A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 31, 1874, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *1/24/2012
Your sun shall go down no more, neither shall your moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. [Isa 60:20]
1. Israel of old had light while all the rest of the world sat in darkness. In consequence of receiving moral and spiritual light from God, the nation prospered, and under the smile of heaven it was greatly enriched and multiplied. But, alas, the sun went down, and the moon withdrew itself, for Israel turned aside and followed after idols, and the land was terribly ravaged by the hostile sword. Upon her repentance her sun arose again, and the daughter of Judah rejoiced, but again they went astray, for the zealous judge, or the godly king, or the pious priest died, and the nation, prone to backsliding, again provoked the Lord, and the light of his countenance was withdrawn. This typical church of God did not remain in the light continually, its history was chequered with alternate brightness and gloom, repentance and relapse, prosperity and adversity. What a change from the glory of Solomon to the captivity of Zedekiah, from the temple in its glory to the city in ruinous heaps! Truly to those who knew Israel well, this prophecy of Isaiah must have sounded as rare music, and they must have devoutly cried, “Hasten it, oh Lord, in our time.”
2. Another dispensation came; Jesus Christ was born at Bethlehem, “a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel,” and the sun shone upon the earth as it had never done before. A visible church was called out to walk in the light, which still exists upon the earth, and from the days of Pentecost until now its sun has never altogether gone down, neither has its moon withdrawn herself. To us the promise of the text has been fulfilled in a gracious sense, for to the church of God there has never been an utter suspension of the divine light; the light has not always been equally clear, but it has still been day. Somewhere or other God has had a visible church on the earth; if not at Rome, yet in the valleys of Piedmont; not in palaces of bishops, yet in dens and caves of the earth. Yet the visible church has had her dark days — the text has been only true of her comparatively, her sun has gone down in some sense. The long medieval night, with its heavy damps, hung over the souls of the myriads, and chilled them into crouching superstition, until the day when God sent us the Reformation, like a new daybreak. Even now there are signs of returning night, but may the Lord avert it. Shine out, you stars in the right hand of Jesus, and let your Lord, the Sun of Righteousness shine forth also, and drive away those Roman bats and owls which are fluttering all around us, in the hope that their beloved darkness will return. The history of the church has not been a clear increasing light, like the growth of day from dawn to noon, her glory has for a while departed, her lampstand has been removed, and it may be so yet again.
But, beloved, there is a church upon the earth which is within the
visible church, and is its central life. I refer to the truly elect,
called and justified, who are a spiritual church. There are to be
found in the visible church in all its sections, a people truly saved
in the Lord, not a field of mingled wheat and tares, but all plants
of the Lord’s right hand planting. This secret church, this mystical
church, this true body of our Lord Jesus Christ, may claim to have
had this text fulfilled in its experience in a far larger sense. “If
we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with
each other, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from
all sin.” There are believers who know the meaning of that text, for
from the day when they first believed they have not ceased to walk in
the light; though now and then a cloud has crossed their sky, yet, as
a rule, no night of backsliding or deadly doubt has come upon them;
they have believed fully, and therefore have seen the salvation of
God. Their sun has not gone down, for the Lord Jesus Christ has never
hidden his face, but they have rejoiced in an abiding sense of his
love. I believe that this is the proper condition for all saints, and
if saints were as they should be it would be fulfilled in them — “your
sun shall go down no more, neither shall your moon withdraw itself;
for Jehovah shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your
mourning shall be ended.” Oh, what a glad thing it would be if we
could attain to this. “Being justified by faith, we have peace
with God” — not we “ought” to have it, but “we have peace with God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We have learned to glory in
tribulations also, crying, “Who shall separate us from the love of
God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” If we have learned the
meaning of the exhortation, “Abide in me,” and are so abiding, then
our fellowship is continual, and our coarse is as the shining light,
which shines more and more to the full noontime.
Walk in the light! and thou shalt own
Thy darkness passed away,
Because that light on thee hath shone,
In which is perfect day.
Yet even for the spiritual church the text has not been fulfilled in its largest conceivable sense, for I fear that to the most spiritual some darkness comes. Their light is sown, but it has not yet sprung up to its full harvest, they still struggle with inward sin, they must still wrestle with outward temptations; at any rate, the days of their mourning are not, in the most unlimited sense, ended, for although faith lifts them above the cares of life, and resignation takes out the sting of affliction, yet in common with the whole creation they groan, being burdened. It is true of the best of saints when they arrive in heaven, that “they came out of great tribulation.” God puts even his purest gold into the furnace, and he purges the branch that produces fruit. Every son whom he receives he also chastens. For the present our chastisement is not joyous, but grievous. “In the world you shall have tribulation,” is a part of the legacy of our ascended Lord, so that as yet to the largest extent we cannot say that the days of our mourning are ended.
4. We must, therefore, refer the text to a fourth form of the church. If we do not see it at all in the typical, a little in the visible, very much in the spiritual, we find it all in the church triumphant. The full triumph of the church of Christ shall begin in the millennium. I am not about to enter into details, but it seems to me that there is to be a new Jerusalem on earth, which shall come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride for her husband, and there will be “a new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” Upon this earth where sin prevailed righteousness will yet conquer: where Christ bled there he shall reign; where his heel was bruised the same heel shall crush the dragon’s head. That, however, will be as it were a prelude, a beginning to the full heavenly triumph, and I shall, without making any distinction, refer the promise of the text in its fulness to the church in its triumphant condition, whether on earth in the millennial period, or in heaven, world without end. To her this word shall be fulfilled, “Your sun shall go down no more, neither shall your moon withdraw itself: the Lord shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.”
5. I. Our first point is — THE LIGHT OF THE TRIUMPHANT CHURCH SHALL BE INCESSANT. “Your sun shall go down no more, neither shall your moon withdraw itself.” There will be no intervening nights of darkness, but one long noonday of purity and felicity, “the days of her mourning shall be ended.” And why will this be? Why does heaven’s joy never falter? Why is her purity never defiled?
6. We answer, first, because the light of heaven is independent of creatures. As long as there is a sun it will go down, and as long as there is a moon it will wane; but when the Lord becomes our light our independence of the secondary agent will lift us up beyond the fear of change. In this present state everything must change; God does not bestow upon creatures the quality of immutability, for that belongs to himself alone. The hardest rocks crumble beneath the tooth of time; even the heavens are waxing old, and must one day be put away like a worn out vesture and just as all that comes out of earth partakes of the soil from which it springs, so all created joys wither and decay. From a sun which has its tropics we cannot expect a changeless light; from a moon which waxes and wanes the light can never be the same for long. When we shall rise above the creature, and drink in our supplies directly from the changeless all sufficiency of the Creator, we shall come into perfect, unbroken light. Such is the condition of the perfect saints above. In heaven the saints will need no teacher. When God sends a true preacher he is a star in God’s right hand, and the church is bound to value his light, which is the gift of heaven, but we shall need no teachers there; we shall see, not through a glass darkly, but face to face. God shines upon the church through his servants one after another, and as they are in the order of providence removed, and close their useful careers, the church suffers great loss, but up there there is only one pastor and he never dies: “The Lamb in the midst of the throne shall feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters.” No teachers will be laid with tears in the silent grave, for in the glorified church no man needs to say to his companion, “Know the Lord,” for they all know him from the least to the greatest. Up there they need no comforters to help them in the time of their distress, for God himself has wiped away all tears from their eyes. He has taken up Lazarus from among the dogs and the dunghills, and laid him in Abraham’s bosom; he has lifted up the languishing from their beds of pain to sit among princes in glory. Poor saints will not then be dependent upon the alms or the consolations of others, though once their generous friends were like sun and moon to them. They need not fear that their comforts shall depart, for the Lord God is their light. The saints are not dependent upon fleeting possessions, or decaying estates; here we must have sustenance from without, and we are thankful to God that it comes in our time of need; but bread perishes, wealth takes to itself wings, business decays, prosperity wanes. In glory saints are independent of all created things; they neither look to angel, cherub, or seraph for support. They have left the streams, for they have reached the Fountain Head; the vessels are no more needed, for they lie down and drink at the well itself, where the crystal water of life bubbles up eternally. They do not send down to Egypt for grain, but dwell in their own Goshen, where harvests never fail. They have come to their God, and what more can we say? Oh beloved, this makes the joy of heaven, that God himself shines upon the blessed ones, and they need no other light; he himself is their all in all; with him is fulness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures for evermore. Therefore it is that their sun shall go down no more, for they have no sun; and their moon shall not withdraw itself, for they have no moon: “The Lord God and the Lamb are its light.”
7. Their light is incessant, secondly, because it is cleared of all clouding elements, and there is much consolation in this thought. Here below in the church of God, whatever by God’s grace may be our light, errors will arise to cloud it; evil men come in unawares and distract God’s saints with false doctrines, and schisms, and heresies. There are none such up there. Sceptics assail us with doubts and suspicions: there are none up there. Hypocrites now steal in and pollute our solemn feasts, but no deceiver shall sit down in the banquets of the perfected. Formalists mix with us and freeze our devotion; hosannas are made to languish because they fall from tongues unconscious of the glow of generous love: but it shall not be so among the triumphant. It will be a great blessing to the church to be free from the contamination of the outside world, and from the intrusion of false professors. Their absence will deliver us from that light discourse which now vexes our ear, and that inconsistency which grieves our heart. Yes, Satan himself shall be excluded: he may attempt to attack the camp of the saints, but he shall never leap over her ramparts: those sacred walls, whose twelve foundations are inestimably precious stones, shall exclude for ever the accuser of the brethren, the fomenter of discord and sin. There the wicked cease from troubling, and therefore nothing shall make our sun go down, or cause our moon to withdraw itself, and the purity, the peace, the bliss of heaven shall be without cessation.
8. Remember, yet again, that in the church triumphant the saints themselves shall be so purified that nothing in them shall darken their light. Here today Christ does not change, but we change, and hence our joy departs: it is not that grace ceases to beam forth from the Sun of Righteousness, but our eyes gather the scales of worldliness, so that we cannot see it. It shall not be so there. We shall be delivered from the last vestige of inbred sin; corruption and every result of the fall shall have been effectively removed. Among the saints whom God has privileged to see his face, no worldliness, no coldness of heart, no lethargy, no slothfulness ever intrudes. They are never burdened with heavy cares, nor depressed with the memory of unforsaken sin; they neglect no duties, they commit no transgressions; they are without fault before the throne of God, rendered as pure as God himself by the blood of Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Truly, as I speak about this I long to be among them. We cannot as yet see afar off, and the plains of heaven are boundless, and therefore we shall need far reaching sight before we can enjoy their beauties; but our inner sight is being strengthened, the films of sin are being removed, and we shall before long have our eyes strengthened to look upon the invisible with unflinching gaze. When we enter the church triumphant, being ourselves without tendency to sin, there will be nothing in us to mar our purity or to spoil our joy. Anticipate this, beloved, with great joy.
9. Notice that the text hints that both the major and the minor necessities of saints will be abundantly supplied. Have you not found sometimes that the Lord Jesus Christ has withdrawn himself from you? Then your sun has gone down. You are prospering in business; God gives you all that your heart can wish for, the moon does not withdraw herself, but the sun has gone, and woe beclouds your spirit. It will never be so in heaven, you shall see your Lord face to face without a veil between, and that eternally. Here, on the other hand, at times Jesus has shone upon you, and concerning spiritual things you have been rich, but then earthly trouble has hovered over you, the moon has withdrawn herself. You have been suffering in body, though rejoicing in soul; the head has ached, though the heart has triumphed; you have feasted at the table of God, but poverty has swept your cupboard until you did not know from where the next meal would come. Not often have both sun and moon been as flesh and blood would have them. True, you have been able to do without the moon in the presence of the sun, but you would have both spiritual and temporal prosperity. Now in heaven all the needs of our nature will be completely supplied. The bodies of the saints will be as happy as their souls; their bodies, I say, for I am referring to the risen ones who have attained to the full triumphs of which I speak. There shall be for spirit, soul, and body, that trinity of our manhood, a triple and all sufficient supply. Neither shall the sun go down nor the moon withdraw itself. Oh, what a happy thing to have a body which will not need to rise on Sunday morning weary from the week’s toil needing to be dragged along the road to the place of worship, and feeling inclined to sleep in the heavy atmosphere of the crowded assembly; what bliss to be “clothed upon” with a body unlike this load of clay, which far too forcibly reminds us that we dwell in a world of sin. Soon we shall possess a body light and ethereal, strong and glorious, suitable for the soul and quick to obey its wishes — a body free from every infirmity, delivered from every possibility of pain or weariness; a body in which we shall serve God day and night in his temple, and shall never, never sin. So, you see, beloved, another reason why the sun of the blessed never goes down, because they themselves are in all respects filled with an inward and perfect light, which is the perpetual reflection of the eternal light of Jehovah.
Once more, let it be remembered that the church triumphant will be
delivered from the vicissitudes of those seasons which cause the
going down of sun and moon. I do not refer to summer and winter,
but to ecclesiastical and temporal arrangements, such as the Sabbath
and times of assembly and church fellowship. This blessed Sabbath,
how joyful we are when it comes around! But then towards eventide
the Sabbath hours grow few, and many a time has the child of God gone
up to his bedroom and said, “Oh that tomorrow were a second Sabbath.”
We have wished that instead of the weekdays, with their toil and
care, we could step from Sabbath to Sabbath, until we climbed into
the Sabbath which will never end. It shall be soon so, in the land
Congregations ne’er break up,
And Sabbaths have no end.
Here we come together and are warmed into a hallowed state of mind, and would gladly continue in the mount, but we must go down, for other duties call us away; but in the glory the livelong day we shall charm the celestial plains with joyous song, and never need to scatter, or go to an inferior calling. Blessed shall the day be when our Sabbath sun shall go down no more.
11. Here, too, we have our times for communion. We come together at the table, and for my part I am never happier than when I see before me the emblems of the Beloved’s broken body, and his blood poured out in infinite love for us; but we cannot always even be there, we have to eat with the ungodly and sinners as well as with the Lord. We glowed in fellowship like the Master himself on Tabor, until our garments seemed whiter than any fuller could make them, but we must needs go down among the ungodly yet again to seek their good. We shall not do that by and by. We shall eat food at the table of the King, and go out no more for ever and for ever.
12. It was a glad day for Israel when the trumpets rang out the morning of the Jubilee, for every slave was free, and every debtor found his liabilities discharged. Back came each man’s lost inheritance, and the whole nation was glad. With sound of trumpet and of cornet they greeted the rising of the sun on the first day of that Jubilee year; but the Jubilee year went by, and lands were mortgaged and forfeited, and slaves fell again into slavery, and bankrupts were again seized by their creditors. Ah, beloved, we are coming to a jubilee, of which the trumpets shall sound on for ever. We shall regain our once forfeited inheritance never to have it encumbered any more; we shall snap the fetters which have bound us, never to feel them again. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” So I have shown you that in heaven they are free from that vicissitude of seasons which now afflicts the sons of men; and so their sun goes down no more, neither does their moon withdraw itself.
13. II. Let us change the direction of our discourse. The light of the triumphant church has been shown to be unceasing; now we shall show that IT IS EVERLASTING. “The Lord shall be your everlasting light.” This requires no comment. You can see at once why it is so. Why will the perfection and the bliss of the triumphant saints never end?
14. First, because the God from whom it comes is eternal. We have explained that this bliss does not arise from the creature; if it did, it might end, but arising wholly from the Creator, how can it end? As long as God lives his people must be happy; when he has perfected them and taken them up to be where he is, the fountain from which they drink cannot dry, for it is infinitely full and fresh. The sun which gives them light cannot be dimmed, for it is immutable.
15. Again, the covenant by which the saints stand in heaven is a sure one. There are in it solemn engagements entered into by the eternal God, never to turn away from his love. By two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, he has given us strong consolation. Every sin has been put away from the triumphant saint. What, then, can destroy them? For them Christ has discharged all their debts; what, then, can be brought against them? For them an eternal inheritance has been bought by divine blood; how, then, by any possibility can they lose it? God is for ever true, he cannot forsake; God is for ever strong, he cannot fail; God is for ever loving, he cannot frown upon his people. The Lord must be their everlasting light.
16. Besides, the guarantee of that covenant can never fail, seeing it is Christ himself. “Because I live you shall live also” is the great seal set upon the indentures by which we hold our inheritance in the skies; and until we shall see a dying Christ, until he who has immortality shall expire, until Christ, the Son of God, very God of very God, shall cease to be, it cannot by any possibility come to pass that one child of God shall lose his inheritance. The seal is divine, the security is unquestionable.
17. And, beloved, there is this to be added, that those who possess heaven are also themselves immortal. When we once enter the church triumphant there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, for the former things are passed away. The body was sown in corruption, but it is raised in incorruption; it was liable to disease, death, and corruption, the worm could devour it, and the winds scatter its particles; but it shall be raised in perennial youth, free from any tendency to corruption or any liability to suffer. Oh, happy spirits who in themselves possess a life enduring as the life of God. The Lord shall be their everlasting light. I leave that point, because it needs no enlargement; it rather needs to be thought upon and enjoyed.
18. III. I want your earnest attention and help, in the third place, while I mention that, according to the text, THE LIGHT OF THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT SHALL BE BOUNDLESS. “The Lord shall be your everlasting light.” Now, the Lord is infinite. If he is our sun there can be no limit to the light in which we shall rejoice. But how am I to speak upon an infinite theme? I can only touch the surface of the brook as the swallow does, and then be up and away; I cannot even dive into its depths.
19. Only notice this, that if God is to be our light, then in every separate believer there will be a perfect light of bliss and holiness. I mean in you, beloved. You are aged, you feel also that you are full of infirmities and sins; now, these will all vanish, and that weakened form of yours shall be raised in power. Your ignorance will give place to the light of knowledge, your sin to the light of purity, your sorrow to the light of joy. It does not yet appear what you shall be, but you shall be like your Lord, and you know how bright and lustrous your Lord was when he was on Tabor, and how glorious when he rose from the dead. So you shall be. You are already a child of God, but soon your glory shall shine forth, and your purity, peace, and happiness shall be seen by all. Yes, this is true of you, you who were sometime darkness, but now are light in the Lord; you shall be flooded with glory. Like the bush in the desert you shall be aglow with Deity; bush as you are, God himself shall dwell within you, and your brightness shall be as the sun.
20. In the glory, in addition to your possessing personal light, you will enjoy the closest possible fellowship with God. How near a creature can get to the Creator it is hard to say, but the sons of God shall be brought as near to God as by any conceivable means a finite being can be brought to the Infinite. What delights there will be in such close fellowship! When we have drawn near to God in prayer we have been so happy we could scarcely have been more so; but what must it be to dwell for ever in the divine glory! Men of God have sometimes felt more of joy in his presence than their bodies could bear, and have cried, “Hold, Lord, hold; I cannot bear more; remember I am only an earthen vessel, and if I have more of this I shall die.” Solomon sings of heavenly lovesickness in the song, “Sustain me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick with love.” The love of Jesus overpowers our souls and casts them into a swoon of delight; we shall be more capable of its enjoyment soon. You cannot bear more than a sip of heaven yet, but you will swim in it by and by. When you only get one flash of heaven’s sunlight you cover your eyes, because of the excessive glory; but you will soon live in its blaze, like Milton’s angel in the sun; you will walk with eye undimmed among the everlasting burnings of Jehovah’s splendour. Can you conceive what it means? Your mind will be enlarged, expanded, made capable of loftier thoughts than now; you will be a grander being — a man, but such a man as the Man Jesus Christ is. Even today your manhood in him has dominion over all the works of God’s hands, all sheep and oxen, yes, and the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the sea; but then you will more clearly experience the royalty of manhood; you shall be a king to the fullest degree, a king to God.
21. That glorious light will give us the clearest views of gospel truth. There will be no muddled theology in heaven, nor any doctrine concealed from us, for we shall know even as we are known. With the Lord for our light we shall see far and deep. Mysteries which perplex us now shall be simplicities then. How I long to know more of the covenant of grace; how I long to drink into the grand doctrine of electing love; how would I peer into the mystery of the Trinity, and know something more of the Three in One. Secrets will open up when Jesus applies the key. I suppose that he who has been in heaven only a day knows more about God than he who has been a Doctor of Divinity for fifty years; the light is so clear in heaven that we shall know even as we are known. Oh that we were there!
22. There, no doubt, we shall also understand more about providence. Here our sun goes down sometimes concerning the divine dealings; we cannot comprehend what he means; the lines are dark and bending; we thought he would have led us by a straight course, but we wind to and fro in the wilderness. You shall see it all soon, brother; for what you do not know now you shall know hereafter. All the happiness which knowledge and understanding can bring to intelligent beings shall be at our feet.
23. There we shall receive the utmost endurable joy. Think of that bliss in the form which you like best, for you shall have it. Some have thought the joy of heaven would lie in knowledge; they shall have it. Others have rejoiced in the prospect of continued service; they shall have it; they shall serve him day and night in his temple. I do not know if I am idle, but the sweetest thought of heaven to me is rest, and I shall have it, for “there remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God.” Peace! Oh quiet soul, do you not long for it? You shall have it. Security and a sense of calm! Oh, tempest tossed one, you shall have them. Strength, power — some have wished for that. You shall be raised in power. Fulness, the filling up of every vacuum! You shall have it, you shall be filled with all the fulness of God. I am a long way beyond my depth now, but I am not afraid of sinking here; I shall never exaggerate; the joys of heaven are ecstatic, so that if we knew anything about them at this moment we should be like Paul, who said, “Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knows.” Ecstatic — that is standing right out of yourself, that will be your condition, — you will get away from yourself altogether and be “plunged in the Godhead’s deepest sea, and lost in his immensity.” It will be a rapture, as it were, a snatching away of yourself; like the chariots of Amminadib shall be the joys into which you shall be lifted up and borne away. We shall know all about it before long, some of us, so that there is not much need to attempt a premature description. When the Lord is the light, who knows how bright the light must be? When the Lamb is the light, who knows how soft that light will be? And when the Lord is the Lamb, and the Lamb is the Lord, and the Lord and the Lamb are at once the light, who knows how sweet, how everything that is lovely, that eternal light must be? Break on us, break on us, oh infinite splendour, for our hearts would have this cloud land to be up and away, where sacred, high, eternal noon makes up the livelong day. But patience, my brethren, patience, for a little longer time; we must wait until our work is done, and then we shall receive the full reward. Let us be encouraged by the prospect of the glory to be revealed in us.
24. IV. My last point is to be this: THE LIGHT OF THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT IS UNMINGLED, for the text says, “The days of your mourning shall be ended.”
25. Sit down for a few minutes and drink down this blessed sentence. “The days of your mourning shall be ended.” What kind of mourning? The mourning from a persecuted world. No slanders, no imprisonments, no racks, no breaking alive upon the wheel, no consuming amid the flames. What must heaven be to those who ascended through a shower of stones, or were borne aloft by the fiery chariot, as the martyrs from Smithfield’s [a] burnings? No more of suffering there. The mourning days of the martyr church shall be ended.
26. There will be no more mourning from the common trials of life. No losses, no crosses, no pains of body, no infirmities of old age, no bereavements, no child taken from the bosom, no husband from the side, no funeral knell, no cruel grave. Let the Lord be praised that not a wave of trouble disturbs that glassy sea.
27. Then we shall be delivered from all mourning caused by our inward sin. We shall look within and find no envy in our hearts, no pride, no rebellion, no lust, no tendency towards evil. Then we shall be delivered from all temptation to sin from without. No devil, no insinuating doubts, no corroding cares, no wicked world, no pomp of the eye, no pride of life, no woes of penury, nor perils of wealth; we shall be delivered from all these.
28. We shall be delivered from every kind of mourning concerning an absent God, for we shall never grieve him any more, nor vex his Spirit, nor cause him to take down the chastening rod. “The days of your mourning shall be ended.”
29. I find that one version renders it, I do not know whether correctly or not, “The days of your mourning shall be rewarded,” and I say this to those who have to mourn more than others, you shall have a reward. Every pang you suffer shall have its reward. “But how can that be?” you say. Why, dear mourning ones, when you get to heaven you will see that you were fulfilling the divine purposes as much upon the sickbed as you would have been in the activities of life. You do not understand it now, but you shall then know that the Lord did not grieve you for nothing; and when you see the great results arising from your sufferings, you will bless him and kiss the pierced feet of Christ, and thank him for the great privilege of being permitted to suffer. If you are called to suffer as a Christian, you will then see how you “made up what was behind of the sufferings of Christ, for his body’s sake, that is the church”; for the whole body of Christ must suffer — not only the head, but all the members; and you, in taking a part, help to make up the measure which must be endured by the entire company of the faithful. You will also see how the Spirit of God sanctified your sufferings for you, how they prevented sin, how they led you into a deeper experience, how they prepared you for higher service. And oh, among the sweet notes of praise which you will render to the All-Loving Father, this will be one of the sweetest, you will bless him for every pain, for every groan, for every sickness, and the days of your mourning will be rewarded.
30. Beloved, what a change this will be for some here present, who have perhaps very seldom known a day free from depression of spirit or pain of body, to step right away from all this into everlasting, unalloyed delight! Some of us are easily depressed, and we know what it is to grow very weary in the brain; there, day without night, we shall praise and bless God, and tell to the angels the infinite wisdom of God in Christ Jesus.
All this ought to inspire the saints with ardour: this glorious hope
should quicken us. We are not far from home. Pilgrims of God, you are
getting weary perhaps, you especially who are advanced in years; now,
at this time, the Spirit of God has brought you to the top of a hill,
from which you can see your expected end. There it lies! Do you not
see its hills, and its valleys flowing with milk and honey, and the
vine and fig tree under which you shall sit down, and no one shall
make you afraid? It is a little way further, only a little further.
You will be helped all the rest of the road, as you have been up
until now. Those shoes of iron and brass are not worn out, though you
have worn them these fifty years; they will last you the few odd
miles which you have yet to travel, and though you think it is a long
way, it is not so. Just out of sight, beyond that hill, there stand
horses of fire, and chariots of fire, which your heavenly Father has
sent to bear you away, and before you know it you will be in Christ’s
arms, fainting away with glory; before you know it, I say. Death will
be only a pin’s prick: —
One gentle sigh, your fetter breaks,
We scarce can say you’re gone,
Before your ransomed spirit takes
Its mansion near the throne.
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
32. Great fear should fall upon some in this house that they may never behold this light. I fear, sirs, that some of you will never attain that blissful glory. I will ask you three questions and be finished. Are you satisfied with earthly things? Are you content with a sun that must go down, and with a moon that must withdraw itself? Are you saying, “Who will show us any good?” Ah, sirs, your boasting is wicked, for it will soon pass away, and what will you do in the day when money cannot help you, and broad acres cannot bless you, and friends cannot cheer you, and you must take the last dread voyage all alone? Woe, woe to you if you do not have a better sun than that feeble orb, a better moon than that waning satellite.
33. I will ask you further, “Do you have light from heaven yet? Is there any light from God within you?” Remember, you cannot enjoy the light of God for ever if you do not behold it now. Have you thought of that? Alas! God has not been in all your thoughts. How many live in this world with no more thought of God than dogs and horses have! He is no friend of theirs; they never seek his face, they never do him honour. If he is their Father, certainly they are strange children, for they never speak with their Father, nor care about him. Ah, sirs, you need on earth the light from above, or you will never have it in eternity.
Lastly, are you willing to have light from above? Are you willing to
receive it? Do you desire it? Will you give up the light of self, and
self-satisfaction, and self-reliance? Will you trust in Jesus? Will
you take the Lamb who is the light of heaven, the bleeding Lamb, to
be the light and comfort of your souls? Will you see your sin laid on
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and trust him as
suffering in your place, to make expiation for your guilt? For, if
so, the Lamb will give you pardon now and perfection hereafter; he
will be to you the Star of Bethlehem today and the Sun of
Righteousness for ever. May God bless you, brethren; may we all meet
in that land of light. I am speaking to some who will be there before
me, though I shall be there before some of you: if there is a
possibility of finding one another we will do so, and we will
remember the happy summer’s morning in which we talked together about
the light that can never fade, and we will say one to another, “The
half was not told to us. The poor preacher was only like an owl trying
to describe the sun. It was too bright for him, but he did his best.”
May God bless you. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 60]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Adoration of God — Call To Universal Praise” 174]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Second Advent — The Jews Restored” 359]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — On Jordan’s Brink” 874]
While friends at this season of the year are resting at the seaside will they kindly remember that our work goes on, and that every day our orphans require food and clothing, and we need £10 every time the sun rises to keep them supplied? Help is always gratefully received by C. H. Spurgeon, Nightingdale Lane, Clapham. Those who are the children of the Father of the fatherless will surely aid us in this blessed service of love.
[a] 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.
God the Father, Adoration of God
174 — Call To Universal Praise <7s.>
1 Sing, ye seraphs in the sky;
Let your loftiest praises flow;
Swell the song with rapture high,
All ye sons of men below.
2 With one soul, one heart, one voice,
Heaven and earth alike we call
In his praises to rejoice,
Who is past the praise of all.
3 Night and day his goodness tell;
Earth, and sun, and moon, and star,
Winds and waves that sink and swell,
Ceaseless spread his name afar.
4 Every living thing his hands,
Which first made, sustain, supply:
Wide o’er all his love expands
As the vast embracing sky.
5 Sin, which strove that love to quell,
Woke yet more its wondrous blaze;
Eden, Bethlehem, Calvary, tell,
More than all beside, his praise.
6 Sing, ye seraphs in the sky;
Let your loftiest praises flow;
Swell the song with raptures high,
All ye sons of men below.
Thomas Davis, 1864.
Jesus Christ, Second Advent
359 — The Jews Restored
1 Wake, harp of Zion, wake again,
Upon thine ancient hill,
On Jordan’s long deserted plain,
By Kedron’s lowly rill.
2 The hymn shall yet in Zion swell
That sounds Messiah’s praise,
And thy loved name, Immanuel!
As once in ancient days.
3 For Israel yet shall own her King,
For her salvation waits,
And hill and dale shall sweetly sing
With praise in all her gates.
4 Hasten, Oh Lord, these promised days,
When Israel shall rejoice;
And Jew and Gentile join in praise,
With one united voice.
James Edmeston, 1846.
The Christian, Heaven
874 — On Jordan’s Brink
1 On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
2 Oh, the transporting, rapturous scene
That rises to my sight!
Sweet fields array’d in living green,
And rivers of delight!
3 There generous fruits that never fail,
On trees immortal grow;
There rocks and hills, and brooks and vales,
With milk and honey flow.
4 All o’er those wide extended plains,
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Sun for ever reigns,
And scatters night away.
5 No chilling winds, or poisonous breath,
Can reach that healthful shore:
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and fear’d no more.
6 When shall I reach that happy place,
And be for ever blest?
When shall I see my Father’s face,
And in his bosom rest?
7 Fill’d with delight, my raptured soul
Can here no longer stay:
Though Jordan’s waves around me roll,
Fearless I’d launch away.
Samuel Stennett, 1787.