A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *4/2/2012
Then we shall know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going
forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come to us as the
rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth. [Ho 6:3]
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1. I must first remove the mouldy piece from the text, and that is the word “if,” which has no real business here whatever. You notice that the translators put it in italics, to intimate to us that it was no word of God, but one of their own words which they thought was necessary to complete the sense. We might read — and we should be far nearer the sense — “Then shall we know when we follow on to know the Lord.” Or, perhaps, better still, “We shall know: we shall follow on to know the Lord”; for there is no trace of a question in the matter, and no indication of an “if.” We will cut out man’s “if,” and then take the text as it should have been — “Then we shall know when we follow on to know the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning.”
I continually hear it said concerning those who have been converted,
or profess to have been converted recently, “We hope they will hold
on.” I wish people would speak what they mean, and not veil their
speech, for the plain English of that expression frequently is, “We
do not believe that they will hold on.” “We hope they will”
means, “We do not expect it.” One thing is quite sure, however: those
who are truly converted to God can be safely left in God’s hands. If
they have indeed believed in Jesus Christ, in Jesus only, with all
their hearts, their salvation is as certain as if they were already
within the gates of paradise. The Redeemer will not permit any soul
to perish trusting in him.
His honour is engaged to save
The meanest of his sheep,
All that his heavenly Father gave
His hands securely keep.
Nor death, nor hell, shall o’er remove
His favourites from his breast,
In the dear bosom of his love
They must for ever rest.
Question whether it is a work of grace if you wish, though I would much rather the questioning spirit were laid aside; but if it is the Lord’s work it will stand, for neither time nor eternity, nor life nor death, shall ever cast down what divine omnipotence builds up. Jehovah does not put his hand to a work which shall ultimately crumble into nothingness.
My dear young friends, if you have believed in Jesus, and are
tormented by these quibblers, with their pretended hopes concerning
your holding on, I beseech you be in earnest to disappoint the fears
of your friends and the expectations of your foes, by living near to
God, by asking for persevering grace, by watching carefully every
step you take, and by guarding jealously, by the aid of the blessed
Spirit, your own hearts in private, lest by any means the enemy gets
an advantage over you. Let it be the great object of your ambition
that you may hold on and hold out to the end, and so prove that the
Lord has indeed looked upon you with an eye of love. There is a sweet
verse in one of our hymns, which I commend to you who are beginners
in the divine life, —
We have no fear that thou shouldest lose
One whom eternal love could choose;
But we would ne’er that grace abuse,
Let us not fall, let us not fall.
4. The first part of the text settles all doubts about perseverance in grace, and the second comforts souls distressed for another reason. While some young Christians are troubled about whether they shall hold on, others are very much exercised because of their lack of knowledge. They compare themselves with older Christians, and they say, “How can I be a child of God when I know so little?” They even contrast themselves with their teachers, and because they, as they might naturally expect, are considerably behind them in knowledge, they conclude that surely they cannot have been taught by God at all. I beseech these friends to remember that the green blade does not have the ripeness of the full ear, nor can it expect to have as yet. The child does not have the experience nor the strength of the man, nor can he expect to have as yet. The early morning does not have the warmth of noon, nor can we expect it should have: it has its own particular beauties, though it does not have yet the full glory of meridian splendour. There is a growth in the divine life. You do not know what you shall know, you are not what you shall be, you do not yet have what you shall have, you do not enjoy what you shall enjoy; but these are among the things to come which are yours. I begin, therefore, the handling of my text with this double remark: do not let the fears of some that you will not hold on disturb you, rather let them stimulate you to lean more fully upon Christ; and do not let your own consciousness of ignorance depress you, let that also lead you nearer to the Saviour, who alone teaches us to profit.
5. In our text there are three points. The first is, our business — “Follow on to know”; the second is, God’s promise — “Then you shall know”; and the third is, the modes by which this promise is fulfilled — “his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.”
6. I. First, then, here is OUR BUSINESS. It is to follow on to know the Lord.
7. And that implies, first, that we begin with knowing the Lord. You cannot follow on with what you have not begun. There is a religiousness which contains in it no knowledge of God whatever. Beware of it. The religion which consists only in the knowledge of outward rites and ceremonies, or the knowledge of orthodoxies, the knowledge of doctrinal distinctions, the knowledge of religious language, and brogues and experiences or the knowledge of popular hymns — that religion is vain. There must be a knowledge of God. And, notice that if you know God you will think very little of yourself. He who does not know God thinks man to be a noble being; he who has seen God thinks man to be dust and ashes. He who does not know God’s holiness thinks himself to be a good creature, but when he sees a thrice holy God he says, “I abhor myself.” He who does not know God thinks man to be a wonderful being, able to accomplish whatever he wishes, but in the sight of God human strength is burned up, and man becomes lighter than vanity. Do you know God? Oh my dear hearer, do you know God in the majesty of his justice as condemning your sin, and you for sin? Do you know God in the splendour of his love, as giving Jesus Christ to die for sinners, blending that love with justice — for love gave Jesus, and justice killed him? Do you know God in the fulness of his power to save, renewing the heart, changing the mind, subduing the will? Do you know him even in this, which is, comparatively, a slender branch of knowledge? If you do, you have begun to know him, and you have begun to know yourself too, for he does not know himself who does not know something of God. Oh, to know the Father as my Father, who has kissed me, and put the best robe upon me! Oh, to know the Son as my brother, in whose garments I am accepted, and stand nobly in the sight of God! Oh, to know the Spirit as the quickener and the divine indweller and illuminator, by whose light alone we see, and in whose life we live! To know the Lord — that is true religion, and I say again, any religion, whatever it is — Churchianity or Nonconformity, or whatever you like — if it does not lead you to know God, is of no use whatever. The knowledge of God is the basis of all saving experience. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” “Acquaint now yourself with him and be at peace.” This is the one great business of human life — to know the Lord.
And next, our business is to advance in this knowledge. We must
put out of our minds all idea that we do fully know the Lord, for the
text says, “Then we shall know when we follow on to know.” Now a
man will never follow on if he thinks that he has reached the end. If
he comes to the conclusion, “I know the Lord: I know all about him: I
know all that is knowable” — that man will not follow on, and therefore
I am afraid that he will never know the Lord at all. I trembled for a
very beloved brother the other day when I heard that he had declared
that he could not sing “Nearer my God to thee,” for he was already as
near to God as it was possible to be. Brethren, my soul feels a
horror creeping over it when such expressions are used, and the more
so when they fall from those I love. I know nothing about such talk
as that; it seems to me to be sheer vanity. I think I know the
Lord — indeed, I know that I know him; I have been favoured with his
presence and have enjoyed a very clear sense of my acceptance in the
Beloved, but to suppose that I know all that is to be known, or that
I possess in myself all the holiness that a creature can attain this
side of the grave, is as far from me as the east is from the west. I
feel growingly my unworthiness: I sink lower and lower in my own
opinion. I was nothing; but I am less than nothing. I do not
know the Lord as I hope to know him. I would have you notice that the
apostle Paul said that he desired to know Christ, and if you look at
the Epistle to the Philippians, which contains that wish, you will
find that it was written by Paul at least twenty years after he had
been converted. He had enjoyed twenty years of very near walking with
God, and of very marvellous revelations — twenty years of very
successful working for God, such as, perhaps, were never accorded to
any other man: and yet he still aspires, “That I may know him.”
What, Paul, do you not know him? “Oh, yes,” he would reply, “I know
him so sweetly, so blessedly, that I would gladly know him still
better. The more I know him the more I find there is yet to be known.
He is such a depth of love, he is such a mountain of mercy, that as I
dive deeper a further deep opens beyond me; and as I climb higher a
loftier peak towers above me.” Dear hearer, if you think you can
never be better than you are, I do not think you ever will be.
Self-contentment is the end of progress. When you have attained, why,
what remains for you but to rest and be thankful, and do a little
pious boasting? I do not believe you if you think you have arrived at
this ultimate state. As long as you are this side of heaven there
will be room for progress, and something still beyond you after which
you will labour. “Then we shall know when we follow on to know.” You
will still have to press forward, and still the exhortation will
sound in your ears: —
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge your way.
Not as though you had already attained, either were already perfect, but this one thing you do, forgetting the things that are behind, you press forward, still looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. Our business, then, is to begin with the knowledge of God, to press forward in the knowledge of God, and not to flatter ourselves into the idea that we have no more to learn.
9. Another thought is that our business is to continue in what we know. There are some people who are everything by turns and nothing for long. They say that they have begun to know the Lord in the right way; but very soon you find them following another route. A tree which is often transplanted is not likely to produce much fruit. The vessel which changes its course, because its captain is full of caprice, is not likely to make headway to any desired haven. Brethren, to what you have attained, pay attention to the same thing; do not rush after novelties, as certain vagrant bands in this city are always doing. It you have begun in the Spirit, do not hope to be made perfect in the flesh. If all that you have already known concerning your Lord has come to you by faith, do not expect the rest of it to come by feeling. Some Christians seem to live by spasms. They live as bankrupt sinners, dependent upon the mercy of God one day; and then they get encouraged, and start to live as saints rolling in riches of feigned sanctification, but before long they are insolvent again, and no wonder, for this kind of paper money generally leads to a collapse. Keep to the one point — “I am nothing: Christ is everything. I am sin: he is my righteousness. I am death: he is my life. I look to him for everything. I do not trust in emotions or feeling, or attainments, or graces, or doings, but I rely on Jesus only.” Brother, that is the right clue to follow. Follow on. Do not turn to the right hand or to the left. Your hope of knowing more of divine things must lie in your persevering in this course.
10. But take care that you persevere eagerly. I find the Hebrew here is strong enough to bear to be translated, “Then you shall know when you eagerly follow on to know the Lord.” The knowledge of God is not to be attained, certainly no great proficiency in it is to be attained, without an intense desire. Even to obtain human knowledge a man separates himself, and engages in much study, which is “a weariness of the flesh.” If we wish to know God it will not be by trifling over his word, nor by neglecting the assembling of ourselves together, nor by slighting the mercy seat, or neglecting private meditation. There must be a keen scent and an eager pursuit, as when the hound pursues the stag; for we cannot know much about God so as to feel his goings forth as the morning, and his refreshings as the dew, unless our heart thirsts after God as the hart thirsts for the waterbrooks. Let me urge you, newly converted ones, to be very diligent in searching the word of God. Be much in attendance upon the means of grace; but, especially, be much with God privately, holding personal communion with God alone. You may learn something about a person by reading his books, you may get a better idea of him by hearing him speak; but if you want to know him best you must live with him. Even so you may know much about God from his word, and much from the speech of his servants; but if you want to know him you must remain with him in habitual communion. I urge this upon you: then you shall know when in this manner you follow on to know the Lord.
11. Once more, our business is to be receptive. If we are to know the Lord we must follow on to know the Lord by being willing to learn. Notice that the text says “he shall come to us as the rain.” Now, the earth drinks in the rain. That portion of the soil which repels the rain — the rock, which bounces it off from its surface — cannot be blest by it. It is a great blessing to have a soul capable of receiving divine truth. Alas! there are some who have heard the gospel for so long that they have almost become grace-proof. I have seen a new tent when a shower has come on let in the water in a hundred places; but, after a while, when the canvas has been well swollen with the rain, it has become waterproof, and not a drop has come through. Certain hearers seem to be so saturated with the rain of the word that they are gospel-proof, the heavenly moisture does not penetrate them. They hear, but hear in vain — impenetrable as steel. Open your hearts to Christ whenever he comes: let the gates of your heart be thrown wide open so that he may enter. Do not let him knock, and knock, and knock again, in vain. When Jesus of Nazareth passes by let him see that there is an open door at your house, so that if today he must remain in your house he may come in and be welcome. May the Lord open the door of our hearts like that of Lydia, “whose heart the Lord opened.” Prejudice often shuts out the word; some people do not know the Lord, or much about him, because they do not want to know. Certain points of God’s truth would disturb what they call their “settled views”; and therefore they wear blinders for fear of seeing too much. Happy is that man who wants to find truth wherever she may be, and is glad to discover and amend his errors, because his heart is set upon being right before the Lord, and he longs to follow the Lord fully, as Caleb did of old.
12. Here, then, beloved, is our business. May grace be given to us to attend to it — to know the Lord to begin with, to exclude all idea that there is nothing further to know, to continue in what is known, to persevere eagerly in the endeavour to know more, and to be daily receptive of divine influences.
13. II. Now, secondly, we have GOD’S PROMISE — “Then we shall know, when we follow on to know the Lord.” You shall know, young friend; God says that you shall know.
What will you know? Why, you will know, when you follow on to know
the Lord, more about the past. Take the text in its context. You
observe that it details the experience — the very perplexing
experience — of a quickened soul. “He has torn and he will heal; he has
injured us but he will bind up our wounds; after two days he will
revive us,” and so on. Now, you do not know, perhaps, at this time,
what your present experience means. You thought that as soon as you
believed in Jesus you would have perfect peace and joy, and that your
delight would never depart from you. You have heard others sing, “Oh,
happy day,” and you have sung it yourself, but just now you do not
feel at all as happy as you hoped to be. On the contrary, you feel
very miserable, because you have found out that the devil is not
dead, and that your sins are not dead, and that outside in the world
people do not look upon you with any greater love because you are a
Christian, but, on the contrary, they oppose you. Some of your
dearest relatives even scoff at you for loving the name of Jesus, and
you are a good deal staggered by their opposition. Besides, you do
not enjoy prayer as you did at first, and the Bible itself scarcely
seems to glitter before your eyes as in your first love; and the
sermons which seemed to be so very sweet appear somehow to have
become sharp and cutting to you. Well, you will understand all this
eventually. When we are very little our mothers carry us in their
arms, but when we get a little bigger they set us on our own feet. It
is natural that the child that has to walk alone should, when weary,
regret that the time is over when he lay so closely in the mother’s
bosom: yet it is good for the babe to try his own feet, good for him
to tumble down and know his own weakness, or else he might always be
helpless. Many things in the beginning of Christian life are very
pleasant and delightful, but trials come in due time to exercise our
graces so that we may be no longer children. We do not understand
this at the time, and to the raw recruit I would say, do not try to
understand it now; you shall understand it when you follow on to know
the Lord. Leave your experience to God. Believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ, and hang on to that; and when you cannot understand your own
feelings, and your religion all seems to be in a tangle, never mind;
hold on to the cross and sing —
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.
Stand by that. Rest in the precious blood once shed for many for the remission of sins, and eventually you shall know all about the winding experiences through which you are now going. Then you shall know when you follow on to know the Lord.
15. Beloved, the text means, not only that we shall know about the past, but as we follow on to know the Lord we shall know in the present the sweet things of the gospel and the enjoyments which are stored up for the Lord’s people. “Eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, the things which God has prepared for those who love him; but he has revealed them to us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” You will not know the choice things which God has prepared for his people except as, by degrees, the Spirit of God reveals them to you. Press on to know more about God. I know it sometimes puzzles you to hear us talk about election. You cannot quite understand the doctrine of eternal love, which had no beginning and never shall have an end; of immutable love which neither moves nor changes; of vital union to Christ, justification through imputed righteousness, and the like. Very well, we will not trouble you with high sounding terms, and theological phrases; but as you follow on to know the Lord you will know the deep things of God. Continue to follow on to know more about Christ. Stick to the one desire, — to know more about him, and you will find your way through difficulties. Just as in a maze, if you follow the clue you will get to the centre of it, so Christ is the clue to all gospel mysteries, follow that silken clue stained with scarlet, and you will arrive at all those precious truths one by one, and have the present enjoyment of them as God shall see that you are able to bear them. He deals with us in much prudence, and according as our strength is so he reveals these choice things to us. “You cannot bear them now,” said Christ concerning certain truths which he would gladly have taught to his disciples; so you beginners cannot bear the higher doctrines now, and if we were to preach them to you we would stagger you, but you will bear them soon, indeed, you will love them soon; and, whereas they may seem bugbears to you tonight, the day shall come when you shall bless God that he ever revealed them in Scripture, and you will be prepared to die in defence of them.
16. Beloved Christian friends, those of you who have gone to greater lengths than others in divine knowledge may well take this promise to yourselves concerning the future: “Then we shall know, when we follow on to know the Lord.” We know something about our Lord’s love and faithfulness, and truth, and power to save, we know the covenant of grace, and we have seen something of its lengths and breadths and depths and heights, but we are conscious that we have no more fully understood the boundless love and grace than the child who takes up a handful of water from the sea has held the Atlantic in his palm; but we shall know, we shall know. We shall know more and more and more, and especially we shall know more as we get nearer to heaven. That land Beulah teaches very much; saints quickly grow wise in that region, where the angels bring bundles of spices from the other side of the river, and stray notes from the harps of angels are borne on favouring breezes to the blessed ears of God’s beloved ones who are waiting to be called away. We shall know. All that has been revealed to the saints shall be revealed to us when we follow on to know the Lord. Their rapturous enjoyments when they have been overcome with divine love — we shall drink from those wines on the lees, well refined. Their confident assurance when they were as certain of their interest in divine love as of their own existence — we shall climb to that, and stand upon our high places too. “Then we shall know when we follow on to know the Lord.” Oh, brothers and sisters, can you guess what is yet to be revealed to you? Could you have imagined at the outset of the Christian life that you would, or could have had such confidence and rest and peace as you have now? I ask those of you who have had many trials and have been rooted and established in the faith by them — could you have thought it possible that you would have had such a grip and hold on Christ as you now have? Perhaps you were for many years under a misty, cloudy ministry, and yourselves in a kind of semidarkness, “not light, but visible darkness”; but the Lord has brought you out to see all things finished in Christ, and to understand the covenant of grace. Oh, what brightness is before you now! but — but the day comes, even before you get to heaven, when the light of this day shall be as dimness compared with what you shall see; for the light of one day shall then be as the light of several days, if you press forward in this knowledge as God shall help you. There are ascending rungs in the ladder of grace and platforms each one above the other in the divine climbing. The mount of the Lord is very high: he who stands even at its base is saved, but there are higher platforms, and we ascend first to one, and then to another, and from the elevations, gradually rising, the scene widens and the air grows clearer. Oh, to be higher, higher, higher, and so nearer to light, nearer to perfection, nearer to God. Press on, oh climber, and you shall find that you shall know more and more about the Lord as you press towards him.
17. III. The third and last point is THE FULFILMENT OF THIS PROMISE. I will not be very long over the two metaphors lest I should weary you, but they are both very suggestive.
18. “His going forth is prepared as the morning.” That is to say, press on to know the Lord, and you shall know the Lord more fully in the light and heat which he brings to men. The going forth of the morning is particularly bright, because it stands in contrast with the night. There are countries in which the night suddenly gives place to the morning: here we have long intervals of twilight, but in those lands after the eye has been in darkness all the night long, the sun suddenly seems to leap above the horizon, and there is light. Now, it has been so with you already who know the Lord, and it shall be more and more so with you. The contrast between your sorrow and your joy shall be very striking. As your tribulations abound so also shall your consolations abound. Your broken bones shall rejoice; the place of your weeping, the valley of Achor, shall be the door of your hope. [Ho 2:15] Now, be joyful about this. Follow on to know the Lord, and there shall be light for you; light out of darkness; your midnight shall blaze into day.
19. The Lord will come as the morning concerning his freshness, for every morning is a new morning. No secondhand morning has ever dawned upon the earth yet; the dawn is always fresh with the sweet breath of the zephyrs, and bright with the sparkling dews which hang like new jewels in the ears of nature. The light is always like newly minted gold, and the air is like perfume freshly pressed from its spices. All the earth seems like a newly married bride in the early morning. Well, now, such shall you find true religion to be as you press forward — it will be always fresh to you, and never flat and stale. I have wearied of a thousand things, but never of my Lord. Ask the saints whether they ever wearied of the sight of Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness who rises with healing beneath his wings. It is said of our Lord in “the Song” that his locks are black as a raven; that is to say, he is always young. Truly he wears the dew of his youth to our hearts. Never does our Lord grow old, though he is so ancient that his locks are white as snow, yet he is still so new and fresh that the raven’s plume has no more jet black. You shall find it so as you press forward, joy shall be given to you, and that joy shall be for ever new.
20. This blessing shall come irresistibly, for when the morning comes to the earth no one can stop it. Can any human hand seize the reins of the horses of the sun and restrain them from passing through the gates of the morning? Impossible! God orders the sun to rise, and it does rise. So with you Christians, abiding in the knowledge of God and pressing forward, the light must come to you. Nothing can prevent it. The sun rejoices to run its race, and defies all competitors, and even so shall the Lord your Redeemer scorn all who would restrain him and come to you in the fulness of his love.
21. The blessing shall come increasingly too, for the morning awakens, at first, with a few grey streaks; then the redder hues follow which stain the sky, as though night in retreating hung out the banners of defeat: immediately the brighter tints succeed, and soon the sun itself is seen above the mountain’s height, and all the earth is robed in splendour. So with your soul. At first there is a little light, then more, and more, and more, until you come to the perfect day, and see Jehovah face to face, and fear no ill. His coming forth shall be prepared as the morning. The text says, “is prepared as the morning.” I find that the word may be read “is decreed” — determined, fixed, appointed, prepared. Christ’s coming to gladden your soul, oh you who know the Lord, is a fixed thing, not a perhaps, but determined by God. You must have it. It is a decree as powerful as that fiat which said “Let there be light,” and there was light; and therefore the blessing must come to you. It should be a great joy for the believer in God through Jesus Christ that the mercies he is to enjoy are measured out, fixed, and determined by an unalterable will which has been framed of old by eternal love and infinite wisdom. Follow on to know the Lord, and if all the demons in hell try to keep you in the dark they cannot, the sun must rise for you. Follow on to know the Lord, and if all apparent providences should seem to keep you back, they cannot, for the secret and omnipotent decrees which rule the providences shall carry the point. His going forth is prepared as the morning, and that going forth shall be for your joy and delight.
22. The second metaphor of the text has less to do with the light of the knowledge of Christ, and more to do with the inward power which comes from that knowledge. “he shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.” This is the inward power. Dwell upon those words “to us,” — not only “shall he come as the rain,” but “shall come to us.” I rejoice to feel the gospel come home to me. It is very sweet to preach it, but when I get to hear it for myself, and it comes to me, then I know its power to refresh my soul. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ has a way of coming to us which is as the rain when it waters the earth. The earth is dry and dusty, parched, and barren: the rain does not ask the earth for anything, but it looks down from the heights and sees the gaping mouths of the parched fields, and the clods crumbling as they lie baking in the cruel sun, and the rain says, “I will go and bless that field”; and down it comes, drop after drop, in plenteous refreshment. Each drop finds its way, until the rain enters the crevices, and descends into the bosom of mother earth, and the field is refreshed, the hidden seeds spring to life, and the green blades take another shoot. Now, follow on to know the Lord, beloved, and you shall find the Lord Jesus Christ, not only giving you more light and knowledge like the sun, but giving you more life within yourself, more sap of grace, more vigour within your own soul, so that you shall become fruitful, and shall grow to perfection. As you drink in the rain of grace from heaven, you shall yield back to heaven the fruits of righteousness, to the honour and glory of God.
Observe that it is written, “He shall come to us as the rain, as
the latter and the former rain.” Now, these come in their season.
The former rain came in Palestine, at the end of autumn, when they
had sown the grain. The latter rain came at the beginning of our
spring, when grain in the east is getting nearly ripe. It is not so
with us, of course, but it is so in Palestine. The latter rain came
to fill out the ears. Now, God will give you grace when you need it,
grace to help in time of need; a shower when you begin, and another
shower when you go on, and perhaps the heaviest shower just as you
are ripening. Do not be frightened when you see a cloud of trouble.
If we were to expect rain without clouds we would be very great
fools, and I sometimes think that to expect a shower of blessing
without trial is almost as great a folly.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
God knows how to send a shower of rain when it is needed, and to send grace when it is needed — to give us the former rain and the latter rain in their season.
24. Notice again, it is a repeated gift. He shall give the former rain and the latter rain. If you have had grace once the Lord has more for you. Did you have happy times when old Dr. So-and-so was your pastor? Well, the doctor is dead, but God is not. Were you very much delighted when you used to sit in such and such a church, in years gone by, and have you moved into the country now? Yes, but God has not moved. He is in the country as well as in the town. You tell me you had such happy times when you were young. Yes, but God is neither younger nor older. Go to him, for he is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. Do you suppose that, because he gave you the former rain, he has emptied the bottles of heaven? It is not so. The clouds, “those wandering cisterns of the sky,” fill again and empty again, and fill again and empty again: and so it is with the mighty grace of God. There is an inexhaustible fulness in the Lord; however much you have had from him you shall have more. Follow on to know the Lord, and you shall have grace upon grace. The showers shall never cease to fall until you get to the land where you shall be as a tree planted by the rivers of water, and shall drink in unfailing supplies from the river itself.
25. One word more only, and it is this: all this fulfilment of the promise that you shall know comes only to you through the Lord himself. If we are to know, it must be by his going forth, and because he shall come to us: there is no knowing in any other way. Oh, my brother, I know that your desire is like mine — to know more of the Lord by that deep, vital, practical knowledge which makes the soul like the God it knows; never let us forget that our only way of knowing the Lord is through his coming to us. We may read the Bible — I trust we shall; but there is such a thing as resting in Bible reading, and if we do so we shall fall short. Our Lord denounced that in his day when he said, “You search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are what testify about me. And you will not come to me that you might have life”: as much as if he had said, “Your searching the Scriptures is well enough, but coming to me is the main business.” It is not the letter-God, but the living God that we need. It is not the book of God so much as the God of the book that we must know. We must seek Christ Jesus, the personal Christ, really existent to ourselves, and falling at his feet, confessing our sin, looking up to his wounds, trusting and confiding in him we shall be indeed blessed. You cannot know the Lord in any other way than by his coming to you in the reality of his incarnation as the very Christ of God. I wish I knew how to express the matter so that every one here would recognise my meaning to the full. You know the moment people begin to think about religion they say, “Well, yes, we must keep the Sabbath, we must attend a place of worship, we must have family prayer.” So they dwell upon the many things that they “must do,” all of which things are right enough, but they are only the shell. What the sinner has to say is not, “I will arise and go — to church.” No, no. “I will arise and go to my closet and pray.” No, that is not it, first. “I will arise and go and read a chapter of the Bible.” No, that is not it, good as that is: but “I will arise and go to my Father.” That is the place that you have to go — to a real God. “How can I go?” Well, not with these feet; but he is not far from any one of you. In him you live and move and have your being: you are also his offspring. Let your hearts think of him now; let your hearts mourn that you have broken his law; let your hearts listen to his gracious words; for he says, “Return to me, and I will return to you. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” No turn will do except a turning to the Lord. No new birth, except a birth by his Spirit.
If you do not know the Lord, remember that he has revealed himself
very clearly in the person of his only begotten Son, who took our
nature, and died in the place of his people upon the cross. Whoever
looks to Jesus, the man, believing him to be the Son of God, sees all
of God that he needs to see in the person of the crucified Redeemer.
Look to him, however weak and feeble your eye may be. Trust him,
trust him fully, trust him only, trust him now. May God enable
you to do so, by his ever blessed Spirit, and you are saved. You know
the Lord, and as you go on to know more about him, you shall find him
to be as the sun in its brightness, and as the rain in its sweetness
and life. May God bless you. May we all meet in heaven, for Christ’s
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ho 6]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Let Us Return’ ” 605]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — Not Ashamed Of The Gospel” 670]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — ‘A Good Soldier Of Jesus Christ’ ” 673]
The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for August, 1875.
Dying Ministers. By C. H. Spurgeon.
John Berridge, as one of “The Poets of Methodism.”
Zanzibar, and the East African Slave Trade.
By J. Salter, Missionary to the Asiatics of London.
How to Lead the Young to Decision for Christ.
A Paper read before the College Conference, 1875.
By Pastor G. Malins, of Newcastle.
Beware of Little Sins.
The Two Railways. For the Young.
By Pastor C. A. Davis, Manchester.
A Letter to my Readers. By the Editor.
Notices of Books.
Price 3d. Post free, 4 stamps.
The Christian, Contrite Cries
605 — “Let Us Return”
1 Come, let us to the Lord our God
With contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious, nor will leave
The desolate to mourn.
2 His voice commands the tempest forth,
And stills the stormy wave;
And though his arm be strong to smite,
‘Tis also strong to save.
3 Long hath the night of sorrow reign’d;
The dawn shall bring us light;
God shall appear, and we shall rise
With gladness in his sight.
4 Our hearts, if God we seek to know,
Shall know him and rejoice;
His coming like the morn shall be,
Like morning songs his voice.
5 As dew upon the tender herb,
Diffusing fragrance round;
As showers that usher in the spring,
And cheer the thirsty ground.
6 So shall his presence bless our souls,
And shed a joyful light;
That hallow’d morn shall chase away
The sorrows of the night.
John Morrison, 1781.
The Christian, Courage and Confidence
670 — Not Ashamed Of The Gospel
1 I’m not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend his cause;
Maintain the honour of his word,
The glory of his cross.
2 Jesus, my God! I know his name,
His name is all my trust;
Nor will he put my soul to shame,
Nor let my hope be lost.
3 Firm as his throne his promise stands,
And he can well secure
What I’ve committed to his hands,
Till the decisive hour.
4 Then will he own my worthless name
Before his Father’s face;
And in the New Jerusalem
Appoint my soul a place.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Christian, Courage and Confidence
673 — “A Good Soldier Of Jesus Christ” <7s.>
1 Oft in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go;
Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
Strengthen’d with the bread of life.
2 Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March in heavenly armour clad:
Fight, nor think the battle long,
Soon shall victory tune your song.
3 Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall every tear be dry;
Let not fears your course impede,
Great your strength if great your need.
4 Onward, then to glory move,
More than conquerors ye shall prove;
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.
Henry Kirke White, 1806;
Fanny Fuller Maitland, 1827.