A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, May 12, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *9/19/2012
On this night the Tabernacle was free to all comers, the regular congregation having vacated their seats.
He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [Mt 5:45]
You see our Lord Jesus Christ’s philosophy of nature. He believed in
the immediate presence and working of God. As the great Son of God he
had a very sensitive perception of the presence of his Father in all
the scenes around him, and hence he calls the sun God’s sun — “He makes
his sun to rise.” He does not speak of the daybreak as a thing
which happens by itself as a matter of course, but he traces the
morning light to his Father, and declares, “He makes his sun to
rise.” As for the rain, our great Lord and Master does not speak of
the laws of condensation causing the vapour to become fluid and fall
to the earth in a beneficial shower, but he says of his Father, “He
sends rain upon the just and upon the unjust.” Jesus knew far
better than any of us all the laws by which the great Creator governs
the world of matter, and yet he never speaks of these laws as though
they operated without the divine power making them to be effective.
In Christ’s philosophy the Lord God himself was present everywhere,
working all things, yes, even numbering the hairs upon the heads of
his chosen, and seeing the falling of a sparrow to the ground. Let
such be your philosophy and mine, for it is the true one. Dr. Watts
taught us to sing when we were children:
My God, who makes the sun to know
His proper hour to rise,
And, to give light to all below,
Doth send him round the skies.
So our mothers taught us, and they taught us the truth; but the
very wise men of this proudly enlightened age seem to be spinning all
kinds of theories to get rid of God, to turn our benefactor out of
his own world, and to put man’s best friend as far away as
possible. I am sometimes reminded by these schools of philosophy
and science of Tom Hood’s “I remember, I remember.” Here is a verse
of it —
I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky;
It was a childish ignorance,
But now ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy.
2. It would be a good thing for our sceptical teachers who have banished God out of his own universe if they could go back to their mothers’ knees again and learn to talk simply and naturally in the way of the wisest man that ever lived, namely, our Lord and Master: then they would also confess that our heavenly Father “makes his sun to rise and he sends the rain,” for so it is. Laws of nature can do nothing without a power behind the laws. What is nature, about which many infidels speak so very plentifully? Ask them to tell you what nature is, and they will reply, “Why, it is nature.” Well, but what is that? And they can only say, “Why nature you know, you know, you know, nature is nature.” Some such sensible reply was given to certain of our friends on Kennington Common by one who was there reviling his Maker. Now if men only understand nature they would know that nature is simply God’s creation, workshop, laboratory, storehouse, and banqueting hall. In nature what God has made and what God is doing, are made visible before our eyes. God is still among us, blessed be his name.
Believing this, we at once perceive that the Lord has been talking
with us during the last few days very sweetly and delightfully. The
merciful Father speaks to us with charming eloquence on such a day as
this, of which George Herbert would have said —
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky.
Coming just in the middle of this fair season of hope and promise,
concerning which he sang —
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
it has a still small voice which all should wish to hear. What a blessing to have enjoyed such a May Day as this has been. We have had God speaking to us according to the contents of our text: he has made his sun to shine, and he has sent us rain. Our days for some little time have been made up of sunshine and shower, with every now and then that wondrous masterpiece of glory in the sky which we call the rainbow, of which God has said, “I, even I, set my rainbow in the cloud,” “whose warp is the raindrop of earth, and whose woof is the sunbeam of heaven”; glorious ensign of his grace and faithfulness, who hung it on the cloud. Now what does God say to us in the sunshine and the shower which come the one after the other like this in such pleasant alternation, making the grass so green and causing flowers to bedeck both tree and herb? What does he say in all these? There is a voice full of the music of love, to which we shall do well to listen.
4. There is one instruction in it and only one that I shall be able to expound tonight. It is the fact brought out in the text, “He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
5. One of the most considerable heights anywhere near London is Leith Hill, near Dorking. And if you have ever stood there, as I often have done with delight, you may, perhaps, have thought over our text. Far around you see the distant lands, pasture, fields, park, forests, with here and there the laughing water, and beyond the blue hills the distant sea. Up comes a gleam of sunlight, where all was cloud before. Eventually the sun bursts out in full beauty. Do you notice how impartial it is? Men have mapped out the country: so far is allotted to this squire, so far to that, with here and there an insignificant patch pilfered from the wayside or the common which may belong to some industrious peasant; but the sun shines on all, glances into the hall, peeps into the cottage, gleams from the white spire of the church, and flashes from the tavern signboard swinging in the breeze, shines on the wayside, floods the green where the children are at play with its golden light; sweeps over all, in fact. Now that farm over there belongs to a churl, who is sure to rake his stubble after the harvest, lest the poor should glean an ear or two — a man who fights and quarrels with his neighbour; yet the sun shines on his selfish inheritance. That farm belongs to one who would, if he could, rob the orphan and fatherless and the widow — a heartless wretch, unworthy to gather a sour apple from the sharpest crab tree; yet the sun shines on his wheat and barley just the same as on that portion of land which belongs to the generous-hearted and the free, to the gracious and the godly. There is no distinction made between the meadows of the righteous and the pastures of the wicked. As you see the sunlight bathes the entire scene before you, the whole landscape smiles with universal joy. While you are watching, that cloud, which all day long you had suspected would turn to a shower, comes rushing up with the wind — the Great Father blowing with his breath this travelling fountain of the sky. Then it begins to pour. We seek the shelter of the lofty tower of Leith without a murmur, for we know that the rain is seasonable. The land needs it; it has been dry and parched for weeks. Down comes the blessed shower that shall fill our barns with plenty. Yes, yes, the Lord is pouring out a shower of food-creating moisture, and, see, it is raining on the churl’s piece of land just as much as on his generous neighbour’s. It is watering the farm of the man who would rob the fatherless of his shoes if the law permitted him to; it is making his broad acres teem with plenty just as surely as it is fattening the poor man’s patch, or falling upon the widow’s scanty plot, or on the farm of the gracious godly man. As though he did not regard human character at all, God orders his sun to shine on good and bad. As though he did not know that any men were vile, he orders the shower to descend on the just and the unjust. Yet he knows, for he is no blind deity. He does know; and he knows when his sun shines on that miser’s acres that it is producing a harvest for a churl. He does it deliberately. When the rain is falling there upon the oppressor’s crops, he knows that the oppressor will be all the richer for it, and intends that he should be; he is doing nothing by mistake and nothing without a purpose. It is by his own will that he scatters sunlight like this with both his hands, and pours the bountiful shower on all things that grow. He knows what he is doing, blessed be his name. He on purpose sends out sunshine and shower on the evil and on the good, and that is the one lesson we want to bring out tonight. What is the meaning of this boundless generosity? Why this impartial bounty, this indiscriminate liberality?
6. What does God say to us when he acts like this? I believe that he says this: — “This is the day of free grace; this is the time of mercy.” The hour for judgment is not yet, when he will separate the good from the bad; when he will mount the judgment seat and award different portions to the righteous and to the wicked. Sheep and goats as yet feed together, and he gives to them all their fodder; wheat and tares grow in the same field and he ripens both for the harvest. This is not the day of justice, but the period of mercy — free rich mercy — mercy for the undeserving, grace for the worthless, sunlight of love for the evil, and showers of blessings for the unjust.
7. That is the teaching of the great Father for us tonight, and, in trying to bring it out, I shall first show how forcible it is made to appear by its being placed as an example; and secondly, I shall dwell upon the act itself, drawing inferences from the impartiality of sunshine and shower to encourage all who long to receive grace at the great Father’s hand; and, lastly, I shall let the plants and grass and trees talk to you for a little while.
8. I. First, then, this which is spoken concerning God’s causing his sunshine to fall on the evil as well as on the good is set before us as AN EXAMPLE, AND HENCE THE EMPHASIS OF ITS MEANING.
9. We are, according to the verses which precede our text, to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us, to pray for those who despitefully use us and persecute us, because if we do so we shall be like our Father in heaven, who blesses with sunshine and shower the bad as well as the good. It must mean, then, that he, in causing his sun to shine upon the bad, is rendering good for evil, is wishing well to those who treat him poorly, is intending favour for those who despitefully use him, and persecute his cause. That is what the text means. God would not command us to do what he will not do himself, if placed in similar circumstances. He asks us to forgive, because his sunshine and shower teach us that he is ready to forgive. He asks us to do good to those who use us badly, because in sunshine and shower he is doing good to those who hate him and despitefully use him. Now suppose, my brethren, that we were all enabled by divine grace to obey the precept which is set before us, our conduct would be regarded by most men as being very extraordinary; for the majority of people say, “Well, I will do good for a man if he is a deserving character, but you cannot expect me to help the undeserving. I will cheerfully render a measure of assistance to a person who is grateful, but to the ungrateful and the evil you do not expect me to be kind, do you? Yes, I will be kind to my neighbour, but that man who the other day was so contemptuous in his behaviour as to treat me worse than a dog, and seemed as if he would tread me under his feet like dirt; would you have me show him kindness?” Now, suppose that you are able to rise to the example which is put before you, and that you persistently do good, and only good even to the worst of men; and when you are treated with evil suppose you are able only to do all the more good, and thus heap coals of fire upon the offender’s head by being more generous to him than ever — that will be very extraordinary conduct. You think so, I know, for you feel the proposal to be too hard for flesh and blood to carry out; and so indeed it is. If, however, you are enabled to rise to so great a height, you will astonish all around you and become a wonder to many.
10. Admire, then, with all your hearts the marvellous conduct of your God. He is prepared to put away all the offences of the past; and he is ready to forgive, and to do good to those who have been doing wickedly all their days; yes, to take into his very heart of love and make into his children the very people who have hated him and spoken evil against him. Will it not be extraordinary if he does that for you, dear friend, if such has been your character? Know, then, that the Lord loves to do extraordinary things. “Who is a God like you, passing by transgression, iniquity, and sin?” “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are his ways above our ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts.” God is prepared to save extraordinary sinners by an extraordinary act of love; wiping out the past, and causing them to begin a new life in which they shall be enriched with his favour and preserved by his love.
11. Again, if a man should carry out what I have tried to describe — the continuous rendering of good to the undeserving — he would be regarded by all thinking people whose judgment is worth taking to be very noble. When a man has been abused, misrepresented, and slandered, and he simply smiles and says, “If you knew me better you would not treat me like this”; and if the first time he finds an opportunity he helps the man who injured him, and if he gets no gratitude, but, on the contrary, worse treatment than before, he is still able to persevere in doing good, most of you would say, “What a noble fellow he is.” Even the man who does not praise him is obliged to feel his greatness. There is about such a man a superiority which covers him with honour in the consciences of those who observe his gentle spirit. Now, listen, you who are conscious of great sin against God. If tonight the Lord were to put all your sins behind his back, and would take you into his family, as he took the poor returning prodigal; and make a great feast for you as he did when his son who was lost was found, would it not be noble of him? Would you not feel that his thoughts are far above your thoughts? Of course you would. Indeed, but my God does noble deeds such as make the harps of heaven ring with ecstatic music as the cherubim and seraphim behold his grace. Oh thrice noble God, there is no one like you, so ready to pardon and to receive each returning penitent and restore him to your favour. To pardon you, my sinful brother, would be extraordinary and honourable to the nth degree, but God is prepared to act in that noble way. Will you not accept such boundless love, and be at peace with such a Lord?
12. Do you not all feel that if you could act in so noble a way it would be very pleasant for you? No doubt, there is some pleasure in knocking a fellow down who insults you, but it cannot last long. When the fire of passion goes out a man begins to think whether it was a good thing to do after all: but not to do it, to turn the other cheek when you have been struck, to do good instead of evil, have you ever tried that? If you have done so, you have heard music in your heart at midnight at the memory of your forbearance. When you have been lying awake you have thought it over, and you have said to yourself, “It makes me happy to think that I did not reply to that angry man in an angry tone — to think that I did not after all give him a smart blow when he gave me one; but that I showed patience and good temper, and endured bad treatment for Christ’s sake.” It is a pleasure as deep as it is noble. To be Christlike is to enjoy a heaven within your heart. Even so it is a pleasure for God to have mercy upon sinners: he delights in mercy. Nothing gives to God greater delight than to save those who have offended him. He is always ready for a gracious deed, and he will freely meet those who seek his face; he does not need you to melt his heart with tears in order to win his love, and he does not require the laceration of your body by penance, nor a long period of agonizing doubt, before he grants full and effective pardon. It is his joy to pardon. He meets returning sinners when they are still a great way off, and kisses them. So glad he is to receive them that if they are glad to be received, yet he is the more glad of the two. Joyful is the great Father’s heart when he presses his Ephraims to his bosom.
13. Did I hear someone say, “But what you are talking about is not justice?” Listen: it is not unjust. Look at the conduct which our Lord commands us to do and see if that would be unjust. If a man has insulted me and I forgive him, am I unjust? If a man has slandered me, and I overlook it, am I unjust? If a man has harmed me, and I refuse to take any revenge except that of doing good to him, am I unjust? Certainly I am not acting according to the laws of justice, but then I am not the judge, and not being the judge, why should I undertake an office to which I am not called? God is the judge of all by necessity of his nature, but he will not fully display that character until the day when in the person of his Son he shall come with all his holy angels to summon men to his judgment bar: for the present he does not deal with living men after the rule of justice, but he deals with them according to his grace. If anyone should question why he should give his grace to the undeserving, here is a sufficient answer for them: “May I not do as I wish with my own? Is your eye evil because mine is good?” If you choose to show kindness to those who do not deserve it, who shall tell you not to? May not a man be as generous and forbearing as he pleases? What law, human or divine, forbids him? And if God, with infinite sovereignty of mercy, chooses to dispense his favours even to those who deserve nothing from his hands, let him be adored for ever, but let him not be questioned for doing so. At any rate it ill becomes the undeserving themselves to raise such a question; rather let them eagerly accept the bounty of the pardoning God.
And then notice this thought — that to do good for the evil, after all,
promotes righteousness. To be good to the unjust is to advance
the cause of right, for goodness towards the evil is one of the most
wooing things in the world, wooing them, I mean, to repent and do
good in return. Let me give you an anecdote. There was a farmer who
lived in one of the new settlements of America. We will call him Mr.
Wrath, for he was a man of a horrible temper, and everyone who lived
near him was made to know it. He had an excellent Christian man
living near him — a gentle, good, easy-tempered soul; and on one
occasion this good man’s hogs strayed into the bad man’s wheat and
caused damage. Mr. Wrath came down in a furious rage, and said what
he would do and what he would not do; the other offered to pay for
the damage, and said that he was very sorry for his neglect and would
do his best that it should not happen again. However, it did happen
again, and the owner of the wheat was in a great passion. He caught
the swine and killed them all, put their bodies on a cart and took
them back to his neighbour. “Your hogs,” he said, “got into my grain:
here they are” — and sure enough there they were, all dead. Of
course, the owner of the hogs might have gone to law with Mr. Wrath
and obtained damages at more or less cost of trouble and temper; but
he merely said that he was extremely sorry that his hogs had
transgressed again, and there ended the matter. Some time later it
happened that Mr. Wrath’s pigs went astray, as pigs will do, and they
damaged this good man’s wheat. What did he do? He had not sought a
legal remedy against his adversary; would not it have been fair and
straightforward to butcher Mr. Wrath’s hogs, on the principle of tit
for tat, as the proverb puts it? Of course it would have been, but a
Christian does not act upon that worn-out legal principle. Instead of
killing the creatures, he caught them all, tied their legs, put them
on a cart, drove up to the door and said, “Friend Wrath, your hogs
got into my grain: I have brought them to you: here they
are,” — the very words that Mr. Wrath had used on him. He went to the
cart, of course expecting to find his swine all dead; but there they
were, all right enough, grunting in proof of their continued
existence. “There,” he said, “hogs are always troublesome. I dare say
you could not help their getting into my grain: there they are.” Mr.
Wrath’s temper was changed from that very day. How could he behave
badly towards such a neighbour who had vanquished him by forgiving
him the injury that he had done to him? Now, just as men can win over
men by their kindness, so God wins over the hearts of men by his love
when the Holy Spirit leads them to see and feel that he acts
graciously towards them. There is no power to win a man like the
power of love. If you have ever been converted, dear friends, I
think that you have felt that you could say —
I yield, by sovereign love subdued:
Who can resist its charms?
The thunderbolts of God might have broken you down, but they could not have forced love into your terrified soul; yet, when Jesus came in love and mercy, you were compelled to yield, and that most gladly and heartily. So God’s goodness towards the unjust is aiding and assisting the cause of righteousness and justice, and who, therefore, shall say a word against it?
15. “Ah,” someone says, “but it is very liable to be abused. If you go and help the bad, and benefit the unjust, you will find that they will take your charity and spend it wrongly, or perhaps they will turn again and rend you.” This is very true, but still the Master says, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who despitefully use you.” He does not insert a clause to the effect that we are only to do this where we are sure that it will not be abused. No, it is absolute. If they make bad use of it, that is no business of yours. Your heavenly Father knows that the churl, when he reaps his harvest, will simply spend it on himself; yet he sends him the sunlight and the shower. He knows that oppressive wretch will, with his wealth, go on to grind the poor; but he sends upon his crops the warm, congenial sun, and the refreshing rain, notwithstanding that. But, dear friends, there is this thing to be said about divine grace, that if God gives it to you, you cannot misuse it, for grace will change your heart and renew your nature, and if he is so ready to give to men those benefits which they can and do abuse, how much more will he bestow that grace which is liable to no such bad usage.
16. Let me add, however, if anyone does abuse God’s mercy, just as if any man abuses your practical kindness, it involves him in great guilt. Men cannot do despite to goodness without becoming extremely vile. You will soon see this if I mention one anecdote. In Holland, in the days when the Baptists were persecuted, it happened that the canals were frozen over, and one poor despised Baptist escaped from a person who was seeking to drag him before the magistrates to get blood-money for his head. He ran across the river, which was wide and frozen. The ice was strong enough to bear him and he got safely to the other side. The person who was seeking his life was a heavier man and he broke through the ice and went into the water. And what did this poor hunted Christian man do? He turned around and at the peril of his own life he helped his persecutor out and landed him on the bank; and what did the wretch do but seize him and drag him before the magistrates and he was burned as the result of his own act of generosity. There is not a man in the world who does not feel that the wretch deserves universal execration. Everyone denounces him at once. So if after God’s mercy towards the unjust and the bad they still go on to sin against him I will leave the universal conscience of mankind to decry them. I heard the other day an example of a dog’s returning good for evil, and this places the matter in an equally strong light. A man had taken a dog with the intention of drowning him, — a large Newfoundland dog. He went into a boat with a big stone intending to throw the dog out of the boat into the stream with the stone around his neck. Somehow or other before he had securely tied the stone, the dog had become free and in a little scuffle between them the boat was upset and dog and man were both in the water. The man sank and was nearly drowned; but the dog, noble creature, swam up and seized hold of the man and drew him safely to shore. Now suppose he had drowned the dog after that! Did I hear some indignant person say, “Let him be drowned himself.” He would not deserve to live, surely. I would take such a dog as that home and say, “While I have a crust, there shall be a bit for you, good dog, who saved my life when I was destroying yours.” Now, if even a dog when it renders good for evil gets a claim upon us, what shall I say of the great God who with generous liberality continues to feed and keep in life and health the undeserving sons of men, and who more than this has given his own Son to die, and sent a message of amazing love to mankind, in which he says, “Come to me: I am ready to forgive you. Come and accept my love and mercy. Let us be friends, for I delight to forgive sin?” Is it not clear that to abuse such love is black-hearted baseness? I beseech you, do not be guilty of it.
17. II. Now, secondly, we may gather fresh hope and encouragement from THE FACT ITSELF.
18. When the sunlight comes upon a wicked man’s field and the rain descends upon the farm of a blaspheming atheist, the man has done nothing to deserve either shower or sun, but yet they favour him. And, blessed be God, he gives his grace to those who have done nothing to deserve it. If all your lifelong you cannot think of one good action you have ever performed, nevertheless the grace of God is free to you if you will have it. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” is preached to you; for deservings and merits are out of the question. God gives freely even to the evil and the unjust.
19. Showers from heaven and sunlight come to those who have not sought them from the Lord’s hands. That churl there never prayed for the sunlight. He does not believe in praying — not he. And that oppressor over there, whom we spoke of, never asked God to send the rain: he said it was a matter of chance, and he did not see the good of praying about it. Yet it came. And oh, what a wonder it is that God is often found by those who did not seek him! People have come into this Tabernacle, and the last thing they thought of was that they would be saved that night, and yet they have been. God’s infinite mercy sometimes comes to those who do not ask for it: according to the text, “I am found by those who did not seek me.” Look at Colonel Gardiner. He had made an appointment and was about to perpetrate a gross act of vice, but the person whom he expected to meet had not come, and therefore he had to wait for an hour or two; and while he waited he saw or thought he saw a vision of the Saviour who said to him, “I did all this for you, what have you done for me?” That question with the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ, by divine grace, changed his heart: he never kept that appointment, but, as most of you know, he became one of the most devout Christians in the world. Oh, tell it the wide world over that just as the rain does not tarry for man nor waits for the sons of men, but comes according to the good favour of God, so often does his grace visit those who did not know God and did not seek after him. Let him be praised and extolled for ever and ever because of this.
20. Now, if grace sometimes comes to those who have not asked for it, do you not think that it will come to you who are asking for it? Oh you who are groaning for it, sighing for it, and longing for it, do you think it will be denied to you? God forbid! He will be sure to bless you. Believe in the Lord Jesus and it is yours at once.
21. The rain comes to those who do not even acknowledge the existence of God. It waters the atheist’s fields, and refreshes the pastures of the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God.” Even so, I have known the grace of God to descend on those who have loudly denied his very existence. In our church there is one at least who not long ago was a loud spokesman against God, but upon his dropping into this house the word came with power to his soul, and again, and again, and again it described his case, until at last he said, “There is a God, for he has found me out. The preacher seems to know my case and character.” Every time he came something was said which so accurately described him that he could not understand and interpret it in any other way than that God had spoken to his soul. Now, if God calls by his effectual grace some who even doubt his existence, how much more will he look on you who have been made to tremble before him, and who desire to be reconciled to him? Surely he will hear the cry of the humble, and grant your penitential request.
22. The Lord sends the rain to some who never thank him for it. “A heavy shower, William,” says the churl. “Yes, sir,” says his pious servant, “May God be thanked for it.” “I do not know much about that, William. I dare say the wind had a good deal to do with it. I knew it would come, for the barometer was down.” So he ends that talk. Indeed, but, dear friend, if God sends temporal blessings to those who do not thank him, will he not give his grace to those of you who feel that you would bless him for ever, if he would only save you? A good woman said when she sought the Lord, “If he saves me he shall never hear the end of it, for I will praise him as long as I ever live, and then for all eternity.” Well, now you may think quite surely that when a soul feels in that manner the Lord will not deny it the sun of his love, or the rain of his grace. He gives rain even to those whom he knows will remain thankless, will he not give his Spirit to those who will become his grateful children?
23. Remember, too, dear friends, that God gives this rain, and this sunshine, year after year. If I were very kind to a man, and he treated me unthankfully I should think that I had a good deal of grace if I kept on being kind to him for twelve months. And supposing I kept on for seven years, I imagine that I should think that I had endured a long enough trial of him, and should get a little tired of being grieved by him; would you not? Yet, see, God has sent sunshine and shower upon the fields of the wicked all their lives long; he has continued to be kind to them, and yet he has not grown weary. Perhaps some of you are fifty years old and yet have never yielded to the love of God. Indeed, you have been hearing sermons these fifty years. Perhaps you are getting onto seventy now. Why, you have heard tender words of love that went further than your ears, and touched your conscience, but you have still held out against God. Oh, the patience of God to have borne with you from day to day! Now, if he has suffered with you for so long, and if tonight you turn to him with purpose of heart, and say, “I have had enough of this rebellion. Lord, I would be at peace with you,” do you think that he will refuse you? Far from it, for his mercy endures for ever.
24. I will make only one more remark on this. The sunshine which you saw today, I do not doubt, was as bright a sunlight as what Joshua saw when he ordered the sun to stand still; and the shower that fell the other day, especially as it fell in these quarters and at Brixton, I should say was quite as plentiful as any downpour which our grandfathers can remember. It is evident that the sun’s fire is not burnt out, and that the clouds are not exhausted. Well, it is so in heavenly things, for the eternal fulness dwells there. God has as much love as ever, and as much grace as ever; and just as a thousand years ago he poured out his grace to convert the bad and the unjust, so he is just as able to pour them out now upon the most guilty, and the most worthless. His grace in conversion, pardon, adoption, and preservation is as large as ever. Glory be to his blessed name, he still rains his bounties on the unjust; and that Christ who when we were dead in sins died for us, and who while we were still sinners revealed his great love for us — that Christ who came into the world to save sinners — still abounds in power to save and bless; and if you will go to him (and oh may his grace constrain you) you shall find it to be so.
25. III. Lest I should weary you, I will finish with the last point, under which I should like to MAKE THE EARTH, THE FLOWERS, AND THE TREES, WHICH HAVE BEEN WATERED AND WARMED, SPEAK TO YOU FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
26. And, first, I will suppose, dear friend, that you are here tonight, and feel that you cannot pray — feel as if you could not come to God, could not do anything. The flowers say, “We are cheered by the sun, and refreshed by the rain; we do nothing to deserve these blessings, but we do long for them.” The little flowers say, “We do long for the rain.” Look at them; they droop their heads during a long drought. See the grass, how brown it gets; see the leaves, how dry they are; see the earth, how cracked it is after a dry season. Now, soul, do long for the mercy of God; pine for it; sigh for it; cry for it. May God help you to do that. To be forgiven, to have the love of God shed abroad in your hearts, is not that worth having? Do pant for it, I say, as the flowers sigh for the rain and the sun.
27. And next, the flowers seem to say, “Do turn to it.” If you keep a plant in your window see how it grows in the direction towards the sun. Notice the trees how they put out their branches sunward. See the sunflower how it turns its head in the direction of the sun. The flowers love the sun. If you cannot do anything to get divine grace, at least turn your head that way. Look that way; long that way; grow that way. You will receive it, it will not be denied. It will come to you. It has come to you if you already begin to turn to it with longing gaze.
28. And then the flowers seem to say, “Drink it in when it does come.” In January there was the crocus just peeping up from the soil, and the sun shone on it, and in gratitude it brought up from the depths — from its cellar somewhere — a golden cup, and set it out to catch the sunbeams until the sun smiled and graciously filled it to the brim. And have you noticed when the soft April showers fall how the flowers each seem to have a cup to hold a share of heaven’s bounty? and certainly beneath the soil each flower has its little travelling rootlets sucking up each drop of moisture they can find.
29. Now, dear hearers, when grace does come especially near to you, drink it in. Is the sermon blest to you? Do not go away and lose its influence. Do you feel some tender movements in your conscience? Yield to them. Is there an invitation? Accept it. Is there a threatening? Tremble at it. Open your heart and say “Come in, my Saviour, come in and reign and save my soul from the wrath to come.”
30. But then the flowers say once more, “Do thank God for it.” The last two or three days I have seemed to live in a temple. When I go into my garden I have a choir around me in the trees. They do not wear gowns, for their song is not artificial and official. Some of them are clothed in glossy black, but they sing like little angels; they sing the sun up, and wake me at break of day; and they warble on until the last red ray of the sun has departed, still singing out from bush and tree the praises of their God. And all the flowers — the primroses that are almost gone — these look into my heart deep meanings concerning God until the last one shuts his eye. And now the forget-me-nots and the wall-flowers and the lilacs and the snowball trees and a host of sweet beauties are pouring out their incense of perfume, as if they said, “Thank the God who made us. Blessed be his name. The earth is full of his goodness.”
31. Now, dear hearers, if you do receive the Lord’s grace, thank him for it. Grow by it, blossom with it, be fragrant with it. If you only receive a little grace be very grateful for it, for a little grace is worth a great deal. If God gives you grace enough to be called starlight, thank him for it, and he will give you moonlight; and when you get moonlight grace, thank him for it, and he will give you sunlight; and when you have obtained sunlight grace, thank him for it, and he will give you the light of heaven which is as the light of seven days.
Lastly, — and this the flowers cannot teach you, because the flowers
cannot do it — pray for grace. It will come; it will come. Do you
remember George Herbert’s pretty verse. With that I will finish. He
The dew doth every morning fall:
And shall the dew outstrip thy dove?
The dew for which grass cannot call —
Drops from above.
See his point? The dew comes every morning. The grass cannot ask for it, but it comes. And shall the dew be more free and swift than the Holy Spirit? No, says the poet: I can pray for that holy Dove: will he not come to me who prays, since the dew comes to the grass which cannot call for it? Behold he visits the earth and waters it with the river of God which is full of water, and flings back the curtains of the sky and asks the sun to shine out with congenial face upon the poor dead soil; and if he does all this for the fields that cannot pray and for flowers that cannot speak, how much more will he do it for you who seek his face through Jesus Christ.
Come then to him. He will gladly welcome you. Come and trust his Son.
Come and rest in the merit of the blood of Jesus, and you shall find
eternal life. May God bless you all, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mt 5:17-6:8]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Adoration of God — Oh Sing Unto The Lord A New Song” 176]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The True Scapegoat” 555]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Solid Rock” 549]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Dismission — Parting” 1051]
God the Father, Adoration of God
176 — “Oh Sing Unto The Lord A New Song”
1 Unto the Lord, unto the Lord,
Oh, sing a new and joyful song!
Declare his glory, tell abroad
The wonders that to him belong.
2 For he is great, for he is great;
Above all gods his throne is raised;
He reigns in majesty and state,
In strength and beauty he is praised.
3 Give to the Lord, give to the Lord
The glory due unto his name;
Enter his courts with sweet accord;
In songs of joy his grace proclaim.
4 For lo! he comes, for lo! he comes
To judge the earth in truth and love;
His saints in triumph leave their tombs,
And shout his praise in heaven above.
Edwards A. Park, 1858.
Gospel, Received by Faith
555 — The True Scapegoat
1 Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
2 But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.
3 My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.
4 My soul looks back to see
The burdens thou didst bear,
When hanging on the cursed tree,
And hopes her guilt was there.
5 Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing his bleeding love.
Isaac Watts, 1706.
Gospel, Received by Faith
549 — The Solid Rock
1 My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, his covenant, and his blood,
Support me in the sinking flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
4 When the last awful trump shall sound,
On may I then in him be found,
Dress’d in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote, 1825, a.
1051 — Parting
1 Once more, before we part,
We’ll bless the Saviour’s name,
Record his mercies every heart;
Sing every tongue the same.
2 Hoard up his sacred word,
And feed thereon and grow;
Go on to seek to know the Lord,
And practise what you know.
Joseph Hart, 1762.