A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, April 23, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *5/18/2013
And they drew near to the village, where they went: and he made as though he would have gone farther. But they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us: for it is towards evening, and the day is far spent.” And he went in to stay with them. [Lu 24:28,29]
1. What a blessed walk was that from Jerusalem to Emmaus! Were they not highly favoured men to have such a companion as the Lord Jesus, to hear him converse upon such a subject, and to feel their hearts burning within them with so divine a flame? Brethren, these are not the only men who have walked with the Lord Jesus. I trust I look into the eyes of very many who can say, “We, too, have communed with the Son of the Highest; the eyes of our faith have seen him, and our ears have heard his voice.” We have known that Jesus himself drew near, and we have heard the words of Holy Scripture as though they fell fresh from his lips, and so they have, by the power of the Holy Spirit, burned in our hearts, and made our hearts to burn like coals of juniper which have a most vehement flame. Thank God, our divine Master is still the familiar friend of his disciples, and our life walk is with him. In one sense “he is not here, for he is risen”; but in another sense he is more particularly here because he has risen; and whereas unrisen he could only have been in one place at a time, now that he is risen he is by his Spirit present with thousands of his people at the same moment, and he walks not only from Jerusalem to Emmaus, but also to many a village, through many a garden, along many a street. Jesus delights to reveal himself to his people: he is not strange to his own kin. We are bound to bear witness to the fact that he is not ashamed to call us brethren, and to be found walking with us.
2. Yes, even to those who are not his people Jesus comes very near at times, and though they do not know him he walks by their side; and he does not do this in silence, for he instructs them by his word and makes their hearts warm by his sacred influence. I pray that any remark this morning which shall be made to believers may also lay hold of those attentive hearers to whom the kingdom has come very near; for some of you have often been moved in this house of prayer as you have heard Jesus speak, and speak to you; and if you have not been able to call him friend, yet you have heartily wished you could do so. You have been more than half inclined to cast in your lot with his disciples because their Master has warmed your hearts, if he has not made them burn; and even if there has not been the glow of life, still there have been many flickering desires. I pray that Jesus may never leave you, but that your intimacy with him may be growing, until at last you shall know him and he shall know you, and there shall be a union formed between you which never shall be broken.
3. To return to that walk to Emmaus, how short it must have seemed; by far too short for hearts so sad, who at every step found solace. I forget how many miles it was just now. It does not matter. I should think it seemed as if it had scarcely begun when it ended: with such light feet they tripped over that pathway, that they thought Emmaus had been relocated nearer to the city. It was so short because it was so sweet: the conversation was such as good men prize more than dainties. The intonations of that voice must often have awakened memories within them which half compelled them to recognise their Lord; his sweet voice must have charmed them, and the words he uttered, the wondrous words of exposition and consolation, how much they enriched them! Nor was that walk more sweet than solemn; for it is not insignificant to walk with the risen Son of God. Kings might fling their crowns away to enjoy five minutes of such honour; it was nothing less than sublime. Those brethren must often during the rest of their lives have looked at each other and said, “We walked with Jesus.” I should think whenever they met, their conversation would have in it fresh memories of that walk, and each one would say to his companion, “Brother, I have just remembered a point on which the Lord spoke to us. Do you not remember the significant hint which he gave us concerning the meaning of the prophet?” If you and I had ever actually walked with Jesus, I am half afraid we might have grown proud of it: at any rate, if we were helped not to be proud, yet it would always be a sublime memory. How sublime a thing to have kept pace with incarnate Deity, and marched foot to foot with him who is God over all, blessed for ever! No angel has ever walked with Jesus: they cast their crowns before him, and fly on his errands, but he has not given to angels the privilege of such close communion. How solemn to those who all unwittingly had enjoyed it! I think when they knew him they must have been overwhelmed with the thought that they had been so near, and they must have feared in the silence of their souls that possibly they had been rashly familiar. Surely each one said to himself, “Did we say anything improper? Was it this which made him call us fools? When we were expressing our doubts, did we not grieve him? Alas, that we should have so misbehaved ourselves!” They must have looked back upon that high honour with great awe, even as Jacob did after he had communed with God at Bethel, and said, “Surely the Lord was in this place; and I did not know it. How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven.”
4. Brethren, it is a great thing to come near to Christ; and you who have not yet believed in him, I should like you to feel in what a solemn position you have sometimes been placed when “he has been clearly presented as crucified among you!” and you have felt something of that presence. Jesus does not draw near to a man for nothing; he has an influence on all whom he visits. Your sense of his presence has left you with a deep responsibility, especially if you have remained cool under the influence of his holy love and have refused to believe in him. Oh, that you would think of this! Before our Lord passes on and leaves you to your own devices, I would have you know that the King of heaven has been very near to you. Oh that you would cry out to him, nor cease the cry until he comes and resides with you!
5. I. This must suffice for an introduction, Oh that the Spirit of God may give the sermon. My subject runs like this: First, observe in the text, COMPANIONS LIKELY TO PART.
The walk had come to an end, for they had reached Emmaus where they
went, and now the Master made as if he would have gone farther, and
so the holy talk was likely to end. Jesus is going on, and they may
never see him again. The choicest of all conversations now draws to a
close unless the speaker can be induced to stay with the two favoured
travellers. We are told that our Lord Jesus would have gone farther.
He did not pretend that he would have gone; but he was actually
going. It is the way of him not to stay anywhere unless he is invited
and constrained. I do not know where he would have gone, but with that
glorified body of his he was under no necessity of finding shelter,
he could have gone farther and lodged elsewhere, or he could have
suddenly returned to Jerusalem and in a moment have entered into the
apostles’ meeting room though the doors were shut. It would not have
been the first night that —
Cold mountains and the midnight air
Witnessed the fervour of his prayer.
Certainly he would have gone farther; he does not say where, but he knew very well. Under the circumstances, he and his companions seemed likely to part.
7. Now, observe the reason for parting. They were not about to separate because of any ill will on the part of those who had walked with him. No anger had broken out: nothing that he had said had aroused any animosity, — very, very far from it: they felt an intense reverence for the unknown stranger, and sincere gratitude to him for the charming words which he had addressed to them. He was likely to have gone farther; but not because of any disagreement between them. Nor would they have parted because of any weariness of him on their part: he had not prosed away and tired them out so that they would be glad to see the back of him. The rest of the narrative shows that they were in a very different condition of heart from that. If Jesus had gone farther they would have lost his delightful company sheerly through forgetfulness. Turning into his house — for I suppose one of them lived there, and there does not appear to have been anyone else in the house — one of them spread the simple repast for his friend; and what if in his care about the evening meal he had forgotten to invite the wonderful stranger? If Jesus had gone farther, it would have been entirely because they forgot to invite him, or failed to urge him to stay. They could not have felt an utter indifference to him, but they might have forgotten to press their hospitality upon him. Many have short memories when hospitality is concerned. Sometimes we have failed to invite a friend when he needed our kindness, and we have felt sorry for it afterwards. They might have supposed that if he went farther, so important a person was too great to stay with them, and perhaps so wise a person had an errand farther on which required immediate attention, and therefore he could not stay with them. So they might have let him go. Had they lost him it would have been simply through forgetfulness and inadvertence.
8. Brothers and sisters, I hope there are very few of us who love the Lord who are ever likely to lose communion with him through any weariness of him, or distaste of him. Oh no: the happiest moments we have ever had have been spent in Jesus’ company, and we are never so blessed as when he opens the Scriptures to us, and opens our hearts to receive them. But we are in danger lest in the press of worldly cares, lest in our frequent conversations with our fellow men, lest even in our attendances upon the domestic concerns of our own little home, we may forget to invite Jesus to stay with us. Communion with the Lord is more often broken by lack of thought than by lack of heart; though, alas, when the lack of thought has let him “go farther,” then it has cooled down into that rock of ice which we have called a lack of heart. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us charge our hearts that we never forget to entertain the Saviour. Let this be our first thought — that we give Jesus a lodging in our souls. May this be our morning prayer, “Stay with us”; may this be our evening petition, “Stay with us”; may this be the prayer of all the day long, “Stay with us.” May we resolve that under no circumstances will we permit our souls to be at rest unless we rest in him, or to be happy unless he shall be our joy. You see, if the two disciples had lost our Lord’s company it would have been simply through neglect; and if you and I lose him it may be through a neglect which we think is excusable because we were so very busy, and so intensely occupied, but this will not alter the fact, nor bring back our Lord. Oh do not let us treat him so poorly. Are there other objects beneath the sun or above the sun, on earth or in heaven that are worthy to come between us and Christ even for a single moment? Will a wife treat her loving husband with coldness, and then excuse herself that she had other matters on her hands? It may be so; but never, never let the Lord’s redeemed treat their Redeemer as though he might be left in any hole or corner until a more convenient time.
9. The point at which they were at all likely to part company with Christ is worth noting, for it may give us timely warning.
10. It was, first, a point of change. They had been walking with him, and the journey was over. They had been out of doors, but now they have come to their house and are about to enter. There is always a danger for us of missing fellowship with Christ at points of change, and especially at times of greatly altered circumstances. I do not wish, brethren, that you and I should be often transplanted: trees do not flourish well when this happens to them. I knew a friend who appeared to be wedded to the gospel, and was zealous in promoting it when he was persecuted very severely by his father. His father died, and he inherited the old man’s property; and from that hour he was not seen in his former place, nor did he reveal any love for the Lord. This is sad. I would hardly dare to pray for some men that they might have a change from persecution to prosperity: plants that flourish amid ice and snow are burned up when placed beneath a tropical sun. I have known those who appeared to love their Master very heartily when they were poor who have become rich, and now where is their ardour? I hope they have not altogether cast off affection for the sacred name; but certainly the people with whom they once associated know nothing about them now, and they are not engaged in those holy works in which they formerly delighted. How dare I pray for the temporal prosperity of those who would degenerate beneath its influence? On the other hand, I have known many who once were in comfortable circumstances, and when prosperous they appeared to walk with God; as far as we could judge they were patterns of godliness; but they fell upon hard times, and they grew poorer and poorer, until they tasted the bitterness of poverty, and now they say they do not like to be seen by those who knew them, and, therefore, they stay away from the house of God. They have lost the comforts of religion when they most needed them, lost worldly substance, and, alas, lost fellowship with Christ as well. This is equally sad, for whether Jesus leaves us at the golden gate, or at the broken-down door of poverty, his departure is equally a calamity. I am mentioning facts. I give no names, but I have seen these things many times, and therefore I have drawn this deduction, that at points of change there is danger. I suppose there is upon the railway a measure of peril at the switches where the train is turned onto another line, and it is certainly so on the main line to glory. At all times it is good to watch, but especially when we are entering upon new duties, new trials, new temptations. Lord, do not let the novelty of our position fascinate us even for a moment; but stay with us for evermore.
11. It was a point, too, where something had been accomplished. They had finished their journey and reached their homes. Oh, we are such poor things that we can hardly complete anything without being self-satisfied. As little a thing as a finished walk will exalt little minds; but if it is some greater work, the peril is increased. When Christ said, “It is finished,” he opened a river of comfort; but when we exclaim, “I have finished it,” we too often set our minds on fire with pride. Certain men have undertaken a work for Jesus and they have done it by the Holy Spirit’s blessing, and now they feel so pleased with themselves and so satisfied that they are likely to spoil it all, and give their Lord occasion for grief. The lowly Jesus does not seek self-exalting companions. I have known him to go many a mile to speak with the contrite, and it is his delight to dwell with the broken-hearted; but with those who have done something, and therefore feel that they do not farther need his presence, he soon parts company. Nothing drives Christ and holy angels out of a room like the foul odour of pride.
12. Then, dear friends, they were now about to rest for a time. They had reached home, and they looked for repose after the excitements of the week. They had been detained at Jerusalem by grand yet terrible events, and one of them was glad that day to lodge in his own house; as for the other, he was glad to get out of the city and retire with his friend for a little while until good news should come from the apostles. They both hoped for a little peace. Just then the Master made as though he would have gone farther; and when you and I are promising ourselves repose, such as we have known little of upon earth, it is good at such times to especially ask the Master to stay with us. When we are in the battle we are sure to beg him to stay with us, because he covers our head, and we cannot live without him, and when we are proceeding in a weary walk we are likely to ask him to stay with us, for we are then leaning on our Beloved; but when we sit down in the easy-chair, sleep too often creeps over us. Having put off our travelling sandals, and stretched ourselves at ease, ah, then there is the possibility, the sad possibility, of the Master’s going farther while we take our rest, he is always going farther; and when we resolve to go no farther, but to consider ourselves to have attained, then our Lord will soon be gone. We must not take the motto of the famous statesman Earl Russell who has been so often laughed at for his finality: we must not say, “Rest and be thankful,” or we shall soon come to grief. If we fall into that vein it is good to remember that just at such a point Jesus and the disciple are apt to break fellowship. I mention this so that we may be wise in the hour of trial.
13. Now, had they parted company, the act would have been most blameworthy on their part. To have lost the company of such a friend, how foolish! Here was one who had instructed them with tenderness and skill, — one who spoke as never man spoke: would they let him go? Here was one who evidently could explain their mysterious sorrows, and take the sting out of their griefs, and would they let him pass on? They would have been fools indeed if they had done so. It would have shown that they did not appreciate his teaching, nor feel grateful for his opening to them the Scriptures. It would have been gross folly.
14. And yet there is another thought. It was towards evening, and night was lowering, and therefore they said, “Stay with us: for the day is far spent.” it would have been very cruel to have allowed him to journey on in the dark and the dews. Would we treat any friend of ours like this? Could we allow a beloved one to stay outside all night? Was that not his own argument in the Golden Canticle, when he knocked, and said, “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night?” [So 5:2] It would have been inhospitable on their part, inhuman for them to leave him to continue his journey in the darkness of the gathering night when they had a home in which they could entertain him. And so I charge it upon my own soul never to let Jesus be left unhoused, a stranger who has nowhere to lay his head. All hearts are cold in every place towards the Well-Beloved: it is a cold world for Jesus today even as at the time of his life below. Then “he came to his own and his did not own receive him.” Do not let that be said over again, and said of us who are in a more special sense his own than were his brethren according to the flesh. “Do not be forgetful to entertain strangers” is a gospel command; but be especially eager to entertain your Lord. Shall your Lord ever say to any of you who are called Christians, “I was a stranger, and you did not take me in?” Oh, no, let us invite him, beg him, entreat him, constrain him to stay with us for his own dear sake, and let us give to him, in our warm hearts, the best entertainment that we can. We certainly never received such a guest before, and another such we shall never see again. Men are willing to give up their estates and houses for a time to entertain royalty, and they consider them to be increased in value when once a monarch has sojourned in them, and shall we not be more than willing to open wide our hearts, and minds, and homes, so that Jesus may enter and be entertained by us as the King of kings? There is something, then, to be learned from companions likely to part. May the Holy Spirit sweetly teach us!
15. II. Now I change the scene, and notice next THE GUEST NEEDING TO BE CONSTRAINED.
16. The guest is Jesus, and he is about to go farther, and he will go farther unless they invite him, indeed, unless according to the twenty-ninth verse they constrain him. It is a very strong word that, “they constrained him”; it is akin to the one which Jesus used when he said, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence.” They not only invited him, but they held him, they grasped his hand, they tugged at his skirts, they said he should not go: they would not have it: the cold night should not accuse them of being churls: he should not go another yard along that dangerous road; they must have him for a guest, and they could not take a denial.
17. Let us remember why this guest needs constraining, and the first thought is, he could not very well have stayed otherwise. If I were a stranger and walked along the road with two people who did not know me, if I were able to talk to them ever so instructively, I would not think of intruding into their house when the conversation was over. You never see anything in Jesus approaching to poor manners or lack of delicacy; he exhibits the manners of the noblest man who ever lived. He does not force his acquaintance upon anyone, he goes where he is constrained. Besides, what pleasure could it have been to him or to them for him to have lodged in their house if he had not been wanted? Without a welcome, few of us would care to accept a lodging. Jesus therefore naturally, because the other thing was scarcely feasible, waited until he was asked, and even pressed, and had they not constrained him he would have gone farther.
Notice that this is a characteristic of the Son of God at all
times. I do not have time this morning, otherwise I could show you
that all through the Old Testament as well as the New, when the Lord
reveals himself in any visible form he has to be constrained before
he will stay with anyone. The Lord came to Abraham, and Abraham said,
“My Lord, if now I have found favour in your sight, do not leave, I
pray you, from your servant: let a little water, I pray you, be
brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: and
I will get a morsel of bread, and comfort your hearts; after that you
shall leave: inasmuch as you are come to your servant.” [Ge
18:3-5] Abraham constrains these wondrous guests, or otherwise they
will leave. Look at chapter nineteen, and see what Lot did when two
angels came to him. Even supposing these were nothing more than
angels, they show the manners of the court of heaven, so that it is
an equally good illustration for me. He said, “Behold now, my lords,
turn in, I urge you, into your servant’s house, and stay all night,
and wash your feet, and you shall rise up early, and go on your ways.
And they said, ‘No; but we will stay in the street all night.’ And he
constrained them greatly; and they turned in to him, and entered into
his house” [Ge 19:2,3] Joseph was in this a type of Jesus, for
you know how slow he seemed to reveal himself to his brethren, though
all the while he was full of love for them. To Moses the Lord said,
“Leave me alone,” and only by mighty pleadings could the man of God
prevail. When an angel came to Manoah and his wife, to tell them
about Samson, we find that he had to be detained, or else he would
have departed speedily. “And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, ‘I
urge you, let us detain you, until we shall have made ready a kid for
you.’ ” [Jud 13:15,16] You see, the heavenly messenger needed to
be detained, or he would have gone at once. And then comes in that
example of which you have already thought, when the angel said to
Jacob, “ ‘Let me go, for the day breaks.’ And he said, ‘I will not let
you go, unless you bless me.’ ” It is clear that the Lord will be
entreated by the house of Israel to do good things for them. We shall
have to cry, —
In vain thou strugglest to get free,
I never will unloose my hold!
Art thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of thy love unfold:
Wrestling, I will not let thee go,
Till I thy name, thy nature know.
I know thee, Saviour, who thou art,
Jesus, the feeble sinner’s Friend;
Nor wilt thou with the night depart,
But stay and love me to the end;
Thy mercies never shall remove
Thy nature and thy name is love.
19. We know that our Lord himself had a shy habit: he often withdrew himself, and the multitude sought after him; he walked upon the sea, and those in the vessel saw him and he would have gone by them, but they cried out to him. The Syro-Phoenician woman, who sought for the healing of her daughter, found him at first very cold towards her, and only by the greatest faith did she win her desire. He needed earnest pressure before he yielded to her suit. The blind men cried to him for sight, but he passed on, until their piteous cries went up even louder and louder, and they held him, for Jesus stood still. The nobleman when he came about his son pleaded with tears until he cried, “Lord, come down before my child dies.” It often has been so with our gracious Lord; he would not come until he saw that the desire for him was intense. He gives us two parables — one tells us of the man in bed who must be roused with many a knock and many a call before he would rise to give bread to his friend who asked for it; and the other parable is that of the unjust judge who must be wearied by the woman’s importunate entreaties before he will vindicate her cause. From all this you see it is the Master’s habit to hold back until he is pressed and constrained.
20. If we must give a reason for this I would remind you of the jealousy of his character. He is jealous of our love; he says, “Give me your heart,” and so he pauses for a while so that he may see that we love his person and prize his benefits. Of old the Father said, “The Lord your God is a jealous God”; and Jesus, the incarnation of the divine love, has told us that “love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave,” and hence it is that he will not give his company to those who have no heart for it. You shall not have his smiles if the smiles of the world will do as well. If fellowship with worldlings will please you as much as fellowship with him, you shall not have his company. It is only when you languish for him, sigh for him, and cry for him that he will stay with you.
21. He has another reason, and that is, his anxiety to do us good! He wisely wishes that we should value the mercy which he gives by being led to consider what a state we should be in if he did not give it. He stirs up our prayers and then answers them, and so we get a double blessing, the prayers themselves being of much service to us, and then the answer being all the more a blessing. It was good for these two disciples to be allowed to be hospitable: it was good for them to rouse themselves to entreat him. They valued the company of Jesus all the more when they had barely persuaded him to sit at their table and partake of their simple meal. Now, beloved, let us look at Jesus in this light, and say within ourselves, “I am fearful lest I should do anything to arouse his jealousy, and I am anxious to show my eager longing for his presence lest he should think me unkind. I would not make him ‘go farther’ and leave me, but I would hold him firmly, constraining him to stay with me.”
22. III. I have said that here was a guest who needed constraining: there will be no necessity to enlarge upon the remark that here was A GUEST WORTH CONSTRAINING.
23. He was indeed worth constraining when we consider what he had done for them. He had given them comfort and instruction, and he was worth detaining if only for that. Had they known him they would have felt still more that they could not let him go. Would they not have borne him on their shoulders into the house, and said, “Good Master, we cannot think of letting you go, for you are he whom our soul loves, our Master and our Lord, over whom we have been mourning as one dead, and lo, you are alive?” So much were they indebted to him that they could not fail to make him their guest.
24. They must constrain him again; for how comfortless the house would have been without him! I think I see those two disciples sitting down to their meal, supposing the Master had gone on. Suddenly one would have remembered, and said, “My heart feels heavy now that he is gone”; and the other would have said, “How come we let him go? Why did we not entreat him to stay the night with us?” Their meal would have half choked them: they would have gone to their beds and tossed and turned throughout a sleepless night if they had not shown hospitality to him. This is what has happened to some of us when we have carelessly let slip our Lord: we have been like widows who have recently lost their husbands, grieved in heart and desolate. “Should the children of the bridegroom fast?” Not while the bridegroom is with them; but if he is taken from them, then they shall fast. Better to have been outside in the open air, or to have gone farther with the unknown traveller, than to have been comfortably housed, and to have treated him badly. He was a guest worth constraining to stay when we think of the vacuum there would have been if he had gone farther.
25. Besides, we know what they did not know then, that this unknown One would make himself known to them, as he has done to us. Now knowing him, as they knew him afterwards in the breaking of the bread, we ought to feel, we must feel, we do feel, that we cannot, will not let him go, but will detain him: for he is Christ our Lord. I spoke at the beginning to some here who have never known our Lord, and yet he has frequently been very close to them, in hearing sermons, and the like. Dear friends, I earnestly beseech you to receive Christ as a stranger, and you shall soon know him as a friend. You only know about my Lord, that he makes you have the heart burn every now and then, and when we talk about him you go home very uncomfortable. How I wish that you knew him better! Oh, that you would entertain him, for then you would know his excellence! Invite him to come into your heart, and he will be infinitely more to you than he is now. You have no idea what he is: he seems a well-spoken friend, but he will prove to be a brother; he promises now to instruct you, but he will love you, enrich you, and glorify you.
26. Oh dear child of God, not well instructed yet, your eyes are dim and you do not see Jesus as you shall see him; still I urge you to heartily entertain the Saviour, even if your eyes are dim. Take him in, and let him still lodge with you, and you will know more and even more of him. You will know most of him as you break your bread to the hungry, and so break it to him; you will know more as you break the bread at the communion table, and so commune with him. Only remember he is a guest worth constraining, and be sure you do your best humbly but earnestly to detain him.
27. IV. I close by telling you about AN ARGUMENT WITH WHICH TO HOLD HIM. Here it is in the text. “They constrained him, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is far spent.’ ”
28. My first way of using this text does not commend itself to my judgment, but yet it is necessary. All the commentators and preachers I have ever read suppose that these disciples meant by this argument that it was dreary for themselves to be alone, and therefore for their own comfort and protection they begged the stranger to stay. I do not believe it for a moment: still, that would have been a good argument with the tender-hearted Saviour, and if you and I cannot attain to anything else, let us use that plea.
It is towards evening with many of you. You are in affliction,
and the shadows deepen; your light has departed, and you are afraid;
sorrows come on like the darkness of night; you do not know what
approaches; you are heavy-hearted. Ah, then that is a blessed prayer, —
Fast falls the eventide!
The darkness deepens: Lord with me abide.
You can bear any trouble with Christ. No adversities shall harm you, no afflictions shall grieve your spirit if he is with you. Pray, therefore, this prayer, and no longer fear as you enter into the cloud.
30. Or it may be that some of you are falling into depression of spirit through the loss of the light of God’s countenance; you are not as joyful a Christian as you used to be; the high felicities of your spirit have burned down, and all is dim. Now is the time to say, “Lord, stay with me. If I have no joy, still let me have yourself.” It is a blessed thing when a believer does not set his affection so much upon the joy of the Lord as upon the Lord of his joy: when he not only says, “Lord, I will rejoice in you while you do smile,” but cries with Job, “Though he kills me, still I will trust in him.” Better to have to do with a killing God than to have God away. So, cry, “Lord, if I never get a smile from you, if I am never again cheered and comforted by you, and if I never sing a hymn of gladness, yet still stay with me. Be near, even if I do not know it.” It was a beautiful expression of David, who often asked the Lord to shine upon him, when he said, “I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings.” As much as to say — if I have no light from God’s face, I will be glad to be hidden beneath his wing. Stay with me, then, even if my reason almost fails me, and my darkened soul dreads an even more tremendous night. Stay with me, oh Lord, even should my sorrow seal my eyes in death.
31. “Stay with me” is a blessed prayer for those believers who are getting aged. With them it is towards evening, and the day is far spent. Now they should cry, “Stay with me.” Then you will sweetly go to your bedroom and fall into your last, most blessed sleep, and obtain the fulfilment of your prayer that you may be with the Lord for ever.
32. I have used the text in this way because everyone has used it like this, but I believe that these disciples meant it in quite another sense. They used the argument to detain Christ because it was evening: for his sake, because the night was coming on, and they could not think of his being out in it. They knew how heavy the Eastern dews are, and so they constrained him with this: “Stay with us: for it is towards evening, and the day is far spent.” Let each one of us use that argument with our Lord even now: — Lord, the world has no entertainment for you; unbelieving hearts give you no shelter; the self-righteous repel you from their doors; the worldly see no beauty in you; carnal hearts refuse you; every house is locked against you, therefore come in and stay with me. Here is lodging for you: come in, you blessed one, and stay with me. If you lack shelter in king’s palaces, stay with me; if there is no room for you in the inn, yet come in here and find yourself at home, for I shall consider myself greatly honoured by receiving you. Therefore, dear Master, stay with me. How we ought to long to cheer the Blessed One with our love, because he is still so despised and rejected everywhere else. Everywhere else they treat him badly. Oh do not let him be wounded in the house of his friends! If he had fifty houses to go to I might say, “Lord, they can give you better entertainment than lies in my power,” but when it is “towards evening” and no other door is open, Lord come into my poor cottage. I will set all that I have before you and be myself your willing servant. That is the plea.
33. Another form of the plea is this. The ages are growing old and dark. What a plea that is for the church to raise now, for the coming of her Lord. Oh Lord, it is towards evening, the world’s sun is setting; it is nearly two millennia ago since you ascended, and still the world lies in the wicked one: Lord, come to your church, come and stay with her, for as the world grows old, good Master, a chilly night comes on, and the love of many grows cold, and there are some who turn aside who once ran well. Dire evils walk abroad in the dark, and blasphemy and rebuke are rife. Good Master, come to your church, and reside in her, and find your home there.
And the night of all nights is coming on, even the end of the world.
We do not know when, but we know we are getting nearer to it every
day. Earth’s day is far spent; her day of mercy comes towards its
evening, and the night draws on, therefore, Master, come and stay
with us, so that we may win the world for you. Come, come so that we
may convert the heathen to your cross, and that you may have them for
your inheritance. It is with your church that you will do this; come,
then, and stay with her ministers and her missionaries, and all her
living membership, so that the prophecies may be accomplished and
the purpose of the Lord may be fulfilled, and your reward may be the
salvation of your own. Is that not a good missionary text after all,
a blessed prayer with which to begin this missionary week — “Stay with
us for it is towards evening, and the day is far spent?” In the Roman
Catholic Church there is a chant which they use from Easter to the
day of Ascension, and though I care nothing for liturgies or anything
of the kind, yet it is certainly a suggestive canticle. The first
line of the chant is,
“Abide with us Hallelujah.”
And the next is,
“For it is toward evening, and the day is far spent: Hallelujah.”
With that I close. May we use that argument well, until our Lord
shall in very deed stay with us.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 31]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 34” 34 @@ "(Version 2)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — His Name Is Lovely” 808]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Seeking to Persevere — None But Christ” 669]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Evening — ‘Abide With Us’ ” 1028]
P. S. — This sermon was preached on the behalf of the Baptist
Missionary Society. To the great regret of the preacher, the weather
kept many away at each of the Sunday services, and the collection was
short by some £50. The Society is just now in need. It would be very
grateful to the preacher’s mind if certain of his readers would help
that notable mission to that extent. Direct funds to C. H. Spurgeon,
Upper Norwood, London.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 34 (Version 1)
1 Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.
2 Of his deliverance I will boast,
Till all that are distress’d
From my example comfort take,
And charm their griefs to rest.
3 Come magnify the lord with me;
With me exalt his name;
When in distress to him I call’d
He to my rescue came.
4 Oh make but trial of his love;
Experience will decide
How blest are they, and only they,
Who in his truth confide!
5 Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you his service your delight,
He’ll make your wants his care.
Tate and Brady, 1696.
Psalm 34 (Version 2)
1 Lord, I will bless thee all my days,
Thy praise shall dwell upon my tongue
My soul shall glory in thy grace,
While saints rejoice to hear the song.
2 Come, magnify the Lord with me;
Come, let us all exalt his name:
I sought the eternal God, and he
Has not exposed my hope to shame.
3 I told him all my secret grief,
My secret groaning reach’d his ears;
He gave my inward pains relief,
And calm’d the tumult of my fears.
4 To him the poor lift up their eyes,
Their faces feel the heavenly shine;
A beam of mercy from the skies
Fills them with light and joy divine.
5 His holy angels pitch their tents
Around the men that serve the Lord;
Oh hear and love him, all his saints;
Taste of his grace, and trust his word.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
808 — His Name Is Lovely <7s.>
1 Other name than my dear Lord’s,
Never to my heart affords
Equal influence to move
Its deep springs of joy and love.
2 He from youth has been my guide,
He to hoar hairs will provide,
Every light and every shade,
On my path his presence made.
3 He hath been my joy in woe,
Cheer’d my heart when it was low,
And, with warnings softly sad,
Calm’d my heart when it was glad.
4 Change or chance could ne’er befall,
But he proved mine all in all;
All he asks in answer is,
That I should be wholly his.
5 Oh that I may ever prove,
By a life of earnest love,
How, by right of grace divine,
I am his, and he is mine.
John S. B. Monsell, 1863.
The Christian, Seeking to Persevere
669 — None But Christ
1 Thou only Sovereign of my heart,
My refuge, my almighty Friend,
And can my soul from thee depart,
On whom alone my hopes depend?
2 Whither, ah, whither shall I go,
A wretched wanderer from my Lord?
Could this dark world of sin and woe,
One glimpse of happiness afford?
3 Eternal life thy words impart;
On these my fainting spirit lives:
Here sweeter comforts cheer my heart,
Than all the round of nature gives.
4 Let earth’s alluring joys combine,
While thou art near, in vain they call;
One smile, one blissful smile of thine,
My gracious Lord, outweighs them all.
5 Low at thy feet my soul would lie,
Here safety dwells, and peace divine;
Still let me live beneath thine eye,
For life, eternal life is thine.
Anne Steele, 1760.
1028 — “Abide With Us”
1 Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear,
It is not night if thou be near:
Oh! may no earth-born cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant’s eyes.
2 When the soft dews of kindly sleep
My wearied eyelids gently steep,
By my last thought, how sweet to rest
For ever on my Saviour’s breast!
3 Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without thee I dare not die.
4 If some poor wandering child of thine
Have spurn’d to-day the voice divine,
Now, Lord, the gracious work begin;
Let him no more lie down in sin.
5 Watch by the sick; enrich the poor
With blessings from thy boundless store;
Be every mourner’s sleep tonight,
Like infant’s slumbers, pure and light.
6 Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take;
Till in the ocean of thy love
We lose ourselves in heaven above.
John Keble, 1827.