A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, August 18, 1872, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *10/7/2011
Come my beloved, let us go out into the field, let us lodge in the
villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the
vine flourishes, whether the tender grapes appear, and the
pomegranates bud: there I will give you my loves. The mandrakes give
a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and
old, which I have laid up for you, oh my beloved. (So 7:11-13)
For other sermons on this text:
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "So 7:11")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "So 7:12")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "So 7:13")
1. I remember to have heard it said that when a church is in a right condition, all that it needs on Sunday is that the sermon should be like the orders given by a commanding officer to his troops: it does not need to be rhetorical or eloquent, it only needs to be clear and plain, — a word of direction for the Lord’s servants. If the soldiers are prepared for action, they will not look to be regaled with oratory, but having heard the words of command, they will with all their hearts go about to obey them. Assuredly the church needs instructing, consoling, and edifying, as well as directing; but this morning I feel that I have a word from the Captain of our salvation, addressed first to this particular regiment, and next to those other portions of the Grand Army which are represented here this morning. I speak as to wise men; judge what I say.
2. Travelling around our island just now everywhere you see the sickle, or the reaping machine, in full work; harvest whitens the plains; everywhere the loaded wagons are bearing home the precious fruits of the earth. My spirit is stirred within me, and my soul is aflame, for I see a harvest everywhere except in the church of Christ. Reapers are busy everywhere except in the fields of our divine Boaz. All fields are ripe, except those of Bethlehem; all barns are filling except those of the Great Husbandman; Christ Jesus has scarcely a sheaf recently gathered in; we hear of very few results from the sacred sowing of the word. Here and there the church, like Ruth, gathers an ear, a very precious ear it is true, for who shall estimate the value of a single soul; but we have no wave sheaves as in the days of Pentecost, or, if we have them, they are few and far between; and as for the harvest which we have so long expected, our eyes fail in looking for it in vain. As a church, constituting a part of the Master’s field, we have had one continued harvest for years, but still never such a one as has satisfied our spirits, for our idea of our King is such that the largest increase to his church would not satisfy us, we should still feel that our Lord Jesus deserved far more. Just as he has not yet seen the travail of his soul in order to be satisfied, so neither are we his servants content on his behalf, but we long, and cry, and pray for a larger harvest as his reward for the dread sowings of Gethsemane and Golgotha, in bloody sweat and streams of vital blood.
3. The time when our churches can operate extensively with the greatest convenience will soon be upon us. We do not usually look for any great things during the summer, when congregations are scattered at the seaside, and workpeople are busy many hours in the day. The summer of nature is the winter of the Church, and the earth’s winter is our harvest. These warm days will soon be gone and the long evenings will come, and with them abounding opportunities for doing good. Therefore, it seemed to me to be a seasonable thing to give the rallying cry this morning, and ask our friends to remember that the harvest of the church quickly approaches. I would urge you all to sharpen your sickles, and with good hope and prayerful confidence prepare for the appointed weeks of our harvest. May God, by his Holy Spirit, inspire you with zeal for the work which awaits you, and give you to walk in fellowship with Jesus in all that you do.
4. I. We shall, this morning, first of all, call your attention to the fact which is implied in the words of our text, that LOVE IS THE GREAT MOTIVE FOR ACTION IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST.
5. All through these verses the spouse responds with reference to her beloved. It is for him that she goes out into the field, for the sake of his company, and the quiet enjoyment of his love, she would lodge in the villages; and all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which are stored within her gates she declares to be laid up for her beloved. Love, then, is the most fit and most powerful motive for holy service. “The love of Christ constrains us.”
6. This love has about it certain marked peculiarities. It is first a love which realises the person of the Beloved. In the text the spouse speaks of “my beloved” as, of a real personage, whom she sees, upon whom she leans, and with whom she talks. Christ Jesus is to his church no fiction, no myth, no imaginary hero. Throughout the song both the personages are most real to each other, so real that they both enter into graphic descriptions of each other’s beauties, and present us with portraits drawn by the pencil of admiring love. Now, a church will always be strong when the Lord Jesus is real to her; by this, indeed, may her power be estimated. Jesus must be to us no historical personage who was once on earth, but is now dead and powerless; he must be an actual person living still in our midst. Imagine, my brethren, with what enthusiasm the present audience would be stirred if I should step aside, and in my place there should come forward the very Christ who was nailed to the cross of Calvary. You would know him by his hands and by his feet, the sacred marks of his passion. Oh, how the sight of him would stir your souls! You would be bowing your heads in adoration, but begrudging closing of your eyes even for a second in prayer, for you would desire, without a pause, to drink in the blessed vision. And if the crucified One should stand here, and say, “My brethren, my blood bought ones, for whom I laid down my life, there is yet much to be done to extend my kingdom; there are precious souls, brothers and sisters of yours who do not know my name who must be brought in: there are ignorant ones to be taught and sinful ones to be restored”; and suppose he should then point with his hand to one of you, and say, “I send you there,” and to another, “I send you there.” Why you would feel at once anointed to the appointed work, and go out to do it with much earnestness, carefulness and joy; you would be very pleased to receive a commission from those dear honey dropping lips. My brethren, have you forgotten that you walk by faith, and will you permit it to be thought that sight would have more power over you than faith? I trust you will not have it so. Then, remember, by faith you may realise and ought to realise this morning that Jesus walks among the golden lampstands and is in his church now, saying to everyone of his people, “Go and serve me! Seek my blood bought ones! Help my feeble ones! Feed my sheep and my lambs!” I urge you, let your faith this morning sweeten your duties by the knowledge that they arise out of your Beloved’s personal commands. Execute his holy commands as if you had received them, as in very deed you have, directly from himself. Let your heart go with mine, while I say, — Jesus, my beloved, though I do not see you, and must be content to behold you by faith alone, yet my faith shall be more influential than my sight. I know that you are here, and what you ask me to do my soul shall perform with all her might, because you say it.
7. Notice next, that the love here spoken of was well assured of the affection of its Beloved. See the verse which precedes our text, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is towards me.” A Christian is never strong for service when he does not know whether Christ loves him or not. If that is a question, you have put out the fire by which alone the force can be generated which must work the machinery of your spirit. You must know beyond question that Jesus loved you and gave himself for you, you must feel that he is loving you now, that his heart is looking out through those dear eyes which once wept over Jerusalem, and that the meaning of his loving glance is, “Soul, I love you, I loved you so that I gave myself for you, and I have not retracted the gift. I love you still as much as I loved you upon Calvary’s bloody tree.” It is strength to feel that still “his desire is towards me.” Oh, when you feel, “Jesus loves me, Jesus desires me to show my love for him, Jesus at this moment thinks of me and takes a delight in me,” this will make you strong as a giant in the cause of your Beloved. A man would venture into the very jaws of death who felt that the love of Christ rested upon him. Love for Jesus is the fountain of courage, the mother of self-denial, and the nurse of constancy. Strive then for a well assured sense of the Saviour’s love. Do not be content until you possess it, for it will be health to your spirit and marrow to your bones: it will be a belt of strength to your loins and a chain of honour around your neck.
8. Observe that the love of the spouse lived in fellowship with the Well Beloved. “Come, my beloved, let us go, let us lodge, let us get up, let us see,” “There I will give you my loves.” True love for Jesus grows stronger and stronger in proportion as it abides in him. We are cold in our love because we live at a distance from him. The angel who dwells in the sun never has to complain of an ice bound heart; and he who lives in Christ and abides in him will blaze and glow with a warmth of love comparable to that of Christ himself. I do not think that the numbers of a church will have so much to do with the work it accomplishes; that depends more upon the degree of love than upon the length of the church roll. A small church inflamed with ardent affection for the divine Lord will do more for him than a great host eaten up by worldliness. Love burns its way by its own vehement flames. Coals of juniper are soon felt. The Enochs are the men, — they walk with God, and hence they have power over their times. The Johns are the men, they lean on Jesus’ bosom, and, when they come out to tell what they have seen and heard, they speak with authority as sent by the Most High. May the Lord give to us as members of this church to abide in habitual fellowship with Jesus; not to have occasional spasms of delight in God, but one unbroken rest in him. We would not now and then look through the windows of agates and behold the King in his beauty, but we would continue “looking to Jesus.” We would have his praise continually in our mouths, and his love burning like the quenchless altar fire of the temple, for ever within our hearts. This is the one thing necessary to promote and sustain a revival in a church. If we have abounding love for Jesus we can prosper under disadvantages, but if we do not have it we have lost the great secret of success. Love for Jesus teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. It sets us side by side with the conquering Emmanuel, and makes us share his victories. It yokes us with the strong Son of God, and so makes our infirmities to be only opportunities for the display of his power.
This love leads the church to hold all things in joint possession
with Christ. Observe that word, “at our gates are all manner of
pleasant fruits.” Love for Jesus constrains us to turn over all that
we have to him, while faith appropriates all that Jesus has for
itself. Love will not stand to have divided properties. Such was the
love of Jesus, that he gave all that he had to us. He could not bear
to have anything, not even his throne itself, that should be
altogether for himself. He stripped himself to his last rag to clothe
us, and then gave us his breath to be our life, his blood to be our
health; and now today, if we love him as we should, we are saying: —
If I might make some reserve,
And duty did not call;
I love my God with zeal so great,
That I would give him all.
I like to think, in church matters especially, that we are all Christ’s, that if we have any ability, it is Christ’s ability — to be laid at his feet; if we have any substance, it is Christ’s money — to be used in spreading his church: our Sunday School is Christ’s nursery, and the little ones are Christ’s lambs. Our work out of doors in preaching at the corners of the streets is Christ’s mission; it is his trumpet that is blown when the gospel is preached; and every form of agency is not ours — it is Christ’s; or if is ours, it is only because it is his. Oh, to have more and more all things in common with our Lord, and no longer to speak of mine or yours. Beloved, we are joint heirs with him; all that we have is his, and all that he has is ours. When the church believes and acts upon this, the hour of her success is close at hand.
10. Consider once more, the love which is the great motive for Christian action is a love which looks to Jesus for united operation. It is, “Come, my beloved, let us go out into the field, let us get up early to the vineyard.” Oh, it is glorious when Christ comes with the preacher, not the servant alone, but the master looking through his servant’s eyes, and speaking with his servant’s tongue, and pleading with his servant’s heart. Oh, it is good teaching in your Sunday School when Jesus sits there among the boys and girls and speaks to their hearts. It is good, going into lodging houses or calling at the people’s doors to tell them about the Saviour when Jesus knocks as well as you, and the crucified goes with you among the fallen, the infidel and the profane. All is well when the Redeemer leads the way. Do not be afraid, beloved, for you go in good company. Who among us will be afraid to do anything or go anywhere if Jesus says “I will go with you?” Such was the prayer the spouse raised, and doubtless she was led to pray for what God will grant. Let us pray with her as she prayed. Come, Saviour, come up with us to whatever we attempt for you! If there are any brethren here who are working away for you in dark places in London, dear Saviour carry the lantern with them, be their light! If they are digging for you, and quarrying amidst granite rocks which refuse to yield to their strokes, come Almighty One and wield your hammer, and immediately the stone shall be broken. Come with us, Lord. This is the fellowship we desire from you, the fellowship of labour and of soul winning. We would not only sit at your feet to learn, but we would take up our cross and follow you. We would go with you wherever you go; we would fight, or labour, or suffer, or live, or die, at your bidding. May this be the fellowship you shall bestow upon us!
11. II. Secondly, LOVE LEADS US TO GO AFIELD IN THE SERVICE OF JESUS. “Come, my beloved, let us go out into the field.”
12. A loving church spontaneously engages herself in wider service. She has a large heart towards her Lord, and longs to see him reign over all mankind. She does not wait to hear again and again the Macedonian’s cry, “Come over and help us,” but she is prompt in mission enterprise. She does not tarry until she is forced by persecution to go abroad everywhere preaching the Word, but she sends out her champions far and wide. As sure as ever she loves her Lord she asks herself the question, “What more can I do for him?” When she looks over the plot of ground which she has been tilling, she says, “It is not large enough: the harvest I can get out of this will not suffice me for my dear Lord”; and she says to him, “Let me go to the regions beyond, to break up the fallow ground, and cause the wilderness to blossom.” Now, beloved members of this church, do you not feel the same desire this morning? It is upon my heart that we should be undertaking larger things for Christ. Keep up the old agencies by all manner of means; quicken them, strengthen them; but does love not suggest that as increasing years add increasing indebtedness to Christ, as we are always receiving fresh mercies, so we should make new and larger returns to our best friend? If by us, as a church, nothing new may be ventured, yet cannot each individual have his own plan and branch out afresh? Will not each man say in his heart, “What can I do for Jesus today, over and above what I should have done if things had gone on in the ordinary way?” Enquire from him whom you love, and if your hearts are with him, it will not be long before you will discover what he would have you to do.
13. The spouse, when she said, “Let us go out into the field” knew that the proposal would please her Lord; for the nature of Christ is a large and loving one, and, therefore, he would bless the far off ones. His is no narrow heart; his thoughts of love are far reaching, and when the church says, “Let us go out into the field,” truly her Lord is not reluctant to accept the invitation. The spouse does not guess at this, nor does she merely infer it from her Bridegroom’s nature, but she has it in express command from his own lips, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” There stand the orders, and when our largest enterprises shall have been fulfilled we shall not have exceeded them. There is no exclusion put upon any tribe or clan, no classes are laid under ban, no individuals are exempted. Therefore, Church of Christ, by the love you bear for your crucified Master, by his wounds and death for you, and by his living love for you, seek out the lost and gather together the outcasts. You fishers of men, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught. You sowers of holy seed, go abroad, and sow the untrodden wastes. You consecrated builders, break away from old foundations, and lay fresh groundwork for a larger temple for your God and King. Surely the Spirit of love in a church will suggest this.
14. Notice that the spouse is evidently prepared for any discomfort that may come as the result of her labour. She needs to leave the fair palaces of her royal husband and lodge in rustic cottages. These are poor lodgings for Solomon’s fair spouse; but what does she care? Any roof which protects her from the evening dew, and shields her from the drops of the night, shall quite suffice her; yes, if he is there, the tents of Kedar shall be as fair as the curtains of Solomon, for his sake. Brothers and sisters, if you serve the Lord Christ in breaking up fresh ground, you may have to encounter difficulties and make sacrifices, but they will be as nothing to you; you will welcome them for his dear sake. Am I stirring no heart now? Has my finger touched no responsive string? I think I feel in my own soul that some of you are responding. Some brother, some sister is here — I do not know to whom the prophetic word is coming — who is saying, “Lord, I am your spouse; I will go out with you into the field, and I will lodge with you in the villages, if I may only glorify your name there.”
15. Observe, too, the spouse is quite ready to continue in this uncomfortable service. She says, “I will lodge in the villages,” she will remain there for awhile, not paying a fleeting visit, but staying until the good work is done, for which she and her Lord went out. Oh, get out, you Christians, into the distant fields of labour. Many of you — how often have I said it! — sit here Sunday after Sunday, and hear many sermons, when I believe you would be better engaged if you were preaching yourselves, and winning souls for the Redeemer. I have often been glad to miss some of my dearest brethren from our assemblies. Your presence gives me great pleasure, but when I know you have been away, seeking after Christ’s blood bought souls, I have had pleasure in your absence. Go, and may the Lord go with you; go, more of you; yes, I say, go, more of you. Your empty seats will be occupied by sinners whom God will save; while you, dear comrades, if you are fighting for my Master somewhere else, will do my Master much more service than you could have done by listening to me. We must not allow a single talent to lie idle; we must not waste an hour of these blessed Sabbaths; we must go away to be among the ignorant ones and carry them the light. We must hunt for precious souls. For our Master’s sake, and in his strength and company we must cross sea and land for his redeemed ones. Only, if any of you go, do not try to go alone. Stay until you breathe the prayer, “My beloved, let us go.” You go in vain when you do not go with the Master, but when you have secured his company, then go and welcome, for you “shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you.”
16. Observe how the spouse says, “There I will give you my loves.” As much as to say, if Jesus will thus go with us into active service, then we will reveal to him the love of our hearts. I suppose there may have been times in the Church when a hermit’s life would suitably reveal the heart’s love for Jesus, but I am certain it is not so now. If there are any here who love contemplation, and would gladly spend their whole lives in quiet retirement, I am persuaded that such a course would be injurious to their generation, and to the cause of truth. Of course, there may be exceptions, and if you have no gifts except such as could be serviceable to Christ in solitude, use them in solitude, but the times demand activity from most of us. So dark is the world we cannot afford to lose a glowworm’s spark. Men are perishing, can we let them perish? Would we allow a soul to be lost even though it were given to us in exchange to enjoy the highest fellowship with Christ? Behold today the sheep have gone astray, and the wolves are howling after them; not even to enjoy the great Shepherds’s company, can we, the undershepherds, dare to leave you wanderers to perish. The Church today has her vocation, which is not so much to eat the fat and drink the sweet, as to light her candle and sweep her house, and seek diligently until she finds her lost piece of money. Do not think that active service prevents fellowship; indeed, it is only another form of sitting at his feet, another kind of fellowship quite as true, and because all the more called for in this era, it is even more acceptable. I know I have had as great fellowship with Christ in his service as I ever have had in quiet contemplation. When I have met a poor soul who has rejected the Lord, I have felt my heart breaking over him like the heart of Christ over obstinate Jerusalem; when I have seen the tears flowing from a penitent’s eyes who could not as yet find the Saviour, I have felt sympathy with Jesus when he has looked upon similar cases, and had compassion upon them; and when I have seen the glow of joy, when the sun of Christ’s countenance has shone at last upon the troubled heart, I have entered into the joy of the Lord when he rejoices over one sinner who repents. Laziness never yet had communion with Christ. Those who walk with Christ must walk swiftly. Jesus is no idler or loiterer; he is about his Father’s business, and you must march with quick step if you wish to keep pace with him. As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, are sluggards to active people. Those who have much to do have no fellowship with gossips, who drop by to while away the hours with chat. Jesus has no fellowship with you who do not care for souls that are perishing. He is incessantly active, and so you must be if you wish to know his love. There is a fierce furnace heat beating upon everything today: men are toiling hard to hold their own, and Jesus must not be served by slothful hearts. I am sure that I do not err, from his mind, when I say to you, beloved, if you wish to know the Beloved fully you must get up early, and go abroad with him to work with him. Your joy shall be in spending and being spent for him.
17. III. Thirdly, LOVE ALSO LABOURS AT HOME.
18. Nearer the palace there were vineyards, and the spouse said, “Let us get up early to go to the vineyards.” Notice, then, that the Church does her work at home as well as abroad. When she loves her Lord she works with zeal, she gets up early. All men in Holy Scripture who loved God much rose early to worship him. We never read of one saint engaged upon sacred service who rose late. Abraham rose early, David rose early, Job rose early, and so they all did. It is expressed here as the very type and symbol of an earnest, vigorous service for Christ. Dear brethren, there is such a thing you know as keeping the Sunday School going, and keeping the Tract Society going, and keeping the Evangelists’ Society going, and yet no one is up early, but, after a fashion, everyone is nodding. I know these warm Sunday mornings it is not a very difficult thing for some of you, if you try hard, to go to sleep during a sermon. Well, that is a visible slumber, and is soon gotten over, but there is an invisible sleep which will come on Sunday afternoon when you are teaching, which is neither so readily discovered nor so easily cured. You are talking, talking, addressing your class, or speaking to your men and women, or whatever else may be your calling, and all the while your soul is nodding. Anyone can wake you up with a poke in your side if only your body is sleeping, but when the soul is slumbering it is not so easy. I fear greatly that a large proportion of Christian workers are usually asleep. What a difference there is between what a man teaches when he is asleep and what he teaches when he is awake. You can see it in a minute. I could not describe the difference, but it is apparent in tone and manner, and in every other way. The man may say and do the very same thing, but still it is a different thing. The children soon perceive it if it is in your class, your hearers soon perceive it if it is in your pulpit. Oh that God would wake up this Church; I do not believe that success so much depends upon what the Church does as upon how she does it. You may take your hammer and go tinkering about and not fasten a tin tack, but if your arm has muscle in it you will soon be driving the nails home up to the very head, and clinching them. May the Lord’s love so come upon you all my brethren, that what you do you may do with all your might, plunging your whole soul into his service, and never sparing force in anything.
19. Notice God’s people, when they are awake, first look well to the Church. “Let us see if the vine flourishes.” The Church is Christ’s vine. Let us take stock of it. Beloved, each one of us ought to be, in a measure, pastors of the Church. In so large a Church as this the pastoral office cannot be vested in one, or even in twenty. Each must look after his brother, and thus you must be pastors of one another. Watch over one another, pray for one another. How wonderful is the power of prayer. We do not know what blessings come from our prayers. Ten thousand arrows might long ago have pierced the Lord’s elect if it were not for the prayers of the saints which are a shield over their heads, defending the sacramental host from harm.
20. Then the Church looks after the little ones. “Let us see if the vine flourishes, whether the tender grapes appear.” No earnest Church forgets the children of her Sunday School, and every other agency for the young will be sure to be well attended to. An active church seeks to bring Jesus among the children, to see if the tender grapes appear. She pays her visits and performs her services, but always in his dear company. Helpers in the Sunday School, and workers for Christ, I commend you. May the Lord be with you. May the Lord allow you to see many tender grapes appearing, and may this Church have joy with you as hundreds shall be converted to God by your instrumentality.
21. Then the church also takes notice of all enquirers. “Let us see whether the pomegranates bud forth.” If a church is alive, there will always be many to observe where the first tear of repentance is glistening. In this congregation, every Sunday, thank God, some people are pricked in the heart. Watch for them, brethren. Those of you who occupy your seats and do not go afield, can do the cause great service by watching at home. There is no need to leave those seats in order to be useful. Around you there are unconverted people. Each Sunday morning and evening strangers come in here, and it may be the Lord will deal with them, only be on the alert; speak with them, and try if you can to use the shorthanded claymore, (a) that if my longer bladed sword may not have reached them, you who are near at hand may send a deadly wound into the very heart of their sins. Oh my brethren, words fail me to set before you the ways in which you may show your love for Jesus in the Church itself, but I am certain that there is no need for me to speak. Love herself, will teach you. Mothers somehow bring up their children, although there are no colleges for mothers. Love with its instincts makes them wise, and so will Christians with their love for Jesus become wise to serve. I do believe the less rule and human direction there is in the church, the better. I do not need to say, “Brother, do this, and do that”; if you love Christ, you will know what to do better than anyone else can tell you. You will find your own places; the Lord will lead you to them. I might put a square man into a round hole if I had the placing of you, but love always puts the man into the right position, it tells him what suits his qualification, it puts him into his work, and what is more, it keeps him at it. I shall measure your love for Jesus, and measure my own, not by the way in which we can talk, or the way in which we can criticize other workers, but by the way in which we shall henceforth labour for the Lord.
22. IV. The last point is this, that LOVE IN A CHURCH BRINGS OUT ALL ITS PROVISIONS FOR THE BELOVED.
23. The church of God has in herself, through the rich love of her husband, all manner of pleasant fruits. This church is a large one, but the same truth will hold good for the smallest church. The Lord never leaves his church without a suitable measure of gifts and graces. If our spiritual nose and eye could act this morning, we would discern all the fruits of the Paradise of God in this church, and we should smell the sweet savour of all pleasant things; for some brethren here have the apples of faith, others bear the delicious pomegranates of love, and others yield the charming clusters of hope and joy. There are all manner of pleasant fruits among us. One has one, another another, and in some hearts there are many fruits united. A church of God, if well cultivated, is rich in diversified displays of the fruit of the Spirit of God. Some of these fruits are new, and oh, how full of savour they are. Our new converts, thank God for them, what a freshness and power there is about their love! Certain mouldy old professors have lost their taste all together; they have passed beyond the time in which they were sweet; they have gotten into the sleepy pear state, and are becoming rotten. They are lumps in the porridge, the taste has gone out of them, if they ever had any. Alas! some have acquired a nauseous flavour, they are very rotten figs indeed. The new fruits may be sharp, and have more pungency than mellowness about them, but for all that they are choice for the Lord Jesus, whose soul desires the first ripe fruits. I thank God for youthful zeal; it might with advantage have a little more knowledge mingled with it, yet the zeal is good, and the fervour is good. May we never be without newly born souls.
24. Then there are old fruits, the experience of believers who are ripening for heaven, the well developed confidence which has been tested in a thousand battles, and the faith which has braved a lifetime of difficulties. These old fruits — the deep love of the matron for Christ, the firm assurance of the veteran believer — there is a mellowness about them which the Lord delights in.
25. All these choice things ought to be laid up. Every good thing in a church is meant to be stored up, not to be despised and forgotten; and the point of all is that all in the church ought to be laid up for our Beloved. And now is the time when I earnestly ask, in the name of the Lord Jesus, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, yes by each sacred sign of the love you bear your Master, that each one of you should bring out his pleasant fruits, whether they are new or whether they are old. We do not bring them out to buy his love, we know better; for although we should give all the substance of our house for love, it would be utterly despised. We do not bring out these fruits to secure his love for the future; we know it is an everlasting love that never can be taken away from us. We do not bring them out because we want to commend ourselves. Ah, no, any beauty we have does not lie in the fruits of our storehouses, but in what he has put upon us, and in what his love sees in us. Neither do we bring out these pleasant fruits to feed on them ourselves. Old experiences are mouldy things; old manna breeds worms and stinks; and as for any fruits which we have brought out we take no satisfaction in them ourselves. All we have belongs to him and to him alone, and at his feet we would lay everything. I beseech you, brethren, if you have any love pour it out upon him; if you have any faith exercise it for him; if you have any courage be bold for him; if you have any endurance endure hardness for him; if you have any grace, any virtue, any gift of his Spirit, anything that is lovely and of good repute, use it for him. Now is the day, now is the hour, now his love puts in her claim and serves you with her sacred writs. By the espousals which you have not forgotten, by the covenant which you have often repeated with him, by the seals of his table, by your burial with him in baptism in days gone by, I beseech you bring out all your pleasant things for your Beloved now; none for anyone else, but all for him.
26. I fear we often forget to do all for him. I know if I preach a sermon and have any memory that such and such a passage might please a learned or wealthy hearer, I have failed to please God. If I have any consideration in my mind concerning whether I shall gain esteem for excellence of speech I am immediately weak; but if I preach for Jesus only, then whoever finds fault with my work is sweet to him. And if you pray in the prayer meeting, or teach in the class, or give your contribution to the Lord’s work; if you feel you have done it for him, oh, then you know you have done properly because that is the point which sweetens all. I believe that many have stolen up to the offering box and dropped in what they could give for the Lord’s sake, and no one has known it, and therefore Christ has accepted it; while others may have given large sums ostentatiously because others of their standing were giving as much, and, therefore, they were not accepted. I want your aid for the College and the Orphanage, but do not give for my sake, but for my Lord’s sake. Put what you give into the pierced hand; make that your treasury. Jesus is your Master. No one else has bought you; no one else has died for you; no one else will receive you until his fond embrace at the last; no one else is preparing heaven for you; no one else can say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Serve him, then, with both your hands, with all your heart, with every drop of blood in your veins, and every breath in your lungs. Give him yourself, your whole self, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, and when you have done that, if he spares you for another half century you will find that you have spent the best life for yourself, though that must not enter into your thoughts.
I have thus spoken to my own dear friends and brethren in Christ, but
let me remind those who are not in Christ that nothing of this has
anything to do with them. I do not ask you to do anything for
Christ. I cannot. Christ does not want his enemies to work in his
vineyard. I do not ask you either to give to Jesus or to work for
him! Why should you? Until you love him your services would be a
mockery of him. I hold up no standard to enlist under it men whose
hearts are disloyal toward our Captain. Ah, no; but if your service
is rejected, and you feel grieved at heart that it is so, let me
whisper this word in your ear — your heart may yet still be made right.
You may still come and serve him. Here is his message to you: “ ‘Come
now and let us reason together,’ says the Lord; ‘though your sins are
as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like
crimson they shall be as wool.’ ” “He who believes and is baptized,
shall be saved.” There is the point for you, good friend. You must
begin with being saved yourself, and then when you are saved, you can
serve Christ. Christ will have no man work for him with the view of
saving himself; you must first be saved, and then you do not have
your own salvation to look to. When you have left that with Christ,
you can then labour for him. A rich English merchant was requested by
Queen Elizabeth I to take up certain affairs of hers. “Your Majesty,”
he said, “I am willing enough, but if I do your bidding my business
will be ruined.” “Sir,” said the Queen, “You attend to my business,
and I will attend to yours.” Now, sirs, give the business of your
soul’s salvation up to Christ; let him save you; and when that is
done you can make it your business to serve him, and he will be glad
for such a servant. May the Lord bless you, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 54]
(a) Claymore: History The twoedged broadsword of the ancient Scottish Highlanders. Also (inexactly, but very commonly) the basket-hilted broadsword introduced in the sixteenth century, which was frequently single edged. OED.