SERMONETTES THERE are probably few, if any, detailed records of the services mentioned in the preceding chapters, and the number of persons, still living, who were among “the boy-preacher’s” first hearers, must be continually diminishing.
Even their reminiscences of his preaching would be necessarily very incomplete after so great a lapse of time. It is, therefore, a happy circumstance that Mr. Spurgeon was moved first to write, and then to preserve, considerable portions of the discourses that, in those early days, were the means of winning so many souls for the Lord Jesus Christ. The manuscripts are by no means full reports of the young Pastor’s utterances, — they are Sermonettes rather than Sermons, — but they tell what were the subjects brought before the notice of the villagers who crowded “the little thatched chapel” at Waterbeach, and they also show how the various topics were handled.
Following the arrangement adopted in Chapter 20., one Sermonette is given from each of the Volumes V., V1., and VII., with the inscriptions written at the beginning and end of the earlier books in the series.
Volume V. commences thus, — Feb. 26, 1853. “Jehovah Jireh,” — “I am ever with you.” “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”
Underneath thee are the everlasting arms.
Never have I sought in vain.
OUTLINE 243. —CHRIST OUR SURETY “Be surely for Thy servant for good. let not the proud oppress me.” — Psalm 119:122.
The 22nd verse of Hebrews 7 supplies a comment on this text. These are the only two places in Scripture in which a surety between God and man is mentioned; but though spoken of sparingly, it is none the less important, I.CONSIDER WHEREIN CHRIST IS ASURETY.
II.WHAT HE ENGAGED TO DO AS ASURETY.
III.WHAT BENEFITS FLOW TO US THROUGH HIS SURETYSHIP.
I. CONSIDER IN WHAT SENSE JESUS IS ASURETY. 1. Not for His Father, — to us, — for God is so true, His word and oath so firm, that we need not wish for a Surety; and, indeed, it would not be an assistance to our faith, since he who doubts the Father would doubt the Son. 2. Not as promising in our behalf. He is not bound to see that we perform our obligations, for He knows well enough that we could not pay a farthing of our debt to God, even if we would. 3. But He is our Surety by taking all our debts upon Himself, — standing in our stead, — promising to do what we ought to have done.
We will illustrate this subject from instances in the world. A son, about to set up in business, has little money; but his father says, “Charge the goods to my account; let him have them, but send me the bill, I will be surety for its payment.”
A poor man is in prison for debt, and must continue to lie there unless someone pays 1.t for him. A philanthropist, like John Howard, comes in, and bids the creditor loose his prisoner, and accept himself as surety for the debtor.
Damon is in prison, condemned to die; but he wishes first to see his children. His friend, Pythias, is chained in his place, and engages to die in his stead if he does not return at the appointed time.
II. WHAT CHRIST ENGAGED TO DO AS ASURETY.
Not more than He could do, — for He is God.
Not more than He will do, — for He is faithful. 1. He has promised to render to the law perfect obedience. This was our debt; but He has taken it away, canceled it for ever. 2. He has promised to satisfy justice for our debt of punishment. Just as Paul wrote to Philemon, concerning Onesimus, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account I will repay it.” This Christ has done for all believers. 3. He has engaged to bring all the elect home to glory. Judah said he would bear the blame if he did not bring Benjamin back. Jacob had to be responsible for the sheep of Laban. So Jesus is bound by covenant to save every believer.
III. WHAT BLESSINGS FLOW TO US THROUGH CHRIST’ S SURETYSHIP. 1. Complete pardon, — for the punishment of our sin has been transferred from us to Him, and we are reckoned as if we had ourselves endured the full penalty of our guilt. 2. Complete justification. What Christ does for us is counted as done by ourselves, so that we are now considered as sinless, and acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ. 3. Freedom from fear, — a settled peace. We have no ground for despondency or terror; no bailiff can arrest us now, for our debt is fully paid. 4. Everlasting security. Our whole indebtedness is gone, and we are safe for ever.
How foolish not to seek this Surety! How dangerous to delay, for death may come, and God demand His due, and we shall have nothing with which to pay our debt! A life of holiness cannot pay it. Tears, groans, and prayers cannot pay it. An eternity of woe cannot pay it.
Faith looks to Jesus as Surety, and desires no other means of paying the debt. Trust Him, then, and you are free for ever.
Lord, aid me! (Inscription at the end of Volume V: — ) The Lord is my Banner; why am I fearful when God furnishes me with all that is needful? (Inscription at the beginning of Volume VI: — ) O Lord, I am entirely dependent on Thine aid! Do not cut off the supplies, but ever give me to drink of Thy fountain, and to guide others to the same Divine spring.
OUTLINE 311. —CHRIST IS PRECIOUS. “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious.” — 1 Peter 2:7.
This was the theme of the first sermon I ever preached; I hope it is my theme now, and ever shall be, — living, dying, and glorified.
This is one of the texts from which everyone imagines he could preach; but which, for that very reason, is all the more difficult to preach from to your satisfaction. However, if the Good Spirit will apply to your hearts my few homely thoughts, your being satisfied will not matter. Here we have, — I. APRECIOUS PEOPLE.
II. APRECIOUS CHRIST.
III. APRECIOUS EXPERIENCE.
I. APRECIOUS PEOPLE.
Not so in themselves, but quite the reverse; yet they are so in the eyes of their Lord and Savior. They are His special favorites. They are His crown jewels.
They are all believers, whether they have great faith or little faith. They are not mere repeaters of creeds, but true, hearty believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is only these precious people who are able to see the preciousness of Christ. Faith is indispensable to the enjoyment of Christ. Can a child know how precious is gold before he has been taught its value? Does the beggar in the street appreciate a picture by Raphael, or can the ignorant rightly estimate the value of learning?
Faith is the eyesight of the soul, whereby it discerns spiritual beauty. Faith is the mouth which relishes Heavenly sweetness.
God has made faith the mark of His precious people, because it is a grace which greatly exalts God, and, at the same time, abases the creature.
Precious are God’s people, — elect, redeemed, guarded, fed, nurtured, and at last glorified.
II. APRECIOUS CHRIST.
What need is there for me to enlarge here? We, who believe, know that Chris,: is precious. 1. My Christ is more precious to me than anything that my fellow-creatures have. I see some who live in palaces, sit on thrones, wear crowns, and feast on dainties. I have heard of Alexanders, Napoleons, and Caesars; but I envy them not, for Christ is more precious to me than all earthly dominion.
I see others with great riches; they are afraid of losing what they have, yet they are’ groaning after more. They have many cares through their wealth, and they must leave it all one day; but Christ is better than all earthly riches. Shall I give up Christ for gold? No, for Christ is more precious to me than wealth could ever be.
Some men have noble minds; they long for knowledge, they toil that they may measure the earth, survey the heavens, read the lore of the ancients, dissolve minerals, etc., but Christ is better to me than learning.
Others pant for fame. I shall be forgotten, save by the few whose steps I guided in the path to Heaven; but I weep not at that, for Christ is more precious to me than fame. 2. He is more precious than anything I myself have.’.
If I have a home and a fireside, and feel a comfort in them, yet, if called to suffer banishment, I have a better home. Christ is better lo me than home.
If I have relatives, — Mother and father, — or faithful friends; these I value, and rightly, too. ‘Tis a bitter pang to lose them, but Christ is better than relatives or friends. He is my Husband, my brother, my Lover.
I have health, and that is a precious jewel. Take it away, and pleasures lose their gloss; but my Jesus is mine still, and He is heller than health; yea, life itself is valueless in comparison with Him.
When I consider the glory of His nature, the excellence of His character, the greatness of His offices, the richness of His gifts, surely He is indeed precious.
III. APRECIOUS EXPERIENCE.
Merely to say that Christ is precious, is nothing; but to know that He is precious, to feel it in truth, is everything. 1. The self-denials of missionaries, — 2. The sufferings of martyrs, — 3. The deathbeds of saints, — all attest the reality of the experience here spoken of.
Have we felt it? If so, may we once more feel it at His table! Oh, to live ever with the taste of this honey in our mouths, — to feast even on the name of our dear Redeemer!
O precious One, help! Help! Help!
OUTLINE 327. — “PRAISE YE THE LORD.” “Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise Him in the heights.” — Psalm 148:1.
Having once and again exhorted you to the most excellent work of praising God, it may seem unnecessary to mention it again. Yet it is most probable that some of you have neglected the duty; and if you have not, you ,.’ill find your soul still prepared to hear more on the subject, that you may rise to higher flights and more animated strains.
There are two places where we can praise God, — in Heaven and on earth.
There are two great ways of praising God, — by song and by service.
I. ON EARTH,WE HAVE TWO WAYS OF PRAISING GOD, —BY SONG AND BY SERVICE. 1. By song. Almost all great events have been celebrated in song; poets have employed their utmost ability in this way. One of the oldest books in the world, next to the Bible, sings of the ten years’ siege of Troy. Virgil, the almost equal of the mighty Homer, sang, “Arms and the man.” The taking of Jerusalem, the discovery of America, great battles, notable births, and even the sinking of ships, have found poets to celebrate them.
In early times, the wily priests called in music and poetry to aid in their false worship. Whether Jupiter or Baal, Bacchus or Moloch, Venus or Thammuz, Dagon or Neptune, was worshipped, hymns or paeans were chanted in their praise, making valleys and mountains ring with the heathen melodies.
Nor has true religion — offspring of Heaven, whose life-blood came from Christ upon the cross, — refused to employ poesy in the worship of the great Jehovah, who says, “I am God, and there is none else.” In our days, the poet of the sanctuary puts into our mouths his simple yet harmonious strains. Sometimes, we sing, — “Behold the glories of the Lamb!” At other times, filled with holy rapture, we sing, — “What equal honors shall we bring!” or, though in lowlier notes, we — “Join our cheerful songs With angels round the throne;” or, to a solemnly grand tune, we sing, — ‘Keep silence, all created things.’ Our friends opposite (the Wesleyans) have the warm and fervent strains of Wesley, — “ Hark, the herald angels sing.” “Jesu, lover of my soul.” “Oh, for a heart to praise my God!” Then we have Doddridge singing, — “Jesus, I love Thy charming name.” “Grace! ‘tis a charming sound!” Sometimes, — “ All hail the power of Jesus’ name I” rises loftily to a noble tune Then, John Newton, the African blasphemer, who was converted, while standing at the helm of the ship in a storm, as he recalled a text his Mother taught him, — leads us in singing, — “ How sweet the name of Jesus sounds I” “Sweeter sounds than music knows, Charm me in Immanuel’s name.” “When any turn from Zion’s way;” or his companion, the amiable, tender, loving Cowper, sings, — “There is a fountain fill’d with blood;” or, — “ God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” Toplady, strong in faith, sings, — “ A debtor to mercy alone.” “Jesus immutably the same;” or, — “Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.” But why enumerate when we all have a large store of sacred poetry, dear to us even from childhood, and treasured in our memories? If we go back to the times of the second Reformation, we find the Covenanters in Scotland and the old Conventiclers of England, under such men as Baxter, Bunyan, Cameron, etc., etc., ever fond of hymning God’s praises. In the first Reformation, Luther’s hymns and ballads probably did more than his massive tomes to help forward the good cause. Look on yon Alpine steeps and vales, where but here and there a cottage can be seen. Wait awhile, and you shall hear the songs of praise ascending to the God of Heaven. In apostolic times, the prisoners of Philippi heard the voices of Paul and Silas praising God at midnight. Paul and James agree in advising us to sing; and our Lord Himself sometimes joined with His apostles in singing a hymn.
Mary and Elizabeth sang praises unto God.
Go back to the age of the prophets, and see how often their inspired writings are songs. Retreat still further till you come to the golden age of psalmody. Solomon and David especially are full of praise to Jehovah. “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” “ Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands;” Who can forget the song of Deborah, or the song of Moses? Who does not believe that, long ere their day, the sons of God, in their meetings at the throne of grace, sang praises unto God? I believe, with Milton, that in Eden’s garden sublimer songs were heard than any that we fallen beings can even imagine. Let us, then, praise the Lord by singing. 2. By service, we may praise God as much as by song.
Our common duties should be done in such a manner that they may become spiritual worship.
Then there is the temple worship of the Lord’s house on the Sabbath and also on week-days.
Then, acts of charity, liberality, and holy labor for souls, performed by the tract-distributor, the Sunday-school teacher, the minister, the deacon; above all, by the missionary who risks his life for his Master’s honor and service; — all these are praising the Lord as they minister unto Him in various ways. In some way or other, let all of us who believe in Jesus serve our God right heartily. Let us be like the woman who anointed Christ with the precious ointment, loving much, since we have had much forgiven.
II. IN HEAVEN,THE SAME TWO MODES OF PRAISING GOD ARE EMPLOYED. 1. By song. The angelic hosts praise Him now as they have ever done. We read that these sons of God shouted for joy on Creation’s morning; and they still praise the Lord whenever a prodigal returns. The saints now add their notes, and sing what angels cannot sing, — how Immanuel, God with us, suffered and died for them. How sweet their voices, how matchless their tunes, how glorious the melody! How magnificent the Heavenly concert will be when all the ransomed throng at once shall sing unto Him who loved them, and washed them from their sins in His own blood! 2. By service. Even in the garden of Eden, Adam had to till the ground; and in Heaven no idlers are to be found, all there are employed. Some are ministering spirits, some attendant angels, some are studying the perfections of Deity, and others are framing music to His praise. They have, doubtless, far more to do with us than we wot of God, who makes all things work, and work together in harmony, and work together for the good of His chosen people, will not leave His noblest creatures unemployed.
Let us, then, begin song and service below, that soon we may continue our worship on high with a sweeter song and nobler service. (The above was the 600th discourse delivered by Mr. Spurgeon. It was preached at Waterbeach in the course of his last year as Pastor there.)