A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, May 18, 1879, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *11/19/2012
(The second sermon in commemoration of the completion of Twenty-five years of his Ministry in the midst of the Church assembling in the Tabernacle.)
You crown the year with your goodness. [Ps 65:11]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 532, “Thanksgiving and Prayer” 523]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1475, “Crowning Blessings Ascribed to God” 1475]
Godly men in olden times felt God to be very near to them, and they
attributed everything they saw in nature to the direct operation of
his hand. They were not accustomed to speak of “the laws of matter,”
and “the operation of natural forces,” and “the outcome of various
causes”; but they thought more of the First Cause, the foundation and
pillar of all existence, and they saw him at work on all sides. Hear
how the Psalmist sings, “You make the outgoings of the morning
and evening to rejoice. You visit the earth and water it. You
prepare grain for them when you have so provided for it. You
water its ridges abundantly; you settle its furrows: you make
it soft with showers; you bless its growth. You crown the
year with your goodness.” God was very near in those days. As
One might have sought and found thee presently
At some fair oak, or bush, or cave, or well.
If the result of our philosophy has been to put God farther off from the consciousness of his creatures, may God save us from such philosophy, and let us get back again into the simple state in which we were children at home, and God, our great Father, created all things for us. Let us note the distinct mention of God throughout the psalm, for it is well worthy of notice; and let our speech be more after the olden kind, with less of our supposed knowledge in it, and a good deal more concerning the presence and the goodness of God.
2. I am not about to use our text in reference to the outside world and to the husbandry of man, but we shall see how true it is within the church, which is the husbandry of God. The language was meant to describe the field of nature; but it is equally true of the garden of the church.
3. I am going to use the text in this way, because of the particular circumstances under which we meet, celebrating, as we do, the twenty-fifth year of our happy union together as pastor and flock, — a period which has to the fullest extent been crowned with the goodness of the Lord. If I use the text for spiritual purposes I shall not err, for there is always a most striking analogy between the world of grace and the world of nature, so that it would be hard to find anything said by inspiration concerning the visible world which might not be correctly spoken with regard to the spiritual world. But I do not depend upon that fact for my justification, I refer you to the psalm itself. It is clear that it was written to praise God, not only for his works in the harvest field and abroad upon the sea, but also for his wonderful goodness towards his people, for thus the psalm begins — “Praise waits for you, oh God, in Zion.” It is Zion’s hymn which lies before us; and therefore the church which Zion represented may well appropriate the language and use it for herself, and say, concerning all the Lord’s mercy towards her, in her ploughing, her sowing, her watching, and the glad harvest of her spiritual husbandry, “You crown the year with your goodness.” The spirit of the text is joyful gratitude, and my soul is so filled with it that I do not want so much to preach to you as to lead you into holy adoration of God for the great mercies with which he has surrounded us as a church and congregation from the first day even until now.
4. I. And so our first point is DIVINE GOODNESS ADORED. “You crown the year with your goodness.”
5. Whatever of acceptable service we have rendered, and whatever of real success we have achieved, has come from the Lord of hosts who has accomplished all our works in us. Whatever of holy result may have followed from earnest effort, and whatever of honour has redounded to God from it, is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvellous in our eyes. “Not to us, not to us, oh Lord, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake.” Your goodness, and not ours, has crowned the work; it is indeed your goodness which makes every good work good, and gives to every good its crown. From its first conception even to its ultimate conclusion all virtue is from you. From blade to full grain all the harvest is from you, oh Lord, and let it be ascribed to you. Let us, therefore, praise the Lord with all our hearts for twenty-five years of prayer and effort, of planning and working, of believing and rejoicing, which he has crowned with his goodness.
6. We will try to follow the run of the psalm, and our first note shall be this — praise must only be for God. “Praise waits for you, oh God, in Zion”; not for men, nor for priests, nor for pastors, presbyters, bishops, ministers, or whatever you choose to call them: “Praise waits for you, oh God, in Zion.” Whoever shall have done well in the midst of the church let him have the love of his brethren, but let all the praise be to you, oh Most High. Far be it for the axe to exalt itself and forget him who fells with it, or for the sword to deprive the conqueror of his glory. Praise is silent while the best of men are passing by; it lays its finger on its lips until the Lord approaches, and then bursts out in glad song because he appears.
7. Whatever else you do, my brethren, be sure that your soul magnifies the Lord and abhors the very idea of self-glorification. If the Lord has blessed you, shake off, as Paul shook off the viper from his hand, any idea of ascribing praise to yourself. We are mere vanity, and to us belong shame and confusion of face — these are, so to speak, our belongings, the only dowry our fathers have left to us. What are we that the Lord should bless us? Did you bring a soul to Christ the other day? Bless the Holy Spirit who helped you by his power to do so divine a deed. Did you bear bold testimony for the truth only yesterday? Bless him who is the faithful and true witness that at his feet you learned how to be true, and by his Spirit were enabled to be brave. “Not to us! Not to us!” With vehemence we deprecate the idea of honouring ourselves. Again and again we put away the usurper’s crown which Satan proffers us. How can we endure the base proposal? Shall we rob God of his glory? Even he from whom we derive our very existence? Perish, oh pride, abhorred by God and man. Oh Lord, keep me from the approach of that shameful evil. Brother, if you have any esteem among men, cast you crown at Jehovah’s feet, and there let it lie. All honour be to God only.
8. In this spirit every action of the Christian church ought to be done, for what does the second clause of the psalm say? “To you shall the vow be performed.” Brothers and sisters, we ought to praise God in all that we do, by doing it for his praise. There must be no motive of this kind — “I must give because others give. I must attend such and such a meeting because otherwise I would be missed.” Cast away from you, I urge you, the service of any master except your Lord in heaven, for you cannot serve two masters. Honour the Lord in all that you do. Whether you teach the classes of the Sunday School, or stand up at the corner of the street, or hand a tract to a passer-by, or preach to the multitude, let the vow be performed as to the Lord. It is wonderful how sweet it is to do service when it is expressly done for him. I do not marvel that the woman broke the alabaster box over him. Breaking precious boxes, and spilling priceless nard, may be hard work by itself to selfish flesh and blood, but it becomes a self-gratifying luxury to do it for him. When all our life shall be doing service for the Well-Beloved, whom to serve is honour and delight, for whom to die would be an unspeakable bliss — then we shall have learned how to live. Lord, you crown the year with your goodness, and therefore we would do all things as for you, expecting your grace to assist our service, your love to accept it, your pity to forgive it, and your power to make it effective for your own glory. Oh, that I only had power — and God the Holy Spirit has that power — first to take away from each of us all thought of self-glorification, and then to consecrate our entire being, even to our pulse and breath, for his praise whose love has made us what we are!
9. Further, brethren, in praising God, we may be helped to do so, and to see how he crowns the year with his goodness, when we remember our answered prayers as a church. What does the second verse say? “Oh you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.” I say it — and there is no boasting in the saying of it, but there is a glorying in God — that prayers have been heard which have been raised by this church in ways and means which have not been less than marvellous. Such of you as have been with us from the beginning will remember times when, in our weakness and in our poverty, we cried to the Lord for help, because of our need, and he heard us. This was especially the case concerning the building of the house in which we are now assembled. Ah, how speedily he helped us! how liberally! how like a God! When we have needed means to feed the children of our Orphanage, the Prayer Meeting on Monday night has been followed by a response before the week was out. When two or three of us have met together, unknown to all the rest, to lay special siege to heaven upon the appearance of troubles which we did not wish to tell to others, we have seen the arm of God made bare among us, and we could no more doubt it than we could doubt our own existence. Oh, you who have had your prayers answered, praise the Lord who crowns your supplications with his acceptance. Remember that it is because of prayer that, as a church, we have continued to advance from strength to strength; and shall not our praises balance our prayers? If the Lord gives goodness, shall we not give gratitude? Our prayers confessed our dependence, we felt that our years could never be crowned unless the Lord crowned them; and, now that the blessing has come, let our praises prove our thankfulness while we cry, “You crown the years with your goodness.”
10. And, beloved friends, it may greatly increase our praise for God for all his goodness if we think of our many sins. Have we tried to serve him? Alas, how often have we failed. The iniquities of our holy things might long ago have provoked the Lord to wrath. Among us has there not been much that his pure and holy eyes must have grieved over? The watchers of the church have sometimes come together in severe dismay over this and that which they have seen among the brotherhood, and they have cried to God that he would put away the evil thing from among us, or help us to overcome the evil one, and reclaim the wandering. No one knows except God all the cares and anxieties which surround those who watch over such a flock as this. Who is sufficient for these things? Have we been made sufficient? Then infinite grace has done the deed. The best of us, whoever they may be, will be the first to lie low before the Lord, and those among us who have exhibited a Christlike character, and have served the cause of Christ heartily will the most deeply feel that if the Lord had taken the lampstand out of its place and left us in the darkness, we would have well deserved it. Eternally blessed be the name of the Ever-Merciful, when we have sinned we have always had an Advocate before the throne, and the blood of sprinkling has always been upon us to make us clean in the sight of the Lord. Blessed be his name, though “iniquities prevail” against us, yet, as for our transgressions, he has purged them away, and still his church lifts up her face and lives in the smile of his love rejoicing and triumphant. Beloved, this ought to make us praise God with all our hearts, and the psalmist revealed the wisdom of inspiration in reminding us of it.
And once more, the sacred privileges which infinite mercy has
bestowed upon us should compel us with glad alacrity to magnify the
name of God. See how the psalm proceeds! “Blessed is the man whom you
choose, and cause to approach to you, so that he may dwell in your
courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, even
of your holy temple.” Many now present first learned in this house
their election of God, for here they were called by almighty grace,
and enabled to approach their heavenly Father. Blessed be the
choosing and calling Lord who now gives us access to himself and
nearness to his person. You remember when you first drew near to him
with weeping eyes and melting hearts, because his love had broken
down your rebellious wills. Oh, it was a sorrowful coming, but it was
a true coming, for God was calling you. And do you remember
afterwards when you came to him with glad hearts and rejoicing eyes,
for the Lord has put away your sin, and you stood “accepted in the
Beloved?” Oh, that glad day! Last Sunday we sang —
“Happy day, happy day.”
And we may sing it every day and every morning and evening of our lives, and not sing it too often. The Lord who chose us and called us and made us to approach to him has not since become our enemy, for he has allowed us ever since to live in his house. We are his children; we have not called upon him like strangers, but we have lived in his house like sons. He has been remaining with us, and we have been made to remain in him. Shall we not praise him for this? This very house of prayer has been to some of you a quiet resting-place. You have been more at home here than when you have been at home. I will be bound to say that you remember more happy times that you have had here than anywhere else, and these have removed from your memory the sad records of your hard battling in the world, even for a livelihood. I know that many of you live by your Sabbaths. You step over the intervening time from Lord’s day to Lord’s day, as if the Lord had made a ladder of Sabbaths for you to climb to heaven by. And you have been fed in the Lord’s house as well as rested. I know you have, for he who deals out the food has been fed himself, and when he is fed he knows that others have similar appetites, and need similar food, and know when they get it. You have clapped your hands for very joy when redeeming grace and dying love have been the theme, and infinite, sovereign, changeless mercy has been the subject of discourse. Well now, by every happy Sabbath you have had, my brethren; by every holy Monday evening’s prayer meeting; by every occasion on which God has met you in any of the rooms of this building, when a few of you at early morning or late in the evening have met together for prayer; by every time in which the visits of the love of Jesus have charmed your soul up to heaven’s gate, bless and magnify his name, who has crowned the years with his goodness. There would have been no food for us if the Lord had not given us manna from heaven. There would have been no comforting rest for us if he had not breathed peace upon us. There would have been no coming in of new converts, nor going out with rapturous joy of the perfected ones up to the seats above, if the Lord had not been with us, and therefore to him be all the praise.
12. I do not suppose that any stranger here will understand this matter. It may even be that such will judge that we are indulging in self-congratulation under a thin disguise; but we must endure this evil for once. You, my brothers and sisters, who have been together these many years, know what is meant, and you know that it is not within the ability of an angel’s tongue to express the gratitude which many of us feel who for these twenty-five years have been banded together in closest and heartiest Christian brotherhood in the service of our Lord and Master. Strangers cannot guess how happy has been our fellowship, or how true our love. Eternity alone shall reveal the multitude of mercies with which God has visited us by means of our association in this church; it is to some of us friend, nurse, mother, and home — all in one. If we sing more heartily about ourselves as recipients of divine mercy than some might think acceptable, we can only say that we cannot help it. If you drop in at a marriage, and there is much said at the wedding feast about the family and its history, you need not go and put it in the papers, nor even criticise the family greetings too closely. Very likely they seem to look too exclusively at home affairs; but please pardon them for once. Well, whether men forgive me or not, I must and will speak; but all I have to say is to ascribe every good thing to the Lord alone, even to the God of Abraham, “he shall be called the God of the whole earth.”
13. II. Now we will turn to a second point. In the second place, THE ENCIRCLING BLESSING OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS IS TO BE CONFESSED.
14. The psalmist sings — “You crown the year with your goodness,” as though God circled the year and put a coronet on its head, a gem for every month, a pearl for every day — a matchless crown of unceasing goodness which surrounds the whole year. Now I dare to say that the period of twenty-five years, or a whole quarter of a century, wears its royal crown even more conspicuously than any single year. From the first day even until now God has enclosed the whole time with his goodness. I make no exception. We had a dark day once when we were scattered with sorrow; but as I read the fifth verse of the psalm, it is easy to work it into our praise — “By terrible things in righteousness you will answer us, oh God of our salvation.” Standing happily among you, addressing you in this calm and quiet manner, I recall that night in which the multitude seemed to be taken with sudden panic and to rush madly from the house, and then we heard of dead and wounded in our congregation, and the preacher’s heart was broken until he felt it would be good to die. [a] Yet out of that calamity with all its unspeakable grief there sprang a blessing, the fruit of which we have continued still to reap. Yes, I make no exception to anything. The preacher has often been sick and ill, but by this valuable lessons have been taught to him, and through him taught to the people. Sickness has fallen here and there, and sometimes affliction and poverty, but all of you have learned something under the rod, and you have blessed God for his fatherly discipline, full of eternal benefit. Yes, Lord, it is true in our case, “You crown the year with your goodness.”
15. Now, let us just look at this all-encircling goodness of the Lord which we have seen from the first day until now.
16. I saw it first of all in inspiring the few brethren who met together as a church with confidence in God at the very outset. Our first meeting for prayer was, I think, more largely attended than our first sermon. The church was diminished and brought low, but the brethren prayed with great reliance upon God and showed no sign of doubt. They did not say “Die”; they did not believe in becoming extinct, but every man seemed resolved to set his face like a flint, to win prosperity at the hands of God, and for this I thank him. Is he not said in our psalm be the confidence of the ends of the earth? This confidence was the beginning of an endless chain of goodness. Then the Lord was pleased in infinite mercy to prepare men’s hearts to hear the gospel. It was not possible, they said, that large places could be filled with crowds to hear the old-fashioned gospel. The pulpit had lost its power, so unbelievers told us; and yet no sooner did we begin to preach in simple strains the gospel of Christ, than the people flew as a cloud, and as doves to their windows. And what listening there was at Park Street, where we scarcely had air enough to breathe! And when we got into the larger place, what attention we attracted! What power seemed to go with every word that was spoken. I say it, though I was the preacher; for it was not I, but the grace of God, which was with me. There were struck down among us some of the most unlikely ones. There were brought into the church and added to God’s people some of those who had wandered far away from the path of truth and righteousness, and these by their penitent love quickened our life and increased our zeal. The Lord gave the people more and more a willingness to hear, and there was no pause either in the flowing stream of hearers, nor in the incoming of converts. The Holy Spirit came down like showers which saturate the soil until the clods are ready for the breaking; and then it was not long before we heard on the right and on the left the cry, “What must we do to be saved?” We were busy enough in those days in seeing converts, and thank God we have been so ever since. We had some among us who gave themselves up to watch for the souls of men, and we have a goodly number of such helpers now, perhaps more than we ever had; and, thank God, these found and still find many souls to watch over. Still the arrows fly, and the stricken still cry out for help, and ask that they may be guided to the great healing Lord. Blessed be God’s name for this. He went with us all those early days, and gave us sheaves even at the first sowing, so that we began with mercy; and he has been with us even until now, until our life has become one long harvest home.
17. I am bound to acknowledge with deep thankfulness that during these twenty-five years the word has been given to me to speak when the time has come for preaching. It may look to you like a little thing that I should be able to come before you in due time, but it will not seem so to my brethren in the ministry who remember that for twenty-five years my sermons have been printed as they have been delivered. It must be an easy thing to go and buy discourses at sixpence or a shilling each ready lithographed and read them off, as hirelings do, but to speak your heart out every time and yet to have something fresh for twenty-five years is no child’s play. Who shall do it unless he cries to God for help? I only read the other day a newspaper criticism upon myself in which the writer wondered that a man should keep on year after year with so few themes, and such a narrow groove to travel in: but, my brethren, it is not so, our themes are infinite for number and fulness. Every text of Scripture is boundless in its meaning; we could preach from the Bible throughout eternity and not exhaust it. The groove narrow? The thoughts of God narrow? The divine word narrow? They do not know it, for his commandment is extremely broad. Had we to speak of politics or philosophy, we would have run dry long ago, but when we have to preach the Saviour’s everlasting love, the theme is always fresh, always new. The incarnate God, the atoning blood, the risen Lord, the coming glory, these are subjects which defy exhaustion. Yet we bless the Eternal Spirit who gives both seed to the sower and bread to the eater, that we have had spiritual food for our people as often as the time has come around. I must render my special note; and if at any time you have been blest by the word I have spoken, you must render your tribute too. All these years he has crowned us with his goodness by giving us the good word to preach in his name.
18. But, dear brethren, I am most happy to thank God for crowning the years with his goodness by helping us in the reaping and ingathering of souls. I say “us” advisedly. Here we have had a church which from the first began to seek the souls of men. If any of you do not work for Christ I should think you have a hard time of it among us, for one or another is pretty sure to use the ox goad upon you. Both by example and by precept, and by the general spirit of the brotherhood, idlers stand rebuked. Our brothers and sisters from the first began working for the good of men as best they could. Not in a fine, artistic manner; I do not think we ever tried that. We did it very blunderingly, but we went at it with all our hearts. Our young brethren tried their hands at teaching and preaching; very likely it was intellectually very poor preaching, but it was full of heart, and it did good despite its imperfections. The teaching and the looking after converts, the trying to form new churches, the opening of prayer meetings, and all kinds of holy works were not done after any set pattern; but they were done somehow, and often done with a desperate valour and a simple faith which surprised and cheered me. Very often I have brushed the tears from my eyes when I have received from some here present offerings for the Master’s work which utterly surpassed all my ideas of giving. The consecration of their substance by some among you has been apostolic. I have known those who have so given from their poverty, that they have sometimes given all that they had, and when I have even hinted at their exceeding the bounds of prudence they have seemed hurt, and pressed the gift again for some other work of the Master whom they love. The Lord knows every one of your hearts: where you have come short he knows and may his grace forgive; but where, as I most honestly bear witness, many here have gone up to the measure of their ability and even beyond it, he knows and will reward. For your zeal, and industry, and consecration I must bless the Lord who crowns the years with his goodness.
19. There are few among you, I should think, who have worked for the Master who have not seen most encouraging results in the conversions of those for whom you have cared. Certainly there are many among you between whom and myself there might pass a telegraphic glance, awakening glad memories. You have brought to me one after another souls that you have won. You wanted me to speak to them personally because you had an idea that I might be more tender than anyone else. I am afraid you think too highly of me in this respect; still I have been very glad to see those you brought to me, because they were your children. How glad I have been that, inasmuch as I brought you to Christ through his grace, when you have brought others to Christ I have seemed to be a kind of grandfather in your midst, rejoicing in your joy, triumphing in your success. And I shall not exceed the truth when I say that I look upon many of you with an intense love, and satisfaction, because God has made you great winners of souls. You have not sat here to listen to me and to enjoy your Sundays, but you have been sowers of the good seed. You have many times denied yourselves the privileges of God’s house so that you might go and look after others, and the Lord has given you your wages. How many you have brought back whose feet had almost gone! How many you have helped by sweet encouragement when they have been depressed! I do not know all your labours of love, but God knows. This much I know, that the pastorate of this church is practically carried out by the church itself. Beloved elders labour with a diligence which I cannot commend too much, still it would be impossible with five thousand people to care for that a few men should fulfil the service. You watch over each other in the Lord, and for this I bless him, to whom must be rendered all the praise. I feel all the more free to speak about what he has accomplished by you and in you, because you will not take any glory for yourselves but lay it at his feet. Lord, you have blest us greatly, beyond what we asked or even thought, and in return we bless you! When I remember how as a boy I stood among you and feebly began to preach Jesus Christ, and how these twenty-five years without dissension, indeed, without the dream of dissension, in perfect love compacted as one man, you have gone on from one work of God to another, and have never halted, hesitated or drawn back, — I must and will bless and magnify him who has crowned these years with his goodness.
20. III. Now I come to my closing point. It is this: THE CROWNING BLESSING IS CONFESSED TO BE OF GOD — not only the encircling blessing, but the crowning blessing.
21. What is the crown of a church? Well, some churches have one crown and some another. I have heard of a church whose crown was its organ — the biggest organ, the finest organ ever played, and the choir the most wonderful choir that ever was. Everyone in the district said, “Now, if you want to go to a place where you will have fine music, that is the place.” Our musical friends may wear that crown if they please. I will never pluck at it or decry it; I feel no temptation in that direction. I have heard of others whose crown has been their intellect. There are very few people indeed, not as many people by one tenth as there are sittings, but then they are such a select people, the elite, the thoughtful and intelligent! The ministry is such that only one in a hundred can possibly understand what is said, and the one in the hundred who does understand it, is therefore a most remarkable person. That is their crown. Again I say I will not covet it. Whatever there may be that is desirable about it, the brother who wears it shall wear it all his days for me. I have heard of other crowns; among the rest, that of being “a most respectable church.” All the people are respectable. The minister of course is respectable. I believe he is “Reverend,” or “Very reverend,” and everyone and thing about him is to the nth degree “respectable.” Fustian jackets and cotton gowns are warned off by the surpassing dignity of everything in and around the place. As for a working man, such a creature is never seen on the premises, and could not be supposed to be; and if he were to come he would say, “The preacher preaches double Dutch or Greek, or something of the kind”; he would not hear language which he could understand. This is not a very brilliant crown — this crown of respectability; it certainly never flashed ambition into my soul. But our crown under God has been this, — the poor have the gospel preached to them, souls are saved, and Christ is glorified. Oh my beloved church, hold firmly to what you have, so that no man takes this crown away from you! As for me, by God’s help, the first and last thing that I long for is to bring men to Christ. I care nothing about fine language, or about the pretty speculations of prophecy, or a hundred dainty things; but to break the heart and bind it up, to lay hold on a sheep of Christ and bring it back into the fold, is the one thing I would live for. You also are of the same mind, are you not? Well, we have had this crowning blessing that, as nearly as I can estimate, more than nine thousand people have joined this church. If they were all alive now, or all with us now, what a company they would be. Some have fallen asleep, and many are members with other churches, working for the Master where they are probably more influential than they could have been at home. Some of our members we were glad to lose, because our loss was the gain of the universal church. We sent them out to colonize and so to increase the Master’s kingdom. For these nine thousand and more let God be praised. It is a crown in which we must and will rejoice.
22. But another crown for any church I think happens when its members are maintained in their profession. If many are added and then they are scattered again, if they only come to go, if they are found and then immediately lost, what is the benefit of it? But this has been our crown of rejoicing, that we have seen the young converts matured in grace. The blade has become the ear, and the ear has become the full grain in the ear, for which, may God be thanked. And there has been this about it, that just as we built together as living stones, so we have remained together. I have a great many faults, and I often wonder how it is you put up with me, but we have not thought of parting; the mortar which holds us together in the building is very binding. I am not so much surprised that I put up with you, for it is my duty and office to bear with all, and none of you have caused me grief, except such as have walked unworthy and grieved the Spirit of God. We have gone on well together under God’s blessing these many years, and, have no hesitation about continuing in the same loving unity.
23. During these twenty-five years I have had to attend to the quarrels and differences of scores of little churches where their weakness should have been the strongest argument for union. Men usually divide when they are already too few for the work, and this is a grievous evil under the sun. Churches split with contention have laid the wretched differences before me, and I have had many a heavy burden to carry while trying to set things right: but I have not had to spend even five minutes in seeking to heal a breach in this church or maintain its unity. The Lord has given us brotherly love, and to his name be praise. Brethren who have been members of other churches where you have seen trouble, you know what a comfort it is to be connected with a church where we endeavour to walk in love towards each other, and where the noise of war has not disturbed our gates. Truly I must say, and I do say it, “Oh Lord, you give peace in our borders and you fill us with the finest of the wheat. You crown the years with your goodness.”
24. Nor is this all. We ought to bless God for the fruit-bearing ones that have been among us. Workers of all kinds are found for the different agencies of the church as they are required, and God has given us some whom he has greatly honoured, who are our strength for our home church. But, besides that, this church has this day an army of more than four hundred ministers trained at her side, who are now scattered all over the globe preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, while as a militia we have some eighty or more colporteurs disseminating godly books.
25. Best of all, we have a growing band of missionaries. My heart leaped within me on Monday night when I heard the young people, and saw how one and another of our brethren were devoting themselves to mission work. This I think to be the brightest crown of all. If the Lord will only infuse the missionary spirit into us and force out many to go abroad to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ our cup will run over, and we shall again have to say, “Praise waits for you, oh God, in Zion, for you crown the years with your goodness.”
26. Last of all, and never to be forgotten, during these twenty-five years there have gone from us to the upper realms about eight hundred who had named the name of Jesus. Professing their faith in Christ, living in his fear, dying in the faith, they gave us no cause to doubt their sincerity, and therefore we may not question their eternal safety. Many of them gave us in life and in death all the signs we could ask for of their being in Christ, and therefore we do not sorrow as those who are without hope. Why, when I think of them, many of them my sons and daughters now before the throne, they fill me with solemn exaltation. Do you not see them in their white robes? Eight hundred souls redeemed by blood. These are only what we knew of and had enrolled. How many there may have been converted here who never joined our earthly fellowship, but, nevertheless, have gone home I cannot tell. There probably have been more than those whose names we know, if we consider the wide area over which the printed sermons circulate. They are gathering home one by one, one by one, but they make a goodly company. Our name is Gad, for “a troop comes.” Happy shall we be to overtake those who have out marched us and entered into the Promised Land before us. Let us remember them, and by faith join our hands with them. Flash a thought to unite the broken family, for we are not far from them, nor are they far from us, since we are one in Christ. This too is our crown.
27. And now I want one more thing. There is such a thing as a greed that never is satisfied, and I have a great greed possessing me now. I frankly confess my covetousness. Whenever the Lord gives us any great spiritual gift we want more, nor are we blamed for this, but asked to covet earnestly the best gifts. This, then, is my further desire. I should rejoice beyond measure if on this night, and during the next two or three days in which we keep holy day, and bless the Lord for his goodness, some brethren were moved by the Holy Spirit to undertake some new work for Christ which they have not thought of before. Come, my brother, may the Lord crown this year today with his goodness by putting it into your heart to break up new soil, and sow a fresh field for Jesus. Have you been an idler? Buckle up! Today join the labourers and leave the loiterers. Get to the Master’s work. Have you been already diligent? I have more hope in appealing to you. Brother, sister, try something more — something more tonight. Think over in your mind what there is that is left undone in the branch of holy service for which you are suited, or for which you might become suited, and engage in it at once. Come now. Consecrate yourself to the Lord anew tonight, and pray him to lift you to a higher platform, and into a nobler state of consecration. That would be a blessed crowning of the years with his goodness.
28. And what if some young men here were to say, “We shall prosper in business, no doubt, for we feel up to the mark for it. God has given us brain and skill and a fair opening; but inasmuch as we have capacity we will consecrate it.” I hear the sorrows of China borne on the wailing of the wind and the sighing of the sea! Millions upon millions are perishing for lack of knowledge: will no one pity them? The need of India’s teeming population cries to us in voices which pierce the heart; will no one listen and help? A voice comes from the excellent glory — “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” It would be a crown to end the year with if there came from this and that set of useful, earnest Christian men the reply of individual hearts, “Here I am: here I am; send me.” May the Lord give us this crown.
One more thing; oh, if some hearts would yield themselves to the
Saviour tonight, if some were converted tonight, what a crown that
would be to finish up these years with. Testimonial, sirs? No
testimonial can ever be given to the preacher which can equal a
converted soul. These are the seals of our ministry and the wages of
our hire. Socrates on his birthday had a present given to him by all
his students. Some brought less and some brought more. Among the rest
there was one who had nothing in the world to bring, and so he came
to Socrates, and said, “Master, I give you myself. I love you with
all my heart.” The sage considered this to be the most precious of
all the tributes. Will not some of you cry, “I do not know that I
could be a missionary, or that I have any gifts, or talents, or
substance that I could contribute, but, Lord, I give my heart to you
to be renewed by grace?” May God bring you, poor sinner, to the feet
of Jesus, to surrender your whole nature to his sway, so that he may
wash it in his blood, fill it with his Spirit, and use it for his
glory. He says, “My son, give me your heart,” and when the heart is
yielded he accepts the gift. May the Eternal Spirit lead many to give
themselves to Jesus like this tonight, and it will be the crowning
joy of all the years. Amen and amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 65]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 104” 104]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — ‘Not Unto Us’ ” 420]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 145” 145]
[a] Surrey Hall Disaster: On Sunday morning, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon was to preach for the first time at Surrey Gardens Music Hall. The building had seating for over ten thousand people and was one of the largest auditoriums in England at that time. The young preacher arrived early at the Hall and was amazed to see the streets and garden area thronged with people. When the doors were opened, the people entered quickly and soon the place was full. Wisely, Spurgeon started the service earlier than the time announced. He led in prayer and then announced a hymn, which the large congregation sang reverently. He then read scripture and commented on it, and this was followed by a pastoral prayer. As he was praying, voices began to shout “Fire! Fire! The galleries are giving way! The place is falling!” Spurgeon stopped praying and did his best to calm the people, but the damage had been done. In the stampede that followed, seven people were killed and twenty-eight injured. Spurgeon tried to preach, hoping that that would arrest the crowd, but the tumult and the shouting were even too much for the prince of preachers. He then asked the people to sing a hymn as they exited in an orderly manner, and he himself left in a state of shock. He spent the next week in a broken condition, wondering if he would ever preach again.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 104 <10s. 11s.>
1 Oh worship the King,
All glorious above;
Oh gratefully sing
His power and his love;
Our Shield and Defender,
The Ancient of Days,
Pavilion’d in splendour,
And girded with praise.
2 Oh tell of his might,
Oh sing of his grace.
Whose robe is the light,
Whose canopy, space;
Whose chariots of wrath
Deep thunder clouds form;
And dark is his path
On the wings of the storm.
3 The earth with its store
Of wonders untold,
Almighty, thy power
Hath founded of old;
Hath stablish’d it fast
By a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast,
Like a mantle, the sea.
4 Thy bountiful care
What tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air,
It shines in the light,
It streams from the hills,
It descends to the plain,
And sweetly distils
In the dew and the rain.
5 Frail children of dust,
And feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust,
Nor find thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender,
How firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender,
Redeemer, and Friend!
6 Oh measureless might!
While angels delight
To hymn thee above,
The humbler creation,
Though feeble their lays,
With true adoration
Shall lisp to thy praise.
Sir Robert Grant, 1839.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
420 — “Not Unto Us”
1 Not unto us, to thee alone,
Bless’d Lamb, be glory given!
Here shall thy praises be begun,
But carried on in heaven.
2 The hosts of spirits now with thee
Eternal anthems sing:
To imitate them here, lo! we
Our Hallelujahs bring.
3 Had we our tongues like them inspired,
Like theirs our songs should rise:
Like them we never should be tired,
But love the sacrifice.
4 Till we the veil of flesh lay down,
Accept our weaker lays;
And when we reach thy Father’s throne,
We’ll join in nobler praise.
John Cennick, 1742.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 145 (Part 1)
1 Long as I live I’ll bless thy name,
My King, my God of love;
My work and joy shall be the same,
In the bright world above.
2 Great is the Lord, his power unknown,
And let his praise be great:
I’ll sing the honours of thy throne,
Thy works of grace repeat.
3 Thy grace shall dwell upon my tongue;
And, while my lips rejoice,
The men that hear my sacred song
Shall join their cheerful voice.
4 Fathers to sons shall teach thy name,
And children learn thy ways;
Ages to come thy truth proclaim,
And nations sound thy praise.
5 Thy glorious deeds of ancient date
Shall through the world be known;
Thine arm of power, thy heavenly state,
With public splendour shown.
6 The world is managed by thy hands,
Thy saints are ruled by love;
And thine eternal kingdom stands,
Though rocks and hills remove.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 145 (Part 2)
1 Sweet is the memory of thy grace,
My God, my heavenly King;
Let age to age thy righteousness
In sounds of glory sing.
2 God reigns on high, but not confines
His goodness to the skies;
Through the whole earth his bounty shines
And every want supplies.
3 With longing eyes thy creatures wait
On thee for daily food;
Thy liberal hand provides their meat,
And fills their mouths with good.
4 How kind are thy compassions, Lord!
How slow thine anger moves!
But soon he sends his pardoning word
To cheer the souls he loves.
5 Creatures, with all their endless race,
Thy power and praise proclaim;
But saints that taste thy richer grace
Delight to bless thy name.
Isaac Watts, 1719.