GADDING ABOUT A SHORT SERMON’. BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? “ — Jeremiah 2:36.
GOD’ S ancient people were very prone to forget him, and to worship the false deities of the neighboring heathen. Other nations were faithful to their blocks of wood and of stone, and adhered as closely to their graven images as though they really had helped them, or could in future deliver them.
Only the nation which avowed the true God forsook its God, and left the fountain of living waters to hew out for itself broken cisterns which could hold no water. There seems to have been, speaking after the manner of men, astonishment in the divine mind concerning this, for the Lord says, “Pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate.” In this same chapter the Lord addresses his people with the question, “Can a maid forget her ornaments? or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” And here, in this text, the same astonishment appears, “Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?” It most certainly was a most unreasonable thing that a people with such a God, who had dealt out to them so graciously the riches of his love, and had wrought such wonders on their behalf, should turn from him to the worship of Baal or Ashtaroth, mimic gods which had ears but heard not, eyes but saw not, and did but mock the worshippers who were deluded by them. As in a glass I see myself in these people. The spiritual people of God are well imaged in the typical nation; for, alas! waywardness and wandering of heart are the diseases not only of the Israelites of old, but also of the true Israel now.
The same expostulations may be addressed to us as to that erring nation of old, for we as perpetually backslide, and as constantly forget the Almighty One, to put our trust in an arm of flesh, He saith to us also, “Why gaddest thou about so much?” For we are, alas! too often false to hi, forgetting him, and wandering hither and thither, rather than abiding in close and constant fellowship with God our exceeding joy.
I desire to put this question to believers, and then to the unconvertcd. May the Holy Spirit bless it to each class.
If you read this question, taking it in its connection, you will see, in t h? first place, that there is a relationship mentioneed. The question is asked, “Why gaddest thou about so much?” The enquiry is not made of a traveler, nor of one whose business it is to journey from cole to pole, and to investigate distant lands. It is not asked of a wayfarer lodging’ for a night, nor of a homeless vagrant who finds a poor shelter beneath every bush; but it is asked by God of his people Israel, describing them under the character of a married wife. He represents the nation of Israel as being married unto himself, himself the husband of Israel, and Israel his bride. To persons bearing that character the question comes with great force, “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Let others wander who have no central object of attraction, who have no house, and no “house-band,” to bind them to the spot; but thou, a married wife, how canst thou wander? What hast thou to do in traversing strange ways? How canst thou excuse thyself? If thou weft not false to thy relationship thou couldst not do so!.No, beloved, we strain no metaphor when we say that there exists between the soul of every believer and Jusus Christ, a relationship admirably imaged in the conjugal tie. We are married unto Christ. He has betrothed our souls unto himself.
He paid our dowry on the cross. He espoused himself unto us in righteousness, in the covenant of grace. We have accepted him as our Lord and husband. We have given ourselves up to him, and under the sweet law of his love we ought to dwell evermore in his house. He is the bridegroom of our souls, and he has arrayed us in the wedding dress of his own righteousness. Now it is to us who own this marriage union, and who are allied to the Lord Jesus by ties so tender, that the Wellbeloved says, “Why gaddest thou about so much?”
Observe, that the wife’s place may be described as a threefold one. In the first place, she should abide in dependence upon her husbandd’s care. It would be looked upon as a very strange thing if a wife should be overheard to speak to another man, and say, “Come and assist in providing for me.” If she should cross the street to another’s house and say to a stranger, “I have a difficulty and a trouble; will you relieve me from it? I feel myself in great need, but I shall not ask my husband to help me, though he is rich enough to give me anything I require, and wise enough to direct me, but I come to you a stranger, in whom I have no right to confide, and from whom I have no right to look for love, and I trust myself with you, and confide in you rather than in my husband.” This would be a very wicked violation of the chastity.of the wife’s heart: her dependence as a married woman with a worthy husband, must be solely fixed on him to whom she is bound in wedlock. Transfer the figure, for it is even so with us and [he Lord Jesus.
It is a tender topic; let it tenderly touch your heart and mine. What right have I, when I am in trouble, to seek’ an arm of flesh to lean upon, or to pour my grief into an earthborn ear in preference to casting my care on God, and telling Jesus all my sorrows? If a human friend hath the best intentions, yet he is not like my Lord, he never died for me, he never shed his blood for me, and if he loves me he cannot love me as the husband of my soul can love! My Lord’s love is ancient as eternity, deeper than the sea, firmer than the hills, changeless as his own Deity; how can I seek another friend in preference to him? What a slight I put upon the affection of my Savior! What a slur upon his condescending sympathy towards me!
How I impugn his generosity and mistrust his power if, in my hour of need, I cry out, “Alas! I have no friend.” No friend while Jesus lives! Dare I say I have no helper? No helper while the Mighty One upon whom God has laid help still exists with arm unparalysed and heart unchanged? Can I murmur and lament that there is no escape for me from my tribulations? No escape while my Almighty Savior lives, and feels my every grief? Do you see my point? Put it in that shape, and the question, “Why gaddest thou about so much to look after creatures as gounds of dependence?” becomes a very deep and searching one. Why, O believer, dost thou look after things which are seen, and heard, and handled, and recegnised by the senses, instead of trusting in thine unseen but not unknown Redeemer? Oh! why, why, thou spouse of the Lord Jesus, why gaddest thou about so much? Have we not even fallen into this evil with regard to our own salvation? After a time of enjoyment it sometimes happens that our graces decline, and we lose our spiritual enjoyment, and as we are very’ apt to depend upon our own experience, our faith also droops. Is not this unfaithfulness to the finished work and perfect merit of our great Substitute? We knew at the first, when we were under conviction of sin, that we could not rest on anything within ourselves, and yet that truth is always slipping away from our memories, and we try to build upon past experiences, or to rely upon present enjoyments, or some form or other of personal attainment. Do we really wish to exchange the sure rock of our salvation for the unstable sand of our own feelings? Can it be that having once walked by faith we now choose to walk by sight? Are graces, and frames, and enjoyments, to be preferred to the tried foundation of the Redeemer’s atonement? Be it remembered that even thework of the Holy Spirit, if it be depended upon as a ground of acceptance with God, becomes as much an antichrist as though it were not the work of the Holy Spirit at all. Dare we so blaspheme the Holy Ghost as to make his work in us a rival to the Savior’s work for us? Shame on us that we should thus doubly sin! The best things are mischievous when put in the wrong place. Good works have “necessary uses,” but they must not be joined to the work of Christ as the groundwork of our hope. Even precious gold may be made into an idol-calf, and that which the Lord himself bestows may be made to he a polluted thing, like that brazen serpent which once availed to heal, but when it was idolised came to be styled by no better name than “a piece of brass,” and was broken and put away. Do not continually harp upon what thou art, and what thou art not; thy salvation does not rest in these things, but in thy Lord. Go thou and stand at the foot of the cross, still an.empty-handed sinner to be filled with the riches of Christ; a sinner black as the tents of Kedar in thyself, and comely only through thy Lord.
Again, the wife’s position is not only one of sole dependence upon her husband’s care, but it should be, and is, a position Of sole delight in, her husband’s love. To be suspected of desiring aught of man’s affection beyond that, would be the most serious imputation that could be east upon a wife’s character. We are again upon very tender ground, and I beseech each of you who are now thinking of your Lord, consider yourselves to be on very tender ground too, for you know what our God has said”The Lord thy God is a jealous God.” That is a very wonderful and suggestive expression — ”a jealous God.” See that it be engraven on your hearts. Jesus will not endure it that those of us who love him should divide our hearts between him and something else. The love which is strong as death is linked with a jealousy cruel as the grave, “the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” The royal word to the spouse is, “Forget also thine own kindred, and thy father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.” Of course, beloved, the Master never condemns that proper natural affection which we are bound to give, and which it is a part of our sanctification to give inits due and proper proportion to those who are related to us. Besides, we are bound to love all the saints, and all mankind in their proper place and measure. But there is a love which is for the Master alone. Inside the heart there must be a sanctum sanctorum, within the veil, where he himself alone must shine like the Shechinah, and reign on the mercy-seat. There must be a glorious high throne within our spirits, where the true Solomon alone must sit; the lions of watchful zeal must guard each step of it. There must he, the King in his beauty, sit enthroned, sole monarch of the heart’s affections. But, alas! alas! how often have we gone far to provoke his anger! We have set up the altars of strange gods hard by the holy place. Sometimes a favorit child has been idolised; another time, perhaps our own persons have been admired and pampered. We have been unwilling to suffer though we knew it to be the Lord’s will: we were determined to make provision for the flesh. We have not been willing to hazard our substance for Christ, thus making our worldly comfort our chief delight, instead of feeling that wealth to be well lost which is lost as the result of Jehovah’s will. Oh, how soon we make idols! Idol-making was not only the trade of Ephesus, but it is a trade all the world over. Making shrines for Diana, nay, shrines for self, we are all master craftsmen at this in some form or another. Images of jealousy, which become abominations of desolation, we have set up. We may even exalt some good pursuit into an idol, even work for the Master may sometimes take his place; as was the case with Martha, we are cumbered with much serving, and often think more about the serving than of him who is to be served; the secret being that we are too mindful of how we may look in the serving, and not enough considerate of him, and of how he may be honored by our service. It is so very easy for our busy spirits to gad about, and so very difficult to sit at the Masterfeet. Now, Christian, if thou hast been looking after this and after that secondary matter, if thy mind has been set too much upon worldly business, or upon any form of earthly love, the Master says to thee, “My spouse, my beloved, why gaddest thou about, so much?” Let us confess our fault, and return unto our rest. Let each one sing plaintively in the chamber of his heart some such song as this— “Why should my foolish passions rove?
Where can such sweetness be As I have tasted in thy love, As I have found in thee?
Wretch that I am, to wander thus In chase of false delight; Let me be fasten’d to thy cross, Rather than lose thy sight.” But a third position, which I think will be recognised by every wife as being correct, is not simply dependence upon her husband’s care and delight in her husband’s love, but also diligence in her husband’s house. The good housewife, as Solomon tells us, “looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” She is not a servant, her position is very different from that, but for that very reason she uses the more diligence. A servant’s work may sometimes be finished, but a wife’s never. “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” She rejoices willingly to labor as no servant could be expected to do. “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.” “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strentheneth her arms. She per-ceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.” All through the live-long night she watches her sick child, and then through the weary day as well the child is still tended, and the household cares are still heavy upon her. She relaxes never. She counts that her house is her kingdom, and she cares for it with incessant care. The making of her husband happy, and the training up of her children in the fear of God, that is her business. The good housewife is like Sarah, of whom it is written, that when the angel asked Abraham, “Where is Sarah thy wife?” he answered, “Behold, she is in the tent.” It would have been well for some of her descendents had they been “in the tent,” too, for Dinah’s going forth to see the daughters of the land cost her dear. Now, this is the position, the exact position of the chaste lover of Jesus, he dwells at home with Jesus, among his own people. The Christian’s place with regard to Christ is to be diligently engaged in Christ’s house. Some of us can say, I trust, that we do naturally care for the souls of men. We were born, by God’s grace, to care for them, and could not be happy, any more than some nurses can be happy without the care of children, unless we have converts to look after, and weaklings to cherish. It is well for the church when there are many of her members, beside her pastors and deacons, who care for the souls of those who are born in the church. The church is Christ’s family mansion. It should be the home of new-born souls, where they are fed with food convenient for them, nourished, comforted, and educated for the better land. You have all something to do; you who are married to Christ have all a part assigned you in the household of God. He has given you each a happy task. It may be that you have to suffer in secret for him, or you have to talk to two or three, or perhaps in a little village station, or at the corner of a street you have to preach, or possibly it is the distribution of a handful of tracts, or it is looking after the souls of a few women in your district, or teaching a class of children. Whatever it is, if we have been growing at all negligent, if we have not thrown our full strength into his work, and have been expending our vigor somewhere else, may not the question come very pertinently home to us, “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Why that party of pleasure, that political meeting, that late rising, that waste of time? Hast thou nothing better to do? Thou hast enough to do for thy husband and his church, if thou doest it well. Thou hast not a minute to spare, the King’s business requireth haste. Our charge is too weighty and too dear to our hearts to admit of sloth. The Lord has given us as much to do as we shall have strength and time to accomplish by his grace, and we have no energies to spare, no talents to wrap up in napkins, no hours to idle in the market-place. One thing we do: that one thing should absorb all our powers. To neglect our holy life-work is to wrong our heavenly Bridegroom. Put this matter in a clear light, my brethren, and do not shut your eyes to it. Have you any right to mind earthly things? Can you serve two masters? What, think you, would any kind husband here think, if when he came home the children had been neglected all day, if there was no meal for him after his day’s work, and no care taken of his house whatever? Might he not well give a gentle rebuke, or turn away with a tear in his eye? And if it were long continued, might he not almost be justified if he should say “My house yields me no comfort!
This woman acts not as a wife to me !” And yet, bethink thee, soul, is not this what thou hast done with thy Lord? When he has come into his house has he not found it in sad disorder, the morning prayer neglected, the evening supplication but poorly offered, those little children but badly taught, and many other works of love forgotten. It is thy business as well as his, for thou art one with him, and yet thou hast failed in it. Might he not justly say to thee, “I have little comfort in thy fellowship! I will get me gone until thou treatest me better, and when thou longest for me, and art willing to treat me as I should be treated, then I will return to thee, but thou shalt see my face no more till thou hast a truer heart towards me”?
Thus in personal sadness have I put this question; the Lord give us tender hearts while answering it.
Painful as the enquiry is, let us turn to the question again. A reason is requested, what shall we give? “Why gaddest thou about so much?” I am at a loss to give any answer. I can suppose that without beating about the bush, an honest heart convinced, of its ingratitude to Christ would say, “My Lord, all I can say for myself is to make a confession of the wrong, and if I might make any excuse, which after all is no excuse, it is this, I find myself so fickle at heart, so frail, so changeable; I am like Reuben, unstable as water, and therefore I do not excel.” But I can well conceive that the Master, without being severe, would not allow even of such an extenuation as that, because there are many of us who could not fairly urge it. We are not fickle in other things. We are not unstable in minor matters. Where we love we love most firmly, and a resolve once taken by us is determinedly carried out. We know what it is, some of us, to put our foot down, and declare that having taking a right step we will not retrace it; and then no mortal power can move us. Now, if we possess this resolute character in other things, it can never be allowable for us to use the excuse of instability. Resolved elsewhere, how canst thou be fickle here? Firm everywhere else, and vet frail here! O soul, what art thou at? This is gratuitous sin, wanton fickleness. Surely thou hast wrought folly in Israel if thou givest the world thy best, and Christ thy worst! The world thy decision, and Christ thy wavering! This is but to make thy sin the worse.
The excuse becomes an aggravation. It is not true that thou art thus unavoidably fickle. Thou art not a feather blown with every’ wind, but a man of purpose and will. O why then so soon removed from thy best Beloved One?
I will ask thee a few questions, not so much by way of answering the enquiry, as to show how difficult it is to answer it. “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Has thy Lord given thee any offense? Has he been unkind to thee? Has the Lord Jesus spoken to thee like a tyrant, and played the despot over thee? Must thou not confess that in all his dealings with thee in the past, love, unmingled lore has, been his rule? lie has borne patiently with thine ill-manners; when thou hast been foolish he has given thee wisdom, and he has not upbraided thee, though he might have availed himself of the opportunity of that gift, as men so often do, to give a word of upbraiding at the same time. He has not turned against thee or been thine enemy, why then be so cold to him? Is this [he way to deal with one so tender and so good? Let me ask thee, has thy Saylout changed? Wilt thou dare to think he is untrue to thee? Is he not “the same yesterday, today, and for ever”? That cannot, then, be an apology for thine unfaithfulness. ‘Has he been unmindful of his promise? He has told thee to call upon him in the day of trouble, and he will deliver thee; has he failed to do so? It is written, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Has he withheld a really good thing from thee when thou hast walked uprightly? If, indeed, he had played thee false, thine excuse for deserting him might claim a hearing, but thou darest not say this. Thou knowest that he is faithful and true. “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Hast thou found any happiness in gadding about? I confess, sorrowfully, to wandering often and wandering much, bat I am ready enough to acknowledge that I get no peace, no comfort by my wanderings, but like a forlorn spirit I traverse dry places, seeking rest and finding none. If for a day, or a part of a day, my thoughts are not upon my Lord, the hour is dreary, and my time hangs heavily; and if my thought is spent upon other topics even connected with my work in the church of God, if I do not soon come back to him, if I have no dealings with him in prayer and praise, I find the wheels of my chariot taken off, and I drag along right heavily. “The day is dark, the night is long, Unblest with thoughts of thee, And dull to me the sweetest song, Unless its theme thou be.” The soul that has once learned to swim in the river of Christ will, when his presence is withdrawn, be like a fish laid by the fisherman on the sandy shore, it begins to palpitate in dire distress, and ere long it will die, if not again restored to its vital element. You cannot get the flavour of the bread of heaven in your mouth, and afterwards contentedly feed on ashes. He who has never tasted anything but the brown, gritty cakes of this world, may be very well satisfied with them; but he who has once tasted the pure white bread of heaven can never be content with the old diet. It spoils a man for satisfaction with this world to have had heart-ravishing dealings with the world to come. I mean not that it spoils him for practical activity in it, for the heavenly life is the truest life even for earth, but it spoils him for the sinful pleasures of this world; it prevents his feeding his soul upon anything save the Lord Jesus Christ’s sweet love. Jesus is the chief ingredient of all his joy, and he finds that no other enjoyment beneath the sky is worth a moment’s comparison with the King’s wines on the fees, well refined. “Why then gaddest thou about so much?” For what, oh! for what reason dost thou wander? When a child runs away from its home, because it has a brutal parent, it is excused; but when the child leaves a tender mother and an affectionate father, what shall we say? If the sheep quits a barren field to seek after needed pasturage, who shall blame it? But if it leaves the green pastures, and forsakes the still waters to roam over the and sand, or to go bleating in the forest among the wolves, in the midst of danger, how foolish a creature it proves itself! Such has been our folly. We have left gold for dross! We have forsaken a throne for a dunghill! We have quitted scarlet and fine linen for rags and beggary! We have left a palace for a hovel! We have turned from sunlight into darkness! We have forsaken the shining of the Sun of Righteousness, the sweet summer weather of communion, the singing of the birds of promise, and the turtle voice of the divine Spirit, and the blossoming of the roses and the fair lilies of divine love, to shiver in frozen regions among the ice caves and snow of absence from the Lord’s presence. God forgive us, for we have no excuse for this folly. “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Hast thou not always had to pay for thy gaddings, aforetime? O pilgrim, it is hard getting back again to the right road. Every believer knows how wise John Bunyan was when he depicted Christian as bemoaning himself bitterly when he had to go back to the harbour where he had slept and lost his roll. He had to do a triple journey; first to go on, and then to go back, and then to go on again. The back step is weary marching. Remember, also, Bypath Meadow, and Doubting Castle, and Giant Despair. ‘Twas an ill day when the pilgrims left the narrow way. No gain, but untold loss comes of forsaking the way of holiness and fellowship. What is there in such a prospect to attract you from the happy way of communion with Christ. Perhaps the last time you wandered you fell into sin, or you.met with a grief which overwhelmed you: ought not these mishaps to teach you? Being burned will you not dread the fire? Having afore time been assaulted when in forbidden paths, will you not now keep to the king’s highway, wherein no lion or any other ravenous beast shall be found? “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Dost thou not even now feel the drawings of his love attracting thee to himself? This heavenly impulse should make the question altogether unanswerable. You feel sometimes a holy impulse to pray, and yet do not pray; you feel, even now, as if you wished to behold the face of your Beloved, and yet you will go forth into the world without him; is this as it should be? The Holy Spirit is saying in your soul, “Arise from the bed of thy sloth, and seek him whom thy soul loveth.” If your sloth prevents your rising, how will you excuse yourself?
Even now I hear the Beloved knocking at your door. Will you not hasten to admit him? Are you too idle. Dare you say to him, “I have put off my coat, how can I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?”
If you keep him without in the cold and darkness while his head is wet with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night, what cruelty is this? Is this thy kindness to thy friend? Can you hear him say, “Open to me, my love, my dove, my undefiled;” and can you be deaf to his appeals? O that he may gently make for himself an entrance. May he put in his hand by the hole of the door, and may your bowels be moved for him! May you rise up and open to him, and then your hands will drop with myrrh, and your fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh upon the handles of the lock. But remember if you neglect him now, it will cost you much to find him when you do arise, for he will make you traverse the streets after him, and the watchmen will smite you, and take away your reft. Rise and admit him now. “Behold! your Bridegroom’s at the door!
He gently knocks, has knoek’d before:
Has waited long; is waiting still:
You treat no other friend so ill.
Oh lovely attitude! he stands With melting heart and laden hands; Delay no more, lest he depart, Admit him to your inmost heart.” Yet again, even now, he calls you. Run after him, for he draws you.
Approach him, for he invites you. God grant it may he so!
I wish I had the power to handle a topic like this as Rutherford, or Herbert, or Hawker would have done, so as to touch all your hearts, if you are at this hour without enjoyment of fellowship with Jesus. But, indeed, I am so much one of yourselves, so much one who has to seek the Master’s face myself, that I can scarcely press the question upon you, but must rather press it upon myself. “Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?” Blessed shall be the time when our wanderings shall cease, when we shall see him face to face, and rest in his bosom! Till then, if we are to know anything of heaven here below, it must be by living close to Jesus, abiding at the foot of the cross, depending on his atonement, looking for his coming — that glorious hope, preparing to meet him with ]amps well trimmed, watching for the midnight cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh;” standing ever in his presence; looking up to him as we see him pleading before the throne, and bet]eying that he is ever with us, even unto the end of the world. O may we be in future so fixed in heart that the question need not again be asked of us, “Why, gaddest thou about so much?”
And now I have to use the text for a few minutes, in addressing those who are not converted.
I trust that some of you who are not yet saved, nevertheless have a deuce of desire towards Christ. It is well when, like the climbing plant, the heart throws out tendrils, trying to grasp something by the help of which it may mount higher. I hope that desire of yours after better things, and after Jesus, is something more than nature could have imparted. Grace is the source of gracious desires. But that is not the point. Your desires may be right, and yet your methods of action mistaken. You have been trying after peace, but you have been gadding about to find it. The context says that the Israelites would soon be as weary of Egypt as they had been of Assyria.
Read the whole passage, “Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. Yea, thou shalt go forth from him, and thine hands upon thine head: for the Lord hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.” Jeremiah 2:36,37. Their gadding about would end in their being confounded at last as they were at first. Once they trusted in Assyria, and the Assyrians carried them away captive; that was the end of their former false confidence. Then they trusted in Egypt, and met with equal disappointment. When a man is at first alarmed about his soul, he wilt do anything rather than come to Christ. Christ is a harbour that no ship ever enters except under stress of weather. Mariners on the sea of life steer for any port except the fair haven of free grace. When a man first finds comfort in his own good works, he thinks he has done well. “Why,” says he, “this must be the way of salvation; I am not a drunkard now, I have taken the pledge; I am not a Sabbath-breaker now, I have taken a seat at a place of worship. Go in, and look at my house, sir; you will see it as different as possible from what it was before; there is a moral change in me of a most wonderful kind, and surely this will suffice. Now, if God be dealing with that man in a way of grace, he will soon be ashamed of his false confidence. He will be thankful, of course, that he has been led to morality, but he will find that bed too short to stretch himself on it. He wilt discover that the past still lives; that his old sins are buried only in imagination— the ghosts of them will haunt him, they will alarm his conscience. He will be compelled to feel that sin is a scarlet stain, not to be so readily washed out as he fondly dreamed. His self-righteous refuge will prove to be a bowing wall and a tottering fence. Driven to extremities by the fall of his tower of Babel, the top of which was to reach to heaven, he grows weary of his former hopes. He finds that all the outward religion he can muster will not suffice, that even the purest morality is not enough; for over and above the thunderings of conscience there comes clear and shrill as the voice of a trumpet, “Ye must be born again;” “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kin,edom of God;” “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye can in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Well, then, what does he do? He resolves to find another shelter, to exchange Assyria for Egypt. That is to say, as work will not do, he ‘will try feeling; and the poor soul will labor to pump up repent-anco out of a rocky heart, and, failing to do so, will mistake despair for contrition. He will try as much as possible to feel legal convictions. He will sit down and read the books of Job and Jeremiah, till he half hopes that by becoming a companion of dragons, and an associate of owls, he may find rest. He seeks the living among the dead, comfort from the law, healing from a sword. He conceives that if he can feel up to a certain point, he can be saved; if he can repent to a certain degree, if he can be alarmed with fears of hell up to fever heat, then he may be saved. But ere long, if God is dealing with him, he gets to be as much ashamed of his feelings as of his works. He is thankful for them as far as they are good, but he feels that he could not depend upon them, and he recollects that if feeling were the way of salvation he deserves to feel hell itself, and that to feel anything short of eternal wrath would not meet the law’s demands. The question may fitly be put to one who thus goes the round of works, and feelings, and perhaps of ceremonies, and mortifications, “Why gaddest thou about so much?” It will all end in nothing. You may gad about as long as you will, but you will never gain peace, except by simple faith in Jesus. All the while you are roaming so far the gospel is nigh you, where you now are, in your present state, available to you in your present condition now, for “now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.” O sinner, thou art thinking to bring something to the Most High God, and yet be bids thee come without money and without price. Thy Father saith to thee, “Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they, be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” He declares to you the way of salvation, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” He calls’ to you in his gracious word, and says, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” He bids you trust in his Son, who is the appointed Savior, for he hath laid help upon one that is mighty. He thus addresses you, “Incline your ear unto me, and come unto me: hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” You want pardon, and he cries from the cross, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.”
You want justification, the Father points you to his Son, and says, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.” You want salvation, he directs you to him who is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. The God of heaven bids you look to his dear 8on, and trust him. Though I preach this gospel every day of the week, scarcely a day passes without my telling the old, old story, yet it is ever new. If you who hear me so often grow weary of it, it is the fault of my style of putting it, for to myself it seems fresher every day! To think that the tender Father should say to the prodigal son, “I ask nothinog of thee; I am willing to receive thee, sinful, guilty, vile as thou art; though thou hast injured me, and spent my substance with harlots; though thou hast fed swine; though thou art fit to be nothing but a swine-feeder all thy days; yet come thou as thou art to my loving bosom; I will rejoice over thee, and kiss thee, and say, ‘ Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, put a ring on his hands, and shoes on his feet! ‘“ Sinner, God grant thee grace to end all thy roamings in thy Father’s bosom. “Why gaddest thou about so much?” Renounce all,other hopes and fly away to the wounds of Jesus. “Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?” Listen and obey these closing lines: — “Weary souls who wander wide From the central point of bliss, Turn to Jesus crucified, Fly to those dear wounds of his:
Sink into the purple flood, Rise into the life of God.
Find in Christ the way of peace, Peace, unspeakable, unknown; By his pain he gives you ease, Life by his expiring groan:
Rise, exalted by his fall; Find in Christ your all in all.”
A LETTER ABOUT HIS OTHER LETTER BYJOHNPLOUGHMAN. MR.EDITOR, My letter on the war has brought me into the wars. I expected to be scratched when I went among the brambles, so I am not disappointed. All sorts of letters have come to hand about it, and if I’m not enlightened it is not for want of candles. One Irish gentleman tells me the French Emperor is coming to blow down our Protestant places of worship, settle Old England off altogether, and turn no end of Irish bulls loose into our crockery shops. As for me, if I am not very quiet, some of his friends have their eye on me, and will find a bullet for my head. I suppose I ought to choose a spot for a grave, and order a coffin at once; but I have done nothing of the sort. Threatened folks live long, and though the shooting season is near, I am not a partridge, though this fiery gentleman tries to make game of me. I’m sorry that the Emerald Isle is plagued with scribblers so very emerald as to think that Ireland’s cause can be helped on by bullying letters. What offense I can have given I am sure I don’t know; and what connection there call be between Ireland and my letter I cannot make out. I cannot see through it, as Simon said when he stared at a grindstone. I suppose a Fenian never feels right except when he feels his wrongs, and is never at peace except when he is at war. Perhaps the Fenians think themselves Frenchmen born out of their native country. Sure I am the cause of the Fenians and the welfare of Ireland are two things quite as different as the appetite of a cat andthe life of a mouse.
A very friendly writer, who signs himself “Another John,” thinks that I treated the King of Prussia badly, because I did not praise him. Will this German friend be so good as to read the letter again, and he will see that John Ploughman was very careful to say, “Perhaps you are not both alike, and only one of you is to blame for beginning this dreadful right.”
Somebody asked John the other day, “On which side are your sympathies?” and John replied, “My sympathies are on the side of the wounded, and the widows and orphans.” “But,” said the other, “which side do you take — the German or the French?” and John answered, “Her Majesty has’ commanded her subjects to be neutral.” “Yes;” said Mr. Inquisitive, “but which side do you take in your heart?” John answered, “The right side,” and said no more. Every one with half-an-eve can see which that side is, and it is to be hoped the right side will speedily win, with as little bloodshed as possible. The rhinoceros at the Zoological Gardens has broken his born off through trying to break down his cage and get at harmless people, and there is another wild beast that would be quite as well if his horn were off too.
A Quaker writes to scold me for thinking that my letter could have any weight with two furious men, who have both tucked up their sleeves to fight. Now this is too bad era Quaker, he ought to see that I am, as he ought to be, on the side of peace. I hope the mad dog of war has not bitten him as it has so many. The war-fever is very catching, but fighting-Quakers are as out of character as cherubim burning brimstone. John never thought that either of the sovereigns would read his letter, though more unlikely things than that have happened; but all he meant was to throw his pailful of water on any sparks which might blow over from the big fire across the water, and begin to smoke among Old England’s thatch. When the hunt comes round our way, my master’s old nag always pricks up his ears, and wants to be off across country — for he used to be a hunter in his young days; so if I am driving him, [rein him pretty tight till the hounds are gone.
Our country is much in the same way, and all peace-men should do their best to keep people from catching the scarlet fever. With all this soldiering about, one is apt to get in a fighting humor, and forget that war is a great crime — murder on a huge scale — and little less than hell let loose among men. “Thou shalt not kill” is as much a divine commandment as “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” No one supposes that adultery on a great scale would be right; then why should killing be? War pays the papers well, no doubt, but it is a wretched business, and may God soon send an end of it. Some men seem ready to cry, “Fight dog, fight bear;” but such fellows ought to be put down between the two, to let them have a taste of it. As for those who write to blow up John Ploughman for his coarse style, he is very much obliged to them indeed, and will take as much notice of what they say as the mastiff did of the gentleman in the yard at night, when he told him to lie still, for his voice was not musical, and his teeth were ugly. the old man lost his ass by trying to please everybody. Some improvements in style are improvements for the worse, as the fox said when his tail was cut off in a trap. You may pay much for your schooling and be all the worse for your learning. On a gravestone in the country it is said,” I was well; would be better; took physic, and died.” I mean to let that physic alone; my smock frock suits me very well, and my homely talk suits a good many thousands; and as for grumblers, I would say to them as the editor did to his readers— “We donor belong to our patrons, Our paper is wholly our own; Whoever may lika it may take it, Who don’t can just let it alone.” The Ploughman is not above taking advice, only some advice is such poor stuff that if you gave a groat for it, it would be fcurpence too dear. You cannot cut down a wood with a penknife, or dig a ditch with a toothpick.
Pretty little speeches have very little effect except on little people. Soft speaking for soft heads,, and good, plain speech for the hard-handed many..Mincing words and pretty sentences are for those who wear kid gloves and eve-glasses; a ploughman had better be called manly than ladylike.
At the same time, I hope to live and improve, and wishing the same to all my friends.
I am, yours truly, JOHN PLOUGHMAN, P.S. — It is not everybody that knows everything. Mighty fine as the critical gentlemen are, some of ore’ country people can tease them. Some of your London folk can’t even read our country spelling, though it’s plain enough to those who wrote it. I saw a man who thinks a good deal of himself much puzzled with this notice, taken from a chandler’s shop-window— Hear Lifs won woo Cuers a Goes, Gud. Bare. Bako sole Hare.”
BELIEVER NOT AN ORPHAN AN ADDRESS FOR THE LORD’S TABLE. BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” — John 14:18.
YOU will notice that the margin reads, “I will not leave you orphans: I will come unto you.” In the absence of our Lord Jesus Christ the disciples were like children deprived of their parents. During the three years in which he had been with them he had solved all their difficulties, borne all their burdens, and supplied all their needs. Whenever a case was too hard or heavy for them, they took it to him. When their enemies well nigh overcame them, Jesus came to the rescue and turned the tide of battle.
They were all happy and safe enough whilst the Master was with them; he walked in their midst like a father amid a large family of children, making all the household glad. But now he was about to be taken from them by an ignominious death, and they might well feel that they would be like little children deprived of their natural and beloved protector. Our Savior knew the fear that was in their hearts, and before they could express it, he removed it by saying,” I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you; world, but though you shall not be left alone in this wild and desert be absent in the flesh, yet I will be present with you in a more efficacious manner; I will come to you spiritually, and you shall derive from my spiritual presence even more good than you could have had from my bodily presence, had I still continued in your midst.”
Observe, that here is an evil averted. “I will not leave you orphans;” and in the second place, here is a consolation provided, “I will come to you.”
I. First, here isAN EVILAVERTED.
Without their Lord, believers would, apart from the Holy Spirit, be like other orphans, unhappy and desolate. Give them what you might their loss could not’ have been recompensed. No number of lamps can make up for the sun’s absence, blaze as they may it is still night. No circle of friends can supply to a bereaved woman the loss of her husband, without him she is still a widow. Even thus without Jesus it is inevitable that the saints should be as orphans, but Jesus has promised in the text that we shall not be so; the one only filing that can remove the danger he declares shall be ours, “I will come unto you.”
Now remember, that an orphan is one whose parent is dead. This in itself is a great sorrow, if there were no other. The dear father so well-beloved was suddenly smitten down with sickness; they watched him with anxiety; they nursed him with sedulous care; but he expired. The loving eye is closed in darkness for them. That active hand will no longer toil for the family. That heart and brain will no longer feel and think for them. Beneath the green grass the father sleeps, and every time the child surveys that hallowed hillock his heart swells with grief. Beloved, we are not orphans in that sense, for our Lord Jesus is not dead. It is true he died, for one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water, a sure evidence that the pericardium had been pierced, and that the four. rain of life had been broken up. He died, ‘tis certain, but he is not dead now. Go not to the grave to seek him. Angel voices say, “He is not here, for he is risen.” He could not be holden by the bands of death. We do not worship a dead Christ, nor do we even think of him new as a corpse.
That picture on the wall which the Romanists paint and worship represents Christ as dead; but oh! it is so good to think of Christ as living, remaining in an existence real and true, none the less living because he died, but all the more truly full of life because he has passed through the portals of the grave and is now reigning for ever. See then, dear friends, the bitter root of the orphan’s sorrow is gone from us, for our Jesus is not dead now. No mausoleum enshrines his ashes, no pyramid entombs his body, no monument records the place of his sepulcher. “He lives, the great Redeemer lives, What joy the blest assurance gives!” We are not orphans, for “the Lord is risen indeed.”
The orphan has a sharp sorrow springing out of the death of his parent, namely, thai he is left alone. He cannot now make appeals to the wisdom of the parent who could direct him. He cannot run, as once he did, when he was weary, to climb the paternal knee. He cannot lean his aching head upon the parental bosom. “Father,” he may say, but no voice gives an answer: “Mother,” he may cry, but that fond name which would awaken the mother if she slept, cannot arouse her from the bed of death. The child is alone, alone as to those two hearts which were its best companions. The parent and lover are gone. The little ones know what it is to be deserted and forsaken. But we are not so; we are not orphans. It is true Jesus is not here in body, but his spiritual presence is quite as blessed as his bodily presence would have been. Nay, it is better, for supposing Jesus Christ to be here in person, you could not all come and touch the hem of his garment — not’ all at once, at any rate. There might be thousands waiting all the world over to speak with him, but how could they all reach him, if he were merely here in body? You might all be wanting to tell him something, but in the body he could only receive some one or two of you at a time. But in spirit there is no need for you to stir from the pew, no need to say a word; Jesus hears your thoughts talk, and attends to all your needs at the same moment. No need to press to get at him because the throng is great, for he is as near to me as he is to you, and as near to you as to saints in America or the islands of the Southern Sea. he is everywhere present, and all his beloved may talk with him. You can tell him at this moment the sorrows which you dare not open up to any one else. You will feel that in declaring them to him you have not breathed them to the air, but that a real person has beard you, one as real as though you could grip his hand, and could see the loving flash of his eye, and mark the sympathetic change of his countenance. Is it not so with you, ye children of a living Savior? You know it is. You have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. You have a near and dear one, who in the dead of the night is in the chamber, and in the heat and burden of the day is in the field of labor. You are not orphans, “the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Everlasting Father is with you;” your Lord is here, and as one whom his mother comforteth Jesus comforts you.
The orphan, too, has lost the kind hand which took care always that food and raiment should be prorided, that the table should be well stored, and that the house should be kept in comfort. Poor feeble our, who will provide for his wants?
His father is dead, his mother is gone; who will take care of the little wanderer now? But it is not so with us. Jesus has not left us orphans, his care for his people is no less now than it was when he sat at the table with Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, whom Jesus loved. Instead of the provisions being less, they are even greater, for since the Holy Spirit has been given to us, we have richer fare and are more indulged with spiritual comforts than believers were before the bodily presence of the Master had departed. Do your souls hunger to-night? Jesus gives you the bread of heaven. Do you thirst to-night? The waters from the rock cease not to flow. “Come, make your wants, your burdens known.” You have but to make known your needs to have them all supplied, Christ waits to be gracious in the midst of this assembly. He is here with his golden hand, opening that hand to supply the wants of every living soul. “Oh!” saith one, “I am poor and needy.” Go on with the quotation. “Yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” “Ah!” saith another, “I have besought the Lord thrice to take away a thorn in the flesh from me.” Remember what he said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” You are not left without the strength you want. The Lord is you shepberd still. He will provide for you till he leads you through death’s dark valley and brings you to the shining pastures upon the hill-tops of glory. You are not destitute, you need not beg an asylum from an ungodly world by bowing to its demands, or trusting its vain promises, for Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you.
The orphan, too, is left without the instruction which is most suitable for a child.
We may say what we will, but there is none so fit to form a child’s character as the parent. It is a very sad loss for a child to have lost either father or mother in its early days; for the most skillful preceptor, though he may do much, by the blessing of God very much, is but a stop-gap and but half makes up for the original ordinance of providence, that the parent’s love should fashion the child’s mind. But, dear friends, we are not orphans, we who believe in Jesus are not left without an education. Jesus is not here himself it is true. i dare say some of you wish you could come on Lord’sdays and listen to him! Would it not be sweet to look up to this pulpit and see the Crucified One, and to hear him preach? Ah! so you think, but the apostle says, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now after the flesh know we even him no more.” It is most for your profit that you should receive the Spirit of truth, not through the golden vessel of Christ in his actual presence here, but through the poor earthen vessels of a humble servant of God like ourselves. At any rate, whether we spe,k, or an angel from heaven, the speaker matters not; it is the Spirit of God alone that is the power of the word, and makes that word to become vital and quickening to you. Now you have the Spirit of of God. The Holy Spirit is so given, that there is not. a truth which you m,y not understand. You may be led into the deepest mysteries by his teaching. You may be made to know and to comprehend those knotty points in the word of God which have hithcrto puzzled you. You have but humbly to look up to Jesus, and his Spirit, will still teach you. I tell you, you who are poor and ignorant, and perhaps can scarcely read a word in the Bible, for all that, you may be better instructed in the things of God than doctors of divinity, if you go to the Holy Spirit and are taught of him. Those who go only to books and to the letter, and are taught of men,,nay be fools in the sight of God; but those.who go to Jesus, and sit at his feet, and ask to be taught of his Spirit, shall be wise unto salvation. Blessed be God, there are not a few amongst us of this sort. We are not left orphans; we have an instructor with us still.
There is one point in which the orphan is often sorrowfully reminded of his orphanhood, namely, in lacking a defender. It is so natural in little children, when some big boy molests them, to say, “I’ll tell my father!” How often did we use to say so, and how often have we heard from the little ones since — ” I’ll tell mother!” Soreclimes the not being able to do this is a much severer loss than we can guess. Unkind and cruel men have snatched away from orphans the little which a father’s love had left behind; and \n the court of law there has been no defender to protect the orphan’s goods.
Had the father been there, the child would have had its rights — scarce would any have dared to infringe them; but in the absence of the father the orphan is eaten up like bread, and the wicked of the earth devour his estate. In this sense the saints are not orphans. The devil would rob us of our heritage if he could, but there is an advocate with the Father who pleads for us. Satan would snatch from us every promise, and tear from us all the comforts of the covenant; but we are not orphans, and when he brings a suit-in-law against us, and thinks that we are the only defendants in the case, he is mistaken, for we have an advocate on high, Christ comes in and pleads, as the Sinners’ friend, for us; and when he pleads at the bar of justice, there is no fear but that his plea will be of effect, and our inheritance shall be safe. He has not left us orphans.
Now I want, without saying many words, to get you who love the Master to feel what a very precious thought this is — that you are not alone in this world; that if you have no earthly friends, if you have none to whom you can take your cares, if you are quite lonely so far as outward friends are concerned, yet Jesus is with you, is really with you, practically with you — able to help you, and ready to do so, and that you have a good and kind protector at your hand at. this present moment, for Christ has said it: “I will not leave you orphans.”
II. And now, for two or three words about THE REMEDY by which this evil is averted — ” I will come unto you.” What does this mean? Does it not mean from the connection, this — ”I will come unto you by my Spirit “? Beloved, we must not confuse the persons of the Godhead. the Holy Spirit is not the Son of God; Jesus, the Son of God, is not the Holy Spirit. They are two distinct persons of the one God.
But yet there is such a wonderful unity, and the blessed Spirit acts so marvellously as the Vicar of Christ, that it is quite correct to say that when the Spirit comes Jesus comes too, and “I will come unto you,” means — ” I, by my Spirit; who shall take my place, and represent me — I will come to be with you.” See then, Christian, you have the Holy Spirit in you and with you to be the representative of Christ. Christ is with you now, not in person, but by his representative — an efficient, almighty, divine, everlasting representative, who stands for Christ, and is as Christ to you in his presence in your souls. Because you thus have Christ by his Spirit, you cannot be orphans, for the Spirit of God is always with you. It is a delightful truth that the Spirit of God always dwells in believers — not sometimes, but always. He is not always active in believers, and he may be grieved until his sensible presence is altogether withdrawn, but his secret presence is always there. At no single moment is the Spirit of God wholly gone from a believer. The believer would die spiritually if this could happen, but that cannot be, for Jesus has said, “Because I live ye shall live also.” Even when the believer sins, the Holy Spirit does not utterly depart from him, but is still in him to make him smart for the sin into which he has fallen. The believer’s prayers prove that the Holy Spirit is still within him; — “ Take not thy Holy Spirit from me,” was the prayer of a saint who had fallen very foully, but in whom the Spirit of God still kept his residence, notwithstanding all the foulness of his sin.
But, beloved, in addition to this, Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit wakes visits to his people of a peculiar kind. The Holy Ghost becomes wonderfully active and potent at certain times of refreshing. We are then especially and joyfully sensible of his divine power. His influence streams through every chamber of our nature,, and floods our dark soul with his glorious rays, as the sun shining in its strength. Oh, how delightful this is! Sometimes we have felt this at the Lord’s table. My soul pants to sit with you at that table, because I do remember many a happy time when the emblems of bread and wine have assisted my faith, and kindled the passions of my soul into a heavenly flame. I am equally sure that at the prayer meeting, under the preaching of the word, in private meditation, and in searching the Scriptures, we can say that Jesus Christ has come to us. What! have you no hill Mizar to remember? — “No Tabor-visits to recount, When with him in the Holy Mount”?
Oh, yes! some of these blessed seasons have left their impress upon our memories, so that amongst our dying thoughts wilt mingle the remembrance of those blessed seasons when Jesus Christ manifested himself unto us as he doth not unto the world. Oh, to be wrapped in that crimson vest, closely pressed to his open side: Oh, to put our finger into the print of nails, and thrust our hand into his side! We know what this means by past experience— “Dear Shepherd of thy chosen few, Thy former mercies here renew.” Permit us once again to feel the truth of the promise — ” I will not leave you orphans; I will come unto you.” And now gathering up the few thoughts I have uttered, let me remind you, dear friends, that every word of the text is instructive. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Observe the “I” there twice over. “/will not leave you orphans; father and mother may, but I will not; friends once beloved may turn stony-hearted, but I will noti Judas may play the traitor, and Ahithophel may betray his David, but £ will not leave you comfortless. You have had many disappointments, great heart-breaking sorrows, but I have never caused you any; if — the faithful and the true witness, the immutable, the unchangeable Jesus, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, I will not leave you comfortless; f will come unto you.” Catch at that word, “I,” and let your souls say — ” Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof; if thou hadst said — ‘I will send an angel to thee,’ it would have been a great mercy, but what sayest thou — ’ I will come unto thee’?
If thou hadst bidden some of my brethren come and speak a word of comfort to me I had been thankful, but thou hast put it thus in the first person — I will come unto you.’ O my Lord, what shall I say, what shall I do, but feel a hungering and a thirsting after thee, which nothing shall satisfy till thou shalt fulfill thine own word’ I will not leave you comfortless; will come unto you.’“ And then notice the person to whom it is addressed — ”I will not leave you comfortless — you, Peter, who will deny me; you, Thomas, who will doubt me; I will not leave you comfortless.” O you who are so little in Israel that you sometimes think it is a pity that your name is in the church-book at all, because you feel yourselves to be so worthless, so uuworthy — I will not leave you comfortless, not even you. “O Lord,” thou sayest, “if thou wouldst look after the rest of thy sheep I would bless thee for thy tenderness to them, but I — I deserve to be left; if I were forsaken of thee I could not blame thee, for! have played the harlot against thy love, but yet thou sayest, ‘ I will not leave you.’“ Heir of heaven, do not lose your part in this promise. I pray you say, “Lord, come unto me, and though thou refresh all my brethren, yet, Lord, refresh me with some of the droppings of thy love; O Lord, fill the cup for me; my thirsty spirit pants for it. “I thirst, I faint, I die to prove The fullness of redeeming love, The love of Christ to me.’” Now, Lord, fulfill thy word to thine unworthy handmaid, as I stand like Hannah in thy presence. Come unto me, thy servant, unworthy to lift so much as his eyes towards heaven, and only daring to say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Fulfil thy promise even to me, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you.”
Take whichever of the words you will, and they each one sparkle and flash after this sort. Observe, too, the richness and sufficiency of the text: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you.” He does not promise, “I will send you sanctifying grace, or sustaining mercy, or precious mercy,” but he says, what is the only thing that will prevent your being orphans. “I will Come unto you.” Ah! Lord, thy grace is sweet, but thou art better. The vine is good, but the clusters are better. It is well enough to have a gift from thy hand, but oh! to touch the hand itself. It is well enough to hear the words of thy lips, but oh! to kiss those lips as the spouse did in the song, this is better still. You know if there be an orphan child you cannot prevent its continuing an orphan. You may feel great kindness towards it, supply its wants, and do all you possibly can towards it, but it is an orphan still. It must get its father and its mother back, or else it will still be an orphan. So, our blessed Lord knowing this, does not say, “I will do this and that for you,” but, “I will come to you.” Do you not see, dear friends, here is not only all you can want, but all you think you can want, wrapped up in one word, “I will come to you.” “It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;” so that when Christ comes, in him “all fullness” comes. “‘ In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” so that when Jesus comes the very Godhead comes to the believer. “All my capacious powers can wish In thee doth richly meet;” and if thou shalt come to me, it is better than all the gifts of thy covenant.
If I get thee I get all, and more than all, at once. Observe, then, the language and the sufficiency of the promise.
But I want you to notice, further, the continued freshness and force o! the promise. Somebody here owes another person fifty pounds, and he gives him a note of hand, “I promise to pay you fifty pounds.” Very well; the man calls with that note of hand to-morrow, and gets fifty pounds. And what is the good of the note of hand now? Why, it is of no further value, it is discharged. How would you like to have a note of hand which would always stand good? That would be a right royal present. “i promise to pay evermore, and this bond, though paid a thousand times, shall still hold good.” Who would not like to have a, cheque of that sort? Yet this is the promise which Christ gives you, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” The first time a sinner looks to Christ, Christ comes to him. And what then? Why, the next minute it is still, “I will come to you.” But here is one who has known Christ for fifty years, and he has had this promise fulfilled a thousand times a year: is it not done with? Oh, no! there it stands, just as fresh as when Jesus first spoke it, — -” I will come unto you.” Then we will treat our Lord in his own fashion and take him e£ his word. We will go to him as often as ever we can, for we shall never weary him; and when he has kept his promise most, then is it that we will go to him, and ask him to keep it more still; and after ten proofs of the truth of it, we will only have a greater hungering and thirsting to get it fulfilled again.
This is fit provision for life, and for death,” I will come unto you.” In the last moment, when your pulse beats faintly, and you are just about to pass the curtain, and enter into the invisible world, you may have this upon your lips, and say to your Lord, “My blaster, still fulfill the word on which thou hast caused me to hope, ‘ I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you.’” Let me remind you that the text is at this moment valid, and for this I delight init. “I will not leave you comfortless.” That means now, “I will fret leave you comfortless now.” Are you comfortless at this hour? It is your own fault. Jesus Christ does not leave you so, nor make you so. There are rich and precious things in this word, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you, come unto you now.” It may be a very dull time with you, and you are pining to come nearer to Christ. Very well, then, plead the promise before the Lord. Plead the promise as you sit where you are: “Lord, thou hast said thou wilt come unto me; come unto me to-night.”
There are many reasons, believer, why you should plead thus. You want him; you need him; you require him; therefore plead the promise and expect its fulfillment. And oh! when he comeht, what a joy it is; he is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber with his gar-ments perfumed with aloes and cassia! How well the oil of joy will perfume your hearty How soon will your sackcloth be put away and the garments of gladness adorn you! With what joy of heart will your heavy soul begin to sing when Jesus Christ shall whisper that you are his, and that he is yours! Come, my beloved, make no tarrying; be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountain of separation, and prove to me thy promise true — ” I will not leave you orphans; I will come unto you.”
And now, dear friends, in conclusion, let me remind you that there are many who have no share in the text. What can I say to such? From my soul I pity you who do not know what the love of Christ means. Oh! if you could but tell the joy of God’s people, you would not rest an hour without it! “Hits worth, if all the nations knew, Sure the whole world would love him too.” Remember, if you would find Christ, he is to be found in the way of faith.
Trust him, and he is yours. Depend upon the merit of his sacrifice; cast yourselves entirely upon that, and you are saved, and Christ is yours.
God grant that we may all break bread in the kingdom above, and feast with Jesus, and share his glory . We are expecting his second coming. He is coming personally and gloriously. This is the brightest hope of his people.
This will be the fullness of their redemption, the time of their resurrection.
Anticipate it, beloved, and may God make your souls to sing for joy.