bear it.     Even with the temptation to sin, the Lord often sends, to the tempted soul, such a revelation of the sinfulness of sin, and of the beauty of holiness, that the poison of the temptation is quite neutralized. Even with temporal trials, the Lord often gives temporal mercies; sometimes, when he has been pleased to take away a man’s wealth, he has restored to him his health, and so the man has been a distinct gainer. I have known several instances in which that has occurred. And when one dear child has been taken away out of a family, there has, perhaps, been the conversion of another of the children, which has been a wonderful compensation for the trial. And, oftentimes, trouble has been attended with an unusual delight in the Lord. The Word of God has been peculiarly sweet at such a time, and the minister has seemed to preach better than ever he did before, his message exactly fitting your condition just then. You have been surprised to find that the bitterness, which came with the trouble, has passed away almost before you were aware of it; and, as death is swallowed up in victory, like one bitter drop in a glass of water, so your trouble has been diluted with sweet wine, and you have swallowed it, and have scarcely tasted its bitterness. Thus the Lord, by his grace, and presence, and comfort, has made you so glad that you have hardly known that you have been in such trouble, because of the superabounding mercy which came with it. Ought not that to comfort us, and to make us ready for whatever the Lord pleases to send to us, or to permit to come upon us?     VI. Now, notice, in the last place, that GOD MAKES A WAY OF ESCAPE FOR HIS PEOPLE: “He will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”     I will read that over again: “He will with the temptation also make a way to escape”—”that you may get out of it?” Oh, no!—”that you may not have to endure it”? Oh, no!—“that ye may be able to bear it.” That is a curious way to escape, is it not? Here is your way of retreat blocked up, and the opposing army is in front of you, yet you are to escape. You say to the Lord, “Which way am I to run?” But the Lord replies, “You must not run away; your way to escape is to cut a road right through your adversaries.” That is a singular way to escape, but it is the most glorious way in the whole world. The best way for an army to escape is by conquering its foe. It is not the best way for the pilgrim to go, to the right, into the dark mountains, or to the left, into the thick forest, to escape from his enemies; the best way for him to escape is to go straight forward, despite all his adversaries; and that is the only right way for you to escape.     Now, beloved brother or sister, you may, at this moment, be expecting some very heavy affliction; and you have been asking the Lord to make a way of escape for you. You have said, “Oh, that I might not have to come to that hour of trial!” But you will have to come to it. But cannot that dear one’s life be spared? “I hope it may; but it is possible that it may not.” Then, how am I to have a way of escape? Your way of escape is not to avoid the trial, but to be able to bear it. What a mercy it is that God, though he will not let his people escape trial, will really let them escape, for this is a way of escape for them, and the best way of escape, too. It is a way of escape from all the sin of the temptation, and from all the evil of the trial; you must have the trial, but you will only have the beneficial part of it. Brother, you must be plunged into that sea of sorrow; but it will not drown you, it will only wash and cleanse you. Sir, you must go into that fire, your Lord has so ordained it; yet you are going to escape the fire. Do you ask, “How can that be? Why, thus,—none of your gold shall be destroyed, only the dross shall be consumed, and you shall be all the purer for passing through the fire; so again I say that this is the very best way to escape; for if we could escape in any other way, we should lose all the benefit of the trial.     What shall I say, then, in closing, but this, brethren and sisters? Are you troubled just now, and are you inclined to despair? Take wiser counsel; the storms that are beating about your barque are only such as beat about your Master’s vessel, and the ships and boats in which his apostles sailed across the sea of old. The storms are not supernatural; they are not beyond what believers in Jesus are able to bear. Put your vessel’s head to the wind, like a brave sailor; do not try to avoid that fierce blast. Sail in its very teeth, for there is a power within you which can overcome all the winds and the waves, for is not the Lord himself with you as your Captain, and is not the Holy Ghost with you as your Pilot, and have you not a faithful God to trust to in the stormiest night you will ever know? True, your foes are many and mighty; but face them like a man. Have no thought of turning back, and flinging away your shield; but resolve, in the mighty power of faith, that, since, the Lord has said that, “as thy days, so shall thy strength be,” to the end thou shalt endure; and that, with Job, thou wilt say, “Though he slay me, yet, will I trust, in him.” It will not be easy to keep that resolve, yet the Lord deserves that we should keep it. Think of yourself, beloved brother, in the worst conceivable condition; and then know that there is no sufficient reason, even in such a condition as that, for you to doubt your God. Suppose yourself brought to your last penny; yet remember that there was a time when you were not worth a penny, a time when you could not put food into your own mouth, and could not put on your own garments. You were cast upon God in your first childhood, and he took care of you then; and if you grow to be a child again, and the infirmities of age increase and multiply, he who was so good at the beginning, will be quite as good at the end. Remember his ancient promise: “Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Such a promise as this, if God the Holy Spirit will bless it, will make the most tried believer rejoice in the Lord, and go on his way defying every foe who may be in his path.     What I cannot understand is, what people do who have not a God to trust to. I often go to see poor sick people, full of aches and pains, and it charms me to hear them talk of the goodness of the Lord to them. In talking, this week, with one of our brethren, who is very sick and ill, he spoke with such holy joy and boasting of the Lord’s goodness to him, that I could not help saying that it would take a great many infidel arguments to make me doubt the power of true religion after I had listened to him. I like to see God’s tried people dying full of joy, praising and blessing the name of the Lord who is their All-in-all in their most trying hour. It is not so with all of you; then what do you do, when trial comes, without a God to help you? You have not much of this world’s goods, and you have to work hard; yet when you die, you have no home to go to, you have no hope of going to heaven. Oh, you poor No-hopes! “Oh!” says one, “we are not all poor; some of us are quite well-to-do.” But you are poor, for all that, even if you have all your heart can wish for here. If you have not a God, where do you carry your troubles and your griefs, for I am sure that you have some! O my dear friend, may the Lord make you feel that you cannot do without him! And when your heart has come to this resolve, “I cannot do without my God, I will not try to do without him; I feel that I must have him, “then you shall have him. He waiteth to be gracious, and he hath said, “They that seek me early shall find me.” May you seek him now, and find him, and to him shall be the praise for ever and ever! Amen.


1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-13.

 Verses 1-4. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ.     You see, then, dear brethren, that the possession of privileges is not everything. Paul would not have us to be ignorant that all those who were with Moses in the wilderness had privileges of a very high order. Did they not all pass through the Red Sea, and so escape from their powerful and cruel foes? Did they not all drink of water which gushed forth from the flinty rock? Were they not all fed with manna from heaven? Yet their privileges did not save them, for while they had the five privileges mentioned in these four verses, they fell into the five great sins of which we are about to read; and so, their privileges, instead of being a blessing to them, only increased their condemnation.     5, 6. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples,—     Or, warnings, for just as they were overthrown in the wilderness, so may we be, notwithstanding all the gospel privileges which we enjoy, if we are not true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. If the life of Christ is not in our souls, all the privileges of the Church of God cannot save us. “These things were our examples,”—     6-11. To the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for example;—     The apostle has told us that before, but he tells it to us again, to warn us, by these beacons, lest we come to a similar destruction to that which befel those ancient unbelievers.     11, 12. And they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.     We also are to take heed lest we fall, especially those of us who think we are standing securely. You have seen how terrible was the fate of those unbelievers in the wilderness, who never entered into Canaan, but left their carcases in the desert; now Paul urges us, with such beacons to warn us, to take heed lest we also fall as they did.     13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.     O Lord, fulfill thy gracious purpose unto thy servants! Hold thou us up, lest we fall. We are very weak; keep us, for thy dear Son’s sake! Amen.

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This is my comfort in my affliction-Your Word


Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
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“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has quickened me.” Psalm 119:50.
IT is almost needless for me to say that, in some respects, the same events happen unto all men alike—in the matter of afflictions it is certainly so. None of us can expect to escape trial. If you are ungodly, “many sorrows shall be to the wicked.” If you are godly, “many are the afflictions of the righteous.” If you walk in the ways of holiness, you shall find that there are stumbling blocks cast in the way by the enemy. If you walk in the ways of unrighteousness, you shall be taken in snares and held there even unto death. There is no escaping trouble! We are born to it as the sparks fly upward. When we are born the second time, though we inherit innumerable mercies, we are certainly born to another set of trou- bles, for we enter upon spiritual trials, spiritual conflicts, spiritual pains and so forth—and thus we get a double set of distresses, as well as twofold mercies.   He who wrote this 119th Psalm was a good man, but assuredly he was an afflicted man. Many times did David sorrow and sorrow sorely. The man after God’s own heart was one who felt God’s own hand in chastisement. David was a king and, therefore, it would be folly on our part to suppose that men who are wealthier and greater than we are, are more screened from affliction—it is quite the reverse. The higher up the mountain, the more boisterous the winds. Depend upon it, that the middle state for which Agur prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches,” is, upon the whole, the best! Greatness, prominence, popularity, nobility, royalty bring no relief from trial, but rather an increase of it. Nobody who consulted his own comfort would enter upon dignities attended with so much labor and sore travail. Child of God, re- member that neither goodness nor greatness can deliver you from affliction! You have to face it, whatever your position in life—therefore face it with dauntless courage and extort victory from it.   Yet, even if you do face it, you will not escape it. Even if you cry to God to help you, He will help you through the trouble, but He will probably not turn it aside from you. He will deliver you from evil, but He may yet lead you into tri- al. He has promised that He will deliver you in six troubles and that in seven there shall no evil touch you, but He does not promise that either six or seven trials shall be kept from you. One like unto the Son of God was with the three holy children in the fire, but He was not with them till they were in the fire—at least not visibly—and He was not so with them as either to quench the flame, or to prevent their being cast into it. “I am with you, Israel, passing through the fire,” may well describe the Covenant assurance.   May we realize the fire if only thus we can realize the Divine Presence! Gladly may we accept the furnace if we may but find the company of the Son of God with us there. Every child of God among you can, with the Psalmist, speak of my affliction. You may not be able to speak of my estate, my heritage, my wealth, my health—but you can all speak of my affliction. No man is a monopolist of misery. A portion of the black draught of sorrow is left for others. Of that cup we must all drink, little or much, and we must drink of it as God ordains. So far, then, one event happens to all.   My objective at this time is to show the difference between the Christian and the worldling in his affliction. First, Believers have in their affliction a peculiar comfort— “This is my comfort in my affliction.” Secondly, that comfort comes from a peculiar source— “For Your Word has quickened me.” And, thirdly, that peculiar comfort is valuable un- der very special trials such as are mentioned in the context.   I. First, then, Believers have their PECULIAR COMFORT under affliction. “This,” says David, “is my comfort in my affliction.” “ Thi s”—dwell on the word, “ this, ” as different from the c onsolations of other men . The drunk takes his cup and he quotes Solomon, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that are of heavy
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hearts.” And, as he quaffs his cup, he says, “This is my comfort in my affliction.” The miser hides his gold, takes down his purse, and chinks it. Oh, the music of those golden notes! And he cries, “This is my comfort in my affliction.” Men mostly have some comfort or other. Some have allowable comforts, though they are but of minor quality. They find comfort in the sympathy of men, in domestic kindness, in philosophic reflection, in homely content—but such comforts generally fail—always fail when the trial becomes exceedingly severe.   Now, just as the wicked man and the worldly man can say of this or that, “ This is my comfort,” the Christian comes forward and, bringing with him the Word of God brimming with rich promises, he says, “This is my comfort in my af- fliction.” You put down your comfort and I put down mine. “ This is my comfort”—he is evidently not ashamed of it. He is evidently ready to set forth his solace in preference to all others. And while others say, I derive consolation from this , and I from that , David opens the Holy Scripture and cheerfully exclaims, “ This is my comfort.” Can you say the same? “ Thi s” in opposition to everything else—this promise of God, this Covenant of His Grace—“ This is my comfort.”   Now read, “ this ” in another sense, as indicating that he knew what it was . “ This is my comfort.” He can explain what it is. Many Christian people get a comfort out of God’s Word, out of believing in Christ and out of religious exer- cises, but they can hardly tell what the comfort is. A rose smells sweetly to a man who does not know the name of the rose. A rose-grower tells me, “This is the Marshal Niel.” Thank you, dear Sir, but I do not know who Marshal Niel is, or was or why the flower bears his name. But I can smell the rose all the same. So, many people cannot explain doctrines, but they enjoy them. After all, experience is better than exposition. Yet it is a splendid thing when the two go together, so that the Believer can say to his friend, “Listen, I will tell you, ‘ This is my comfort.’”   “I saw how happy you were, dear Friend, when you were in trouble. I saw you sick the other day and I noticed your patience. I knew you to be slandered and I saw how calm you were. Can you tell me why you were so calm and self- contained?” It is a very happy thing if the Christian can turn round and answer such a question fully. I like to see him ready to give a reason for the hope that is in him with meekness and fear, saying— “This is my comfort in my affliction.” I want you, if you have enjoyed comfort from God, to get it packed up in such a form that you can pass it on to a friend! Get it explained to your own understanding so that you can tell others what it is, so that they may taste the consolation with which God has comforted you. Be ready to explain to young beginners—“ This is my comfort in my affliction.”  Again, “ thi s” is used in another sense, that is, as having the thing near at hand . I do not like speaking of my comfort from God and saying, that is my comfort, that is the solace which I enjoyed long ago. Oh, no, no! You need a comfort that you can press to your bosom, and say, “ This is my comfort,” this which I have here at this present time! “ Thi s” is the word which indicates nearness. “This is my comfort.” Do you enjoy it now? You were so happy once. Are you as happy now?— “What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!”  Yes, that is very well, Cowper, but it would be better to sing— “What peaceful hours I now enjoy!  How sweet the present hour”?  “ This is my comfort.” I still have it with me—as my affliction is present with me, so my consolation is present with me!  You have heard, the classic story of the Rhodian who said that at such and such a place he had made a jump of many yards. He bragged till a Greek, who stood by, chalked out the distance and said, “Would you mind jumping half that length now?” So I have heard people talk of what enjoyments they once had, what delights they once had. I have heard of a man who has the roots of depravity dug out of him and, as for sin, he has almost forgotten what it is! I would like to watch that brother when under the influence of rheumatism. I do not want him to have it long, but I should like him to have a twinge or two, that I might see whether some roots of corruption do not remain. I think that when he was tried in that way, or if not just in that way, in some other, he would find that there was a rootlet or two still in the soil. If a storm were to come on, perhaps our brave dry-land sailor might not find his anchor quite so easy to cast overboard as he now thinks it is. You smile at the talk of modern perfectionism and so do I, but I am sick of it! I do not believe in it. It is so utterly contrary to that which I have to learn every day, of my own unworthiness, that I feel a contempt for it. Do have your comforts always handy—pray God that that which was a consolation years ago may still be a consolation, so that you may say, “ This is my comfort in my affliction.”
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Again, I think the word, “this,” is meant as pleading it in prayer . Let me read the previous verse, “Remember the Word unto Your servant upon which You have caused me to hope.” That is Your promise which you have made me to hope upon, Lord—fulfill it to me—for this, Your promise, is my comfort in my affliction and I plead it in prayer! Sup- pose, Brothers and Sisters, you and I are enabled to take comfort out of a promise. We have, in that fact, a good argu- ment to plead with God. We may say, “Lord, I have so believed this promise of Yours that I have been persuaded that I had in my possession the blessing promised to me. And now, shall I be ashamed by this, my hope? Will You not honor Your Word, seeing You have caused me to rest upon it?” Is not this good pleading? “Remember Your Word unto Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope, for this is already my comfort. And You will have given me a false comfort and led me into error if Your Word should fail. O my Lord, since I have sucked my comfort out of the expecta- tion of what You are about to do, surely by this You are pledged and bound to Your servant—that You will keep Your Word!” Hence the word “ this ” is seen to be a very comprehensive word. May the Spirit of God teach each of us to say of our priceless Bible, “ This is my comfort in my affliction.”   II. We pass on to note, secondly, that this comfort comes from A PECULIAR SOURCE—“This is my comfort, for Your Word has quickened me .” The comfort, then, is partly outward, coming from God’s Word, but it is mainly and pre-eminently inward , for it is God’s Word experienced as to its quickening power within the soul.   First, it is God’s Word that comforts . Why do we look anywhere else for consolation but to God’s Word? Oh, Brothers and Sisters, I am ashamed to have to say it, but we go to our neighbors, or relatives and we cry, “Have pity up- on me, have pity upon me, O my friends!” and it ends with our crying, “Miserable comforters are you all!” We turn to the pages of our past life and look there for comfort, but this may also fail us. Though experience is a legitimate source of comfort, yet when the sky is dark and lowering, experience is apt to minister fresh distress! If we were to go at once to God’s Word and search it till we found a promise suitable to our case, we should find relief far sooner. All cisterns dry up—only the fountain remains. Next time you are troubled, reach down to the Bible. Say to your soul, “Soul, sit still and hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace unto His people.”   You read one promise, and you feel, “No, that hardly meets the case. Here is another, but it is made to a special character and I am afraid I am not that character. Here, thank God, is one that just fits me, as a key fits the wards of a lock.” When you find such a promise, use it at once. John Bunyan beautifully pictures a pilgrim laid by the heels in Giant Despair’s castle and there beaten with a crab tree cudgel till one morning he puts his hand into his bosom and cries to his brother, Christian, “What a fool have I been to lie rotting in this noisome dungeon, when all this time I have a key in my bosom which will open every door in Doubting Castle!” “Say you so, my Brother,” says Christian, “pluck it out, and let us use it at once!” This key, which is called Promise, is thrust into the first lock and the door flies open! And then it is tried upon the next and the next with quick results. Though the great iron gate had a rusted lock in which the key did terribly grate and grind, yet it did open and the prisoners were free from the vile durance of their mistrust! The Promise has always opened the gate and every gate—yes, the gates of despair shall be opened with that key called Promise, if a man does but know how to hold it firmly and turn it wisely till the bolt flies back.   “This is my comfort in my affliction,” says the Psalmist—God’s own Word. Dear Friends, fly to this comfort with speed in every time of trouble—get to be familiar with God’s Word so that you may do so. I have found it helpful to car- ry “Clarke’s Precious Promises” in my pocket, so as to refer to it in the hour of trial. If you go into the market and are likely to do a ready-money business, you always take a checkbook with you. So carry precious promises with you, that you may plead the Word of God which suits your case. I have turned to promises for the sick when I have been of that number, or to promises to the poor, the despondent, the weary and such like, according to my own condition, and I have always found a Scripture fitted to my case. I do not need a promise made to the sick when I am perfectly well. I do not need balm for a broken heart when my soul is rejoicing in the Lord—but it is very handy to know where to lay your hands upon suitable Words of cheer when necessity arises. Thus the external comfort of the Christian is the Word of God.  Now for the internal part of his consolation. “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has quickened me .” Oh, it is not the letter , but the Spirit which is our real comfort! We look not to that Book which consists of so much binding, so much paper and so much ink, but to the living Witness within the Book! The Holy Spirit embodies Himself in these blessed Words of God and works upon our hearts so that we are quickened by the Word! It is this which is the true comfort of the soul.
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When you read the promise and it is applied with power to you. When you read the Law and it works with force up- on your conscience. When you read any part of God’s Word and it gives life to your spirit— then it is that you get the comfort of it! I have heard of persons reading so many chapters a day and getting through the Bible in a year—a very admirable habit, no doubt—but it may be performed so mechanically that no good, whatever, may come of it. You need to pray earnestly over the Word, that it may quicken you, or otherwise it will not be a comfort to you. Let us think of what our comfort is in the time of affliction from our soul’s being quickened by the Lord. Comfort comes thus—God’s Word has, in past days, quickened us. It has been a Word of Life from the dead. In our affliction we, therefore, remember how God has brought us out of spiritual death and made us alive—and this cheers us. If you can say, “Whatever pain I suffer, whatever grief I endure, yet I am a living child of God,” then you have a wellspring of comfort! It is better to be the most afflicted child of God than to be the happy worldling. Better be God’s dog than the devil’s darling. Child of God, comfort yourself with this—if God has not given me a soft bed, nor left me a whole skin, yet He has quickened me by His Word and this is a choice favor. Thus our first quickening from spiritual death is a sunny memory .   After we are made alive we need to be quickened in duty, to be quickened in joy, to be quickened in every holy exer- cise and we are happy if the Word has given us this repeated quickening. If, in looking back, dear Friend, you can say, “Your Word has quickened me. I have had much joy in hearing Your Word. I have been made full of energy through Your Word. I have been made to run in the way of Your Commandments through Your Word”—all this will be a great comfort to you. You can then plead—“O Lord, while You may have denied me much of the joy that some people have, yet You have often quickened me. Oh, be it so again, for this is my comfort!” I hope I am speaking to many experienced Christians who can say that God’s Word has very frequently refreshed them when they have been in the depths of distress and fetched them up from the gates of the grave. And if they can bear this testimony, they know what comfort there is in the quickening of the Word of God and they will ask to feel that quickening influence, again, so they may be of good comfort.   Brothers and Sisters, it is a very strange thing that when God wills to do one thing, He often does another. When He wants to comfort us, what does He do? Does He comfort us? Yes, and no. He quickens us and so He comforts us. Some- times the roundabout way is the straight way. God does not give the comfort we ask for by a distinct act, but He quickens us and so we obtain comfort. Here is a person very low and depressed. What does a wise doctor do? He does not give strong drink to act as a temporary stimulus to his spirits, for this would end in a reaction in which the man would sink lower. No, he gives him a tonic and braces him up. And when the man is stronger, he becomes happier and shakes off his nervousness. The Lord comforts His servants by quickening them—“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has quickened me.”   I speak to some of you who have endured long affliction and it is a joy to see you out, again, tonight. Has not God’s Word often quickened you in affliction? Perhaps you have been sluggish when in health, but affliction has made you feel the value of the promise, the value of the Covenant blessing—and then you have cried to God for it. You may have been worried about worldly cares, but you have been obliged to drop them in the time of affliction and your only care has been to get nearer to Christ and to creep into your Lord’s bosom!   Sometimes in prosperity you could hardly pray, but I guarantee you, you prayed when you were ready to perish and pined at death’s door! Your affliction quickened your prayers. There is a man trying to write with a quill pen—it will not make anything but a thick stroke—so he takes a knife and cuts fiercely at the quill till it marks admirably. So we have to be cut with the sharp knife of affliction, for only then can the Lord make use of us! See how sharply gardeners trim their vines. They take off every shoot till the vine looks like a dry stick. There will be no grapes in the spring if there is not this cutting away in the autumn and winter! God quickens us in our afflictions through His Word. Our sorrows are made to have a salutary action on our souls. We receive by them spiritual revival and health and, therefore, comfort flows in to us. It would not be wise to pray to be altogether delivered from trial, though we should like to be. It would be a pleasant thing to have a grassy path all the way to Heaven and never to find a stone in the road—but though pleasant, it might not be safe. If the way were a fine turf cut every morning with a lawnmower and made as soft as velvet, I am afraid we should never get to Heaven at all, for we should linger too long upon the road!   Some animals’ feet are not adapted for smooth places and, Brothers and Sisters, you and I are of a very slippery- footed race! We slip when the roads are smooth! It is easy to go down hill, but it is not easy to do so without a stumble.
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John Bunyan tells us that when Christian passed through the Valley of Humiliation, the fight he had there with Apollyon was very much due to the slips he made in going down the hill which descended into the valley. Happy is he who is in the Valley of Humiliation, for, “He that is down need fear no fall.” But his happiness will largely depend upon how he came down. Gently, you that are on the hilltops of delight and prosperity. Gently, lest, perhaps you slip with your feet and mischief come of it! Quickening is what we need and if we get it, even if it comes to us by the sharpest tribulation, we may gladly accept it. “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has quickened me.”   III. Lastly, and very briefly, there are certain PECULIAR TRIALS of Christians in which this peculiar comfort is specially excellent.   Kindly look at the Psalm and notice, in the 49th verse, that the Psalmist suffered from hope deferred . “Remember Your Word unto Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.” Long waiting for the promise to be fulfilled may make the soul grow weary—and hope deferred makes the heart sick. At such a time this is to be our comfort— “Your Word has quickened me.” I have not yet obtained that which I prayed for, but I have been quickened while I have been praying. I have not found the blessing I have been seeking, but I am sure I shall have it, for already the exercise of prayer has been of service to me— this is my comfort under the delay of my hope, that Your Word has already quickened me!   Notice the next verse, in which the Psalmist was suffering the great trial of scorn . “The proud have had me greatly in derision.” Ridicule is a very sharp ordeal. When the proud are able to say something against us that stings—when they laugh, yes, and laugh greatly, and treat us like the mire in the streets—it is a severe affliction and under it we need rich comfort. If at that time we feel that if man’s word stings, yet God’s Word quickens, then we are comforted! If we are driven more to God by being scorned by men, we may very cheerfully accept their contempt and say, “Lord, I bless You for this persecution which makes me a partaker of Christ’s sufferings.” I say it becomes a comfort to us to be quickened by the Word when the ungodly are despising us.   At the 53rd verse you will see that David was under the trouble of living among great blasphemers and doers of open wickedness. He says, “Horror has taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake Your Law.” He was horrified at their vices—he wished that he could get away from and never see or hear that which distressed him so much. But if the very sight and sound of sin drives us to pray and forces us to cry to God, the result is good, however painful the process may be! If men never swore in the streets, we should not so often be driven to cry to God to forgive their profanity. If you and I could always be shut up in a glass case and never see sin or hear of it, it might be a bad thing for us. But if, when we are compelled to see the wickedness of men and hear their curses and reviling, we can also feel that God’s Word is quick- ening us, even by our horror at sin, it is good for us! We have great comfort in this peculiar species of affliction, though it is exceedingly grievous to tender-hearted, pure and delicate minds who dwell near to God.   Just read the 54th verse, and you will see another of David’s trials indicated. “Your statutes have been my song in the house of my pilgrimage.” He had many changes. He had all the trials of a pilgrim’s life—the discomforts of journeying in places where he had no abiding city. But, “ This ,” he says, “has been my comfort in my affliction.” Your Word has told me of a city that has foundations. Your Word has assured me that if I am a stranger upon earth, I am also a citizen of Heaven. “Your Word has quickened me.” I have felt myself so strengthened by Your Word that I have been glad to feel that this is not my rest. I am glad to feel that I must be away to a better land and so my heart has been happy and, “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”   Lastly, in the 55th verse, you see David was in darkness . He says, “I have remembered Your name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept Your Law.” Even in the night he could derive comfort from the quickening influence which often comes to the soul from the Scriptures—even when we are surrounded by darkness and sorrow. I will not go over that ground, again, but certain it is that when our soul is shrouded in distress, it often becomes more active and gracious than when it is basking in the sunlight of prosperity.   All along, then, dear Friends, your comfort and mine is the Word of God, laid home by God, the Holy Spirit, to our hearts, quickening us to an increase of spiritual life! Do not try to flee from your troubles. Do not fret under your cares. Do not expect this world to bring forth roses without thorns. Do not hope to prevent the springing up of briers and this- tles. Ask for quickening! Ask for that quickening to come, not by new revelations nor by fanatical excitement, but by
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God’s own Word quietly applied by His own Spirit! So shall you conquer all your troubles, overcome your difficulties and enter into Heaven singing hallelujahs unto the Lord’s right hand and holy arm which have gotten Him the victory!



Matthew 25:1-30


The Parable of the Ten Virgins

25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.




“And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”
Matthew 25:10.

DURING the waiting period, the wise and foolish virgins seemed much alike, even as at this day one can hardly discern the false professor from the true. Everything turned upon the coming of the bridegroom. To the 10 virgins, that was
the chief event of the night. If it had not been for his coming, they would not have gone forth with their lamps. It was
because they knew he would surely come that they prepared themselves to join in the marriage procession and attend him
with their songs to the place of his abode. Yet, for a while, he did not come. The sun had gone down and darkness had
stolen over the whole landscape, but the bridegroom did not come. The dews of night were falling fast, yet still he did not
come. The hours were long and slowly passed away, one after the other, yet he did not come. It was waxing toward the
middle of the night—a few stars were visible, but there was no lingering light of the day remaining. It was the time of
darkness and the eyes of the waiting virgins grew heavy with watching. Why was the bridegroom so long in coming?
They had been told to look for him. They had fully expected him, yet he had not come. There were whispers that it was all
a delusion and that he would never come. And there was that guilty sense of slumber which stole over them. In the case of
some of the 10, their spirit was willing, but their flesh was weak. But in the case of the others, both flesh and spirit were
perverse, so that their sleep became exceedingly deep, as when a man sleeps even unto death.
But the bridegroom did come, as, Brothers and Sisters, in our case the Heavenly Bridegroom will come! However
long we may have waited for Him, let us rest assured that He will come. As surely as He came once, so, “unto them that
look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” It seems to me that it needs less faith to believe
in the Second Advent of Christ than in His First Advent. He has been here before, so He knows the way to come again. He
has been here before and worked a wondrous work—surely He will come back to receive the reward of His service. The
Good Shepherd came to earth once to lay down His life for the sheep—He will surely come again as the Chief Shepherd
to recompense the under-shepherds who have faithfully kept the night watches for Him. Jesus will come again, as surely
as the bridegroom came at the midnight hour!
Yes, the bridegroom did come. Despite the waiting time, he did come, and then came the dreadful separation between those who had been waiting for his appearing. Scarcely by any act of his, the foolish and the wise were parted, the
one from the other. They were awakened by the sound of his approach—the herald that preceded him cried, “Behold, the
bridegroom comes,” and the sleepers were all aroused. Then the true adherents of the bridegroom, the wise virgins, penitent for their guilty sleep, poured the oil into their lamps, which were burning low, and soon they were blazing up clear
and bright. As the bridegroom’s procession came near, “they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the
door was shut.” But the foolish virgins—those who had despised the secret stores of oil—those who had never gone to
the Divine Spirit for His matchless Grace—were separated from their wiser companions. Not, indeed, by any special act
of the bridegroom, but as the natural result of their own unprepared condition. They had to go away to buy oil from
those who sold it. And when they came back, it was too late for them to go in to the marriage. They came up to the gate
of the palace and found the door fast closed against them—shut forever—and learned that they must abide in the outer
darkness, to weep and lament that they were not found worthy to behold the bridegroom’s face, or to enter into his joy. 2 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” Sermon #2500
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I am going to talk to you, dear Friends, as simply as I can, but with deep soul-earnestness, about the two sets of persons mentioned in the text. First, I will speak of the ready and their entrance—“They that were ready went in with him
to the marriage.” And, secondly, I will say something about the unready and their exclusion— “And the door was shut.”
I. First, then, let us think of THE READY AND THEIR ENTRANCE—“They that were ready went in with him to
the marriage.”
Let us meditate a little, first, about the entrance, itself, and then talk together about the persons who enjoyed it.
Concerning their entrance, note that it was immediate upon the coming of the bridegroom. As soon as he appeared
there seems to have been no interval, but, at once, “they that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” Beloved
Friends, the manifestation of Christ shall be the glorification of His people! We shall need nothing else but to behold His
face and then our bliss shall be perfect and complete. So each Believer says with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and
that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh
shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” Never entertain the slightest fear
of any such purgatorial state as some have begun to dream of again! That lie, which the Reformers rightly called, “purgatory pick-purse,” which filled the pope’s treasury and was a curse to myriads of immortal souls, was exposed in all its
naked ugliness by the Light which God gave to Luther and Calvin. Yet now, amid the abounding skepticism of these evil
days, there is coming back this foul night-bird, or rather, this dragon of the Dark Ages—and sometimes even the children of God feel the influence of its pestilential presence.
Dear Christian friends, be not afraid of any purgatory! If you die, you shall be absent from the body and present with
the Lord at once, for this shall be your blessed portion in Christ! If you are alive and remain till Jesus comes again, your
body shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and you shall rise to meet your Lord in the air and so shall
be forever with Him. But if you have fallen asleep in Jesus, those who are alive at His coming shall have no preference
over you, but you shall be raised incorruptible—and in the moment of that rising, when your spirit, by the Divine fiat,
shall have been reunited with your perfectly purified and glorified body—you shall go in with Him to the marriage and
be forever with Him and like He is! Do not trouble yourself, therefore, about what is to happen, or what is not to happen. Be confident of this—if you sleep, you shall sleep in Jesus—and when you wake up, you shall wake up in His likeness and you shall never be parted from Him whose company, even now, is your highest source of joy, and whose society
shall be your delight forever and ever!
Notice, next, that the entrance of the wise virgins into the marriage feast was not only immediate, it was also intimate. “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” I like that expression, “with him.” I would go nowhere
without Him and, if I may go anywhere with Him, wherever He shall lead me, it shall be a happy day to me! And so it
shall be to all who love His appearing. You know, Beloved, that our Lord Jesus left it in His will that we are to be with
Him in His Glory. Listen to this clause out of His last will and testament—“Father, I will that they, also, whom You
have given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My Glory.” O Beloved, you who know what it is to be one
with Jesus, crucified with Him, risen with Him, made to sit together with Him in the heavenlies, you, I am sure, will find
something more heavenly about Heaven than otherwise had been there when that sweet sentence is true of you, “They
that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” Our Lord Jesus, Himself, shall escort us to our place in Glory! He
shall conduct us to the sources of highest blessedness, for as the elder said to John in the Revelation, “The Lamb which is
in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.”
This, it seems to me, is the very center of the bliss of Heaven. Heaven is like the Eshcol cluster of grapes, but the essence, the juice, the sweetness of the cluster, consists in this fact—that we shall be with Jesus—“forever with the Lord.”
Ah, me! My Brothers and Sisters, how else could we ever hope to go in to the marriage if we did not go in with Him—
hidden behind Him, covered with His righteousness, washed in His blood? John saw a great multitude which no man
could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the Throne of God, and before the
Lamb—and it was of them that the elder also said, “These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed
their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him
day and night in His Temple: and He that sits on the Throne shall dwell among them.”
No one will object to the entrance into Glory of those who go in with Him! Even the pure and holy God will not
raise any question as to our entrance if we enter with His Son! All the demands of Divine Justice will be fully met by the Sermon #2500 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” 3
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fact that we go in with Him. Covered with His righteousness, adorned with His beauties, inseparably united to His Person, the beloved of His heart, we shall go in with Him to the marriage and none will think of needing to have us excluded.
I am tempted to linger over such a delightful theme as this, but I must not, and I need not, for you can meditate upon
it to your heart’s content when you are at home. To my mind there is indescribable sweetness in these words—“They that
were ready went in with him to the marriage.”
Then, next, notice how exceedingly joyous was the entrance. “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” It was not their portion to stand outside the door, to listen to the music and enjoy the light that might come
streaming through when it was opened for a few seconds—they “went in with him to the marriage.” It was not the intention of our Lord to tell us in this parable in what capacity the saints shall enter Heaven. The parable is meant to teach
certain lessons and it explains them very clearly. If it tried to teach us everything, we might miss the most important lesson of all. But from other passages of Scripture we know that we shall go in with Christ to the marriage, not as mere
spectators of His joy, as friends of the Bridegroom who rejoice exceedingly in His gladness, but we shall go in with Him
to share His bliss. Be it always remembered that sinners though we are, and utterly unworthy of so distinguished an
honor, the Lord Jesus says to every believing soul, “I have espoused you unto Myself, to be Mine forever and ever.” Oh,
matchless words! You, Believer, shall go in with Him to that heavenly marriage feast, as part of that wondrous bride, the
Lamb’s wife, who is then to find her bliss forever consummated with her glorious Husband!
What a mercy it is to have Grace enough to be able to believe this, for it needs much faith to believe that such a distinction shall ever be the lot of those who were once heirs of wrath even as others and who, by their sins have deserved to
be cast into the deepest Hell! Yet, Beloved, there are no heights in Heaven which we shall not climb. There are no joys
before the Throne of God of which we shall not be partakers! We shall not be present at that wedding feast merely as
Christ’s servants, or as on-lookers, or as favored guests—we shall be there to partake to the fullest of all the bliss and
Glory, ourselves—all the while the object of that innermost love, that most special, most dear and near and intimate
communion with our Beloved! We shall forever be one with Christ by conjugal bands. No, more than that, for even conjugal bands are only used as a humble metaphor of the eternal union between our souls and Christ. “This,” said the
Apostle Paul, when referring to marriage, “is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” “They
that were ready went in with him to the marriage,” right up to the banqueting table, to partake of all the rare dainties
gathered from all the ages, brought from all the dominions of the great King, to make high festival for that greatest of
all days for which all other days were made, the Day of Judgment, itself, included!
Even on earth we always properly associate the highest degree of joy with a marriage when it is what it ought to be.
If ever there is any joy on earth that belongs naturally to us as beings of flesh and blood, it is upon our marriage day. The
wedding of a loving couple is looked forward to with great expectations and often looked back upon with fond memories. However much of blight and withering blast may, in later life, fall upon that relationship which is commenced upon
the marriage day, yet the day, itself, is always the figure and emblem of joy. See, then, what Heaven is to be to the people
of God—it is a marriage, a perpetual festival, a banishment of everything that is dolorous, a gathering together of all
that is joyous. A marriage on earth—well, we know what that is, but a marriage in Heaven—who can describe that?
The marriage of men and women—we are familiar enough with that, but this union of which I am trying to speak is the
marriage of the Christ of God with His redeemed people! Earthly marriage is contracted between two sinners, but this
heavenly wedding is the marriage of One who is all pure and holy, to another whom He has purified from every stain, or
spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing—and so made ready for this everlasting union!
“They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” These words sound to my ears and heart like the pealing
of wedding bells. Listen! These people had been in the battle, fighting as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, but, by-and-by,
they “went in with Him to the marriage.” They had been in their Lord’s vineyard, toiling amid the burden and heat of
the day—the sun had looked upon them and they were bronzed and browned with the burning heat. But in due time they
“went in with him to the marriage.” They had sometimes seen their Lord for a season and then they had missed Him for a
while, but they “went in with Him to the marriage.” They had even wandered from Him, sometimes, and darkness had
surrounded them. Yes, and they had wickedly fallen asleep when they ought to have watched—but they “went in with
Him to the marriage.” Oh, the blessedness of being where all evil is forever ended and all joy is begun, never to end—all 4 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” Sermon #2500
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sin and imperfection blotted out by Christ’s precious blood—and all holiness and perfection put upon us forever and
ever! All this and more I read in the words, “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.”
Then comes this little sentence which is so terrible to the ungodly, but, oh, so sweet to the gracious—“And the door
was shut.” These words show that the entrance of the righteous into Heaven is eternal. The door was shut for two purposes, but chiefly, as I understand it, to shut in the godly. And before that door can be opened to let in the wicked, it will
have to be opened to let out the righteous. These two declarations of our Lord stand side by side—“These shall go away
into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” If you deny the eternity of the one, you must deny the
eternity of the other, for it is the same word in each case! You must break down the door which is the security of the
saints within, before there can be a change for the ungodly who are outside—and that can never be! The joy of this marriage feast is eternal joy! This is implied in our Savior’s utterance, “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”
I want you, next, to notice who these people were who went in with the Bridegroom. According to the text they were
a prepared people, a people that were ready—“They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” There are none
among the sons of men who are naturally ready to go in to that marriage feast. Before they can enter, they must undergo
a wondrous change. They must, in fact, be born again! Think for a moment what creatures we are by nature, quite unfit
to go in with Christ to the heavenly marriage. Then think of what Christ is, so bright, so pure, so holy—who is she who
is fit to go into Heaven, to be forever with this glorious Bridegroom? O my Soul, you are but dust and ashes, and your
Lord is the Sun of Righteousness! O my Soul, you are, through sin, comparable to a dunghill! And your Savior is Infinite
Perfection. Can you ever be “ready” to go in with Him to the marriage? Not unless that same God who became Man that
He might be a fit Husband for you, shall make you holy, that you may be meet to be wedded to Him forever!
A great change has to be worked in you, far beyond any power of yours to accomplish, before you can go in with
Christ to the marriage! You must, first of all, be renewed in your nature, or you will not be ready. You must be washed
from your sins, or you will not be ready. You must be justified in Christ’s righteousness and you must put on His wedding dress, or else you will not be ready. You must be reconciled to God. You must be made like God or you will not be
ready. Or, to come to the parable before us, you must have a lamp—and that lamp must be fed with heavenly oil—and it
must continue to burn brightly, or else you will not be ready. No child of darkness can go into that place of God’s Light!
You must be brought out of nature’s darkness into God’s marvelous Light, or else you will never be ready to go in with
Christ to the marriage and to be forever with Him.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, I pray you often look to your readiness for going in to the marriage. Are
you all ready now? If, at this moment, the archangel’s trumpet voice should sound, or if now, as lately happened to certain dear friends of ours, you should be struck down with paralysis or apoplexy and, in a moment, pass away, are you
ready for the great change? Are you quite ready to go in with Christ to the marriage? I would advise you not only to be
ready in all the great things, but to also be ready in the little things, and in everything that concerns yourself in relation
to your Lord. Perhaps you have not yet publicly put on Christ in Baptism. Then, in that respect, you are not ready. Do
not delay obedience to Christ’s command, remembering His own Words. “He that believes and is baptized shall be
saved.” With your mouth confess the Lord Jesus, if with your heart you have believed on Him. Disregard no commands
of Christ!
Perhaps you have never yet been to His table of communion. If that is the case, I do not think you can call yourself
“ready” to go in with Him to the marriage. Perhaps you call these things little matters—and they are small compared
with that greater matter of which I have already spoken. But I would not wish you to die with a single command of
Christ’s neglected. You have not prayed with your boys and girls yet, have you? Well, then, you are not ready. You have
not made your will, you have not set your house in order—I would have you get all such things quite ready, for a little
unreadiness may greatly trouble you in your departing moments. You have not yet fulfilled what has been very nearly a
vow toward God—you have not yet done what you ought to do of your work for the present generation. You have not
yet been to that ungodly friend and warned him, as your heart a little while ago prompted you to do. I would like to have
you, my Brother, or Sister, in such a state that if you fell down dead on your way home, tonight, others might regret it,
but you would be thankful that for your sudden death was sudden glory. Sermon #2500 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” 5
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Mr. Whitefield used to say that he did not like to go to sleep at night if he had left his gloves out of his hat where he
might find them in the morning. It is delightful to feel, “All is right between God and my soul, between myself and my
wife and my children and all my surroundings. Now let death come when it will! Let the sweet chariot swing low—as the
Jubilee Singers’ song quaintly puts it—and let it bear my soul away up to the heavenly country where I shall go in with
Him to the marriage.”
Be ready, dear Friends, be ready! Especially be ready in the great matter of salvation, but see that you are ready in
everything. You know that when you are going to see a very special friend, or some person of importance, you put on
your best coat and everything that will make you ready to see him and, afterwards, when you get near the friend’s door,
or the great man’s mansion, I notice that you brush off any little dust from the street that may have been blown upon
your garments—and so you get quite ready to meet him when he appears. So, in spiritual affairs, even if you have on
your best robe, yet there may still be a little brushing needed—and I would have you do it so that it may be said of you
without anything to qualify it—“they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”
I read, in an American tract, a little sketch written by a gentleman who, having often to cross the Great Lakes, was
in the habit of providing himself with a life belt in case of need. One night, while he was asleep, an alarm was raised and
he rushed on deck with his life belt round him, but found that there was no cause for fear. He went back downstairs and
as he lay in bed, he had something like a dream, though it was really a waking reverie, and it took this shape. He thought
he was on board the great vessel in which all of us are floating on the broad sea of time and that a great and terrible
storm came on. There were some men on deck with life belts round them. They had been laughed at while the weather was
calm and the sea was smooth, but, as they stood there, with the vessel rocking and the timbers straining, there were none
to mock them, but many who greatly envied the quiet peacefulness which rested on their countenances. You know who
those men are and what is their perfection. Faith in Jesus is the great life belt—let the tempest come when it may, faith in
Christ will enable us to swim through every flood till we reach the happy shores of Heaven!
As this gentleman stood on the deck and looked about him, he heard one man say, “I was going to buy one of those
belts. I lived just opposite the shop where they were sold and I was often told by friends that I had better get one at once,
and I meant to—but I put it off and started just a little too late to get it, so I was obliged to come without it, though I
meant to have one.” The gentleman saw this man washed overboard, as the others were who had not a life belt, and his
good intention could not save him. No doubt there are many here who have meant to get the spiritual life belt and they
mean to do so now, so they say. Ah, Heaven is being filled with people who have believed in Jesus—and Hell is being
filled with people who meant to believe in Jesus, but did not! That is the difference between the two classes, but what a
difference it will make between them when they come to die! These are the people who crowd the corridors of Hell— men
and women who meant to trust the Savior, but who never did. They lived just opposite the places where these life belts
were to be had and they meant to have had them—but they had them not when the last great storm came on—and so
they were lost, and lost forever!
There was another man who said, “I have been across this sea so often without a belt that I thought I would run the
risk once more.” He, too, was washed away. And there are some of you, my Hearers, who say, “I have lived twenty,
thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years and I am not dead yet! I will run the risk for another year.” Really, nowadays,
nobody seems to grow old. You meet a man of 75 or 80, and he thinks that he will be old, some day, but he has known
somebody who lived till he was 99—and he thinks he shall reach the same age. I have heard of an aged farmer who
wanted to buy his neighbor’s field. He was 80 and his neighbor was five years younger, so, when his neighbor would not
sell him the land, he said to him, “Ah, well, never mind. You are an old man and I can buy it when you are dead!” That is
just the way people talk. “All men think all men mortal but themselves.” Here was a man who was five years older than
the other, yet he was going to buy the field after the younger man was dead! It is such people who say, “I have been sailing over this sea so long without a life belt, I will risk it still longer.” Thus they, also, are lost!
There was another man who ran to his trunk to get his life belt—he pulled up the lid and took out the belt—but he
found it was out of order and quite useless. The fact was, it was a bad one when he bought it—and after carrying it about
with him for a little while, he became weary of such a useless appendage, so he threw it into his trunk—and now that he
really needed preservation from the storm, it was of no use to him. You are here, Sir, I know you! You used to make a
profession of religion. You had a life belt once, so you thought, but it was not a good one, or you would have it now. It 6 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” Sermon #2500
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was one that looked like the right thing and you wore it for a while. You used to be at the Prayer Meeting, you even became a member of the church! You carried your religion for a time, but what has become of it? Where were you last
night? I repeat the question—Where were you last night? If the devil had laid hold upon you and taken you down to his
own dominions, there would have been none who would have cried, “Stop, thief!” when he flew away with you, for they
would have known that he was only taking his own property which he had found on his own premises. Yet you did once
make a profession of religion—you used to sit at the Communion Table. Possibly you were even baptized. But where is
your life belt now? It is gone! God save you who have become backsliders, lest you also prove to be apostates! If you have
turned back, then return, return, return, while yet there is time, while yet there is hope for you! And if you never were
converted, may God begin the gracious work within you even now!
There was another one on board who had a life belt and he seemed very pleased when he put it on, but when the
waves washed him off the vessel, he floated for a few moments and then down he sank. The fact was, his belt was a counterfeit! Somebody had told him that the other sort was so very expensive and here was one that looked even better. True,
there was a whisper that it would not stand the necessary tests, but the man did not care much about that, for his belt
looked as good as the genuine one and he had the credit of standing with those sensible people who had the true thing, so
it answered very well until he came into the surging sea. So there may be some of you here who have counterfeit life belts.
You are members of a church, you come to the Communion Table and everybody respects you. Ah, but with a sham religion, how will you do in the swelling of Jordan? What will you do when heart and flesh fail? Oh, before it is too late, may
God take the sham away from you and give you genuine godliness—a new heart and a right spirit!
As the gentleman looked round him, he saw yet another of the passengers—a young man who was clinging to someone else who had on a life belt. He was crying to him, “Let me lay hold on you! Will not your belt be sufficient to sustain
both of us?” But the other answered, “It will only suffice for one. It will only keep one afloat.” Then the gentleman
thought of our Savior’s parable of the ten virgins and of what the foolish said unto the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our
lamps are gone out.” But the wise answered, “Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you.” So let us remember that
nothing but personal piety will avail—the religion of another can be of no service to you! Our Lord’s message to all is,
“You must be born again,” and there is no such thing as being born again by proxy! You must fly to Jesus for refuge and
there is no one who can do this for you. You must, by the Holy Spirit’s power, trust in Christ for yourselves! No one can
believe for you.
I rejoice that there are so many here who have on the genuine Gospel life belt. Standing in Christ Jesus, they are not
“No condemnation do they dread.
For Jesus is their All.”
They can without a tremor face floods or flames, and the devouring deep! They can even be—
“Fearless of Hell and ghastly death,”
knowing that they shall be safely landed on Heaven’s peaceful shore, to go no more out forever!
II. I am almost thankful that I have only a few minutes to spend upon the second part of my subject—THE UNREADY AND THEIR EXCLUSION. I will try to say much in a few words—and I beg you to let every word abide with
What, then, was this exclusion? “The door was shut.” It was not ajar, it was shut. And it was so tightly closed that
there was a complete severance between the guests inside and the too-late foolish virgins outside.
Yet, this severance was perfectly just. The foolish virgins ought to have been there on time. They ought to have gone
in with the bridegroom. Was it not their very office to attend him and accompany him home? The time for entering in
had fully come—it was the right and proper time. The bridegroom had given them all that night to get ready and they
had even complained of the length of the delay before he came so, when the door was at last shut, it was very late. They
had had all that time in which to get the oil and to trim their lamps. It was not as though the bridegroom had come in
the first watch of the night and they had said, “We had not time to trim our lamps.” No, it was not so. So, dear Friends,
you have had all this life, all these years of your Lord’s long-suffering and patient entreaty—and it will be just that the
door should be shut when your last hour shall come. Oh, be wise before it is too late! Sermon #2500 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” 7
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When “the door was shut,” the exclusion was final. In all my searching of the Word of God, I have never found any
kind of hope that the door, once shut, will ever be opened again. There may be a “larger hope” indulged in by some, but
I implore you never to risk your souls upon that rotten plank, for there is no Scripture warrant for it whatever! Even if
there were, what larger hope do you need than that which the Gospel itself affords? Why do you not get ready to enter in
with Christ to the marriage? Why be left to tarry outside? What is there in the cold midnight that should tempt you to
delay with the risk of never being able to enter the door? If there were any such larger hope as deludes so many, it still
must be a desperate risk to trust to it. They also who talk about annihilation, or restitution, at any rate offer you nothing that ought to charm you away from immediate faith in Christ and immediate and everlasting salvation by Him. So
far as you, yourself, are concerned, it should cease to be an awful thing that, in the world to come, “There are no acts of
pardon passed.” Why should you throw away the certainty of a present salvation and immediate deliverance from the
curse, which you may have at this moment—which you shall have at once if you believe in Jesus—under some foolish
dream that perhaps the door of mercy may open after ages of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? No, rather be
ready to enter in with Christ to the marriage, for, as the Lord lives, I cannot clear my soul of all responsibility unless I
tell you that, as I read the Bible more and more, I am more and more certain that when that door has once been shut, it
will never again be opened to any living soul! Where death meets you, judgment will find you, and there you will remain
to all eternity! I pray you, risk not your eternal destiny, but, “Seek you the Lord while He may be found. Call you upon
Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the
Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
Who were these persons who were shut out when the door was closed? They bore the name of virgins, yet the door
was shut against them. They were not rank outsiders, nor mere tramps of the street. They were not infidels, not agnostics, but members of the Church! They were called virgins, yet against them the door was shut. They also had lamps—
lamps that once burned as brightly as others. There was, for a while, no difference between the luster of their lamps and
the luster of the wisest, yet they were shut out. They had at least some oil—they were, for a time, companions of the wise
virgins. They went out with them to meet the bridegroom and the wise virgins, probably, never suspected that these others were foolish, until, in the middle of the night, they found, too late, that their lamps were going out. O Sirs! O Sirs,
shall we drink out of the same Communion cup and eat of the same bread at the Lord’s Table, and be reminded of His
broken body and His shed blood, and yet shall some of us be shut in with God forever, and shall some of you be shut out
forever because you have not received the Holy Spirit, because you have not the secret inward store of the oil of Grace?
May God prevent it by His Grace!
Notice that these people acted in much the same way as those acted who went in with the bridegroom. They went
forth to meet the bridegroom, they went on the same road and at the same rate as the others went and they went to sleep,
alas, as the others went to sleep. They awoke as the others awoke and they began to trim their lamps as the others were
trimming theirs. Their spot seemed to be the spot of God’s children and they appeared to have many of the marks of the
election of Grace—yet they were not of it, nor in it, for they had no oil in their vessels with their lamps, no Grace, no
indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no supernatural operation of Him who works in the saints to will and to do of His own
good pleasure. They were so like the real bride of Christ that only the Bridegroom could tell the difference until the midnight came—and then the difference was apparent to all observers!
It seems to me, also, that these persons who were shut out, were people who knew something about prayer. They did
not, that night, for the first time pick up the agonized cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” They had probably been habitue’s
of Prayer Meetings. They had been where people called Christ, “Lord,” and they used that formula themselves. Perhaps
they might have said, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And
in Your name done many wonderful works?” Yet the door was shut against them and they, outside, knew something of
what was going on inside and, therefore, would gnash their teeth all the more because they could not enter! The door was
shut against those who had seen the Light of God, but whose lamps had gone out! They had been carrying in their hands
the very lamps which entitled them to claim a place in the procession, but those lamps had gone out—and, therefore,
they were not entitled to any such place—and the door was shut against them! O you who are only professors of religion,
will you shut yourselves outside the door of mercy? You will do so if you neglect to obtain that secret oil of Grace which
can only be supplied by the Holy Spirit! 8 Number 2500—Or, “Entrance and Exclusion” Sermon #2500
8 http://www.spurgeongems.org Volume 43
Before another Sunday comes around, your preacher may be suddenly struck down, as one of our Brothers has been.
I may never have another opportunity of speaking to you who are professors, and warning you to make sure that you are
also possessors and that you really have the Grace of God in your souls. Or, possibly, some of you may be taken away
without a moment’s warning, as one of our friends has been. Suppose that then you could turn round upon me, in another world, and say, “Preacher, we heard you again and again. We listened to all that came from your lips. We even
came out on Thursday nights to listen to you, yet you prophesied smooth things to us and you said, ‘Peace, peace, when
there was no peace.’” I pray God that I may have no man’s blood upon the skirts of my garments in that last tremendous
day and, therefore, I bid you, now, to escape from the wrath to come! Flee to Christ, flee to His dear Cross and look up
to His bleeding wounds, for—
“There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”
Flee from your sins, flee from yourselves! Flee from any worldly pursuits which entangle you and put your trust in
Jesus Christ and Him crucified! And from your heart say—
“Jesus, Your blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress,
“I will go in with You to the marriage, and when the door is shut, I shall be on the right side of it—
“Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in.”
The Lord save us all, for His name’s sake! Amen.
HYMNS FROM “OUR OWN HYMN BOOK”—364, 365, 1043.

N.B.—This Sermon is No. 2,500 in the regular weekly issue, which has been continued without intermission for
more than 42 years. It is especially suitable for widespread distribution among the unsaved and forms a fitting companion to the following discourses previously published in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit—
Number 1,000—Volume 17— “Bread Enough and to Spare.”
Number 1,500—Volume 25—“Lifting up the Brazen Serpent.”
Number 2,000—Volume 33—“Healing by the Stripes of Jesus.”
Number 2,400—Volume 41—“Escape for Your Life!”
All these are admirably adapted for circulation at or before evangelistic services and also for personal presentation
to the anxious or the careless. [By God’s Grace, you may read/download/print each of these sermons, free of charge, at
http://www.wpurgeongems.org ]
Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307




Galatians 5:22
King James Version (KJV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…

Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
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NO. 1582
“But the fruit of the Spirit is joy.”
Galatians 5:22.
OBSERVE, “the fruit of the Spirit,” for the product of the Spirit of God is one. As some fruits are easily divisible
into several parts, so you perceive that the fruit of the Spirit, though it is but one, is threefold, no, it makes three times
three—“love, joy, peace; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; faith, meekness, temperance”—all one! Perhaps “love” is
put first not only because it is a right royal virtue, nearest akin to the Divine perfection, but because it is a comprehensive
Grace and contains all the others. All the commandments are fulfilled in one word and that word is “love.” And all the
fruits of the Spirit are contained in that one most sweet, most blessed, most heavenly, most God-like Grace of love. See
that you abound in love to the great Father and all His family, for if you fail in the first point, how can you succeed in
the second? Above all things, put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.
As for joy, if it is not the first product of the Spirit of God, it is next to the first, and we may be sure that the order in
which it is placed by the Inspired Apostle is meant to be instructive. The fruit of the Spirit is love, first, as comprehensive
of the rest—then joy rising out of it. It is remarkable that joy should take so eminent a place! It attains unto the first
three and is but one place lower than the first. Look at it in its high position and if you have missed it, or if you have depreciated it, revise your judgment and endeavor with all your heart to attain to it, for depend upon it—this fruit of the
Spirit is of the utmost value!
This morning, as I can only speak upon one theme, I leave love for another occasion and treat only of joy. May its
Divine Author, the Holy Spirit, teach us how to speak of it to our profit and His Glory! It is quite true that the Spirit of
God produces sorrow, for one of His first effects upon the soul is holy grief. He enlightens us as to our lost condition,
convicting us of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. And the first result upon our heart is astonishment and lamentation. Even when we look to Christ, by the work of the Spirit one of the first fruits is sorrow—“They shall look on Him
whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for Him, and be in bitterness for Him as one that is in bitterness for his
But this sorrow is not the ultimate objective of the Spirit’s work—it is a means to an end. Even as the travail of the
mother leads up to the joy of birth, so do the pangs of repentance lead up to the joy of pardon and acceptance. The sorrow is, to use a Scriptural figure, the blade, but the full corn in the ear is joy. Sorrow helps the fruit on, but the fruit,
itself, is joy. The tears of godly grief for sin are all meant to sparkle into the diamonds of joy in pardoning love. This
teaches us, then, that we are not to look upon bondage as being the objective of the work of the Spirit of God, or the design of the Lord in a work of Grace. Many are under bondage to the Law—they attempt to keep the commands of
God—not out of love, but from slavish fear. They dread the lash of punishment and tremble like slaves. But to Believers
it is said, “You are not under the Law, but under Grace” and, “You have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;
but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
To be in bondage under the Law, to be afraid of being cast away by God and visited with destruction on account of
sin after we have trusted in Jesus—this is not the work of the Spirit of God in Believers, but the black offspring of unbelief or ignorance of the Grace of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Neither is a painful dread or a servile terror a
fruit of the Spirit. Many worship the Lord Jesus, Himself, at a distance—they know not that Believers are “a people near
unto Him.” They are afraid of God and they never delight in Him. They attend to worship, not because they rejoice in it,
but because they think it must be done. Their secret feeling is—“What a weariness it is,” but necessity compels. They
know nothing of a child’s joy in sure and full forgiveness, spoken by the Father’s own lips as He pressed them to His

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His kiss was never warm upon their cheek. The ring was never on their finger, nor the best robe upon their shoulders. The music and the dancing of the joyous family who are in harmony with the father’s joy over the lost son have
never charmed their ears. They are still under dread, which is the fruit of superstition rather than “the fruit of the
Spirit.” Many things they do and suffer and all in vain—if the Son did but make them free, they would be free, indeed! I
know some whom I am very far from despising, but whom, on the contrary, I greatly value, whose religion, sincere as I
know it is, is sadly tinged with gloomy colors. They are afraid of Assurance, for they dread presumption! They dare not
speak of their own salvation with the certainty with which the Bible saints were known to speak of it—they always say,
“I hope,” and, “I trust.”
They would seem to be total abstainers from joy! They are suspicious of it lest it should be carnal excitement or visionary hope. They hang their heads like bulrushes and go mourning all their days as if the religion of Christ knew no
higher festival than a funeral and all its robes were the garments of despair! Brothers and Sisters, despondency is not the
fruit of the Spirit! Make no mistake, depression is frequently the fruit of indigestion, or of satanic temptation, or of unbelief, or of some harbored sin, but, “the fruit of the Spirit is joy.” Constantly looking within your own self instead of
looking alone to Christ is enough to breed misery in any heart.
I have also known gloomy expressions to be the fruit of affectation, the fruit of the unwise imitation of some undoubtedly good person who was of a downcast spirit. Some of the best of men have had a melancholy turn, but they
would have been better men if this had been overcome. Imitate their many virtues—but take the pot of ointment and pick
out the dead flies. O my Brethren, look well to it that you bring forth the genuine, holy, sacred, delicious fruit of the
Spirit which, in one of its forms, is “joy.” Do not covet the counterfeit of earthly joy, but seek to the good Spirit to bear
the true fruit in you.
I. In speaking upon this joy I shall notice, first, the fact that IT IS BROUGHT FORTH. Brothers and Sisters, the
Spirit of God is not barren! If He is in you, He must and will inevitably produce His own legitimate fruit—and “the fruit
of the Spirit is joy.” We know this to be a fact because we, ourselves, are witnesses of it. Joy is our portion and we are
cheered and comforted in the Savior. “What?” you ask, “are we not depressed and sorrowful at times?” Yea, verily, and
yet what Christian man or woman among us would make an exchange with the happiest of all worldlings? Your lot is
somewhat hard, my Brother, and sometimes your spirit sinks within you. But do you not count yourself to be, even at
your worst, happier than the worldling at his best? Come, would you not take your poverty, even with your mourning,
rather than accept his wealth with all his hilarity and give up your hope in God?
I am persuaded you would—you would not change your blest estate for a monarch’s crown! Well, then, that which
you would not change is a good thing and full of joy to your heart. Brothers and Sisters, we experience extraordinary
joys at times. Some are of an equable temperament and they are almost to be envied, for a stream of gentle joy always
glides through their spirit. Others of us are of a more excitable character and, consequently, we fall very flat at times.
Yes, but then we have our high days and holidays and mounting times—and then we outsoar the wings of eagles! Heaven
itself can hardly know more ecstatic joy than we have occasionally felt! We shall be vessels of greater capacity in Heaven,
but even here we are, at times, full to the brim with joy—I mean the same joy which makes Heaven so glad.
At times God is pleased to inundate the spirit with a flood of joy and we are witnesses that, “happy is the people
whose God is the Lord.” We do not dance before the Ark every day, but when we do, our joy is such as no worldling can
understand—it is far above and out of his sight. Besides our own witness, the whole history of the Church goes to show
that God’s people are a joyful people. I am sure that if in reading the history of the first Christian centuries you are asked
to point out the men to be envied for their joy, you would point to the Believers in Jesus. There is a room in Rome which
is filled with the busts of the emperors. I have looked at their heads—they look like a collection of prizefighters and murderers—and I could scarcely discover on any countenance a trace of joy.
Brutal passions and cruel thoughts deprived the lords of Rome of all chance of joy. There were honorable exceptions
to their rule, but taking them all round you would look in vain for moral excellence among the Caesars. And lacking this
thing of beauty, they missed that which is a joy. Turn, now, to the poor, hunted Christians and read the inscriptions left
by them in the catacombs! They are so calm and peaceful that you say instinctively—a joyous people were known to
gather here! Those who have been most eminent in service and in suffering for Christ’s sake have been of a triumphant
spirit, dauntless because supported by an inner joy! Their calm courage made them the wonder of the age. The true Chris-

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tian is a different type of manhood from the self-indulgent tyrant. There is almost as much advance from the coarseness of
vice to holiness as there is from the chimpanzee to the man!
I do not know how much Tiberius and Caligula and Nero used to sing. Happy men they certainly were not. I can
hardly imagine them singing except at their drunken orgies and then in the same tone as tigers growl! But I do know that
Paul and Silas sang praises unto God with their feet in the stocks and the prisoners heard them! And I know, also, that
this was the mark of the Christians of the first age, that, when they assembled on the Lord’s Day, it was not to groan but
to sing praises to the name of one Christos, whom they worshipped as God. High joys were common, then, when the
Bridegroom comforted His bride in the dens and caves of the earth. Those pioneers of our holy faith were destitute, afflicted, tormented—yet were they men of whom the world was not worthy—and men who counted it all joy to suffer
persecution for Christ’s sake.
Now, if in the very worst times God’s people have been a happy people, I am sure they are so now. I would appeal to
the biographies of men of our own day and challenge any question as to the statement that their lives have been among
the most desirable of human existences for they possessed a joy which cheered their sorrows, blessed their labors, sweetened their trials and sustained them in the hour of death. With some Christians, this fruit of the Spirit is perpetual, or
almost so. I do not doubt that many walk with God as Enoch did throughout the whole day of their life, always peaceful
and joyful in the Lord. I have met with some dear Brothers and Sisters of that kind, whose breath has been praise, whose
life has been song! How I envy them and chide my own heart that I cannot always abide in their choice condition! It is to
be accomplished and we will press forward till we are “always rejoicing.”
But with others, joy is not constant and yet it is frequent. David had his mourning times when tears were his meat,
day and night, and yet God was his exceeding joy. How thankful we ought to be for the portrait of David’s inner self
which is presented to us in the Book of Psalms. With all his grief, what joys he had! David was, on the whole, a joyous
man. His Book of Psalms has in it lyrics of delight—the most glad hymns that ever leaped from human tongues! David
is, I believe, the type of a great majority of the people of God who, if not, “always rejoicing,” are yet often so. Please remember that the utmost fullness of joy can hardly be enjoyed always in this mortal life. I believe that the human frame is
not, in this world, capable of perpetual ecstasy.
Look at the sun, but look not too long lest you are blinded by excessive light. Taste of honey, but eat not much of it
or it will no longer please the palate. Let your ears be charmed with the Hallelujah chorus, but do not dream that you
could endure its harmonies all the hours of the day—before long you would cry out for eloquent pauses and sweet reliefs
of silence! Too much, even, of delight will weary our feeble hearts and we shall need to come down from the mountain.
Our bodies require a portion of sleep and that which is inevitable to the flesh has its likeness in the spirit—it must be
quiet and still. I believe it is inevitable, also, more or less, that the loftiest joy should be balanced by a sinking of heart. I
do not say that depression is certain to follow delight, but usually some kind of faintness comes over the finite spirit after
it has been lifted up into communion with the Infinite.
Do not, therefore, set too much store by your own feelings as evidences of Divine Grace. “The fruit of the Spirit is
joy,” but you may not, at this moment, be conscious of joy. Trees are not always bearing fruit and yet “their substance is
in them when they lose their leaves.” Some young people say, “Oh, we know we are saved because we are so happy.” It is
by no means a sure evidence, for joy may be carnal, unfounded, unspiritual. Certain Christians are afraid that they cannot be in a saved state because they are not joyous, but we are saved by faith and not by joy! I was struck with the remark
of Ebenezer Erskine when he was dying and someone said to him, “I hope you have, now and then, a blink to bear up
your spirit under affliction.” He promptly replied, “I know more of words than of blinks,” that is to say he had rather
trust a promise of God than his own glimpses of Heaven! And so would I.
The Word of God is a more sure testimony to the soul than all the raptures a man can feel! I would sooner walk in
the dark and hold hard to a promise of my God than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned!. Precious as
the fruit is, do not put the fruit where the root should be. Please remember that joy is not the root of Grace in the soul—
it is the fruit and must not be put out of its proper position. “The fruit of the Spirit is joy” and it is brought forth in Believers, but not alike in all. But to all Believers there is a measure of joy.
II. Secondly, THIS JOY IS OF A SINGULAR CHARACTER. It is singular for this reason, that it often ripens under
the most remarkable circumstances. As I have already said, the highest joy of Christians has often been experienced in 4 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy Sermon #1582
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their times of greatest distress. Tried Believers have been happy when smarting under pain, or wasting away with disease.
Sick beds have been thrones to many saints—they have almost feared to come out of the furnace because the Presence of
the Lord in the midst of the fire has made it none other than the gate of Heaven to their souls! Saints in poverty have been
made exceedingly rich and when they have eaten a dry crust they have found a flavor in it which they never discovered in
the dainties of their abundance.
Many children of God, even when driven away from the outward means of Grace, have, nevertheless, enjoyed such
visits of God, such inlets of Divine Love, that they have wondered from where such joy could come! In the wilderness,
waters leap forth as do streams in the desert. Believers are not dependent upon circumstances. Their joy comes not from
what they have, but from what they are—not from where they are, but from Whose they are—not from what they enjoy,
but from that which was suffered for them by their Lord. It is a singular joy, then, because it often buds, blossoms and
ripens in winter time and when the fig tree does not blossom and there is no herd in the stall. God’s Habakkuks rejoice in
the God of their salvation!
It is a singular joy, too, because it is quite consistent with spiritual conflict. He that is an heir of Heaven may cry, “O
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And yet, before the sigh is over, he may sing,
“I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing! Straggling, yet always victorious! Cast
down, but not destroyed! Persecuted, but not forsaken! Troubled and yet, all the while triumphant! Such is the mingled
experience of the saints. Oh, this is the wondrous Grace, this joy which can live side by side with conflict of the sorest
sort. This joy is special because at times it is altogether beyond description. One who was of a sober disposition called it
“joy unspeakable and full of glory.” “Full of glory!”
That is a wonderful expression! A drop of glory is sweet, but, oh, to taste a joy that is full of glory—is that possible
here? Yes and some of us bear witness that it is so—we have felt joy that we dare not tell and could not tell if we dared—
men would turn and tear us apart, condemning us as utterly fanatical or out of our minds if we were to cast these pearls
before them! But, oh, if they could guess what delicious drafts are held within the jeweled chalice of Divine Communion
with our Master, they would be ready to wade through Hell, itself, to drink from them! Our joy is altogether unspeakable joy at times.
One more singularity there is in it, for it is all the while solid, thoughtful, rational joy. The joy of the ungodly is like
the crackling of thorns under a pot—noisy and flashy—but soon over. The ungodly man feels merry, but really, if you
come to look into his mirth, there is nothing in it but flame without fuel, sparkle without solidity. But the Christian’s
joy is such that he has as much reason for it as if it were a deduction from mathematics. He has as just a right to be joyful
as he has to eat his own bread! He is certain of his pardon, for God has told him that a Believer in Christ is not condemned! And he is sure of his acceptance, for he is justified by faith. He knows that he is secure, for Christ has given him
eternal life and said that His sheep shall never perish! He is happy, not for causes at which he guesses, but by Infallible
reasons plainly revealed in God’s Word! This makes Him joyful in the Lord when others wonder that he is so, for he perceives arguments for happiness which are unknown to the thoughtless crowd.
That word, “joyful,” is a very sweet and clear one. “Happiness” is a very dainty word, but yet it is somewhat insecure because it begins with a “hap,” and seems to depend on a chance which may happen to the soul. We say “happy-golucky,” and that is very much the world’s happiness—it is a kind of thing that may hap and may not hap—but there is
no hap in the fruit of the Spirit which is joy! When we are joyful, or full of joy, and that of the best kind, we are favored,
indeed! No man takes this joy from us and a stranger meddles not with it—it is a celestial fruit and earth cannot produce
its like.
III. Thirdly, I would now refresh your memories and by the help of the Spirit of God bring back former joys to
in hearing the Word of God—it is written concerning Samaria there was great joy in that city because Philip went down
and preached the Gospel to them. Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound! However, joy of hearing lies in believing what you hear. We get joy and peace in believing. When you get a grip of the Word of God—when the glad tidings becomes a message to your own soul and the Spirit speaks it to your own heart, then you say, “Go on, man of God!
Your sermon will not be too long today, for the Lord is laying it home to my soul.” Sermon #1582 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy 5
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The reason why people grumble at long sermons is often because they do not feed on them. Very seldom the hungry
man murmurs at having too big a meal. It is a delightful thing to hear the Word faithfully preached. Have you not sometimes exclaimed, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings glad tidings”? That is one occasion
of joy. But what joy there is, dear Friends, in the salvation of God when we heartily receive it! Oh, how we bless the God
of our salvation and how we praise Him that He has saved us from our sins and from the wrath to come by giving us everlasting consolation and good hope through Grace, by the sacrifice of His dear Son!
Frequently we revel in the privileges of the Covenant. The joy of my heart, when I think of the doctrine of Election,
is quite inexpressible. That hymn which begins—
“In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
You pilgrims to Zion who press,
Break forth and extol the great Ancient of Days
His rich and distinguishing Grace,”
is often with me and makes my heart merry. Then the doctrine of Redemption, of which I tried to speak last Lord’s Day
[Silver Sockets—Redemption the Foundation, Volume 27, Sermon #1581] how joyous it is! What bliss to know that the
Redeemer lives! “Unto you that believe He is precious” and a fullness of joy flows forth at every remembrance of Him.
Then that doctrine of Justification is the marrow of joy! Oh, to think that we are just in the sight of God through Jesus
All the Doctrines of Grace, especially that of Final Perseverance, are joyful Truths of God! I declare that if you take
Final Perseverance from me, you have robbed the Bible of one of its crowning attractions! Jesus has not given us a transient salvation, but His salvation shall be forever! I will quote again those matchless words of His—“I give unto My
sheep eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.” Honey flows here as in the
woods of Jonathan! Put it to your mouth and your eyes shall be enlightened! The joy of God’s people, when they can get
half-an-hour alone and sit down and crack a dish of those nuts called the Doctrines of Grace, is such as philosophical
worldlings might well desire! But the modern gospel has no such wines on the lees well-refined.
But, Brothers and Sisters, our most grand joy is in God Himself! Paul says, “and not only so, but we joy in God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh, to think of the great Father! What a melting of spirit comes over the child of God if
at midnight he looks up at the stars and considers the Heavens and cries, “What is man, that You are mindful of him?”
To think that He is not only mindful of us, but that He has taken us to be His sons and daughters! To feel the Spirit
within our heart crying, “Abba, Father! Abba, Father!” Oh, this is joy in the most profound sense! How sweet to think
of Jesus Christ the Son, the glorious Incarnate God, the Surety, the Satisfaction, the Representative, the All in All of His
people! We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nor do we miss the joy of the Spirit when we know that He dwells in us. He sanctifies us, comforts us and guides us in
the road to Heaven. Oh Brothers and Sisters, this is a sea of bliss, the infinite deeps of the eternal godhead! Leap from all
your miseries into this sea of Glory! Plunge into the joy of your Lord! This being so, we have a joy in all God’s ordinances—“with joy do we draw water out of the wells of salvation.” What a joy prayer is—I hope you find it so. The
Lord has said, “I will make them joyful in My house of prayer.” And what a joy it is to get answers to our petitions, even
as our Lord says, “Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Has not your joy been full till your eyes have
been dim with tears and you have not hardly dared to tell how wondrously God has answered you? The Mercy Seat is lit
up with joy.
What a joyous ordinance is that of praise! We come up to the sanctuary and bring our offering to God and present
Him our oblation, just as the Jew of old brought his bullock or his lamb—and we joyfully present our gift unto the Most
High. Then we begin to sing His praises and our joy is the chief musician upon our stringed instruments. How our spirits
rise as we adore the Lord! The amount of happiness felt in this Tabernacle when we have been singing unto the Lord, can
never be measured! For my own part, I have seemed to stand just outside the wall of the New Jerusalem joining in the
hymns which are sung within the gates of the Eternal City! One joy note has helped another and the volume of sound has
affected every part of our being and stirred us up to vehemence of joy!
And oh, what joy there is in coming to the Lord’s Table! May we experience it tonight, as we have often done before.
The Lord is known to us in the breaking of bread and that knowledge is blissful. But I have scarcely begun the list, for we
have a great joy in the salvation of other people! Perhaps one of the choicest delights we know is when we partake in the

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joy of the good Shepherd over His lost sheep when He calls us together, for we, also, are His friends and His neighbors.
And He bids us rejoice that He has found the sheep which was lost! Especially do we joy and rejoice if the poor wanderer
has been brought back by our means. The jewels of an emperor are nothing compared with the riches we possess in winning a soul for Christ! “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” The joy of harvest is great, the joy of the man who
comes again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Do you know this joy, Brothers and Sisters? If you do not, awaken yourselves and may this sweet fruit of the Spirit
yet be yours. Oh, the joy of seeing Christ exalted! John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He
called himself the Bridegroom’s friend, and rejoiced greatly in the Bridegroom’s joy. We can sympathize with him when
we can bring about a marriage between Christ and any poor soul—and help to put the ring on the finger. The joy we feel
is of the purest and loveliest order, for it is unselfish and refined. Let Jesus be exalted and we ask no more! If He reigns,
we reign! If He is lifted up, our hearts are more than satisfied! Brethren, if we ever become perfect in heart, we shall joy in
all the Divine will, whatever it may bring us.
I am trying, if I can, to find a joy in rheumatism, but I cannot get up to it yet. I have found a joy when it is over—I
can reach that length—and I can and do bless God for any good result that may come of it. But when the pain is on me, it
is difficult to be joyous about it and so I conclude that my sanctification is incomplete and my conformity to the Divine
will is sadly imperfect. Oh, the splendor of God’s will! If a man were as he ought to be, God’s will would charm him and
he would not wish for the smallest change in it! Poverty, sickness, bereavement, death—all are to be rejoiced in when our
will is merged in the will of God!
What? Would you alter God’s infinitely wise appointment? Would you wish to change the purpose of unerring
Love? Then you are not wholly reconciled to God, for when the head gets quite right the heart climbs where Paul was
when he said, “We glory in tribulations, also, knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience.” It
needs a Samson to kill the lion of affliction and you cannot get honey out of it until it is conquered. But we might all be
Samsons if we would but lay hold on the strength of God by faith! Dear Brothers and Sisters, the list of joys which I am
even now only commencing, contains the joy of an easy conscience, the joy of feeling you have done right before God, the
joy of knowing that your objective, though misunderstood and misrepresented, was God’s Glory! This is a jewel to wear
on one’s breast—a quiet conscience.
Then there is the joy of communion with Christ, the joy of fellowship with His saints, the joy of drinking deep into
Christ’s spirit of self-sacrifice. There, too, is the joy of expecting His glorious Advent when He and His saints shall reign
upon the earth and the joy of being with Him forever! The joy of Heaven, the joy of which we have been singing just now.
These joys are countless, but I will pause here and leave you to make a fuller catalog when you are at home. May the Holy
Spirit not only refresh your memories concerning old joys, but bring forth out of His treasury new delights that your joy
may be full!
IV. I must notice, in the fourth place, that THIS FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT MAY BE CHECKED IN ITS GROWTH.
Some of you may have muttered while I have been speaking of this joy, “I do not know much about it.” Perhaps not,
friend—shall I tell you why? Some people are too full of the joy of the world, the joy of getting on in business, the joy of a
large family, the joy of health, the joy of wealth, the joy of human love, or the joy which comes of the pride of life. These
joys may be your idols and you know the joy of the Lord will not stand side by side with an idolatrous delight in the
things of this world! See to that. Dagon must fall if the Ark of the Lord is present—the world must lose its charms if you
are to joy in Christ Jesus.
Our joy is sadly diminished by our unbelief. If you will not believe, neither shall you be established. Ignorance will
do the same to a very large extent. Many a Christian has a thousand reasons for joy which he knows nothing of. Study the
Word and ask for the teaching of the Spirit of God that you may understand it and so shall you discover wells of delight!
Joy is diminished, also, by walking at a distance from God. If you get away from the fire, you will grow cold—the warmest place is right in front of it and the warmest place for a believing heart is close to Christ in daily fellowship with Him.
It may be that indulged in sin is spoiling our joy. “This little hand of mine,” as Mr. Whitfield once said, “can cover up
the sun as far as my eyes are concerned.”
You have only to lift a naughty, rebellions hand and you can shut out the light of God, Himself—any known sin will
do it. Trifling with sin will prove a killjoy to the heart. I believe that many lose the joy of the Lord because they do not Sermon #1582 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy 7
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put it in the right place. See where it lives. Look at my text—“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace.” There joy
stands in the center—“love” is on one side and “peace” on the other! Find a man who never loved anybody and you have
found a joyless man. This man’s religion begins and ends with looking to his own safety. The only point he longs to know
is—is he saved? He never knows joy, poor creature, how can he? As to peace, where is it? He has none because wherever
he goes he growls, grumbles, snarls and barks at everybody. There is no peace where he is! He is always quarrelling and
then he says, “I have little joy.”
He does not live in the right house for joy! Joy dwells at No. 2. “Love” is No. 1—“joy” is No. 2—“peace” is No. 3
and if you pull down either of the houses on the side, No. 2, in the middle, will tumble down! Joy is the center of a triplet
and you must have it so or not at all—“Love, joy, peace.” Thus I have shown how the growth of joy can be checked. I
pray you do not allow such an evil thing to be worked in your heart.
V. But, lastly, IT OUGHT TO BE CAREFULLY CULTIVATED. There is an obligation upon a Christian to be
happy. Let me say it again—there is a responsibility laid upon a Christian to be cheerful! It is not merely an invitation,
but it is a command—“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous.” “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say,
Rejoice.” Gloomy Christians who do not resist despondency and strive against it, but who go about as if midnight had
taken up its abode in their eyes and an everlasting frost had settled on their souls are not obeying the commands of God!
The command to rejoice is as undoubted a precept of God as to love the Lord with all your heart. The vows of God are
upon you, O Believer, and they bind you to be joyful!
In this joyfulness you shall find many great advantages. First, it is a great advantage, in itself, to be happy. Who
would not rejoice if he could? Who would not rejoice when God commands him? Rejoicing will nerve you for life’s duties. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” A man who goes about Christ’s work in an unwilling, miserable spirit will
do it badly and feebly. He may do it earnestly, but there will be no life or energy about him. Hear how the sailors, when
they pull the rope, will shout and sing and work all the better for their cheery notes! I do not believe our soldiers would
march to battle with half their present courage if they tramped along in silence. Beat the drums! Let the trumpet sound
forth its martial note! Every man is eager for the fray while soul-stirring music excites him. Let your heart make music
unto God and you will fight valiantly for the Kingdom of your Lord.
Holy joy will also be a great preventive. The man who feels the joy of the Lord will not covet worldly joy. He will
not be tempted to make a God of his possessions or of his talents, or of anything else. He will say, “I have joy in God.
These things I am very thankful for, but they are not my joy.” He will not crave the aesthetic in worship, for his joy will
be in God and His Truth—not in external forms. Some people’s idea of joy in religion lies in fine singing, charming music, pretty dresses, splendid architecture, or showy eloquence. They need this because they do not know the secret joy of
the Lord, for when that holy passion reigns within, you may sit inside four whitewashed walls and not hear a soul speak
for a whole hour and a half and yet you may have as intense a joy as if you listened to the most earnest oratory or the
sweetest song!—
“Joy in God is suitable to our condition!
Why should the children of a king
Go mourning all their days?”
What are we doing now, some of us? We have been hanging our harps on the willows—let us take them down—the
willow limbs will bend! Thank God we did not break the harps, though we did hang them there. Let us get into our right
position—children of the happy God should, themselves, be happy. Joy is certainly the best preparation for the future.
We are going where, if we learn to groan ever so deeply, our education will be lost, for melancholy utterances are unknown up there! We are going where, if we learn to sing with sacred joy, our education will be useful, for the first thing
we shall hear when we get into Heaven will undoubtedly be, “Hallelujah to God and the Lamb!” And if we have been
joyful on earth we shall say, “Ah, I am at home here!”
To enter Heaven with a joyful soul is only to rise from downstairs to the upper chamber where the music knows no
discord. It is the same song in both places, “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His blood.” Joy in
the Lord will be very helpful to you as to usefulness. I am sure a Christian man’s usefulness is abridged by dreariness of
spirit. What nice Sunday school teachers some Christians I know of would make! “Come you children, hearken unto me, I
will teach you the miseries of religion!” And the dear Brother begins by telling the children about the Slough of De-8 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy Sermon #1582
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spond, Giant Despair and the Valley of the Shadow of Death! He wonders, when he gets home, that the dear children are
not attracted to the ways of godliness! Are they likely to be? A member of a Church who has no joy of the Lord is little
likely to encourage or influence others—they edge away from him.
Even those who try to comfort him find it is to no purpose and so they give him a wide berth. You hear him stand up
to address an assembly of Believers, to tell his experience, and after a very little of it you feel you have had enough. Those
who drink wine will tell you that half a dozen drops of vinegar are more than they need in a glass of wine and those who
carry the cruet about wherever they go are not choice company! I do not find fault with gloomy souls, but they might be
more useful if they could live more in the sunlight! The joy of the Lord is the most injurious to Satan’s empire of anything. I am of the same mind as Luther, who, when he heard any very bad news, used to say, “Come, let us sing a Psalm
and spite the devil.”
There is nothing like it! Whenever anything happens that is rough and ugly and seems to injure the Kingdom of
Christ, say to yourself, “Bless the Lord, glory be to His name.” If the Lord has been dishonored by the falling away of a
false professor, or the failure of the ministry in any place, let us give Him all the more honor, ourselves, and in some
measure make up for all that has happened amiss. And, lastly, holy joy is very pleasing to God. God delights in the joy of
His creatures. He made them to be happy! His first and original design in the creation of all beings is His own Glory in
their happiness. When His people rejoice He rejoices.
Some of you spent Christmas day in the bosom of your families. Possibly you have a large family—10 or 12 were at
home on that day, with a grandchild or two. I will tell you what was your greatest joy on that day—it was to see the
happiness of your children and to mark how they enjoyed what you had provided for them. They are only little children,
some of them, creeping about on the floor, but they pleased you because they were so pleased themselves! The joy of a
little child delights your heart to hear it, for it gives us joy to behold joy in those we love. Suppose your sons and daughters had all come marching in on Christmas day in a very gloomy state of mind—cold, loveless, joyless—suppose that
they did not enjoy anything, but grumbled at you and at one another? You would be quite sad and wish the day to be
soon over and never come again for the next seven years!
Thus in a figure we see that our heavenly Father delights in the delight of His children and is glad to see them grateful and happy and acting as children should do towards such a Parent! Now, Brothers and Sisters, rise as one man and
“Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry!
We’re marching thro’
Immanuel’s ground
To fairer worlds on high.”
Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307


English: from Spurgeon, Charles; The Pulpit 1864

English: from Spurgeon, Charles; The Pulpit 1864 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


JOHN 3:16

JOHN 3:16

Sermon #2831 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
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NO. 2831
“Bear you one another ’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…Every man shall bear his own burden.”
Galatians 6:2, 5.
OBSERVE, dear Friends, that the Apostle says in the second verse of this chapter, “Bear you one another’s burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.” These Galatians had been trying to bear the heavy burden of the Law of Moses. They
had, as far as they could, put themselves, again, under the old Ceremonial Law. They had forsaken the Gospel way of
justification by faith and had sought to be made perfect by their personal obedience to the Law of God. Now, the Apostle,
as though he would expel one affection by another, says, “You want a law? You wish to be under a law? Well, here is
the law of Christ—yield yourselves to it! Instead of observing the outward ceremonies of the Levitical law, here is a living
law which touches the heart and influences the life—obey that law. You are Christians. You have come under law to
Christ by the very fact that you are not your own, but have been bought with a price by Him—now see to it that you
yield implicit obedience to the law of Christ.”
It is somewhat remarkable, I think, that many of those who are self-righteous and apparently pay much regard to the
Law of Moses are usually quite forgetful of that which is the very essence and spirit of that Law. They are so righteous
that they become stern, severe, censorious—which is being unrighteous—for the righteousness even of the Law of God is
a righteousness of love, “for all the law is fulfilled in one word,” that is, “love.” A self-righteous man is not generally a
man with a tender spirit. He looks at that which is hard and stern in the Law and he begins to be hard and stern himself—
there is none of the softness, sweetness, gentleness and graciousness which even the Law, itself, required when it
said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with
all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Paul did well, in the mood in which the Galatians were—as they wanted
to be under law, to remind them of what is the essence of the Law of God and he did still better by reminding them that
they were under law—to Christ, whose law emphasizes the love which even Moses, himself, had taught under the old dispensation!
These Galatians had most foolishly sought to burden themselves with a load which neither they nor their fathers
were able to bear. After being set free by the Gospel, they had gone back to the yoke of bondage, so the Apostle, in effect
said to them, “As you have been so bewitched and fascinated that you want burdens to rest upon you, here are burdens
for you—‘Bear you one another’s burdens.’ And, as you want law, here is law for you—so fulfill the law of Christ.” It
was characteristic of that sacred craftiness, that holy ingenuity, which was so conspicuous in the Apostle Paul that he
worded his argument thus, that he might draw the attention of these Galatians to it, fix it upon their memories and, if
possible, reach and influence their consciences.
Should there be any of you here who desire to come under the yoke of bondage, or who wish to be burden-bearers, or
who find great music in the word, “law,” I hope you will discover all these things in the text. I see in it, first of all, community—“
Bear you one another’s burdens.” Then the latter part of the text teaches us immunity. You are not bound to
consider other people’s burdens so much as your own, that you become responsible for them. No, “every man shall bear
his own burden.” Then the third point, which will be a further opening up of the fifth verse, will be personality: “Every
man shall bear his own burden.”

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I. First, I see, in the text, A MARVELOUS COMMUNITY. “Bear you one another’s burdens.” What does this
Well, dealing with it first, negatively, it does not mean that we are to burden one another. There are some whose religion
consists in laying heavy burdens upon other men’s shoulders while they, themselves, will not carry them for a single
yard. You recollect that sect of Pharisees with whom our Master was always in conflict—they have their representatives
in these modern times. Why, even this text, itself, is twisted by some into a reason for burdening others. “‘Bear you
one another’s burdens,’” they say —“do you not see, Friend, that you have to help me?” Yes, friend number one, but do
you not see that you are not to go and burden that other friend? It is true that you have to bear his burdens. Let the first
application of this passage be to yourself, and be not eager to apply it to your neighbor from whom you want to draw
something. You have begun by violating the spirit of the text, not only by not bearing your brother’s burden, but also
by thrusting upon him your own burden without taking his in exchange! I say this because I have often found that men
naturally draw this inference—“We are to help one another, therefore, please help me.” The proper inference would be,
“We are to help one another—where is the man whom I am to help?” Is not that the most logical conclusion from the
text? Yet such is the selfishness of our nature that we begin straightway to say, “This text is a cow, I will milk it,” not,
“this text gives me something to do, so I will do it,” but, “This text gives me a chance of getting something and I am
going to get it.” If you talk like that, it proves that you are out of gear with the text and have not entered into the spirit
of it at all.
The text does not mean that we are to spy out our brother’s faults. Its context shows that the word, “burdens,” here
means, “faults.” “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of
meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another’s burdens.” To a good man, a fault is a
burden. The worst burden that he has to carry is the fact that he is not perfect—that is what troubles him. Now, you and
I are not to go about the world spying out everybody else’s faults. “He is an excellent man,” says one, “but.” Now stop
there! You have said already quite enough, you will spoil it if you say another word. “Ah,” says another, concerning
someone else, “she is an admirable woman, an earnest worker for the Savior.” Stop there! I know what you are going to
say something that might make it seem that you are about as good as she is and perhaps a little better, and you are afraid
that the light of your star would not be seen unless you first covered up that other star! But it must not be so! “Bear you
one another’s burdens.” Bear with one another’s faults, but spy not out one another’s faults.
I think I have heard a story of Mr. Wesley going several times to a certain town where he thought that there was a
band of earnest Christian people, but he was met by a Brother who told him how dead they all were, what little life there
was in their Prayer Meetings and how much of inconsistency there was among them. When he got there, he did not notice
anything of this sort, so, the third time he went, he said to this Brother, “How is it that you always meet me and tell me
of these things about the Brethren! Nobody else ever seems to say it.” “Well, you see,” he said, “Mr. Wesley, I have a rare
gift of discerning spirits.” “Oh,” said the good man, “then wrap that talent up in a napkin and bury it, and you will have
done the best thing possible with it. The Lord will never ask you what you have done with it if you will only keep it to
yourself.” I believe that there was great wisdom in that advice. There are still some who have only that gift of spying out
other men’s faults. That is shocking, dreadful, horrible! So, after all that, my Brother, shut your eyes and bend your
back. If you know that the burden is there, bow down to help bear it, but do not stand and point at it, and seem as if you
wished to do that Brother a discredit.
Further, the text does not mean that we are to despise those who have heavy burdens to bear. For instance, those
who have the grievous burden of poverty. “Oh,” some say, “there is a large number of persons attending at such-andsuch
a place, but they are all poor people.” So you think little of poor people, do you? Then what poor souls you must
be! “Oh, but,” says one, “such-and-such a person is always afflicted and very sad.” And do you despise the afflicted, especially
the mentally afflicted, the desponding, the sorrowful among God’s people? Do you turn away from them and say,
“I cannot endure talking with persons of that sort—they are so sad in temperament and disposition”? But the Apostle
says, “Bear you one another’s burdens,” which means—do not run away from other people because you see that they are
burdened. If you say, “I like to be with the cheerful and the happy, I cannot go and spend my life in comforting the
mourners in Zion”—is that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who was meek and lowly, and who did not break
the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax? O Brothers and Sisters, we need to be schooled in this matter of showing

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sympathy with the sorrowful! No doubt it will drag our own spirits down if we really have fellowship with those whom
God has sorely afflicted in mind, but we must be willing to be dragged down—it will do us good! If the Lord sees that we
are willing to stoop to the very least of His people, He will be sure to bless us. I sometimes like to sing that verse that Dr.
Doddridge wrote, and I hope I can sing it truly—
“Have You a lamb in all Your flock
I would disdain to feed?
Have You a foe, before whose face
I fear Your cause to plead?”
The second half of the verse is much easier than the first half. You might be able to stand up like young David before
Goliath, himself, for there is something grand and noble in such an action as that. But to go looking after the poor little
lambs of the flock that scarcely seem as if they are alive, is quite another matter. Yet that is what the text means—“Bear
you one another’s burdens.” Carry the lambs in your bosom, be tender to such as are afflicted. Be, as your Master was, of
a gentle, loving spirit, seeking to bear the infirmities of the weak, especially you who are strong, for, if you are like those
fat cattle described by the Lord in the prophecy of Ezekiel that thrust the lean cattle with side and with shoulder, and
pushed with their horns those of the herd that were sickly, then the Lord will order you to be taken to the slaughterhouse,
for that is the lot of the fed beasts that are so big and brutal! The tall tree is uprooted in the breeze which only
bends the lowly willow. Blessed are they who never exalt themselves over the weak and afflicted among the children of
Nor do I think, dear Friends, that our text could be made to mean that any of us may dare to live as if all things existed
for our own use. Are there not some people who seem to feel that they are the center of all creation and that all
things were created for their honor and glory? The working people round about them are so many “hands” to be employed
by them at the lowest possible rate. The whole stream of trade must be so directed as to conduct the golden liquid
into their capacious reservoirs. Politics and everything else must be so arranged that they shall prosper, whoever else may
suffer loss. As they go through the world, their great concern is to mind the main chance. “Every man for himself,” is the
motto of their lives and they try to get as much as they can—and to keep as much as they can. Perhaps even their benevolence
is only self-indulgence thinly veiled, for they give alms that they may be seen of men.
There are some Christian people—at least, I call them Christians by courtesy—whose main thought is about saving
their own souls. Their favorite hymn is not in “Our Own Hymn Book”—
“A change to keep I have,
A God to glorify—
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.”
That is nothing but a kind of spiritual selfishness—living unto yourself! There is something that you want to get and
that something is what you strive after. Blessed is that man who is saved beyond all fear and who, for the love he bears his
Lord, lives wholly and only to prove the power of the Grace of God that has been bestowed upon him—and earnestly
seeks to be the means of saving the souls of others. The Doctrines of Grace do this for us, by delivering us from all fear
with regard to the future and fixing us firmly upon the Rock of Ages. They turn our thoughts away from self to the service
and the glory of our God. I delight to sing—
“‘Tis done! The great transaction ’s done.
I am my Lord ’s, and He is mine”
and to feel that as He will never lose me, nor permit me to lose Him, I can turn all my thoughts to the rescue of my fellowsinners
who are going down into the Pit. If God shall grant us Grace to enter into the true spirit of the Gospel, having
been delivered from every burden—both of this life and of that which is to come—we shall be prepared to bear one
another’s burdens and so to fulfill the law of that Christ who has set us free from the law of sin and death which was in
our members.
I have thus shown you, negatively, what the text does not mean.
But, dear Friends, to take our text positively, we can see that it must mean, first, that we are to have great compassion
upon those who are bearing the burden of sin. You cannot bear the burden of their sins for them—only Christ can
do that—but you can help them to bear their burden. I mean this. Here is a troubled soul who has begun to seek the

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Lord and the poor creature is in great sorrow of heart. Get alongside that burdened one and say, “Now, dear Friend, I
am very sorry for you. I feel as burdened about you as if it were my own soul, not yours, that was in trouble.” Ask the
Lord to help you when you have left that person—after speaking with much prayer and many tears, go home so grieved
that you cannot sleep and keep on crying to God in secret about that soul. Then, when you get up in the morning with no
burden concerning your own soul, because God has saved you, still feel that you have to carry the burden of this poor
soul who does not know the Lord and, at last, you get to feel as if you could not live if that soul did not also live! If it will
not repent, you seem to feel the burden of its guilt. If it will not believe in Christ, you wish you could believe for it. Of
course you cannot repent and believe for it, but you can believe about it and you can, by faith and prayer, bring it to Jesus’
feet and lay it there! The Holy Spirit often draws sinners to the Savior by means of the love of Christians. We can love
them to Christ and if we love them as the Apostle Paul did when he travailed in birth for them until Christ was formed in
them, it will not be long before we shall see them converted. I am sure that it is so—and that one great secret of soulwinning
lies in the bearing of the burdens of the unconverted.
But we must take special care, dear Friends, that we do this in the case of backsliders because the text, in its context,
alludes to them most particularly—“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such an one
in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another’s burdens.” If that backslider
has been awakened to a sense of his true condition, he will feel very unhappy—so be very sympathetic towards him.
He may be afraid to come back into membership with the church—if so, go after him and encourage him to return. If he
says, “I have brought disgrace upon the name of Christ,” try to bear part of the shame that he feels. If he says, “I cannot
face So-and-So,” say to him, “I will stand between you. Or I will go and plead for you.” Take to yourself, as far as you
can, the shame and the disgrace which belong to the backslider. Try to get right into his place. I am sure that there is no
other way of setting broken bones that is equal to this. There is no way of bringing back the wandering sheep like that
which the good shepherd took when he lifted the poor creature right up on his own shoulders. It was too worn and weak,
and weary for him to lead it back, or drive it back, so he carried it all the way! And, Brothers and Sisters, let us carry the
backsliders on our own shoulders in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. As far as it is possible, let us compel them to come
in once more that God’s House may be filled—and let us take the burden of their grief and of their shame, upon ourselves.
Thus shall we carry out the injunction of the text—“Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Next, the text seems to me to mean, “Be very patient with the infirmities of your brethren.” “Oh, but, So-and-So is
very quick tempered!” I hope that it is a burden to him to be quick tempered and if so, that is an additional reason why
you should bear with him. “But So-and-So is really very bitter in spirit.” Yes, alas, there are still some people of that
sort, but you are to bear with them. I hope it is a burden to them if they have even a tinge of bitterness in their nature, so
bear with it. “I do not see why I should,” says one. Well, then, open your eyes and read the text! “And so fulfill the law of
Christ.” If the Lord Jesus Christ can put up with you, you ought to be able to put up with anybody! “Oh, but some
people are so exacting!” Yes, some of you know that I am sometimes very exacting. When I am suffering very greatly from
gout, if anybody walks heavily and noisily across the room, it gives me pain. Well, then, what do you think happens?
Why, they go across the room on tiptoe—they do not say to one another, “We cannot help it that he is ill and that our
noise gives him pain. We shall walk just as we always do—we have a right to walk like that.” No, no, they do not need
even to be asked to move about quietly, but they say, “Poor man, he is so ill that we must be as gentle as we can with
him.” Could not you look in that kind of spirit upon Brothers and Sisters who are not quite all that you would like them
to be, and say, “They are not well spiritually,” and deal very gently with them, “and so fulfill the law of Christ”? We
who are Christians are to live together in Heaven forever, so do not let us fall out by the way. Come, my Brother, I have
to bear a great deal from you and you have to bear a great deal from me, so let it be give and take all the way through.
“Bear you one another’s burdens,” not I bear yours without you bearing mine, but I bear yours and you bear mine—you
put up with me, and I put up with you. And in that way we shall both “fulfill the law of Christ.”
Does not the text also mean that we are to bear one another’s burdens by having a deep sympathy with one another
in times of sorrow? Oh, for a sympathetic heart! Seek after it, beloved Christians! Seek to have large hearts and tender
hearts, for the world is full of sorrow and one of the sweetest balms to sorrow is the sympathy of Christ flowing through
the hearts of His own redeemed ones. Be tender, be full of pity, be full of compassion.

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But this sympathy must show itself by actual assistance, rendered wherever it is possible. “Bear you one another’s
burdens.” Let the burden of poverty be borne by those of you who have no poverty of your own. Succor your brethren in
their times of need. Light their candle when their house grows dark. Blessed are those men and women who addict themselves
to the ministry of the saints and who seek, wherever they can, to lighten the burdens of life for their fellow-
Christians, lending their shoulders whenever they can give support to the weak.
Brothers and Sisters, we should also bear one another’s spiritual burdens by helping one another in our soulstruggles.
I am afraid that in some places of worship Christian men and women come up to the House of Prayer and go
home again without ever speaking to one another! I do not think that is the case, here, but it is the case in many places,
especially in very respectable places of worship. There they go in and out as if they were all self-contained and could not
speak to one another, especially if they happen to be half-sovereign people and a half-crown person is anywhere near—
they cannot speak to him at all. This is all contrary to the mind of Christ. In our Church fellowship, there should be real
fellowship and we should converse with one another. In the olden times, “They that feared the Lord spoke often, one to
another,” and Christian people should do the same today—and you who are elders in the church might often say a word
that would help a poor young friend who is struggling to do right. You who are joyous might often lend some of your
sunbeams to those who are in the dark. And you ought to do so—it would be to your own profit as well as to the profit
of others. Trade produces wealth and the inter-trading of Christians, exchanging their good things, one with the other,
would tend to the spiritual enrichment of the entire body. God help you to do so by fellowship with one another!
“Bear you one another’s burdens” also by much prayer for the other. When you have prayed for yourself, do not end
your supplication. Keep a little list of people to be prayed for and try to put down, on your list, certain things which you
know trouble them and which also trouble you—and bring them before the Lord. In some way or other, bear you those
burdens which God lays upon your brethren!
II. The time flies so quickly that I can only speak very briefly upon the second point, that is, IMMUNITY. “For
every man shall bear his own burden.”
Let us always, for our comfort, remember that there is a point beyond which we cannot go in bearing one another’s
burdens. After you have prayed for anyone and conversed with him—and he still continues in sin, you are ready to break
your heart about him. Yes, it is right to feel like that, but do not be so unwise as to take his sin actually to yourself. If
you have warned, prayed, instructed and set a godly example—and men will still sin—their sin is their own and their
blood will be upon their own head.
And, next, do not take the shame of other people’s sins upon yourself beyond a certain point. I have known a good
man ashamed to come to the House of God because his son had disgraced himself. Well, his sin does dishonor his father,
but, still, as you did not commit the sin and you did not do anything to contribute to it, do not feel ashamed as that! I
have known some Christian people very seriously injured by the shame which they have felt because some distant relative
or some near relative has misbehaved himself. Go to God with it, but recollect that it is not your sin and it is not your
shame, either. Bear it so as to sympathize and pray about it, but not so as to be, yourself, ashamed and depressed because
of it!
Remember, also, that we cannot take other people’s responsibilities upon ourselves. I am responsible for faithfully
preaching the Gospel, but I am not responsible for your reception of it. If I preach the Truth of God and there is not a
soul saved by it, I am not responsible for that. And if you, dear teacher in the Sunday school or if any of you Christian
workers have labored in vain, if you have been faithful to God, I do not think that will happen—but if it does and it may
happen in some measure—do not seem to bear that responsibility, for the text says, “Every man shall bear his own burden.”
I find it difficult to make young Brothers, when they begin to preach, feel sufficiently the burden of souls. But
every now and then, I have met with a Brother who has felt the burden of souls so much that he has scarcely been able to
preach at all! That is a pity, because, after all, the salvation of souls lies not with us, but with God. And if we have faithfully
declared the whole counsel of God and can call God to witness that we have not kept back anything of His Truth
that we knew, or failed in faithfulness or earnestness, we must leave the matter there and fall back upon the eternal purpose
of God and throw the responsibility of the result upon our unbelieving hearers.
III. I have not time to speak as I would like upon the last point. That is, PERSONALITY. “Every man shall bear his
own burden.”

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That is to say, every man, if he has any religion at all, must have personal religion. You cannot get to Heaven by
your mother’s godliness, or by your father’s graciousness—there must be a work of Grace in your own souls. No man
can be a sponsor for another in spiritual things. There is no more gigantic lie than that one person should promise that
another shall do this and that, which he cannot even do himself! No, “every man shall bear his own burden.” Everyone
must come, with his own sin, to his own Savior and, by his own act of faith, must find peace through the blood of Jesus
Christ. Do not trust to any national religion, for it is utterly worthless. It is only personal religion that can save you. If
the blood of saints is flowing in your veins, it brings you nothing except greater responsibility, for salvation is not of
blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God, and of God alone.
And every man should bear his own burden by personal self-examination. I would never think of asking another man
to give me his opinion of me and I hope you will not do so. Search your own souls, “examine yourselves, whether you are
in the faith.” “Oh, I do not like self-examination!” says one. So the bankrupt said—he did not like casting up his accounts.
But when a man in business does not cast his accounts up, his accounts will soon cast him up—and when a man
does not like to examine his own heart, depend upon it, the time will come when Another will examine him and he will be
found lacking and be cast away as worthless!
Next, this text means that there must be personal service. “Every man shall bear his own burden.” That is, if you and
I are saved, we must, each one, have a work of his own and we must set to work and do it personally. The Lord has put
each one of us into a position where there is something we can do which nobody else can do—and we are bound to do it
and not to begin thinking of how little others do, or how much others do, but to say to our Lord, “What will You have
me do?” Let each Christian Levite bow his shoulder and carry some burden for the Lord’s House.
And every man should make a personal effort to bear his own burden. We have a certain number of persons about
who seem as if they never can do anything for themselves—they have to be carried wherever they go. I think I have told
you of a set of portraits that I have at home—they represent my two sons, taken on their birthdays while they were quite
little boys, and then taken every birthday till they had grown to be young men. Well, at first, they are in a baby carriage
and it is very interesting to see how they have grown every year. But there are some of you who have been in baby carriages
ever since I knew you—and you are still in baby carriages—and I have to keep wheeling you about! Oh, I wish
you would grow up! We are all pleased to have dear little children and we do not mind how little they are at first. But if,
after they were fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, or 20 years old, our boys were the same size as they were when they were a year
old, we should feel that we were the parents of poor little dwarfs and it would be a great trial to us. And it is a great trial
to us spiritual parents when we are the fathers of dwarfs! Oh, that you would grow up, Brothers and Sisters! God help
you to grow out of yourselves, your inactivity and your listlessness, that every man and woman shall say, “I am big
enough to bear my own burden. By the goodness of God, I will get so much Grace and so much help that I will do some
work for the Lord, and do it thoroughly. I will bear my own burden—not sit on the top of it and fret and cry, and ask
somebody else to bear it for me—but I will bear my own burden.”
I will finish by saying that the text indicates that everybody has own burden. “Every man shall bear his own burden.”
You look at somebody else and you say, “Ah, I wish I had his load to carry!” I do not think that I ever met with
more than one person in the world with whom, upon mature consideration, I would change places in all respects. I have
thought, once or twice, that I might do so, but soon there has been a hitch somewhere, and I have said, “No, I will go
back into my own shell, after all.” I think, sometimes, that I would not mind changing places with George Muller for
time and for eternity, but I do not know anybody else of whom I would say as much as that. But I daresay that even he has
his own burden, though he has not told me about it when I have talked with him.
And that good woman who always looks so smiling, God bless her! She has a skeleton at home in the closet. And that
good Brother who is always so bright and cheery—yes, he has a burden, too. There is a cross for everyone and I want you
to feel that it is so, because it would take away all thought of envy whenever you meet with another who seems so much
happier than yourself! That Bother has the sense to turn the smooth side of his coat outside—he wears the rough side of
it inwards—a very sensible thing to do. Do not, therefore, begin to say, “Oh, but I am so much worse off than he is!”
You do not know what he has to endure, “for every man shall bear his own burden.” Let us end the whole matter by not
envying others, or caring or wishing to be other people, but just saying, “What can I do to help somebody else? What I
can do to help anybody? I will do it by the Grace of God.”

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But what can some of you do in carrying burdens for other people? Why, even while I have been talking, you have
said, “I do not care to do that. What have I to do with other people?” You are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds
of iniquity while you talk like that! Any man who is selfish is an unsaved man, for the chief point in salvation is to save us
from ourselves. As long as you live simply within your own ribs, you live in a dungeon. You will never come into the palace
where the many mansions are—the liberty of our great Father’s House—until you can say, “I love others more than
I love myself. Above all, I love the great Burden-Bearer who took my burden of sin upon His shoulders and carried it up
to the Cross and away from the Cross and now, through love to Him, the love of self is gone and I will live to glorify His
name forever and forever.”
God bless you, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
GALATIANS 5:13-26; 6:1, 2.
Galatians 5:13. For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,
but by love, serve one another. Do not turn your liberty into license. The Apostle, in this Epistle, had began urging the
Christians of Galatia to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and never to be, again, entangled
with the yoke of legal bondage. He warned them against that error into which many have fallen. But you know that it is
often our tendency, if we escape from one error, to rush into another. So the Apostle guards these Christian against that
Antinomian spirit which teaches us that freedom from the law allows indulgence in sin—“Use not your liberty for an
occasion to the flesh, but by love, serve one another.”
14. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this—You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Oh, if that “one
word” were so engraved on our hearts as to influence all our lives, what blessed lives of love to God and love to men we
should lead!
15. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another. When dogs and
wolves bite one another, it is according to their nature, but it is indeed bad when sheep take to biting one another. If I
must be bitten at all, let me be bitten by a dog rather than by a sheep. That is to say, the wounds inflicted by the godly
are far more painful to bear and last much longer than those caused by wicked men. Besides, we can say with the Psalmist,
“It was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it.” It is natural that the serpent’s seed should
nibble at our heel and seek to do us injury, but when the bite comes from a Brother—from a child of God—then it is
peculiarly painful. Well might the Apostle write, “If you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed
one of another.” I have lived long enough to see churches absolutely destroyed, not by any external attacks, but by
internal contention.
16. This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. If your life is guided by the Spirit
of God—if you are spiritual men and women, and your actions are worked in the power of the Spirit, “you shall not fulfill
the lust of the flesh.”
17. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. They will never agree—these two powers
are always contrary, one to the other. If you think that you can help God by getting angry, you make a great mistake.
You cannot fight God’s battles with the devil’s weapons. It is not possible that the power of the flesh should help the
power of the Spirit!
17, 18. And these are contrary, the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you are
led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The Law of God is always to you the blessed rule by which you judge your
conduct, but it is not a law of condemnation to you—neither are you seeking salvation by it.
19-21. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these—Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings
and such like. The list is always too long to be completed! We are obliged to sum up with a kind of et cetera—“and
such like.”

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21. Of which I tell you beforehand, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit
the Kingdom of God. A very solemn, searching, sweeping declaration! Let each man judge himself by this test! “The
fruit of the Spirit” is equally manifest, as the Apostle goes on to say.
22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:
against such there is no law. Neither human nor Divine! Good men make no law against these things, nor does
God, for He approves of them. What a wonderful cluster of the grapes of Eshcol we have here! “The fruit of the Spirit”—
as if all this were but one, after all—many luscious berries forming one great cluster. Oh, that all these things may
be in us and abound, that we may be neither barren nor unfruitful!
24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. It is not yet dead, but it is crucified.
It hangs up on the cross, straining to break away from the iron hold, but it cannot, for it is doomed to die. Happy,
indeed, shall that day be when it shall be wholly dead.
25, 26. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain-glory, provoking one
another, envying one another. Do Christian people need to be talked to like this? Yes, they do, for the best of men are but
men at their best—and the godliest saint is liable to fall into the foulest sin unless the Grace of God prevents it. Oh, that
we could expel from the Church of Christ all vain-glorying, all provoking of one another and all envying of one another!
How often, if one Christian Brother does a little more than his fellow workers, they begin to find fault with him! And if
one is blessed with greater success than others are, how frequently that success is disparaged and spoken of slightingly!
This spirit of envy is, more or less, in all of us, and though, perhaps, we are not exhibiting it just now, it only needs a
suitable opportunity for its display and it would be manifested. No man here has any idea of how bad he really is. You do
not know how good the Grace of God can make you, nor how bad you are by nature, nor how bad you might become if
that nature were left to itself!
Galatians 6:1. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault. If he travels so slowly that his faults catch up with him and
knock him down. “If a man is overtaken in a fault.”
1. You who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Set his bones for him if they have been broken.
Put him in his proper place again.
1. Considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. What would you wish others to do to you if you were in the position
of this fallen one? The Apostle does not say, “Considering yourself lest you also be overtaken in a fault.” No, but,
“lest you also be tempted”—as much as to say, “It only needs the temptation to come to you and you will yield to it.”
2. Bear you one another’s burdens, and fulfill the law of Christ.
—Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307


God Is The Master of Time

1 Corinthians 14:40
King James Version (KJV)
Let all things be done decently and in order.




A Wilderness Cry

(No. 1427)




“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You: my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water; to see Your power and Your Glory, so as I have seen You in the sanctuary.” Psalm 63:1,2.

CHRYSOSTOM tells us that among the primitive Christians it was decreed and ordained that no day should pass without the public singing of this Psalm and, certainly, if we do not follow the ancient custom and actually sing the words every day, it is not because they are unsuitable or because their spirit has died out among us. This Psalm may be said or sung all the year round. Have we joyous days? Let us sing of the loving kindness which is better than love! Do the clouds return after the rain? Let us sound forth His praise whose right hand upholds us! Is it summertime with our souls? Then we may express the full assurance of our faith by joyfully crying, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You!” Have we fallen upon the drought of autumn? Do the long hot days parch our spirits? Then may we chant the desire of our longing heart, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”

Is it winter with our spirit and does everything tend to chill us? Nevertheless let us not be silenced or rendered sluggish by the cold, but let us say, “I will bless You while I live, I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Has the spring returned with all its wealth of fresh flowers and opening sweets? Then shall our glad voices sing aloud, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” Is the day ended and has the darkness of night settled down upon our mind? Then in the language of the Psalm we will remember God upon our bed and meditate upon Him in the night watches! And because He has been our help, therefore, in the shadow of His wings we will rejoice!

We may sing this Psalm in the days of battle, when those round about us seek our soul to destroy it, for, “they shall fall by the sword, they shall be a portion for foxes.” And we may chant it with equal appropriateness in the time of victory, when we return from the conflict with banners gleaming in the sunlight of triumph, for, “the king shall rejoice in God: everyone that swears by Him shall glory.” I know of no time and no season in which this Psalm would sound unsuitably from a believing tongue! Let us cultivate its earnestness! Let us endeavor to be baptized into its spirit! Let us live, while we live, after the fashion of holy men like David, the Psalmist, whose assurance of heart even sorrow could not shake—whose fertility of mind the desert could not wither—whose joy of spirit solitude could not destroy!

This Psalm, however, especially belongs to any who, by their circumstances or by their state of heart, feel themselves to dwell in a desert land. There is a stage of Christian experience in which we are in Egypt and we are brought up out of it with a high hand and an outstretched arm. This symbolizes conviction, regeneration and conversion. Then we know the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood—our enemies drowned in the sea and the new song put into our mouth. Happy are they who have come thus far on their life journey!

Then comes the stage of spiritual history which may be well described as wilderness experience wherein we have little rest, much temptation and consequent proving of heart and discovery of inward weakness. Many remain in this condition far longer than is necessary—what might be soon ended is drawn out into 40 years by unbelief! Then comes that blessed stage of experience in which faith begets peace and joy—then we have crossed the Jordan and entered into rest in Christ Jesus, “in whom, also, we have obtained an inheritance.” In the Man who is our peace we obtain an earnest of Heaven and begin to divide the land of promise, “for He has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places.”

Each man claims his lot in Covenant provisions and sits under his own vine and fig tree, nothing scaring him. Yet even after we have been raised up together with Jesus and have obtained citizenship in Zion, we may find ourselves in the wilderness. As David, though king in Israel, had to flee across the Jordan to escape from Absalom, so may the most

assured and the most sanctified of God’s people be driven, for a while, into the dry and thirsty land where there is no water—and there hide himself from the offspring of his own flesh. There are songs for the Lord’s banished ones to sing in a strange land, Psalms with which to arouse the silent land, sonnets to charm the howling wilderness into a fruitful garden and hymns to make the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose!

I purpose to address myself, this morning, to any of my Brothers and Sisters who feel themselves to be just now in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. It may be the Lord will give them deliverance by His Word this morning— or if not delivered out of temporal trouble, they shall at least be made glad by His Holy Spirit and be led to magnify His name while yet in the land of drought!

I. Our first head, this morning, shall be this—TRUE SAINTS ARE SOMETIMES IN A DRY AND THIRSTY LAND WHERE THERE IS NO WATER. Children of God are not always in the same happy state of mind. To hear some people talk, who know but little of religious experience, you would fancy that the Christian’s life is all feasting and dancing. Children think that all there is in hunting is wearing a red coat and blowing a horn—they know nothing of the rough riding. We do, it is true, linger delightfully in the sweet Valley of Humiliation where men have found pearls and met with angels. We know that spot of which the Pilgrim’s guide has said, “Behold, how green this valley is, also how beautiful with lilies.”

But we can never forget that in this quiet meadow Christian met Apollyon and was hard put to it in the fight and, but a little farther in his journey, he came to the Valley of the Shadow of Death where there are deep ditches and quagmires—and a narrow pathway which runs hard by the mouth of Hell! Sweet rest is to be had in the Palace Beautiful, but there is also a Hill Difficulty to be climbed. Let not the young be deceived by fluttering words, for they may be sure of this—there are bitters as well as sweets in the pilgrim life—and he who would be a Christian must not count upon unbroken joy. All things are changeable. We live in a world which hourly varies. What do our thermometers and barometers mean? Are they not measures of perpetual change?

The things which live change even more than inanimate objects and the more of life usually the more of sensitiveness—and the more of sensitiveness so much the more of change! Your man of marble may appear to sweat through the condensation of the vapor around him, but he cannot possibly know anything of that dew of toil which covers the laboring limb. The cast in plaster is ignorant of the joy and the sorrow which flash through the man of flesh and blood! Your painted picture, hanging on the wall, represents a smiling ancestor who smiles on although his estates may have been alienated and his family disgraced! But not so the living parent who anxiously regards each turn in the affairs of his children! For him there are tears as well as smiles.

A man of stone changes not, but a man of flesh feels the movement of the years—the plow of time gradually furrows his forehead and the crow’s feet of age appear in the corners of his eyes. Living men must mourn and suffer as well as laugh and rejoice, for minds and hearts must change. Wonder not, therefore, that the glad-hearted sons of Zion are not always in the temple, but sometimes are driven into exile and sigh in a desert land! But beyond the fact of liability to change there are other reasons why God’s people, at times, are wanderers in the wilderness. In some senses, to a Christian, this world must always be a dry and thirsty land.

The new life which Divine Grace has implanted in us finds nothing here below upon which it can feed. The things which are seen are too gross, material, carnal and defiled to sustain life which comes by the Holy Spirit from the great Father. We are not carrion crows, else we might float upon the carcasses which abound in the waters around our ark! We are doves and when we leave the hand of our Noah, we find nothing to rest upon and we must go back to Him if we are to find food and rest for our souls. I am not speaking, now, of the world under its sorrowful aspect, only, but of the world at its best! It is a dry land for saints even when its rains are falling.

When the world dresses itself in scarlet and puts on its silks and satins, it is still a poor world for us. She may paint her face and tier her head, but she is a Jezebel for all that! The world, should she come to us as she came to Solomon, would still be a deceiver! If she would indulge us with all her riches and give us all her power and all her fame, she would still be a mere mocker to the heart which is born from above! If you could stand on a high mountain and see all the kingdoms of the world before you—and the glory thereof and hear a voice saying, “All this will I give you”—yet might you turn round to Satan and say, “And all this is nothing to me, a sop for a dog, but not food for a child of God!”

And then you might lift your eyes to the great Father above and say, “Whom have I in Heaven but You? There is none upon earth that I desire beside You!” You shall take prosperity at its flood. You shall have health and strength. You shall have all that heart can wish. But, after all, if there is a spark of Divine Life within you, your heart will compute the sum total of all earth’s joys and say, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” To a citizen of Heaven, this world is “a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.”

If it is so at its best, what is it at its worst? If its pillows of down cannot rest us, what shall we say of its thorns and briars? If its flood tide cannot bear us up, what shall we say of its neap tide and its ebb, when mire and dirt succeed a glassy sea? Ah, truly, best or worst, it is well for us to look above the world and to fix our heart where our treasure is preserved, even in Heaven! But, dear Brethren, we could bear up with this present state and be well satisfied with it if that were our only difficulty—far more grievous is the fact that we carry an evil within us which would cause drought in Paradise, itself, if it could go there!

The Christian gets into a land of drought because his own nature is dry! He finds a barren soil without because he has a barren heart within. Verily there is no doctrine more true to experience than this—corruption remains even in the hearts of the regenerate—and that when we would do good, evil is present with us! Within us there is still a carnal mind which is not reconciled to God, neither, indeed, can be! And, as long as we have this about us, if it is permitted, for a moment, to get the upper hand (and who among us is so watchful that this will never happen?) it is no wonder that the joys of Divine Grace seem to disappear and we find ourselves in a spiritual wilderness! We carry about with us enough evil to make another Hell, if the infernal pit were filled and its fires extinguished!

“Oh, wretched man that I am,” said the Apostle Paul, “who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He said this not because He was not a saint, but because he was so far advanced in the way of holiness! The more saintly a saint becomes, the more will he loathe and mourn over the remains of indwelling sin which he finds in his nature! This will set him longing and thirsting after more Grace. When our old unbelief begins to wither our faith; when our natural indifference commences to dry up our life; when our doubts parch the pastures of our hope and our sins drain the wells of our consolation, it is little wonder if we come into a dry and thirsty land where there is no water!

We may, dear Friends, have been so unwatchful as to have brought ourselves into this condition by actual faults of life and conduct. I would make it a matter of personal enquiry among you by asking thoughtful answers to a few questions. Have you restrained prayer? Do you wonder that the land grows dry? Has the Word of God been neglected? Have you left off its study through pressure of other concerns? Do you wonder if you have left the streams for which your soul thirsts? Have you been overly engaged in seeking temporal gain and has the hot desert wind of worldliness parched your heart? Has there been anything about your spiritual life that has grieved the Holy Spirit?

Have you been idle as a Christian? Have you been content to eat the fat and drink the sweet, but to do nothing to win souls? Or have you, while you have fed upon the Word of God, taken the sweet things of the Gospel as a matter of course and not blessed the Lord for them? Has there been a lack of humility or a deficiency of gratitude? If so, how can you wonder that you are in a dry and thirsty land? Have you been careless in your walk? In domestic life has sin been permitted in the family? Have you been winking at evil in your children? Have you permitted it in yourself? If so, remember, it is written, “He turns rivers into a wilderness and water springs into dry ground, a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.”

You may have fallen into a parched condition of spirit because you have forgotten Him of whom in happier days you sang, “All my fresh springs are in You.” Because you have walked contrary to God, God is walking contrary to you— and it is your duty to repent and return at once to your Lord—only by doing so will peace return to you! If these various things do not account for the Believer being in a dry and thirsty land, there are still some other reasons which I will briefly mention. Sometimes Christians become very hungry and thirsty when they are banished from the means of Grace. Poor as our ministry may be, yet there are many of God’s children who would miss it more than their daily food if it were taken from them!

God’s servants whom He calls to the work of the ministry are bound to think little of themselves and yet the loaves and fishes which they distribute to the multitude are by no means to be lightly esteemed—the people would faint by the way if they did not have them. It is a severe trial to some saints to be kept away from sanctuary privileges. I know that when you travel for pleasure or roam by the seaside for health—if you go to a place of worship on the Sabbath and find

no spiritual bread, you fall into a miserable state of mind and sigh to spend your Sabbaths where the children’s portion is dealt out liberally and all the servants have bread enough to spare! David loved the very doors of the Lord’s House! He thirsted and pined because he was shut out from sanctuary privileges—and it was especially for that reason that he speaks of himself as being in a “dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.”

The same may happen when we are denied the sweets of Christian communion. David had poor company when he was in the wilderness in the days of Saul. His friends were not much better than freeloaders and runaways whom he would never have selected as friends had not the necessities of his own condition and of the political situation rendered it necessary that he should become a captain over them. They were a strange band of men! They were made up chiefly of those who were in debt and discontented—the rebellious against Saul’s wretched administration—men of broken fortunes and suspected loyalty.

Few of them were fit friends for the man after God’s own heart. I do not wonder that he looked, even, at the sons of Zeruiah who loved him best and were his own kinsmen—and felt that as for holy communion his soul was in a dry and thirsty land where there was no water! Believers are to keep out of worldly company and yet it sometimes happens that Providence throws the child of God among the ungodly, like Obadiah in the family of Ahab; Nehemiah in the palace of Artaxerxes and Daniel in the court of Darius. Your lot is hard if you are called to dwell among worldlings, for they have power to injure your piety but they cannot help you. You look around upon a score of hard faces all eager after the almighty dollar and none of them caring for the almighty God—and I do not wonder that you feel yourself to be in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water!

We owe much more to Christian friends than we think—and especially the younger folk among us do well to value Christian associations and to be much in the company of them that fear the Lord and that think upon His name. If they are denied this refreshment, they will find life to be a dry land where there is no water. Yes, but the same may happen from other causes as well. Sometimes a believing man may be treated with gross injustice and endure much hardship as the result. David was blameless and yet Saul hunted him as a traitor! He was upright, yet his people revolted from him. It tends to make a good man sour in spirit to be misrepresented and treated as guilty when he knows that he is innocent— and this bitterness is very apt to put away from us many sources of comfort and leave us uncomfortable. Then many a spring becomes dry and the heart shrivels as under a burning sun.

Sometimes, too, domestic conditions may be so changed that we cannot feel as we would wish. I do not know how you feel, but I think many must acknowledge that when they get away from their own room and from their regular habits, they are not always able to commune with God as usual. One likes to read from the very same Bible and to kneel at the very same chair. When the time comes for meeting with God, you are, perhaps, roaming up and down amid the choicest scenery and though you are reverent and adoring, yet you find it hard to reach the sweetness of fellowship with God which you have been accustomed to enjoy at home. Everything may be very lovely around you while you are tourists—everything may be attractive and delightful and yet, I should not wonder but what you will find it to be a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

I can well conceive that your hearts long for an hour of your accustomed quietude and familiarity with God. You would give anything to be back in the little room, looking out upon the hills, or to have an hour in that secluded little garden where you have been accustomed to take your pocket Testament and sit down and hear the Voice of Jesus speaking to your soul and to speak to Him in return. Even hours and places have much to do with our heart’s condition. I know not how it is, but such strange creatures are we that in one place we cannot worship as we would like to do in another and, therefore, the soul finds its condition to be that of a wanderer in a dry and thirsty land!

Then, too, much depends upon health and physical conditions. In some forms of sickness the soul is apt to be grievously depressed and cast out of its proper condition. Some of you may remember the venerable Watts Wilkinson, the Golden Lecturer. I was reading his life the other day and he tells us that after many years of health he suffered a season of sickness. And he learned by experience that sickness is not the best time, as he had formerly thought it was, for drawing near to God. The effects of sickness are often very beneficial under the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, but they are seldom so at the time.

It is “afterwards” that these things work the fruits of righteousness—but at the time it is often with us as it was with Wilkinson who says that he never in his life felt so dull in prayer and so heavy in reading the Scriptures as during his

illness. I believe that often the condition of the body operates upon the condition of the mind and that our being in a dry and thirsty laud where there is no water may be occasioned by a feverishness or a feebleness of the flesh. Lack of faith may sometimes be little other than a need of natural cheerfulness and we may mistake infirmity for iniquity. We have our times of natural sadness. We have, too, our times of depression when we cannot do otherwise than hang our heads.

Seasons of lethargy will also befall us from changes in our natural frame, or from weariness, or the rebound of over excitement. The trees are not always green—the sap sleeps in them in the winter—and we have winters, too. Life cannot always be at flood tide—the fullness of the blessing is not upon the most gracious at all times. We may always burn, but we cannot always flame! We may always grow, but we cannot always flower. And if we always bear fruit, yet the fruit is not always ripe, nor does the ripeness always wear the same delicate bloom. Till we are perfected we shall not be always at our highest point, otherwise earth would be turned to Heaven and time would have forgotten itself and merged its variableness in the immutability of eternity!

So you see there are many reasons why the best of saints are sometimes in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

II. The second head is a very short but very comforting one, that GOD IS STILL OUR GOD—”O God, You are my God.” Yes, He is just as much our God in the dry land as if we sat by Siloa’s softly flowing brook which glides by the oracle of God. O God, You are my God when I see the fountain leaping from the rock in a cascade of cool refreshment and You are just as much my God if every river bed is turned to a heap of stones and the burning sand on all sides mock my searching eyes! The Lord belongs to us by an eternal charter which will never lose its force, for the Scripture says, “This God is our God forever and ever.” This is a very sweet and precious Truth of God and should be remembered always!

Of course, when a man falls into a dull dry state of soul, he may very well question his condition before God and he ought not to rest till the question is satisfactorily answered. But where there is living faith the fact is certain and all question may be dismissed. God is your God still, my dear Brothers and Sisters, whatever condition you are in, if you can now come and grasp Him by faith and call Him yours with the voice of love. Can you join me in words like these? Lord, I have lost my comforts; I have lost my assurances; I have lost my delights, but I still trust in You. I have no God but You, neither will I worship any other, nor repose my confidence elsewhere. Though You slay me, yet will I trust in You. The wounds of Jesus for my sin are still my soul’s one hope—the precious blood of Your dear Son is my sole confidence!

If such is your language, you have not lost your God! All the other things you speak of may have gone for a while, but as long as you can still say, “O God, You are my God, early will I seek You,” you are still among the living in Zion and your time to rejoice shall soon come! Just think a minute—it is not possible that God’s love to His people should change with their condition—such a theology would represent God as very variable in His love! Yes, it would do worse than that, for it would make the Gospel into a Law and turn all evangelical Truth into legality!

Does God love me because I love Him? Does God love me because I am bright and happy? Does God love me because my faith is strong and because I can leap like a hart in His ways? Why, then, He must have loved me because of something good in me—and that is not according to the Gospel! The Gospel represents the Lord as loving the unworthy and justifying the ungodly and, therefore, I must cast out of my mind the idea that Divine Love depends on human conditions! Can it be true that God only loves His children when they are in good spiritual health? Is it so with me? Do I love my child when he is strong and hate him when he is sick? When I see the spots of disease upon him do I put him away and say that he is no son of mine?

If his poor eyes should fail him and he should become blind, should I cast him off? If his feet should fail him and he became a helpless cripple, should I disown him? If he lost his hearing and could not listen to my voice, would I discard him? Fathers, mothers, I speak to you! Come what may to your offspring, are they not still yours? And would you not still love them? Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? The Lord has said, “They may forget, yet will He not forget His people.” Be cheered, then, for into whatever state of unhappiness we may have wandered, the love of God does not depend upon our condition! It knows no ups nor downs, nor winters nor summers, nor ebbs nor flows, but abides forever sure!

Even though the Lord should hide His face from us, He is still our God, for the Lord has taught us to cry, “My God, my God,” even when we have to add, “why have You forsaken me?” When the Lord first loved us we were in a worse

state than we are in now, for though we feel dry and sapless we are not utterly dead as we were then. Remember “His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.” We were enemies and yet He reconciled us! And we are not enemies now, though we fear we are poor, cold-hearted friends. We are sadly sick, perhaps, but we are not actually under condemnation as we were when first of all His Sovereign Grace came forth to do the deed of redemption and deliver us from the wrath to come. And if the Lord loved us then, why should He not love us now? We have not fallen into any state which takes the Lord by surprise, for He knew well enough what we should be.

However we may blame ourselves and I hope we do blame ourselves severely for every evil within our hearts, yet He foreknew what we should be and is by no means disappointed in us. There has nothing happened which our God did not foreknow and if He chose us knowing all this, can it be possible that when it comes to pass He should turn from His purpose and change His mind? No, never! Brethren, we have had great experiences, some of us, of God’s love in the past and this makes us feel that He can help us and will help us in the present! In the sanctuary we have seen His power and His Glory. Oh the delight, the heavenly joys which we have known at times in His service!

At Prayer Meetings I know we have had our hearts warmed within us and felt that we could scarcely be happier in Heaven! Sometimes, under a sermon, we have been fired as with new life and we have felt that we could begin again with double strength! If this has happened to us in former times, when we were heavy and depressed, why can it not happen again? Does not the Lord delight to revive the spirits of the faint and weary? Angels’ visits may be few and far between, but not the visitations of the Spirit of God, for He dwells with us and in us forever! Before we are aware, He can make us like the chariots of Amminadib, for He has done it and what He has done He is certainly able to do again! Why not comfort yourselves with these thoughts?

Besides, if we are in the wilderness, is not God the God of the wilderness? Were not His greatest marvels worked when He led His people about through the howling wilderness and fed them with manna and revealed Himself in a fiery, cloudy pillar? Where did Hagar look to Him who saw her but in the wilderness? Where did Moses see the Lord in the bush but at the backside of the desert? Where did Elijah hear a voice speaking to Him but away there in the wilderness? And where did David, the Psalmist, meet with his God but in the lone, solitary land where there is no water? O my Soul, if you are in the desert now, expect your God to meet with you! Open your eyes and expect to see Him display His Grace now that you are as the dry ground! He will pour floods upon you now that you are empty! He will fill you with His Divine fullness! Your poverty prepares you to apprehend His riches! Your inward death prepares you to receive His everlasting life! Therefore, have hope and rise from your depression and fear!

III. Thus much upon the second subject, by which we are led briefly to the third, namely, WHEN WE ARE IN A


want to speak very practically to you, as I do to myself, for many of us are deeply and personally concerned in this matter. Very likely the warmth of the atmosphere on this warm summer morning may make you feel all the duller in devotion. You may not be enjoying the things of God because the air is heavy and makes you sleepy. Let us, then, bestir ourselves and break asunder the bonds of sleep!

We can only do this by crying at once to God Himself. Let us go straight away to Jesus, our Friend and Physician, and let us cry, “O God, You are my God, early will I seek You. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You.” Observe that David does not first pray for deliverance from the dry and thirsty land and then say, “There, I will now go and seek God!” But no, in the desert, itself, he cries, “My soul thirsts for You.” Learn from this and do not say, “I will get into communion with God when I feel better,” but long for communion now! It is one of the temptations of the devil to tell you not to pray when you do not feel like praying. Pray twice as much, then! When you feel least like praying, then pray the more, for you need it the more!

And when you feel very little like coming near to God, then cry, “My God, I must be in a terrible state, or else I should have a greater longing after You. Therefore will I not rest till I find You and come to You.” Do not, any of you, practice the sinner’s folly—he declares that he will tarry till he is better—and then he never comes at all. No, children of God must not say, “We will seek the Lord when we are better,” but you must seek Him at once! Practice the Gospel principle of, “Just as I am,” and come to Jesus just as you are! Lethargic, half asleep, almost dead in spirit, yet nevertheless come to Jesus! Make a plunge for it. Say, “I must have a sense of His love and I must have it now! I must not

lose this blessed Sabbath morning! I must enter into fellowship with God.” Make a dash for it and you shall have it! Do not wait till you are delivered, but in the dry and thirsty land sigh after God!

Neither, dear Friends, pray so much for ordinances as for the Lord, Himself. David does not say, “O God, You are my God, I will seek the sanctuary. My soul thirsts for a Prayer Meeting, my flesh longs for a sermon.” No, he sighs for God! He thirsts only for God! I believe that our Lord sometimes strikes all ordinances dry to make us feel that they are nothing without Himself. The means of Grace are blessed breasts at which the soul may suck when God is in them, but they are emptiness, itself, when He is not there. The preacher who has best fed you will only disappoint you if his Lord is not with him, or if you are not prepared to look beyond the man to the Master! The Lord loves to famish His people of all earthly bread and water—to bring them to wait upon only Himself.

I charge you, Beloved, this morning, that whatever your state may be, make a direct appeal to the Lord that He would immediately give you Himself by Christ Jesus! Nothing less than this can meet your needs and this will meet your case, though all outward ordinances should be denied. What if no point of the sermon should impress or quicken you? Yet the silent power of the Spirit of God can glide into your heart and become life to your soul! Seek it, then, and seek it believing that it may be had and had at once! The child of God may rise at once from slumber into earnestness and may leap from lethargy into zeal!

It is wonderful how speedily the Spirit of God works! He needs not hours and days and weeks in which to make us young again! He works with amazing mastery over the lapse of time and perfects in an instant His good work. It was all darkness, primeval darkness, thick and black as ebony itself and Jehovah said, “Light be!” Then flashed the day and all was brightness! So may it be black as Hell with you at this moment and an infernal night may brood over every faculty of your being—yet if the enlightening Spirit comes forth—day shall dawn, a day that shall surprise you, a day above the brightness of that which comes of the sun! Do not be afraid, dear children of God, you that have fallen into a mournful state! Do not be afraid to cry out to God, this morning, in the language of the Psalmist!

I know we sometimes feel as if we must not and dare not pray. We have become so dull, so lifeless, so unworthy that we do not expect to be heard and feel as if it would be presumption to cry. But our heavenly Father loves to hear His children cry all day long! Rutherford says, “The child in Christ’s house that is most troublesome is the most welcome! He that makes the most noise for his meat is the best child that Christ has.” You may not quite agree with that as to your own children, but it is certainly so with our Lord! Rutherford says, “It is a good child that is always whining each hour of the day for a piece and a drink.” He speaks of a hungry soul hanging around Christ’s pantry door and commends him for so doing. Assuredly the Lord wishes His children to have strong desires after Himself! Desire, then, and let those desires be vehement!

If you can cry out to Jesus, He will joyfully hear you! If you will give Him no rest, He will give you all the rest you need! The Lord finds music in His children’s cries. “Oh,” you say, “I would cry, but mine is such a discordant and foolish cry.” You are the very man to cry, for your sorrow will put an emphasis into your voice! Of all the cries your children utter, the one that comes closest home to you arises out of their pain and deep distress! A dying moan from a little one will pierce a mother’s heart! Look, she presses the baby to her bosom! She cries, “My dear dying child,” and weeps over it! You, too, shall be pressed to the bosom of Everlasting Love if you can only groan, or sob, or sigh! Only be careful that you are not happy in a dry and thirsty land! Be careful that you are not content away from God—for if you will not rest till you get at Him, you shall soon have Him! If you will groan after Him you shall find Him! A sigh will fetch Him!

May there be much longing, panting and pleading among us at this hour! Do not let anyone here be satisfied to remain in a dull state. Do not say, “Well, but he says a child of God may experience dullness.” Yes, I know I did, but I did not bid you fall into it! Above all, I did not tell you to live in it! One of your children may fall and cut his knees, but I should not recommend all his brothers to try a tumble, nor should I exhort him to lie on the ground. The dry and thirsty land is really a dry and thirsty land to the Believer, but if you can be satisfied to dwell there, it is not a dry and thirsty land to you!

Now, child of God, if you have fallen into a dull state, I beseech you to labor to rise out of it. And I do this, first, because you are not a fit person to be in such a state. Yours is the land that flows with milk and honey! You are like David, driven out of Canaan for a time, but you must never be satisfied till you get back to Jerusalem! Oh, cry unto the Lord to bring you back that you may see the King’s face and sit at the King’s table and delight yourself with the marrow

and the fatness which you ought to feed upon every day! You are a king and a priest unto God—will you go about in sordid beggar’s rags and forget your dignity and sit on a dunghill with the paupers of this miserable world? No! Come away! Come away—the dry and thirsty land is not for you—yours is the land of plenty and of joy!

Think of your obligations to your Savior. You have been bought with His precious blood! Your sins are forgiven you! You are a joint-heir with Him! Are you going to be cold and careless towards the Well-Beloved of your soul? I was about to say three-fourths of all the Christian people in this world live in such a way as rather to disgrace the Redeemer than to honor Him. I have not said that, but if I had chanced to make the statement I would not retract it, for I am afraid it is true. I am afraid that many of us are no credit to Christ. If worldlings look at us, they say, “Is that a Christian?” If my Lord were to send some of His sheep to a show, they would be far enough from winning a prize. If the prize were for joyous piety some would utterly fail! If the prize were for consistent courage and strength of heart, how few of us would be “highly commended.”

Many of His sheep are no credit to their Feeder and reflect no honor upon their Shepherd. Out of your dumps, my Brothers and Sisters! Why should you be sitting in darkness any longer with such Grace to be had and such a Savior to give it? Just think—you are losing a world of joy! You are sitting like an owl in a haunted ruin, blinking your eyes, when you might be flying like an eagle straight up to the Sun of Righteousness, in full communion with the great Lord! Why are you down there, down in the dens and caves of the earth, howling away among the dragons—when you might be up there among the cherubim and seraphim magnifying the Lord, for, “He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”? I said you were children of God and, therefore, I am not condemning you, but I would brush you up if I could and bestir you to walk somewhat more worthily of the obligations imposed upon you by the Grace of God!

Think, my dear Brothers and Sisters, if you and I all get into a dull, sleepy state—what is to become of this poor world? You have to go to your class this afternoon—are you going there half awake and half asleep? Are you going to dream among your children all the afternoon? “Oh,” you say, “we do not do that.” Don’t you? Why, many a preacher is not above half awake when he delivers his sermon—he rather snores it than preaches it! Few of us ever were awake all through. We are awake half way! Oh that we were thoroughly awake, thoroughly alive, thoroughly in earnest! No wonder sinners are given to slumber when saints sleep as they do! No wonder that the unconverted think Hell a fiction when we live as if it were so! No wonder that they imagine Heaven to be a romance when we act as if it were so little a reality!

Oh Lord, awaken us, even if it be by thunder claps! Oh God, for Jesus Christ’s sake, bring us out of the dry and thirsty land! Have You not said that if we drink of the river of the Water of Life, out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water so that we shall neither complain of thirst, ourselves, nor shall there remain a desert around us? Help us, then, to drink abundantly!

I have thus spoken to as many as believe in Jesus Christ, but to you that are unbelievers, much of this may equally well apply, for you, too, are in a land still more dry and thirsty. Do not go about to sacraments and sermons, much less to priests, but go straight to God in Christ Jesus! Cry to HIM! O Sinner, cry to Him, “O God, though You are not my God, yet still early will I seek You! My heart longs for You! Come to me and save me!” Jesus will come to you and save you, even you, to the praise of the glory of His Grace. Amen.



Dear Lord, As I sit in the twilight hours of dawn, my spirit is burden with the woes of this life.  My cares I know you do take. I am weak you are strong.  Lord, for my sake, of Your Peace I must Partake.  You said you yoke is light and the peace You give is as no other.  My spirit cries, “Water of Life, Garden of Eden, Manna of Heaven, I pray to soar to your gate.”  Father God, on humbled knees I do bow, please forgive of my sins for to heaven I pray to ascend.  Not in my timing, but in yours for I know because you have a destiny for me instead of calamity.  Lift me up oh Lord, on your wings and in your strength; that I may honor you and bring You Glory.  My tears do run down my cheeks and flow as a river as I think the Love I could sow.  I’ve allowed the woes of this life get me down and the enemy is roaming and targeting my family.  The dark clouds are spirits of the End Time unleashed this I know.  Darts, dagger, and spears they do throw; their assignment is to get my family divided and look at each other and say, “So”.  Deliver us from evil Father God and lead us into your Hoopa; protect us from his evil throws.  Anoint our shields to be strong in You Father, and covered by Jesus’ Precious shed blood.  Our needs you know and to you they are important I know!  Holy Spirit guide us in Father God’s Word-manifest please according His will and help us to discern Father’s will.  Thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen

Sermon #1090 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit
Volume 19 http://www.spurgeongems.org 1
NO. 1090


“Your wrath lies hard upon me, and You have afflicted me with all Your waves.”    Psalm 88:7.

IT is the business of a shepherd not only to look after the happy ones among the sheep, but to seek after the sick of
the flock and to lay himself out right earnestly for their comfort and succor. I feel, therefore, that I do rightly when I,
this morning, make it my special business to speak to such as are in trouble. Those of you who are happy and rejoicing in
God, full of faith and assurance, can very well spare a discourse for your weaker Brothers and Sisters—you can be even
glad and thankful to go without your portion that those who are depressed in spirit may receive a double measure of the
wine of consolation.
Moreover, I am not sure that even the most joyous Christian is any the worse for remembering the days of darkness
which are stealing on apace, “for they are many.” Just as the memories of our dying friends come over us like a cloud and
“dampen our brainless ardors,” so will the recollection that there are tribulations and afflictions in the world dampen
our rejoicing and prevent its degenerating into an idolatry of the things of time and sense. It is better, for many reasons,
to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting—the bitter cup has virtues in it which the wine cup never
knew—wet your lips with it, young man, it will work you no ill. It may be, O you who are today brimming with
happiness, that a little store of sacred cautions and consolations may prove no sore to you, but may, by-and-by, stand
you in good stead.
This morning’s discourse upon sorrow may suggest a few thoughts to you which, being treasured up, shall ripen like
summer fruit and mellow by the time your winter shall come round. But to our work. It is clear to all those who read the
narratives of Scripture, or are acquainted with good men, that the best of God’s servants may be brought into the very
lowest estate. There is no promise of present prosperity appointed to true religion so as to exclude adversity from
Believer’s lives. As men, the people of God share the common lot of men and what is that but trouble? Yes, there are
some sorrows which are peculiar to Christians—some extra griefs of which they partake because they are Believers. But
these are more than balanced by those peculiar and bitter troubles which belong to the ungodly and are engendered by
their transgressions, from which the Christian is delivered.
From the passage which is open before us we learn that sons of God may be brought so low as to write and sing
Psalms which are sorrowful throughout and have no fitting accompaniment but sighs and groans. They do not often do
so—their songs are generally like those of David which, if they begin in the dust, mount into the clear heavens before
long. But sometimes, I say, saints are forced to sing such dolorous ditties that from beginning to end there is not one note
of joy. Yet even in their dreariest winter night the saints have an aurora in their sky and in this 88
Psalm, the dreariest
of all Psalms, there is a faint gleam in the first verse, like a star-ray falling upon its threshold—“O Jehovah, God of my
Heman retained his hold upon his God. It is not all darkness in a heart which can cry, “My God,” and the child of
God, however low he may sink, still keeps hold upon his God. “Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him,” is the
resolution of his soul. Jehovah smites me, but He is my God. He frowns upon me, but He is my God. He tramples me into
the very dust and lays me in the lowest pit, as among the dead, yet still He is my God and such will I call Him till I die.
Even when He leaves me I will cry, “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Moreover, the Believer, in his worst
time, still continues to pray, and prays, perhaps, the more vigorously because of his sorrows. God’s red flags drive His
children not from Him, but to Him. Our griefs are waves which wash us to the Rock.
This Psalm is full of prayer. It is as much sweetened with supplication as it is salted with sorrow. It weeps like Niobe,
but it is on bended knees and from uplifted eyes. Now, while a man can pray he is never far from light—he is at the
window, though, perhaps, as yet the curtains are not drawn aside. The man who can pray has the clue in his hand by

which to escape from the labyrinth of affliction. Like the trees in winter, we may say of the praying man, when his heart
is greatly troubled, “his substance is in him, though he has lost his leaves.” Prayer is the soul’s breath and if it breathes it
lives and, living it will gather strength again. A man must have true and eternal life within him while he can continue,
still, to pray, and while there is such life there is assured hope Still, the best child of God may be the greatest sufferer and his sufferings may appear to be crushing, killing and overwhelming. They may also be so very protracted as to attend him all his days and their bitterness may be intense—all of which and much more this mournful Psalm teaches us. Let us, in pursuit of our subject, first give an exposition of the text. And then a brief exposition of the benefits of trouble.

I will endeavor, in a few observations, to EXPOUND THE TEXT. In the first place, its strong language suggests
the remark that tried saints are very prone to overrate their afflictions. I believe we all err in that direction and are far
too apt to say, “I am the man that has seen affliction.” The inspired man of God, who wrote our text, was touched with
this common infirmity for he overstates his case. Read his words—“Your wrath lies hard upon me.” I have no doubt
Heman meant wrath in its worst sense. He believed that God was really angry with him and wrathful with him, even as
He is with the ungodly, but that was not true. As we shall have to show, by-and-by, there is a very grave difference
between the anger of God with His children and the anger of God with His enemies.
And we do not think Heman sufficiently discerned that difference, even as we are afraid that many of God’s children
even now forget it—and therefore fear that the Lord is punishing them according to strict justice—and smiting them as
though He were their executioner. Ah, if poor bewildered Believers could but see it, they would learn that the very thing
which they call wrath is only love, in its own wise manner, seeking their highest good! Besides, the Psalmist says, “Your
wrath lies hard upon me.” Ah, if Heman had known what it was to have God’s wrath lie hard on him, he would have
withdrawn those words, for all the wrath that any man ever feels in this life is but as a laying on of God’s little finger!
It is in the world to come that the wrath of God lies heavy on men. Then, when God puts forth His hand and presses
with Omnipotence upon soul and body to destroy them forever in Hell, the ruined nature feels in its never-ending
destruction what the power of God’s anger really is! Here the really sore pressure of wrath is not known and especially
not known by a child of God. It is too strong a speech if we weigh it in the scales of sober truth. It outruns the fact, even
though it were the most sorrowful living man that uttered it. Then Heman adds, “You have afflicted me with all Your
waves,” as though he were a wreck with the sea breaking over him and the whole ocean—and all the oceans were
running full against him as the only object of their fury.
His boat has been driven on shore and all the breakers are rolling over him. One after another they leap upon him
like wild beasts, hungry as wolves, eager as lions to devour him—it seemed to him that no wave turned aside, no billow
spent its force elsewhere—but all the long line of breakers roared upon him, as the sole object of their wrath. But it was
not so. All God’s waves have broken over no man, save only the Son of Man! There are still some troubles which we have
been spared, some woes unknown to us. Have we suffered all the diseases which flesh is heir to? Are there not modes of
pain from which our bodies have escaped? Are there not, also, some mental pangs which have not wrung our spirit? And
what if we seem to have traversed the entire circle of bodily and mental misery, yet in our homes, households, or
friendships we have surely some comfort left and therefore from some rough billow we are screened. All God’s waves had
not gone over you, O Heman! The woes of Job and Jeremiah were not yours.
Among the living none can literally know what all God’s waves would be. They know, who are condemned to feel
the blasts of His indignation! They know in the land of darkness and of everlasting hurricane! They know what all God’s
waves and billows are—but we know not. The metaphor is good and admirable, and correct enough poetically, but as a
statement of fact it is strained. We are all apt to exaggerate our grief—I say this as a general fact. Those who are happy
can bear to be told, but I would not vex the sick man with it while he is enduring the weight of his affliction. If he can
calmly accept the suggestion of his own accord, it may do him good, but it would be cruel to throw it at him. True as it
is, I should not like to whisper it in any sufferer’s ear because it would not console, but grieve him.
I have often marveled at the strange comfort persons offer you when they say, “Ah, there are others who suffer more
than you do.” Am I a demon, then? Am I expected to rejoice at the news of other people’s miseries? Far otherwise! I am
pained to think there should be sharper smarts than mine and my sympathy increases my own woe. I can conceive of a
Fiend in torment finding solace in the belief that others are tortured with a yet fiercer flame, but surely such diabolical

comfort should not be offered to Christian men! It shows our deep depravity of heart, that we can decoct comfort out of
the miseries of others—and yet I am afraid we rightly judge human nature when we offer it water from that putrid well.
There is, however, a form of comfort akin to it, but of far more legitimate origin—a consolation honorable and
Divine. There was ONE upon whom God’s wrath pressed very sorely. There was ONE who was, in truth, afflicted with
all God’s waves. That One is our brother, a Man like ourselves, the dearest lover of our souls. And because He has known
and suffered all this, He can sympathize with us, this morning, in whatever tribulation may beat upon us. His passion is
all over now but not His compassion. He has borne the indignation of God and turned it all away from us—the waves
have lost their fury and spent their force on Him—and now He sits above the floods, yes, He sits King forever and ever!
As we think of Him, the Crucified, our souls may not only derive consolation from His sympathy and powerful succor,
but we may learn to look upon our trials with a calmer eye and judge them more according to the true standard. In the
Presence of Christ’s Cross our own crosses are less colossal. Our thorns in the flesh are as nothing when laid side by side
with the nails and spear.
But, secondly, let us remark that saints do well to trace all their trials to their God. Heman did so in the text—
“Your wrath lies hard upon me, You have afflicted me with all Your waves.” He traces all his adversity to the Lord his
God. It is God’s wrath. They are God’s waves that afflict him and God makes them afflict him. Child of God, never
forget this—all that you are suffering of any sort, or kind, comes to you from the Divine hand! Truly, you say, “my
affliction arises from wicked men,” yet remember that there is a predestination which, without soiling the fingers of the
Infinitely Holy, nevertheless rules the motions of evil men as well as of holy angels. It were a dreary thing for us if there
were no appointments of God’s Providence which concerned the ungodly—then the great mass of mankind would be
entirely left to chance—and the godly might be crushed by them without hope.
The Lord, without interfering with the freedom of their wills, rules and overrules, so that the ungodly are as a rod in
His hand with which He wisely scourges His children. Perhaps you will say that your trials have arisen not from the sins
of others, but from your own sins. Even then I would have you penitently trace them still to God. What though the
trouble springs out of the sin, yet it is God that has pointed the sorrow to follow the transgression—to act as a remedial
agency for your spirit. Look not at the second cause, or, looking at it with deep regret, turn your eyes chiefly to your
heavenly Father and, “hear you the rod and who has appointed it.”
The Lord sends upon us the evil as well as the good of this mortal life! His is the sun that cheers and the frost that
chills! His the deep calm and His the fierce tornado. To dwell on second causes is frequently frivolous, a sort of solemn
trifling. Men say of each affliction, “It might have been prevented if such-and-such had occurred. Perhaps if another
physician had been called in the dear child’s life had still been spared. Possibly if I had moved in such a direction in
business I might not have been a loser.” Who is to judge of what might have been? In endless conjectures we are lost and,
cruel to ourselves, we gather material for unnecessary griefs.
Matters happened not so—then why conjecture what would have been had things been different? It is folly! You did
your best and it did not answer—why rebel? To fix the eyes upon the second cause will irritate the mind. We grow
indignant with the more immediate agent of our grief and so fail to submit ourselves to God. If you strike a dog he will
snap at the staff which hurts him, as if it were to blame. How doggish we sometimes are, when God is smiting us we are
snarling at His rod! Brothers and Sisters, forgive the man who injured you—his was the sin, forgive it, as you hope to be
forgiven—but yours is the chastisement and it comes from God, therefore endure it and ask Grace to profit you by it.
The more we get away from intermediate agents the better, for when we reach to God, Grace will make submission easy.
When we know “it is the Lord,” we readily cry, “let Him do what seems good to Him.”
As long as I trace my pain to accident, my bereavement to mistake, my loss to another’s wrong, my discomfort to an
enemy and so on, I am of the earth, earthy—and shall break my teeth with gravel! But when I rise to my God and see His
hand at work, I grow calm, I have not a word of repining, “I open not my mouth because You did it.” David preferred to
fall into the hands of God—and every Believer knows that he feels safest and happiest when he recognizes that he is in the
Divine hands. Quibbling with man is poor work, but pleading with God brings help and comfort. “Cast your burden on
the Lord” is a precept which will be easy to practice when you see that the burden came originally from God.
But now, thirdly, afflicted children of God do well to have a keen eye to the wrath that mingles with their troubles.
“Your wrath lies hard upon me.” There is Heman’s first point. He does not mention the waves of affliction till he has
first spoken of the wrath. We should labor to discover what the Lord means by smiting us—what He purposes by the

chastisement—and how far we can answer that purpose. We must use a keen eye clearly to distinguish things. There is an
anger and an anger, a wrath and a wrath. God is never angry with His children in one sense, but He is in another. As
men, we have all of us disobeyed the Laws of God and God stands in relationship to all of us as a Judge. As a Judge, He
must execute upon us the penalties of His Law and He must, from the necessity of His Nature, be angry with us for having
broken that Law. That concerns all the human race.
But the moment a man believes in the Lord Jesus Christ his offenses are his offenses no longer—they are laid upon
Christ Jesus, the Substitute—and the anger goes with the sin. The anger of God towards the sins of Believers has spent
itself upon Christ. Christ has been punished in their place. The punishment due their sin has been borne by Jesus Christ.
God forbid that the Judge of all the earth should ever be unjust—it were not just for God to punish a Believer for a sin
which has been already laid upon Jesus Christ. Therefore the Believer is altogether free from all liability to suffer the
judicial anger of God and all risk of receiving a punitive sentence from the Most High. The man is absolved—shall he be
judged again? The man has paid the debt—shall he be brought a second time before the Judge as though he were still a
Christ has stood for him in his place and therefore he boldly asks, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s
elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes, rather, that is risen again, who is even
at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Now, then, the Christian man takes up another
position—he is adopted into the family of God—he has become God’s child. He is under the Law of God’s house. There
is in every house an economy, a law by which the children and servants are ruled. If the child of God breaks the law of the house, the Father will visit his offense with fatherly stripes—a very different kind of visitation from that of a judge.
There are felons in prison today who, in a short time, will feel the lash on their bare backs—that is one thing—but
yonder disobedient child is to receive a whipping from his father’s hand—that is quite another thing. Wide as the poles
asunder are the anger of a judge and the anger of a father. The father loves the child while he is angry and is mainly angry
for that very reason. If it were not his child he would probably take no notice of fault. But because it is his own boy who
has spoken an untruth or committed an act of disobedience, he feels he must chastise him because he loves him. This needs no further explanation. There is a righteous anger in God’s heart towards guilty impenitent men. He feels none of that towards His people. He is their father and if they transgress, He will visit them with stripes—not as a legal punishment, since Christ has borne all that—but as a gentle paternal chastisement, that they may see their folly and repent of it—and awakened by His tender hand, they may turn unto their Father and amend their ways.
Now, child of God, if you are suffering today in any way whatever—whether from the ills of poverty or bodily
sickness, or depression of spirits—remember there is not a drop of the judicial anger of God in it all. You are not being
punished for your sins as a judge punishes a culprit—never believe such false doctrine! It is clean contrary to the Truth of God as it is in Jesus. Gospel doctrine tells us that our sins were numbered on the Great Scapegoat’s head of old and
carried away once and for all, never to be charged against us again. But we must use the eyes of our judgment in looking
at our present affliction to see and confess how richly, as children, we deserve the rod.
Go back to the time since you were converted, dear Brother and Sister, and consider—do you wonder that God has
chastened you? Speaking for myself, I wonder that I have ever escaped the rod at any time! If I had been compelled to say, “All the day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning,” I should not have marveled, for my shortcomings are many. How ungrateful have we been! How unloving and how unlovable! How false to our holiest vows! How unfaithful to our most sacred consecrations! Is there a single ordinance over which we have not sinned? Did we ever rise from our knees without having offended while at prayer? Did we ever get through a hymn without some wandering of
mind or coldness of heart? Did we ever read a chapter which we might not have wept over because we did not receive the
Truth in the love of it into our soul as we ought to have done? O, good Father, if we smart, richly do we deserve that we
should yet smart again!
When you have confessed your sins, let me exhort you to use those same eyes zealously to search out the particular sin
which has caused the present chastisement. “Oh,” says one, “I do not think I should ever find it out.” You might.
Perhaps it lies at the very door. I do not wonder that some Christians suffer—I should wonder if they did not! I have seen
them, for instance, neglect family prayer and other household duties and their sons have grown up to dishonor them. If
they cry out, “What an affliction,” we would not like to say, “Ah, but you might have expected it. You were the cause of
it”—but such a saying would be true. When children have left the parental roof and gone into sin, we have not been

surprised when the father has been harsh, sour and crabbed in temper. We did not expect to gather figs from thorns, or
grapes from thistles. We have seen men whose only thought was, “Get money, get money,” and yet they have professed to
be Christians! Such persons have been fretful and unhappy, but we have not been astonished. Would you have the Lord
deal liberally with such surly ill-tempered persons? No, if they walk stubbornly with Him, He will show Himself
stubborn to them. Brother, the roots of your troubles may run under your doorstep where your sin lies. Search and look!
But sometimes the cause of the chastisement lies further off. Every surgeon will tell you that there are diseases which
become troublesome in the prime of life, or in old age, which may have been occasioned in youth by some wrong doing,
or by accident—and the evil may have lain latent all those years. So may the sins of our youth bring upon us the sorrows
of our riper years—faults and omissions of 20 years ago may scourge us today. I know it is so. If the fault may be of so
great an age, it should lead us to more thorough search and more frequent prayer. Bunyan tells us that Christian met
with Apollyon and had such a dark journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death because of slips he made when
going down the hill into the Valley of Humiliation.
It may be so with us. Perhaps when you were young you were very untender towards persons of a sorrowful spirit.
You are such yourself now—your harshness is visited upon you. It may be that when in better circumstances, you were
known to look down upon the poor and despise the needy—your pride is chastened now. Many a minister has helped to
injure another by believing a bad report against him and, by-and-by, he has, himself, been the victim of slander. “With
what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” We have seen men who could ride the high horse among their fellow creatures and speak very loftily—and when they have been brought very, very low—we have understood the
riddle. God will visit His children’s transgressions. He will frequently let common sinners go on throughout life
unrebuked—but not so His children!
If you were going today and saw a number of boys throwing stones and breaking windows, you might not interfere with
them. But if you saw your own lad among them, I will be bound you would fetch him out and make him repent of it. If God sees sinners going on in their evil ways, He may not punish them now—He will deal out justice to them in another state. But if it is one of His own elect, He will be sure to make him rue the day. Perhaps the reason of your trouble may not be a sin committed but a duty neglected. Search and look—and see where you have been guilty of omission. Is there a sacred ordinance which you have neglected, or a doctrine you have refused to believe? Perhaps the chastisement may be sent by reason of a sin asyet undeveloped—some latent proneness to evil. The grief may be meant to unearth the sin, that you may hunt it down.
Have you any idea of what a devil you are by nature? None of us know what we are capable of if left by Divine Grace. We
think we have a sweet temper, an amiable disposition! We shall see!! We fall into provoking company and are so teased and insulted—and so cleverly touched in our raw places that we become mad with wrath—and our fine amiable temper vanishes in smoke, not without leaving blacks behind! Is it not a dreadful thing to be so stirred up? Yes it is, but if our hearts were pure, no sort of stirring would pollute them. Stir pure water as long as you like and no mud will rise. The evil is bad when seen, but it was quite as bad when not seen. It may be a great gain to a man to know what sin is in him, for then he will humble himself before his God and begin to combat his propensities. If he had never seen the filth he would never have swept the house! If he had never felt the pain the disease would have lurked within, but now that he feels the pain he will fly to the remedy. Sometimes, therefore, a trial may be sent that we may discern the sin which dwells in us and may seek its destruction.
What shall we do, this morning, if we are under the smiting of God’s hand, but humble ourselves before Him and go
as guilty ones desiring to confess most thoroughly the particular sin which may have driven Him to chastise us, appealing to the precious blood of Jesus for pardon and to the Holy Spirit for power to overcome our sin? When you have so done let me give one word of caution before I leave this point. Do not let us expect, when we are in the trouble, to perceive any immediate benefit resulting from it. I have tried, myself, when under sharp pain to see whether I have grown a bit more resigned or more earnest in prayer, or more rapt in fellowship with God—and I confess I have never been able to see the slightest trace of improvement at such times—for pain distracts and scatters the thoughts. Remember that word, “Nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
The gardener takes his knife and prunes the fruit trees to make them bring forth more fruit. His little child comes
trudging at his heels and cries, “Father, I do not see that the fruit comes on the trees after you have cut them.” No, dear
child, it is not likely you would, but come round in a few months when the season of fruit has come and then shall you see
the golden apples which thank the knife. Graces which are meant to endure require time for their production and are not
thrust forth and ripened in a night. Were they so soon ripe they might be as speedily rotten.



Now, as time is failing me, I will take up the second part of my discourse and handle it with great brevity. I want
to give a very short EXPOSITION OF THE BENEFITS OF TROUBLE. This is a great subject. Many a volume has been
written upon it and it might suffice to repeat the catalog of the benefits of trial, but I will not so detain you. Severe
trouble in a true Believer has the effect of loosening the roots of his soul earthward and tightening the anchor-hold of his
heart heavenward. How can he love the world which has become so dear to him? Why should he seek after grapes so
bitter to his taste? Should he not, now, ask for the wings of a dove that he may fly away to his own dear country and be at
rest forever?
Every mariner on the sea of life knows that when the soft zephyrs blow, men tempt the open sea with outspread sails.
But when the black tempest comes howling from its den, they hurry with all speed to the haven. Afflictions clip our wings
with regard to earthly things so that we may not fly away from our dear Master’s hands but sit there and sing to Him!
But the same afflictions make our wings grow with regard to heavenly things—we are feathered like eagles, we catch the
soaring spirit—a thorn is in our nest and we spread our pinions towards the sun. Affliction frequently opens Truths of
God to us and opens us to the Truth of God—I know not which of these two is the more difficult.
Experience unlocks Truths which otherwise were closed against us. Many passages of Scripture will never be made
clear by the commentator—they must be expounded by experience. Many a text is written in a secret ink which must be
held to the fire of adversity to make it visible. I have heard that you see stars in a well when none are visible above ground and I am sure you can discern many a starry Truth when you are down in the deeps of trouble which would not be visible to you elsewhere. Besides, I said it opened us to the Truth as well as the Truth to us. We are superficial in our beliefs—we are often drenched with Truth and yet it runs off us like water from a marble slab!
But affliction, as it were, plows us and sub-soils us and opens up our hearts so that into our innermost nature the
truth penetrates and soaks like rain into plowed land. Blessed is that man who receives the Truth of God into his inmost
self—he shall never lose it, but it shall be the life of his spirit. Affliction, when sanctified by the Holy Spirit, brings much
glory to God out of Christians through their experience of the Lord’s faithfulness to them. I delight to hear an aged
Christian giving his own personal testimony of the Lord’s goodness. Vividly upon my mind flashes an event of some 25
years ago. It is before me as if it had occurred yesterday, when I saw a venerable man of 80, gray and blind with age, and
heard him in simple accents—simple as the language of a child—tell how the Lord had led him and had dealt well with
him so that no good thing had failed of all that God had promised. He spoke as though he were a Prophet, his years
lending force to his words. But suppose he had never known a trial? What testimony could he have borne? Had he been
lapped in luxury and never endured suffering he might have stood there dumb and have been as useful as if he had never
spoke. We must be tried or we cannot magnify the faithful God who will not leave His people!
Again, affliction gives us, through Grace, the inestimable privilege of conformity to the Lord Jesus. We pray to be like
Christ, but how can we be if we are not men of sorrows and never become the acquaintance of grief? Like Christ and yet never traverse through the vale of tears? Like Christ and yet have all that heart could wish? Like Christ and never bear the contradiction of sinners against yourself? Like Christ and never say, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death”? O, Sir, you know not what you ask! Have you said, “Let me sit on Your right hand in Your kingdom?” It cannot be granted to you unless you will also drink of His cup and be baptized with His Baptism! A share of His sorrow must precede a share of His Glory. O, if we are ever to be like Christ, to dwell with Him eternally, we may be well content to pass through much tribulation in order to attain to it!
Once more, our sufferings are of great service to us when God blesses them, for they help us to be useful to others. It must be a terrible thing for a man never to have suffered physical pain. You say, “I should like to be the man”? Ah, unless you had extraordinary Grace, you would grow hard and cold—you would get to be a sort of cast-iron man—breaking other people with your touch. No, let my heart be tender, even be soft if it must be softened by pain, for I would rather know how to bind up my fellow’s wounds. Let my eyes have a tear ready for my brother’s sorrows even if in order to that I should have to shed 10,000 of my own. An escape from suffering would be an escape from the power to sympathize and that were to be deprecated
beyond all things! Luther was right when he said affliction was the best book in the minister’s library. How can the man of God sympathize with the afflicted ones if he knows nothing at all about their troubles? I remember a hard, miserly churl who said that the minister ought to be very poor so that he might have sympathy with the poor. I told him I thought he ought to have a turn at being very rich, too, so that he might have sympathy with the very rich! And I suggested to him that perhaps, upon the whole, it would be handiest to keep him somewhere in the middle that he might the more easily range over the experience of all


classes. If the man of God who is to minister to others could be always robust, it were, perhaps, a loss. If he could be always sickly it might be equally so—but for the pastor to be able to range through all the places where the Lord suffers His sheep to go—is doubtless to the advantage of His flock.

And what it is to ministers, it will be to each one of you according to his calling, for the consolation of the people of God.
Be thankful then, dear Brethren, be thankful for trouble! And above all be thankful because it will soon be over and we shall be in the land where these things will be spoken of with great joy. As soldiers show their scars and talk of battles when they come, at last, to spend their old age in the country home, so shall we in the dear land to which we are hastening, speak of the goodness and faithfulness of God which brought us through all the trials of the way! I would not like to stand in that whiter obed host and hear it said, “These are they that come out of great tribulation, all except that one.” Would you like to be there to see yourself pointed at as the one saint who never knew a sorrow? O no, for you would be an alien in the midst of the sacred brotherhood! We will be content to share the battle, for we shall soon wear the crown and wave the palm.
I know that while I am preaching some of you have said, “Ah, these people of God have a hard time of it.” So have you.
The ungodly do not escape from sorrow by their sin. I never heard of a man escaping from poverty through being a
spendthrift. I never heard of a man who escaped from headache or heartache by drunkenness—or from bodily pain by
licentiousness. I have heard the opposite! And if there are griefs to the holy there are others for you. Only mark this, ungodly ones, mark this—for you these things work no good! You pervert them to mischief—but for the saints, they work eternal benefit! For you your sorrows are punishments. For you they are the first drops of the red hail that shall fall upon you forever.
They are not so to the child of God. You are punished for your transgressions—he is not. And let us tell you, too, that if this day you happen to be in peace, prosperity, plenty and happiness—yet there is not one child of God here, in the very deeps of trouble, that would change places with you under any consideration whatever! He would sooner be God’s dog and be kicked under the table, than be the devil’s darling and sit at meat with him. “Let God do as He pleases,” we say, “for while here we believe our worst state to be better than your best.” Do you think we love God for what we get out of Him and for nothing else? Is that your notion of a Christian’s love to God? We read in Jeremiah of certain ones who said they would not leave off worshipping the Queen of Heaven. “For when,” they said, “we worshipped the Queen
of Heaven, we had bread in plenty, but now we starve.” This is how the ungodly talk and that is what the devil thought was Job’s case. Said he—“Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not set a hedge about him and all that he has?” The devil does not understand real love and affection, but the child of God can tell the devil to his face that he loves God if He covers him with sores and sets him on the dunghill. And by God’s good help he means to cling to God through troubles ten-fold heavier than those he has had to bear, should they come upon him. Is He not a blessed God? Yes, let the beds of our sickness ring with it—He is a blessed God! In the night watches, when we are weary and our brain is hot and fevered, and our soul is distracted, we yet confess that He is a blessed God! Every ward of the hospital where Believers are found should echo with that note!
“A blessed God?” “Yes, that He is,” say the poor and needy here this morning and so say all God’s poor throughout all
the land. “A blessed God?” “Yes,” say His dying people, “as He slays us we will bless His name. He loves us and we love Him and, though all His waves go over us and His wrath lies sorely upon us, we would not change with kings on their thrones if they are without the love of God.” , Sinner, if God smites a child of His so heavily, He will smite you one day! And if those He loves are made to smart, what will He do with those who rebel against Him and hate Him? “Praise the Son, lest He be angry and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” The Lord bless you and bring you into the bonds of His Covenant, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Version 1.0, Ages Software.
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Hebrews 11:15-16
King James Version (KJV)
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
A Sermon
(No. 1030)
Delivered by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

The Pilgrim’s Longings

“And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”—Hebrews 11:15-16.

BRAHAM left his country at God’s command, and he never went back again. The proof of faith lies in perseverance. There is a sort of faith which does run well, but it is soon hindered, and it doth not obey the truth. That is not the faith to which the promise is given. The faith of God’s elect continues and abides. Being connected with the living and incorruptible seed, it lives and abides for ever. Abraham returned not; Isaac returned not; Jacob returned not. The promise was to them as “strangers and sojourners,” and so they continued. The apostle tells us, however, that they were not forced so to continue; they did not remain because they could not return. Had they been mindful of the place from whence they came out, they might have found opportunities to go back. Frequent opportunities came in their way; there was communication kept up between them and the old family house at Padan-Aram: they had news sometimes from the old quarters. More than that, there were messages exchanged, servants were sometimes sent, and you know there was a new relation entered into—did not Rebekah come from thence? And Jacob, one of the patriarchs, was driven to go down into the land, but he could not stay there; he was always unrestful, till at last he stole a march upon Laban and came back into the proper life—the life which he had chosen, the life which God had commanded him, the life of a pilgrim and a stranger in the land of promise. You see, then, they had many opportunities to have returned, to have settled comfortably, and tilled the ground as their fathers did before them; but they continued to follow the uncomfortable shifting life of wanderers of the weary foot, who dwelt in tents, who own no foot of land—they were aliens in the country which God had given them by promise.
    Now, our position is very similar to theirs. As many of us as have believed in Christ have been called out. The very meaning of a church is, “called out by Christ.” We have been separated. I trust we know what it is to have gone without the camp, bearing Christ’s reproach. Henceforth, in this world we have no home, no true home for our spirits; our home is beyond the flood; we are looking for it amongst the unseen things; we are strangers and sojourners as all our fathers were, dwellers in this wilderness, passing through it to reach the Canaan which is to be the land of our perpetual inheritance.
    I. I propose, then, first of all this evening, to speak to you upon the opportunities which we have had, and still have, to return to the old house, if we were mindful of it. Indeed, it seems to me as if the word “opportunity” as it occurs in the text, were hardly strong enough to express the influence and incentive, the provocations and solicitations, by which, in our case, we have been urged. It is a wonder of wonders that we have not gone back to the world, with its sinful pleasures and its idolatrous customs. When I think of the strength of divine grace, I do not marvel that saints should persevere; but, when I remember the weakness of their nature, it seems a miracle of miracles that there should be one Christian in the world who could maintain his steadfastness for a single hour. It is nothing short of Godhead’s utmost stretch of might that keeps the feet of the saints, and preserves them from going back to their old unregenerate condition. We have had opportunities to have returned. My brethren, we have such opportunities in our daily calling. Some of you are engaged in the midst of ungodly men, and those engagements supply you with constant opportunities to sin as they do, to fall into their excesses, to lapse into their forgetfulness of God, or even to take part in their blasphemies. Oh, have you not often strong inducements, if it were not for the grace of God, to become as they are? Or, if your occupation keeps you alone, yet, my brethren, there is one who is pretty sure to intrude upon our privacy, to corrupt our thoughts, to kindle strange desires in our breasts, to tantalise us with morbid fancies, and to seek our mischief. The Tempter he is, the Destroyer he would be, if we were not delivered from his snares. Ah, how frequently will solitude have temptations as severe as publicity could possibly bring. There are perils in company, but there are perils likewise in our loneliness. We have many opportunities to return. In the parlour, pleasantly conversing, or in the kitchen, perhaps, occupied with the day’s work—toiling in the field, or trading on the mart, busy on the land or tossed about on the sea, there are critical seasons on which destiny itself might appear to hang contingent. Where can we fly to escape from these opportunities that haunt us everywhere and peril us in every thing? If we should mount upon the wings of the wind, could we find “a lodge in some vast wilderness,” think ye, then, we might be quite clear from all the opportunities to go back to the old sins in which we once indulged? No. Each man’s calling may seem to him to be more full of temptation than his fellow’s. It is not so. Our temptations are pretty equally distributed, I dare say, after all, and all of us might say, that we find in our avocations, from hour to hour, many opportunities to return.
    But, dear brethren, it is not merely in our business and in our calling; the mischief lies in our bone and in our flesh. Opportunities to return! Ah! Who that knows himself does not find strong, incentives to return. Ah! how often will our imagination paint sin in very glowing colors, and, though we loathe sin and loathe ourselves for thinking of it, yet how many a man might say, “had it not been for divine grace, where should I have been?—for my feet had almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped.” How strong is the evil in the most upright man! How stern is the conflict to keep under the body, lest corruption should prevail. You may be diligent in secret prayer, and, perhaps, the devil may have seemed asleep till you began to pray, and when you were most fervent, then will he also become most rampant. When you get nearer to God, Satan will sometimes seem to get nearer to you. Opportunities to return, as long as you are in this body, will be with you. To the very edge of Jordan you will meet with temptations. When you sit expectant on the banks of the last river, waiting, for the summons to cross, it may be that your fiercest temptation will come even then. Oh, this flesh, the body of this death—wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from it? But while it continues with me, I shall find opportunities to return.
    So too, dear brethren and sisters, these opportunities to return are adapted to our circumstances and adjusted to any condition of life, and any change through which we may pass. For instance how often have professors, when they have prospered, found opportunities to return! I sigh to think of many that appeared to be very earnest Christians when they were struggling for bread, who have become very dull and cold now that they have grown rich and increased in goods. How often does it happen in this land of ours, that a poor earnest Christian has associated with the people of God at all meetings, and felt proud to be there, but he has risen in the world and stood an inch or two above others in common esteem, and he could not go with God’s people any longer: he must seek out the world’s church and join in to get a share of the respectability and prestige that will always congregate in the domain of fashion. Henceforth, the man has turned aside from the faith, if not altogether in his heart, at least in his life. Beware of the high places: they are very slippery. There is not all the enjoyment you may think to be gathered in retirement and in ease. On the contrary, luxury often pulleth up, and abundance makes the heart to swell with vanity. If any of you are prospering in this world, oh watch, for you are in imminent danger of being mindful to return to the place whence you came out.
    But, the peril is as instant every whit in adversity. Alas, I have had to mourn over Christian men—at least I thought they were such—who have waxed very poor, and when they have grown poor, they hardly felt they could associate with those they knew in better circumstances. I think they were mistaken in the notion that they would be despised. I should lie ashamed of the Christian who would despise his fellow, because God was dealing with him somewhat severely in Providence. Yet there is a feeling in the human heart, and, though there may be no unkind treatment, yet, oftentimes, the sensitive spirit is apt to imagine it, and I have observed some absent themselves by degrees from the assembly of God with a sense of shame. It is smoothing the way to return to your old place; and, indeed, I have not wondered when I have seen some professors grow cold, when I have thought where they were compelled to live, and how they have been constrained to pass their time. Perhaps they were living at home before, but now they have to take a room where they can have no quiet, but where sounds of blasphemy greet them, or, in some cases, where they have to go to the workhouse, and be far away from all Christian intercourse or anything that could comfort them. It is only God’s grace that can keep your graces alive under such circumstances. You see, whether you grow rich or whether you grow poor, you will have these opportunities to return. If you want to go back to sin, to carnality, to a love of the world, to your old condition, you never need to be prevented from doing so by want of opportunities: it will be something else that will prevent you, for these opportunities are plentiful and countless.
    Opportunities to return! Let me say just one thing more about them. They are often furnished by the example of others.

“When any turn from Zion’s way,
Alas, what numbers do!
Methinks I hear my Savior say,
Wilt thou forsake me too?”
The departures from the faith of those whom we highly esteem are, at least while we are young, very severe trials to us. We keenly suspect whether that religion can be true which was feigned so cunningly and betrayed so wantonly, by one who seemed to be a model, but proved to be a hypocrite. It staggers us: we cannot make it out. Opportunities to return you have now; but ah! may grace be given you so that, if others play the Judas, instead of leading you to do the same, it may only bind you more fast to your Lord, and make you walk more carefully, lest you also prove a son of perdition.
    And ah, my brethren and sisters, if some of us were to return, we should have this opportunity—a cordial welcome from our former comrades. None of our old friends would refuse to receive us. There is many a Christian who, if he were to go back to the gaiety of the world, would find the world await him with open arms. He was the favourite of the ball-room once; he was the wit “that set the table in a roar;” he was the man who above all was courted when he moved in the circles of the vain and frivolous: glad enough would they be to see him come back. What a shout of triumph would they raise, and how would they fraternize with him! Oh, may the day never come to you, you young people especially, who have lately put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and professed his name, when you shall be welcomed by the world, but may you for ever forget your kindred and your father’s house, so shall the king greatly desire your beauty, for he is the Lord, and worship you him. Separation from the world will endear you to the Savior, and bring you into conscious enjoyment of his presence; but, of opportunities to return there is no lack.
    Perhaps, you will say, “Why does the Lord make them so plentiful? Could he not have kept us from temptation?” There is no doubt he could, but it was never the Master’s intention that we should all be hothouse plants. He taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” but, at the same time, he does lead us there, and intends to do it, and this for the proving of our faith, to see whether it be true faith or not. Depend upon it, faith that is never tried is not true faith. It must be sooner or later exercised. God does not create useless things: he intends that the faith he gives should have its test, should glorify his name. These opportunities to return are meant to try your faith, and they are sent to you to prove that you are a volunteer soldier. Why, if grace was a sort of chain that manacled you, so that you could not leave your Lord; if it had become a physical impossibility to forsake the Savior, there would be no credit in it. He that does not run away because his legs are too weak, does not prove himself a hero; but he that could run, but will not run; he that could desert his Lord, but will not desert him, has within him a principle of grace stronger than any fetter could be—the highest, firmest, noblest bond that unites a man to the Savior. By this shall you know whether you are Christ’s or not. When you have opportunity to return, if you do not return, that shall prove you are his. Two men are going along a road, and there is a dog behind them. I do not know to which of them that dog belongs, but I shall be able to tell you directly. They are coming to a crossroad: one goes to the right, the other goes to the left. Now which man does the dog follow? That is his master. So when Christ and the world go together, you cannot tell which you are following; but, when there is a separation, and Christ goes one way, and your interest and your pleasure seem to go the other way, if you can part with the world and keep with Christ, then you are one of his. After this manner these opportunities to return may serve us a good purpose: they prove our faith, while they try our character; thus helping us to see whether we are indeed the Lord’s or not.
    But, we must pass on (for we have a very wealthy text) to notice the second point.
    II. We cannot take any opportunity to go back, because we desire something better than we could get by returning to that country from whence we came out. An insatiable desire has been implanted in us by divine grace which urges us to—

“Forget the steps already trod,
And onward press our way.”
Notice how the text puts it:—”But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly.” Brethren, you desire something better than this world, do you not? Has the world ever satisfied you? Perhaps it did when you were dead in sin. A dead world may satisfy a dead heart; but ever since you have known something of better things, and brighter realities, have you been ever contented with earthly things and emptier vanities? Perhaps you have tried to fill your soul with the daintiest provisions the world can offer; to wit—God has prospered you, and you have said, “Oh, this is well.” Your children have been about you, you have had many household joys, and you have said, “I could stay here for ever.” Did not you find very soon that there was a thorn in the flesh? Did you ever gather a rose in this world that was altogether without a thorn? Hare you not been obliged to say, after you have had all that the world could give you, “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity?” I am sure it has been so with me, with you, with all my kinsfolk in Christ, and with all my yokefellows in his service. All God’s saints would confess that were the Lord to say to them, “You shall have all the world, and that shall be your portion,” they would be broken-hearted men. “Nay, my Lord,” they would reply, “do not put me off with these biding presents; feed me not upon these husks. Though thou shouldst give me Joseph’s lot, the ancient mountains, and the precious things of the lasting hills,” “Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey;” yea, though thou shouldst confer on me the precious things of the earth, and the fullness thereof, I would prefer before them all the goodwill of him that dwelt in the bush. Give me thyself, and take these all away, if so it please thee, but do not, my Lord, do not think I can be content with Egypt since I have set forth for Canaan, or that I can settle down in the wilderness now that I am journeying to the land of promise. We desire something better.
    There is this about a Christian that, even when he does not enjoy something better, he desires it; of that, verily, I am quite sure. How much of character is revealed in our desires. I felt greatly encouraged when I read this, “Now they desire a better”—The word “country” has been inserted by our translators. It weakens the sense; vague but vast is the craving expressed in the sentence, “They desire a better”—I know I long for something far better, something infinitely preferable to that which my eyes can see or that my tongue can express. I do not always enjoy that something better. Dark is my path; I cannot see my Lord; I cannot enjoy his presence; sometimes I am like one that is banished from him; but I desire his blessing, I desire his presence; and, though to desire may be but a little thing, let me say a good desire is more than nature ever grew: grace has given it. It is a great thing to be desirous. “They desire a better country.” And, because we desire this better thing, we cannot go back and be content with things which gratified us once.
    More than that, if ever the child of God gets entangled for awhile, he is uneasy by reason of it. Abraham’s slips, for he had one or two, were made when he had left the land, and gone down among the Philistines; but he was not easy there: he must come back again. And Jacob—he had found a wife—nay, two—in Laban’s land, but he was not content there. No, no child of God can be, whatever he may find in this world. We shall never find a heaven here. We may hunt the world through, and say, “This looks like a little paradise,” but there is not any paradise this side of the skies, for a child of God at any rate. There is enough out there in the farm yard for the hogs, but there is not that which is suitable for the children. There is enough in the world for sinners, but not for saints. They have stronger, sharper, and more vehement desires, for they have a nobler life within them, and they desire a better country, and even if they get entangled for awhile in this country, and in a certain measure identified with citizens of it, they are ill at ease—their citizenship is in heaven, and they cannot rest anywhere but there. After all, we confess to-night, and rejoice in the confession, that our best hopes are for things that are out of sight: our expectations are our largest possessions. The things that we have a title to, that we value, are ours to-day by faith: we do not enjoy them yet. But when our heirship shall be fully manifested, and we shall come to the full ripe age—oh, then shall we come into our inheritance, to our wealth, to the mansions, and to the glory, and to the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Thus you see the reason why the Christian cannot go back. Though he has many opportunities he does not embrace any, he shrinks with repugnance from them all, for, through divine grace, he has had produced in his heart desires for something better.
    Even when he does not realize as yet, or actually enjoy, that infinite good, which is something better than creature comfort or worldly ambition, the desires themselves become mighty bonds that keep him from returning to his former state. Dear brethren, let us cultivate these desires more and more. If they have such a separating, salutary, sanctifying influence upon our heart, and effect upon our character, in keeping us from the world, let us cultivate them much. Do you think that we meditate enough upon heaven? Look at the miser. When does he forget his gold? He dreams of it. He has locked it up tonight and he goes to bed, but he is afraid he heard a footstep down the stairs, and he goes to see. He looks to the iron safe: he would be quite sure that it is well secured. He cannot forget his dear gold. Let us think of heaven, of Christ, and of the blessings of the covenant, and let us thus keep our desires wide awake, and stimulate them to active exercise. The more they draw us to heaven, the more they withdraw us from the world.
    III. It would be unreasonable if we did not vehemently resist every opportunity and every solicitation to go back.
    The men of faith to whom the apostle referred in our text were not only strangers and pilgrims, but it is specially observed that they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They were a grand company. From an unit they had multiplied into a countless host. Sprang there not even of one, and him as good as dead, as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable? Now, brethren, you see we have here a very strong reason for not returning. It is because you are the descendants, the spiritual descendants, of the patriarchs. Let me try to show you how urgent a motive for steadfastness this is. Practically, it comprises two or three considerations of the highest moment. One thing it implies very obviously is that you thoroughly admire their example and fervently emulate their spirit. As you have glanced over the scroll of history, or narrowly scanned the records of men’s lives, the pomp of Pharaoh has not dazzled you, but the purity of Joseph has charmed you; the choice of Moses was to your taste, though it did involve leaving a court where he was flattered, for fellowship with enslaved kinsmen by whom he was suspected; and, you would rather have been with Daniel in the lions’ den than with Darius on the throne of empire. You have transferred their strong will to your own deliberate choice. And, when the jeer has been raised against canting methodists, you have said, “I am one of them.” You have confessed as occasion served before the world, you have professed as duty called before the church, you have accepted the consequences as honesty demanded before angels and men. Therefore, in your heart of hearts you feel that you cannot go back. The vows of God are upon you. It is well they are. Review them often: refresh your memory with them frequently; recur to them and renew them in every time of trial and temptation. Howbeit, repent of them never, or woe betide you. There is a secret virtue in the confession, if it be steadfastly adhered to and zealously maintained. It is a talisman, believe me, against the contagion of an evil atmosphere that might otherwise instil poison into your constitution.
    Again, there is another thing; you have joined yourself to an ancient fraternity that has something more than rules to guide or legends to captivate; for it has a combination of both, seeing it is rich in poetic lore. Why, it is on this that patriotism feeds as its daintiest morsel. “Thy statutes,” said David, “have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” Brother! there hath no sorrow befallen thee but what thy noble ancestors have celebrated in cheery tones, and set to music in cheerful strains. Oh, beloved! if you could forget the statutes, can you ever fail to remember the songs? There has never been a revival in the church that has not witnessed to the value of our psalmody. God be praised for our psalms and spiritual songs. Oh, how often they have made melody in our hearts to the Lord! While our voices blend, do not our very souls become more and more richly cemented? They are, in truth, the pilgrim’s solace.
    Another thing strikes me. I should not like you to overlook it. There is, in this chapter, a special commendation for faith in a pleasing variety of operations. But the speciality of the strangers and pilgrims is that they all died in faith. So, then, you cannot go back, because you cannot accomplish the end for which you went forward till you die. You have joined the company that makes the goal of life the object for which you live. Your aim is to make a noble exit. “Prepare to meet thy God” was the motto you started with. To go back can hardly cross your thoughts, when to look back seems to you charged with peril. Our lease of mortal life is fast running out. The time of our sojourn on earth is getting more and more brief. Therefore, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, it is but meet that our desire to reach the better country, and to enter the heavenly city should become more and more vehement, as “we nightly pitch our roving tent a day’s march nearer home.” It comes to this, brethren. You feel that you have little to show for your faith. It never built an ark like Noah; it never offered a sacrifice like Abraham; it never subdued kingdoms like Joshua; it never quenched the violence of fire as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Well, be it so; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved; and all those that die in faith are gathered with the great cloud of witnesses. Is not this enough to cheer the rank and file of the church?
    IV. But, I must close with the sweetest part of the text, wherein it is shown that we have a great and blessed assurance vouchsafed to us as an acknowledgment, on the part of God, of those opportunities, and those yearnings persisted in. “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.” Because they are strangers, add because they will not go back to their old abode, “therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” He might well be ashamed of that. What poor people God’s people are—poor, many of them, in circumstances, but how many of them I might very well call poor as to spiritual things. I do not think if any of us had such a family as God has, we should ever have patience with them. We cannot, when we judge ourselves rightly, have patience with ourselves; but, how is it that God bears with the ill manners of such a froward, weak, foolish, forgetful generation as his people are. He might well be ashamed to be called their God, if he looked upon them as they are, and estimated them upon their merits. Own them! How can he own them? Does he not himself sometimes say of them, “How can I put them among the children?” Yet he devises means, and brings about the purposes of his grace. Viewed as they are, they may be compared to a rabble in so many respects, that it is marvellous he is not ashamed of them. Still, he never does discountenance them, and he proves that he is not ashamed of them, for he calls himself their God. “I will be your God,” saith he, and he oftentimes seems to speak of it as a very joyful thing to his own heart. “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” While he calls himself their God, he never forbids them to call him their God. In the presence of the great ones of the earth they may call him their God—anywhere—and he is not ashamed to be so called. Matchless condescension this! Have you not sometimes heard of a man who has become rich and has risen in the world, who has had some poor brother or some distant relative. When he has seen him in the street, he has been obliged to speak to him and own him. But oh, how reluctantly it was done. I dare say he wished him a long way off, especially if he had some haughty acquaintance with him at the time, who would perhaps turn round, and say, “Why, who is that wretched, seedy-looking fellow you spoke to?” He does not like to say, “That’s my brother;” or, “That’s a relative of mine.” Not so our Lord Jesus Christ. However low his people may sink, he is not ashamed to call them brethren. They may look up to him in all the depths of their degradation. They may call him a brother. He is in very fact a brother, born for their adversity, able and ready to redress their grievances, he is not ashamed to call them brethren. One reason for this seems to me to be, because he does not judge of them according to their present circumstances, but much rather according to their pleasant prospects. He takes account of what he has prepared for them. Notice the text, “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” They are poor now, but God, to whom things to come are things present, sees them in their fair white linen, which is the righteousness of the saints. All you can see in that poor child of God is a hard-working laboring man, mocked and despised of his fellows. But what does God see in him? He sees in him a dignity and a glory assimilated to his own. He hath put all things under the feet of such a man as that, and crowned him with glory and honor in the person of Christ, and the angels themselves are ministering servants to such. You see his outward attire, not his inner self—you see the earthly tabernacle, but the spirit newborn, immortal and divine—you see not that. Howbeit, God does. Or, if you have spiritual discernment to perceive the spiritual creature, you only see it as it is veiled by reason of the flesh, and beclouded by the atmosphere of this world; but he sees it as it will appear, when it shall be radiant like unto Christ, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. God sees the poorest, the least proficient disciple as a man in Christ; a perfect man come unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; such indeed as he will be in that day when he shall see Christ, for then he shall be like him as he is. It seems too, in the text, that God looks to what he had prepared for these poor people. He hath prepared for them a city. Methinks, that by what he has prepared for them, we may judge how he esteems and loves them—estimating them by what he means them to be, rather than by what they appear to be at present. Look at this preparation just a minute. “he hath prepared for them”—“them.” Though I delight to preach a free gospel, and to preach it to every creature under heaven, we must never forget to remind you of the speciality. “He hath prepared for them a city”—that is, for such as are strangers and foreigners—for such as have faith, and, therefore, have left the world, and gone out to follow Christ. “He hath prepared forthem”—not “for all of you”—only for such of you as answer the description on which we have been meditating has he prepared “a city.”
    Note what it is he has made ready for them. It is a city. This indicates a permanent abode. They dwelt in tents—Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob—but he has prepared for them a city. Here we are tent dwellers, and the tent is soon to be taken down. “We know that this earthly house of our” tent “shall be dissolved, but we have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” “He hath prepared a city.” A city is a place of genial associations. In a lonely hamlet one has little company. In a city, especially where all the inhabitants shall be united in one glorious brotherhood, the true communism of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity may be realised in the purest sense and highest possible degree. In a city such as this there are plentiful occasions for intercourse, where mutual interests shall enhance mutual joy. “He hath prepared a city.” It is a city too possessing immunities, and conferring dignity upon its residents. To be a burgess of the City of London is thought to be a great honor, and upon princes is it sometimes conferred; but, we shall have the highest honor that can be given, when we shall be citizens of the city which God has prepared.
    I must not dwell on this theme, delightful as it is; I want a few words with you, my friends, direct and personal, before I close. Do not wonder, those of you who are the children of God, do not wonder if you have discomforts here. If you are what you profess to be, you are strangers: you do not expect men of this world to treat you as members of their community. If they do, be afraid. Dogs don’t bark as a man goes by that they know: they bark at strangers. When people persecute you and slander you,no marvel. If you are a stranger, they naturally bark at you. Do not expect to find the comforts in this world that you crave after, that your flesh would long for. This is our inn, not our home. We tarry for a night: we are away in the morning. We may bear the annoyances of the eventide and the night, for the morning will break so soon. Remember that your greatest joy, while you are a pilgrim, is your God. So the text says, “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Do you want a richer source of consolation than you have? Here is one that can never be diminished, much less exhausted. When the created streams are dry, go to this eternal fountain, and find it ever springing up. Your joy is your God: make your God your joy.
    Now, what shall be said to those who are not strangers and foreigners? Ah, you dwell in a land where you find some sort of repose; but I have heavy tidings for you. This land in which you dwell, and all the works thereof, must be burned up. The city of which you, who have never been converted to Christ, are citizens, is a City of Destruction, and, as is its name, such will be its end. The King will send his armies against that guilty city and destroy it, and if you are citizens of it, you will lose all you have—you will lose your souls—lose yourselves. “Whither away?” saith one—”Where can I find comfort then and security?” You must do as Lot did, when the angels presses him and said, “Haste to the Mount lest thou be consumed.” To what mountain, say you, shall I go? The mountain of safety is Calvary. Where Jesus died, there you shall live. There is death everywhere else but there. But there is life arising from his death. Oh, fly to him. “But how?” saith one. Trust him. God gave his Son, equal with himself, to bear the burden of human sin; and he died, a substitute for sinners,—a real substitute, an efficient substitute, for all who trust in him. If thou wilt trust thy soul with Jesus, thou art saved. Thy sin was laid on him: it is forgiven thee. It was blotted out when he nailed the handwriting of ordinances that were against thee to his cross. Trust him now and you are saved; you shall become, henceforth, a stranger and a pilgrim. In the better land you shall find the rest which you never can find here, and need not wish to find, for the land is polluted; let us away from it. The curse has fallen: let us get away to the country that never was cursed, to the city that is for ever blessed, Where Jesus dwells there may we find a home and abide for aye. God add his blessing to this discourse, and give a blessing to your souls, for Jesus Christ’ sake. Amen.

(Credit: Works/Sermons of Charles Spurgeon)