A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, March 28, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/12/2012
I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God. [Ps 42:11]
1. Another verse in this psalm so attracts me that, though it is not my text, I cannot pass it by without a moment’s notice. In the fifth verse the psalmist says, “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance,” and then follows the expression of the text, “who is the health of my countenance and my God.” God’s countenance is our help, and he himself is the health of our countenance. The best help a man can have in time of trouble is the countenance of God. If he feels that he enjoys the divine love, and that he is acceptable with the Lord, he becomes at once strong to bear, or dare, or do. Ask for the presence of God with you, child of God, and you may then descend into a lion’s den, traverse a fiery furnace, or pass through the iron gates of death. A look from the Lord is life and strength for his people. So far the fifth verse: now let us weave our text with it. This help of God’s countenance usually comes to believers by their obtaining health for their countenances. It may not please God to lessen the burden, but it comes to the same thing if he strengthens the back. He may not recall the soldier from the battle, but if he gives him a greater stomach for the fight, and increased strength for its toils, it may be even better for him. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but who can bear a wounded spirit?” Give a man health in his countenance, and he laughs at what would have crushed him had he been in another mood. There are times when the grasshopper becomes a burden, and there are other times when with undaunted spirit we can say, “Who are you, oh great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain.” Everything depends upon the man’s personal condition; for the diseased eye beauty does not exist, for the disordered palate sweetness is no longer to be found, and to a deaf ear harmony is silent. Our happiness depends more upon our own personal condition than upon our surroundings. The great thing to be desired by all of us is that we may, in spirit, soul, and body, be whole, that is to say holy, for holiness is in very truth wholeness of our entire manhood. Sin is disease, righteousness is health. We all need to be healed, so that being healed we may be healthy, that receiving the divine restoration our nature may arrive at perfect soundness. Through the fall and our own sins we have become the prey of many maladies, and need the exercise of divine power to bring us back into that sacred sanity of nature in which God first of all created man, when he made him in his own image, and saw concerning him and the world in which he had placed him, that it was very good. I shall speak this morning concerning our complete manhood’s health, and while I speak of it may the Lord be pleased to make all of us see that he is the health of our countenance and our God.
2. I. Our first remark is one which naturally grows out of the text, though it may seem a very trite one, namely, that PERFECT HEALTH IS A GREAT BLESSING.
3. Do not misunderstand me by narrowing my words in their application: I am not speaking alone of the health of the body; for to say that bodily health is a blessing would only be to assert what no one disputes. Man, however, is something more than a body, he is also a living soul; yes more, there is in the regenerate man, a triple nature, consisting of body, soul and spirit. Even in you, who are unregenerate, there is a double nature of body and soul; I wish that you had been born again, and had reached the triple nature, and possessed that higher principle which is born by God, but even you are not all comprised in mere flesh, and when I speak of your health I mean the health of your entire being. Perfect health lies in the right condition of spirit, soul, and body. Complete health in heaven will be ours when, our bodies having been raised incorruptible from the dead, our souls having been cleansed from all defilement, and our newborn spirit having come to its full development, our entire manhood shall be glorified.
4. This universal health of our manhood is invaluable, for it was this that made our first Paradise. Man was not happy in Eden merely because the fruits were luscious, and the odours of the flowers which grew in the garden of delights were fragrant, but because no disease of sin had tainted any part of his nature. His bodily appetites had not gained predominance over his mental faculties, neither had he allowed any one of his mental powers to override the rest, or permitted the pride of knowledge to suppress the childlike spirit which adored the great Father. His being was well balanced, and all its powers were in a perfect condition. Adam was in all respects such as God would have man to be, for he was such as God had actually made him. Just as in a perfect machine which just comes from the maker’s hand, every wheel acts upon its fellow, and the whole is obedient to the central mainspring, so Adam’s nature was in complete order. Alas for us that it ever became otherwise.
5. Just as perfect health was our first happiness, so it will be our last and eternal happiness, for heaven is not merely streets of gold and harps of melodious music, and winged creatures strangely bright, but when the slough of depravity is cast off then perfection is experienced; the soul shall be herself again, and of manhood it shall be said, “his flesh is younger than a child’s, and he has returned to the days of his youth.” [Job 33:25] Spiritual health then was the first paradise, and we can never reach the second except by its recovery. No forgiveness of sin, no imputation of righteousness, no justification by faith, if such could be apart from an inward change, could make a man happy as long as he is sick in his soul. Health must reign within, or a throne in heaven would be a mockery.
6. Today a measure of health is essential to our happiness. If any man here burns with the fever of lust he cannot be a happy man. In the fierce heat of passion he may think himself blessed, but he dares not deny that, in those intervals of chill remorse which alternate with the heat of passion, woe and anguish are his portion. Anger, envy, revenge, covetousness, discontent, pride, and self-will, are all diseases fatal to happiness. Perhaps some man before me is utterly given up to worldliness, and lethargy has seized upon him, and in the deadness of that lethargy he complains of no pain whatever, but finds a happiness in the numbness of spiritual death. May God deliver you from this hideous peace, this horrible stupefaction, for it is not true happiness, but the herald of eternal death. Absolute happiness, what will truly bear close examination, real joy, peace, felicity, can never come to a man while one part of his nature jars with the other: he must be right with himself. The little universe of our nature cannot sing in harmony until its central sun of faith, its planetary affections, and even those imaginations which are comparable to the comets, are each and all in their proper spheres and orbits; then as they all, like the heavens, declare the glory of God, all will be well. We must be spiritually healthy or we cannot be happy.
7. The lack of this health is the cause of a thousand ills. We very often complain about this world, but it would no longer be the prison house of sorrow if it ceased to be the theatre of sin. If man were man as God made him, the earth would soon regain her excellency, and her deserts would blossom as the rose. If men were not sinners, neither would they be sufferers. Thorns and thistles would be no longer a curse, but would be considered as flowers if men did not have thorns within their bosoms, and thistles in their hearts. No lion or ravenous beast could traverse the way of holiness, for concerning the perfect man it is written, “You shall be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be in peace with you.” Cast out sin, and you have cast out the serpent whose slime has made this world so foul. Cut down this upas tree, [a] and numberless griefs and torments will no more drip upon mankind.
8. We may judge the value of health, when we remember that it cannot be purchased. You cannot buy deliverance from bodily disease. What would we not give if we could? We would seek out at any expense the physician whose fee is heaviest, and we would not refuse to fill his hand with gold if he could only give us ease. But no; when God chastens, the rod will not be quiet. As for the health of the soul and spirit, the miser’s bags if they were emptied out could not purchase it for a moment; indeed, the very fact that he hoped to win it like that, would be in itself a disease; for what are trust in riches and reliance upon self-righteousness except forms of pride, which is one of the most deadly of our sicknesses. You cannot buy health for your nature; your tears cannot procure it; your works, your repentances, your prayers cannot find it apart from God. He is the health of your countenance. Bless him that he is so. If it were not for this your whole head would continue to be sick, and your whole heart faint. There is no balm in Gilead, there is no physician there; God alone is the healer of the soul, and freely he bestows what India with its gems and California with its gold could not procure.
9. If we are without this health nothing can compensate us for the loss of it. You who have been sick know that nothing can make up for the agony of pain or the misery of inability to move your limbs; those weary nights and dolorous days of anguish could not be rewarded by gold and silver. So, unless you become right in soul and spirit with your God, nothing can avail in lieu of it. You may put on the garb of religion, you may learn the tones and mannerisms of Christians, you may sing the songs of saints, you may think that you could play the music of angels, but “you must be born again,” you must be recovered from sin’s mortal malady; you must be purged from the foul leprosy of evil, for you are polluted, and until you are recovered you cannot come into the tabernacles of the Lord, nor stand in his holy place. Without holiness, which is another word for wholeness or health, no man can see the Lord.
10. If this health of ours is not found let us be warned that it will be eternal hell; for what is hell? Is it not consummated sin? What are the fetters of the condemned except their own tyrant passions? The fires that burn and yet do not consume, will they not be ungratified desires? The worm that never dies, will it not be a tormenting conscience? The man himself is his own hell. True there may be, over and above this, penalties from the hand of the Lord, for what are we that we should pretend to know the secrets of the dreadful prison house? There may be positive inflictions from the divine hand, but without these there is misery enough in despair, and abundant torment in remorse. If a man were taken up to heaven itself, and were surrounded with all the circumstances which assist the blessed to express their joy, yet there he would burn, and there would he gnash his teeth, and there he would weep and wail, if still his heart was cankered with enmity towards God, and his heart palpitated with fierce and strong passions. The essential heaven, or the actual hell must always be within ourselves. There lies the main business. Sir, you are sick and must be cured, or you are damned, for your sickness is incipient damnation. Sir, you were born with a cancer in your heart, which will one day flood your whole nature with its horrible loathsomeness, and then will come the time of your misery: you must be cured, or else a doom awaits you which language cannot describe.
11. Assuredly I have said enough to show that manhood’s perfect health is the greatest of blessings, and I proceed to the next point.
12. II. Our text joyfully asserts, secondly, that GOD IS OUR HEALTH. “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.”
13. God is our health. He is so in these senses, that, first of all; he is the originator of health, which once was enjoyed by manhood. There was in the primeval days one perfect man, indeed, there was one perfect pair, upon the face of the earth, and these possessed a total sanity, because God who is himself holy had made them whole or holy, and they were perfect in their ways from the day they were created until iniquity was found in them. They were made a little lower than the angels, but they wore a glory and honour about them which made all the lower creatures obedient to their command; that beauty of holiness was the work of God who made man upright, and caused his countenance to beam with health. He who made the first man pure must make us pure, or we shall never be pure.
14. But again, God is the health of our countenance because our relationship to him is the test of our health. Just what you are to God, that you really are. It is good to stand well with your fellow men; to love your neighbour as yourself is right and just, but he who made us has the first claim upon us. Our Creator should first of all have the love and loyalty of our hearts. If he is not the chief object of our thoughts depend upon it we are wrong. Whatever we may be in our relationship to others, we are sadly wrong if we are estranged to God. If you do not love God, you do not love him who is the holiest, and the purest, and the best. If you do not love God it is certain that you do not love essential goodness, truth, justice, and purity. You complain that the character of God is so much above you: then how low you must be. You assert that you cannot think of him as your Father: but we would have you remember that when a child cannot think of his father as his father his heart must be alienated indeed. Do you ever judge your relationship to God? Men seldom do so, and when they use expressions which concern this relationship they generally misuse them. I have noticed in this place before, that if we call a man a sinner he is not offended with us, for that only means that he disobeys the law of God; but if we call him a criminal he is indignant, because that means that he has broken the laws of man. Alas! that our relationship to man should seem to be so much more important than our connection with God. To set man before God is unrighteous, and shows the essential injustice of unrenewed hearts; for when their hearts are set right, men feel that they would sooner offend their fellow men a thousand times than offend their God once. So that you may judge your spiritual health by your relationship to God answer these questions. Do you love him? Do you trust him? Do you speak with him? Do you pray to him? Is he your friend? Is he your delight? Is his will your will? Do you take pleasure in what pleases him? Does your life run parallel with the life of God? It is well with you if these things are so: it is on the way to being well with you if you desire to have them so; but if, on the contrary, God’s will draws one way, and you the other, the Lord cannot be wrong, and you are clearly proven to be in a bad state. The Lord is holy. “Holy, holy, holy,” say the angels; and if you are not like him you are unholy, that is you are not whole, you are not spiritually in health; your nature is diseased. God is our health then because our relationship to him is the test of it.
15. Remember again, that the Lord is the very model of health. All perfections meet in him. In God’s nature no single attribute ever intrudes upon another. You cannot find in God’s character any one point of which you can say — “He is this alone, to the exclusion or overshadowing of other excellencies.” God is love, but God is also a consuming fire. God is merciful, but God is true. God is great, but God is good. All excellencies are in him in perfection. See whether you are like God then, for if you are not, you are not like the model of health. If the symptoms of your condition differ from the characteristics of God, you are unhealthy, for God is the standard of perfect holiness.
The text intends to teach us that God must be for each one of us
the restorer of our spiritual health. If we ever recover soundness,
he must restore us. The Sun of Righteousness must bring us healing,
the heavenly wind of the Holy Spirit must drive away the pestilence
of sin, the water of life must work our cure, the plant of renown
must yield us balm. Man’s malady demands a divine physician. Only
omnipotent wisdom can make a man healthy, or keep him so. This body
of ours is so complex, and contains so many bones, cells, muscles,
nerves, tissues, and blood vessels, that perhaps it is the greatest
miracle on the face of the earth that we live, or if there is a
greater, it must he that we live at all in health. Dr. Watts well
Strange that a harp of thousand strings,
Should keep in tune so long.
17. But when I think of the soul, it is so much more mysterious than the body, that to put a soul into proper conformity to God, and keep it right, would appear to be a greater wonder than anything which can be discovered by the physiologist in the anatomy of the body. Oh God, you alone made man, and you alone can deliver him from the evils which have unmade him, and bring him back to be what you would to have him to be. No hand except yours must venture upon the task. They only blunder who boast of regenerating with water. Blunder, no, they lie. God alone can regenerate a soul, and his Spirit must do it by that same mighty power which raised the Redeemer from the dead. Nothing short of full omnipotence can raise us from our natural sickness to spiritual health.
18. Spiritual health is produced by God’s coming to us, for the medicine of a sick soul is not something from God, but God himself. He could not cure us until he gave us his Son, and his Son could not heal us until he gave us himself. Today the food of spiritual health is the flesh and blood of Jesus, and nothing keeps us from relapsing into sin except the indwelling of the eternal Spirit. Our health is our God, our God incarnate, our God indwelling, our God looking down from the throne of glory, and saying, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Jehovah Rophi, the Lord who heals you, this is your name, oh Lord, and by it we adore you.
19. III. But I must pass on to the third matter, namely, that THIS HEALTH HAS VISIBLE SIGNS. “He is the health of my countenance.”
20. The health of a man is mainly judged by his face. Truly you can tell something of it by his gait, and every limb of the body more or less evidences his condition, but the countenance is the window of the soul, the mirror which reflects the nature. True sanity towards God, or at any rate, the beginning of it in the work of grace, can be seen: it is not a close secret hidden from observation, it displays itself. A notion is abroad that perhaps a man may be saved and not know it, alive to God unconsciously, washed in the blood of Jesus without knowing it, so that he may live without discovering his own salvation only to find it out by the help of a priest as he is dying. There is nothing like that in the word of God, nothing of the kind. That may be the version of the Vatican; it is not the version of the New Jerusalem. Read the Scriptures, and you find men talk about “us who are saved”; you find them declaring that being justified by faith they have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When the Lord Jesus Christ takes a man in hand to heal him he makes a
difference in his countenance, by which of course I do not merely
mean the countenance of the body, but that countenance which David
meant, that part of our nature which is visible to others. The Lord
gives outward evidences of his inward work. And what kind of signs
are those? He takes away from the countenance of our manhood the
blotches of sin. I look into a man’s spiritual face, and I discover
that he is a drunkard, that he is a man of lust, that he is a man of
anger, that he is a hard, cruel man, a mean, miserly man: these are
so many blotches; and when the grace of God enters the heart it takes
away these disfigurements, and beautifies the character. When the
Lord Jesus begins to heal us, he removes from our countenance the
blankness of despair. Did you ever see it? I have seen it in the
actual bodily visage, and it is a dreadful sight. But oh, when those
charming bells are heard to ring, the bells of “free grace and dying
love,” and the man knows that his sin is forgiven, and that he is
accepted in Christ Jesus, then despair flies away, the shadow of the
dragon’s wing is taken from the face, and the dove of peace passes by
and casts a brightness as of silver upon the countenance. When the
great Physician heals men he removes the paleness of fear, for men
are pallid when they dread the wrath to come, and tremble lest they
die in their sins. Once pardoned that pallor is gone, and the
ruddiness of confidence comes back to the cheek. The gloom of sorrow
also goes from the man whom Christ makes whole.
Why should I sorrow more?
I trust a Saviour slain,
And safe beneath his sheltering cross,
Unmoved I shall remain.
22. And when the Lord goes on working the cures of grace it is wonderful how he removes from the countenance the lines and furrows of want. The lantern jaws [b] of hunger are seen in many who are pining after Christ and grace, and cannot find either, but when Christ comes he satiates the soul, and makes the bones firm, and the countenance of the heart is glad.
Let me tell you, though I am afraid some Christians do not prove it,
that the Lord Jesus smooths out the wrinkles of care from the
foreheads of his patients. When Christians are under the influence of
divine grace they know no care; they cast their care on him who cares
for them. They do the little they can do and leave the rest with
their Lord, and all goes well, and their life is peaceful. Oh happy
man who has been healed like this. “Well,” one says, “I trust I am
healed from sin, but I am not as healed as that.” Brother, the good
Physician is proceeding with his operations, and if you do not have
all the cure yet, it is your fault and not his; for it is in his
power, if you trust him, to take away sorrow, fear, despair, doubt,
and even care, so that you shall say as our hymn puts it: —
All that remains for me
Is but to love and sing,
And wait until the angels come
To bear me to their King.
It will not be long before they will come if you are in that condition. Only poor farmers leave their wheat out in the field too long, but my Lord never did so yet. Whenever his sheaves are ready for the garner he is sure to reap them. A perfect man is on the threshold of heaven. When you are spiritually healthy, and have undergone your spiritual quarantine, and there is no more sickness in you, do you think your Lord will keep you out of heaven? Not he, he is too desirous to have you with him where he is.
24. The health which our Lord Jesus works in us is seen in the spiritual countenance in many ways. First, it makes the eyes bright. A man full of doubts and fears, or vexed with ambition or love of the world, has no bright transporting hopes, but the man who believes in Jesus has a hope that when days and years are past he shall be in heaven where Jesus is. I must confess that sometimes when I try to experience that hope my physical eye grows dim, because the tears begin to flow, and almost blind me. Shall I, shall I ever see his face and cast a crown at his feet? I shall, I know I shall; but oh, it does seem too good to be true. While the physical eye is thus dimmed how bright the spiritual eye becomes with such a hope to cheer it.
Spiritual health imparts a beauty to the entire visage. Think how
the spouse describes her beauty. She says, “I am black” — she could not
help saying that for she was sunburned with exposure to the world,
but she adds, “I am comely.” Her Lord looked at her in such a way
that she felt he could see her comeliness though she could not.
Though in ourselves defiled we are,
And black as Kedar’s tents appear,
Yet, when we put thy beauty on,
Fair as the courts of Solomon.
There is no more beautiful object in the world to Christ than his own church. What a passage that is in the Song of Solomon, where the king exclaims, “You are all fair, my love, there is no spot in you.” He sees with eyes of love indeed, who sees such beauty. Yet grace will make the Christian fair beyond conception, glory will make the Christian altogether lovely. We shall bear neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but be without fault before the throne of God.
26. What a difference grace makes to the spiritual forehead when it works with power. By nature our forehead is as brass, hard, bold, presumptuous, but see what grace makes it. “Your temples are like a piece of pomegranate within your locks.” Now, the pomegranate when you open it is red and white, and the Christian’s brow is full of the blushes of a sacred shamefacedness. “Within your locks,” says the Song of Solomon, as though concealed with holy fear, but what you saw of her brow was red and white with blushing, with bashfulness and holy love in the presence of her Lord. I pray that all of you who are converted in these days may know what holy shamefacedness means. Confidence in Christ is admirable, but not effrontery and self-confidence. I am afraid for those people who are so very sure, and so very confident all of a sudden, and yet have never felt the burden of sin. Be ashamed and be confounded while you lay hold on Christ, for the more he does for you the less you must think of yourself. You may very accurately measure the reality of your grace by the reality of your self-loathing.
27. The bridegroom also describes the lips of his beloved, “Your lips are like a thread of scarlet, and your speech is comely.” Before her health returned her lips were livid, before she had received comfort they were white with fear, but now they wear a healthy redness, and are lovely to her Lord. How about your lips, beloved friends? Are they praying lips, singing lips, confessing lips? Do you speak well of the Redeemer and rejoice whenever you tell what his love has done for you?
28. It is well with us when to our Lord our “cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, and our neck with chains of gold,” while our whole countenance shines with holiness.
29. When God is our health, our whole countenance becomes bright, according to the words of the Song of Solomon, “Who is she who looks out as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” The believer’s countenance becomes bright with clearness, as far as he himself is concerned, he is saved and he knows it. It becomes fair as far as others are concerned, for they see the excellence of his character and wonder about it; and then it becomes dazzling to his adversaries, as the sun vanquishes rash gazers by its effulgence. Holiness is to opposers “terrible as an army with banners.”
30. I desire that those of you who have been under the Great Physician’s hand recently may shine out and proclaim the power of Jesus. Your Beloved cries, “Let me see your face, for your face is sweet, and your countenance is comely.” If Christ has cured you, why do you conceal his work? I feel inclined to do with you as the watchmen did with the spouse in the Song of Solomon: “They struck me and took my veil away from me.” I would not strike you severely, but I would gladly remove the veil from some of you, so that you might be seen, that the church may see you, and the saints may rejoice in what the Saviour has done for you. David says, “He is the health of my countenance.” He does not say, “the health of my heart merely,” — “the health of my inward parts,” though that would be true, but “of my countenance.” Therefore, if the Lord has done great things for you proclaim it abroad, and make the streets of Jerusalem ring with grateful song.
31. IV. The last observation is this. THIS PASSAGE ENTITLES THE MOST SICK SOULS AMONG US TO HOPE. “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance.”
32. Look at the source of spiritual health. If David had said, “I shall still recover, for I have a splendid constitution, my stamina is such that it will throw off this sickness,” such boasting would not encourage you, would it? because in your case the whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. You have no stamina except for evil. The disease has stricken you to the very core, and your heart has melted like wax in the midst of your bowels. Then bless God that your healing does not depend on any constitutional strength in yourself.
33. Next notice, David does not expect healing from anything he can do. He does not say, “Certain actions of mine will heal my disease.” Not at all. If it were so, you, my friend, would be in despair, for you cannot do anything. What good work could you do? Why, you have smutty fingers, and if you were to try and produce a piece of fair white linen you would blacken it in the weaving of it. You cannot achieve your own salvation, nor need you do it. The health of David’s countenance lay where yours must lie, not in your doings, but in the salvation of God.
34. And notice, he does not speak of undergoing a long process. “I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance.” There is nothing about waiting, and tarrying, and lingering, and loitering, as some preachers seem to say. No, David understood, as I trust we understand, the doctrine of “Look to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ receives by that look of faith the principle of health, which will begin at once to work, and will ultimately cast out all spiritual disease. It is blessed to know that our hope lies in God and not in ourselves.
35. I want you just for a moment, especially you who wish to be healed, to think who he is, and what there is in him, which you have to look to for your spiritual health. Sin is your disease, and here is mercy without limit to meet it. You have done evil in all your ways, and what is worse, your very nature is evil; but here is God who delights to forgive, infinitely gracious, finding a happiness in passing by transgression and sin: look to him then. Here shall all your sins be drowned, for God’s love in Christ Jesus is a sea without a bottom, and without a shore. Here is assured healing for your sickness, for infinite mercy cannot be baffled in its intention.
36. Again here is infinite atonement also. God is not only willing to pardon, but he can do it consistently with justice, for his own dear Son has bled and died. When I turn my eyes to the Son of God bleeding upon the cross, so glorious is his sacrifice in my eyes that I conclude that if there were ten million worlds full of sinners there must be enough merit in the death of Christ to save them all, if God had so willed it; for we cannot conceive any bound to the merit of the dying Son of God. Incarnate Deity smarts beneath the lash of justice, is pierced to the heart, is slain, is laid for three days in the grave! Why, there must be a splendour of power about that majestic sacrifice, illimitable, inconceivable. Come, soul, if this is your healing no disease can withstand it. Infinite mercy armed with an infinite atonement can accomplish all things. Oh God, you are indeed the health of my countenance, I am brought back from my death in sin by you.
37. Then remember that divine energy is ready to work our healing, and omnipotence works all things. “Can these dry bones live?” said one of old; but they did live. The dead have been raised; and even at this hour things impossible with men are possible with God, and the Eternal Spirit waits to work his miracles of love even now. No propensity of depraved nature is too strong for the Almighty. Man, have you a lion of anger within you? This Samson can tear this lion as though it were a kid. Have you a host of evil passions within you, and fears, and strong, like the Midianites of old? Behold, this sacred torrent of divine love, mightier than Kishon of old, can sweep them all away. Has Satan himself entered you and brought a legion of demons with him? Has hell spued out all its spawn to hold a horrid carnival in your nature? There was one from whom Jesus cast seven demons — indeed, another from whom he drove a legion: come to Jesus, man, for demons still tremble at his power. Jesus can chase away the enemy from you. All God’s energy waits to heal you. “Seek him who makes the seven stars and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the earth; the Lord is his name,” for nothing can withstand the mighty arm of his irresistible grace.
38. To complete this I must add, there is in God, who is the health of our countenance, immutable love. If God begins to heal you he will never give up the work until he has achieved it. There is not recorded in the life of Christ a solitary half cure. I read of no one into whom the demons returned after Jesus drove them out, nor of any lepers who had the leprosy again. I do not have to preach to you a salvation loseable and dependent upon your good behaviour; but lo, I preach a pardon never to be reversed, acceptance in the Beloved never to be cancelled, adoption which makes you sons for ever. Give yourselves up to Jesus, and he will give you garments of mercy that will never wear out, treasures of love which neither moth nor rust shall consume, and health which will introduce you into a city where the inhabitant shall no more say, “I am sick,” for the people who dwell in it have been forgiven their iniquity.
39. Healing by God himself presents a reason for hope for the worst among us, and blessed be God many of us have experienced it as David had. Now if we, as honest men, tell you that God in Christ Jesus is the health of our countenance, we trust you will believe us, and that you will seek the Lord for yourselves. The healing which God gives in Jesus Christ is available for every sin-sick soul. Whoever you may be, if you are sick today God is able and willing to heal you through Jesus Christ his Son. I urge you not to linger through any fear of his ability or his willingness, but come and welcome, come and welcome, come just now.
It is of no use my preaching about healing to those who are not sick.
Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance:
but to those who are sick this will be a glad message. I would like
to put it in such an unmistakable form that they must comprehend it,
the Holy Spirit instructing them. You have a deadly disease in your
nature, every one of you. In some of you it has taken a very hideous
form, but the disease is at the heart of every one of you ladies and
gentlemen, even the same which festers in the heart of the prostitute
and the thief. True it has revealed itself differently in them;
circumstances have helped to bring it out; perhaps if you had been in
their circumstances it might have been as foully developed as it was
in them. Now, if today you feel the terrible ravages of this disease
I am glad of it, for it is a hopeful sign. When the high priest
examined men who were suspected of being lepers, I can suppose that
one would say, “I have a very bad spot on my forehead, but there is
just near my heart a piece of clean flesh where there are no white
scales: I am right at heart though bad elsewhere.” “Ah!” the priest
would say, “you are unclean and I must exclude you from the camp.”
Another would say, “It is true I have a whiteness upon my lips, but
if you examine me you will find half my body quite free from the
disease,” “Ah, I must exclude you also from the camp,” said the
priest. But last of all, there came one who said tremblingly to the
priest, “I am altogether leprous, I cannot point to a spot as big as
a pin’s head that is clean, I am a leper from the sole of my foot to
the crown of my head.” The priest would put his hands on that man and
say, “You are clean.” How astonished he must have been! Be also
astonished, oh despairing soul. If you are a sinner and nothing but a
sinner, condemned, lost, ruined, and you will affirm that, and look
to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, you are every whit clean.
Whenever we are brought to perfect soul poverty and absolute
bankruptcy of spirit, so that we turn our purses inside out, and
cannot find one rusty farthing left, then Christ and all the
treasures of his grace are ours. Oh to be brought down to the lowest
depth of self-despair, for that is the door of hope. While your cup
is half full, Christ will not pour his wine into it. Now bring your
cups and say, “Lord, there is a little good at the bottom; does that
not commend me?” No, no, no; he will never pour in the new wine of
the kingdom until you are turned upside down, and wiped out as a
man wipes a dish; but when you are quite emptied then he will pour in
the stream of his love until it brims the vessel of your nature. May
the Lord make you to feel sick, even to death, and then you will find
Jesus to be the resurrection and the life.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 42 Jer 30:4-17]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — The Joyful Morn” 908]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Joy and Peace — A Gracious God” 715]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 103” 103]
[a] Upas Tree: A fabulous tree alleged to have existed in Java, at some distance from Batavia, with properties so poisonous as to destroy all animal and vegetable life to a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles around it. OED.
[b] Lantern jaws: Long thin jaws, giving a hollow appearance to the cheek. OED.
Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
908 — The Joyful Morn <8.8.6.>
1 The festal morn, my God, has come,
That calls me to thy honour’d dome,
Thy presence to adore;
My feet the summons shall attend,
With willing steps thy courts ascend,
And tread the hallow’d floor.
2 Hither from Judah’s utmost end,
The heaven-protected tribes ascend,
Their offerings hither bring:
Here, eager to attest their joy,
In hymns of praise their tongues employ,
And hail thewy’ immortal King.
3 Be peace by each implored on thee,
Oh Sion, while with bended knee,
To Jacob’s God we pray;
How blest, who calls himself thy friend!
Success his labour shall attend,
And safety guard his way.
4 Seat of my friends and brethren, hail!
How can my tongue, oh Sion, fail,
To bless thy loved abode?
How cease the zeal that in me glows,
Thy good to seek, whose walls enclose
The mansions of my God!
James Merrick, 1765, a.
The Christian, Joy and Peace
715 — A Gracious God
1 My soul, arise in joyful lays,
Renounce this earthly clod,
Tune all thy powers to sweetest praise,
And sing thy gracious God.
2 When in my heart his heavenly love
He sweetly sheds abroad,
How joyfully he makes me prove
He is my gracious God!
3 When Jesus to my sinful soul
Applies his precious blood,
To pardon, cleanse, and make me whole,
I sing, my gracious God.
4 In all my trials here below,
I’ll humbly kiss his rod,
For this through grace, I surely know,
He’s still my gracious God.
Samuel Medley, 1789.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 103 (Version 1)
1 My soul, repeat his praise,
Whose mercies are so great;
Whose anger is so slow to rise,
So ready to abate.
2 God will not always chide;
And when his strokes are felt,
His strokes are fewer than our crimes,
And lighter than our guilt.
3 High as the heavens are raised
Above the ground we tread,
So far the riches of his grace
Our highest thought exceed.
4 His power subdues our sins;
And his forgiving love,
Far as the east is from the west,
Doth all our guilt remove.
5 The pity of the Lord,
To those that fear his name,
Far as the east is from the west,
He knows our feeble frame.
6 He knows we but dust,
Scatter’d with every breath;
His anger, like a rising wind,
Can send us swift to death.
7 Our days are as the grass,
Or like the morning flower;
If one sharp blast sweep o’er the field,
It withers in an hour.
8 But thy compassions, Lord,
To endless years endure;
And children’s children ever find,
Thy words of promise sure.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 103 (Version 2)
1 Oh bless the Lord, my soul!
Let all within me join,
And aid my tongue to bless his name,
Whose favours are divine.
2 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,
Nor let his mercies lie
Forgotten in unthankfulness,
And without praises die.
3 ‘Tis he forgives thy sins;
‘Tis he relieves thy pain;
‘Tis he that heals thy sicknesses,
And makes thee young again.
4 He crowns thy life with love,
When ransom’d from the grave;
He that redeem’d my soul from hell
Hath sovereign power to save.
5 He fills the poor with good,
He gives the sufferers rest;
The Lord hath judgments for the proud,
And justice for the oppress’d
6 His wondrous works and ways
He made by Moses known;
But sent the world his truth and grace
By his beloved Son.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 103 (Version 3) <8.7.4.>
1 Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet thy tribute bring!
Ransom’d, heal’d, restored, forgiven,
Who like me his praise should sing!
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Praise the everlasting King!
2 Praise him for his grace and favour
To our fathers in distress!
Praise him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide and swift to bless!
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him
Glorious in his faithfulness!
3 Father-like he tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame he knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Widely as his mercy flows.
4 Frail as summer’s flower we flourish;
Blows the wind, and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Praise the High Eternal One.
5 Angels, help us to adore him;
Ye behold him face to face;
Sun and moon bow down before him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Praise with us the God of grace!
Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.