TO YOU AVERY little boy was taken to the Tabernacle the other Sabbath, for the first time in his life. There he went through the experience which Mr. Millais has so well depicted in his well-known painting, “My First Sermon.” Turning to his nurse he inquired in childish accents, “Is Mr. Spurgeon talking to me?” Bless the young heart, our prayer is that very speedily the Lord may speak to him through the preacher; and meanwhile, we only wish that all our hearers and readers would ask themselves the same weighty question. When a passenger arrives at the Great Western terminus, at Paddington, he hastens to the long counter divided into portions of the alphabet from A to Z, he looks for his own initial, and beneath that sign he watches for his own personal luggage. What matters it to K whether Q has a huge tin box, or B a horsehair trunk, or W a warranted solid leather portmanteau? The first concern of K is to search out the treasures which he can claim as his own. In common life there is no need to urge this. Number One usually secures its just share of attention, and a little more. Is it not strange that, when we enter upon higher realms, where weightier matters are concerned, we find men avoiding the personal application of truth, as if they thought it to be a shell which would blow them to atoms by its bursting, or a boa constrictor which would crush them in its folds? We have heard of a writer who was so egotistical, that when he wrote his own life the pronoun “I” occurred so often in it, that the printer was obliged to borrow it from his brother printer, as his “I’s” had run out. The vice is very contemptible, but might it not prove the basis of a virtue? Might we not inculcate the exchange of the nominative for the accusative, and urge persons to be egotistical (would that word do?) so far as to take home to themselves every practical lesson in book, sermon, or providence?
The proud conviction that we are above needing instruction, is one principal reason why we profit so little from the abundant means provided for our spiritual benefit. There is no teaching those who are beyond the need of learning. A certain worthy of our acquaintance, being out of a situation, made application to a friend to recommend him to a place, and remarked, that he would prefer a somewhat superior position, “for you know, Tomkins,” said he, “I am not a fool, and I ain’t ignorant.” We would not insinuate that the brother was mistaken in his own estimate, but the remark might possibly excite suspicion, for the case is similar to that of a timid pedestrian at night alone, hurrying along a lonesome lane, when a gentleman comes out of the hedge just at the turning by Deadman’s Corner, and accosts him in the following re-assuring language, “I ain’t a garrotter, and I never crack a fellow’s head with this here life-preserver.”
The outspoken self-assertion of the brother quoted above, is but the expression of the thought of most, if not all of us. “I’m not a fool, and I ain’t ignorant,” is the almost universal self-compliment, which is here out of season; and this is the great barrier to our benefiting by good advice, which we suppose to be directed to the foolish and ignorant would in general, but not to our elevated selves. The poet did not say, but we will say it for him, “All men think all men faulty but themselves.” It would be a great gain to us all, if we had those elegant quizzing glasses of ours silvered at the back, so that the next time we stick them in our eyes, in all the foppery of our conceit, we may be edified, and, let us hope, humbled, by seeing ourselves.
Gentle reader, during the year of grace 1871, we shall hope to make our magazine the vehicle of address to persons unconverted and unbelieving. If you are in such a case, do not shelve the subject, but consider that we are writing especially to you . We were in a sick room the other day, and the surgeon, with carefully soft whisper, told us something painful in reference to the case. We caught the glance of the patient, and translated it in a moment, that keen eye said, “You are whispering about me, and my case is a very bad one, pray tell me what will come of it!” It would be well for you, reader, if you were equally sensitive; there are threatenings of fearful import in the word of God; do you never in your heart remember that these speak of YOU? Bare your bosom to the arrows of the gospel, for those whom these shafts shall kill shall graciously be made alive again. Invite the operation of searching truths, which divide the joints and marrow, for their keen edge will destroy nothing but that which would destroy you.
Christian reader, we shall continue by God’s help to stir you up both by examples and precepts to holy diligence in your Lord’s service. Be so good as to accept each monthly magazine as a letter under our hand and seal directed to yourself reminding you of the claims of Jesus upon your personal effort. It is said that charity nowadays may be described thus: A sees B in want, and is so very kind as to try to get C to help him. We have daily abundant proof that this is true. Half the world comes to the Tabernacle minister for help, and three-fourths of that half only do so to shift their own burden on to another shoulder. A man who ought in all conscience to contribute 50 pounds to the enlargement of the place of worship in which he hears the gospel every Sabbath, puts his name down for ten shillings, and sends off a card to a person who is not a fourth as well off as himself, and who never was within a hundred miles of the spot.
Suppose he gets a sovereign from the generous friend, ought it not to burn his hand and make him remember that he is going to offer to the Lord a sacrifice which he has taken out of his neighbor’s fold, because he grudged his own sheep? After we have ourselves done all we can, and given all we can spare, we may then honestly exhort others to greater zeal, and press them for contributions, but not till then. The personality of our service enters into the very essence of it. Paul must do Paul’s work; and Peter must do Peter’s work; but to tax Peter to make up the deficiencies of Paul is a mode of concealing indolence which the Great Master will see through and condemn.
What am I doing for Jesus? is the New Year’s question which we propose to every reader. We ask some to begin a work for the Lord and others to enlarge what they have commenced. Oliver Cromwell pulled down the twelve silver statues of the apostles which adorned Exeter Cathedral, and sent them to the mint to be coined, that they might as true apostles go about doing good: many a fine mass of ornamental silver in our churches needs the practical touch, the useful coinage which alone can turn it to account. The man of learning, the lady of property, the woman of education, the youth of quick parts, the aged believer of great experience, are too often more remarkable for capacity than for matter-of-fact usefulness. Purposes too often run away with lives. Plans and purposes are often the eggs of action, and therefore we would not awkwardly disturb those who are hatching them; but really the process of incubation has been so long in hand, that we fear the eggs must be addled, and we are half inclined to deal roughly with the nest; out of which nothing seems to come.
We have no time to waste in projecting far-reaching enterprises for others, which will never be carried out till generations have passed away: it is ours in our own proper persons while the day lasts to perform our own share of God’s great work with all our might. Reader! again we press upon you the need of taking stock of your own business, and putting out your own talent to interest for your Lord.
Our constituency of magazine subscribers now numbers a little under fifteen thousand monthly, and our sermon purchasers some twenty-five thousand weekly, and we encourage ourselves in the belief that many of these take an interest in our work, and would be sorry to see it flag; yet because so few remember that the personal help is wanted, we frequently miss the aid of loving friends. Our College, Orphanage, and Colportage efforts are capable of great extension, especially the latter, which is left to pine in want. Personally we do all that our mind, body, and purse enable us, and we are not ashamed to say that we leave not a fragment of our ability of any kind unused for God, so far as we know if we could preach more, labor more, and give more, we would do so without being pressed.
Our work is for our Lord, and therefore we are bold in asking others to help us in it. We have long wanted suitable rooms for our College, for our Bible Classes, and for our Sabbath School, and we have about a thousand pounds available for that object; but we shall in all probability need four thousand pounds more, and we simply tell this to our friends, that when the Lord prospers them, and they feel inclined to do so, they may, if home concerns do not forbid, help one who is their minister in print, if not by word of mouth. God will move many we hope to say, “Has Mr. Spurgeon’s work any claim on me? Have I been a partaker of the benefit?
What is my share in the service?”
To you, dear readers, who are so continually aiding us, we offer our best personal thanks, and assure you that our prayers ascend to heaven that you may enjoy a rich return for your liberality and thoughtfulness. Some of you have often eased us when we have been burdened, and been in our Great Father’s hands a great strength to our weakness. Trials of our faith you have often ended, though you knew it not, and filled our heart with songs of gratitude, which only the Lord has heard. If you count us worthy of continued confidence, help us still; above all, let us have a warm place in your fervent supplications.
This opening chit-chat of a new volume came into our head through the following amusing incident, with which we close our talk, wishing all our readers A HAPPY NEWYEAR.
Sitting down in the Orphanage grounds upon one of the seats, we were talking with one of our brother trustees, when a little fellow, we should think about eight years of age, left the other boys who were playing around us, and came deliberately up to us. He opened fire upon us thus, “Please, Mister Spurgeon, I want to come and sit down on that seat between you two gentlemen.” “Come along, Bob, and tell us what you want.” “Please, Mr. Spurgeon, suppose there was a little boy who had no father, who lived in a Orphanage with a lot of other little boys who had no fathers, and suppose those little boys had mothers and aunts who comed once a month, and brought them apples and orange, and gave them pennies, and suppose this little boy had no mother and no aunt, and so nobody never came to bring him nice things, don’t you think somebody ought to give him a penny? Cause, Mr. Spurgeon that’s me .” Somebody felt something wet in his eye, and Bob got a sixpence, and went off in a great state of delight.
Poor little soul, he had seized the opportunity to pour out a bitterness which had rankled in his little heart, and made him miserable when the monthly visiting day came round, and, as he said, “Nobody never came to bring him nice things.” Turning the tables, we think some grown-up persons, who were once little Bobs and Harrys, might say, “Suppose there was a poor sinner who deserved to be sent to hell, but was forgiven all his sins by sovereign grace, and made a child of God, don’t you think he ought to help on the Savior’s cause? ‘cause Mr. Spurgeon, that’s me .”
THE HAPPY BEGGAR BY C. H. SPURGEON.
“But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”
THERE is no crime, and there is no credit in being poor. Everything depends upon the occasion of the poverty. Some men are poor, and are greatly to be pitied, for their poverty has come upon them without any fault of their own; God has been pleased to lay this burden upon them, and therefore they may expect to experience divine help, and ought to be tenderly considered by their brethren in Christ. Occasionally poverty has been the result of integrity or religion, and here the poor man is to he admired, and honored. At the same time, it will be observed by all who watch with an impartial eye, that very much of the poverty about us is the direct result of idleness, intemperance, improvidence, and sin. There would probably not be one-tenth of the poverty there now is upon the face of the earth if the drinking shops were less frequented, if debauchery were less common, if idleness were banished, and extravagance abandoned. Lovers of pleasure (alas! that such a word should be so degraded!) are great impoverishers of themselves. It is clear that there is not, of necessity either vice or virtue in being poor, and a man’s poverty cannot be judged of by itself, but its causes and circumstances must be taken into consideration.
The poverty, however, to which the text relates is a poverty which I desire to cultivate in my own heart, and it is one upon which our divine Lord has pronounced a blessing. When he sat down upon the mountain and poured forth his famous series of beatitudes, he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in pocket may be blessed, or may not be blessed, as the case may be; but the poor in spirit are always blessed, and we have Christ’s authority for so saying. Theirs is a poverty which is better than wealth; in fact, it its a poverty which indicates the possession of the truest of all riches. It was mainly in this sense that David said, “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me:” certainly in any other sense there are vast multitudes who are “poor and needy,” but who neither think upon God nor rejoice that God thinks upon them. Those who are spiritually “poor and needy,” the sacred beggars at mercy’s gate, the elect mendicants of heaven, these are the people who may say, with humble confidence, “Yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” Two things are noteworthy in the text. First, here is a frank acknowledgment , “I am poor and needy;” but secondly, here is a comfortable confidence , “Yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”
I. First; here is A FRANKACKNOWLEDGMENT.
Some men do not object to confess that they are poor in worldly goods. In fact, they are rather fond of pleading poverty when there is collection coming, or a subscription list in dangerous proximity. Men have even gloried in history in the name of “the Beggars;” and “silver and gold have I none,” has been exalted into a boast. But, spiritually, it is little less than a miracle to bring, men to feel, and then to confess their poverty, for naked, and poor, and miserable as we are by nature, we are all apt enough to say, “I am rich and increased in goods.” We cannot dig, and to beg we are ashamed. If we did not inherit a penny of virtue from father Adam, we certainly inherited plenty of pride. Poor and proud we all are. We will not, if we can help it, take our seat in the lowest room, though that is our proper place. Grace alone can bring us to see ourselves in the glass of truth. To have nothing is natural to us, but to confess that we have nothing is more than we will come to until the Holy Spirit has wrought selfabasement in us. The emptiers must come up upon us, for though naturally as empty as Hagar’s bottle, yet we boast ourselves to be as full as a fountain. The Spirit of God must take from us our goodly Babylonish garment, or we shall never consent to be dressed in the fair white linen of the righteousness of saints. What Paul flung away as dross and dung, we poor rag-collectors prize and hoard up as ever we can. “I am poor and needy,” is a confession which only he who is the Truth can teach us to offer. If you are saying it, my brother, you need not be afraid that you are under a desponding delusion. But true as it is, and plain to every gracetaught child of God, yet only grace will make a man confess the obnoxious fact! It is not in public that we can or should confess our soul-poverty as we do in the chamber when we bow our knee secretly before God, but many of us in secret have been compelled with many tears and sighs, to feel, as well as to say, “I am poor and needy.” We have searched through and through, looked from the top to the bottom of our humanity, and we could not find a single piece of good money in the house, so greatly reduced were we. We had not a shekel of merit, nor a penny of hope in ourselves, and we were constrained to fall flat on our face before God, and confess our inability to meet his claims, and we found no comfort till by faith we learned to present our Lord Jesus as the Surety for his servants for good. We could not pay even the poorest composition, and therefore cast ourselves upon the forbearance of God.
The psalmist is doubly humble, for first he says he is poor , and then adds that he is needy , and there is a difference between these two things.
He acknowledges that he is poor , and you and I, if taught of God, will say the same. We may well be poor, for we came of a poor father . Our father Adam had a great estate enough at first, but he soon lost it. He violated the trust on which he held his property, and he was cast out of the inheritance, and turned adrift into the world to earn his bread as a day laborer by tilling the ground whence he was taken. His eldest son was a vagabond; the firstborn of our race was a convict upon ticket-of-leave. If any suppose that we have inherited some good thing by natural descent, they go very contrary to what David tells us, when he declares, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Our first parents were utter bankrupts. They left us nothing but a heritage of old debts, and a propensity to accumulate yet more personal obligations. Well may we be poor who come into this world “heirs of wrath,” with a decayed estate and tainted blood.
Moreover, since the time when we came into the world, we have followed a very miserable trade . I recollect when I was a spinner and weaver of the poorest sort, I dreamed that I should be able by my own spinning to make a garment to cover myself withal. This was the trade of father Adam and mother Eve when they first lost their innocence; they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. It is a very laborious business, and has worn out the lives of many with bitter bondage, but its worst feature is that the Lord has declared concerning all who followed this self-righteous craft, “their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works.” Even those who have best attired themselves, and have for awhile gloried in their fair apparel, have had to fed the truth of the Lord’s words by Isaiah, “I will take away the changeable suits of apparel, red the mantles, and the wimples, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails, and instead of a girdle there shall be a rent; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth.” Vain is it to spend our labor on that which profiteth not, yet to this business are we early put apprentice, and we work at it with mighty pains.
We are miserably poor, for we have become bankrupt even in our wretched trade . Some of us had once a comfortable competence laid by in the bank of Self Righteousness, and we meant to draw it out when we came to die, and thought we should even have a little spending money for our old age out of the interest which was paid us in the coin of self-conceit; but the bank broke long ago, and now we have not so much as farthing of our own merits left us, no, nor a chance of ever having any; all what is worse, we are deep in debt, and we have nothing to pay. Instead of having anything like a balance on our own account, behold, we are insolvent debtors to the justice of God, without a single farthing of assets, and unless we are freely forgiven we must be cast into prison, and lie there for ever.
Job described us well when he said, “for want and famine they are solitary, fleeing into the wilderness, in former time desolate and waste. They have no covering in the cold, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.” See, then, what poverty-stricken creatures we are — of a poor stock, following a starving trade and made bankrupts even in that.
What is worse still, poor human nature has no power left to retrieve itself .
As lone as a man has a stout pair of arms he is not without a hope of rising from the dunghill. We once thought that we were equal anything, but now Paul’s description suits us well “without strength.” Our Lord’s words, too, are deeply true, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Unable so much as to think a good thought, or to lift our hearts heavenward of ourselves — this is poverty indeed! We are wrecked, and the whole vessel has gone to pieces. We have destroyed ourselves. Ah! my fellow man, may God make you feel this! Many know nothing about it, and would be very angry if we were to say that this is their condition; and yet this is the condition of every man born into the world until the Spirit of God brings him into communion with Christ, and endows him with the riches of the covenant of grace. “I am poor,” it is my confession: is it yours? Is it a confession extorted from you by a clear perception that it is really so? I will recommend you, if it be so, to take to a trade which is the best trade in the world to live by, not for the body, but for the soul, and that is the profession of a beggar, certainly a suitable one for you and me. I took to it long ago, and began to beg for mercy from God; I have been constrained to continue begging every day to the same kind Benefactor, and I hope to die begging. Many of the saints have grown rich upon this holy mendicancy; they have indeed spoken of being daily loaded with benefits. The noblest of the peers of heaven were here below daily pensioners upon God’s love; they were fed, and clothed, and housed by the charity or the Lord, and they delighted to have it so.
How clear is it from all this that none of us can have anything whereof to glory! boasting is excluded, for let the beggar get what he may he is but; a beggar still; and the child of God, notwithstanding the bounty of his heavenly Father, is still in himself alone a penniless vagrant.
The psalmist also said, “I am needy .” There are poor people who are not needy. Diogenes was very poor, but he was not needy; he had made up his mind that he would not need anything, so he lived in a tub; he had but one drinking vessel, and when he saw a boy drinking out of his hand he broke that, for he said he would not possess anything superfluous, he was poor enough, but he was not needy; for when Alexander said, “What can I do for you?” he answered, “Stand out of my sunshine.” So it is clear a man may be very poor, and yet he may not be burdened with need; but David was conscious of extreme need, and in this many of us can join him.
Brethren. we confess that we need ten thousand things, in fact, we need everything . By nature the sinner needs healing, for he is sick unto death; he needs washing, for he is the with sin; he needs clothing, for he is naked before God; he needs preserving after he is saved, he needs the bread of heaven, he needs the water out of the rock; he is all needs, and nothing but needs. Not one thing that his soul wants can he of himself supply. He needs to be kept from even the commonest sins. He needs to be instructed what be the first elements of the faith; he needs to be taught to walk in the ways of God’s plainest commandments. Our needs are so great, that they comprise the whole range of covenant supplies, and all the fullness treasured up in Christ Jesus.
We are needy in every condition. We are soldiers, and we need that grace should find us both shield and sword. We are pilgrims, and we need that love should give us both a staff and a guide. We are sailing over the sea of life, and we need that the wind of the Spirit shall fill our sails, and that Christ shall be our pilot. There is no figure under which the Christian life can be represented in which our need is not a very conspicuous part of the image. In all aspects we are poor and needy.
We are needy in every exercise . If we are called to preach, we have to cry, “Lord, open thou my lips.” If we pray, we are needy at the mercyseat, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought. If we go out into the world to wrestle with temptation, we need supernatural hell, lest we fall before the enemy. If we are alone in meditation, we need the Holy Spirit to quicken our devotion. We are needy in suffering and laboring in watching, and in fighting. Every spiritual engagement does but discover another phase of our need.
And, brethren, we are needy at all times . We never wake up in the morning but we want strength for the day, and we never go to bed at night without needing grace to cover the sins of the past. We are needy at all periods of life: when we begin with Christ in our young days we need to be kept from the follies and passions which are so strong in giddy youth; in middle life our needs are greater still, lest the cares of this world should eat as doth a canker; and in old age we are needy still, and need persevering grace to bear us onward to the end. So needy are we that even in lying down to die we need our last bed to be made for us by mercy, and our last hour to be cheered by grace. So needy are we that if Jesus had not prepared a mansion for us in eternity we should have no place to dwell in. We are as full of wants as the sea is full of water. We cannot stay at home and say, “I have much goods laid up for many years,” for the wolf is at the door, and we must go out a begging again. Our clamorous necessities follow us every moment and dog our heels in every place. We must take the two adjectives and keep them close together in our confession — “I am poor and needy.”
II. . The second part of the subject is much more cheering. It is A COMFORTABLE CONFIDENCE — “Yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”
A poor man is always pleased to remember that he has a rich relation, especially if that rich relative is very thoughtful towards him, and finds out his distress, and cheerfully and abundantly relieves his wants.
Observe, that the Christian does no find comfort in himself. “I am poor and needy.” That is the top and bottom of my case. I have searched myself through and through, and have found in my flesh no good thing.
Notwithstanding the grace which the believer possesses, and the hope which he cherishes, he still sees a sentence of death written upon the creature, and he cries, “I am poor and needy.” His joy is found in another.
He looks away from self, to the consolations which the eternal purpose has prepared for him.
Note well who it is that gives the comfort . “The Lord thinketh upon me.”
By the term “the Lord,” we are accustomed to understand the glorious Trinity. “The Lord thinketh upon me,” i.e., Jehovah, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. O beloved believer in Christ, if thou hast rested in Jesus, then the Father thinks upon thee. Thy person was in his thoughts — “Long ere the sun’s effulgent ray, Primeval shades of darkness drove.” He regarded thee with thoughts of boundless love before he had fashioned the world, or wrapped it up in swaddling bands of ocean and of cloud.
Eternal thoughts of love went forth of old towards all the chosen, and these have never changed. Not for a single instant has the Father ever ceased to love his people. As our Lord said, “The Father himself loveth you.” Never has he grown cold in his affections towards thee, O poor and needy one. He has seen thee in his Son. He has loved thee in the Beloved.
He has seen thee — “‘ Not as thou stood’st in Adam’s fall, When sin and ruin covered all; But as thou’lt stand another day, Brighter than sun’s meridian ray.” He saw thee in the glass of his eternal purpose, saw thee as united to his dear Son, and therefore looked upon thee with eyes of complacency. He thought upon thee, and he thinks upon thee still. When the Father thinks of his children, he thinks of thee. When the Great Judge of all thinks of the justified ones, he thinks of thee. O Christian, can you grasp the thought?
The Eternal Father thinks of you! You are so inconsiderable, that if the mind of God were not infinite it were not possible that he should remember your existence! And yet; he thinks upon you! How precious ought his thoughts to be to you! The sum of them is great, let your gratitude for them be great too.
Forget not that the great Son of God , to whom you owe your hope, also thinks of you. It was for you that he entered into suretyship engagements or ever the earth was. It was for you, O heir of heaven, that he took upon himself a mortal body, and was born of the virgin. It was for you that he lived those thirty rears of immaculate purity, that he might weave for you a robe of righteousness. For you the bloody sweat in the garden; he thought of you, he prayed for you in Gethsemane. For you were the flagellations in Pilate’s hall, and the mockerys before Herod, and the blasphemous accusations at the judgment-seat of Caiaphas. For you the nails, the spear, the vinegar, and the “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani .” Jesus thought of you, and died for you with as direct an aim for your salvation, as though there had not been another soul to be redeemed by his blood. And now, though he reigns exalted high, and you are “poor and needy,” yet he thinks upon you still. The glory of his present condition does not distract his thoughts from his beloved. He is lovingly thoughtful of you. When he stands up to intercede, your name glitters on his priestly breastplate with the rest of the chosen. He thinks of you when he prepares mansions for those whom his Father has blessed. He looks forward to the time when he shall gather together in one all things in heaven and in earth that are in him, and he counts you among them. Christian, will not this comfort you, that the Son of God is constantly thinking upon you?
We must not forget the love of the Spirit , to whom we are so wondrously indebted, he cannot do otherwise than think upon us, for he dwelleth in us, and shall be with us. If he dwells in us he cannot be unmindful of us. It is his office to be the Comforter, to help our infirmties, to make intercession for us according to the will of God. So let us take the three thoughts, and bind them together. “I am poor and needy, but I have a part in the thoughts of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” What fuller cause for comfort could we conceive?
We have answered the question “who?” let us now turn to “what?” “The Lord thinketh upon, me.” He does not say, “The Lord will uphold me, provide, for me, defend me.” The declaration that he “thinketh upon me.” is quite enough. “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these, things, says our Lord, as if it was quite clear that for our heavenly Father to know is to act. We poor shortsighted and short-armed creatures often know the needs of others, and would help if we could, but we are quite unable; it is never so with God, his thoughts always ripen into deeds.
Perhaps, O tried believer, you have been thinking a great deal about yourself of late, and about your many trials, so that you lie awake of nights, mourning over your heavy cares. “alas!” you think, “I have no one to advise me and sympathize with me.” Let this text come to you as a whisper, and do you paraphrase in it into a soliloquy, “I am poor and needy, this is true, and I cannot plan a method for supplying my needs, but a mightier mind than mine is cogitating for me; the infinite Jehovah thinketh upon me; he sees my circumstances, he knows the bitterness of my heart, he knows me altogether, and his consideration of me is wise, tender, and gracious. His thoughts are wisdom itself. When I think it is a poor, little, weak, empty head that is thinking, but when God thinks, the gigantic mind which framed the universe, is thinking upon me.” Have you attained to the idea of what the thoughts of God must be? the pure Spirit who cannot make mistakes, who is too wise to err, too good to be unkind, thinketh upon us; he does not act without deliberation, does not come to our help in inconsiderate haste, does not do as we do with a poor man when we throw him a penny to be rid of him, but he thoughtfully deals with us.” “Blessed is he that considereth the poor,” saith the psalmist — those who take up the case of the poor, weigh it, and remember it, are blessed.
This is what the Lord does for us “Yet the Lord thinketh upon me, considers my case, judges when, and how, and after what sort it will be most fitting to grant me relief. “The Lord thinketh upon me.” Beloved, the shadow of this thought seems to me like the wells of Elim, full of refreshment, with the seventy palm trees yielding their ripe fruit. You may sit down here and drink to your full, and then go on your way rejoicing.
However poor and needy you may be, the Lord thinketh at the present moment upon you.
We have spoken upon who and what, and now we will answer the enquiry How do we know that the Lord thinketh upon us? “Oh!” say the ungodly, “how do you know?” They are very apt to put posing questions to us. We talk of what we know experimentally, and again they cry, “How do you know?” I will tell you how we know that God thinks upon us. We knew it, first of all, when we had a view of the Redeemer by faith, when we saw the Lord Jesus Christ hanging upon a tree for us, and made a curse for us. We saw that he so exactly suited and fitted our case that we were clear the Lord must have thought and well considered it. If a man were to send you tomorrow a sum of money, exactly the amount you owe, you would be sure that some one had been thinking upon you. And when we see the Savior, we are compelled to cry out, “O my Lord, thou hast given me the very Savior I wanted; this is the hope which my despairing soul required, and this the anchorage which my tempest-tossed bark was seeking after.”
The Lord must have thought upon us, or he would not have provided so suitable a salvation for us.
We learn anew that the Lord thinks upon us when we go up to the house of God. I have heard many of you say, “We listen to the preacher, and he seems to know what we have been saying on the road; the Word comes so home to our case that surly God has been hearing our very thoughts and putting into the mind of the preacher a word in season for us.” Does not this show how the preacher’s Master has been thinking upon you? Then sit down and open the Bible, and you will frequently feel the words to be as much adapted to your case as if the Lord had written them for you alone. If instead of the Bible having been penned many hundreds of years ago, it were actually written piecemeal to suit the circumstances of the Lord’s people as they occur, it could not have been written more to the point. Our eyes have filled with tears when we have read such words as these, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” “fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel. I will help thee saith the Lord,” “In six troubles I will be with thee, in seven there shall no evil touch thee,” “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” “Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwelt in the land, and verily thou shall be fed,” and such like, which we could quote by hundreds. We feel that the Lord must have thought about us, or he would not have sent us such promises. Best of all, when we sit quietly at the feet of Jesus in the power of the Spirit of God, in solemn silence of the mind, then we know that the Lord thinks upon us, for thoughts come bubbling up one after another, delightful thoughts, such as only the Holy Spirit could inspire. Then the things of Christ are sweetly taken by the Spirit, and laid home to our hearts. We become calm and still, though before we were distracted. A sweet savor fills our heart, like ointment poured forth, it diffuses its fragrance through every secret corner of our spirit. Sometimes our soul has seemed as though it were a peal of bells, and every power and passion has been set a ringing with holy joy because the Lord was there.
Our whole nature has been as a harp well-tuned, and the Spirit has laid his fingers among the strings, and filled our entire manhood with music. When we have been the subjects of these marvelous influences and gracious operations, if any one had said to us that the Lord did not think upon us, we should have told them that they lied, even to their face, for the Lord had not only thought of us, but spoken to us, and enabled us by his grace to receive his thoughts, and to speak again, to him.
The Lord not think of us! Why, we have proof upon proof. He has very remarkably thought upon us in providence. Should some of us relate the memorable interferences of providence on our behalf they would not be believed; but they are facts for all that. William Huntingdon wrote a book called, “The Bank of Faith,” which contains in it a great many very strange things, no doubt, but I believe hundreds and thousands of God’s tried people could write “Banks of Faith” too, if it came to that, for God has often appeared for his saints in such a way that if the mercy sent had been stamped with the seal of God, visible to their eyes, they could not have been more sure of its coming from him than they were when they received it. Yes, answered prayers, applied promises, sweet communings, and blessed deliverances in providence, all go to make us feel safe in saying, “yet the Lord thinketh upon me.”
At this point we will close our meditation, when we have remarked that those who are not poor and needy, may well envy in their hearts those who are. You who have abounding riches, who feel yourselves to be wealthy in goodness, you who feel as if you could afford to look down upon most people in the world, you who are so respectable, and decorous, so deserving, I beseech you, note well that the text does not say a word about you. You are not poor, and you are not needy, and you do not think upon the Lord, and the Lord does not think upon you. Why should he? “The whole have no need of a physician.” ‘Christ did not come to call you. He said he came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Shall I tell you that it is your worst calamity that you have such an elevated idea of your own goodness? Whereas you say, “we see,” you are blindest of all; and whereas you boast that you are righteous, there is in that selfrighteousness of yours the very worst form of sin, for there is no sin that can be greater than that of setting up your own works in competition with the righteousness of Christ. I bear you witness that you have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, for you, being ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, go about to establish your own righteousness, and your efforts will end in terrible disappointment. I pray you cast away all reliance upon your own works. Tear up, once for all, all that you have been spinning for these many years. Your fears, your prayers, your churchgoings, your chapel-goings, your confirmation, your baptism, your sacraments; have done with the whole rotten mass as a ground of confidence. It is all quicksand which will swallow you up if you rest, upon it. The only rock upon which you must build, whoever you may be, is the rock of the finished work of Jesus. Come now, and rest upon God’s appointed Savior, the Son of God, even though you may not have felt as you could desire your own poverty and need. If you mourn that you do not mourn as you should, you are one of the poor and needy, and are bidden to turn your eyes to the Lamb of God and live.
I would to God that everyone of us were poor and needy in ourselves and were rich in faith in Christ Jesus! O that we had done both with sin and with self-righteousness, that we had laid both those traitors with their heads on the bloc for execution! Come, ye penniless sinners, come and receive the bounty of heaven. Come, ye who mourn your want of penitence, come and receive repentance, and every other heavenly gift, from him who is the Sinner’s Friend, exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins. But you must come empty handed, and sue as the lawyers say, in forma pauperis , for in no other form will the Lord give ear to you. “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree; he hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.” “Tis perfect poverty alone That sets the soul at large; ‘While we can call one mite our own, We have no full discharge. But let our debts be what they may, However great or small, As soon as we have nought to pay, Our Lord forgives us all.”