A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 20, 1874, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *2/11/2012
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given to me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion [Isa 8:18]
1. We might possibly have had some difficulty in explaining this verse, or we might have referred it to the prophet Isaiah and his sons, had not inspiration been its own expositor. Turn to the New Testament and the text will be no mystery to you; its key hangs on its proper nail. In the epistle to the Hebrews, we read — “For both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will declare your name to my brethren, in the midst of the church I will sing praise to you.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children whom God has given to me.’ ” [Heb 2:11-13] So we have from divine revelation assured evidence that it is our Lord who speaks, and speaks of his people as his children. We will follow this clue.
2. The context describes, as is most common throughout the entire Scripture, the different results which occurred from the appearance of the Saviour. He is rejected by many, and accepted by others. He was set for the fall and rise of many in Israel. To those who received him he is a glory and a defence, but to others “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.” Even now his gospel is a “savour of death to death” as well as a “savour of life to life.” The election of grace is always being worked out, the separating process continues, and will continue, until the eternal purpose has been completely fulfilled. Those whom the Lord has chosen feel the attractions of the Saviour, and come to him; while others wilfully and wickedly close their eyes to his brightness and reject him, and he leaves them in their willing unbelief. “He came to his own and his own did not receive him, but to as many as received him to those he gave power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on his name.”
3. Of those who received the Lord, we find it written that the testimony of God would be left in their charge. “Bind up the testimony; seal the law among my disciples.” The outside world rejects the testimony of God; its own thoughts and opinions are much more pleasant to it; but among the Lord’s disciples his commands are prized, and his teachings sacredly preserved. They see the seal of the living God upon the gospel, and they also set their seal to it that God is true; they accept the gospel of Jesus as very truth, and hold it, and intend to hold it against all comers.
4. To the true disciples of Jesus there may come times of darkness; it has been so with the church of old, and will still be so, but they have this star to gild their midnight — that Christ their Master and representative is waiting upon the Lord, and expecting and pleading for brighter and happier times. “I will wait,” he says, “upon the Lord who hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” Christ in the dark ages of Judaism looked for the dawn of the gospel day, and even now he waits upon his watch tower and looks for a golden age for his redeemed people. So interested is he in their welfare that he will not rest until their brightness shines out as a lamp that burns.
5. Having thus noted the context we will come closely to the text. On this earth a people exist who have accepted the Messiah, and have become his disciples, and look for all things from their Lord. Concerning these people the text says, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given to me.”
6. Here we shall notice, first, a remarkable relationship ascribed to Christ; secondly, a spontaneous affirmation of it — “Behold, I and the children whom you have given to me”; and, thirdly, a common function, common to the Lord and to his disciples: they are appointed to be “signs” and “wonders” in Israel from the Lord of hosts who dwells in Mount Zion.
7. I. First, here is A REMARKABLE RELATIONSHIP. Jesus is called a father. Now, this is not according to precise theology, or according to the more formal doctrinal statements of Scripture, and we must, therefore, take care that we do not confusion this in our minds. Jesus is not “the Father,” and we must always carefully maintain the distinction of persons in the Godhead. The Son of God is one with the Father, but he is not the Father; and we must take care we do not ascribe to the Son acts which are unique to the Father. According to correct speech, it is the first person of the divine Trinity whom we call the Father, who has begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and when we say, “Abba, Father,” “Our Father who is in heaven,” and “Thanks be to the Father”; we do not refer to the Lord Jesus, but to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
8. Still, the title of Father is very applicable to our Lord Jesus Christ for many reasons. And first, because he is our federal Head. We speak correctly of “father Adam,” and Jesus is the second Adam who heads up our race anew and is the representative man of redeemed mankind. He only of mankind stands for others as Adam stood, head of a covenant, involving others in his acts. The second Adam, therefore, may well regard us as his children, in whom the covenant promise is fulfilled, “Also I will make his seed to endure for ever.” As the first Adam looking down the ages upon us all may well cry with astonishment, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given to me!” so Jesus, viewing the vast company of the faithful, sees in them his seed, and finds in them a sacred satisfaction for the travail of his soul. We are in him, he stands for us, and we are in this sense his children.
Our Lord is also Father of the golden age of grace and glory.
Isaiah calls him the “son born,” and the “child given,” and yet “the
everlasting Father,” and our hymn has well translated that expression.
Sire of ages ne’er to cease,
Prince of life and Prince of peace.
10. There is an age of silver in which we now live, which Christ has produced by his first advent and the consequent proclamation of the gospel, and there is an age of gold yet to come, delightfully anticipated by the saints, of which Christ will be the Father and Lord. Then in him, and in his seed, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Indeed, I might say, that the eternity of blessedness in which the sanctified shall dwell is an age which acknowledges Christ for its Father; and so he may well be called “the Father of eternity,” or “the everlasting Father.”
11. Again, there is a sense in which Christ is our father, because by his teaching we are born to God. Just as the minister who brings a soul to Christ is said to be the spiritual parent for such a soul, and is, indeed, instrumentally so, so the Lord Jesus, as the author of our faith, is our spiritual Father in the family of God, and after him the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Our Lord, in bringing many sons to glory, is truly their Father, for it is he who calls them into spiritual life, and puts them among the children of God. He is that “kernel of wheat” which, unless it falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but, inasmuch as he has died, he produces much fruit, and we — all of us who have believed in him — are the living fruit of our dying and risen Saviour, and we do not speak incorrectly when we call him Father. He is our older brother, but he is also “over his own house, whose house we are.” The word which quickened us came to us by Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
12. Now, let us see whether there is not much of teaching in this metaphor by which we are called children of the Lord Jesus. The expression denotes, first, that we derive our spiritual life from him as children take their origin from their father. We are from him. If he had not created us we would not have been in the world; if he had not redeemed us, we would not have possessed a portion in the world to come. If he had not called us, we would still have been in darkness and in death. If he had not quickened us — for he quickens whom he wishes — we would still have lain among the dry bones of the valley of sin. We owe what we are to the Father’s providence; but we owe our being born again to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from that matchless scheme of which Christ is the sum and substance, there would have been no pardoned sinners, no believers, no children adopted into the family of God, no heirs of God, no priests and kings to reign with Christ for ever and ever. As we look at the dear wounds of Jesus we see the rock from where we were hewn, when we gaze upon his precious blood, we see the lifeblood of our souls. He is the root that bears us, the stem from which we are the branches.
13. Children do not merely take their origin from their father, but they have a likeness to his nature; and this is most true in the case of our Lord and his regenerated people, for he has become like us, and on the other hand he has made us like him. Notice how the apostle puts it, “Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also partook of the same”; “Both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one.” “It behoved him to be made like his brethren.” Just as a father feels for his children because they are of the same flesh and blood as himself, so does the Lord sympathise with his people, for they are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. No father can be so thoroughly one with his offspring as Jesus is with us.
14. Moreover our divine Lord is bringing us into his likeness, and making us partakers of his nature. True believers are as like their Lord as little children are like their father. As I said last Thursday night, the likeness may be in some points a caricature, so that we smile to see ourselves represented and misrepresented in our children, yet there it is, we see our image in them; and so the image of Christ is upon all his believing people, it is much marred and very miniature, but still it is the true image of his love. As on the prepared glass of the photographer the likeness is present, but needs to be brought out by means best known to himself, so it is with us; the image of God has been renewed in us, but it lies somewhat hidden, and the Holy Spirit has it in hand to develop in us the life of Christ, and his work will be complete at the appearing of our Lord and Saviour, “for when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
15. I believe that the text very clearly contains the idea of charge and responsibility. Children are always a charge; a comfort sometimes. No parent has a child without lying under obligations to God to take care of him, and to nurse him for him. Sometimes the responsibility becomes very heavy, and involves us in much anxiety. Wherever conscience is lively, fatherhood is regarded as a solemn thing. Now, Jesus Christ, when looking upon his people, calls them “children whom God has given to him”; as if he recognised the charge laid upon him to keep, instruct, and perfect his own people. Remember his last words to his Father before he went to his passion: “I have revealed your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world: they were yours, and you gave them to me; and they have kept your word. While I was with them in the world I kept them in your name: those whom you gave to me I have kept, and none of them is lost, except the son of perdition; so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Like Jacob with Laban’s sheep, our Lord looked upon his elect as a charge for whom he was responsible; and before he departed out of this life he turned in an account to his heavenly Father. Even now also that great Shepherd of the sheep charges himself with the preservation of his own ransomed ones, and when he, at the last, shall gather all his redeemed people around him, there will not be one missing, and he will say, “Behold, I and the children whom you have given to me.” We call him Father, then, because as a father has charge of his family, and is before God responsible for their training and upbringing, so Christ himself is surety for his people, and is under bond to bring the many sons to glory.
16. In our relationship towards our children there is involved very often a great deal of care and grief. It is happy parents who can say of a child, “He never caused me anxiety!” It is a happy father who can say of all his household, “I have had no sorrow from any one of them!” I fear the case is rare. I know that this father of whom we are speaking had care and grief enough for his household; yes, for their sakes he bore a weight of woe which crushed him to the ground. Oh, you sorrowing parents! take comfort as you remember the greater griefs of the head of the chosen family, for all their infirmities and sins and wilful wanderings were laid upon him, and, for his children’s sake, his “soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” The pangs of his sacred fatherhood brought him to Gethsemane and its bloody sweat; indeed, to Calvary, and its shameful doom: what are our griefs compared with these? Jesus must die for his family so that he might be able to say, “Here I am, and the children whom you have given to me.” Therefore, do not consider it a strange thing, since you cost your Lord so much anguish, if sometimes your children should pour coals of fire into your hearts.
17. But, brethren, the possession of children involves a very near and dear love. You may try to love other people’s children, but I think there will always be a loving tenderness for your own which you cannot give to a stranger’s child, however much you try. Your own children after all, it is natural, and it is right, must have the warmest place in your heart. Even so the Lord Jesus has a special love for his own, he is the Saviour of all men, but especially of those who believe; he reveals himself to them and not to the world. It is almost a degradation of the love of Christ to compare it to anything human. It is so amazing, so divine, that it transcends comparison. If all the loves of parents could be piled up together in one vast mound — the love of fathers, and the still more tender love of mothers — yet that entire Alp would not equal the immeasurable love of Jesus Christ for his own people. Who understands its heights and depths, its lengths and breadths? Oh, you dear Lord and Saviour! because of your dear love for us we call you not only Rabbi, but Father; and as we hear you say to us, “Children, have you any food?” we answer, “Yes, you Father of your church, your table feasts us to the full.”
18. Children, however, when they behave properly, bring to the heart of their parent sweet solace and dear delight. Oh, I love the thought, and I long to bring it out before you, that just as a father is pleased when he sees his children growing up in the fear of God, when he observes their good character and qualities, when he sees their struggles for what is right, and their attempts to curb themselves in what is wrong — so Jesus is pleased with us. He speaks with great delight in our text, “Behold, I and the children.” He is evidently gratified with them. The sight of them gives him contentment. We readily see anything that is good in our children; we have a sharp eye for their beauties; sometimes, perhaps, we do not sufficiently see what is deficient or wrong: but assuredly our Lord must have a very keen eye for his people’s loveliness, for he says of his church, “You are all fair, my love; there is no spot in you.” We can see many spots in ourselves, but he looks at us with other eyes. I suppose he looks at us through the glass of his own righteousness, with eyes full of perfect love. His delights are with the sons of men, he rejoices over us with singing. Never does a prayer of penitence rise from a breaking heart without thrilling the soul of Jesus, for “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Never does a believer struggle against wrong, endure oppression patiently, or conquer sin, but Jesus is glad. Each budding grace and growing virtue charms him, even as parents are charmed with their hopeful little ones.
19. Our joy in our sons and our daughters looks forward and refreshes us with the prospect of what they will be. How many bright hopes light up a mother’s heart as she thinks of her son or daughter! She depends upon comfort from them in her declining years. Our Lord knows what his people are to be, and he rejoices in it. Oh, if you could see yourselves as you will be in the future, you would not know yourselves. If you could only have a photograph of your future glory, and could study it, you would say, “Shall I ever be like that? Shall I ever be so fair, and bright, and pure as that?” Now, the Lord Jesus sees you as you shall be, and he takes delight in you, and says, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given to me.”
20. Putting, then, all these things together, you will not fail to see the appropriateness of the figure by which our Lord is represented as standing in the midst of his own redeemed, as father among his children.
21. II. Now we shall turn to the second point, and speak a few words upon it. There is a SPONTANEOUS AFFIRMATION.
22. He says, “Behold, I and the children whom you have given to me.” The Lord acknowledges his children. Sometimes they are ashamed to acknowledge him, and he might always be ashamed to acknowledge them, but he never is: he speaks of them without hesitation. It is, “I and the children.” They are defiled and unworthy, they have been falling in the mire and have torn their clothes, and I do not know what else besides, but he says, “They are my children”; and he never thinks of casting them off. I wonder that he affirms them so, but it is his infinite love for them, and his boundless delight in them, which makes him still say, “I have called you by your name, you are mine.”
23. Not only does Jesus acknowledge them publicly as his own, but he glories in them as being God’s gift to him — “The children whom you have given to me”; as if they were something more than ordinary children. They are the promised fruit of the “travail of his soul”; they are the reward which Jehovah covenanted to bestow on him for his agonies and death. He looks upon them as the spoil of his great life battle, as the crown of his life’s labour. Solomon gave to Hiram, the King of Tyre, certain cities, and he did not like them, but called them “Cabul,” or “foul”; but our Redeemer is well pleased with his reward, he takes his purchased inheritance to his heart, and rejoices in it, saying, “Behold, I and the children whom you have given to me.”
24. Observe, that the Lord not only acknowledges his people and delights in them, but he challenges inspection. He says, “Behold! — look at them — I am not ashamed of them. Look at them, my Father — look at them all glorious in your Son, all washed in my blood, all robed in my righteousness — look at them, and see how glorified I am in them. Your eye, though full of fire against sin, can see no sin in them. Your hand, though it grasps the thunderbolt of vengeance against transgression, will not strike them, for I have made atonement.” “Behold, I and the children whom God has given to me” is a call to the whole world to look, “for these things were not done in a corner.” Jesus did not come into the world so that he and his children should be hidden under a bushel and should not be known; but standing right out, as a city placed on a hill, Jesus says, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given to me.” “Look at them, for they are meant to be looked at; they are set ‘for signs and wonders’ throughout all generations.”
And do notice again — for it affects my mind much more powerfully than
I can express, “Behold, I and the children.” I can understand a
mother speaking like this about herself and her children, but for
Christ the God of glory to unite his glorious name with those of such
poor worms of the dust is very wonderful. There! sit down and wonder
and weep over it Jesus says, “I and the children.” Well did old
Rowland Hill sing,
And when I shall die, receive me, I’ll cry;
For Jesus has loved me — I cannot tell why.
But this thing I find, we two are so joined,
He won’t be in heav’n and leave me behind.
Jesus will not be without us. He cannot bear it. You mothers do not think it enough to be indoors in bed yourselves when night comes on, you want the dear children to be safely housed too. If you were pursued by wolves on some snowy plain in Russia, you would not be satisfied to escape yourself, and leave your children to be devoured. Your motto would be, “I and the children.” You would live or die with them. How often when mothers have been overtaken in snowstorms they have been found dead, with their little ones nestling in their bosoms still alive. The mother has often taken off her clothing to wrap them around her babe, and even so Christ has stripped himself of every honour and comfort, and died to prove his infinite love for his own. It is no idle sentence in which he proclaims his union with his beloved in very deed, and of a truth he binds himself and them in one sacred bond. I cannot tell you how I rejoice in these words! I have them in my mouth and in my heart — “I and the children.” Blessed be our Lord for speaking like this!
26. Now, beloved, if Jesus acknowledges us so lovingly let us always acknowledge him: and if Christ takes us into partnership — “I and the children” — let us reply, “Christ is all.” Let him stand first with us; and let our name be for ever joined with his name, let us be bound up in the bundle of life with him. It is plain that he delights in us: let us delight in him; it is clear he glories in us; let us glory in him. He invites others to look at us and him, let us invite all mankind to behold our glorious Lord. Let us get behind our Lord, and place him always before us. Whoever visits us, let them not leave us without taking knowledge that we have been with Jesus. If we show our treasures, as Hezekiah did, let him begin with showing our Saviour, for no Babylonians will ever come and take him away from us. Our “soul shall make her boast in the Lord,” and no one shall ever stop us from this glorying here or hereafter. Enough, then, concerning the spontaneous affirmation. Oh, may we be among the happy company of whom our Lord shall say, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given to me!”
27. III. Thirdly — and into this I would throw the strength of the discourse — there is A COMMON FUNCTION. Christ and his people “are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts who dwells in Mount Zion.”
28. Both Christ and his people are displayed for a purpose. First, they are to be “signs and wonders” by way of testimony. Our Lord is called the “Word of God.” A word is the means of communication between one mind and another; God speaks to men by Christ, indeed, Christ is his speech. If you want to know what God has to say to you, see what Christ was and is. In the same manner, only in an inferior degree, believers are God’s voice to men: he speaks to the world through his people. In a happy Christian God says, “I will make you happy, too, as I have made this man, if you seek me in the same way as this man did.” In the believing Christian who has his prayers answered God says to men, “I will hear your prayer if you pray as this man does, with faith in my promise.” All the world of nature reveals God, but the revelation is inarticulate, and rather resembles the teaching of a picture or a hieroglyph than a clear distinct voice; but we, my brethren, are to be God’s mouth among the sons of men, and our conversation, our profession, our life in its entirety, is to be a witness from God to man; a testimony for truth, for righteousness, for holiness, and also for the power of the quickening Spirit, for the efficacy of redeeming blood, and for all the truths contained in divine revelation. We are not to be blank sheets, or papers with a blot on them, and nothing more; but letters written by God, and passed around among men so that they may read in us what God has to say. Now, it is very clearly so in Christ, his holy life and blessed death are a wonderful witness to the people; and concerning us, the Lord has said. “You are also my witnesses.” I would enquire concerning many of you here who make a profession, whether you are really God’s voice to men. If not, what is the use of your mute religion?
29. We are, secondly, signs and wonders among sinners by way of marvel. Believers, by their declaration of God’s testimony, Become more and more unusual in the judgment of men. No man except a Christian can understand a Christian. The spiritual man discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no man. Carnal minds cannot understand us, “for we are dead, and our life is hidden with Christ in God.” The person who never strikes you as having anything unusual about him, who is just like men of the world, is probably not a Christian. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ yourself, the unregenerate will misunderstand and misrepresent you; but if everyone is pleased with you it is pretty clear that God is not, for “the friendship of this world is enmity with God.” Genuine Christians will generally be considered by the world to be unusual people. For example, they profess to have been converted, and so to have undergone a miraculous change; they profess to have a new life, compared with which they were dead before. The world calls this nonsense. Regeneration! What fanaticism! In the days of Whitfield and Wesley the loose spirits made rare fun of the idea of being born again, and the preacher of regeneration was dubbed Mr. Wildgoose, and his followers a set of enthusiasts. The world now practises the crafty device of using our terms and phrases, and meaning something else by them; so talking of being regenerated by baptism, and all that nonsense. To be “born again” is still a marvel for the sons of men.
30. The real Christian is a man who has faith in providence, and believes in God, and therefore he is calm and unmoved in times of distress; he believes in the lilies which do not spin and yet are clothed, in the ravens which do not sow and do not reap and yet are fed; and therefore, though using his utmost diligence, he is not anxious, but lives in peace. The world envies him, but cannot understand him. Moreover, the Christian is a man who has power in prayer: he asks and receives, knocks and it is opened to him; and the outside world either disbelieves the fact or else looks upon it as a strange affair. It must be so, we must be wondered about; do not say that some of you Christian people are any marvel or wonder at all for I do not think you are: the marvel is that you dare call yourselves Christians at all; but I do mean that the genuine Christian is in many points an unusual person, so unusual that others cannot read his riddle. When a man becomes converted in an ungodly family, he is like a young swan in a duck’s nest: they cannot understand him. They say, “This is a strange bird! Where did he come from?” They think he is ugly, because he is not like the rest. Frequently ungodly relatives consider the young convert to be going out of his mind, or as being naturally weak in the intellect. They think he is insane while he is sorrowful, and idiotic when he is joyous.
31. The world cannot understand a Christian’s endurance of trial, but they attribute it to hardheartedness. They see him calm and composed; he neither raves nor blasphemes, nor tears his hair, and if the worst comes to the worst, he still says, “Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him.” This perplexes worldlings, and no wonder, for it puzzled the devil himself. He laid Job on a dunghill, covered with boils, scraping himself with a piece of potsherd, brought to poverty, his own wife tempting him, and his friends accusing him, and yet that man, who was a greater conqueror than Alexander or Napoleon, still said, “What! Shall we receive good from the hands of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil? The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin, nor charge God foolishly.” When the Lord allows any of us to be similarly tried, and sustains us in the trial, we become “a wonder to many.”
32. One of the greatest wonders to the ungodly is a Christian’s deathbed. Ungodly men, who have despised religion altogether, have been troubled in conscience and almost persuaded to be Christians through the holy triumphs of dying saints. Many an infidel remembers his mother’s holy life — how quiet, how loving she was, making the house always happy; and he remembers how grieved she was when her boy began to be sceptical about his mother’s Saviour. That dying charge of hers will ring in his memory for ever; that dying look of joyful triumph from that eye which had no tear in it except for those who were left behind, that expiring song, that shout of victory, he cannot get over it. If a man wishes to be sceptical, he must not see true Christians either live or die; otherwise facts will convince him against his will, or make it hard to doubt.
33. When the believer’s testimony for good becomes a marvel, it is not unusual that he afterwards becomes an object of contempt. What did the world say about the Master? “They called the Master of the house Beelzebub”; he was despised and rejected by men, and if you are one of his disciples, the world will despise you also. I will tell you what they say about us, — “They are all a parcel of dupes, led by the nose by a man. They will believe anything he tells them.” All this because you are true to your pastor and the word of God. Then, as soon as they see that you are not led by a man, but think for yourself, they cry, “Ah, you are one of those pigheaded ones, you will never be taught; why do you not believe as your fathers did, and stay with the old church?” If the world cannot wound us on one side, it tries the other. If they cannot accuse us of being black, our enemies will say that we are a sickly white.
34. Readily do accusers change their sweet voices, and cry, “Ah! it is all a scheme for money getting.” If the minister is zealous, they say, “Self-interest is at the bottom of it. If it is not love for money, it is love for power and influence.” To the Christian people they say, “No doubt you increase your business by it; many a man puts his religion in his shop window, and finds it pays amazingly well.” They know in their own souls that you are free from any sinister motive, but they will not do you justice. Like Satan, they say, “Does Job serve God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him, and all that he has?” Meanwhile, if you were in poverty through religion, they would sing another tune, and say, “A pretty thing comes of being a Christian! Why, you will soon be without a shoe for your foot! Look what you bring on yourself and your family.” If God pays good wages, the devil says, “You only serve him for the wages.” If present mercies are small, the old accuser tauntingly exclaims, “You serve a pathetic master. See how he starves you!” There is no pleasing the world, and we have no desire to please it! As Paul said, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”
35. I know the kind of tone adopted by others; they plume themselves upon their intellect and think we are behind the times. “We have no patience,” they say, “with this believing in prayer, this expectation of conversion, this reliance upon atonement and imputed righteousness. Why, it is downright stupidity! Such preaching is only an echo from the graves of Puritans. No doubt Puritanism was a power in the days of Cromwell, but it is out of date now. We require more advanced thought in this enlightened age when we have collisions on railways and other grand improvements, and have discovered that the universe made itself. We cannot afford to keep behind these intelligent times, and must go in for a splendid splash like other people.”
36. If this does not wound us they will say, “These people are not thinkers: they have no culture”; and so they think we are fools. In which we greatly rejoice, being glad to be fools for Christ’s sake. Christians in all ages have been considered fools. If you are travelling in Switzerland and see an idiot, he is a “cretin” — that is a Christian. Yes! Such was the byword — the fool was called a Christian, and the Christian was thought to be a fool. We are satisfied to bide our time, knowing that the day shall come in which the worldly wise will not only be called fools by others, but will confess themselves so in endless despair.
37. But then they say, “These people are too precise, they make life dreary!” We are in our own esteem the happiest people in the world, and could not be much happier this side of heaven; but because we do not care for their vain pleasures, their husks, and swines’ slop, therefore we are austere and miserable. Only they think so who know nothing about us. We have food to eat which they do not know about, and like Daniel and his brethren, although we do not taste the world’s dainties, we are in a better condition than those who do.
38. Men of the world are apt to say, “You are such a set of bigots, you think everyone else is wrong except yourselves.” Is it amazing that if we think we are right, we do not believe that those who are opposed to us can be right also? If we know that two and two make four we are intolerant enough to affirm that they cannot make five. It is a degradation to my intellect to expect me to believe that yes and no can be equally correct upon the same matter; triflers with religion may consent to such folly, but those who are in earnest cannot do so. If to be sure that what God says is true is bigotry, we confess that bigotry. Our Master says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; he who does not believe shall be damned,” — we believe this, and the damnatory clause too, and are content to abide the judgment of the last great day concerning whether such a belief will then be accounted as bigotry or not.
39. Our despisers often cry, “See what conceit and pride! They think themselves to be God’s elect, and that he has a special favour for them, and pardons their sins, and saves them.” Just so! Call that conceit if you please, we are not ashamed to confess it. If you saw a rich man going down the street and were rude enough to say, “See how conceited a man he is; he thinks himself to be worth ten thousand pounds,” he might quietly smile and say, “I do think so, and rightly too, for I am worth several hundred thousand pounds.” They say we are conceited because we rejoice, when it is our fault not to rejoice more. The Lord has done great things for us, we dare not deny it, and have no wish to do so. He has made us to be his sons and daughters, and we must glory in his name. If others confound our joy for pride we cannot help it, for we know very well that we give all the glory to God in our own souls.
40. When believers become like this, as they will be, objects of contempt, they will be assailed with ridicule, and spattered with slander; bad motives will be imputed to them, and the truths for which they are willing to die will be attacked, both in their persons and their testimonies. They must bear reproach, and if they do they will become wonders again. If they suffer but never retaliate, if they never return railing for railing, if they bear and forbear, their patience will make them wonders. As the ages shall roll on, the holy, and the godly and the Christlike, Jesus and his children, will go from victory to victory. In every coming age, even though persecution should rage as it did in former days, the church of God will bear it, and so defeat it; superstition, and heresy, and worldliness will come, but the church will pass through the storm; and at the last, when truth shall conquer, when Gethsemane shall be transfigured into Paradise, and the shame of the cross of Calvary shall be lost in the glory of the “great white throne”; when there shall be no more the crown of thorns, and nails, and sponge and vinegar, but when Jesus shall be proclaimed “King of kings and Lord of lords,” and all his people shall reign with him, then the saints will be signs and wonders indeed. Do you not know that you shall judge angels, sitting as assessors at the right hand of God? Do you not know that you shall be the glory of Christ in that day? When the ungodly shall cry, “Rocks, hide us! mountains, fall on us!” “the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Hold on, brother! and hold out to the end; be humble and quietly
faithful. Do not try to be a wonder, but be a wonder. Do not
try to do some astonishing thing to attract attention; but “let your
light so shine before men so that they may see your good works and
glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Do not believe that the
common Christianity of the present age will carry anyone to heaven.
It is a counterfeit and a sham. It does not make men to differ from
their fellows, it pretends to faith and has none, talks about love
and does not show it, brags about truth and evaporates it into thin
air in its latitudinarian charity. May God give us back the real
thing — staunch, strong belief in the gospel, real faith in Jesus, real
prayer to him, real spiritual power. Then again there will be
persecution, but it will only blow away the chaff; and leave the pure
wheat! The world likes us better because we like the world better;
it calls us friends because we doff our colours and sheathe our
swords and play the coward; but if we preach and live the gospel in
the old apostolic way, we shall soon have the devil roaring around
the camp and the seed of the serpent hissing on all sides, but we do
not fear, for “the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 8:11-9:7]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 116” 116 @@ "(Song 2)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Deity and Incarnation — Advent Morning” 255]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Second Advent — The Coming Glory” 342]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 116 (Song 1)
1 I Love the Lord: he heard my cries,
And pitied every groan:
Long as I live, when troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to his throne.
2 I love the Lord: be bow’d his ear,
And chased by griefs away;
Oh let my heart no more despair,
While I have breath to pray!
3 My flesh declined, my spirits fell,
And I drew near the dead;
While inward pangs, and fears of hell,
Perplex’d my wakeful head.
4 “My God,” I cried, “Thy servant save
Thou ever good and just;
Thy power can rescue from the grave,
Thy power is all my trust.”
5 The Lord beheld me sore distress’d,
He bid my pains remove:
Return, my soul, to God thy rest,
For thou hast known his love.
6 My God hath saved my soul from death,
And dried my falling tears;
Now to his praise I’ll spend my breath,
And my remaining years.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 116 (Song 2)
1 What shall I render to my God,
For all his kindness shown?
My feet shall visit thine abode,
My songs address thy throne.
2 Among the saints that fill thine house,
My offerings shall be paid:
There shall my zeal perform the vows
My soul in anguish made.
3 How much is mercy thy delight,
Thou ever blessed God!
How dear thy servants in thy sight!
How precious is their blood!
4 How happy all thy servants are!
How great thy grace to me!
My life, which thou hast made thy care,
Lord, I devote to thee.
5 Now I am thine, for ever thine,
Nor shall my purpose move!
Thy hand hath loosed my bands of pain,
And bound me with thy love.
6 Here in thy courts I leave my vow,
And thy rich grace record:
Witness, ye saints, who hear me now,
If I forsake the Lord.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 116 (Song 3)
1 Redeem’d from guilt, redeem’d from fears,
My soul enlarged, and dried my tears,
What can I do, oh love divine,
What, to repay such gifts as thine?
2 What can I do, so poor, so weak,
But from thy hands new blessings seek?
A heart to feel my mercies more,
A soul to know thee and adore.
3 Oh! teach me at thy feet to fall,
And yield thee up myself, my all;
Before thy saints my debt to own,
And live and die to thee alone!
4 Thy Spirit, Lord, at large impart!
Expand, and raise, and fill my heart;
So may I hope my life shall be
Some faint return, oh Lord, to thee.
Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.
Jesus Christ, Deity and Incarnation
255 — Advent Morning <7s.>
1 Bright and joyful is the morn;
For to us a Child is born;
From the highest realms of heaven
Unto us a Son is given.
2 On his shoulders he shall bear
Power and majesty — and wear
On his vesture, and his thigh,
Names most awful, names most high.
3 Wonderful in counsel he;
The incarnate Deity,
Sire of Ages ne’er to cease;
King of kings, and Prince of Peace.
4 Come and worship at his feet,
Yield to Christ the homage meet;
From his manger to his throne,
Homage due to God alone.
James Montgomery, 1819.
Jesus Christ, Second Advent
342 — The Coming Glory <8.7.4.>
1 ‘Mid the splendours of the glory
Which we hope ere long to share;
Christ our head, and we his members,
Shall appear divinely fair.
Oh, how glorious!
When we meet him in the air!
2 From the dateless, timeless periods,
He has loved us without cause:
And for all his blood bought myriads,
His is love that knows no pause.
Changeless as the eternal laws!
3 Oh what gifts shall yet be granted,
Palms, and crowns, and robes of white,
When the hope for which we panted
Bursts upon our gladden’d sight,
And our Saviour
Makes us glorious through his might.
4 Bright the prospect soon that greets us
Of that long’d for nuptial day,
When our heavenly Bridegroom meets us
On his kingly, conquering way;
In the glory,
Bride and Bridegroom reign for aye!
William Reed, 1863.