A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, December 28, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/29/2011
He restores my soul. [Ps 23:3]
1. This sweetest of the Psalms sings of many mercies which the happy soul of the believer receives, and it traces all those benefits to one source, namely to the Good Shepherd himself. “I shall not lack.” Why? Because the Lord is my Shepherd. I lie down in delightful repose in green pastures. Why? Because “he makes me.” I march onward making holy progress beside the still waters. Why? Because “he leads me.” In the prospect of death I am calm, and free from fear. Why? Because he is with me, his rod and staff comfort me. The crown is composed of many costly things; gold and oriental pearls, and rare gems from the land beyond the river, are all blended in one diadem, and that diadem is without a question joyfully placed upon the head of the Great Shepherd of Israel. The poet laureate of Scripture sings surpassingly in this Psalm, and every line is dedicated to the Beloved of his soul, in whom were all his fresh springs. My object while handling a part of one of his verses shall be the same as his own, I also would speak of “things which I have composed concerning the King,” with the view of extolling his name. I desire to glorify him from one particular point of view, namely, as The Restorer, who himself brings back our wandering spirits when we forsake his ways. I would just now write the first word of the text in capitals, capitals as large as you can find. “HE restores my soul.” He, he alone, he and not another. To him be praise!
2. I. The text is full of lessons and reminders, and reminds us in the first place of OUR TRUE POSITION as believers. Let us dwell upon it in that light.
3. What is the true position of every believer? It is that of a sheep staying close to its Shepherd. The text suggests that, because the sheep is supposed to have gone astray, and the shepherd brings it back in order to put it into the position which it ought never to have left. The most suitable condition for a believer is in communion with Christ. It ought not to be a privilege occasionally enjoyed, it should be the everyday life of the soul. We are to abide in Jesus, walk with him, and live in him. Paul did not say, “For me to especially rejoice is Christ, or for me to feast on holy days is Christ”; but, “For me to live is Christ.” Christ is the ordinary bread of the common meal as well as the rich things full of marrow for the banquet; he is water from the rock as well as wine on the lees well refined. For us his name is the watchword of earth just as we expect it to be our passport into heaven. We need fellowship with Jesus not as a luxury for red letter days and Sabbaths, but as the necessary provision of every work day of our lives. “Abide in me” is his word to us for all seasons, and we ought to strive to realise it: so that always, by night and by day, on the Sunday and equally on the weekdays, in our joys and in our cares, we should abide in him. Christ is not merely a harbour of refuge, but a port for all weathers. Do not think, beloved, that I am setting up too high a standard when I say this. I am so sure I am not that I will repeat what I have said — the proper condition of a child of God at all times is that he should sit with Mary at the Master’s feet, or with John should lean his head upon the beloved Redeemer’s bosom.
4. I think this will be clear, first, if we remember our obligations to Jesus. When we were newly converted, and first knew our sins to be blotted out, if we had been asked how we should in future act towards our Lord, we should have set up a very high ideal. “Did he die for me, bearing all my sins in his own body? Then I will for ever view his death as the grandest miracle of love, and my grateful heart shall have communion with him by love and praise. Has Jesus really forgiven me? Am I clean through being washed in his most precious blood, clean every whit, and made a child of God, and accepted in the Beloved? Oh, then, I will praise him, and bless him, and magnify him, and live for him, all my days. Concerning ever being weary of him, impossible! Concerning ever growing cold and indifferent towards him, it would be better if my heart would cease to beat than that it should ever be.” Do I not accurately describe what you thought at the first? Have I not truthfully described the ardour of your espousal love? You have not reached your ideal, but that is what you rightly judged to be consistent, and, beloved, it is what you ought to have reached. It is not a higher condition than your solemn obligations to Christ really demanded. If an angel had never heard of men before, and should suddenly alight upon this earth and meet one of our race, and talk with him, he would be filled with wonder at what he discovered. Suppose that we should tell him that we fell into sin and were condemned to die, but that the great Maker of heaven and earth condescended to take upon himself our nature, and died in our place; can you conceive the angel’s astonishment at the condescension of the Son of God? After his first amazement had passed away, he would say to us, “And do you not love him infinitely? Are you able, within the limits of your little heart, to hold all the love you feel for such unutterable grace? How do you live? Do you not feel that you cannot do half enough for him? You certainly will never fail in obedience to him, in trust of him, in zeal for him; that would be quite impossible!” How deeply should we blush and strive to cover our faces as we confessed to our angelic questioner that for such surprising love we have made a very poor return. I am quite sure, however, that we should quite agree with the angel concerning what was due to our Lord, our conscience and our heart awarding him the highest affection, and the most constant service. Such deeds of love as Jesus has performed for us can never be adequately requited, but at the very least they ought not to be insulted by lukewarm and casual communion; they demand our heart, our soul, our all. With him who has healed us we always desire to remain. With our Ransomer we would live in lifelong discipleship, and be his servants, to go no more out for ever. [Ex 21:6]
5. Moreover, our relationships to the Lord Jesus require perpetual communion with him. Do you not know that you are the friends of Christ? And if you are friends, will you not show yourselves friendly? But how can you be friendly if for a week you have no conversation with him in the house, or in the field, or by the way? Is this your kindness to your friend? You are more than friends, you are his brethren. “The same is my brother, and sister, and mother,” he said, and can you treat a brother so badly as to approach him as if he were a stranger and a foreigner, and scarcely exchange a sign of affection for months? Is this brotherly? Did David treat his Jonathan like this? More than that, in wondrous love Jesus has called himself your husband, and has taken you to be his spouse. Is not that strange love, or the lack of it, which would allow a married pair to walk together week by week without the fellowship of affection? Surely, their marriage bands would be bonds, and their unity would be misery. I can conceive of scarcely any worse torment than conjugal union without affectionate communion. Shall I be the bride of Jesus, and my love never be displayed in communion with him? Shame on me, a thousand times shame, if I allow a day to pass unblessed with thoughts, and words, and deeds of love. Yet more, the Lord has been pleased to call us members of his body. Now, every member of the body must carry on vital fellowship with the head, it must exercise inevitable though not always conscious fellowship. In the spiritual body communion should be consciously enjoyed at all times. Shall the hand become indifferent to the head, or the foot refuse to obey the brain? If we are in good health, no such schism in the body will ever occur, but with the head all the members will remain in affectionate, unbroken communion. We may suspect paralysis if life ceases to flow through the entire corporate body, and so communion is suspended. It is clear to all who are taught by God that our relationships certainly require of us that we abide in the Lord Jesus.
Moreover, beloved, this case ought to need no pleading, for if we
wish to be happy, where is happiness to be found except in walking
close to Jesus? I speak what I do know, and the common testimony of
all the saints is with me, when I say that outside of heaven there
is no heaven except nearness to Christ; fellowship with him is
Paradise without a serpent in it, it is Canaan itself without the
Canaanite foe. Communion with Jesus is the porch of glory, it is the
Saturday night of the eternal Sabbath, the dawn, of the heavenly day.
Communion with Christ, if it is not actually heaven, is certainly the
choicest suburb of the new Jerusalem. Well did our poet cry,
Where can such sweetness be,
As I have tasted in thy love,
As I have found in thee?
Now, men do not ordinarily need to be stirred up to what they delight in; their spirits fly after their joys as eagles to the spoil. Where their heart moves with pleasure, it draws all their powers after it; and if indeed it is so (and who shall contradict it?), that fellowship with Christ is the richest of all joys, the most intense of all delights, why are we so hard to move? Oh, how sluggish are our hearts, how dull our spirits, that we do not run after Jesus with rapture of desire, and do not labour perpetually to remain in him.
7. While this should draw us, another consideration should drive us, namely, that our daily needs demand that we should live in fellowship with him. If we are foolish and ignorant, where should we remain except with the Teacher? If always weak, to whom should we resort except to the strong for strength? Let the child remain by his parent, the scholar with the master, the patient by his physician, the poor man with his helper. To whom should we go in our hourly needs except to him who has so far been our all in all? Israel could not afford to be a single day without the manna, nor can we be satisfied for an hour without the bread of life. “Without me, you can do nothing,” says our Lord, and we have proved his words to be true. Do we need more humiliating evidence? Are we willing to fall into a condition in which we can do nothing else except sin? I hope not. We ought never be satisfied except when, abiding in Jesus, we are clothed with his power, and are producing much fruit to his praise.
Remember still further that when without fellowship with Christ our
perils are infinite. When unfaithful to his love we are readily
seduced by every temptation. Without his love in our hearts we become
victims to other loves, which lead us into idolatry, plunge us into
harmful lusts, and poison the wells of our joy. We must either be
enthralled by the surpassing love of Jesus, or we shall be fascinated
by the world’s deceits. One of the two masters must rule us, either
the Prince of the power of the air, or the King of kings. When
Christ is with us we are safe, for what wolf can attack a sheep when
it is close to the shepherd’s hand? When we are away from Jesus, we
are not only in peril, but are already gravely weakened; to lose
fellowship with Jesus is loss enough in itself, even if no further
calamity occurs. Without Jesus we are ships without a pilot, cities
without watchmen, babes without a nurse. We cannot do without him,
the less we attempt it the better. Samson without his locks is the
sad type of a believer outside of fellowship. How dare we go out to
our business on any one day without the presence of the Lord? As well
might the warrior go to battle without shield and buckler. Should we
not pray daily, “If your presence does not go with me, do not carry
me up there?” How can we go to our beds until he has kissed us with
the kisses of his mouth? May not even the dreams and visions of the
night prove our bane if our souls are not committed to his keeping?
For my part, I love to say to myself, as I place my head on my
pillow, those charming lines —
Sprinkled afresh with pardoning blood,
I lay me down to rest,
As in th’ embraces of my God,
Or on my Saviour’s breast.
9. The benefits of fellowship with Christ should constrain us to remain in it. If any man would grow in grace, if he would be filled with the Spirit, if he would know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, especially if he would be made like him in all things who is the head, he must remain in Christ. The whole scope of a Christian’s permissible ambition is to be summed up in fellowship with Jesus, and nowhere else. All that I ought to be, or can desire to be, when I am in a right state, I can in my Lord enjoy by walking close to him. No believer can obtain anything good by forsaking his Master. Following Christ afar off is evil, only evil; and that remaining continually in him is peace, joy, holiness, and heaven. Therefore, beloved, I say here again, let us strive for what ought to be the habitual position of every Christian, namely, abiding in Christ; this is for babes in grace as well as men in Christ Jesus, for the obscure as well as the famous.
10. II. Our text, in the second place, reminds us of OUR FREQUENT SIN. “He restores my soul” — he often does it; he is doing it now.
Now, the Lord would not do what is unnecessary, and therefore this
shows me that I often wander from him, otherwise I should not need to
be brought back. Beloved, I grieve to say that with many professors
of godliness suspended communion is the chronic state of affairs. I
must confess my inability to comprehend the Christian life of many
who are called Christians. It is not for us to judge their real
condition before God, nor will we attempt to do so, but we cannot
help observing the inconsistency of their acts. They have believed in
Christ, let us hope; let us hope also that that faith produces enough
of good works to prove itself to be a living faith; but, for all
that, their religion is cold, joyless, and passionless. There are
thousands of Christian people whose religion seems to consist
entirely in attending religious services on Sunday, and occasionally
perhaps coming out on a weekday to a lecture; they observe private
devotions of a very stereotyped order, and keep a Bible somewhere or
other, and this is about all. To them prayer is a formality, praise
is forgotten, the reading of the Bible is a drudgery, meditation a
mere memory and their whole Christianity more like a mummy than a
thing of life. With them the complaint that they are out of communion
with Jesus is superseded by the question, “Were they ever in it?” I
am afraid we have in this church and in all churches, scores and
hundreds of members whose highest emotions in reference to love for
the person of the Lord Jesus Christ reaches no higher than the
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his, or am I not?
They know nothing of conscious enjoyment of the love of Jesus and close communion with him, and indeed they look upon such things as the luxuries of a high class of saints, very pleasant to read about in biographies, but not matters of daily possession. They heartily admire the good people who can attain to such eminent positions, but to dwell there themselves has not occurred to them as at all possible. Beloved, this is a sad state of affairs. It is a condition of life in which I tremble for you, because you are starved in the midst of plenty, you are wilfully pinching yourselves with penury while infinite wealth is all around you. You live as hired servants and not as sons, you get the duty of religion without the enjoyment of religion; you wear its yoke but do not feed in its pasture, you seem to me to forego all the cream of our holy faith, and to partake of nothing but its skimmed milk. You leave the sunny plains of communion for the frozen regions of negligent living, and hence you shiver with fear while others rejoice with gladness. You have chosen your position in the outer courts of the temple, you never enter into the holy of holies; you do not pass within the veil, to behold the glory of the Lord. You are sailing to heaven, but you are stowed away in the hold in the dark. You appear to me in your religion to live like the beggars who come around to our backdoors for the bones and the stale crusts; and therefore I am not very much surprised when I hear that some of you feel a craving for amusements and say that you are very dull, and need lively company and gaiety to make life bearable. If my child were to say that he must go continually to the confectioner’s or to the restaurant, I should say to myself, “Surely the food on my table is sufficient for him”; but if upon enquiry I found that he did not eat at my table except occasionally, and that he always selected the barest bones, and driest crusts, I should be at no loss to comprehend why he was so frequently seen at other places of supply. If you are not living upon Jesus, and rejoicing, in the measureless bliss which he is capable of bestowing upon you, I do not marvel if you go off to the world for your sweets, and feel a leaning towards the leeks and the garlic and the onions of Egypt. Oh, dear brothers and sisters, if you are indeed his people, may the Holy Spirit save you from the dull religion in which you live, and bring you into that condition in which you shall see your Lord, abide in him, and rejoice in him. A miner, who lives most of his days underground is not doing his country justice when he speaks of it as dark, close, and suffocating; it is so down below, but it is not so up above. Religion wears only a grim outlook to those who know nothing about its secret joys, its sacred banquets, its ecstasies, and its calm satisfactions. There is a bleak side and a sunny side to every hill; those who are careless in their fellowship will know the worst side of things. The bright eyed dweller in the sunny south is a very different man from the Eskimo, who drive their dogs among the ice fields, and hide away through long months of winter, in which the sun never sends out a glimmer to cheer the earth. Who cares to be one of the Eskimos of Christianity, or the Laps and Fins of the church? Yet, alas, these abound on all sides.
12. We have to confess that others of us in whom this departure from Christ is not chronic are nevertheless subject to acute attacks of declension, and there are times when it is indeed good for us that he restores our souls. How soon are we turned out of the way! How little a thing may mar our joyful fellowship with Christ! Have you been in worldly company in the evening? Did you marvel that you could not enjoy communion at evening prayer? Have you become fond of your possessions, or have you been eager to increase them? Then your idols have grieved your Lord. Have you been unreconciled to your losses, and fretted against God for his dark providences? “ ‘If you walk contrary to me,’ he says, ‘I will walk contrary to you.’ ” When our proud spirits chafe and fret against our heavenly Father, we cannot expect smiles and caresses from him. We may easily lose fellowship with Christ by pride and self-esteem: if he indulges us with happy hours of sacred joy, we are very apt to think that we are a somebody, and immediately we hold our heads very high, and whenever that happens we are very likely to fall into the mud, and be there until our own clothes abhor us, and we cry for help like the sinners that we are. Christ delights to meet us on terms of grace; he is to be fulness and we emptiness! He is the mighty Helper and we are the fainting sinner; he is the Saviour and we are the lost ones. While we say that we are rich and increased in goods, he knows that we are false, and he leaves us; but when we see that he has the gold and the white raiment, and we have the nakedness and the beggary, then we have arrived at terms which befit both him and us. It is vain to boast, for we have no beauty; his are the eyes which are as a flame of fire, his is the countenance goodly as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars, his is the crown of light and the mantle of glory. To him must all honour be ascribed. Those who honour him he will honour. Humility sits at Jesus’ feet, and that is the chosen place of loving fellowship.
13. We may lose the presence of Christ by forgetfulness of duty, or of truth; we may on the other hand lose it by thoughtfulness of evil things, and absorption in fleeting cares. We may lose the company of Christ by inconsistent actions or by idle conversations. “Oh,” say some of you, “is that so? Will Jesus leave us so soon?” It is even so. Those who know him best have found out that he is like his Father and there is a trait in his Father’s character which is very conspicuous in the Son. It is written, “The Lord your God is a jealous God,” and Jesus is a jealous lover. He will not cast away his people, he is faithful to the worst of them, but if we do not walk with him in holiness he will withdraw himself from us. Can two walk together unless they are agreed? If we grieve him he will make us grieve. Cold, unloving, irreverent walking will soon cause the beams of the Sun of righteousness to glance no more upon us. Blessed be the name of our Beloved, he comes back before long, and he says, “For a small moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercy I will gather you,” but even the small moments of his forsaking are all too long. A little of his absence is painful for a true spirit to bear. But I leave this mournful point for something more consoling.
14. III. The text reminds us also of OUR LORD’S FAITHFUL LOVE. “He restores my soul.”
15. This is not what he might have done, or would have done, had he been changeable as we are. There are some who teach that Jesus leaves his roaming sheep to perish; as a punishment for their wanderings he gives them up to the wolf. I hope that very few believe that doctrine now, it is so dishonouring to the good Shepherd that I hope all God’s people will give it up once and for all; yet such was the belief of many at one time. Ah, I do not wonder that some believed it, for I have often been hard pressed with the fear that it would turn out to be so in my own case; but I am here this morning to say concerning my Lord, “He restores my soul.” He has not cast me off, or left me to myself, or abandoned me to my own devices, but in love for my soul he has taken my feet out of the net, drawn me up from the horrible pit, and set my feet upon the rock of his immutable love. To leave his sheep to perish is not like our Saviour; the heart refuses credence to such an idea, it so unlike him. My witness is that “He restores my soul.” He has done this so often that he may well be described as always doing it. The psalmist puts it in the present tense, as if the Lord were in the habit of doing so, and were even at this moment in the act of restoring his soul. Truly I must confess that I wander, and he restores me. Child of God, as numerous as your sins have been, so numerous have his restorations been. After a hundred times erring, you might have provoked him to say, “He is given to his idols, let him alone; my Spirit shall no longer strive with him.” But no, he takes you by the hand again, and once more leads you in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. The mother does not forget her nursing child, though he is often fretful and peevish; she still has compassion upon the son of her womb: it is even so with Jesus. We are too deeply engraved on the palms of his hands to be at last left to die; we have cost him too much for him to relinquish us. Having restored our soul a hundred times, he still restores it. It is his way; it is the habit of his love. The text lovingly insinuates that he is ready to restore us now. He is at his old work again; even now “He restores my soul.” Where are you, dear brother? Have you grown very dull and cold recently? Jesus is waiting to make your heart burn within you. Do you feel half dead spiritually? Your Lord and Master is even now ready to quicken you by his word, and to restore to you the joy of his salvation.
16. If you ask me why the Lord is so quick to restore his people, I can find no answer in them or their deservings, but a little further on the psalmist gives you the reason why Christ acts like this in faithfulness and tenderness. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” He would not restore us for our sakes. There is nothing in us which could be pointed out to the eye of justice as a claim for restoration, though much might be remembered which, on the footing of the law, would ensure our ruin. Here is our safety. The Lord Jesus has willed to save us, and he stands by his purpose and decree; he has put forward his own veracity and immutability as guarantees of the covenant, and his own honour would be in jeopardy if one of his people should be lost, therefore for his own name’s sake he restores the wanderer, lest his enemies should say, “God has forsaken his people,” and lest the hosts of hell should boast, saying, “The Lord began to save them, but he was not able to finish the work.” “For his name’s sake.” Deep and blessed reason! Immutable, immovable foundation of comfort! For his name’s sake he restores our souls when we wander from his way. Strange are the means he uses. Sometimes it is a rod most heavy, at other times a call of love sweetly fascinating. Exceptional are the modes of dealing with his people; he will break them in pieces and crush them beneath his feet, apparently in hot displeasure, but all with the purpose of making them sick of sin and eager for himself. He will rend them as a lion rends his prey, and this not to destroy, but to save them. Is it not written, “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal?” Often by dispensations of terror he leads us into ways of grace, and frequently what appears to be our utter destruction ends in our complete restoration, according to his grace. There let the text stand as a type and testimony of his immutable love. “He restores my soul.”
17. IV. During the short time which remains for me to speak to you, I want to throw my whole strength into the last consideration. Our text, emphasised as I have emphasized it, reminds us of HIS SUPREME POWER. “HE restores my soul.” He, HE, HE alone restores my soul.
18. From first to last my revivals and refreshings come from him. He himself first made my soul to live — yes, he was life itself to me. You had no life, beloved, until Jesus passed by and saw you lying dead in sin, and said to you “Live.” You were like Lazarus in the tomb, you were beginning to stink with corruption and sin, and his voice, when it said, “Lazarus, come out,” was life for you. You did not help the Saviour in your quickening, how could you? You exercised no concurrent action; he took the first step, and quickened you when you were dead in sin. He began to save you because he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion. You owe your regeneration entirely to him, and it is not surprising that your revival should come from the same source. Surely he who regenerated can restore; he who created can renew. Restoration is not a more difficult work — no, it is only a secondary work compared with the creating anew of the soul. The Lord, even Jesus Christ, who at the first gave you life, can revive you again; and he can do it by himself, being to your soul her medicine as well as her physician. All the evils under which a Christian smarts arise from the absence of Jesus, or else obtain their power to injure from the fact of the Lord’s being away. There are corruptions which always remain in us, but these do not dare to show their faces when Jesus reigns within us in revealed glory. The traitors lurk in their holes when the king is in the city, they will not venture out until they hear that he is offended and is gone. While the flag flies on the castle to denote that my lord is at home, his enemies are on their best behaviour, for they have a dread of his sword. When our fellowship with Jesus is active, sin lies dormant, or is so thoroughly subdued that it makes only a struggling gasp for life. So, then, if at this time I have become proud, or petulant, or idle, or cannot pray, or will not submit to the divine will, or have fallen into spiritual sickness, it is quite certain that all the mischief is caused by the loss of my Lord’s company, and it is clear that his coming back to me will restore my soul. If his absence has developed all this evil, then his presence can surely put it away.
Should it happen that the temptation is outward, still no outward
temptation has any force when Christ is present. Let all the world’s
charms attempt to seduce us, they are horrible distortions when
contrasted with the loveliness of Jesus. Only let us see his face,
and all earthly witcheries have lost their enchantment. Suppose that
we were tempted to scepticism, Christ is the antidote for that venom.
No man doubts when Christ is present with him. At the sight of him
even Thomas cries, “My Lord and my God.” Can we be despondent while
he consoles? Can the children of the bridechamber mourn while the
Bridegroom is with them? On the other hand, pride cannot live where
Jesus is seen. “When I saw him I fell at his feet as dead,” said the
beloved apostle. His presence is the death of every sin, the life
of every grace; therefore the text says, “He restores my soul.” The
hunger, famine, and disease of war need only one cure, and that is
peace; the woes of the believer’s soul need only one remedy, and that
lies in the words “Abide in me.” The presence of Christ has
everything in it that the soul can possibly need. I see the green
leaves of a plant most dear to all who love the woods in spring. It is
now nestling under a hedge upon a sloping bank, just above a
trickling stream. I ask it why it does not bloom, and it whispers to
me that it will bloom by and by. “But, sweet primrose, why not
display your lovely flower at once, and gladden us with your beauty?”
She answers, “I am waiting for him.” For whom do you tarry, you
herald of spring?
All love on thee to rest their weary eyes,
Reading therein a history of dearest ties.
She meekly answers, “I am waiting for my lord, the sun.” Do you not need other friends and helpers? “No,” she says, “the coming of my lord will be enough, and when he exerts his strength I shall put on my beauty.” But will you not need soft, pearly drops of dew to glisten on the leaves? Are not your blossoms most fair to gaze upon when all around keeps time and tune with it, when the violet and wild hyacinth are in your company, when the buds are swelling and “the green winged linnet sings?” To which she replies, “He will bring them, he will bring them all.” But are you not afraid of the killing frosts, and the dreary snowstorms? “He will chase them all away,” says the little plant: “I shall be safe enough when he brings on the spring.” Believer, you are that plant and Jesus is your sun. He will bring you healing beneath his wings, and joy in the light of his countenance.
20. He restores our entire manhood; every regenerated faculty grows strong when he is near. Every grace drinks in new life from communion with Christ. Faith triumphs, love burns, hope prophesies, patience becomes strong for endurance, and courage is bold for conflict. Christ is such fare that all the graces can feed on him, and all grow strong upon the sacred food.
21. Best of all is that his restorative power is available now, available at once. The other day I felt heavy at heart, dull, and dead: I thought of myself as though I were a branch of a tree cut off, and so I meditated like this with myself: “If I am a branch of the vine, and have been removed from my stem, my only hope is to get back into the place from where I came, and be grafted in again, and begin to suck the sap again, and feel the life flowing through me,” Then it was sweet to remember that there is no possible state into which a believer could fall, even if it were the most desperate that could be conceived, but that Christ can restore him perfectly and at once. Then for my own comfort and renewal I began to think of my Lord like this: I looked at him upon the cross; I stood before him as a sinner, and marvelled that he should die for sinners, and I trusted him, and I said to him, “Lord, you know I trust you: I have no hope except in you, and I cling to you as a snail clings to the rock; with all my heart and soul I cling.” I began to feel the sap flow from the stem into my branch at once: directly I had gotten into contact with my Lord, by a simple faith, I felt that power went out of him to heal my soul. Once having established the flow of the sap, it flowed more, and more, and more, for as I thought about my salvation through him, being myself guilty, and he my righteousness, I began to love him; and my soul began to glow with a passion towards him, and I wanted to be telling others what a dear, good Saviour he was; and in a few moments after I had bemoaned myself as dead to him, and a castaway, I felt as much warmth of love for him as I ever had done in all my life, and could say in the language of the spouse, “Before I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.” Now, I believe that this is the natural process to go through for the restoring of your soul.
22. Some of you professors may be feeling, “I do not know how it is, but I am not what I ought to be; I am out of fellowship with Christ; I wish to get into a better state of heart, to be more pleasing to God than I am, by walking nearer to him.” If such is your state, be careful what you do. Try what I have described; or, unless you are wide awake, there will come to you Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and tell you there are other ways of getting your souls restored. First, he says, you should repent bitterly of all this wandering of heart. That is correct enough, but who is to give you this repentance? And then, he says you must be more attentive to the outward means of grace, you must set aside longer times for prayer, and be more diligent in searching the Scriptures privately. That also is all correct. Whatever he asks you to do, observe that and do it, as Christ said of the Pharisees, but that is not the way to obtain restoration of soul. The way to heaven is never around by Sinai: always be afraid of guides who lead you in that direction. All our healing lies in Christ. Christ is the physician, and Christ is the medicine too. The way to get your soul restored is not to try to restore it yourself, nor to undergo any processes by which it may correct itself; but immediately go to Christ, and lay hold on him, just as you are, whatever your condition may be. Coming into contact with him, you shall soon have to sing in the words of the text, “He restores my soul.” Let others talk about their sacraments, “He restores my soul.” Let men boast and glory about special ways of raising their souls to heaven, “He restores my soul.” Let some rejoice because their souls need no restoring, but are always strong; I cannot say that, but I can say, “He restores my soul.”
23. I hope this morning I shall have many beloved brothers and sisters of the same mind, who will go out of this house saying not only “I knew he could restore my soul,” but “He restores my soul. I was very cold when I came in here, as cold as the weather itself, but Jesus has thawed the ice out of my heart.” Perhaps you have to confess that you were in a very bad state of mind, ugly tempered and I do not know what else besides, worried out of anything like peace and rest; now, then, is the time to try the great Restorer. Before you leave your seat, labour to get into contact with Christ by the power of his Holy Spirit. Do, I urge you, return to him as at the first. Oh branch, come back to the stem. Let the sap flow again. “But I am not in a fit condition,” you say. What! have you gone back to that old Sinai idea of fitness? Have you gone back to that legal demand? Come as you are. Come as you are to Jesus. I mean you saints. Are you going to play the fool as sinners do? Sinners say they are to get ready for Christ, and they are fools for saying it. Are you about to say the same? You will be even worse fools. Come just now. Whatever you have been, let the connection between you and Christ be consciously felt and quickened by an immediate application to him by simple faith, and you shall yet say, as you rise into more than your former vigour, “He restores my soul.”
Now ready, Price One Penny each, Spurgeon’s Illustrated Almanac. For 1874; and John Ploughman’s Almanac.
London: Passmore and Alabaster, 4, Paternoster Buildings.