A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, June 27, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/30/2012
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which
he should later receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out,
not knowing where he was going. [Heb 11:8]
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1. One is struck with the practical character of this verse. Abraham was called, and he obeyed. There is no hint of hesitation, parleying, or delay; when he was called to go out, he went out. Oh that such conduct were usual, yes, universal; for with many of our fellow men, and I fear with some now present, the call alone is not enough to produce obedience. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” The Lord’s complaint is “I called and you refused.” Such calls come again and again to many, but they turn a deaf ear to them; they are hearers only, and not doers of the word: and, worse still, some are of the same generation as what Zechariah spoke of when he said, “stubbornly they turned their backs and plugged up their ears so that they would not hear.” Even among the most attentive hearers how many are there to whom the word comes with little practical result in actual obedience. Here we are in midsummer again, and yet Felix has not found his convenient season. It was about midwinter when he said he would find one, but the chosen day has not arrived. The mother of Sisera thought him long in coming, but what shall we say of this laggard season? We can see that the procrastinator halts, but it would be hard to guess how long he will do so. Like the countryman who waited to cross the river when all the water had gone by, he waits until all difficulties are removed, and he is not one whit nearer that imaginary period than he was years ago. Meanwhile, the delayer’s case grows worse and worse, and, if there were difficulties before, they are far more numerous and severe now. The man who waits until he shall find it more easy to bear the yoke of obedience, is like the woodman who found his log too heavy for his lazy shoulder, and, placing, it upon the ground, gathered more wood and added to the bundle, then tried it, but finding it still an unpleasant load, repeated the experiment of heaping on more, in the vain hope that eventually it might be of a weight more suitable for his shoulder. How foolish to go on adding, sin to sin, increasing the hardness of the heart, increasing the distance between the soul and Christ, and all the while fondly dreaming of some enchanted hour in which it will be more easy to yield to the divine call, and part with sin. Is it always going to be so? There are a few weeks and then comes harvest, will another harvest leave you where you are, and will you again have to say, “The harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved?” Shall God’s longsuffering mercy only afford you more opportunities for multiplying transgressions. Will you always resist his Spirit? Will you always put him off with promises to be redeemed tomorrow? Shall the tenderness and mercy of God be despised like this for ever and ever? Our prayer is that God by his grace may give you to imitate the example of Abraham, who, when he was called, obeyed at once.
2. The sad point about the refusals to obey the call of the gospel is that men are losing a golden opportunity, an opportunity for being numbered among the choice spirits of the world, among those who shall be blessed among men and women. Abraham had an opportunity, and he had grace to grasp it, and to this day there is not on the catalogue of our race a nobler name than that of “the father of the faithful.” He obtained a supreme grandeur of rank among the truly great and good: far higher is he in the esteem of the right minded than the conqueror blood red from battle, or the emperor robed in purple. He was an imperial man, head and shoulders above his fellows. His heart was in heaven, the light of God bathed his forehead, and his soul was filled with divine influences, so that he saw the day of the Lord Jesus and was glad. He was blessed of the Lord who made heaven and earth, and was made a blessing to all nations. Some of you will never gain such honour, you will live and die ignoble, because you trifle with supreme calls, and yet, if you only believed in God, if you only lived by faith, there would be before you also a course of immortal honour, which would lead you to eternal glory. Instead of that, however, choosing the way of unbelief, and neglect, and delay, you will, I fear, one day awaken to shame and to everlasting contempt, and know, to your eternal confusion, how bright a crown you have lost. I am in hopes that there are some among you who would not be losers of the crown of life; who desire, in fact, above all things, to obtain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and I shall speak to them, and while I speak may the Holy Spirit cause every word to fall with power.
3. To help them, we shall consider, first, what was Abraham’s special experience which led to his being what he became? and, secondly, what was there particular in Abraham’s conduct? and then, thirdly, what was the result of that conduct?
4. I. WHAT WAS ABRAHAM’S SPECIAL EXPERIENCE, which led to his becoming so remarkable a saint? The secret lies in three things: he had a call, he obeyed it, and he obeyed it because he had faith.
5. First, then, he had a call. How that call came we are not told; whether it reached him through a dream, or by an audible voice from heaven, or by some unmentioned prophet, we cannot tell. Most probably he heard a voice from heaven speaking audibly to him and saying, “Leave your relatives and your father’s house.” We, too, have had many calls, but perhaps we have said, “If I heard a voice speaking from the sky I would obey it,” but the form in which your call has come has been better than that, for Peter in his second epistle tells us that he himself heard a voice out of the excellent glory when he was with our Lord in the holy mount, but he adds, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy”; as if the testimony which is written, the light that shines in a dark place, which beams out from the word of God, was more sure than even the voice which he heard from heaven. I will show you that it is so; for, if I should hear a voice, how am I to know that it is divine? Might it not, even if it were divine, be suggested to me for many reasons that I was mistaken, that it was most unlikely that God should speak to a man at all, and still more unlikely that he should speak to me? Might not a hundred difficulties and doubts be suggested to lead me to question whether God had spoken to me at all? But most of you believe the Bible to be inspired by the Spirit of God, and to be the voice of God. Now, in this book you have the call — “Come out from among them, be separate, do not touch the unclean thing; and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters.” Do not say that you would accept that call if it were spoken with a voice rather than written; you know that it is not so in daily life. If a man receives a written letter from his father or a friend, does he attach less importance to it than he would have done to a spoken communication? By no means. I think that many of you in business are quite content to get written orders for goods, and when you get them you do not require a purchaser to ask you in person, you would just as soon that he would not; in fact, you commonly say that you like to have it in black and white. Is it not so? Well, then, you have your wish, here is the call in black and white; and I only speak according to common sense when I say that if the Lord’s call to you is written in the Bible, and it certainly is, you do not speak truth when you say, “I would listen to it if it were spoken, but I cannot listen to it because it is written.” The call as given by the book of inspiration ought to have a masterly power over your minds, and if your hearts were right before God the word spoken in the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit would be at once obeyed.
6. Moreover, my undecided hearers, you have had other calls besides those from the Book. There have been calls through the living ministry, when the minister has spoken as pointedly to you as if he were a prophet, and you have known that the Lord spoke by him, for he has depicted your circumstances, described your condition, and the word has come to you, and you have with astonishment admitted that it found you out. The message has also been spoken to you by a mother’s tender love and by a father’s earnest advice. You have had the call too in the form of sickness and severe trouble. In the silence of the night, when you could not sleep, your conscience has demanded to be heard, the inward strivings of the Holy Spirit have been with you, and the knocks at your door have been loud. Who among us has not known similar things? But, alas, the Lord has called and has been refused, he has stretched out his hands and has not been regarded. Is it not so with many of you? You have not been like Samuel who said, “Here I am, for you called me,” but like the adder which shuts her ear to the voice of the charmer. This is not to be done without incurring great guilt and involving the offender in heavy punishment.
7. Abraham had a call, so have we, but here was the difference, Abraham obeyed. Paul well says, “They have not all obeyed the gospel”: for to many the call comes as a common call, and the common call falls on a sealed ear, but to Abraham and to those who by grace have become the children of faithful Abraham, to whom are the blessings of grace, and with whom God has entered into league and covenant, to these it comes as a special call, a call attended with a sacred power which subdues their wills and secures their obedience. Abraham was prepared for instant obedience to any command from God; his journey was appointed, and he went. He was told to leave his country, and he left it; to leave his friends, and he left them all. Gathering together such substance as he had he exiled himself so that he might be a sojourner with his God, and took a journey in an age when travelling was infinitely more laborious than now. He did not know the road that he had to take, nor the place to which his journey would conduct him: it was enough for him that the Lord had given him the summons. Like a good soldier, he obeyed his marching orders, asking no questions. Towards God a blind obedience is the truest wisdom, and Abraham felt so, and therefore followed the path that God marked out for him from day to day, feeling that sufficient for the day would be its guidance. Thus Abraham obeyed! Alas, there are some here present, some too to whom we have preached now for years, who have not obeyed. Oh sirs, some of you do not require more knowledge, you need far more to put into practice what you know. Would you wonder if I should grow weary of telling some of you the way of salvation any longer? Do you not yourselves weary of persuading those who will not yield? As far as I have reason to fear that my task is hopeless it becomes a heavy one. Again, and again, and again I have explained the demands of the gospel, and described its blessings, and yet I see its demands neglected and its blessings refused. Ah sirs, there will be an end to this before long, one way or the other, which shall it be? Oh that you were wise and would yield obedience to the truth! The gospel has a divine authority about it, and is not to be trifled with. Notwithstanding that grace is its main characteristic it has all the authority of a command. Do we not read of those who “stumbled at the word, being disobedient”; surely there must be a command and a duty, or else there could not be disobedience. It is awful work when through disobedience to the command of the gospel it becomes a savour of death to death instead of life to life, and instead of a cornerstone it becomes a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. Remember, upon whomever it shall fall it will grind him to powder. Christ himself has said it, and it must be so. May he by his infinite mercy give us the willing and the obedient mind so that we may not pervert the gospel to our own destruction.
8. But I reminded you that the main point concerning Abraham was this, he obeyed the call because he believed God. Faith was the secret reason for his conduct. We read concerning certain people that “the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it,” and again we read that “some when they had heard rebelled.” But in Abraham’s case there was neither unbelief nor rebellion, he believed God with a childlike faith. His faith, I suppose, lay in the following items: — When the Lord spoke he believed that it was the living God who addressed him. Believing that God spoke, he judged him worthy of his earnest attention; and he felt that it was imperative upon him to do as he was told. This settled, he desired nothing more to influence his course: he felt that the will of God must be right, and that his highest wisdom was to yield to it. Though he did not know where he was to go, he was certain that his God knew, and though he could hardly comprehend the reward promised to him, he was sure that the bounteous God never mocked his servants with deceitful gifts. He did not know the land of Canaan, but he was sure if it was a country chosen by God as a particular gift to his called servant, it must be no ordinary land. He left all such matters with his heavenly Friend, being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform. What a mighty sway faith has over a man, and how greatly it strengthens him. Faith was to the patriarch his authority for starting upon his strange journey, an authority which enabled him to equally defy the worldly wisdom which advises, and the worldly folly which scoffs. Perhaps they said to him, “Why will you leave your relatives, Abraham?” but he replied, “God tells me to.” That was for him a sufficient warrant; he needed no further argument. This also became to him the guide of his steps. If anyone said, “But, strange old man, how can you journey when you do not know the way?” He replied, “I go where the Lord tells me to.” Faith found in God, chart, compass, and pole star, all in one. The word of the Lord also became the nourishment for his journey. If anyone said, “How will you be supplied, Abraham, in those wild lands, where will you find your daily bread?” he replied, “God tells me go: it is not possible that he would desert me. He can spread a table in the wilderness, or make me live upon the word which comes out of his mouth, if bread should fail.” Probably these suggestions of trial may never have occurred to Abraham, but if they did, his faith swept them aside from his path as so many cobwebs. Perhaps some even dared to say, “But where are you going? There is no such country, it is an enthusiast’s dream, — a land which flows with milk and honey, where will you find it? Oh, greybeard, you are in your second childhood, seventy-five years have bewildered you.” But he replied, “I shall find it, for the Lord has given it to me and leads me to it.” He believed God, and took firm hold, and therefore he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
9. See, then, dear friends, what we must have if we are to be numbered with the seed of Abraham, — we must have faith in God and a consequent obedience to his commands. Have we obtained these gifts of the Spirit? I hope that many of us have the living faith which works by love, and if so we shall rejoice in the will of the Lord, let it be what it may; if we know anything to be right we shall delight to do it but as for doubtful or sinful deeds we renounce them. For us henceforth our leader is the Lord alone. But is it so with all of you? Let the personal question go around and cause great searching of heart, for I fear that in many cases precious faith is absent. Many have heard, but they have not believed; the sound of the gospel has entered into their ears, but its inner sense and sacred power have not been felt in their hearts. Remember that “without faith it is impossible to please God,” so that you are displeasing to the Lord. How long shall it be so? How long shall unbelief lodge within you and grieve the Holy Spirit? May the Lord convince you, yes, at this moment, may be lead you to decision, and enable you henceforth to live by faith. It may be now or never with you. May God grant that it may be now!
10. II. This brings me to the second part of our subject, WHAT WAS THERE PARTICULAR IN ABRAHAM’S CONDUCT? for whatever there was essential in his conduct there must be the same in us, if we are to be true children of the father of the faithful. The particular points in Abraham’s case seem to me to have been five.
The first was this, that he was willing to be separated from his
relatives. It is a hard task to a man of loving soul to put long
leagues of distance between himself and those he loves, and to become
a banished man. Yet in order for salvation, brethren, we must be
separated from this untoward generation. Not that we have to take our
journey into a far country, or to forsake our relatives — perhaps it
would be an easier task to walk with God if we could do so — but our
calling is to be separate from sinners, and yet to live among them:
to be a stranger and a pilgrim in their cities and homes. We must be
separate in character from those with whom we may be called to grind
at the same mill, or sleep in the same bed; and this I warrant you is
by no means an easier task than what fell to the patriarch’s lot. If
believers could form a secluded settlement where no tempters could
intrude, they would perhaps find the separated life far more easy,
though I am not very sure about it, for all experiments in that
direction have failed. There is, however, for us no “garden walled
around,” no “island of saints,” no Utopia; we sojourn among those
whose ungodly lives cause us frequent grief, and the Lord Jesus meant
it to be so, for he said, “Behold I send you out as sheep among
wolves.” Come, now, my hearer, are you willing to be one of the
separated? I mean this — Dare you begin to think for yourself? You have
let your grandmother’s religion come to you with the old armchair
and the antique china, as heirlooms of the family, and you go to a
certain place of worship because your family have always attended
there. You have a kind of hereditary religion in the same way as you
have a display of family china; it is pretty battered, no doubt, and
rather light in weight by this time, but you still cling to it. Now,
young man, dare you think for yourself? Or do you put out your
thinking to be done for you, like your washing? I believe it to be
one of the essentials of a Christian man, that he should have the
courage to use his own mental faculties, and search the Bible for
himself; for God has not committed our religious life to the guidance
of the brain in our neighbour’s head, but he has bestowed on each one
of us a conscience, and an understanding which he expects us to
use. Do your own thinking, my friend, on such a business as this.
Now, if the grace of God helps you to think correctly for yourself,
you will judge very differently from your ungodly friends; your views
and theirs will differ, your motives will differ, the objects of your
pursuit will differ. There are some things which are quite customary
with them which you will not endure. You will soon become a speckled
bird among them. At all times the Jews have been very different from
all other nations, and although other nationalities have become
permanently united, the Jewish people have always been a family by
themselves. Though now residing in the midst of all nations, it is
still true “the people shall dwell alone, they shall not be counted
among the nations.” In all the cities of Europe there are remains of
the “Jews’ quarter,” and we in London had our “Old Jewry,” the Jews
being always a particular people. We Christians are to be equally
distinct, not in food, and drinks, and garments, and holy days, but
concerning spirituality of mind and holiness of life. We are to be
strangers and foreigners in the land where we live. For we are not
resident traders in this Vanity Fair, we pass through it because it
lies on our way home, but we are ill at ease in it. We can rest in no
tent of all the fair. Oh traders in this hubbub of trifles, we have
little esteem for your great bargains and tempting cheats; we are not
buyers in the Roman row nor in the French row, we would give all that
we have to leave your polluted streets, and be no more annoyed by
Beelzebub, the lord of the fair. Our journey is towards the celestial
city, and when the sons of earth cry to us, “What are you buying?” we
answer, “We buy the truth.” Oh young man, can you take up in the
warehouse the position of being a Christian though there is no other
believer in the place? Come, good woman, dare you serve the Lord,
though husband and children ridicule you? Man of business, dare you
do the right thing in business, and play the Christian, though around
you the various methods of doing business render it hard for you to
be unflinchingly honest? This singularity is demanded of every
believer in Jesus. You cannot be blessed with Abraham unless like him
you come out, and stand apart as true men.
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone;
Dare to have a purpose true,
Dare to make it known.
May God grant to us grace to be Daniels, even if the lions’ den should threaten us.
A second peculiarity of Abraham’s conduct is seen in the fact that
he was ready for all the losses and risks that might be involved in
obedience to the call of God. He was to leave his native country,
as we have already said: to some of us that would be a hard task, and
I do not doubt it was such for him. The smoke out of my own chimney
is better than the fire on another man’s hearth. There is no place
like home, wherever we may wander. The home feeling was probably as
strong in Abraham as in us, but he was never to have a home on earth
any more, except that he was to experience what Moses afterwards
sang, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all
generations.” — For him there was no house and paternal estate, he
owned no portion of the land where he sojourned, and his only home
was a frail tent, which he moved from day to day as his flocks
required new pastures. He could say to his God, “I am a stranger and
a sojourner with you.” He had to leave those whom he loved, for,
though they accompanied him part of the way, they would not go
farther; if he followed the Lord fully he must go alone. The
patriarch knew nothing of half measures, he went through with his
obedience, and left all his relatives to go to Canaan, to which he
had been summoned. Those who wished to stop at Haran might stop
there. Canaan was his destination, and he could not stop short of it.
No doubt he had many hazards to encounter on his journey and when he
entered the country. The Canaanite was still in the land, and the
Canaanites were a fierce and cruel set of heathen, who would have
utterly destroyed the wanderer if the Lord had not put a spell upon
them, and said, “Do not touch my anointed, and do my prophets no
harm.” It was a country swarming with little tribes, who were at war
continually. Abraham himself was, for Lot’s sake, to gird on his
sword, and go out to fight, lover of peace as he was. Abraham made
little account of all discomforts and dangers, loss of property, and
parting with friends. God commanded, and Abraham went. Now, brethren,
can you and I do the same? Oh, you who desire to be saved, I say, can
you do this? Have you counted the cost and determined to pay it? You
must not expect that you will wear silver slippers and walk on green
rolled turf all the way to heaven: the road was rough which your Lord
traversed, and if you walk with him yours will be rough too. Can you
bear for Jesus’ sake all earthly loss? Can you bear the scoff, the
cold shoulder, the cutting jest, the innuendo, the sarcasm, the
sneer? Could you go further, and bear loss of property and financial
suffering? Do not say that it may not occur, for many believers lose
all by having to leave the dishonest pursuits by which they once
earned their living. You must in your intention give all up for
Jesus, and in act you must give up all to Jesus. If he is yours,
you must henceforth have all things in common with him; you must be
joint heirs together, his yours and yours his; you may be well
content to make joint stock, when you have so little and he has so
much. Oh, can you stand to it, and give up all for him? Well, if you
cannot, do not pretend to do it. Yet, unless you take up your cross,
you cannot be his disciples. Unless you can give up everything for
him, do not pretend to follow him. Listen to this. If you think
heaven is worth nothing, and Christ is worth nothing, if you consider
worldly gain to be everything, and comfort everything, and honour
everything, if you could not die a martyr’s death for Christ, your
love for him is not worth much, and the spirit of Abraham is not in
you. May God enable us to take our places in the battle in the front
of the foe, where the fight is most furious. May grace make us sing, —
Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee,
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
13. If that is said in truth, it is good, my brother; you are well on your way to be in all things a partaker with faithful Abraham: you also shall find much blessing in the separated life.
14. Thirdly, one great particularity in Abraham was that he waived the present for the future. He went out to go into a place which he should later receive for an inheritance. He left the inheritance he then had to receive one which was yet to come. This is not the way of the world. The proverb says, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and especially in such a bush as Abraham saw before him. It did not seem very likely he would ever obtain that land; but still he let his bird in the hand go and took to the bird in the bush, being fully persuaded that he should have it in God’s good time. Mr. Bunyan illustrates this in his picture of two children, Passion and Patience. Passion would have all his good things now, and he sat among his toys and joys, and laughed and rejoiced. Patience had to bear to see his brother Passion full of mirth, and to hear his scoffing; but then, as Master Bunyan beautifully says, Patience came in last for his portion, and it lasted for ever, for there is nothing after the last. So, then, if we are to have our heaven last it will last, and no cloud shall mar it, no calamity bring it to an end. He is the wise man who lets go of the shadow to grasp the substance, even though he should have to wait twenty, thirty, or forty years for it. He is blessed who leaves earth’s wind and bubble and feeds on more substantial food. May God grant us grace to live more for the future than we have been accustomed to do. Oh you ungodly ones, you do not care about the future, for you have never experienced death and judgment. You are afraid to look over the edge of this narrow life. Concerning death, nothing frightens you so much. As for hell, if you are warned to escape from it, instead of thanking the preacher for being honest enough to warn you about it, you immediately call him a “hellfire” preacher, or give him some other ugly name. Alas, you little know how grieved he is to speak to you on so terrible a subject! You little dream how true a lover of your soul he is, or he would not warn you about the wrath to come. Do you want to have flatterers all around you? Such are to be had in plenty if you desire them. As for heaven, you seem to have no regard for it; at any rate you are not making your title to it sure or clear by caring about divine things. If you would have the birthright you must let the present mess of pottage go. The eternal future must come far before the fleeting trifles of today; you must let the things which are seen sink, and have the “things not seen as yet” rise in all their matchless grandeur and reality before your eyes. You must give up chasing butterflies and shadows, and pursue eternal things. My immortal soul pines only for immortal joys. I leave my present lot to be appointed by the Lord as he wills, as long as he will shed his love abroad in my heart. We must be prepared for eternity, and for that purpose we should concentrate our faculties upon divine truth and personal religion, so that we may be ready to meet our God. This, then, was the third excellence in Abraham’s walk, that he waived present comfort for the sake of the future blessing.
15. Fourthly, and this is the main point, Abraham committed himself to God by faith.
16. From that day on Abraham had nothing except his God for a portion, nothing except his God for a protector. No squadron of soldiers accompanied the good man’s march, his safeguard lay in him who had said, “Do not fear, Abraham, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.” He had to trust the Lord for his daily bread and daily guidance, for he was to march on and not know half a mile before him. He was ignorant when to stop and when to journey on, except as the Lord God guided him hour by hour. I must not say that Abraham became a poor pensioner upon the daily provision of God, but I will use a better term and describe him as “a gentleman commoner upon the royal bounty of his heavenly King.” His lot was to have nothing but to be heir of heaven and earth. Can you walk by faith like this? Has the grace of God brought you who have been hesitating to resolve from now on to believe God and trust him? If you do you are saved, for faith is the deciding matter. To experience the existence of God and to trust in him, especially to trust in his mercy, through Jesus Christ, is the essential matter. As for the life and walk of faith, they are the most exceptional things in the world. I seem myself to have been climbing a series of mysterious staircases, light as air and yet as solid as granite. I cannot see a single step before me, and often there seems to the eye to be nothing whatever to form a foothold for the next step. I look down and wonder how I came where I am, but still I climb on, and he who has brought me so far supplies me with confidence for what lies before me. High into invisible things the ethereal ladder has borne me, and its rungs will yet conduct me onward and forward to glory. What I have seen has often failed me, but what I have not seen, and yet have believed, has always held me solid. Have you not found it so, all you children of God? Let us pray that the Lord may lead others to tread the same mystic ascent by beginning the life of faith today.
The last speciality in Abraham’s procedure was, what he did was
done at once. There were no “ifs” and “ands” debatings,
considerings, and delays. He needed no forcing and driving —
God drew him and he followed on,
Charmed to confess the voice divine.
At once, I say, he went. Promptness is one of the brightest excellencies in faith’s actings. Delay spoils all. Someone asked Alexander to what he owed his conquests, and he said, “I have conquered because I never delayed.” While the enemy were preparing he had begun the battle, and they were routed before they knew where they were. After that manner faith overcomes temptation. She runs in the way of obedience, or rather she mounts on the wings of eagles, and so speeds on her way. With regard to the things of God our first thoughts are best: considerations of difficulty entangle us. Whenever you feel a prompting to do a good thing do not ask anyone whether you should do it or not; no one ever repents for doing good. Ask your friends afterwards rather than beforehand, for it is bad to consult with flesh and blood when duty is plain. If the Lord has given you substance, and you are prompted to be generous to the cause of God, do not count every sixpence over, and calculate what others would give; count it after you have given it, if it must be counted at all, but it would be better still not to let your left hand know what your right hand does. It cannot be wrong to do the right thing at once; indeed, in matters of duty, every moment of delay is a sin. Thus we have Abraham before us; may the Holy Spirit make us like him.
18. Now, this morning, who will listen to the call of God? Who, like Abraham, will abandon the world, with all its folly, and resolve henceforth to be upon the Lord’s side? Oh, Spirit of the living God, constrain many a hidden Abraham to come out!
19. III. We have to close with two or three words about what was THE RESULT OF ABRAHAM’S ACTION.
20. The question of many will be, did it pay? That is the enquiry of most people, and within proper bounds it is a good question. Did it answer Abraham’s purpose? Our reply is, it did so gloriously. True, it brought him into a world of trouble, and no wonder: such a noble course as his was not likely to be an easy one. What grand life ever was easy? Who wants to be a child and do easy things? Yet we read in Abraham’s life, after a whole host of troubles, “And Abraham was old and well stricken in years, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” That is a splendid conclusion — God had blessed Abraham in all things. Whatever happened, he had always been under the divine smile, and all things had worked for his good. He was separated from his friends, but then he had the sweet society of his God, and was treated as the friend of the Most High, and allowed to intercede for others, and clothed with great power on their behalf. I almost envy Abraham. I should do so altogether if I did not know that all the saints are permitted to enjoy the same privileges. What a glorious degree Abraham took when he was called “the friend of God”; was not his loss of earthly friendships abundantly made up to him? What honour, also, the patriarch had among his contemporaries; he was a great man, and held in high esteem. How splendidly he bore himself; no king ever behaved more royally. That wrangling king of Sodom wanted to make a bargain with him, but the grand old man replied, “I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abraham rich’.” Those sons of Heth also were willing to make him a present of a piece of land around the cave of Machpelah; but he did not want a present from Canaanites, and so he said, “No, I will pay you every penny. I will weigh out the price to you, whatever you may demand.” In noble independence no man could excel the father of the faithful; his contemporaries look small before him, and no man seems to be his equal, except Melchizedek. His image passes across the page of history rather like that of a spirit from the supernatural realms than that of a mere man; he is so thorough, so childlike, and therefore so heroic. He lived in God, and on God, and with God. Such a sublime life rewarded a thousand fold all the sacrifice he was led to make.
21. Was not his life a happy one? One might wisely say, “Let my life be like that of Abraham.” Concerning temporal things the Lord enriched him, and in spirituals he was even richer. He was wealthier in heart than in substance, though great even in that respect. And now Abraham is the father of the faithful, patriarch of the whole family of believers, and to him alone of all mortal men God said, “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” This very day, through his matchless seed, to whom be glory for ever and ever, even Jesus Christ of the seed of Abraham, all tribes of men are blessed. His life was both for time and for eternity, a great success; both for temporals and for spirituals the path of faith was the best that he could have followed.
And now may we all be led to imitate his example. If we never have
done so, may we this morning be led to give God his due by trusting
him, to give the blood of Christ its due by relying upon it, to give
the Spirit of God his due by yielding ourselves to him. Will you do
so, or not? I pause for your reply. The call is given again, will you
obey it or not? No one here will actually declare that he will not,
but many will reply that they hope they shall. Alas! my sermon is
a failure to those who speak like that: if that is your answer, I am
foiled again. When Napoleon was attacking the Egyptians he had
powerful artillery, but he could not reach the enemy, for they were
entrenched in a mud fort, and it made Napoleon very angry, because,
if they had been behind granite walls, he could have battered them
down, but their earthworks could not be blown to pieces, every ball
stuck in the mud, and made the wall stronger. Your hopes and delays
are just such a mud wall. I would much rather have people say,
“There, now, we do not believe in God nor in his Christ,” and speak
out straightforwardly, than go on for ever behind this mud wall of
“We will eventually,” and “We hope it will be so one day.” The fact
is, you do not intend to obey the Lord at all. You are deceiving
yourselves if you think so. If God is God tomorrow he is God today;
if Christ is worth having next week he is worth having today. If
there is anything in religion at all, it demands an immediate surrender
to its claims and an immediate obedience to its laws; but if you judge
it to be a lie, say so, and we shall know where you are. If Baal is
God, serve him; but if God is God, I charge you by Jesus Christ, flee
to him as he is revealed, and come out from the sin of the world and
be separate, and walk by faith in God. To this end may the Spirit of
God enable you. Amen and amen.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Heb 11:1-13 Ge 11:27-12:9]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Adoration of God — Call To Universal Praise” 174]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, World Renounced — Renouncing The World” 655]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — The Heart Given To God” 658]
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.
The Christian, World Renounced
655 — Renouncing The World
1 Come, my fond fluttering heart,
Come, struggle to be free;
Thou and the world must part,
However hard it be:
My trembling spirit owns it just,
But still lies cleaving to the dust.
2 Ye tempting sweets, forbear;
Ye dearest idols, fall;
My love ye must not share,
Jesus shall have it all:
Though painful and acute the smart,
His love can heal the bleeding heart!
3 Ye fair, enchanting throng!
Ye golden dreams, adieu!
Earth has prevail’d too long,
Too long I’ve cherish’d you:
Aid me, dear Saviour, set me free,
My all I will resign to thee.
4 Oh may I feel thy worth,
And let no idol dare,
No vanity of earth,
With thee, my Lord, compare:
Now bid all earthly joys depart,
And reign unrivall’d in my heart.
Jane Taylor, 1812, a.
The Christian, Dedication To God
658 — The Heart Given To God
1 Oh happy day, that fix’d my choice
On thee, my Saviour, and my God;
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.
2 ‘Tis done! the great transaction’s done:
I am my Lord’s, and he is mine:
He drew me, and I follow’d on,
Charm’d to confess the voice divine.
3 Now rest, my long divided heart;
Fix’d on this blissful centre, rest:
With ashes who would grudge to part,
When call’d on angels’ bread to feast?
4 High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renew’d shall daily hear:
Till in life’s latest hour I bow,
And bless in death a bond so dear.
Philip Doddridge, 1755.