A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *9/1/2011
And truly, if they had been thinking of that country from where
they left, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now
they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: therefore God is
not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a
city. (Heb 11:15,16)
For other sermons on this text:
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Heb 11:15")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Heb 11:16")
1. Abraham left his country at God’s command, and he never went back again. The proof of faith lies in perseverance. There is a kind of faith which runs well, but it is soon hindered, and it does not obey the truth. That is not the faith to which the promise is given. The faith of God’s elect continues and remains. Being connected with the living and incorruptible seed, it lives and abides for ever. Abraham did not return; Isaac did not return; Jacob did not return. The promise was to them as “strangers and sojourners,” and so they continued. The apostle tells us, however, that they were not forced to continue like this; they did not remain because they could not return. Had they been thinking of the place from where they left, they might have found opportunities to go back. Frequent opportunities came in their way; there was communication kept up between them and the old family house at Padanaram: they sometimes had news from the old quarters. More than that, there were messages exchanged, servants were sometimes sent, and you know there was a new relationship entered into — did not Rebekah come from there? And Jacob, one of the patriarchs, was driven to go down into the land, but he could not stay there; he was always uneasy, until at last he stole away from Laban and came back into the proper life — the life which he had chosen, the life which God had commanded him, the life of a pilgrim and a stranger in the land of promise. You see, then, they had many opportunities to have returned, to have settled comfortably, and tilled the ground as their fathers did before them; but they continued to follow the uncomfortable shifting life of wanderers of the weary foot, who lived in tents, who own no foot of land — they were aliens in the country which God had given to them by promise.
2. Now, our position is very similar to theirs. As many of us as have believed in Christ have been called out. The very meaning of a church is, “called out by Christ.” We have been separated. I trust we know what it is to have gone outside the camp, bearing Christ’s reproach. After this, in this world we have no home, no true home for our spirits; our home is beyond the flood; we are looking for it among the unseen things; we are strangers and sojourners as all our fathers were, dwellers in this wilderness, passing through it to reach the Canaan which is to be the land of our perpetual inheritance.
3. I. I propose, then, first of all this evening, to speak to you about THE OPPORTUNITIES WHICH WE HAVE HAD, and still have, to return to the old house, if we had been thinking of it.
4. Indeed, it seems to me as if the word “opportunity” as it occurs in the text, would hardly be strong enough to express the influence and incentive, the provocations and solicitations, by which, in our case, we have been urged. It is a wonder of wonders that we have not gone back to the world, with its sinful pleasures and its idolatrous customs. When I think of the strength of divine grace, I do not marvel that saints should persevere; but, when I remember the weakness of their nature, it seems a miracle of miracles that there should be one Christian in the world who could maintain his steadfastness for a single hour. It is nothing short of Godhead’s utmost stretch of might that keeps the feet of the saints, and preserves them from going back to their old unregenerate condition. We have had opportunities to have returned. My brethren, we have such opportunities in our daily calling. Some of you are working in the midst of ungodly men, and those involvements supply you with constant opportunities to sin as they do, to fall into their excesses, to lapse into their forgetfulness of God, or even to take part in their blasphemies. Oh, have you not often strong inducements, if it were not for the grace of God, to become as they are? Or, if your occupation keeps you isolated, yet, my brethren, there is one who is pretty sure to intrude upon our privacy, to corrupt our thoughts, to kindle strange desires in our hearts, to tantalise us with morbid thoughts, and to seek our mischief. He is the Tempter, he would be the Destroyer if we were not delivered from his snares. Ah, how frequently will solitude have temptations as severe as publicity could possibly bring. There are perils in company, but there are perils likewise in our loneliness. We have many opportunities to return. In the parlour, pleasantly conversing, or in the kitchen, perhaps, occupied with the day’s work — toiling in the field, or trading in the market, busy on the land or tossed about on the sea, there are critical times on which destiny itself might appear to hang contingent. Where can we flee to escape from these opportunities that haunt us everywhere and put us in peril in everything? If we should mount upon the wings of the wind, could we find “a lodge in some vast wilderness,” do you think, then, we might be quite clear from all the opportunities to go back to the old sins in which we once indulged? No. Each man’s calling may seem to him to be more full of temptation than his companions. It is not so. Our temptations are pretty equally distributed, I dare say, after all, and all of us might say, that we find in our vocations, from hour to hour, many opportunities to return.
5. But, dear brethren, it is not merely in our business and in our calling; the mischief lies in our bone and in our flesh. Opportunities to return! Ah! Whoever knows himself finds strong, incentives to return. Ah! how often will our imagination paint sin in very glowing colours, and, although we loathe sin and loathe ourselves for thinking of it, yet how many a man might say, “Had it not been for divine grace, where would I have been? — for my feet had almost gone, my steps had almost slipped.” How strong is the evil in the most upright man! How stern is the conflict to subdue the body, lest corruption should prevail. You may be diligent in secret prayer, and, perhaps, the devil may have seemed asleep until you began to pray, and when you were most fervent, then he will also become most rampant. When you get nearer to God, Satan will sometimes seem to get nearer to you. Opportunities to return, as long as you are in this body, will be with you. To the very edge of Jordan you will encounter temptations. When you sit expectant on the banks of the last river, waiting for the summons to cross, it may be that your fiercest temptation will come even then. Oh, this flesh, the body of this death — wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from it? But while it continues with me, I shall find opportunities to return.
6. So too, dear brothers and sisters, these opportunities to return are adapted to our circumstances and adjusted to any condition of life, and any change through which we may pass. For example how often have professors, when they have prospered, found opportunities to return! I sigh to think of many who appeared to be very earnest Christians when they were struggling for food, who have become very dull and cold now that they have grown rich and increased in goods. How often does it happen in this land of ours, that a poor earnest Christian has associated with the people of God at all meetings, and felt proud to be there, but he has risen in the world and stood an inch or two above others in common esteem, and he could not go with God’s people any longer: he must seek out the world’s church and join in to get a share of the respectability and prestige that will always congregate in the domain of fashion. Henceforth, the man has turned aside from the faith, if not altogether in his heart, at least in his life. Beware of the high places: they are very slippery. There is not all the enjoyment you may think to be gathered in retirement and in ease. On the contrary, luxury often puffs up, and abundance makes the heart to swell with vanity. If any of you are prospering in this world, oh watch, for you are in imminent danger of thinking about returning to the place from where you came out.
7. But, the peril is just as real in adversity. Alas, I have had to mourn over Christian men — at least I thought they were such — who have become very poor, and when they have become poor, they hardly felt they could associate with those they knew in better circumstances. I think they were mistaken in the notion that they would be despised. I would be ashamed of the Christian who would despise his companion, because God was dealing with him somewhat severely in Providence. Yet there is a feeling in the human heart, and, though there may be no unkind treatment, yet, often, the sensitive spirit is apt to imagine it, and I have observed some absent themselves by degrees from the assembly of God with a sense of shame. It is smoothing the way to return to your old place; and, indeed, I have not wondered when I have seen some professors grow cold, when I have thought where they were compelled to live, and how they have been constrained to pass their time. Perhaps they were living at home before, but now they have to take a room where they can have no peace, but where sounds of blasphemy greet them, or, in some cases, where they have to go to the workhouse, and be far away from all Christian communion or anything that could comfort them. It is only God’s grace that can keep your graces alive under such circumstances. You see, whether you grow rich or whether you become poor, you will have these opportunities to return. If you want to go back to sin, to carnality, to a love of the world, to your old condition, you never need to be prevented from doing so by lack of opportunities: it will be something else that will prevent you, for these opportunities are plentiful and countless.
Opportunities to return! Let me say just one thing more about them.
They are often furnished by the example of others.
When any turn from Zion’s way,
Alas, what numbers do!
Methinks I hear my Saviour say,
Wilt thou forsake me too?
The departures from the faith of those whom we highly esteem are, at least while we are young, very severe trials for us. We keenly suspect whether that religion can be true which was feigned so cunningly and betrayed so wantonly, by one who seemed to be a model, but proved to be a hypocrite. It staggers us: we cannot figure it out. You have opportunities to return now; but ah! may grace be given to you so that, if others play the Judas, instead of leading you to do the same, it may only bind you more firmly to your Lord, and make you walk more carefully, lest you also prove to be a son of perdition.
9. And ah, my brothers and sisters, if some of us were to return, we should have this opportunity — a cordial welcome from our former comrades. None of our old friends would refuse to receive us. There is many a Christian who, if he were to go back to the gaiety of the world, would find that the world would welcome him with open arms. He was the favourite of the ballroom once; he was the wit “that set the table in a roar”; he was the man who above all was courted when he moved in the circles of the vain and frivolous: they would be glad enough to see him come back. What a shout of triumph they would raise, and how they would fraternize with him! Oh, may the day never come to you, you young people especially, who have recently put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and professed his name, when you shall be welcomed by the world, but may you forget for ever your kindred and your father’s house, and so shall the King greatly desire your beauty, for he is the Lord, and you worship him. Separation from the world will endear you to the Saviour, and bring you into conscious enjoyment of his presence; but, there is no lack of opportunities to return.
10. Perhaps, you will say, “Why does the Lord make them so plentiful? Could he not have kept us from temptation?” There is no doubt he could, but it was never the Master’s intention that we should all be hothouse plants. He taught us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation,” but, at the same time, he does lead us there, and intends to do it, and this for the proving of our faith, to see whether it is true faith or not. Depend upon it, faith that is never tried is not true faith. It must be exercised sooner or later. God does not create useless things: he intends that the faith he gives should have its test, should glorify his name. These opportunities to return are meant to test your faith, and they are sent to you to prove that you are a volunteer soldier. Why, if grace was a kind of chain that manacled you, so that you could not leave your Lord; if it had become a physical impossibility to forsake the Saviour, there would be no credit in it. He who does not run away because his legs are too weak, does not prove himself to be a hero; but he who could run, but will not run; he who could desert his Lord, but will not desert him, has within him a principle of grace stronger than any fetter could be — the highest, firmest, noblest bond that unites a man to the Saviour. By this you shall know whether you are Christ’s or not. When you have opportunity to return, if you do not return, that shall prove you are his. Two men are going along a road, and there is a dog behind them. I do not know to which of them that dog belongs, but I shall be able to tell you directly. They are coming to a crossroad: one goes to the right, the other goes to the left. Now which man does the dog follow? That is his master. So when Christ and the world go together, you cannot tell which you are following; but, when there is a separation, and Christ goes one way, and your interest and your pleasure seem to go the other way, if you can part with the world and stay with Christ, then you are one of his. After this manner these opportunities to return may serve us a good purpose: they prove our faith, while they test our character; so helping us to see whether we are indeed the Lord’s or not.
11. But, we must pass on (for we have a very wealthy text) to notice the second point.
II. WE CANNOT TAKE ANY OPPORTUNITY TO GO BACK, because we desire
something better than we could get by returning to that country from
where we came out. An insatiable desire has been implanted in us by
divine grace which urges us to —
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward press our way.
13. Notice how the text puts it: — “But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly.” Brethren, you desire something better than this world, do you not? Has the world ever satisfied you? Perhaps it did when you were dead in sin. A dead world may satisfy a dead heart; but ever since you have known something of better things, and brighter realities, have you been ever contented with earthly things and emptier vanities? Perhaps you have tried to fill your soul with the daintiest provisions the world can offer; that is — God has prospered you, and you have said, “Oh, this is well.” Your children have been around you, you have had many household joys, and you have said, “I could stay here for ever.” Did you not find very soon that there was a thorn in the flesh? Did you ever gather a rose in this world that was altogether without a thorn? Have you not been obliged to say, after you have had all that the world could give you, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity?” I am sure it has been so with me, with you, with all my brethren in Christ, and with all my fellow workers in his service. All God’s saints would confess that if the Lord were to say to them, “You shall have all the world, and that shall be your portion,” they would be brokenhearted men. “No, my Lord,” they would reply, “do not put me off with these trifling presents; do not feed me with these husks. Though you should give me Joseph’s portion, ‘the ancient mountains, and the precious things of the lasting hills,’ ‘You are more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey’ ”; yes, though you should confer on me the precious things of the earth, and its fulness, I would prefer before them all the goodwill of him who dwelt in the bush. Give me yourself, and take these all away, if it so please you, but do not, my Lord, do not think I can be content with Egypt since I have set out for Canaan, or that I can settle down in the wilderness now that I am journeying to the land of promise. We desire something better.
14. There is this about a Christian that, even when he does not enjoy something better, he desires it; of that, truly, I am quite sure. How much of character is revealed in our desires. I felt greatly encouraged when I read this, “Now they desire a better” — The word “country” has been inserted by our translators. It weakens the sense; vague but vast is the craving expressed in the sentence, “They desire a better” — I know I long for something far better, something infinitely preferable to what my eyes can see or that my tongue can express. I do not always enjoy that something better. My path is dark; I cannot see my Lord; I cannot enjoy his presence; sometimes I am like one who is banished from him; but I desire his blessing, I desire his presence; and, though to desire may be only a little thing, let me say a good desire is more than nature ever grew: grace has given it. It is a great thing to be desirous. “They desire a better country.” And, because we desire this better thing, we cannot go back and be content with things which once gratified us.
15. More than that, if ever the child of God gets entangled for awhile, he is uneasy by reason of it. Abraham’s slips, for he had one or two, were made when he had left the land, and gone down among the Philistines; but he was not easy there: he must come back again. And Jacob — he had found a wife — indeed, two — in Laban’s land, but he was not content there. No, no child of God can be, whatever he may find in this world. We shall never find a heaven here. We may hunt all through world, and say, “This looks like a little paradise,” but there is not any paradise this side of the skies, for a child of God at any rate. There is enough out there in the farmyard for the hogs, but there is nothing suitable for the children. There is enough in the world for sinners, but not for saints. They have stronger, sharper, and more vehement desires, for they have a nobler life within them, and they desire a better country, and even if they get entangled for awhile in this country, and in a certain measure identified with citizens of it, they are ill at ease — their citizenship is in heaven, and they cannot rest anywhere but there. After all, we confess tonight, and rejoice in the confession, that our best hopes are for things that are out of sight: our expectations are our largest possessions. The things that we have a title to, that we value, are ours today by faith: we do not enjoy them yet. But when our inheritance shall be fully revealed, and we shall come to maturity — oh, then we shall come into our inheritance, to our wealth, to the mansions, and to the glory, and to the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord.
16. So you see the reason why the Christian cannot go back. Although he has many opportunities he does not embrace any, he shrinks with repugnance from them all, for, through divine grace, he has produced in his heart desires for something better.
17. Even when he does not realise as yet, or actually enjoy, that infinite good, which is something better than creature comfort or worldly ambition, the desires themselves become mighty bonds that keep him from returning to his former state. Dear brethren, let us cultivate these desires more and more. If they have such a separating, salutary, sanctifying influence upon our heart, and effect upon our character, in keeping us from the world, let us cultivate them much. Do you think that we meditate enough upon heaven? Look at the miser. When does he forget his gold? He dreams about it. He has locked it up tonight and he goes to bed, but he is afraid he heard a footstep down the stairs, and he goes to see. He looks at the iron safe: he wishes to be quite sure that it is well secured. He cannot forget his dear gold. Let us think of heaven, of Christ, and of the blessings of the covenant, and so let us keep our desires wide awake, and stimulate them to active exercise. The more they draw us to heaven, the more they withdraw us from the world.
18. III. IT WOULD BE UNREASONABLE IF WE DID NOT VEHEMENTLY RESIST EVERY OPPORTUNITY AND EVERY SOLICITATION TO GO BACK.
19. The men of faith to whom the apostle referred in our text were not only strangers and pilgrims, but it is especially noted that they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They were a grand company. From a single man they had multiplied into a countless host. Did they not spring from him who was as good as dead, as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as innumerable as the sands of the seashore? Now, brethren, you see we have here a very strong reason for not returning. It is because you are the descendants, the spiritual descendants of the patriarchs. Let me try to show you how powerful a motive for steadfastness this is. Practically, it comprises two or three considerations of the greatest importance. One thing it implies very obviously is that you thoroughly admire their example and fervently emulate their spirit. As you have glanced over the scroll of history, or narrowly scanned the records of men’s lives, the pomp of Pharaoh has not dazzled you, but the purity of Joseph has charmed you; the choice of Moses was to your taste, though it did involve leaving a court where he was flattered, for fellowship with enslaved kinsmen by whom he was suspected; and, you would rather have been with Daniel in the lions’ den than with Darius on the throne of the empire. You have transferred their strong will to your own deliberate choice. And, when the jeer has been raised against fanatical Methodists, you have said, “I am one of them.” You have confessed as occasion served before the world, you have professed as duty called before the church, you have accepted the consequences as honesty demanded before angels and men. Therefore, in your heart of hearts you feel that you cannot go back. The vows of God are upon you. It is well they are. Review them often; refresh your memory with them frequently; refer to them and renew them in every time of trial and temptation. However, never repent of them, or woe betide you. There is a secret virtue in the confession, if it is steadfastly adhered to and zealously maintained. It is a talisman, believe me, against the contagion of an evil atmosphere that might otherwise instil poison into your constitution.
20. Again, there is another thing; you have joined yourself to an ancient fraternity that has something more than rules to guide or legends to captivate; for it has a combination of both, seeing it is rich in poetic lore. Why, it is on this that patriotism feeds as its daintiest morsel. “Your statutes,” said David, “have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” Brother! there has no sorrow befallen you except what your noble ancestors have endured in cheery tones, and set to music in cheerful strains. Oh, beloved! if you could forget the statutes, can you ever fail to remember the songs? There has never been a revival in the church that has not witnessed to the value of our psalmody. May God be praised for our psalms and spiritual songs. Oh, how often they have made melody in our hearts to the Lord! While our voices blend, do not our very souls become more and more richly cemented? They are, in truth, the pilgrim’s solace.
21. Another thing strikes me. I should not like you to overlook it. There is, in this chapter, a special commendation for faith in a pleasing variety of operations. But the speciality of the strangers and pilgrims is that they all died in faith. So, then, you cannot go back, because you cannot accomplish the purpose for which you went forward until you die. You have joined the company that makes the goal of life the object for which you live. Your aim is to make a noble exit. “Prepare to meet your God” was the motto you started with. To go back can hardly cross your thoughts, when to look back seems to you charged with peril. Our lease of mortal life is quickly running out. The time of our sojourn on earth is becoming more and more brief. Therefore, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, it is only fitting that our desire to reach the better country, and to enter the heavenly city should become more and more vehement, as “we nightly pitch our roving tent a day’s march nearer home.” It comes to this, brethren. You feel that you have little to show for your faith. It never built an ark like Noah; it never offered a sacrifice like Abraham; it never subdued kingdoms like Joshua; it never quenched the violence of fire as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Well, so be it; but he who endures to the end shall be saved; and all those who die in faith are gathered with the great cloud of witnesses. Is this not enough to cheer the rank and file of the church?
22. IV. But, I must close with the sweetest part of the text, in which IT IS SHOWN THAT WE HAVE GREAT AND BLESSED ASSURANCE BESTOWED ON US AS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ON THE PART OF GOD, OF THOSE OPPORTUNITIES, AND THOSE YEARNING PERSISTED IN. “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
23. Because they are strangers, and because they will not go back to their old abode, “therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” He might well be ashamed of that. What poor people God’s people are — poor, many of them, in circumstances, but how many of them I might very well call poor concerning spiritual things. I do not think if any of us had such a family as God has, we should ever have patience with them. We cannot, when we judge ourselves properly, have patience with ourselves; but, how is it that God bears with the bad manners of such a froward, weak, foolish, forgetful generation as his people are. He might well be ashamed to be called their God, if he looked upon them as they are, and estimated them upon their merits. Acknowledge them! How can he acknowledge them? Does he not himself sometimes say about them, “How can I place them among the children?” Yet he devises means, and brings about the purposes of his grace. Viewed as they are, they may be compared to a rabble in so many respects, that it is marvellous he is not ashamed of them. Still, he never does disown them, and he proves that he is not ashamed of them, for he calls himself their God. “I will be your God,” he says, and he often seems to speak of it as a very joyful thing to his own heart. “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” While he calls himself their God, he never forbids them to call him their God. In the presence of the great ones of the earth they may call him their God — anywhere — and he is not ashamed to be called that. This is matchless condescension! Have you not sometimes heard of a man who has become rich and has risen in the world, who has had some poor brother or some distant relative. When he has seen him on the street, he has been obliged to speak to him and acknowledge him. But oh, how reluctantly it was done. I dare say he wished him to be a long way off, especially if he had some haughty acquaintance with him at the time, who would perhaps turn around, and say, “Why, who is that wretched, seedy looking fellow you spoke to?” He does not like say, “That is my brother”; or, “That is a relative of mine.” Not so our Lord Jesus Christ. However low his people may sink, he is not ashamed to call them brethren. They may look up to him in all the depths of their degradation. They may call him a brother. He is in very fact a brother, born for their adversity, able and ready to redress their grievances, he is not ashamed to call them brethren. One reason for this seems to me to be, because he does not judge them according to their present circumstances, but much rather according to their pleasant prospects. He takes account of what he has prepared for them. Notice the text, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.” They are poor now, but God, to whom things to come are things present, sees them in their fair white linen, which is the righteousness of the saints. All you can see in that poor child of God is a hard working labouring man, mocked and despised by his companions. But what does God see in him? He sees in him a dignity and a glory assimilated to his own. He has put all things under the feet of such a man as that, and crowned him with glory and honour in the person of Christ, and the angels themselves are ministering servants to them. You see his outward attire, not his inner self — you see the earthly tabernacle, but the newborn spirit, immortal and divine — you do not see that. However, God does. Or, if you have spiritual discernment to perceive the spiritual creature, you only see it as it is veiled by reason of the flesh, and beclouded by the atmosphere of this world; but he sees it as it will appear, when it shall be radiant like Christ, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. God sees the poorest, the least proficient disciple as a man in Christ; a perfect man come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; such indeed as he will be in that day when he shall see Christ, for then he shall be like him as he is.
24. It seems too, in the text, that God looks at what he had prepared for these poor people. He has prepared for them a city. I think, that by what he has prepared for them, we may judge how he esteems and loves them — estimating them by what he means them to be, rather than by what they appear to be at present. Look at this preparation for just a minute, “he has prepared for them” — “them.” Though I delight to preach a free gospel, and to preach it to every creature under heaven, we must never forget to remind you of the speciality. “He has prepared for them a city” — that is, for such as are strangers and foreigners — for those who have faith, and, therefore, have left the world, and gone out to follow Christ. “He has prepared for them” — not “for all of you” — only for those of you who answer the description on which we have been meditating has he prepared “a city.”
25. Notice what it is he has made ready for them. It is a city. This indicates a permanent abode. They lived in tents — Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob — but he has prepared for them a city. Here we are tent dwellers, and the tent is soon to be taken down. “We know that this earthly house of our” tent “shall be dissolved, but we have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” “He has prepared a city.” A city is a place of congenial associations. In a lonely hamlet one has little company. In a city, especially where all the inhabitants shall be united in one glorious brotherhood, the true communion of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity may be realised in the purest sense and highest possible degree. In a city such as this there are plentiful occasions for communion, where mutual interests shall enhance mutual joy. “He has prepared a city.” It also is a city possessing privileges, and conferring dignity upon its residents. To be a citizen of the City of London is thought to be a great honour, and upon princes is it sometimes conferred; but, we shall have the highest honour that can be given, when we shall be citizens of the city which God has prepared.
26. I must not dwell on this theme, delightful as it is; I want a few words with you, my friends, direct and personal, before I close. Do not wonder, those of you who are the children of God, do not wonder if you have discomforts here. If you are what you profess to be, you are strangers: you do not expect men of this world to treat you as members of their community. If they do, be afraid. Dogs do not bark as a man goes by that they know: they bark at strangers. When people persecute you and slander you, do not marvel. If you are a stranger, they naturally bark at you. Do not expect to find the comforts in this world that you crave after, that your flesh would long for. This is our inn, not our home. We spend a night: we are away in the morning. We may bear the annoyances of the evening and the night, for the morning will break very soon. Remember that your greatest joy, while you are a pilgrim, is your God. So the text says, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Do you want a richer source of consolation than you have? Here is one that can never be diminished, much less exhausted. When the created streams are dry, go to this eternal fountain, and find it always springing up. Your joy is your God: make your God your joy.
Now, what shall be said to those who are not strangers and
foreigners? Ah, you live in a land where you find some kind of
repose; but I have heavy tidings for you. This land in which you
live, and all its works, must be burned up. The city of which you,
who have never been converted to Christ, are citizens, is a City of
Destruction, and, as is its name, such will be its end. The King will
send his armies against that guilty city and destroy it, and if you
are citizens of it, you will lose all you have — you will lose your
souls — lose yourselves. “Where can I go?” says one — “Where can I find
comfort then and security?” You must do as Lot did, when the angels
pressed him and said, “Hurry to the mountain lest you be consumed.”
“To what mountain,” you say, “shall I go?” The mountain of safety is
Calvary. Where Jesus died, there you shall live. There is death
everywhere else except there. But there is life arising from his
death. Oh, flee to him. “But how?” one says. Trust him. God gave his
Son, equal with himself, to bear the burden of human sin; and he
died, a substitute for sinners, — a real substitute, an efficient
substitute, for all who trust in him. If you will trust your soul
with Jesus, you are saved. Your sin was laid on him: it is forgiven
you. It was blotted out when he nailed the handwriting of ordinances
that were against you to his cross. Trust him now and you are saved;
you shall become, henceforth, a stranger and a pilgrim. In the better
land you shall find the rest which you never can find here, and need
not wish to find, for the land is polluted; let us get away from it.
The curse has fallen: let us get away to the country that never was
cursed, to the city that is for ever blessed. Where Jesus dwells
there we may find a home and remain for ever. May God add his
blessing to this discourse, and give a blessing to your souls, for
Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
The Sword And The Trowel Edited by C. H. Spurgeon
Contents for January, 1872.
The Year of Grace, 1872, By C. H. Spurgeon.
Paris and London. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Our London Arabs. By G. Holden Pike.
Duncan Matheson, the Scottish Evangelist, By Vernon J. Charlesworth.
Sunday School Addresses. By E. D. Jones, A. M., St. Louis.
Bad Air versus Religion.
A Sabbath in Rome
The Blessed poor. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Children in the Streets of Jerusalem.
Pastors’ College Account.
Golden Lane Mission.
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