A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, December 22, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *10/25/2012
Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but remains for ever. [Ps 125:1]
1. This is the first verse of one of the Songs of Assents. These Songs were probably sung by the pilgrims as they went up to Jerusalem, when they halted at the various rest places or passed certain places of interest. It is very possible that this psalm burst forth from joyful lips at the moment when Zion first came into sight, and the worshippers gazed upon the city of their solemnities. Happy pilgrims! They had left behind them many a dreary glen and dangerous forest, and now they saw in their full view their journey’s end and therefore they sang with all the gathered joy of days gone by. They could not have exalted so if they had not previously sorrowed. The same truth may be learned from the use of the term “Song of Ascents”: it warns us that this psalm rises out of what preceded it, as one step of a staircase rises above the next one. David would not have sung the one hundred and twenty-fifth psalm if he had not first learned to sing the one hundred and twenty-fourth: if he had not been where men threatened to swallow him up alive, and found in such a case that the Lord was on his side, he could not have been quite so sure that “those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved.” Our experiences are our instructors even concerning themselves: they shed light upon each other, and we learn enough from one trial to begin to unfold the mysteries of another. The one hundred and twenty-fourth psalm must first to some extent be passed through, so that we see that all our help lies in the Lord, or we shall never reach to the grand positiveness of this one hundred and twenty-fifth, and sing, “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion.”
2. We have heard some of the brave expressions of Christian heroes, and we have thought, “I wish I could speak with that man’s faith.” Brother, to possess such faith you must take with it its owner’s trials. You may rest assured that God never gave a pennyworth of faith to any man so that it might be hoarded in a cupboard; faith is sure to be used, and what is more, great faith is not possessed by those who are untrained in its need and use; it is a sword which is not worn by a man until he has come to years and strength to use it. I greatly rejoice in that utterance of Luther when going to Worms. Some of his friends told him that he would be burned to powder, as Huss had been before him, but he laughed, and said he had no fear. “If,” he said, “they shall build a fire between Wittenburg and Worms that should reach to heaven, in the Lord’s name I would appear, and step into behemoth’s mouth, between his great teeth, and confess Christ, and let him do his pleasure.” His joy at that time seems to have been overflowing, though his danger was obvious to all. Now, this holy boasting sounds good, but it is not to be imitated by every babe in grace; this man had passed through a preparatory process which brought his mind into a triumphant state, in which he was a king of men, a lion among a pack of dogs. It is not to be forgotten that there was a subsequent sinking of his soul, as in the case of Elijah, to prevent his being exalted above measure at the memory of his own courage. For this, also, he who would have a very royal faith must stand prepared. Those who do business in great waters must sail in ships outfitted for stormy seas. You and I, perhaps, paddle around the shores of a quiet lake, where our little boat is large enough for most purposes; we are not tested by great storms, neither is our boat held by large anchors; our needs are not of the greatest, and therefore our supplies are not like those of the larger craft, which sail upon greater waters. Still, one would wish to be among the Lord’s most useful servants, and to that end would cheerfully accept the great risk. We would not wish to remain babes, but we desire to become fully grown men, and surely he is one who has drank up the one hundred and twenty-fourth psalm as a somewhat bitter cup, and then feels that he can dine upon the one hundred and twenty-fifth, and rise to bless the Lord, who makes his people to “be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but remains for ever.”
Notice that the metaphor which is used in the text was drawn by the
pilgrims from the hill before them; or, if the psalm does not belong
to pilgrims, but to all Israel, they took the comparison from that
mountain with which they were best acquainted. If they might not all
see Lebanon, which lay at the northern extremity of the land, if they
might not all behold the excellency of Carmel, or gaze upon the
heights of Hermon, yet once in the year they must all look upon Zion,
“where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to the testimony of
Israel.” The comparison was therefore a familiar one, and I sometimes
wish that we were more apt at sanctifying to holy uses the common
objects which are all around us: these streets and houses, our own
country, and our own home. I am afraid our eyes are open when we seek
signs of sadness and we find them on every hedge and in any garden
plot; but we should also look at home when we want metaphors of
thanksgiving with which to proclaim our security and our comfort in
the Lord. To have a house at all is something. Cold blows the wind,
but warm is our own fireside; and even so “Lord, you have been our
dwelling-place in all generations.” All you who love your homes may
see in them the symbol and representation of your dwelling in God in
peace for ever. Believing Englishmen, you may especially bless God
that your country gives you an admirable picture of your own
security. You dwell alone, separated by the floods from all other
nations: this is the security of our beloved isle.
He bade the ocean round thee flow,
Not bars of brass could guard thee so.
Those who trust in the Lord shall be as these happy islands, which shall not know the rod of the oppressor, for the Lord has guarded them with a better defence than walls or bulwarks. Hebrew comparisons were most fit for Hebrew believers, let us make English comparisons from our own circumstances and surroundings; thus it will appear as if our faith were less a tradition and more truly a present day reality; thus also will true religion wear a more real and warm aspect, and will strike others with greater force. Faith, when she is active and observant, finds illustrations of her own blessedness all around. Amid the descending snows of this cheerless wintry day she says, “Did he not say that cold and heat, and summer and winter should never cease?” Do we not have his covenant with the earth still fulfilled before our eyes, and may we not rest assured therefore that the covenant with his people will not fail? Are not these snowflakes signs of his word which is not spoken in vain? Does not this bitter chill assure us of his omnipotence of whom we read, “He casts out his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?” Open your eyes, my brethren, and look around, and just as the believing Israelite saw Zion and began to sing about it, so you shall also “go out with joy, and be led out with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break out before you into singing.”
4. Now, to come to the text, — I have merely touched its corners in this rough preface. We have in the verse before us first of all a lowly people — “Those who trust in the Lord”; one talks a good deal about them, yet they are of no reputation among men: secondly, a singular stability in them — “they shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but remains for ever”; and then, thirdly, we shall for a while consider the obvious reason for this stability of theirs.
5. I. First, here we read of A LOWLY PEOPLE.
6. What is said of them is nothing very great in the judgment of human reason, they are merely said to “trust in the Lord.” This is a very simple thing to do. God gives promises, and they believe them. God is at work in providence, and they trust him: God invites them to the mercy seat, and they approach it; God gives them his Son as their salvation, and they believe in him; God grants his Holy Spirit as their teacher, and they learn from him and obey him. To sum up all in one, they “trust in the Lord.” “That is a small matter,” one cries; “any fool can do that.” Just so: perhaps more would do this if most men were not foolishly wise. Any child can trust; and more would trust in the Lord if more men were childlike. “Trust in the Lord.” It needs no effort of intellect to trust, and it needs no laborious education to learn the way; trusting in the Lord is simply depending where there is unquestionable reason for reliance, believing what is assuredly true, and acting upon it. Trusting in the Lord is taking at his word one who cannot lie, or change, or fail; and certainly this is no great feat if we look at it from the carnal man’s own point of view. These trusters in the Lord cannot plume themselves upon the feat they have performed, for to trust in the Lord would naturally seem to be one of the commonplaces of human thought. Should not a being trust its Creator? Strange that any creature should think it difficult! It is a sure sign of the depravity of our race that we not only think it difficult, but find it so: it is sure evidence of how much Satan has bewitched the human mind that simple faith has even become impossible for unrenewed hearts, though it is in itself the easiest exercise of the mind. Men cannot even understand what trusting in the Lord means until God the Holy Spirit opens their understandings, and then he must both create and nourish their faith, or they will have none of it.
7. To trust in the Lord we have admitted to be a very simple matter, but at the same time it is very right. Is it not? Poor simpletons that we are, we can appeal even to the wise ones of the earth and let them be judges in this matter. Should a man not trust in his own Creator? Is it possible for us to discover a being more worthy of confidence than our own God? Does he not deserve to be trusted? In what one respect has he ever played us false? Is there a single case in which the word of the Lord, once given, has been found to fail? When have thirsty mouths resorted to this fountain and found it to be dry? If there is anything against the veracity of God, let us hear it. Evidence is invited. The Lord himself asks for anyone to testify against him who have anything to declare. Lo, these thousands of years have rolled along, and Jehovah has challenged men to bring out their strong arguments against him if they could, but they have found no reason why he should not be trusted, and his word doubted. If then there is new evidence, oh unbelievers, you are here to declare it. Let us hear it. There is none; you know that there is none. Surely it is a matter of clear honesty and right for any man to trust him until he has deceived us or given us reason for suspicion. We always say we will trust the bridge that has carried us safely over. Has not the Lord been faithful to those who have trusted him? What do those who trusted in former times say, or of this present time? Is there anyone living who will come forward and say, “I have trusted in the Lord and have been confounded; I have rested myself upon the Eternal, and I have found him false?” No, hell itself contains not one adversary of God who dares to utter such a calumny against his divine faithfulness. Well, brethren, if we are told that our trust is simple, we will be reconciled to the statement by the equally obvious fact that it is right.
8. Moreover, is it not wise? What can be wiser? Those of us who have tried trusting in God have never found it to fail, whereas when we have trusted in men we have been disappointed. You who have been self-reliant must have found self-reliance to be, at certain times, a terrible mistake; but those who are God-reliant have never found a case in which their rest in the Lord has been a questionable policy. Would it not be an awfully grand fact if a man should make a failure of his life, and could then turn around and truly say, “Oh God, the cause of my failure was that I trusted in you alone, and you could not, or would not help me?” Just as there is a terrible grandeur in the infamous wickedness of Milton’s Satan, so much of grandeur that sometimes the reader has been made forgetful of the vileness of the fiend in the greatness of the rebel, so there would be a kind of appalling splendour about a being who should have implicitly lived for God and depended upon him, and then should have failed. The idea is next door to blasphemous, and tremblingly I let it pass before you so that you may perceive that it can have no real existence. Borrowing poetic licence, I have just mentioned it, but I know it to be utterly impossible. See, then, how certain of success the believer is! How impossible it is that he should make shipwreck! The mere notion of it has passed before you, and you have rejected it as worse than absurd. It must be wise to link yourself to him whose name is Love. To get that little boat of yours in tow with the Infinite must be wise! To gain some kind of connection between yourself, the creature of an hour, and the Eternal, who spoke the world into existence, and whose glance will return it to nothing, must be wise. It must be a grandly wise thing to be joined to the Lord God, and there is no link that can at the first be cast between God and sinful man except that of simple confidence: may that link be ours at this moment and for ever. Blessed are those who by the Holy Spirit have been led to trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
9. Let us speak further about these simple people, — these half fools, as the world thinks them to be. They came to trust in God as a matter of necessity, they could not do otherwise. Why is it that numerous people deal with their friends on trust? It is because no other way is open to them. Matthew Henry says, “All who deal with God must deal upon trust, and he will give comfort to those only who give credit to him.” We cannot bring the Lord our merits, but let us give him our confidence. Because we are poor, let us appeal to his riches; because we cannot help ourselves, let us cast ourselves upon his power. What else can we do? God is to be trusted: let us trust him with all our hearts. Do other trusts invite us? Let us reject them, for we remember the past heart-breaks which they have caused us. Lord, we trust in you, and come to cast ourselves upon you! To whom else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. Often trust is for a believer his only path, he is restricted to faith; he must believe or die. He is pushed up into a corner, he is bewildered, he can scarcely pray, he cannot understand himself, nor lift a finger; and now trusting is the resort of his desperation; it is not his choice, but the fruit of compulsion. Brethren, I feel it to be a sweet thing to faint away into faith. Did you ever do that? Were you ever so far gone that at last you have melted right away from yourself, and sunk into God? I believe that this swooning faintness is the door of faith for multitudes of souls; they enter into peace, not by strength, but by sheer weakness: they do not run into the arms of God, but they fall there. There are doubtless some who run to Christ, for we read of one who came running to him; but there are others who need to be dropped down before him upon a bed. It does not matter how they come to Jesus, as long as they do come to him; yet it is worthy of notice that faith in many cases is a child of weakness; on its human side it is a Jabez, [1Ch 4:9] borne with sorrow, the birth of self’s expiring pang.
10. Yet faith which arises out like this from very weakness, like the phoenix from its own ashes, has a great side to it. It is, in some respects, the most sublime effort of the human mind. If ever the bright spirits which stand before the throne test their own faculties upon the mysteries of providence, foreknowledge, predestination, and the free will of man, — if they ever enquire where the agency of the created ends and where the divine is found alone, — if ever, I say, they try the edge of their intellect upon themes like these, they finish by declaring, “We are lost, our spirits cannot comprehend the infinite, but we believe in God, and are sure that he orders all things properly.” They doff their coronets before the throne of their superior King, in reverent confidence in his eternal goodness: this is their grandest worship, their truest adoration, — they do believe. Brethren, faith is not of earth alone, but saints and angels in heaven believe in the Eternal God. It would be a crime to suspect them of the contrary. The mystery of Jehovah’s dealings still reveals their faith; they remember his unfulfilled promises, and they look for their accomplishment, for they have not as yet seen the Bridegroom coming to his bride, nor the earth subdued to his sway, nor the full manifestation of the creation, when the sons of God shall be revealed, and the creature itself shall cease from its groaning. Trust is the simplicity of a babe, but it is the glory of a genius; it is grand in seraph or in saint, and while it befits a child it is worthy of an archangel. Although these trusters are poor fools, yet they are closely related to nobler beings.
11. Now, can you tell me why it is that if a man trusts in God he is generally despised by his fellows? If a person were to say, “As for my getting on in the world, I am trusting in a friend of mine who is influential with the government”; or if another said, “My father was born before me, and he will see me well provided for,” no one would condemn either person as an idiot, but would treat his confidence as quite legitimate; but if any one of us were to say, “Our confidence, as for our future in this world is resting in our heavenly Father,” there would be a shrugging of the shoulders, a knowing look of the eyes, and when they got far enough away our critics would say, “That man is a fool, or a pious fanatic.” Alas, God is a nobody to the majority of mankind, and it seems a ridiculous thing to them to trust in him. To trust in God is to the worldly man the next thing to building castles in the air. The unbelieving laugh, because they cannot understand us: but what is the reason why they become angry with us? Why do they turn again and rend us? They leave other simpletons alone, but those who trust in God become objects of scorn. The believer finds that a jest is made upon his faith, and mirth is aroused by his confidence: what he says is widely spread, and more than a little distorted, and he is looked upon as little better than a natural fool. This always was so, and always will be so until the Lord comes. He who is born after the flesh persecutes him who is born after the Spirit. The man who walks by sight cannot understand the man who walks by faith; how should he? And if we get to trust in God, and that trust becomes the great motive power of our life, as I earnestly hope it may be with each one of us, then the worldly man will not know how to make head nor tail of our conduct, and he will first of all ridicule, and then oppose. Care nothing for the opposition; he who is right has conquered.
12. Before we proceed further, let us notice how the text includes all who truly trust in the Lord, both small and great, for it says, “Those who trust in the Lord.” It does not say, “Those who trust in the Lord with a highly intelligent faith.” It is a good thing to understand much, and to trust in the Lord with growing knowledge, but, dear soul, if you do not know much, yet if you are trusting in the Lord, you shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved. The text does not limit the blessing to those who have great faith. The stronger your faith the better; the more faith you can have the richer and happier your life will be; but the assurance of our text is for those who have any faith, even a mustard seed of faith; those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion. And notice it does not say, “those who have had faith for many years.” It is a great thing to have had faith for a long lifetime, it ripens and sweetens; but this promise is made to the youngest as well as to the oldest, to those who have believed in the Master’s word for a few years, or months, or days, as well as to the veterans. Those who trust in the Lord, though it is only yesterday that they began to trust, shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved. Neither does the text demand a loftiness and heroism of trust, but it simply speaks of the trust itself. Your faith may not be like that of Samson, which kills a thousand men, but it may be a humble, teachable faith, which sits like Mary at the Master’s feet at home. Well, you shall be as Mount Zion, that cannot be moved. Only have real trust in God, and you shall have the steadfastness of the sacred hill of the Lord.
13. Some of you may have been so sweetly taught to trust in the Lord that you can say, “Yes, blessed be his name, I do trust him, altogether, unreservedly, and without a suspicion.” Be abundantly sure that the text is your portion today. I hope there are some of us who can now trust our Lord in any case. If we only see the Lord’s word in any teaching, however mysterious or obnoxious to flesh and blood, our questions are at an end. We accept unhesitatingly the hard and the deep things of God. If we see any attribute, or promise, or half a promise of our Lord to be on our side, we feel more than safe. A good old saint who recently lay dying, told her pastor that she was resting upon the justice of God. The good divine thought that she had chosen a strange point of the divine character to rest on, but it was not at all so, for she explained herself. “I rest in his justice to my great Surety and Substitute, that he would not let him die for me in vain.” Thus hard, stern justice becomes a blessed pillow for our confidence, and nothing can be softer for a dying head. Though justice is as a stone, yet he who can use it as Jacob used the stone at Bethel shall see the ladder which reached to heaven, and angels trooping upon its rungs. Awkward providences, too, like stern attributes, we have learned to use as helps for our trusting. It happened that Rabbi Joshua was walking up Mount Zion one day with his brother, Rabbi Eliezer, and as they walked along they startled a fox, which ran out from among the rubbish. “Alas, my brother,” said Joshua, “this is a sad sign; does it not show us the anger of the Lord against Israel? He has given Zion to be a desolation, and the foxes walk around her.” Eliezer replied, “True, my brother; but does it not also prove the faithfulness of Jehovah towards Zion, for inasmuch as he said that the foxes should go around her when she sinned, has he not also said that he will build her walls again? If he is so faithful to his threatening, will he not in due time fulfil his promise?” Brethren, you must trust the Lord wholly and entirely, in everything and concerning everything. “Trust in him at all times.” You must trust the dark side of him, you must trust in the shadow of his wings as well as in the light of his countenance. Some of you have only learned to trust in the smile of his face, you must learn to trust in the blows of his fist. May God bring us to that! “No,” you say, “we can never come to that.” Surely we can, for did not one of old say, “Though he kills me yet I will trust in him?” That is precisely what we mean.
14. II. Under our second point we shall consider the grand privilege of the text, THE SECURITY OF BELIEVERS, — “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but remains for ever.”
15. Mount Zion had in David’s day undergone a great many changes, and it has seen many more since, but it has never been moved. It was there when the Jebusite defied David, it was there when Araunah threshed his wheat, it was there when the temple gleamed in the sun, it was there when the Roman soldier cast the firebrand into the holy place, and it is there now: it has never been moved, and it never will be. God’s children undergo a variety of experiences. Today their hearts are a place of sacrifice, and tomorrow a battlefield; by turns their soul is a temple and a threshing-floor; but whatever their ups and downs may be, they shall never be moved from their ordained and appointed place: by the grace of God they are where they are, and where they shall be.
16. They shall never be effectively moved from that place before the Lord in which infinite love has fixed them. Where, then, are believers? We answer first, they are in the place of justification. As soon as they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, they were justified by faith. How many years have passed since then? Never mind, — “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” They have not fallen into the place of condemnation; they have not been driven from the honourable position of justified men, for “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” The Lord has covered them with the righteousness of Christ, and cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, and therefore they must and they shall stand in his favour as long as Zion’s famous rock remains in its place. “He who believes on the Son has everlasting life.” “He who believes on him is not condemned.” The sheep of Christ shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of his hand.
17. The believer is also in the place of regeneration, and out of that condition he shall never be moved. He was born again; prove that fact, and there is no reversing it. He who is born again is born again. You cannot take from a man his first birth, neither can you take from a man his second birth: the thought is ridiculous, the fact is impossible. Are you a child of God? You are a child of God, and you can never be other than a child of God, either in time or in eternity. Do you have a child? You may disown him, but he is yours none the less. Your child may be rebellious, and his character may make you sorrowful, but he is your child for all that. You cannot unchild him. Even so, if God is my Father, which I know he is, since he has taught me to trust in him, then I may not question the perpetuity of my sonship, since it is an enduring thing, and I shall no more be moved from it than Mount Zion from its ancient seat.
18. Where is the believer? He is in the place of the gracious purpose, — “for whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Being called, my brother, you are a believer, for that is the sign of the heavenly calling; therefore be sure that you were foreknown, and predestinated, and be equally certain that from this predestination you shall no more be moved than the mountains shall be torn from their sockets, and thrown into the depths of the sea.
19. You are also in the place of divine love, dear to the heart of God, for the Father himself loves you, and nothing shall make him cease to love you. He did not love you because of anything good in you. When he chose you he knew what you would be; you will never surprise him whatever evil you fall into, for he has foreseen and provided for it all, and he has said, “ ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness; for the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,’ says the Lord who has mercy on you.”
20. Beloved, if you are indeed trusting in God you are in the stronghold of the covenant, God has entered into bonds with you to bless you. By oath and promise, by two immutable things in which it is impossible for him to lie, he has given you strong consolation concerning everlasting salvation in Christ Jesus; and you are like Mount Zion, you shall never be removed from your place in the covenant. Although your house is not so with God as you might desire, yet he has made with you an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.
21. What is your position? Why, you are in Christ, one with your Lord and Head, a living member of his body. You are a part of the mystical Christ, and no one shall dismember the Only Begotten, or rend in pieces the Lord of all. It can never be that he shall lose a single limb of his own august membership. Until Mount Zion shall be torn from its eternal base no one who is in Christ shall ever be torn away from him. In this truth there is something to feed upon. Here is a downy couch of precious consolation to lie upon when you are sick, and a garden of delights to walk in when health returns. Here is food for men, in the strength of which we may do, and dare, and die for our Lord.
22. “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which can never be moved, but which remains for ever.” This shall not only be a matter of fact concerning the believer’s actual position with God, but to a large extent this shall be true in his own consciousness as he advances in the life and walk of faith. Believers are too often tossed about in their minds, and suffer great shakings and movings of heart because they do not trust in the Lord as they should. These things ought not to be, for we ought to be steadfast and immovable; but by reason of infirmity and immaturity many are tossed to and fro as with a tempest. Still, even in these, deep in their soul their faith is earnestly keeping its hold, and does not permit them to drift altogether. Behind a great deal of grievous unbelief, when we are in a depressed condition, there lives a faith which is not moved, but in secret takes hold as for dear life, biding its time until better days shall come. I remember another story of Martin Luther, which may appropriately be told in this place. Great-souled Martin Luther could believe and doubt against any man of his time; in believing he could excel the angels, and in horrible thoughts of doubting he could almost match the demons. Great-Hearted men are subject to horrible fits of faintness and despair, unknown to minds of smaller calibre. One day he fell so low in spirit that his friends were frightened at what he might say or do. Things were going badly with the great cause, and the Reformer might in his dreadful condition have upset everything. So his friends got him out of the way, saying to themselves, “The man must be alone, his brain is overworked, he must be quiet.” He rested for a while, and came back, looking as sour and gloomy as ever. Rest and seclusion had not stilled the winds nor lulled the waves. Luther was still in a storm, and judged that the good cause was shipwrecked. I will now give you my own version of the method adopted for the great man’s cure. He went home, but when he came to the door no one welcomed him. He entered their best room, and there sat Catherine his wife, all dressed in black, weeping as from a death in the house. By her side lay a mourning cloak, such as ladies wear at funerals. “Ah,” he says, “Kate, what is the matter now, is the child dead?” She shook her head and said the little ones were alive, but something much worse than that had happened. Luther cried “Oh, what has befallen us? Tell me quick! I am sad enough as it is. Tell me quick!” “Good man,” she said, “have you not heard? Is it possible that the terrible news has not reached you?” This made the Reformer the more inquisitive and ardent, and he pressed to be immediately told about the cause of sorrow. “Why,” said Kate, “have you not been told that our heavenly Father is dead, and his cause in the world is therefore overturned?” Martin stood and looked at her, and at last burst into such a laugh that he could not possibly contain himself, but cried, “Kate, I read your riddle, — what a fool I am! God is not dead, he lives for ever, but I have acted as if he were. You have taught me a good lesson.” It is only by believing the everlasting, enduring love of God that those who trust in the Lord shall come to feel steadfast as Mount Zion which shall never be moved. The man of God may know that he is safe, and yet there may be such a rush and tumult in his experience that he may not be able to understand himself or know his true position. This may happen even to more advanced believers; but as we grow in grace the tendency is to reach a more even and equable condition. Experienced believers are not to be blown around by every puff of wind; no, they come at last to hold on their way in the teeth of all bad weathers, and like hardy mariners, take little account of the lesser storms of life. It is grand to gaze into the face of a patriarch who wears written on his placid brow the words, “He shall not be moved for ever. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” Such men are the pillars of society, and help poor trembling, doubting hearts to hope that there is still something stable. Let it be our object and desire to grow into such confirmed and established believers. The promise of God deserves unwavering faith, and why should we not render it, and thus become fixed in our repose of soul.
23. Once more, while it is delightful to consider the actual immoveability of the believer, and most profitable to seek after a growing establishment of faith, there is one point of fixity which we already have, and can never allow a question to be raised about. Concerning the gospel which we believe and teach, we are once and for all fixed and settled about it: our creed is not a variable quantity, or a shifting cloud. We know whom we have believed, and are as fixed as Mount Zion concerning the eternal verities upon which our hopes are built. Since we have trusted in the Lord we have at times felt that we did not just then derive the support and the comfort that we expected from it, but what then? Shall we leave it and look elsewhere? God forbid! We are at an impasse with all the world of doubters, thinkers, philosophizers, and scientific dreamers; we know enough about the truth of the gospel to be resolved to hold it against legions of their order. We defy alike the council of infidels, and the hell of demons, we never will depart from the grand old gospel which we have received. No, my brethren, at the very worst, our gospel is better than their modern thought at the best. I would sooner drink the dregs of the wine vat of Christ when the berries are sour than I would quaff the sweetest wines on the lees well refined which come from the vintage of unbelief. We are sure and positive in our faith in God and in his infallible word. Oh unbelievers, we are in no degree moved from the certainty of our confidence by the depression of our spirits. You may catch us sometimes in the dumps, and say, “Now you find the gospel does not cheer you as you thought it would.” But our answer is ready for you; we believe the gospel, whether it is yielding us present comfort or not. We would sooner be God’s dogs than the devil’s darlings, and we would sooner feed on the husks of the gospel, if there are any, than on the finest of your wheat. Having learned to trust in the Lord, we are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but which remains for ever. Concerning the essential truth of the gospel, we defy the world in arms.
24. III. Now I have to finish. In the third place, let us consider THE OBVIOUS REASON for all this. Why is it that those who trust in the Lord shall not be moved?
25. Why, first, because they are trusting in the truth. They have not believed a lie, and therefore they shall not be swept from their foundation. They are trusting in one who will not deceive them and cannot fail them. They have laid their foundation on a rock, have they not? If they had trusted in man, man would fail or change, but, lo, they are trusting in One who is truth, power, immutability, holiness, justice — why should they be moved? I cannot imagine a reason. I say again, why should they be moved?
26. They are trusting where their reliance is observed and welcomed. God loves to have many dependents around him. It is his way of revealing himself and his glory. In these later ages, do you not know what the Lord has been doing? He dwelt up there self-contained — God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, within his own supreme Person, self-sufficient. He wanted nothing more, and if he willed anything beyond it was that there might be creatures who could trust him, love him, rest upon him, depend upon him. He went about in creation, and in providence and in grace to make dependents. A great nobleman with a big house in a wide country is not content to be all alone, he needs servants and tenants; and if he is of a generous spirit he seeks the poor. He wants to help poor neighbours, and he says, “This Christmas time I must give something away — is there no one needing a round of beef? Is there no one needing their chimney to be burning a fire that is roasting a joint? Is there no one needing a blanket in this cold season?” God must have dependents like this, he must have those around him who need him. He loves dependents, and I do not see why he should cast them away. Why should he? If this is what he desires, if he seeks such to worship him, who believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him, why should he reject their suit?
27. It is not the nature of God to cast away any who rely upon him; on the contrary, he is very careful that faith should never have less than she has expected. He respects the courage of faith: he never confounds it. If you open your backdoor, and a robin comes bravely in out of the cold, do you drive him out? No, you are pleased with his assurance, and give him a hearty welcome. Even so God deals with poor trembling souls when they come to him. We read of Charles V, the German Emperor, that when a pair of birds had built their nest among the poles and lines of his pavilion he would not allow it to be moved though the time was come for the camp to be on the march. The birds had trusted in him, and they should not be disappointed. The Lord exhibits the same zealous care towards the trembling hopes and feeble confidences of poor souls that trust in him. There is, therefore, no reason why they should be moved, since it is not like the Lord to cast them away.
Once more, for a true believer to be permitted to perish would be a
violation of all the promises of God. He has said to them, “I will
never leave you, nor forsake you.” His own word is, “the righteous
shall hold on his way,” “he who believes in him shall not be ashamed
nor confounded world without end.” Now then, if these promises could
fail, the child of God would be moved; but it is not possible as
long as God is God that he who trusts in the Lord shall ever be
moved. As long as there is a God in heaven every believer is safe.
Let him go and rejoice in this: — because it will bring glory to God to
save him, but for him to be lost would put a slur upon the name of
the Most High. May the Lord bring us to a simple faith in Jesus, and
keep us fixed there. Amen.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 124; 125; 126]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — The Truth Of God The Promiser” 191]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 125” 125]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Final Perseverance — Saints In The Hands Of Christ” 742]
God the Father, Attributes of God
191 — The Truth Of God The Promiser
1 Praise, everlasting praise, be paid
To him that earth’s foundation laid;
Praise to the God, whose strong decrees,
Sway the creation as he please.
2 Praise to the goodness of the Lord,
Who rules his people by his word;
And there, as strong as his decrees,
He sets his kindest promises.
3 Firm are the words his prophets give,
Sweet words, on which his children live:
Each of them is the voice of God,
Who spoke, and spread the skies abroad.
4 Each of them powerful as that sound
That bid the new made world go round;
And stronger than the solid poles
On which the wheel of nature rolls.
5 Oh, for a strong, a lasting faith,
To credit what th’ Almighty saith!
T’ embrace the message of his Son,
And call the joys of heaven our own.
6 Then should the earth’s old pillars shake,
And all the wheels of nature break,
Our steady souls should fear no more
Than solid rocks when billows roar.
7 Our everlasting hopes arise
Above the ruinable skies,
Where th’ eternal Builder reigns,
And his own courts his power sustains.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 125 (Song 1)
1 Unshaken as the sacred hill,
And firm as mountains be,
Firm as a rock the soul shall rest
That leans, oh Lord, on thee.
2 Not walls nor hills could guard so well
Old Salem’s happy ground,
As those eternal arms of love
That every saint surround.
3 Deal gently, Lord, with souls sincere,
And lead them safely on
To the bright gates of Paradise,
Where Christ their Lord is gone.
4 But if we trace those crooked ways
That the old serpent drew,
The wrath that drove him first to hell
Shall smite his followers too.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 125 (Song 2)
1 Who in the Lord confide,
And feel his sprinkled blood,
In storms and hurricanes abide
Firm as the mount of God.
2 Steadfast and fix’d and sure,
His Zion cannot move;
His faithful people stand secure,
In Jesus’ guardian love.
3 As round Jerusalem
The hilly bulwarks rise,
So God protects and covers them
From all their enemies.
4 On every side he stands,
And for his Israel cares;
And safe in his almighty hands
Their souls for ever bears.
5 But let them still abide
In thee, all gracious Lord,
Till every soul is sanctified,
And perfectly restored.
6 The men of heart sincere
Continue to defend;
And do them good, and save them here,
And love them to the end.
Charles Wesley, 1741.
The Christian, Privileges, Final Perseverance
742 — Saints In The Hands Of Christ
1 Firm as the earth thy gospel stands,
My Lord, my hope, my trust;
If I am found in Jesus’ hands,
My soul can ne’er be lost.
2 His honour is engaged to save
The meanest of his sheep;
All that his heavenly Father gave
His hands securely keep.
3 Nor death nor hell shall e’er remove
His favourites from his breast;
In the dear bosom of his love
They must for ever rest.
Isaac Watts, 1709.