GOD had come to the Syrian camp, and had by Himself alone routed the whole Syrian host they had every man of them fled. Though the starving citizens of Samaria did not know it, the Lord had made provision in abundance for all their hunger; and there it was, within a stone’s throw of the city gates. The Lord had done it, His own right hand and His holy arm. had gotten Him the victory, and had provided for Israel’s needs, though they did not know it. These lepers found out the joyful facts, and had utilized their discovery by entering into possession of the treasure they were appointed to make known the joyful facts; and if they had concealed them they would have been guilty men.
No man has done all the good he could have done, and ought to have done. If any man assures me that he has done all the good that might have been possible to him, I do not believe him. I will say no more; but let us labor to avoid sins of omission. If you know the Lord, and you have never confessed His name, then you have not done well. If you have been in company, and you have not spoken up for Christ, you have not done well.
If you have had opportunities of telling out the gospel even to children, and you have not done so, you have not done well. It is a heavy charge, after all, for a man’s conscience to bring against him when it forces him to join with others in saying, “We do rot well.” That is the reason why the barren fig-tree was cut down. He that kept the vineyard did not say, “Cut it down, it bears such sour fruit.” It bore no fruit at all. There was the point it cumbered the ground.
Had those lepers held their tongues, they would actually ‘have been doing evil. Suppose that they had kept their secret for four-and-twenty hours, many hundreds might have died of starvation within the walls of Samaria: had they so perished, would not the lepers have been guilty of their blood?
Do you not agree with that? May not neglect be as truly murder as a stab or a shot? If, in your street, a man shall perish through not knowing the Savior, and you never made an effort to instruct him, how will you be guiltless at the last great day? If there be any within your reach who sink down to perdition for want of the knowledge of Christ, and you could have given them that knowledge, will your skirts; be free from blood in the day when the great inquest shall be held, and God shall make inquisition for the blood of men?
These lepers, if they had held their tongues, would have acted most unseasonably. Note how they put it themselves: they say, “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace.” Has Jesus washed your sins away, and are you silent about it? I remember the day when I first found peace with God through the precious blood; and I declare that I was forced to tell somebody about it I could not have stifled the voice within me. Are you saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, and can you keep the blessing to yourself? Do you not wonder that all the timbers in your house do not groan at you, and that the earth itself does not open her mouth to rebuke you? Can you be such an ungrateful wretch as to have tasted of amazing mercy, and yet to have no word to say by way of confessing it? Overcome that retiring spirit, and cry, “I cannot help it; I am driven to it; I must and will bear witness that there is a Savior, and a great one.” Personally, I cannot hold my tongue, and never will while I can speak. “E’er since by faith I saw the stream, His flowing wounds supply; Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die!” The Church of God has a claim upon all of you who have discovered the great love of Jesus. Come and tell you: fellow-Christians. Tell the good news to the King’s household. The Church of God is often greatly refreshed by the stories of new converts. I am afraid that we who get over fifty come by degrees ‘to be rather old-fogeyfied, and it is a great blessing to us to hear the cries of the babes in grace, and to listen to the fresh and vivid testimony of new converts. It stirs our blood, and quickens cur souls, and thus the Church of God is benefited.
Besides that, a decided testimony for Christ is due to the. world. If a man is a soldier of the cross, and does not show his colors, all his comrades are losers by his want of decision. There is nothing better for a man when he is brought to Christ than for him decidedly to express his faith, and let those about him know that he is a new man. Unfurl your standard. Decision for Christ and holiness will save you from many dangers, and ward off’ many temptations. Compromise creates a life of misery.
If all Christians came out, and declared what the Lord has done for their souls, the world would feel the power of Christianity, and would not think of it as men now do, as though it were some petty superstition, of which its own votaries were ashamed. If indeed ye be soldiers of the cross, bear your shields into the light of day, and be not ashamed of your Captain! What can there be to make us blush in the service, of such a Lord? Be ashamed of shame, and quit yourselves like men!
Your open confession is; due all round, and it is specially due to yourself.
It is due to your spiritual manhood that, if the Lord has done anything for you, you should gratefully acknowledge it. It is also due to your love of others — and love of others is of the very essence of Christianity — that you should explicitly declare that you are on the Lord’s side. What more shall I say? What more need I say? I would sound the trumpet, and summon to our Lord’s banner all who are good men and true.
This declaration should be continually made. Here I speak of many who have confessed Christ publicly, and are not ashamed of His name. We ought always to make Christ known, not only by our once-made profession, but by frequently bearing witness in support of that profession.
I wish that we did this more amongst God’s own people. Miss Havergal very admirably says, “The king’s household were the most unlikely people to need to be instructed in this good news — so it seems at first sight. But, secondly, the lepers were the most unlikely persons to instruct the king’s household; and yet they did so.” You and I might say, “Christian people do not require to be spoken to about our Lord and His work; they know more than we do. If the,.,’ do require it, who are we, who are less than the least of all our Master’s household, ‘that we should presume to instruct them?”
Thus even humility might check our bearing testimony in certain companies. If you were in the midst of uninstructed people, to whom you could do good, you might feel bound to speak; but among Christians you are apt to be dumb. Have you not said to yourself, “I could not speak to that good old man. He is much better instructed in the faith than I am”?
Meanwhile, what ,do you think the aforesaid good old man is saying? He says to himself, “He is a fine young man, ‘but I could not speak to him, for he has so much more ability than I have.” Thus you are both as mute as mice when you might be mutually’ edified. Worse still, perhaps you begin talking upon worthless themes: you speak of the weather, or of the last wretched scandal, or of politics. Suppose we were to change all this, and each one say’, “I am a Christian man, and next time I meet a brother Christian, whether he is my superior or not, I shall speak to him of our common Master.” If two children meet, they will do well to speak of father and mother. If one is a very little child, he may know but little about his father compared with the knowledge possessed by his big sister; but then he has kissed his father last, and has of late enjoyed more caresses from his father than his grown-up sister has. The elder can tell more of father’s wisdom and providence, but the younger has a more vivid sense of his tenderness and love; and so they can unite, in fervent admiration.
Why should Christian people so often meet and part without exchanging five words about the Lord Jesus? I am not condemning any of you: I am censuring myself more than anyone else. We do not bear enough testimony for our Lord. I am sure I felt quite taken aback: the other day when a flyman said to me, “You ‘believe that the Lord directs the way of His people, don’t you, sir?” I said, “That I do. Do you know anything about it?” “Why,” he said, “yes. This morning I was praying the Lord to direct my way, and you engaged me; and I felt that it was a good beginning for the day.” We began talking about the things of God directly. That flyman ought not to have been the first to speak: as a minister of the gospel, I ought to have had the first word. We have much to h, lame ourselves for in this respect. We hold our tongues because we do not know how a word might be received; but we might as well make the experiment. No harm could come of trying. Suppose you were to go into a place where persons were sick and dying, .and you had medicine about you which would heal them; would you not be anxious to give them some of it? Would you say nothing about it because you could not tell how it might be received? How could you know how it would be received except by making the offer? Tell poor souls about Jesus. Tell them how His grace healed you, and perhaps they will answer, “You are the very person I need; you have brought me the news I have longed to hear.”
There are districts in London, to my knowledge, in the suburbs especially, where, if a man knocks at the door, and begins to say a word about Christ, the poor people answer, “No one ever calls upon us to do us any good. We are left to perish.” It is shameful that it should be so, but so it is. Men live and men die in this Christian country as much lost to the knowledge of the gospel as if they had lived on the Congo. If they lived on the Congo, we should all subscribe to send a missionary up the river to tell them of Jesus and His love; even at the risk of his dying of fever, we should send a missionary to them; and yet those who live next door to our homes, or are even in our employ, are left in ignorance of salvation. The woman that comes in chafing, the man who sweeps up the mud from the street, — these may know no more of Christ than Hottentots, and yet we do not speak about Christ to them. Is not this shocking? We have satisfied our own hunger, and now we allow others to starve! Do let us quit indifference, and get to work for Jesus. It is not enough to me that I should myself preach the, gospel; I would fain turn all out to proclaim it.
I spoke once about Christian young men who were great hands at cricket, but could not bowl straight at a sinner’s heart. A gentleman who heard me, said, “That is true about me; I am a Christian man, but yet I am better known as a cricketer than as a worker.” He began to serve his Lord with his whole heart, and he is at this day in the front rank of usefulness. Oh, that I could win another such! The multitudes of London are dying in the dark. I beseech you bring them all the light you have! Myriads are perishing all over this United Kingdom. Hasten to their rescue! The world also remains under the power of evil. I beseech you to reclaim it! “I do not know anything,” says one. Then do not say what you don’t know. “Oh!” cries another, “I hope I am a Christian.” Tell others how you became a believer’, and that will be the gospel. You need not study a book, and try to make a sermon with three heads and a tail; but go home, and say to your biggest boy, “John, I want to tell you how your father found a Savior.” Go home to that sweet little daughter of yours, and say, “Dear Sarah, I want to tell you how Jesus loves me.” Before the morning’ light you may have had the joy of seeing your dear children brought to the Savior if this very evening you talk to them out of the fullness of your heart.