A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, December 14, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/27/2011
He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice
in the streets. He shall not break a bruised reed, and he shall not
quench a smoking flax, until he sends out justice to victory. And the
Gentiles shall trust in his name. [Mt 12:19-21]
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1. Every single fragment of Scripture is precious. Short texts culled here and there, as subjects of meditation, are useful. At the same time the practice of discoursing upon disconnected extracts may be carried too far, and sometimes the meaning of a passage may be entirely lost by not regarding its context. The Bible ought to be treated in the reading of it as any other book is treated, only with much more of reverential regard. Suppose that Milton’s “Paradise Lost” were used as a textbook, and that its general mode of usage were to take separate lines disconnected from the rest of the great poem, and consider them as positive statements, and suitable topics for meditation; it would be a dangerous experiment, the great poet might well roll over in his grave at the proposal. There are grand lines in that matchless epic which would bear the process, and glow like diamonds upon a regal brow; but no one would form any worthy idea of the glory of the “Paradise Lost” by having it presented in portions, lines, and selected passages. Such a mode of study reminds me of the Greek student, who, when he had a house to sell, carried a brick around in the streets to show what kind of a house it was. The Bible ought not to be torn limb from limb, and its joints hung up like meat in the butcher shop. Beyond all other books it will bear dissection, for it is vital in every sentence and word. Since it is a mosaic of priceless gems, you will be enriched even if you extract a jewel here and there, but to behold its divine beauty you must contemplate the mosaic as a whole. No idea of the magnificent design of the entire Scriptures can enter the human mind by reading it in detached portions, especially if those separated passages are interpreted without reference to the run of the writer’s thoughts. Let Scripture be read according to the rules of common sense, and that will necessitate our reading through a book and following its train of thought. Thus shall we be likely to arrive at the mind of the Holy Spirit. I say this because I may have to disturb your idea about the meaning of a passage of Scripture this morning for a short time, but you need not be alarmed, for after I have disturbed, I shall, most probably, confirm it. I shall pull down to build up again.
2. The main force of our sermon will be spent over the well known words, “He shall not break a bruised reed, and he not shall quench a smoking flax, until he sends out justice to victory.” We all have our own opinion about the meaning of this verse; we rejoice that the Lord Jesus will deal tenderly with the weak in grace, and the gentle in heart, and are thankful that the text appears to us to express that consoling truth. Now we admit that the verse does teach us that. Does it teach us that directly and mainly? I do not think so. Read the context, and judge for yourselves. The Pharisees endeavoured to find faults in the Lord Jesus, but they could find nothing against him, except in reference to his disregard for their notions of the Sabbath. They blamed the disciples for picking ears of grain on the Sabbath, and the Lord himself for performing a miracle of healing upon that day. Our Lord met them boldly, and so utterly routed them so that one almost pities them, while rejoicing over their ignominious defeat. They were beaten outright, and covered with shame. Our Lord overwhelmed them with five arguments, any one of which completely swept the ground from under their feet; as for example, that question, “What man shall there be among you, who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep?” Our Lord’s victory was complete, and tended very much to weaken their authority: but he did not push his advantage, so as to overturn the sway of these religious teachers: they were before him as lamps so nearly blown out that nothing but a smouldering smoke remained, but he did not proceed to quench them; in argument he had proven their folly, and had crumpled them up until they were like so many bruised bulrushes; but there he paused, he did not pursue the conflict further, but retired to Galilee, into the solitary places and rural districts of the country, and preached the gospel there. Lest a popular controversy and public tumult should arise, every time he performed a miracle he asked the healed one to conceal the fact, in order that it might be fulfilled, “he shall not break a bruised reed, and he shall not quench a smoking flax, until he sends out justice to victory.” And here let me ask, “Do not the last words of this passage imply that the smoking flax will be quenched, and the bruised reeds will be broken, when he shall ‘send out justice to victory?’ ” How will this be true if the passage refers to feeble saints? The first meaning looks in quite another direction, and points at the Lord’s enemies. Now is the time of his patience; but a day of his wrath is on the way. He forbore to overthrow his antagonists in the days of his flesh, but in the time of his second coming he will break his foes in pieces with a rod of iron, he will dash them in pieces like potters’ vessels. His voice is not heard in the streets now, but soon that voice shall be heard by all living, and shall resound through the abodes of the dead. He does not strive for the mastery now, but then he shall go out conquering and to conquer. Today is the time of forbearance, gentleness, and meekness, and with humble reverence let us meditate on this.
3. The subject of this morning will be the gentleness and longsuffering of the Lord Jesus; secondly, its outcome, “The Gentiles shall trust in his name,” because they find him so meek and tender, and, lastly, its termination, for though he is at this present time so merciful that he does not break the bruised reed, yet there is a limit set to it: “until he sends out justice to victory.”
4. I. THE SAVIOUR’S FORBEARANCE.
5. The passage wonderfully shows the Redeemer’s gentleness, and we shall contemplate it first in his own life on earth. What a quiet, unobtrusive life was that of him whom they called “the carpenter’s son!” Truly, it was wonderfully energetic; there is a sense in which it must be not only admitted but gloried in that our Lord both strove and cried, for spiritually he fought against sin even to agony and blood, and with thrilling eloquence and plenty of tears he cried out against evil, and warned men to escape. He lifted up his voice like a trumpet, and cried and did not spare, so that his persuasive voice was heard in the street, and throughout all the land his gospel was made known. But the passage teaches us that while others were contentious for power, or, clamorous for gain, and eager for notoriety, Jesus was not. He raised no party, he fomented no strife, he sought no honour, he courted no popularity. He left the arena of this world’s contests to others, his was another field of conflict. Born as he was amidst the acclamations of the angels, reverenced by strangers from a distant land, foretold by seers and prophets, one marvels that he did not even in early youth shine as a “brilliant star”; but for thirty years he retires to the workshop of Joseph, and is there patiently occupied with “his father’s business.” We catch a glimpse of him in the temple, but, as in a moment, he vanishes again into obscurity. Had we been in his place, young men of mettle and of warm blood, would we have waited thirty years or more? What hand could have held us back from the battle? Like the warhorse, we should have chomped at the bit and pawed the ground, eager for conflict. Jesus was meekly quiet, neither striving, nor crying, nor causing his voice to be heard in the streets. When the time is come for him to appear in public, he goes quietly to the banks of the Jordan. John is baptising a multitude in the river; he does not press forward and claim the Baptist’s immediate attention, but he waits until all the people have been baptized, and then he tells John that he desires to be baptized by him. The deed is done, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the river; but he does not come up out of the Jordan, at once to plunge into the midst of conflict, and preach a sermon with the fiery zeal of Peter on the day of Pentecost, neither does he immediately go up to Jerusalem, and proclaim himself the Anointed of the Lord. Instead of that, he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. His zeal was intense, but he had his spirit well in hand, and not a grain of self-seeking ever defiled his ardour. The zeal of God’s house had eaten him up, yet he went quietly to the wilderness, and afterwards to Cana and Capernaum, and the more remote places by the sea. He did not need excitement from the outside world to maintain the fires of his zeal, there was an inexhaustible fount of fire within, hence he was ardent but not noisy, intense but not clamorous. His first labours were very private: his kingdom did not come with observation. He did not seek to entrap men into discipleship by tricks which are commonly employed. His first disciples were urged to follow him by John, who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and then the disciples asked him, “Master, where do you live?” He gathered them one or two at a time; he did not raise an excitement, and lead hundreds captive to enthusiasm. Instead of stirring the metropolitan city at once with his ministry, he went away to Nazareth and Cana, little paltry towns away there among a rustic population. He went about healing the sick folk and teaching; calling John, and James, and Peter, and Andrew, and Matthew, but making no very great headway, as we say; spending a whole day talking with a woman at a well, perfectly satisfied to be doing what violent spirits would call commonplace mission work. When he comes up to the feast at Jerusalem to preach, he stands there and declares the word, but when he is opposed he disappears, and is back again in his retirement in Galilee, still pursuing his lowly work of love. Our King came among us in meek and lowly guise, and so he continued among us. You shall not find Christ pushing his way among the politicians, crying, “I claim leadership among the sons of men.” He never marches at the head of an admiring mob to assert his supremacy by their aid, and alarm his foes by terror of their numbers; but gently gliding through the world, seen by his light rather than heard by his sound, he was content to shun fame and avoid applause. He frequently forbade the grateful patients whom he had healed to mention his name or proclaim the cure, his modesty and love of quiet shrank from notoriety. It was abundantly true of him, he did not strive nor cry, neither did any man hear his voice in the streets. He did not break a bruised reed, and he did not quench a smoking flax.
6. The meaning of what I have said is this — Jesus never became a party leader; he was no place hunter or demagogue. There arose many in his day who claimed to be great ones, and drew many people after them by the pretence that they were the promised deliverers; and by and by their clamours created strife, for the troops of the Romans were after them, and tumult and bloodshed were the lamentable sequel. Our Lord never asked his servants to fight, for his kingdom was of another order. When, for once in his life, he rode in state as a king through the streets of Jerusalem, the shouting was only that of children, who said “Hosanna” in the temple, and of a willing, peaceful company of disciples, whose only weapons were palm branches and boughs of the trees. He rode no warhorse, he chose the lowly donkey. As compared with those who clamoured for place and power, he was like a dumb man all his days, though able to have awed or charmed the multitude to do his bidding. He loved the lonely mountainside better than the throng of the crowd. He could not help being popular; such a speaker as he was would attract his thousands, for “No man spoke ever like this man.” And such a miracle worker as he was, how else could it be except that the people would follow to witness his wonders and eat his loaves and fishes? And such a generous spirit, so noble, and so free hearted, it was little marvel that the people would have made him a king; but he tore himself away: they sought him and did not find him. He came to endure, not to enjoy; to be despised, and not to be crowned. How often did he escape the congratulating crowds! He took ship and passed over to the other side; rough waters were more to his liking than hot brained mobs of transient admirers, who could be bought by bread and fish. His intent was not to be the idol of the populace, but to break their idols and lead their hearts back to God. Hence he did not strive nor cry, nor run in the world’s race, nor battle in her wars.
7. Just as he shunned popularity, so he made no use of the carnal force which lay ready at hand. No doubt the priests and scribes were sometimes afraid to oppose him, for fear of the people; but they had no need to fear that he would hide behind the populace. He asked neither the rich nor the strong nor the many to protect him, but felt quite secure until his hour was come. He spoke openly before them, unguarded by his friends, and with neither weapon nor armour of defence. He never appealed to human passions, or egged on the people against the tyrants of the hour. No sentence of his can be construed into a desire to meet force by force. One of his followers, who loved him much, said, “Let us call fire from heaven upon these Samaritans”; but he said, “You do not know what spirit you have.” In the garden of Gethsemane he might have summoned legions of angels to the rescue, but he agonized alone. Not a single seraph came from the throne to drive away the son of perdition, or the bloodthirsty priests. No destroying angel struck the men who spat in his face, no devouring flame burned up those who scourged him. The force of his life was the omnipotence of gentle goodness. He did not lay the weight of his little finger upon the minds of men to compel them to involuntary subjection; his conquests were such as led men in willing captivity.
8. Only think of what he might have done; only think of what you and I would have done if we had been in his place, having such a work to do and such opponents. Have you never felt, when you have seen the sin of this world, as if you wanted to put it down and stamp it out by force? Your indignation has been stirred within you, and you have said, “I cannot bear it.” When I stood in Rome and saw the idolatries of that city, and its hoards of priests, I could not help exclaiming, “How is it that the eternal thunderbolts lie still? Had I one hour of the Lord’s power I would sweep away all of this filthiness with the besom of destruction.” But Christ with these same thunderbolts in his hand never used them at all; he had no curses for his foes, no blows for his enemies. The only time he did use the semblance of violence happened when he took the scourge of small cords and chased the buyers and sellers out of his own Father’s house, a deed in which the awe inspired by his presence appears to have been the principal instrument employed. Such was his gentleness that when he might have shaken the earth, and rocked the thrones of tyrants, and made every idol god totter from its bloodstained throne, he exerted no such physical power, but still stood with melting heart, and tearful eyes, inviting sinners to come to him; using no lash but his love, no battle axe and weapon of war but his grace.
9. Has it never struck you that it was strange he should have stopped in Palestine, a little miserable strip of country, almost too insignificant to be noticed on the map? Why did he confine himself to Israel? Why sojourn in the most remote parts of the land? Why did he not at once go down to Greece, and there at Athens meet the philosophers, and convince them of his superiority? They must before long have admitted that there was majesty about his teaching, and have acknowledged him as the wisest of men. Why not march to Rome and face proud Caesar, and if he must die, die in some conspicuous place, where all the world would ring with it? Ah, no: he courted no notoriety. We are always saying, “Let us push, and get to the front,” but when the world’s march is in the wrong direction, the true leader is behind. Jesus made no desperate attempts to reach leadership, he relied upon the power of his Spirit, and the force of love. The power of truth would, he knew, penetrate in quiet the prepared heart; he knew that the gospel, like fire, could burn its way without noise of drum or sound of trumpet, and he was satisfied to pick out his few fishermen, and his other disciples, in whom his grace should be placed like a sacred deposit, and let the work go on like the silent growing of the grain in the ground, which springs up in a way that man does not understand.
10. I leave the question of his whole life, for I do not think it is necessary to say more to make you see how exactly the prophet has pictured him here.
11. Now, secondly, the same has been true with regard to the spread of the gospel. The passage does not refer merely to Christ personally, but to Christ’s entire work, and it is still true of him, “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” No violence has been employed in the spread of the gospel; no carnal weapon has been lifted to promote Messiah’s reign. He does not strive, nor cry. When Mohammed wished to spread his religion, he ordered his disciples to arm themselves, and then go and cry aloud in every street, and offer to men the alternative to become believers in the prophet, or to die. Mohammed’s was a mighty voice which spoke with the edge of the scimitar. He delighted to quench the smoking flax, and break the bruised reed; but the religion of Jesus has advanced upon quite a different plan. Other forces, more mighty, but not so visible, have been employed to promote the sway of Jesus. He has never invoked the secular arm, he has left that to Antichrist, and his seed. No demand has been made by him upon human governments to patronize or enforce Christianity. On the contrary, wherever governments have patronized Christianity at all, they have either killed it, or else the infinite mercy of God alone has preserved it from extinction. Jesus would not have the unbeliever fined, or imprisoned, or cut off from the rights of citizenship; he would not allow any one of his disciples to lift a finger to harm the vilest blasphemer, or touch one hair of an atheist’s head. He would have men won to himself by no sword except that of the Spirit, and bound to him by no bands except those of love. Never, never, in the church of God has a true conversion been accomplished by the use of carnal means, the Lord will not approve of the power of the flesh if used in this way. You do not find the Lord calling in the pomp and prestige of worldly men to promote his kingdom, or see him arguing with philosophers so that they might sanction his teaching. I know that Christian ministers do this, and I am sorry they do. I see them taking their places in the Hall of Science to debate with the men of boastful wisdom; they claim to have achieved great mental victories there, and I will not question their claim, but I fear they will never win spiritual triumphs in this way. They have answered one set of arguments, and another set have been invented the next day; the task is endless; to answer the allegations of infidelity is as fruitless as to reason with the waves of the sea, as far as soul saving is concerned. This is not the way of quickening, converting, and sanctifying the souls of men. You will not triumph as a book of science, oh Bible, though your every word is wisdom itself! You will not conquer as a great philosopher, oh Man of Nazareth, though you are indeed the possessor of all knowledge; but your kingdom shall come as the Saviour of men and the Son of God!
12. The power which Christ uses for the spread of his kingdom is exercised in conversion, and is as different as possible from compulsion or clamour. Conversion is the mysterious work of the Spirit upon the soul. That great change could not be produced by the fear of imprisonment, the authority of law, the charms of bribery, the clamour of excitement, or the glitter of eloquence. Men have feigned conversion because they hoped that a religious profession would benefit their business, or raise their social position, but may God deliver us from such conversions. Men have been startled into thoughtfulness by the excitement which arises out of Christian zeal; but any real spiritual benefit they may have received has come to them from another source, for the Lord is not in the wind, or the tempest, but in the still small voice. What is accomplished by noise will subside when quiet reigns, as the bubble dies with the wave which carried it. Hearts are won to Jesus by the silent conviction which irresistibly subdues the conscience to a sense of guilt, and by the love which is displayed in the Redeemer’s becoming the great substitutionary sacrifice for us, so that our sins might be removed. In this way conversions are accomplished, not by displays of human zeal, wisdom, or force. “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord.”
13. Nor, beloved, has Christ caused his gospel to spread by any revelation of the terrors of his deity. Oh, if today this guilty land of ours were bruised beneath the feet of a destroying angel, or we ourselves were made to sit in darkness that might be felt or found our homes filled with frogs and loathsome insects, and our fields devastated by devouring locusts, then we dream that our countrymen would be struck down in terror at the power of Jesus; but such is not his mode of warfare; plagues are more suited for the armoury of the law than for the hospital of the gospel. He might, if he pleased, send down upon the worshippers of false gods such terrible judgments that they would cry to the rocks to hide them, and to the hills to cover them. While they are bowing before their demon gods, he might cause the earth to open and swallow them up, or he could strike every priest at this hour with the leprosy, and they would richly deserve the doom. At this hour every deceiver of the people might suddenly be torn in pieces, and appointed his portion with the tormentors, and divine justice would exonerate the deed; but the Son of Man does not act like this. With wonderful patience he sits still, and bears the insults of succeeding generations. If he were not almighty, he could not restrain himself so. He still allows men to chant hymns to gods of wood and stone; he still permits priests to insult him, by pretending to manufacture the flesh and blood of his humanity; he allows this blinded nation to follow its wicked priests, and to forsake himself, the only priest. And he does all this while his saints are crying daily, “Oh Lord, how long?” and day and night the souls under the altar are petitioning for justice. He pauses in pity, waiting to be gracious, not willing that any should perish, lothe to destroy. This smoking flax of heathendom, abominable as it is in his nostrils, he will still not quench, and those broken reeds of ritualistic confidence upon which men rely, he will not as yet break, for he is magnifying his patience and longsuffering. By and by he will “send out justice to victory,” and men shall see that the patient Lamb is also the mighty Lion of the Tribe of Judah; and he who was omnipotent to bear offences will also be omnipotent to punish his foes, and to ease him of his adversaries.
14. We will now notice another illustration of the same truth. We have observed his life and the spread of the gospel; now notice that the same truth appears in the experience of every unconverted man. I may be addressing one who has denied the existence of God. Wonder, oh man, that you still live, since you deny the existence of your Maker. You are to him no better than smoking flax or a bruised reed, but despite your insolence, he neither quenches nor crushes you. You enjoy the bounties of providence, you are permitted to inhale the air which afterwards you send out in blasphemy! Is it not a marvel that you are not destroyed? Perhaps you have become openly profane as well as a secret doubter; you have insulted God to his face, and dared him to destroy your body and your soul. Why did he not at once accept your profane challenge? Why? Because he is too great to be in haste to quench such a smoking flax as you are, too kind to deal hastily with you. Justice will close her accounts with you by and by, but for the present the Lord lets such a bruised reed as you are alone. Crush you! Indeed, that he could. One word from him, one look from his eye, and you would lie a corpse, and your putrid carcass would need to be hidden away in the dust. He spares you, not in indifference; but in wonderful patience he will not quench nor crush you. The Socinian [a] says that Christ is not the Son of God, and so robs him of his greatest glory, but Jesus does not strike him. Harsh and cruel things are said against the Lord and his great sacrifice, but he hurls no flames of fire upon the synagogues of the heretics. He allows men to live in ease and comfort, even to old age, though every day they have insulted his majesty, and rebelled against his throne. Nothing provokes Jesus more than injuries done to his people. There was a time when he saw Saul persecuting his church, and he chided him from heaven, his eyes flashed fire upon the apostle, and he fell to the ground: but even then mercy had moved the Saviour, and not fury. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks,” was a reproof such as only the gentle Jesus could have given. But, oh, how is it that he endures to see his people despised, rejected, and slandered? How could the Lord Jesus sit still while the Papists were murdering the Vaudois [b] in the valleys of the Alps? How could he be still on St. Bartholomew’s Eve [c] while the tocsin [d] was sounding, and his own dear sheep were being slaughtered? How could he be quiet when Smithfield [e] was black with the ashes of his saints? In his forbearance we find the answer. His longsuffering is intended for the salvation of men, but it is amazing. I ask anyone here present who have been provoking Christ for years, could you have borne with your fellow creatures as Christ has borne with you? You especially who hear the gospel from day to day, and yet defer obedience to its commands, and indulge in private sins, and give a free reign to evil lusts, in defiance of your conscience and the rebukes of the Spirit of God — I ask you, do you not wonder how Jesus bears with you? Why, I know men who, if only half a word is spoken to provoke them, will fall to blows, and I know very few who would quietly bear six or seven provocations; but yet here is the Lord Jesus Christ able to destroy you, his adversary, and yet for the time of thirty, forty, fifty, perhaps sixty or seventy years, his patience still waits. Oh, the mercy of the Lord! the mercy of the Lord He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax!
15. One more remark should be made here. Our present view of the text proves beyond all question his compassion for those who are weak and feeble, but are of a right spirit. We generally understand the passage to mean, that wherever there is a spark of grace Christ will not quench it, and wherever there is any brokenness of heart Christ will not destroy it. Now, observe, that instead of denying that this is the meaning of the passage, while I do assert that it is not the primary meaning, I have helped you to see how forcibly this truth may be inferred from the text; for, if Christ would not quench those Pharisees and Sadducees who were so obnoxious, if he does not put down cruel kings and great potentates, and if he bears with infidels and sceptics, and with persecutors and profane people, how much more will he deal gently with those who are truly seeking him, but whose spiritual life is feeble, so that they are comparable to bruised reeds and smoking flax. Instead of setting aside, we have rather confirmed and brought into clearer light the meaning which is usually given to the text. Oh poor heart, are you seeking Jesus? Is it a poor, trembling search as yet? Are you afraid that he will reject you? Have you begun to pray, but does that prayer seem too feeble to enter the gates of heaven? Be of good courage. He who has patience with his proudest foe will not be hard and censorious towards a trembling penitent. It cannot be that he who is too tender to destroy the howling beast which snarls at him, should be so severe as to slay the lamb which pines at his feet. Weak and trembling one, be of good courage.
16. As for you who are converted to him, and can say that all your hope is placed in him, it may be you are depressed because you do not grow in grace as you would wish to do, and there are times when your anxiety to be right leads you to make rigid self-examination, and then you are grieved because there does not appear to be more grace in you than fire in a dying candlewick, nor more true life in you than there is of strength in a bruised reed. Well, never mind. Jesus has a special care for the weak, and is tender to the utmost degree towards those who need to be gently handled. Has he not said, “He carries the lambs in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young?” Only let your faith be sincere, and if it is only like a grain of mustard seed it shall bring you into the kingdom. Though you can only look with a bleary eye at the cross, and scarcely see it by reason of the tears of your sorrow, yet, if you only trust in the great sacrifice, you are saved, for Jesus is no rough taskmaster towards seeking souls, no stern judge or heartless slave driver of the weak. He is very pitiful and full of compassion.
17. And you, backslider, where are you? Your light, once so brilliant, has waned into a mere spark, and your only sign of possessing the heavenly fire is the smoke of your desire. You are saying, “Oh that I had the life of grace in my soul! I cannot be happy in the world, and yet I fear I have no share in the world to come.” Backslider, you have been broken and rendered useless by sin, you has fallen from your steadfastness; you are not fit to be a pillar in the house of your God, but only to be thrown on the dunghill like a broken bulrush; yet Jesus, when men reject you, will receive you, and when your conscience condemns you, his love will not discard you. Be of good cheer. He who affords his direst foes a thousand opportunities to repent will not in his fierce anger cast out those who crave mercy at his hands.
18. II. THE OUTCOME OF THE GENTLENESS OF CHRIST. “The Gentiles shall trust in his name.”
19. What does this mean? Why, power, violence, harshness, severity, are never trusted. You cannot win men’s hearts by such means. The Parisians wrote upon the wall of the Imperial Palace, “Infantry, cavalry, artillery”; these were the basis of the imperial power, but an empire founded upon such things melted away like snow in summer. If there had been loyal affection between the ruler and the ruled, a thousand German invasions could not have dissolved the tie. When the old Napoleon was on the rock of St. Helena, he said gloomily to one of his attendants, “My empire has passed away, because it rested upon force, but the empire of Jesus still lasts, and will last for ever, because it is based upon love.” What has Jesus done for his subjects except loved them better than anyone else could have done, suffered for them beyond all, and conferred greater blessings upon them than all the universe besides could have bestowed? He has captured their hearts by such things. You may lure away Christ’s followers from him when you can find them a better master, or a more loving friend; but not until then. You shall win us over to a new leader when you can show us a better one; but you cannot even imagine one who could compare for an instant with the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely. We who are sinners of the Gentiles trust him, and trust him implicitly, because he is so divinely gentle, so omnipotently tender. Saviour, you are no tyrant! You do not trample on the poor and needy, or oppress the weak and trembling! You are mercy itself, love embodied, grace incarnate; therefore the people flock to you; and the Gentiles trust in your name.
20. The power of Jesus over men lies in the fact that he has taught them to trust him. The firm faith of his followers consolidates his kingdom. When his word comes home to us in its own soft and gentle manner, and he reveals himself to us as he does not to the world; and when he permits us to put our finger into the print of the nails, and our hand into his side; and when he says, “You are mine and I am yours,” oh, then we feel burning in our soul like coals of juniper, that grand enthusiasm which is the terror of the adversaries of Christ, and the power of the church. More potent than the edge of the sword is the intense love of saints. Just as the might of the north wind when it chases away the mist, such is the divine force of love for Jesus when it fills the heart; it chases away all lethargy and sin. When we truly trust our Lord we feel that we can do anything for him; impossibilities have ceased, and miracles have returned. When we trust Christ, self-sacrifice becomes a joy, and holy daring is only a natural impulse. By trust in Christ the weakest have been made strong, feeble women have routed their persecutors, and humble men have confronted the proudest despots without fear. Oh Lord Jesus, the Gentiles trust you, because you are meek and lowly, and their trustful love is the strength of your growing dominion.
21. III. The last thing is this, THE TERMINATION OF THIS GENTLENESS.
22. Our jaded spirits think the end is long in coming. Read an account of the Popish Confessional, or stand, as I have done, by the confessional box and read printed before your eyes the subjects which are to be matters of question between the priests and the young girls who confess to him, and if you do not feel as if you could invoke a curse upon each shaven head you are something more or less than a man. It makes one’s blood boil to think that such wretches should be in a position to insult and corrupt the modesty of maidenhood. Why does the Lord’s anger not blaze forth against them and consume them as stubble? So would our hasty justice deal out righteousness, but the Lord is slow to anger, and gives his patience room. Yet if men will not change, if they will not be won by love, if even the wounds of Christ cannot wean them from their lusts, if reason is lost upon them, and they make beasts of themselves, it must come an end. A God all mercy and no justice would in the long run be a dreadful calamity, just as a judge who never punished crime would be the worst possible magistrate for any nation. Ah, yes, the very instincts of our nature make us feel that sin must be punished in due time. The best emotions of the most saintly spirit coincide with the belief in future retribution. There must come a time when the foes of God shall not rule, and error shall not dominate over men. It must be so. Jesus, the friend of man, will “send out justice to victory.” He will do this in a certain sense at the death of every ungodly man and woman. With what surprise will they open their eyes in the next state and see the Christ, whom they despised, sitting upon his throne. With what unutterable dismay have some been seized, even before they have been quite dead, while the curtain was just rising, and was not fully drawn up, they have howled with horror. But ah, their dreadful doom! Those who denied that Jesus was God shall see him as divine; those who persecuted his people see his people glorified at his side; those who opposed the truth he taught shall feel how sure that truth is, and shall learn how dreadful a thing it is to neglect the great salvation and fall into the hands of the living God.
But this is not all. There is a day appointed, an hour of which no
man knows, when the Lord Jesus shall descend from heaven with a
shout. Yes, he who was nailed to the cross, who died and rose, and
ascended, leaving the last print of his feet upon Olivet, he shall
descend to earth again. He shall come not to suffer but to judge, and
with him as co-assessors, shall come his own beloved followers. Then
shall the dead rise from their graves, and sea and land yield up the
trophies of the grave. Then shall stern justice take the place of
gentleness and pity; for as he himself repeats the words, “I was
hungry, and you gave me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave me no
drink; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me”: his word shall
roll like thunder and strike like lightning, “Depart you cursed into
everlasting fire in hell, prepared for the devil and his angels.” You
rejected mercy, and mercy will plead with you no more: you challenged
power, and power shall break you like potters’ vessels: you despised
love, and love grown angry now despises you: you rejected truth, and
now truth shall bind you in chains of fire for ever: you would have
nothing to do with God, and God will have nothing to do with you; you
would not have the Saviour, and he shall say, “I never knew you:
depart from me you workers of iniquity.” Today he will not break the
bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax; but he will by and by, when
he “sends out justice to victory,” sweep out of his kingdom every
offensive thing. May God grant that we may not be obnoxious to his
anger when he shall be among the sons of men as a refiner’s fire and
like fullers’ soap. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mt 12:1-30]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 72” 72 @@ "(Song 2)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — Sweet Day, So Calm, So Bright” 910]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Life on Earth — His Fellowship With Us” 266]
[a] Socinian: One of a sect founded by Laelius and Faustus Socinus, two Italian theologians of the sixteenth century, who denied the divinity of Christ. OED
[b] Vaudois: Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are names for a Christian movement of the later Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions, primarily in North Western Italy. There is considerable uncertainty about the earlier history of the Waldenses because of a lack of extant source material. They were persecuted as heretical in the twelfth century onwards, and endured near annihilation in the seventeenth century. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldensians"
[c] St. Bartholomew’s Eve massacre: On that day in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Bartholomew%27s_Day_massacre"
[d] Tocsin: A signal, especially an alarm signal, sounded by ringing a bell or bells: used ordinarily and especially in reference to France. OED.
[e] Smithfield: The fires that Queen Mary (1553-1558) ordered to be lit at Smithfield put to death such Protestant leaders and men of influence as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and Hooper, but also hundreds of lesser men who refused to adopt the Catholic faith.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 72 (Song 1)
1 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch form shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
2 For him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown his head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.
3 People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on his love with sweetest song,
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on his name.
4 Blessings abound where’er he reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest;
And all the sons of want are bless’d
5 Where he displays his healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more;
In him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
6 Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honours to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud AMEN.
Psalm 72 (Song 2) <7s.>
1 Hasten, Lord, the glorious time,
When, beneath Messiah’s sway,
Every nation, every clime,
Shall the gospel’s call obey.
2 Then shall wars and tumults cease,
Then be banish’d grief and pain;
Righteousness, and joy, and peace,
Undisturb’d shall ever reign.
3 As when soft and gentle showers
Fall upon the thirsty plain,
Springing grass and blooming flowers
Clothe the wilderness again;
4 So thy Spirit shall descend,
Soft’ning every stony heart,
And his sweetest influence lend,
All that’s lovely to impart.
5 Time shall sun and moon obscure,
Seas be dried, and rocks be riven,
But his reign shall still endure,
Endless as the days of heaven.
6 Bless we, then, our gracious Lord,
Ever praise his glorious name;
All his mighty acts record,
All his wondrous love proclaim.
Harriett Auber, 1829.
Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
910 — Sweet Day, So Calm, So Bright
1 Sweet is the task, oh Lord,
Thy glorious acts to sing,
To praise thy name, and hear thy word,
And grateful offerings bring.
2 Sweet at the dawning hour,
Thy boundless love to tell,
And when the night wind shuts the flower,
Still on the theme to dwell.
3 Sweet, on this day of rest,
To join the heart and voice
With those who love and serve thee best,
And in thy name rejoice.
4 To songs of praise and joy
Be every Sabbath given,
That such may be our blest employ
Eternally in heaven.
Henry Francis Lyte, 1841.
Jesus Christ, Life on Earth
266 — His Fellowship With Us <8.7.4.>
1 Pilgrims here on earth and strangers,
‘Neath a weary load we bend:
Oh! how sweet, ‘mid toils and dangers,
Still to have a heavenly Friend!
Christ has suffer’d
And to sufferers grace will send
2 By as deadly foes assaulted,
By as strong temptations tried,
Still his footsteps never halted,
On from strength to strength he hied.
What could move him,
With Jehovah at his side?
3 To the shameful cross they nail’d him,
And that cross became his throne:
In the tomb they laid and seal’d him;
Lo, the Saviour bursts the stone,
Claims all empire as his own.
4 Jesus, from thy heavenly glories,
Here an eye of mercy cast;
Make our path still plain before us,
Smooth the wave, and still the blast.
Thou hast help’d us:
Bear is safely home at last.
Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.