A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, October 22, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *6/18/2012
[The Tabernacle was on this night thrown open to strangers, all
the regular congregation kindly vacating their seats.]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 265, “Meek and Lowly One, The” 258]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 969, “Rest, Rest” 960]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1322, “Rest for the Labouring” 1313]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1691, “Christ’s Word with You” 1692]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2298, “Christ Given Rest, The” 2299]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2708, “Old Gospel for the New Century, The” 2709]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2781, “Jesus Calling” 2782]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3352, “Worldwide Welcome, A” 3354]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3502, “Powerful Persuasives” 3504]
Exposition on Mt 11:25-30 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2781, “Jesus Calling” 2782 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Mt 11 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2708, “Old Gospel for the New Century, The” 2709 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Mt 11 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3555, “With Golden Girdle Girt” 3557 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Mt 3; 11:20-30 Re 7:9-17 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2704, “Flee From the Wrath to Come” 2705 @@ "Exposition"]
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mt 11:29"]
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mt 11:30"]
Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. [Mt 11:28-30]
1. Our Lord had just been declaring the doctrine of election, thanking the heavenly Father that he had chosen babes, though he had passed by the wise and prudent. It is very instructive that, close upon the heels of that mysterious doctrine, should come the gracious invitation of my text: as much as if the Lord Jesus would say to his disciples, “Let no views of predestination ever keep you back from proclaiming fully my gospel to every creature”; and as if he would say to the unconverted, “Do not be discouraged by the doctrine of election. Never let it be a stumbling-block in your way, for when my lips have said, ‘I thank you, oh Father, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes,’ I also proceed to speak to you in the deepest sincerity of heart and say, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ”
2. I shall notice at the outset who it is who makes so generous a promise and gives so free an invitation. There are many quack doctors in the world, and each one of these extols his own medicine. Who is this man who calls us so earnestly and promises rest so confidently? Is he an impostor too? Will he also disappoint us? Does he boast beyond his ability? Ah, it cannot be thought so; for this man, this marvellous man, who promises rest for those who come to him, is also God. He is the Son of the Highest as well as the son of Mary, he is Son of the Eternal as well as Son of man: and he has power because of his divine nature to accomplish whatever he promises to perform. As a man, the Lord Jesus was noted for his truthfulness. A lie never fell from his lips. He never boasted beyond his ability, or led men to expect from him what he could not deliver. Why should he deceive? He had no selfish purpose to serve or ambition to gratify. Did he not come to tell men the truth? It was his errand, and he did it thoroughly. Believe him, then. As you are persuaded of the truthfulness of his character accept his teaching; and as you believe in his deity — if you do believe it, and I trust you do — believe in his ability to save, and at once trust your soul into his hands. If he is a mere pretender, do not come to him; but if indeed you believe my Lord and Master to be faithful and true, I beseech you to attend at once to his call.
3. Where is he now? He is not here, for he is risen; but since he spoke these words he has lost no power to save, but in a certain sense has gained in ability: for since he uttered those words he has died the death of the cross, by which he obtained power to put away the sins of men; he has also risen from the grave, no more to die, and he has gone up into glory with all power given to him in heaven and in earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords; and it is in his name and by his authority that we proclaim to you the gospel of Christ, according to his words, recorded by the evangelist Mark: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth: go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He is an enthroned Redeemer who tonight invites you. See that you do not refuse him who speaks. He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, seeing he lives for ever to make intercession for them; therefore do not doubt his power to save you, but come to him at once and find rest for your souls.
4. Jesus being the speaker, and his authority and ability being both clear, we shall now come to analyze the words, and may God grant that as we do so the Spirit of God may use every syllable, and press the truth home upon our hearts.
5. And, first, I notice here a character which, dear friend, I think describes you the labouring and the heavy laden. Secondly, I notice a blessing which invites you — “I will give you rest.” Thirdly, I notice a direction which will guide you — “Come to me: take my yoke upon you: learn from me.” And, fourthly, I notice an argument which I trust may persuade you — “I am meek and lowly in heart. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
6. I. First, then, here is a character which, no doubt, describes a considerable number of those assembled here — “ALL YOU WHO LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN.”
7. The words look as if there were a great many such people — “all you,” and, indeed, so there are, for labouring and burden bearing are the common lot of the sons of Adam. Labourers and loaded ones constitute the great majority of mankind, and the Lord Jesus invites them all without exception; high or low, learned or illiterate, moral or depraved, old or young — “all who labour and are heavy laden” are included in his call. Some have ventured to say that this describes a certain spiritual character, but I fail to see any word to indicate the spirituality of the people; certainly I do not see a syllable to limit the text to that sense. Brothers and sisters, it is not our custom either to add to or to take away from the word of God knowingly, and since there is no indication here that these words are to be limited in their meaning, we shall not dare to invent a limit. Where God puts no bolt or bar, woe to those who shall set up barriers of their own. We shall read our text in the broadest conceivable sense, for it is most like the spirit of the gospel to do so. It says — “all you who labour,” and if you labour, it includes you. It says — “all you who are heavy laden,” and if you are heavy laden it includes you, and God forbid that we should exclude you. Indeed, may God be thanked that no man can exclude you if you are willing and obedient, and come to Christ, accepting his invitation and obeying his command.
8. Then we speak to you, “all you who labour.” Ho, you who work so hard to earn a crust that your limbs are weary with your daily toil, come to Jesus, and if he gives you no rest for your bodies, yet he will for your souls. Yes, even for your physical toil he is your best hope, for his righteous and loving teaching will still alter the constitution of society, until the day shall come when no man shall need to toil excessively to earn his share of the common food which the great Father gives for all his creatures. If ever rest from oppression and from excessive labour shall become the joyful lot of mankind, it will be found when the Son of David shall reign from pole to pole, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
9. But come here, you who labour with mental labour — you who are straining your minds and exhausting your spirits, you who pine and pant after repose for your souls, but do not find it! Perhaps you are labouring to enter into rest by formal religion — trying to save yourselves by rites and ceremonies — by attendance on this service and on that, making your life a pious slavery, that you may find salvation by the outward ordinances of worship. There is no salvation there. You weary yourselves with searching for a shadow. You seek for the living among the dead. Why do you spend your labour for what does not satisfy? Turn your thoughts another way. If you come to Christ you shall cease from the bondage of an external and formal religion, and shall find a finished righteousness, and a complete salvation ready at hand.
10. Oh you who are trying by your good works to save yourselves, and doing no good works all the while; for how can that be good which you do with the sole view of benefiting yourselves? That selfish virtue which only seeks its own — is that virtue? Can that commend itself to God? But I know how you wear your fingers to the bone to spin a garment of your own righteousness, which, if it were spun, would be no more substantial than a spider’s web, and no more lasting than the fading autumn leaves. Why do you not cease from this fruitless toil? Oh you who hope for salvation by the works of the law, Jesus speaks to you, and he says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” And he can do it, too. He can at once give you a spotless righteousness: he can array you from head to foot with the garments of salvation. He can immediately give you both of these, and so give you labouring ones rest.
11. Some of you are labouring after happiness. You think to find it in gain — hoarding up your pence and your pounds and seeking for rest in the abundance of your beloved wealth. Ah, you will never have enough until you get Christ; but when you have him, you will be full to the brim. Contentment is the unique jewel of the beloved of the Lord Jesus. All the Indies could not fill a human heart: the soul is insatiable until it finds the Saviour, and then it leans on his bosom and enters into perfect peace.
12. Perhaps, young man, you are labouring after fame. You despise gold, but you strive to obtain a great name. Alas, ambition’s ways are very weary, and he who climbs the loftiest peak of honour finds that it is a slippery place, where rest is quite unknown. Young brother, take a friend’s advice and care no longer for man’s praise, for it is mere wind. If you wish to rise to a great name, become a Christian, for the name of Christ is the name above every name, and it is bliss to be hidden beneath it, and overshadowed by it. Christ will not make you great among men, but he will make you so little in your own esteem that the lowest place at his table will more than satisfy you. He will give you rest from that delirious dream of ambition, and yet fire you with a higher ambition than ever.
13. What is it you are labouring for? Is it after knowledge? I commend you: it is a good possession and a choice treasure. Search for it as for silver. But all the knowledge that is to be had from the zenith to the centre of the earth will never satisfy your understanding, until you know Christ and are found in him. He can give rest for your soul in that respect by giving you the knowledge of God and a sense of his love.
14. Whatever it is you labour for, come to Jesus, and he will give you rest.
15. But the text speaks of some as “heavy laden.” They are not merely struggling and striving, but they are burdened. They have a load to carry, and it is to these that Jesus says, “I will give you rest.” Some carry a load of sin. I do not mean all of you. Some of you think, perhaps, that you have no sin; but there are others who know that they have sinned; in the memory of the past they are full of fear, and looking, in the present, to their own condition and position, they feel uneasy and unhappy. Their grief has nothing to do with the house or with the barn, it is with themselves that their burden begins and ends. “I have sinned,” they say, “and how can I be forgiven?” This is the load they carry. Some carry a load of sorrow on the back of this load of sin — a daily fretting, worrying sorrow, from which they cannot escape: to such Jesus beckons, and he says, “I will take your sin from you, forgive you, and make you whiter than snow. I will take your sorrow from you too, or, if the sorrow remains with you, I will make you so content to bear it, that you shall thank God for the cross that you carry and glory in your infirmity because the power of Christ rests upon you.” Loaded, then, with sin or sorrow, come to Jesus and he will give you rest.
16. Or, possibly, the load may be that of daily care. You are continually crying, “What shall I eat, and what shall I drink, and with what shall I be clothed?” Oh what heavy hearts tread our streets! How many are scantily fed and scarcely clothed! What myriads go down Cheapside unhappy because they can see no provision for their most common needs! Even to these Jesus says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” He teaches the sweet art of casting our care on him who cares for us. He shows us that “man shall not live by bread alone, but man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” He has a way of making us content with little, until a dinner of herbs with his grace to season it becomes a greater delicacy than the stalled ox of the rich man. Come to him, you poverty-stricken, and he will teach you the science of being glad and rejoicing under all circumstances. Even in a cottage with meagre comfort he will give you rest and true riches.
17. Or, the burden may happen to be one of doubt. You perhaps feel as if you could believe nothing, and are uncertain about everything. This also is a crushing load for a thoughtful spirit. I, too, know what that means, for I have seen the firm mountains of my youth moved from their foundations and cast into a sea of questioning. I, too, have been loaded down with difficulties and scepticisms. I am delivered from that burden for in that day in which I believed in Jesus — the man, the God — and cast myself at his dear feet to be his servant and believe his words and trust in him, then the reeling earth stood firm, and heaven no longer fled away. I saw Jesus, and in him I found the pole of faith, the basis of belief. Believe in Jesus, and you will experience a blessed rest of mind and thought, such as earth cannot afford elsewhere — a rest that shall be the prelude to the everlasting rest in heaven, where they know even as they are known.
So Jesus cries aloud tonight, to you who labour and to you who are
loaded down with mighty burdens; he cries, and I beseech you to heed
his cry. Are you weary of life, young man? Christ will give you a new
life, and teach you how to rejoice in him always. Are you
disappointed? Has the world given you a slap in the face where you
looked for a kiss? Come to my Lord. He will give new hopes that shall
never be disappointed, for he who believes in him shall not be
ashamed nor confounded, world without end. Are you vexed with
everyone, and most of all with yourself? Jesus can teach you love,
and put you at ease again. Does something fret and tease you from day
to day? Come to my Master, and the vexations of the world shall gall
you no longer. You shall consider that these light afflictions, which
are only for a moment, are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in you. Do you despair? Are you ready to
commit suicide? Do you wish that there was no hereafter? And, if you
were sure there would be none, would you speedily end it all? Would
you make short work of your soul, and end this mortal life at once?
Ah! do not do it: there are brighter days before you, since Jesus has
met you, and new life will begin if you will come to my Master and
sit at his feet. I will give you a hymn to sing, which shall grow
sweeter every day you live: —
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away:
He taught me how to watch and pray,
And live rejoicing every day.
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.
19. I have spoken enough upon the character, which, I think, includes many here, — “All you who labour and are heavy laden.” I know how well it suited me at one time, and how glad I was to answer to the call of the text.
20. II. Now, secondly, the text speaks of A BLESSING WHICH INVITES YOU. “Come to me,” says Jesus, “and I will give you rest.” “Rest! rest! rest!” I could keep on ringing that silver bell all the evening — “Rest! rest! REST!” “You gentlemen of England who live at home at ease,” you scarcely know the music of that word. The sons of toil, the mariners tossed upon the sea, the warriors in the battle, the men who labour deep in the mines — these know, as you do not, how sweet this music sounds. Rest! Rest! Rest! Rest for the weary body is the outward sign of that inward blessing which Jesus Christ holds up tonight before the eyes of all labouring and heavy laden souls.
21. Rest — rest which he will give, which he will give at once — is rest for the conscience. The conscience, tossed to and fro under a sense of sin, has no peace; but when Jesus is revealed as bleeding and suffering in the sinner’s place, and making full atonement for human guilt, then the conscience grows quiet. As Noah’s dove alighted upon the ark, so conscience alights on Christ, and rests there for ever. No sin of yours shall trouble you when you have seen how it troubled Christ, how he took it on his shoulders and bore it up to the cross, and then flung it into the depths of the sea, never to be mentioned against you any more for ever.
22. Jesus gives rest for the mind as well as for the conscience. As I have said, the mind wanders to and fro, lost in endless mazes. It must believe something, but it does not know what. He who is the greatest unbeliever, generally believes the most; only he believes a lie. Incredulity and credulity are strangely enough very closely related; for he who does not believe in God generally believes in himself, or believes in whatever his own dreams may form: but he who takes Christ, and rests upon him, finds his mind no more disturbed: his thoughts rest, his judgment becomes satisfied, his brain is quiet.
23. Rest for the heart, too, is given by Jesus. Oh, there are choice and tender spirits in this world who want, above all things, something to love; these too often choose an earthly object, and lean on that reed until it breaks or turns into a piercing spear. Oh hearts that pine for love, here is a Beloved for you whom you may love as much as you wish or can, and yet never be guilty of idolatry, nor ever find him to be treacherous. Oh broken heart, he will heal you! Oh tender heart, he will delight you! The love of Jesus is the wine of heaven, and he who drinks it is filled with bliss. Jesus can give rest to the palpitating heart. You sons of desolation, hurry here! Daughters of despondency, gather to this call!
24. He can give rest, too, for your energies. Oh you whose unabated strength seeks a worthy field of labour, do you enquire, what shall we pursue? You want to be up and doing, but you have not found an object worthy of you. Oh, but if you follow after Jesus, and, in the love of God and in the love of man, cast aside selfishness, desiring only to be obedient to the great Father’s will and to bring your fellow men into a gracious state, then you shall find a noble and restful life. If you are willing to give up life itself for God’s glory as Jesus did — for you cannot really be his disciple if you do not, then you shall find perfect rest for your souls.
25. As for your fears and forecasts which now are troubled — he will turn them into hopes of endless glory. Dark forebodings of a future, you do not know what — the sound of an awful sea, whose surf beats upon an invisible shore, and whose billows resound with sound of storm and everlasting tempest — from all this you shall be delivered. Jesus will give you rest from every fear. If you will come to Jesus you shall obtain rest in all ways, the rest of your entire manhood, rest such as shall unload you of your burdens and ease you of your labours: this is the rest which Jesus promises to you.
26. “Alas,” one cries, “I wish I could attain to rest. That is the one thing necessary for me; I should then become strong and happy; my mind would become clear, and I should be able to fight the battle of life, if I could only obtain rest.” Yes, but you cannot have it unless you come to Christ. Not even heaven itself could give you peace apart from Christ, nor can the grave’s deep slumbers give you rest unless you sleep in him. Rest! Neither heaven nor earth, nor sea nor hell, none of them can afford you any trace of it until you come to the incarnate God, Christ Jesus, and bow at his feet. Then you shall find rest for your souls, but not until then.
27. III. This brings me, next, to say that the text presents A DIRECTION TO GUIDE EVERY LABOURING AND LADEN SOUL IN THE PURSUIT OF REST. I shall be sure to have your very deep attention to the directions which Jesus gives, for you all want to find rest. Oh, may the divine Spirit now lead you into the way of peace. If you follow our Lord’s directions and do not find rest, then his word is not true. But his word is true. I invite you to try it, and urge you at once to accept his guidance and leadership.
28. The first direction is, “Come to me.” “Come to me,” he said, “and I will give you rest.” Notice, it is not coming to a sacrament, coming to a church, or coming to a doctrine: it is coming to a person who is set before you — “Come to me.” You are to come to God in human flesh, the Deity himself dwelling among us, and taking our nature upon himself. You are to come to him. He does not ask you to do anything or bring anything, he does not command you to prepare yourself, or advise you to wait; but he asks you to come — come as you are — come now — come alone — come to him and to him only. No one here needs me to say that we cannot go to Christ, concerning bodily going, for in his own actual person he is in heaven, and we are here below. The coming to him is mental and spiritual. Just as we may come in spirit to some great poet whom we never saw, or approach some renowned teacher whose voice we have never heard, so may we come in thought, in meditation, to Jesus, whom our eyes have never seen. We are to come to him in some such fashion as the following words describe: — “I believe what God has revealed concerning you, oh you wondrous person, that you are God and man. I believe that you have died for human sin. I believe that you are able to save, and I think of you and meditate upon you daily: I do believe you to be the Saviour, and I trust you to save me. I am troubled, and you say, ‘I will give you rest.’ I trust you to give me peace, and I intend to follow your directions until I find it. I ask you to give me your Spirit so that I may enter into your rest. As much as lies in me I come to you: oh, draw me while I come. Lord, I believe: help my unbelief.”
29. Now, notice, it is not merely to his teaching, or to his commandments, or to his church that you are to approach: it is to himself that you are to come; not merely to reading the Scriptures or to offering prayer, for if you put your trust in reading the Bible, or in a prayer, you have stopped short of the true basis of salvation. It is to him — a real person — a man and yet God — one who died and yet lives for ever, that you must draw near. You are to trust him. The more you know of him by the reading of his Word, the better you will be able to come: but, still, it is neither Bible reading, nor praying, nor chapel-going, nor church-going, nor anything else that you can do that will save you, unless you come to HIM. This you can do if you are on the sea where the Sabbath bell never sounds. This you can do in a desert where there are no meetings of God’s people. This you can do on the sickbed when you cannot move a limb. You can go to Jesus by the help of his blessed Spirit, and you can say, “Lord, I believe in you.”
30. Well, that is the first thing, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
The next command is, “Take my yoke upon you.” “Come,” and then
“take”; that is to say, no man is saved by merely trusting himself
with Christ, unless that trusting is of a living and practical kind.
I sometimes explain this to my people as I will explain it to you. A
famous doctor visits you when you are very ill, and he says to
you, “Do you trust me?” You reply, “Yes, sir, completely.” “Well,” he
says, “if you trust me completely, and turn your case over into my
hands, I believe that I shall see you through this sickness.” You
assure him of your implicit faith in him and then he begins to
question you. “What do you eat?” He lifts up his hands in horror, and
he exclaims, “Why, my good man, you eat the very thing which feeds
your complaint; you must not touch that any more, however much you
like it; you must have simpler food, and a less harmful diet.”
“Then,” he says, “I will send you a little medicine, which you will
take every three hours, according to the prescription. Are you sure
you trust me?” “Yes.” “Then all will be well.” He comes in a few
days, and he says, “You seem worse, my friend. I fear that your
disease has taken a stronger hold upon you than before. I do not
understand how matters could have taken this turn. Are you trusting
me?” “Yes, doctor, trusting you entirely.” “Well, what have you been
eating?” And then you tell him that you have been eating just what
you used to eat, and you have broken all his rules with respect to
food. “Now,” he says, “I see why you are worse. You are not trusting
me. Have you regularly taken my medicine?” He looks at the bottle on
the table. “Why, you have not taken a single dose!” “No, sir, I
tasted it and I did not like it, and so I left it alone.” “How is
this?” says the doctor, very much grieved, “my friend, did you not
say that you trusted me implicitly?” “Yes, sir, I do.” “But I say you
do not,” he says, “and I will leave you. I insist upon it that I will
not be responsible for your health if you mock me with such a
pretended faith; for if you did believe me you would have done as I
told you.” Now, Jesus Christ never sent me, or any other minister,
to preach to you and say, “Only believe, and you may live as you
like, and yet be saved.” Such preaching would be a lie. It is true
that we say, “only believe,” but that “only believing” must
be such a believing that you do what Jesus tells you to; for Jesus
has not promised to save you in your sins, but from your
sins, just as a physician does not pretend to heal a man while he
feeds his disease and refuses the remedy, but only promises that he
will benefit him if the faith which he expects him to exercise shows
itself to be a practical and real faith. Beware of a liar’s faith;
and that is a liar’s faith which you pretend to get at a revival
meeting, if you then go and live just as you did before.
Faith must obey her Maker’s will,
As well as trust his grace.
A gracious God is jealous still,
For his own holiness.
So Christ says, “Take my yoke”: that is, “If you will be saved by me I must be your Master, and you must be my servant; you cannot have me for a Saviour if you do not accept me for a Lawgiver and Commander. If you will not do as I tell you, neither shall you find rest for your souls.”
32. Then there is a third direction; and I urge you to notice each one of these words; for failure about any one of them may cause you to miss peace. I remember when I was seeking the Lord, that before I came to peace I was made willing to be or to do anything the Lord Jesus chose to ask me to do or be. Are you in such a state? Then listen, for Jesus says, “Learn from me”; that is to say, at first you do not know all his will, and perhaps you will do wrong, but then that will be in ignorance, and he will graciously wink at your fault. But he says, “Be my disciple; be my scholar; come and learn at my feet.” Christ will not be your Saviour if he is not to be your teacher. He will teach you very much at first, and a great deal more as you go on; and it is essential for your salvation that you have a teachable spirit even as a little child. You must be willing to drink in what Christ pours out for you. The promise is to those who are willing to become learners. This is the gospel, but it is not often preached as it should be: “Go into all the world, and disciple all nations,” or “make disciples of all nations.” Now, what are disciples except learners? You must be willing to be a learner, and say, “As I learn I will do, and as I am taught I will practise, trusting you, oh Jesus, to save me all the while. Not trusting on my doing or my learning, but trusting alone on you; yes, both doing and learning because I do trust you. Because you are all my hope, therefore I will do as you ask me, if you, oh Lord, will help me.” Come, young men, I am glad to see so many of you present here this evening. It is a good thing that you bear Christ’s yoke in your youth. You must have some master, you know, and you will either be your own master, and you cannot have a worse one, or you will get the devil for your master, or you will get the world for a master, and either of these will make dreadful drudges of you. But if you take Christ for a master, oh, it is then that you will find him to be your Saviour, and you shall enter at once into rest, and that rest will grow; for, if you notice, my text first says, “I will give you rest”; and then it says, “you shall find rest”; that is to say, you shall find for yourselves a deeper and more profound enjoyment of life as you understand more fully the divine will and obtain more grace to put it into practice.
33. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Yield, sinner, yield; yield to Jesus. Oh you proud sinners, come and bow before my Lord. Down with your weapons of rebellion; lower the crest of your pride; unbuckle the harness of your boasting; and say, “Jesus, Master, only save me from the guilt and power of sin and I will bless you for ever and ever, and rejoice to obey you as long as I live.”
34. Now, I did not make any of this up. I have not altered my Master’s conditions, or imported anything into the text that is not there. There it stands. “Come to me: take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.”
35. IV. Now the last thing — and I will not detain you much longer, is THE ARGUMENT TO PERSUADE YOU TO DO THIS. And that argument is this.
36. First, the Master you are to serve is “meek and lowly in heart.” I confess there are some men whom I could not serve; proud, austere, domineering, one might sooner eat his flesh from the bone, than serve such tyrants. There have been despots in the world whom to serve was degradation; but when you look at Jesus Christ, whose whole being is love, gentleness, meekness, lowliness, oh, there are some of us who feel that we are not worthy to unloose his shoe latchets. We would consider it heaven to be permitted to kiss his feet, or wash them with our tears, for he is such a glorious one that his beauty attracts us to him, he holds us spell-bound by his wondrous character, and we consider it no slavery, but perfect liberty, to wear his yoke and carry his cross.
37. Have you never heard how he has been served by his disciples? Why, man, they have given up their lives for him gladly! Let Bonner’s Coal Hole [a] and the Lollards’ Tower [b] and the stakes that stood at Smithfield [c] tell how men have loved him. They so loved him that they sang in the dark dungeon, and made it light with their joys; and clapped their hands in the fires, glad to be consumed so that they might bear testimony for him! Have you never heard of old Polycarp, [d] when they told him to deny his Master, saying, “I have served him for eighty-six years, and he never wronged me, how can I now blaspheme my King who saved me?” Oh, he has bred such enthusiasm in his followers that neither the gridiron of St. Lawrence [e] nor the wild bulls of Blandina [f] have been able to prevent the saints from glorying in his name. They would have gone through hell itself to serve him, if it had been possible; for his love has had such power over them. Whatever we have to suffer for him he suffers with us. Alexander was a great master of men, and one of the reasons why all his soldiers loved him so enthusiastically was that, if they were upon a long march, Alexander did not ride, but tramped along in the heat and dust with the common soldiers; and when the day was hot, and they brought his majesty water, he put it aside, and said, “The sick soldiers need it more than I, I will not drink until every soldier has had a draught.” So it is with Christ, in all our afflictions he is afflicted, and he will not have joy until he gives joy to his people. Yes, he has done more than Alexander, for he emptied himself of all his glories, and gave himself to die upon the cross, and consummated the redemption of his people by his own agonies. Who would not follow one whose footprints show that he was crucified for his followers? Who would not rally to his banner, when you see that his hand which upholds it was pierced with nails, so that he might redeem us from hell? On which of his disciples has he ever looked unkindly? Who of his redeemed has he ever cast away? To whom of those who love him has he ever been unjust or ungenerous? Therefore I charge you all — and all his saints speak in me while I speak — take his yoke upon you, and learn from him, for he is meek and lowly in heart.
38. In the last place, what Jesus Christ asks you to do is no hard thing. Just as he is not severe himself, so his commands are not hard, for he says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” True there are some things which you now delight in of which Christ will say, “Have no more to do with them”; but he will only forbid you what harms you, and he will put something better in their place. He may call you to duties which will test you; but, then, he will give you such consolations that they will cease to be trials. In fact, the difficulties of following Christ are delightful for his hearty followers. They love difficulties, so that they may show the sincerity of their confidence in their leader. Oh, my beloved friends, the service of the Lord Jesus Christ is no bondage. There are no chains to wear; there are no prisons to lie in; or, if there are any, they are not of his making, but are the devices of his enemies; Christ’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. He calls you to what is right, true, honest, loving, tender, and heavenly. Who would not be willing to be called to this? He asks you only to give up what is evil and displeasing in his sight, degrading to your own mind, and which plugs the channels of peace and happiness to your soul.
39. Above all, it is no hard thing, surely, to believe in him. “Oh,” one says, “that is just the point. Sometimes I cannot feel that Christ could forgive me.” No, and do you know why? It is because you do not think enough of him, and think too much of yourself. If you sit down and think of your sin, you will soon feel as if pardon were impossible; but, when you turn and think of him, you will see at once how readily he is able to forgive. There is a homely illustration which I often use, and I cannot think of a better one, I must use it now. If you were to go up and down London tomorrow, right along from end to end, there would be quite a journey for you. You could go twelve, fourteen, fifteen, perhaps twenty miles, and scarcely see a break in the houses. I would have you traverse the main roads and then go down the back streets, lanes, alleys, and courts. After you had had a day of it you would say, “Dear, dear me, what a mass of people! How do they live?” And if you were nervous you might very soon come to feel, “I am afraid one of these days London will be starved. Here are nearly four million people! Lebanon would not be sufficient to find them cattle, nor Carmel and Sharon to supply them with sheep, for a single week. They will certainly be starved.” I can imagine your becoming seriously apprehensive of a famine. Well, then, next Monday morning, we will have a fast horse, and we will go up to Copenhagen Fields, and see the live cattle; and then we will drive to Smithfield, and see the carcasses; and next we will go around to the markets, and see where the fish and the vegetables are sold; and when we have finished our tour of observation — which will take us at least two or three hours early in the morning; as you get out of the carriage, I know what you will say to me, you will change your tune and say, “I am no longer afraid of the people’s starving, but I am more afraid of the food being wasted; I cannot think where all the people come from to eat all this. I am astonished to see such a mass of food. I should not wonder if tons of it would be spoiled. There cannot be people enough to eat all of it.” Your mind has undergone that sudden change, because you have changed your point of consideration. So now, if you think of sin, sin will seem a monstrous thing that never can be put away, and when you have reached that point it is time to think of the blood which cleanses us from it. Do think of sin until it bows you down, but do not think of it so as to despair. Turn your eye to Calvary’s bloody tree, and see there the Son of God, in agonies of body and soul, pouring out his life for sinners. May the Holy Spirit give you a keen eye for the sufferings of Jesus. Oh, I have sometimes looked at Christ in that way until I have said, “The sin of a world might readily be put away by this! Indeed, Master, and if every star that bedecks the heavens were a world, and every world were as full of sinners as this earth is, yet, surely, no grander redemption for them all would be needed than your august sacrifice, oh mighty Son of God!” John Hyatt, when he lay dying, was asked by one of his friends, “Mr. Hyatt, can you trust Jesus with your soul now?” and the good man answered, “Trust him with one soul? I could trust him with a million souls, if I had them.” That is how I feel when I think of the death of my Lord Jesus, and it is what I want you who are troubled in spirit to feel. As you see him wounded, bleeding, dying, on the cursed tree, sinners, may you find your hearts believing that he suffered like this for you, and, as you do believe it, you will find rest for your souls.
May God give that rest to everyone of you tonight, for Christ’s sake.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mt 11:15-30]
[a] Bonner’s Coal Hole: John Philpot was locked up in Bishop Bonner’s coal hole or cellar in Fulham Palace in 1555 before he was burned at the stake in Smithfield. See Explorer "http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/foxs-book-of-martyrs/mr-john-philpot.html"
[b] Lollards’ Tower: It is the most interesting portion of Lambeth is the Lollards’ Tower. It was built by Archbishop Chicheley in 1434 and 1435. It is a large stone building, and contains the prison for the Lollards. See Explorer "http://www.mspong.org/picturesque/lambeth_palace.html"
[c] Smithfield: The fires that Queen Mary (1553-1558) ordered to be lit at Smithfield put to death such Protestant leaders and men of influence as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and Hooper, but also hundreds of lesser men who refused to adopt the Catholic faith.
[d] Polycarp: In the fourth persecution, under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, in 162, Polycarp was burned alive at the stake for his faith. See Explorer "http://www.biblestudytools.com/history/foxs-book-of-martyrs/the-fourth-persecution-under-marcus-aurelius-antoninus-a-d-162.html"
[e] St. Lawrence: (c. 225-258) One of the seven deacons of ancient Rome, serving under Pope St. Sixtus II, who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_of_Rome"
[f] Blandina: She died in 177 and was a Christian martyr during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blandina"