Friday, December 26, 2008
To all our readers,
I hope your Christmas Day was wonderful and I wanted to let you know that The Daily Spurgeon will be on vacation until after the first of the year.
Thanks for your readership and support during the past year - we've been brushing 300 RSS subscribers here and there and I hope you continue to be blessed by these words. May the Lord bless you all richly in 2009!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” -Luke 1:46, 47.
Observe, this morning, the sacred joy of Mary that you may imitate it. This is a season when all men expect us to be joyous. We compliment each other with the desire that we may have a “Merry Christmas.” Some Christians who are a little squeamish, do not like the word “merry.” It is a right good old Saxon word, having the joy of childhood and the mirth of manhood in it, it brings before one’s mind the old song of the waits, and the midnight peal of bells, the holly and the blazing log. I love it for its place in that most tender of all parables, where it is written, that, when the long-lost prodigal returned to his father safe and sound, “They began to be merry.” This is the season when we are expected to be happy; and my heart’s desire is, that in the highest and best sense, you who are believers may be “merry.”
Mary’s heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of her joy, it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was not such merriment as worldlings will revel in today and tomorrow, but such merriment as the angels have around the throne, where they sing, “Glory to God in the highest,” while we sing “On earth peace, goodwill towards men.” Such merry hearts have a continual feast. I want you, ye children of the bride-chamber, to possess today and tomorrow, yea, all your days, the high and consecrated bliss of Mary, that you may not only read her words, but use them for yourselves, ever experiencing their meaning: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”
From a sermon entitled "Mary's Song," delivered December 25, 1864. Image: Adoration of the Shepherds, by Michelangelo Caravaggio; Public Domain.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Dost thou understand him as the sin-bearer, taking away transgression? Canst thou see him bleeding as the substitute for men? Dost thou accept him as such? Does thy faith put all her dependence upon what he did, upon what he is, upon what he does? Then Christ is conceived in thee, and thou mayest go thy way with all the joy that Mary knew; and I was half ready to say, with something more; for the natural conception of the Savior’s holy body was not one-tenth so meet a theme for congratulation as the spiritual conception of the holy Jesus within your heart when he shall be in you the hope of glory.
My dear friend, if Christ be thine, there is no song on earth too high, too holy for thee to sing; nay, there is no song which thrills from angelic lips, no note which thrills Archangel’s tongue in which thou mayest not join. Even this day, the holiest, the happiest, the most glorious of words, and thoughts, and emotions belong to thee. Use them! God help thee to enjoy them; and his be the praise, while thine is the comfort evermore. Amen.
From a sermon entitled "Mary's Song," delivered December 25, 1864. Image by Pieter Paul Rubens, "The Adoration of the Shepherds;" in the public domain.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Mary is all heart; evidently her soul is on fire; while she muses, the fire burns; then she speaks with her tongue. May we, too, call home our wandering thoughts, and wake up our slumbering powers to praise redeeming love. It is a noble word that she uses here: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” I suppose it means, “My soul doth endeavor to make God great by praising him.” He is as great as he can be in his being; my goodness cannot extend to him; but yet my soul would make God greater in the thoughts of others, and greater in my own heart. I would give the train of his glory wider sweep; the light which he has given me I would reflect; I would make his enemies his friends; I would turn hard thoughts of God into thoughts of love. “My soul would magnify the Lord....”
It is as if she wanted to get more of God into her, like Rutherford, when he says, “Oh! that my heart were as big as heaven, that I might hold Christ in it;” and then he stops himself- “But heaven and earth cannot contain him. Oh, that I had a heart as big as seven heavens, that I might hold the whole of Christ within it.” Truly this is a larger desire than we can ever hope to have gratified; yet still our lips shall sing, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
From a sermon entitled "Mary's Song," delivered December 25, 1864. Image: Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli (1503); in the public domain.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Let us dream no longer in somber sadness that we cannot draw near to God so that he will really hear our prayer and pity our necessities, seeing that Jesus has become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, born a babe as we are born, living a man as we must live, bearing the same infirmities and sorrows, and bowing his head to the same death.
O, can we not come with boldness by this new and living way, and have access to the throne of the heavenly grace, when Jesus meets us as Immanuel, God with us? Angels sung, they scarce knew why. Could they understand why God had become man? They must have known that herein was a mystery of condescension; but all the loving consequences which the incarnation involved even their acute minds could scarce have guessed; but we see the whole, and comprehend the grand design most fully. The manger of Bethlehem was big with glory; in the incarnation was wrapped up all the blessedness by which a soul, snatched from the depths of sin, is lifted up to the heights of glory. Shall not our clearer knowledge lead us to heights of song which angelic guesses could not reach?
From a sermon entitled "Mary's Song," delivered December 25, 1864. Image: one of the 18 Renaissance stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Auch by Arnaud de Moles; in the public domain.
Friday, December 19, 2008
May I beg you carefully to judge every preacher, not by his gifts, not by his elocutionary powers, not by his status in society, not by the respectability of his congregation, not by the prettiness of his Church, the grandeur of the ceremonial, or the peculiar beauty of his vestments, but by this - does he preach the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation? If he does, your sitting under his ministry may prove to you the means of begetting faith in you; but if he does not, you cannot expect God’s blessing, for you are not using God’s ordinance, but the ordinance of man.
From a sermon entitled "The True Position Of Assurance," delivered October 2, 1864. Image by joiseyshowaa under Creative Commons License.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The wise man saith, “Where the word of a king is, there is power.” What power must there be where there is the word of the King of kings who ruleth over all! We are not left to conjecture as to the power of the divine Word, for we know that “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Out of nothingness the glorious Creation leaped at the bidding of the Most High; and when the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, there was nothing wanted but that solemn voice, “Light be,” and straightway light was. God’s word was sufficient in itself to build the temple of the universe; and to finish it from its foundations to its pinnacles.
That same word upholdeth by its power, and ruleth all things by its might. The pillars of heaven stand because the divine Word hath fixed them upon their bases, nor shall they be shaken until that same almighty word shall bid them remove; then, as a moment’s foam dissolves into the wave which bears it and is gone for ever, so shall the whole creation melt away. His word, which created, shall also destroy; but until that word be spoken every atom of this world is imperishable.
Consider, my brethren, what power is concentrated in him who is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and whose name is “THE WORD OF GOD.” With what glorious power our Lord Jesus Christ uplifted the burden of our sins, carried the load up to the tree, and cast it for ever into the Red Sea of his own atoning blood. Ye know how he burst the bars of death, tore away the gates of the grave, overthrew all the hosts of hell, and dragged the mightiest principalities of darkness as captives at his chariot wheels. At this day the government is upon his shoulders and his name is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. Heaven and earth salute him as the omnipotent Word. He sustains the spiritual life of all his people by feeding them upon himself; and he shall, in due time, perfect his saints and present them without spot before his Father’s throne. We ought therefore to bow with reverence to that which is truly the Word of God, since it contains within itself the highest degree of power, and is ever the way in which divine omnipotence manifests itself.
From a sermon entitled "Thus Saith The Lord," delivered September 25, 1864. Image by Aaron Escobar under Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Is it not a gross mistake to attach so much importance to this poor body of clay, and forget the priceless jewel of the immortal soul? Why think so much of a world in which we only tarry for a few evil years, and neglect the world where we must dwell for ever? Such folly is most shameful in one who was once a professed Christian, because he knew, or professed to know, somewhat of the superiority of the eternal over the temporal; of the vanity of things earthly and the glory of things heavenly.
Yet because things go well with him - because his wife is in health, his children blooming, his house well furnished, his property increasing, he saith, “Soul, take thine ease,” and disturbs not himself though heaven is black with lowering tempest, and the light of God’s countenance is hidden from him. The loss of God’s presence the man thinks to be a trifle, because he is succeeding in the world; as though a man should count it nothing to lose his life if he may but
keep his raiment whole to be buried in. O fools, thus to put the last things first, and the first things last.
From a sermon entitled "The Backslider's Way Hedged Up," delivered September 18, 1864. Image by Jack Wolf under Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Christian is never to feel himself at ease so long as he is on this side of Jordan. This is an enemy’s land. Expect a foe behind every bush, look to hear the shot come whistling by, and each night adore almighty grace that you have not fallen a prey to your cruel and remorseless foes.
The Christian is engaged throughout his whole life as a soldier - he is so called in Scripture- “A good soldier of Jesus Christ”; and if any of you take the trouble to write out the passages of Scripture in which the Christian is described as a soldier, and provision is made for his being armed, and directions given for his warfare, you will be surprised to find there are more of this character than concerning any other metaphor by which the Christian is described in the Word of God. His chief and main business seems to be, like his Master, to bear witness for the truth; “For this purpose was I born and sent into the world”; and though in himself a man of peace, yet he can say with his Master, “I came not to send peace but a sword”; for wherever he goes, he finds that his presence is the signal for war - war within him and war without him: he is a man of peace, and yet a man of war because a man of peace.
The Christian is engaged in warfare with sin, Satan, error, and falsehood, and sometimes he is called to fight for erring friends.
From a sermon entitled "Jesus Meeting His Warriors," delivered September 11, 1864. Image by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license.
Monday, December 15, 2008
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth.”
As men shout when they welcome a king, so must we. Loud hosannas, full of happiness, must be lifted up. If ever men shout for joy it should be when the Lord comes among them in the proclamation of his gospel reign. John Wesley said to his people, “Sing lustily, and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.”
“Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise;”
or “Burst forth, and sing, and play.” Let every form of exultation be used, every kind of music pressed into the service till the accumulated praise causes the skies to echo the joyful tumult. There is no fear of our being too hearty in magnifying the God of our salvation, only we must take care that the song comes from the heart, otherwise the music is nothing but a noise in his ears, whether it be caused by human throats, or organ pipes, or far-resounding trumpets. Loud let our hearts ring out the honours of our conquering Saviour; with all our might let us extol the Lord who has vanquished all our enemies, and led our captivity captive. He will do this best who is most in love with Jesus: -
“I've found the pearl of greatest price,
My heart doth sing for joy;
And sing I must, a Christ I have,
Oh, what a Christ have!”
From the Treasury Of David, exposition of Psalm 98:4. Image by David Conner under Creative Commons license.
Friday, December 12, 2008
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when lie was yet a great way off his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” — Luke 15:20.
Sinner, thou knowest that God sees thee this morning; sitting in this house thou art observed of the God of heaven. There is not a desire in thy heart unread of him, nor a tear in thine eye which he doth not observe. I tell thee he has seen thy midnight sins, he has heard thy cursings and thy blasphemies, and yet he has loved thee notwithstanding all that thou hast done. Thou couldst
hardly have been a worse rebel against him, and yet he has noted thee in his book of love, and determined to save thee, and the eye of his love has followed thee whithersoever thou hast gone. Is there not some comfort here? Why could not he see his father? Was it the effect of the tears in his eyes that he could not see? or was it that his father was of quicker sight than he? Sinner, thou canst not see God, for thou art unbelieving, and carnal, and blind, but he can see thee; thy tears of penitence block up thy sight, but thy Father is quick of eye, and he beholds thee and loves thee now; in every glance there is love. “His father saw him.”
From a sermon entitled "The Prodigal's Reception," delivered September 4, 1864. Flickr photo by Becky; some rights reserved.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
“Oh !” said Caesar, “we will soon root up this Christianity, off with their heads.” The different governors hastened one after another of the disciples to death, but the more they persecuted them the more they multiplied. The pro-consuls had orders to destroy Christians; the more they hunted them the more Christians there were, until at last men pressed to the judgment seat and asked to he permitted to die for Christ. They invented torments, they dragged the saints at the heels of wild horses, they laid them upon redhot gridirons, they pulled off the skin from their flesh piece by piece, they were sawn asunder, they were wrapped up in skins and daubed with pitch, and set in Nero’s gardens at night to burn, they were left to rot in dungeons, they were made a spectacle to all men in the amphitheatre, the bears hugged them to death, the lions tore them to pieces, the wild bulls tossed them upon their horns and yet Christianity spread.
All the swords of the legionaries which had put to rout the armies of all nations, and had overcome the invincible Gaul and the savage Briton, could not withstand the feebleness of Christianity, for the weakness of God is mightier than men.
From a sermon entitled "God's Strange Choice," delivered August 28, 1864. Flickr photo by Paul Russell; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
“Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.”-1 Samuel 3:9.
In the days of Eli the word of the Lord was precious, and there was no open vision. It was well when the word did come, that one chosen individual had the hearing ear to receive it, and the obedient heart to perform it. Eli failed to tutor his sons to be the willing servants and the attentive hearers of the Lord’s word. In this he was without the excuse of inability, since he successfully trained the child Samuel in reverent attention to the divine will. O that those who are diligent about the souls of others, would look well to their own households.
Alas, poor Eli, like many in our day, they made thee keeper of the vineyards, but thine own vineyard thou hast not kept. As often as he looked upon the gracious child, Samuel, he must have felt the heartache. When he remembered his own neglected and unchastened sons, and how they had made themselves vile before all Israel, Samuel was the living witness of what grace can work where children are trained up in God’s fear, and Hophni and Phineas were sad specimens of what parental indulgence will produce in the children of the best of men. Ah, Eli, if thou hadst been as careful with thine own sons as with the son of Hannah, they had not been such men of Belial, nor would Israel have abhorred the offering of the Lord because of the fornication which those priestly reprobates committed at the very door of the tabernacle. O for grace so to nurse our little ones for the Lord, that they may hear the Lord when he shall be pleased to speak unto them.
From a sermon entitled "The Child Samuel's Prayer." Flickr photo by Calum Davidson; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Untried faith is always small in stature; and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. There is no room in the placid pools of ease for faith to gain leviathan proportions, she must dwell in the stormy sea if she would be one of the chief of the ways of God. Tried faith brings experience; and every one of you who are men and women of experience, must know that experience makes religion become more real to you. You never know either the bitterness of sin or the sweetness of pardon, till you have felt both.
You never know your own weakness till you have been compelled to go through the rivers, and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. All the talk about religion which is not based upon an experience of it, is mere talk. If we have little experience, we cannot speak so positively as those can whose experience has been more deep and profound. Once when I was preaching upon the faithfulness of God in time of trial in the earlier days of my ministry, my venerable grandfather was sitting in the pulpit behind me; he suddenly rose up and took my place, and coming to the front of the pulpit, said, “My grandson can preach this as a matter of theory, but I can tell you it as a matter of experience, for I have done business upon the great waters, and have seen the works of the Lord for myself.” There is an accumulation of force in the testimony of one who has personally passed through the things whereof others can only speak as though they had seen them in a map or in a picture. Travellers who write from their easy chairs what they have seen from their bedchambers, may indite books to beguile the idle hours of those who stay at home; but he who is about to traverse regions full of danger, seeks a guide who has really trodden the road. The writer may excel in florid words, the veritable traveler has real and valuable wisdom. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more she is exercised with tribulation, and the more she hath been cast down, and lifted up again.
Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without your seeking for them; the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have. Praise him for that whereunto you have attained; walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains, and conquer impossibilities.
From a sermon entitled "A Mystery! Saints Sorrowing And Jesus Glad!," delivered August 7, 1864. Flickr photo by Calum Davidson; some rights reserved.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Brethren and sisters, you and I have no right to want to go to heaven till our work is done. There is a desire to be with Christ which is not only natural but spiritual; there is a sighing to behold his face, which if a man be without I shall question if he be a Christian at all; but to wish to be away from the battle before we win the victory, and to desire to leave the field before the day is over, were but lazy and listless;therefore let us pray God to save us from it.
Whitfield and a company of ministers were talking together and expressing their desire to go to heaven. Good Mr. Tennant was the only man who differed from them. He said he did not wish to die; and he thought that if his brother Whitfield would but consider for a time, he would not wish to be gone either; for he said, if you hire a man to do a day’s work, and he is saying all the day, “I wish it were evening, I wish it were time to go home,” you would think,” what a lazy fellow he is,” and you would wish you had never engaged him. “So,” he said, “I am afraid, it is nothing but our idleness that often prompts us to desire to be away from our work.” If there be a soul to win, let me stop until I have won it. Truly some of us might summon up courage enough to say, “I would fain barter heaven for the glory of Christ, and not only wait twenty years out of heaven if I may have twenty years of glorifying him the better, but wait out altogether if I may outside heaven sing to him sweeter songs, and honor him more than I can inside its walls;. for outside heaven shall be heaven to me if it shall help me to glorify my Lord and Master the better.”
From a sermon entitled "A Hearer In Disguise," delivered July 31, 1864. Flickr photo by Sir Mervs; some rights reserved.
Friday, December 5, 2008
There shall be victory in every place and spot; and the conquest of Jesus shall be complete and perfect. We believe, then, that in this very earth, where superstition has set up its idols, Jesus Christ shall be adored. Here, where blasphemy has defiled human lips, songs of praise shall rise from islands of the sea and from the dwellers among the rocks. In this very country, among those very men who became the tools of Satan, and whose dwelling-places were dens of mischief, there shall be found instruments of righteousness, lips to praise God, and occasions of eternal glory unto the Most High.
O Satan, thou mayst boast of what thou hast done, and thou mayst think thy scepter still secure, but he cometh, even he who rides upon the white horse of victory; and when he comes, thou shalt not stand against him, for the two-edged sword which goeth out of his mouth shall drive thee and thy hosts back to the place from whence thou camest. Let us rejoice that Scripture is so clear and so explicit upon this great doctrine of the future triumph of Christ over the whole world!
From a sermon entitled "The Lamb - The Light," delivered July 31, 1864. Flickr photo by Nick Russill; some rights reserved.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
But still, the main thing which we have to preach about is Christ. Depend upon it, dear brethren, the best sermons which we ever preach are those which are fullest of Christ. Jesus the Son of David and the Son of God; Jesus the suffering Savior by whose stripes we are healed; Jesus able to save unto the uttermost - here is the most suitable subject for Gentiles, and God has fashioned all hearts alike, and therefore, this is also the noblest theme for Jews. Paul loved his countrymen; he was no simpleton; he knew what was the best weapon with which to assail and overcome their prejudices, and yet he could say, “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Lift up the Messiah, then, both before Jew and Gentile. Tell of Mary’s Son, the eternal Son of God, the Man of Nazareth, who is none other than the incarnate Word, God made flesh, and dwelling amongst us. Preach his hallowed life - the righteousness of his people; declare his painful death - the putting away of all their sins. Vindicate his glorious resurrection, the justification of his people; tell of his ascent on high, their triumph over the world and sin; declare his second advent, his glorious coming, to make his people glorious in the glory which he hath won for them, and Christ Jesus, as he is thus preached, shall surely be the means of making these bones live.
From a sermon entitled "The Restoration And Conversion Of The Jews," delivered June 16, 1864. Flickr photo by Jason; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
My brethren in Christ, labor for souls of all sorts: for your children and for those who are past the threescore years and ten. Seek out the drunkard; go after the thief; despise not the poor down-trodden slave; let every race, let every color, let every age, let every profession, let every nation, be the object of your soul’s prayers. You live in this world, I hope, to bring souls to Jesus; you are Christ’s magnets with which through his Holy Spirit he will attract hearts of steel; you are his heralds, you are to invite wanderers to come to the banquet; you are his messengers, you are to compel them to come in that his house may be filled; and if the devil tells you will not succeed, and if the world tells you that you are too feeble and have not talent enough, never mind, Jesus would be greatly displeased with you if you should take any heed to them; and meanwhile he is greatly displeased with your adversaries for endeavoring to stop you.
From a sermon entitled "Children Brought To Christ, And Not To The Font," delivered July 24, 1864. Flickr photo by Mclaire MClaire; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
All the people of God are wrapped about with the righteousness of Christ, and, wearing that glorious robe, the eye of God sees no fault in them - Jehovah sees no sin in Jacob, neither iniquity in Israel. Christ is seen, and not the sinner; Christ being therefore perfection’s own self, the believer is seen as perfect in him. God regards his people with the same affection as that wherewith he loves his only-begotten Son. He hath pronounced them clean, and clean they are; he hath proclaimed them just, covered with the righteousness of Christ, and just they are. Come on thou accusing devil, come on ye who lay a thousand things to our charge, but if our Jesus pronounces our acquittal, who is he that condemneth? If he mounts the chariot of salvation, who is he that can be against us? Is it not a mysteriously blessed thing to wear upon one’s soul the mark of complete justification?
The heathen have a custom of marking themselves upon the forehead with the seal of their god; but, oh! what a seal is this to wear, what a mark of the Lord Jesus, to go about this world a perfectly justified man! God looketh upon common men with anger - they are not reconciled unto him; but towards his people he looketh always with eyes of love: no anger is in his heart to them, not a jot of wrath; all this has been put away through the great sacrifice. Towards them his whole heart goeth out- “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.” Being justified, they have peace with God, through Jesus Christ their Lord. O dear friends, if God be at peace with you, it matters not who is at war with you; if your Master acquits, it little matters who condemns; it Jehovah absolves, your name may be cast out as evil, you may be ranked among the vilest of the vile, your name may be a by-word and a proverb, only fit to be wrought up into the drunkard’s song - but who is he that can be against you? What are all these things, if put into the balance, but lighter than vanity, if Jehovah himself hath justified you?
From a sermon entitled "God Is With Us," delivered July 17, 1864. Flickr photo by Serge Arsenie; some rights reserved.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sometimes God pleads the cause of his people by silencing their enemies. What a remarkable instance you have of this in the case of Jacob! His sons had most cruelly and basely killed the Shechemites. Having betrayed them by false promises, they then slew them in cold blood. Jacob said, “Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.”
How strange was it, that he suffered no molestation; surely the Lord had cast a solemn awe upon the hearts of the Canaanites round about. His all-commanding voice was heard in their hearts, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophet no harm;” so that though Jacob’s family was grossly in the wrong, and his sons had committed a foul deed, yet nevertheless, the Lord pleaded the cause of his chosen servant, and his enemies were as still as stones. It will often be so with the Lord’s peculiar ones. When your foot has slipped - when you have spoken unadvisedly with your lips, if you have deeply repented of the sin, you may leave the matter before God, for he will either silence every dog’s tongue, or turn their barkings to his glory.
From a sermon entitled "God Pleading For Saints, And Saints Pleading For God," delivered July 10, 1864. Flickr photo by Tim; some rights reserved.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Some of you, my hearers, have often been impressed, and partially convinced of sin, but you have put off Christ with excuses. Will you hear with me while I solemnly assure you, that at its core your heart is at enmity to God. Your excuse may look very pretty, but it is as flimsy as it is fair. If you were honest with your own soul, you would say at once, “I do not love Christ; I do not want his salvation.” Your put-offs, your false promises, your excuses are worthless; any one with half an eye can see through them - they are so transparent. You are an enemy to God; you are unreconciled, and you are content to be so. This truth may be unpalatable, but it is nevertheless most certain. May God help you to feel this, and may it humble you before his presence.
From a sermon entitled "A Bad Excuse Is Worse Than None," delivered. Flickr photo by Derek Purdy; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
“I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people.”
Whoever may come to hear me, devout or profane, believer or heathen, civilized or barbarian, I shall not cease my music. David seemed inspired to foresee that his Psalms would be sung in every land, from Greenland's icy mountains to India's coral strand. His heart was large, he would have the whole race of man listen to his joy in God, and lo, he has his desire, for his psalmody is cosmopolitan; no poet is so universally known as he. He had but one theme, he sang Jehovah and none beside, and his work being thus made of gold, silver, and precious stones, has endured the fiery ordeal of time, and was never more prized than at this day. Happy man, to have thus made his choice to be the Lord's musician, he retains his office as the Poet Laureate of the kingdom of heaven, and shall retain it till the crack of doom.
“And I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.”
This is written, not only to complete the parallelism of the verse, but to reaffirm his fixed resolve. He would march to battle praising Jehovah, and when he had conquered he would make the captured cities ring with Jehovah's praises. He would carry his religion with him wherever he pushed his conquests, and the vanquished should not hear the praises of David, but the glories of the Lord of Hosts. Would to God that wherever professing Christians travel they would carry the praises of the Lord with them! It is to be feared that some leave their religion when they leave their homes. Nations and peoples would soon know the gospel of Jesus if every Christian traveller were as intensely devout as the Psalmist. Alas, it is to be feared that the Lord's name is profaned rather than honoured among the heathen by many who are named by the name of Christ.
From the Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 108:3. Flickr photo by James Jordan; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It would be a very pleasant thing if we could please men and please God too; if we could really make the best of both worlds, and have the sweets of this and of the next also: but a warning cry arises from the pages of holy Scripture, for the Word of God talks very differently from this. It talks about a strait and narrow way, and about few that find it; it speaks of persecution, suffering, reproach, and contending even unto blood, striving against sin; it talks about wrestling and fighting, struggling and witnessing. I hear the Savior say not, “I send you forth as sheep into the midst of green pastures,” but, “as sheep in the midst of wolves.” I hear him prophesy that we should be hated of all men for his name’s sake. Truly these things are enough to startle those good, easy souls who go so delicately onward; surely they may at once enquire, Can it be that this smooth-faced godliness, this very delightful way of getting to heaven, can be the right one? Is it not all a delusion?
Are we not buoyed up with a false hope, if that hope is never assailed by trouble and persecution? All is not gold that glitters: may not the glittering religion of the many be, after all, only a pretense and a sham? O ye lovers of carnal ease, woe unto you! Inasmuch as ye take not up the cross, ye shall never win the crown. The disciples of Christ must expect to follow their Master, not merely in obedience to his doctrines, but also in the reproach which gathers about his cross. I do not find Christ carried on flowery beds of ease to his throne; I do not find him applauded with universal acclamations; on the contrary, wherever he goes he is a protestor against things established by human wisdom, and in return the things established vow his destruction, and are not satisfied until at last they gloat their cruel eyes with his martyrdom upon the cross. Jesus Christ has no life of pleasure and of ease; he is despised and rejected of men - a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and let us rest assured that if we bear faithfully our testimony, we shall discover that the servant is not above his Master, minor the disciple above his Lord: if they have called the Master of the house “Beelzebub,” much more shall they call them of his household by titles as ignominious and shameful. We must expect, if the Christian soldier be really a soldier, and not a mere pretender to the art of war, that he will have to fight until he joins the host triumphant.
From a sermon entitled "Let Us Go Forth," delivered June 26, 1861. Flickr photo by b k; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Ps. 22:7
In reading this verse one is struck with the Messiah's missionary spirit. It is evidently his grand consolation that Jehovah will be known throughout all places of his dominion. “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord. Out from the inner circle of the present church the blessing is to spread in growing power until the remotest parts of the earth shall be ashamed of their idols, mindful of the true God, penitent for their offences, and unanimously earnest for reconcilation with Jehovah. Then shall false worship cease, “and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee, “O thou only living and true God. This hope which was the reward of Jesus is a stimulus to those who fight his battles. It is well to mark the order of conversion as here set forth; they shall “remember” - this is reflection, like the prodigal who came unto himself; “and turn unto Jehovah” - this is repentance, like Manasseh who left his idols and “worship” - this is holy service, as Paul adored the Christ whom once he abhorred.
From the Treasury of David, exposition on Psalm 22:7. Flickr photo by Indy Kethdy ; some rights reserved.
Monday, November 24, 2008
We do not muse much in these days of ours. We are too busy. We are hurrying here and there, doing much, and talking much, but thinking very little, and spending but very little time indeed in the modesty of retirement.
“The calm retreat, the silent shade,”
are things which we know but very little about. We should be better men, if we were more alone; and I think that we should do more good after all, if with even less of active effort we spent more time in waiting upon God, and gathering spiritual strength for labor in his service. Where lives there upon earth, in these days, a man who spends hour after hour of the day in meditation upon God? There may be such, and if there be, I would that I had their acquaintance; but where will you find giants such as those who lived in the Puritan times, whose lips dropped pearls, because they themselves had dived down deep in the fathomless ocean of mercy by the sweet aid of meditation? There may be such, and I would that it were our lot to sit under their ministry; but I fear that the most of us are so little in retirement -so seldom in communion with God in private, and even when there, the communion is for so short a time - that we are but tiny dwarfs, and can never, while we live thus, attain to the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. The world has put a little letter before the word “musing,” and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing. People will go anywhere for amusement; but to muse is a strange thing to them, and they think it dull and wearisome.
From a sermon entitled "Quiet Musing," delivered. Flickr photo by Indy Kethdy; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
True mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. There is no mourning until first the Spirit is poured out. Then men look, and then they mourn. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature’s garden. If thou hast one sigh after Christ, if thou hast one particle of hatred of sin, God the Holy Spirit must have given it to thee, for poor human nature with its utmost strain can never reach to a spiritual thing. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” True repentance then must come from on high. Lord, send it to us now.
From a sermon entitled "The Pierced One Pierces The Heart," delivered June 19, 1861. Flickr photo by Flemming Christiansen; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”-John 16:7.
Come, Holy Spirit, come, we can do nothing without thee; but if we have thy wind, we spread our sail, and speed onward towards glory.
Then the Spirit came as fire. A fire-shower accompanied the rushing mighty wind. What a blessing is this to the Church! The Church wants fire to quicken her ministers, to give zeal and energy to all her members. Having this fire, she burns her way to success. The world meets her with the fire of faggots, but she confronts the world with the fire of kindling spirits and of souls aglow with the love of Jesus Christ. She trusts not to the wit, and eloquence, and wisdom of her preachers, but to the divine fire which clothes them with energy. She knows that men are irresistible when they are filled with hallowed enthusiasm sent from God. She trusts therefore in this, and her cry is, “Come, holy fire, abide upon our pastors and teachers! Rest upon every one of us!” This fire is a blessing Christ did not bring us in person, but which he now gives through his Spirit to the Church.
From a sermon entitled "The Superlative Excellence of the Holy Spirit," delivered June 12, 1864. Flickr photo by Paul Sapiano; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Wherever the apostles went they met with obstacles to the preaching of the gospel, and the more open and effectual was the door of utterance the more numerous were the adversaries. These brave men who wielded the sword of the Spirit as to put to flight all their foes; and this they did not by craft and guile, but by making a direct cut at the error which impeded them. Never did they dream for a moment of adapting the gospel to the unhallowed tastes or prejudices of the people, but at once directly and boldly they brought down with both their hands the mighty sword of the Spirit upon the crown of the opposing error.
From a sermon entitled "Baptismal Regeneration," delivered June 5, 1864.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Meditate, dear friends, upon the whole range of God’s works in creation and providence. There was a period when God dwelt alone and creatures were not. In that time before all time, when there was no day but “The Ancient of Days,” when matter and created mind were alike unborn, and even space was not, God, the great I Am, was as perfect, glorious, and blessed as he is now. There was no sun, and yet Jehovah dwelt in light ineffable; there was no earth, and yet his throne stood fast and firm; there were no heavens, and yet his glory was unbounded.
God inhabited eternity in the infinite majesty and happiness of his self-contained greatness. If the Lord, thus abiding in awful solitude, should choose to create anything, the first thought and idea must come of him, for there was no other to think or suggest. All things must be of him in design. With whom can he take counsel? Who shall instruct him? There existed not another to come into the council-chamber, even if such an assistance could be supposable with the Most High. In the beginning of his way before his works of old, eternal wisdom brought forth from its own mind the perfect plan of future creations, and every line and mark therein must clearly have been of the Lord alone. He ordained the pathway of every planet, and the abode of every fixed star. He poured forth the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and girt Orion with his bands. He appointed the bounds of the sea, and settled the course of the winds. As to the earth, the Lord alone planned its foundations, and stretched his line upon it. He formed in his own mind the mold of all his creatures and found for them a dwelling and a service. He appointed the degree of strength with which he would endow each creature, settled its months of life, its hour of death, its coming and its going. Divine wisdom mapped this earth, its flowing rivers and foaming seas, the towering mountains, and the laughing valleys. The divine Architect fixed the gates of the morning and the doors of the shadow of death. Nothing could have been suggested by any other, for there was no other to suggest. It was in his power to have made a universe very different from this, if he had so pleased; and that he has made it what it is, must have been merely because in his wisdom and prudence he saw fit to do so.
From a sermon entitled "Laus Deo," delivered May 29, 1864. Flickr photo by Ron Almog; some rights reserved.
Friday, November 14, 2008
No sooner was God manifest in the flesh, than mortals began to stumble at him. “ Is not this the carpenter’s son?” was the question of those who looked for worldly pomp and imperial grandeur. “His father and his mother, we know, and his brethren and his sisters are they not all with us?” was the whispered objection of his own townsmen. In his own country the greatest of all prophets had no honor. Our Lord was rejected of all sorts of men; they looked at him from different quarters, but all with the same scornful eye. The Pharisee stumbled at him, because he was not superstitions and ostentatious; forsooth, he did not wash his hands before he ate, nor did he pray at the corner of the streets; he entered into the company of publicans and sinners; he did not make broad his phylactery; be healed the sick upon the Sabbath; he had no respect for traditions, and therefore every righteous Pharisee abhorred him. The Sadducee, on the other hand, much as he hated Pharisaic superstition, despised Christ equally as much. His objections were shot from quite another quarter. To him Christ was too superstitious; for the Sadducee would not believe in angel or spirit, or resurrection of the dead - all which beliefs the prophet of Nazareth openly avowed.
Philosophical skepticism detested Jesus, because his teaching had in it very much of the supernatural element. All his life long, in the high courts of Herod or of Pilate, or in the lowest rank of the mob of Judea, Christ was despised and rejected of men. They had long ago persecuted all the prophets whom the Lord had sent, and it was little marvel that they now assailed the Master himself.
From a sermon entitled "Unbelievers Stumbling, Believers Rejoicing," delivered May 22, 1864. Flickr photo by Jason; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The Orion Nebula
If it be true that “Order is heaven’s first law,” I think it must be equally true that variety is the second law of heaven. The line of beauty is not a straight line, but always the curve. The way of God’s procedure is not uniform, but diversified. You see this with a glance, when you look at the creation around us. God has not made all creatures of one species, but he has created beasts, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles. All flesh truly is not the same flesh, neither are all bodies of the same order. The dull dead earth itself is full of variety. Gems sparkle not all with the same ray. The grosser and less precious rocks are marked and veined each one according to its own fashion. In the vegetable world what a variety of plants, shrubs, herbs, flowers, and trees, we have about us. In any one of the kingdoms of nature, whether it be the animal, vegetable, or mineral, you shall find so many subdivisions that it would need a long schooling to classify them, and a lifetime would not suffice to understand them all. Consider the winged creatures which flit through the air-what a diversity there is between the tiny humming bird, which seems to be but a living mass of gems, and the eagle which with soaring wing ascends to the sky and sports with the lightnings.
The whole world is full of marvels, and no two marvels alike. You shall never be able to find God repeating himself. This great Master may often paint two pictures which seem alike, but investigated with the microscope, what differences at once are revealed! Even those stars which seem to shine with rays of the same brilliance, are discovered by the aid of the telescope to be of different colors, forms, and orbits. Nay, even the very clouds are piled in varied forms, and the masses of nebulae which make up the milky-way are distinguishable from each other. God, in no instance that we can ever find, has used the same mould a second time. He is so affluent of designs, so abundant in the wisdom that devises, so prolific in plans, that even when he would accomplish the same end he chooseth to take another road to it; and that new road is quite as direct as those by which he has formerly reached his purpose.
From a sermon entitled "The First Five Disciples," delivered May 15, 1864. Flickr photo by Marc Soller; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
“Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice." — 2 Kings 13:19.
How many believers have but little faith, and seem quite content to have but that little. They cannot grasp the promise of God and believingly expect to have it fulfilled. They scarcely know their own interest in Christ; they are safe enough, but they are generally wretched enough. They cannot take God at his word, and therefore their temporal troubles and their spiritual cares press very heavily upon them. Oh that they had grace to smite the ground six times! Oh that they knew how to cast all their burden on him who careth for them!
Oh that the Lord would give them new faith, so that they would trust him implicitly, and leave their souls in the hands of him who shed his heart’s blood that he might redeem them from wrath! Why, I do not know, dear friends, that there is any necessity for us to be always doubting, and fearing, and trembling. Some think there is; but this is because they have not a high idea of the standing of the child of God, and of the position which God would have him attain unto. They shoot the three arrows, and they say- “ I am saved; that is enough; I shall get to heaven.” Oh that they would go on shooting till they could get a heaven below, till they could begin by strong faith to
“Read their title clear, To mansions in the sky,”
and “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!"
From a sermon entitled "The Arrows of the Lord's Deliverance," delivered March 22, 1864. Flickr photo by Heather Katsoulis; some rights reserved.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
“For they did not get the land in possession by their own sword.”
Behold how the Lord alone was exalted in bringing his people to the land which floweth with milk and honey! He, in his distinguishing grace, had put a difference between Canaan and Israel, and therefore, by his own effectual power, he wrought for his chosen and against their adversaries. The tribes fought for their allotments, but their success was wholly due to the Lord who wrought with them. The warriors of Israel were not inactive, but their valour was secondary to that mysterious, divine working by which Jericho's walls fell down, and the hearts of the heathen failed them for fear. The efforts of all the men-at-arms were employed, but as these would have been futile without divine succour, all the honour is ascribed unto the Lord.
The passage may be viewed as a beautiful parable of the work of salvation; men are not saved without prayer, repentance, etc., but none of these save a man, salvation is altogether of the Lord. Canaan was not conquered without the armies of Israel, but equally true is it that it was not conquered by them; the Lord was the conqueror, and the people were but instruments in his hands.
From The Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 44:3. Flickr photo by William & Lisa Roberts; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Brethren, if it be so that God cannot lie, then it must be the natural duty of all his creatures to believe him. I cannot resist that conclusion. It seems to me to be as clear as noonday, that it is every man’s duty to believe truth, and that if God must speak and act truth, and truth only, it is the duty of all intelligent creatures to believe him. Here is “Duty-faith” again, which some are railing at, but how they can get away from it, and yet believe that God cannot lie, I cannot understand. If it be not my duty to believe in God, then it is no sin for me to call God a liar. Will anyone subscribe to that - that God is a liar? I think not; and if to think God to be a liar would be a most atrocious piece of blasphemy, then it can only be so on the ground that it is the natural and incumbent duty of every creature understanding the truthfulness of God to believe in God.
If God has set forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitiation for sin, and has told me to trust Christ, it is my duty to trust Christ, because God cannot lie; and though my sinful heart will never believe in Christ as a matter of duty but only through the work of the Holy Spirit, yet faith does not cease to be a duty; and whenever I am unbelieving and have doubts concerning God, however moral my outward life may be, I am living in daily sin; I am perpetrating a sin against the first principles of morality.
From a sermon entitled "What God Cannot Do!," delivered May 8, 1864. Flickr photo by Wouter; some rights reserved.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Ask either saint or sinner, and you shall find that peace was never obtained in the way of the flesh. Turn to the Christian, and he will tell you, “Therefore being justified BY FAITH, we have peace with God.” He will tell you that when he turns away from faith and looks to himself; at once his darkness begins. He will assure you that he never walks in perfect light and true comfort except when he keeps his eye fast fixed upon the great sacrifice of Calvary. I know, brethren, whenever I am dull and drooping as to my eternal interests, it is always because I have thought more of my graces than of Christ’s grace, or more of the Spirit’s work in me than of the finished work of Christ on my behalf. There is no living happily, but by depending wholly upon Christ. A sinner resting upon his Savior as his only hope, is blest. Now, if this be the experience of all saints, and if no sinner living will dare to tell you that he can get his conscience quiet by his own works, why do any of you try it?
Heaven bears witness that salvation by faith is certain: hell bears witness that works do but ruin us. O, hear the double testimony, and lay hold upon eternal life through the person of Christ Jesus. O my dear friend, if you are really panting for salvation, go not round and round these dreary performances of your own doings! It must all end in misery, disappointment, and despair. “They rowed hard to bring it to land, but they could not.” All human work which does not begin and end in the Lord Jesus must be a non-success. All your working has been a non-success with you up to the present, and so it will be to the end of the chapter. Give it up, and God help you to try his method, for it is sure and efficacious.
From a sermon entitled "Labor In Vain," delivered May 1, 1864. Flickr photo by Chris Gin; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
My brethren, if you pray tomorrow for God to send a favorable wind to waft the missionary-ship to its haven, the same wind will waft a merchantman, or a pirate too, if they are going the same way. It may be that you pray that rain may come to extinguish a fire, and perhaps a shower comes, but you do not expect it to fall just where the fire is, but also for miles around. If you know some poor man living in Lancashire, and you pray for him, that God would deliver him from poverty. If your prayer is heard, it may very likely be by quickening the trade of the whole country, and conferring a blessing on the people of the whole neighborhood. In fact, you know yourselves if you are praying to God to bless your children, it is not possible that your children should be blessed without the blessing coming down upon others, because God’s blessing any one man is the means indirectly of blessing other people. You cannot have a godly family down a court, without the whole court being the better for it. You cannot have one Christian man favored by his God without his household having some portion of the favor. God sends the favor only to his servants-that is the special intention, but still there comes with that a wider blessing.
From a sermon entitled "General And Yet Particular," delivered April 24, 1864. Flickr photo by Chris Gin; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Son of God can make the prisoner free. No matter who you are, nor what you are, nor how many years you may have remained the slaves of Satan, the Son, the glorious liberator, can make you free. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost, who come unto God by him.” Perhaps that which weighs upon you most heavily is a sense of your past guilt. “I have offended God: I have offended often, wilfully, atrociously, with many aggravations. On such-and-such a day I offended him in the foulest manner, and with deliberation. On other days I have run greedily in a course of vice. Nothing has restrained me from disobedience, and nothing has impelled me to the service of God. All that his Word says against me. I deserve; and every threatening which his book utters, is justly due to me, and may well be fulfilled. Is there a possibility that I can escape from guilt? Can so foul a sinner as I am be made clean? I know that the leopard cannot lose its spots, nor the Ethiopian change his skin by his own efforts. Is there a power divine which can take away my spots, and change my nature?"
Sinner, there is. No sin which you have committed need shut you out of heaven. However damnable your iniquities may have been, there is forgiveness with God that he may be feared. You may have gone to the very verge of perdition, but the arm of God’s grace is long enough to reach you. You may sit today with your tongue padlocked with blasphemy, your hands fast bound by acts of atrocious violence, your heart fettered with corruption, your feet chained fast to the Satanic blocks of unbelief, your whole self locked up in the bondage of corruption, but there is one so mighty to save that he can set even you free. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
From a sermon entitled "The Great Liberator," delivered April 17, 1864. Flickr photo by 'Speculando; some rights reserved.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Priests and kings unto our God hath Christ made us by virtue of his own position. Oh! to think that we who were worse than dogs should sit amongst the children; that we, who once stood at the swine-trough and fain would have filled our belly with the husks, now feed upon the fatted calf, while they dance and make merry. What love is this, that whereas we said, “I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof,” he hath been pleased to make our bodies the temples of the Holy Ghost, and God dwelleth in us and we in him!
My brethren, what an honor to be one with Christ - to be united to the person of him who counts it not robbery to be equal with God - to he made at last to sit upon his throne, even as he sits upon his Father’s throne! Why, when I look upon the dignity which belongs to the meanest Christian, the imperial pomp of all emperors and kings sinks into insignificance, and like a shadow melts away. Think of this, my brethren, and despite your low state of grace this morning, take comfort. He would not have made you such mighty ones as you are in him, if he had not intended to bless you still.
From a sermon entitled "A Promise For Us And For Our Children," delivered April 10, 1864. Flickr photo by Francisco Antunes; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The wrath of God is the thunderbolt which scathes the soul; and now that you are delivered from that tremendous peril, you must not be overwhelmed with the few showers and gales which Providence sends you. A God of love inflicts our sorrows: he is as good when he chastens as when he caresses: there is no more wrath in his afflicting providences than in his deeds of bounty. God may seem unkind to unbelief, but faith can always see love in his heart. Oh! what a mercy that Sinai has ceased to thunder!
From a sermon entitled "The Barley-Field On Fire," delivered April 3, 1864. Flickr photo by Nad Renrel; some rights reserved.
“By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.”
He had kept the highway of Scripture, and not chosen the bye-paths of malice. We should soon imitate the example of the worst of men if the grace of God did not use the Word of God as the great preservative from evil. The paths of the destroyer have often tempted us; we have been prompted to become destroyers too, when we have been sorely provoked, and resentment has grown warm; but we have remembered the example of our Lord, who would not call fire from heaven upon his enemies, but meekly prayed, “Father, forgive them.” All the ways of sin are the paths of Satan, - the Apollyon or Abaddon, both of which words signify the destroyer. Foolish indeed are those who give their hearts to the old murderer, because for the time he panders to their evil desires.
That heavenly Book which lies neglected on many a shelf is the only guide for those who would avoid the enticing and entangling mazes of sin; and it is the best means of preserving the youthful pilgrim from ever treading those dangerous ways. We must follow the one or the other; the Book of Life, or the way of death; the word of the Holy Spirit, or the suggestion of the Evil Spirit. David could urge as the proof of his sincerity that he had no part or lot with the ungodly in their ruinous ways. How can we venture to plead our cause with God, unless we also can wash our hands clean of all connection with the enemies of the Great King?
From the Treasury Of David, exposition of Psalm 17:4. Flickr photo by rachel_thecat; some rights reserved.
Monday, October 13, 2008
“There is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God.” Believers drink of that river and thirst not for carnal delights. They are made “to lie down in green pastures,” and are led “beside the still waters.” Now this solid, lasting joy and peace of mind sets the Christian so on high above all others, that I boldly testify that there are no people in the world to compare with him for happiness. But do not suppose that our joy never rises above this settled calm; for let me tell you, and I speak experimentally, we have our seasons of rapturous delight and overflowing bliss. There are times with us when no music could equal the melody of our heart’s sweet hymn of joy. It would empty earth’s coffers of every farthing of her joy to buy a single ounce of our delight. Do not fancy Paul was the only man who could say, “Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth,” for these ecstasies are usual with believers; and on their sunshiny days when their unbelief is shaken off and their faith is strong, they have all but walked the golden streets; and they can say, “If we have not entered within the pearly gate, we have been only just this side of it; and it we have not yet come to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, if we have not joined the great congregation of the perfect in actual body, yet still-
“E’en now by faith we join our hands
With those that went before,
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
On the eternal shore.”
I would not change one five minutes of the excessive joy my soul has sometimes felt for a thousand years of the best mirth that the children of this world could give me. O friends, there is a happiness which can make the eye sparkle and the heart beat high, and the whole man as full of bounding speed of life as the chariots of Amminadib. There are raptures and high ecstasies, which on festival days such as the Lord allotteth to his people, the saints are permitted to enjoy. I must not fail to remind you that the Christian is the happiest of men for this reason, that his joy does not depend upon circumstances.
From a sermon entitled "Alas For Us, If Thou Wert All, And Nought Beyond, O Earth,” delivered March 27, 1864. Flickr photo by Patrick Emerson; some rights reserved.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Say that sin is not to be punished, and you have unhinged government; you have plucked up the very gate of our common weal; you have been another Samson to another Gaza, and we shall soon have to rue the day. But, sirs, I need not stop to prove it; it is written clearly upon the consciousness of each man, and upon the conscience of every one of us, that sin must be punished. Here are you and I tonight brought into this dilemma. We have sinned; we all like sheep have gone astray, and we must be punished for it. It is impossible, absolutely, that sin can be forgiven without a sacrifice. God must be just if heaven falls. If earth should pass away and every creature should be lost, the justice of God must stand, it cannot by any possibility be suffered to be impugned. Let this, then, be fully established in our minds. You need not to be told, as for the first time, that God in his infinite mercy has devised a way by which justice can be satisfied, and yet mercy can be triumphant. Jesus Christ, the only-begotten of the Father, took upon himself the form of man, and offered unto divine justice that which was accepted as an equivalent for the punishment due to all his people.
From a sermon entitled "Expiation." Flickr photo by F H Mira; some rights reserved.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, but our Master washed his disciples’ feet. Earthly monarchs are often tyrants; their yoke is heavy, and their language domineering; but it is not so with our King; his yoke is easy, and his burden is light, for he is meek and lowly of heart. He is a shepherd king. He has supremacy, but it is the superiority of a wise and tender shepherd over his needy and loving flock; he commands and receives obedience, but it is the willing obedience of the well-eared-for sheep, rendered joyfully to their beloved Shepherd, whose voice they know so well. He rules by the force of love and the energy of goodness. His power lies not in imperious threatenings, but in imperial lovingkindness. Let the children of Zion he joyful in their King, for “men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.”
Never people had such a king before. His service is perfect freedom; to be his subject is to be a king; to serve him is to reign. Blessed are the people who are the sheep of his pasture; if they follow in his footsteps their road is safe; if they sleep at his feet no lion can disturb their peace; if they are fed from his hand they shall lie down in green pastures, and know no lack; if they abide close to his person they shall drink of rivers of delight. Righteousness and peace are the stability of his throne, joy and gladness are the ornaments of his reign. Oh! how happy are we who belong to such a prince. Thou King in Jeshurun, we pay thee homage with loyal hearts; we come into thy presence with thanksgiving, and into thy courts with praise, for thou art our God, and we are the people of thy pasture, and the sheep of thy hand.
From a sermon entitled "Christ Is Glorious - Let Us Make Him Known," delivered March 20, 1864. Flickr photo by fauxto_digit; some rights reserved.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
You recollect that Paul went to Ephesus, and Ephesus, as a city, was besotted with a belief in sorcery. The people had given themselves up to practice magical arts. What is the right way to begin to preach at Ephesus? Deliver a course of lectures upon the impossibility and absurdity of such superstition? No, sir, nothing of the kind. Preach Christ, preach the gospel; and as Jesus Christ is lifted up they bring their magical books and make a bonfire of them in the open forum.
But here is a polished governor, Sergius Paulus, sitting upon the judgment seat. What shall be preached to him? Would it not be well to begin with a dissertation on politics, and to show that the Christian religion does not interfere with proper government, that it does not stir up the people to anarchy? No, sir, nothing of the kind. There is nothing for Sergius Paulus any more than there is for Elymas the sorcerer, but the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul goes to Athens. Now the Athenians are the most learned and philosophical of the whole race of men. What will Paul preach there? The gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel. He may change his tones, but never his matter. It is the same remedy for the same disease, he the men what they may. He comes to Corinth, and here you have not only polished manners, but the very refinement of vice. It is a city, an emporium of trade, and a sort of central depot of sin. What then? Will he now, to please the trader, assume a different dialect? Not he! The Christ for Athens is the Christ for Corinth too. And now see him. He has come to Lycaonia, and is preaching at Lystra. Here is an ignorant set of people who worship an image. Why does he not begin by preaching of the deity? Why does he not talk to them of the Trinity in unity? Why does he not try and confute their notions about their gods? No, my dear sir, he will do nothing of the kind; that may be done incidentally, but the first and the last thing that Paul will do at Lystra is, there he will preach the gospel. O glorious gospel of the blessed God! Wherever we take thee thou art suited to the wants of men.
From a sermon entitled "The Cripple At Lystra." Flickr photo by Calum Davidson; some rights reserved.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Christian has joy as other men have in the common mercies of life. For him there are charms in music, excellence in painting, and beauty in sculpture; for him the hills have sermons of majesty, the rocks hymns of sublimity, and the valleys lessons of love. He can look upon all things with an eye as clear and joyous as another man’s; he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works. He is not dead to the happiness of the household: around his hearth he finds
happy associations, without which life were drear indeed. His children fill his home with glee, his wife is his solace and delight, his friends are his comfort and refreshment. He accepts the comforts which soul and body can yield him according as God seeth it wise to afford them unto him; but he will tell you that in all these separately, yea, and in all of them added together, he doth not find such substantial delight as he doth in the person of his Lord Jesus. Brethren, there is a wine which no vineyard on earth ever yielded; there is a bread which even the corn-fields of Egypt could never bring forth. You and I have said, when we have beheld others finding their god in earthly comforts, “You may boast in gold, and silver, and raiment, but I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”
From a sermon entitled "A Bundle Of Myrrh," delivered March 6, 1864. Flickr photo by Vic Brincat; some rights reserved.