1813. Jonah’s Resolve, Or “Look Again!”

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No. 1813-30:661. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, December 14, 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Then I said, “I am cast out of your sight; yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” {Jon 2:4}

1. What a complex creature man is! Those who imagine that they can fully describe him do not understand him. He is a riddle and a contradiction. As says Ralph Erskine — 

   I’m in mine own and others’ eyes
   A labyrinth of mysteries.

Here, for example, is a confession from David. “I was so foolish and ignorant: I was as a beast before you. Nevertheless I am continually with you: you have held me by my right hand.” {Ps 73:22,23} Paul says, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” {Ro 7:24,25} He is strengthened with all might by the Spirit of God in the inner man, and yet he is weakness itself. In the text Jonah appears to be in a despairing condition, — “I am cast out of your sight”; and still he has hope, for he resolves, “Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” Everything seems lost, and yet as long as a man can look to God nothing is lost. God cannot see him, so he thinks; yet he talks about looking towards God, — this is exceptional, is it not? It is as if he said, “I am cast out of your sight, and yet you are the object of my sight.” I do not know of a more gloomy sentence that human lips can speak than this, — “I am cast out of your sight”: I do not know of a more hopeful resolution that the human heart can determine upon than this, — “Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” Oh, untried and inexperienced brother, do not be at all disconcerted when you cannot understand yourself, on the contrary, take it as one of the evidences that there is a divine life within you when you become a mystery to yourself. If, like a schoolboy, you can draw your own likeness on a slate with a piece of pencil, and can say, “This is all myself,” why, then you will be rubbed out, and your image will be forgotten; but an immortal and divinely-inhabited spirit which is to survive sun, moon, and stars is not so readily sketched. While you are brother to the worm, and akin to corruption, you are nevertheless closely related to him who sits on the eternal throne. Vast regions lie between your condition as the abject prey of death and your portion as an heir of God by Christ Jesus. Manhood is a great deep. I do not set it side by side with the fathomless abyss of Godhead, but I know of nothing else which surpasses it.

2. Our text next leads me to observe that faith in the child of God, whatever may be his circumstances, still comes to the forefront. Here is Jonah in such a wretched condition that he says, “I am cast out of your sight”; and yet, despite this, he declares, “Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” The huge Atlantic wave comes rolling on, it sweeps not only over the feet and breast of faith, but it rises far above her head, and for the moment faith seems to be drowned. Wait for a moment, and with her face ruddy from the wave and her locks streaming from the flood, faith lifts up her head again and cries, “Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” Write faith’s motto, — INVICTA; she always rides out upon the white horse, conquering and to conquer. Faith is the child of the Omnipotent, and shares in his omnipotence; it is born from the Eternal, and it possesses his immortality. You may crush and grind it, but every fragment lives; you may cast it into the fire, but it cannot be burned, neither can the smell of fire pass upon it; you may hurl it into the great depths but it is bound to rise again. Faith has an eye that was made to drink in the sunlight, and as long as God is a sun, there will be eyes of faith to rejoice in him. If we have faith, there is that in us which overcomes the world, baffles Satan, conquers sin, rules life, and abolishes death. All things are possible for him who believes. Faith triumphs in every place notwithstanding that her life is one of continued trial. Sense is broken like a potter’s vessel, and reason is frail as a spider’s web; but faith remains, and grows, and reigns in the power of the Most High.

3. Please observe, for it may be for the comfort of some here present, that Jonah was in a position altogether unique and yet faith stood him in good stead. You have read of Joseph in the dungeon; but his imprisonment was nothing compared with the entombment of Jonah in the belly of a fish. You have read of Job on a dunghill in utter misery, — it is a sorry plight; but there are many Jobs in one Jonah if we consider according to present misery and distress. To lie as a living man in a living sepulchre was horrible. Jonah, no doubt, suffered from those inconveniences which, apart from a miracle, would have ended his life very quickly. A dark, stifling, pestilential cell would have been preferable to the stomach of a shark, or whatever great fish it may have been which had swallowed him. The exceptional thing of it is that he was aware of his position, and knew when the monster dove into the sea-bottom, when it passed through a meadow of seaweed, when it neared some great mountain, and when again it rose to the surface. This makes the miracle all the more striking; for one is apt to imagine that the man must have lain dormant, or at least must, in a measure, have been unconscious while in such unusual hiding. His position was such as never mortal man had known before or since. Now, it sometimes happens that uniqueness gives a sting to sorrow. When a man believes that no one ever suffered as he is doing, he concludes his case to be almost hopeless. Dear tried friend, you cannot say this with any certainty, I am sure; for you have comrades with you in your every grief; but Jonah could say it with absolute truthfulness: he was in a place where never man had been before, and where never man has been since, to be alive. His trial was all his own; no stranger shared in it: in his affliction he had no predecessor, and no successor; he was the first and the last who for three days and nights had lived in the belly of a fish. He was exceptional to the nth degree, and yet — here is the blessedness of it — his faith was equal to his position. You cannot banish faith, her home is everywhere. You have seen upon the Manx penny {a} the three legs which must always stand, turn the coin whichever way you please: such is faith, — throw it wherever you may, it always lands on its feet. If faith is in a little child, it gives the child wisdom beyond his years; if it is in a decrepit old man, it makes him strong out of feebleness; if it is faith in solitude, it blesses a man with the best of company; if it is faith in the midst of adversaries, it brings to a man the best of friends. Faith in weakness makes us strong, in poverty makes us rich, and in death makes us live. Get a firm confidence in God, and you need not enquire what is going to happen, — all must be well with you. Winding or straight, up hill or down dale, or through the fire or through the sea, if you believe, your road is the King’s highway. If faith does not fail, nothing fails. Faith arms a man from head to foot with mail through which neither sword, nor spear, nor poisoned arrow can ever pierce. Though it is forged upon the anvil of the devil’s greatest subtlety, no weapon can prosper against you, oh true believer! You are as safe as he in whom you believe; for “he shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall trust. His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”

4. If I might at this time help any child of God who is in trouble into a solid rest in God, I should be indeed delighted. Oh that the ever-blessed Spirit would help me to that end!

5. Carefully notice, first, the verdict of sense — “I am cast out of your sight”; and, secondly, the resolve of faith — “Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” These, remember, were both found in one man at one time.

6. I. First, here is THE VERDICT OF SENSE.

7. Please notice that it comes first in the text. Sense hurriedly decides, “I am cast out of your sight.” It is noteworthy that unbelief is always first to speak. Whenever David observes, “I said in my haste,” you will notice that something is to be confessed which was unwise and untrue. Unbelief cannot wait, it must have its say; it blabs out all its silly soul at its earliest opportunity. In your own case, if you can be calm and patient you will speak for God’s glory; but if you are hasty and petulant, and need to talk as soon as ever the trial comes upon you, it is almost an absolute certainty that you will say what you will be glad to unsay. Our hasty words are often dipped in wormwood and handed back to us that we may eat them. Hold still for a while, my brother, or, if you must speak, speak to your God and not against him; speak to your God and not to yourself. Soliloquies are frequently an increase of woe. The heart ferments and heats itself, creating an inward fever which parches the soul. If a vessel needs a vent it is not helped by being stirred within itself; yet such is the case when we say with David, “I pour out my soul in me.” Better is that word, “You people, pour out your heart before him,” even before the living God. Brother, do not speak to yourself, lest you seem to be a madman: you may greatly vex your soul by those lone maunderings; speak to your God. Even if you utter hasty words, and words of unbelief, they are better uttered in his presence than muttered within your own heart. He will hear them in any case; but when he perceives that in your spirit there is no guile, though much impatience, he will freely forgive you all your childish error of too hasty speech, and help you to bear up under your woe. Speak, for silence kills; but speak to God, for he is full of compassion. Take the warning of the text, however, and be slow to murmur, remembering that the carnal nature is always swift to speak and sure to speak amiss.

8. This verdict of sense, in the next place, was apparently very correct. “I said, ‘I am cast out of your sight.’ ” Did it not seem so? Jonah had tried to get away from God, and God had pursued him with a tempest, and almost had broken the ship to pieces in order to reach him. As the result of the tempest he had been hurled into the sea, and in the sea a great fish had swallowed him, and he had been carried down until the floods surrounded him. Did not all his surroundings confirm his suspicion that he was a castaway? Could he expect ever again that the word of the Lord would come to Jonah the son of Amittai? Could he ever hope again to stand with the joyful multitude who kept holy day in the courts of the Lord’s house, or to present his sacrifice of thanksgiving upon Jehovah’s altar? No; if he judged by his feelings, he was restricted to the conclusion which he expressed. There remained nothing to him except bare life, and that in such a condition that one could hardly desire to have it continued. He thought with abundant show of reason that he must be cast out of God’s sight. Yet it was not so, and therefore I invite those of you who have begun to judge your God by what you feel, and by what you see, to revise your judgment, and in future to be very diffident concerning your power to come to any just conclusion with respect to God’s dealings with you. Thank God, you will be wrong if you despair. It is much better for you to show your faith by relying on your God than to display your folly by saying, “I am cast out.”

9. Since this verdict of sense seemed to be correct, Jonah must have felt that it was assuredly deserved. If the Lord had dealt with Jonah according to his sins, he would have been a castaway. He had hurried to Joppa, and taken a passage in a ship to go to Tarshish, or anywhere else, to flee from the presence of God. Now, what was a better punishment for him than that he should be cast out from the sight of God? Had this not been his enquiry at Joppa, “Where shall I go from your Spirit?” Was this not his demand, “Where shall I flee from your presence?” Now, he has his answer, — he is carried down until the depths enclosed him all around. His waywardness had come home to him: he had been paid in his own coin; and what could Jonah feel except that he was filled with his own ways? Had he died in the sea he could not have doubted the Lord’s justice. If he had been driven away as an outcast, it would only have been righteous retribution for a runaway who refused his Master’s service. This must have made him doubly sorrowful; a guilty conscience is the sourest ingredient of all. When each wave howled in Jonah’s ear, “You deserve it,” he was in an evil plight indeed.

10. One sharp part of Jonah’s misery was that God’s hand was so prominent in his misery. He sees it and trembles. Observe how he ascribes all to God, — “You had cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods encompassed me all around; all your billows and your waves passed over me.” We can bear a blow from an enemy, but a wound from our best friend is hard. If the Lord himself goes out against us, the war is one to tremble about. If the messenger of grief is commissioned by Jehovah himself, and we know it, mere carnal reason concludes that all is finally over, and that henceforth all we can do is to sit down and die. Faith does not think so; but this is according to the manner of flesh and sense.

11. Observe that this verdict of sense, “I am cast out from God,” was very bitter for Jonah. You can see by the way in which he speaks that it is a heavy burden for him, and yet it seems strange that it should be so. Here is a man who, when he was in a wrong state of heart, sought to flee from the presence of the Lord, and therefore went to the sea-coast on purpose, rejoiced to find a ship bound for a distant and almost unknown land, and paid the fare to sail in it for the express purpose of getting away from God; and now that he thinks he is away from God, he is filled with horror and dismay. By this we know the children of God even in their worst state. Oh, you who are the people of God, you may sometimes in your wilfulness wish that you could get away from the all-searching eye; but if you could do so it would be hell for you. If you are a child of God you must dwell in the presence of God; it is your life, and you cannot be happy anywhere else. Oh, redeemed, regenerate man, it is impossible now for your once renewed spirit ever to be happy in the beggarly elements of your former condition: except in the divine atmosphere of heavenly love there is no rest for you. You are spoiled for this world, oh heir of the world to come! There was a time when its dainties would have been sweet to your taste, and your soul could have been filled with it; but that day is over now: you must eat the bread of heaven or starve. If you are not happy in your God you are doomed to be happy nowhere. There is no choice left for you. Your very nature is so affected now that just as the needle does not rest unless it points to the north pole, so your heart can never be quiet except in Jesus. The light of his countenance must be light to you, or you must walk in darkness; your music must come from Jesus’ lips, or else there is nothing for you except wailing and gnashing of teeth; your heaven must be in his embrace, there is no heaven elsewhere for you. Nor would we wish to have it different. I am sure I can say from my very soul that if God could leave me it would be to me a hell worse than Dante or Milton could imagine. What if I still had to pursue my holy calling, and to preach! What woe to preach without him! What a hollow mockery! If I were bound to still continue the outward form of prayer and of a moral life, what vanity of vanities would it all be without my Lord! Without God! brothers, sisters, can you bear the thought? It is not the pang of hell, nor its fires, nor its undying worm, nor anything else that can be pictured of amazing terror that causes such alarm as the mere thought of being severed from God. To be cast out from his sight would be hell indeed! Now, I should think that if Jonah has been in a calm state of mind, and had been able to consider things in the light of truth, it ought to have given him some basis for hope that he was not cast out from God after all, because he was so unhappy at the idea of being so cast out. Will the Lord leave a soul that is distressed by such leaving? No spirit is completely cast off from God if it longs after God. If you can be content without God you are indeed a lost one; but if there is in you a wretched rankling discontent at the very thought of being severed from your God, then you are his, and he is yours, and no eternal division shall come between you and him.

12. So I have brought out something of the force of this verdict of sense, — “I am cast out of your sight”; but I want you further to notice that it was not true. There was ground for grief, but not for this despairing inference. The verdict was not sustained by sufficient evidence. It was a great deal more than Jonah should have said, “I am cast out of your sight.” What, alive in the sea, Jonah; alive in the deep! alive in the belly of a fish! and say that you are cast out from God’s sight! Surely if God was anywhere in the world, it was in that great fish. Where else could there have been more certain proofs of his present power and Godhead than in keeping a man alive in a living grave? There was a constant standing miracle for three days and nights; and where there is a miracle, there God is most visibly seen. If Jonah could have asked the seas and asked the deep places of the earth, they would have told him that the Lord was not far away. If he could have asked the fish itself, it would have admitted that God was there. If those who go down to the sea in ships see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep, much more might he have seen them who went into the sea in a fish’s belly. There is a text that Jonah could never have heard, which I commend to you for the time when you get to be where Jonah was. I do not suppose you ever will be buried alive in a fish literally; but you may spiritually sink as deep as the prophet did. What is that text? “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Jonah said, “I am cast out”: but that was not true. Poor Jonah! the mariners cast him out, but God did not; he was cast out of the ship, but not out of the sight of God. The Lord of old was faithful, and it was his rule never to cast away his people; even as David says, “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: but though he causes grief, yet he will have compassion, according to the multitude of his mercies.” Notice the text I quoted from our Lord’s own lips: “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Never question this sacred word. He will never, never cast out a single one who trusts him. So that if ever you should be in a condition which seems to you quite as forlorn as that of this prophet in the midst of the sea, you may still be sure that you are not cast off, nor cast out. He who says that he is cast out, says more than can possibly be true; since the infallible promise is, “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” It is not for us to forge a lie against the God of the whole earth. He does not speak what is false, but out of his mouth proceeds verity. Even if all things in earth and hell should swear that the Lord has cast away one of his own believing people, it will be our duty to doubt them all; for it is impossible that he should cast out any believer, in any way, for any reason or motive whatever.

13. II. Follow me, dear friends, and may the Lord make it profitable to you, while I dwell during the rest of my time upon THE RESOLVE OF FAITH. Oh that the Holy Spirit may work in us “like precious faith” with Jonah. “Yet,” says Jonah, “even if I am cast out, yet I will look again towards your holy temple.”

14. Jonah was a man of God when he was in his worst state of mind; at no time was the eternal life quite extinct within him. An ugly kind of saint this Jonah, when he was in the sulks! A proud, self-conscious, wilful, and morose being, hard to love! Yet, as an oyster may bear a precious pearl within its rough shell, so did the harsh prophet contain within his being a priceless jewel of faith — faith eminent, prevalent, triumphant, faith of the highest degree.

15. This faith motivated him to pray. The chapter begins, “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly.” Jonah had not prayed when he went down to Joppa. He had taken matters into his own hands, and referred nothing to God concerning that rash voyage. How could he pray in such a temper? He paid his fare to go to Tarshish; he did not pray God’s blessing on that expenditure, I am quite sure. When the sea began to work, and was tempestuous, he was in the sides of the ship, but he did not pray; no, he went to sleep. His conscience had become stupid, and seared as with a hot iron; there was no prayer in him, but a certain numbness of mind and lethargy of heart. And now he gets into the fish’s belly, a very close, dead place, where one would think he would lie in a state of coma, or in a kind of fainting fit, if it were possible for him to live at all; yet there he begins to pray. You will find God’s children praying where you thought they would despair; and, on the other hand, you may discover that they do not pray where you thought they would abound in supplication. “Oh,” one man says, “if I could have my time all to myself, and did not have the worry of this family and this business, what a great deal of time I would spend in prayer!” Would you? I would not guarantee your abundant devotion. Some of those who have least time for prayer pray most, and those who have most opportunity and everything congenial, are too often found to be most slack in their petitions. Jonah’s oratory was narrow, and this pressed the prayer out of him. He did not pray in the sides of the ship, where he had room enough and to spare; but he prayed where he could not get upon his knees, or hear his own voice. Laid out in his living coffin, he began his pleadings. One would think it hard to make the belly of hell the gate of heaven, but Jonah did so. He prays, and one of the best evidences of a living faith is prayer. If you cannot do anything else, you can pray, and if you are a child of God you will as surely pray as a man breathes or as a child cries: you cannot help it. Prayer is your vital breath, your native air. Whether on the land or in the sea, prayer is your life, and you cannot exist without it if you are indeed born from on high. Answer, dear hearer, is it not so? It is not the prayer-book, but the prayer-faith that we must have. Do you have such faith?

16. I ask you to notice, however, that this faith of Jonah did not show itself in prayer to God in general, but the passage runs, “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord HIS God.” There is a mint of meaning here! If you go upstairs and pray to God, as everyone’s God, you have done what every Tom, Dick, and Harry may do; but to go to your prayer closet and cry to the Lord as your own God, is what no one except an heir of grace can do. Oh to cry — “My Father and my Friend! My God in covenant. My God to whom I have spoken years ago, and whom I have heard from very many a time. You whom I love. You who love me, Jehovah, my God.” This laying hold upon God as our own God is a business which the outer-court worshipper knows nothing about. Do some of you have a God at all? “Oh,” you say, “I know there is a God.” Yes, I know there is a bank; but that does not make me rich. What is your God to me? I want to say “my God,” or I cannot be happy. Do you have a God for yourself, all to yourself, for if it is so, you will pray the prayer of faith when you draw near to him, and this will prove that whatever your condition may be, you are not cast out from the sight of the Most High.

17. There is one thing about Jonah I want you particularly to notice, that as his faith made him pray, and made him pray to the Lord his God, his faith made him deal familiarly with Holy Scripture. “What!” you say: “how do you know that?” He only had a small Bible compared with ours, but he had laid much of it up in his memory. Evidently he loved the Book of Psalms, for his prayer is full of David’s expressions. Kindly look at Jonah’s prayer. I think I am right in saying that there are no less than seven extracts from the Psalms in that prayer and its preface. It was Jonah’s own prayer, and no man compiled it for him, for he was far away from the haunts of men; yet his heart led him to his former readings, and his memory came to his aid with expressions most suitable, and forcible, borrowed from a former much-tried servant of the Lord. A deep experience is bound to resort to Scripture for its expression. Human compositions suffice for surface work, but when all God’s waves and billows have gone over us, we quote a Psalm. When our soul faints within us, we are not to be revived by human songs, but we turn to the grave sweet melodies of inspiration. When a true child of God is in trouble, it is wonderful how dear the Bible becomes to him, — indeed, the very words of it. I say the very words of it, for I do not care at all about the scorn which attaches to a belief in “Verbal Inspiration.” If the words are not inspired, neither is the sense, since there can be no sense apart from the words. My soul does know what it is to hang her hope upon a single word of God; and to find her trust accepted. I would not even change the expression of our translation in many a place: not that I am bound by a translation, for God’s original is what we accept as infallible; but yet there are translations which are evidently accurate, for the Lord’s own Spirit has made them unutterably dear to his saints. There are circumstances connected with the very words of many a text, and with God’s dealing with us through those words, and in such cases we cling even to the English text with all our might. I think you will find that tried saints are the most biblical saints. In summer weather we delight in hymns, but in winter’s storms we flee to psalms. Your frothy professors quote Dickens or George Eliot, but God’s afflicted quote David or Job. Those Psalms are marvellous. David seems to have lived for us all: he was not so much one man as all men in one. Somewhere or other, the great circle of his experience touches yours and mine, and the Holy Spirit by David has furnished us with the best expressions which we can utter before the Lord in prayer. Give me the faith which loves the Scriptures. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, and true faith always loves the Word from which it sprang; it feeds on it, and grows by it. In proportion as people begin to criticize the Scriptures, and to doubt the authenticity of this and that, in that proportion they move out of the latitude of faith: the region of criticism is cold as the polar seas; faith loves a warmer atmosphere. The faith of God’s elect clings to God and reverences his word. Man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and upon such food Jonah lived where others must have died.

18. I desire to come close up to my text, while I ask you to notice that faith dares come to God with a “yet.” Jonah said, “Yet I will look again toward your holy temple.” Faith in her worst circumstances trusts in God. Bind her, load her, shut her up, yet she looks to God alone. Oh God, I trusted you once when I was only young, and I felt my need of a Saviour, I came to you then and I looked to Jesus, and I found peace at once, but then I did not know the evil of sin as I know it now. What then? Why, with this new knowledge yet I will look to Jesus. I did not know then the depravity of my heart as I know it now, but yet with this fresh sense of guilt I will look as at the first. I did not know then your great and extreme wrath against sin as I know it now, but yet with this fuller discovery I will look to you. I did not know the burden of life then as I know it now; I did not know the power of Satan over me then as I know it now; yet I will look again to your holy temple. With all these new weights and fresh encumbrances I do today what I did many years ago; I throw myself on you, my Lord, and trust in your matchless plan of salvation through the precious blood of Christ. It charmed me once, it charms me yet again. This is the perseverance and determination of faith. She leaps over all walls, and dashes through all hedges with her “yet.” Come what may, she has looked to Christ, and she intends to do so whatever may arise to suggest some other course.

19. According to the Hebrew, the word should be rendered “only” instead of “yet,” — “only I will look again towards your holy temple.” Faith looks to God only. Faith comes alone to her God, and seeks no company to keep her in countenance. When we were first saved it was by faith only, and we still must be saved in the same way. In Jonah’s case all props were knocked away; he had nothing to look to in the fish’s belly at the bottom of the sea; but then and there he trusted God, and that was all. He could not think very clearly, nor confess before men, neither could he be or do anything; for he was packed away in quarters too close for action; but he could look again towards the temple of God, and only he did this. He could give the faith-look when all looking with the eyes was far out of the question. How could he tell in which direction to look for the temple when all around him rolled the dark sea? His look was inward and spiritual, and he was content to do that, and that only. His state was looking, looking — only looking. Be it ours to believe, to believe, and yet again to believe. Jonah looked again to the place where God revealed himself, and we look to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. He looked to the mercy seat sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice, where the Lord was accustomed to pardon and bless all supplicant sinners, and we also look to Jesus as the great Propitiation. To this look we will add nothing as a basis for trust. Jesus is our only hope, and we will only look to him. We will add nothing to our look, our look to Christ; he is our only support and comfort. It is a blessed thing to get clear of all secondary hopes, and to live by faith alone. Mixtures will not do in the hour of trial. A single eye is what is needed: the least division in your trust is painful and dangerous. If you have lost some of your first light, look again; look towards his holy temple at once, and the light shall surely return to you.

20. Do you notice here that faith is driven to do according to her first acts — “Yet I will look again.” You know faith is described in other ways besides looking; it is taking, grasping, possessing, feeding; but faith first of all is looking; and so, whenever you fall into grievous trouble, it will be wise to resort to the beginning of your confidence, and hold it firmly to the end. If you cannot grasp, still look. There are several grades of faith; and when you cannot reach the higher grade it will be wise to enter fully into the lower one. Remember, the lowest form of faith will save, and even the smallest measure of faith is effective for salvation, though not for consolation. Look! Look to Jesus! “There is life in a look.” There is heaven in a look. “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” Look! If you cannot go out to fight by faith, stand still and look by faith. If you cannot declare the glory of the Lord, yet look. If you cannot tell what God has done for you, yet keep still looking by faith to see what God will do for you. Do your first work, and since your first work was a simple look at the Crucified One, look again to him.

21. With this I shall close, urging dear friends here present, even if they forget all the rest of my text, to remember those two words, “Look again.” If any of you are in severe trouble, I will ask you to go home with only these two words ringing in your ears, “Look again!” If you did look once, but have fallen into new darkness, look again. I mean this morning, and I would ask you to follow me in it, to look to my Lord Jesus Christ again as I did at the first. It is frequently a great benefit to overhaul the foundations and begin again at the beginnings. I looked to Christ thirty-three years ago, or more; so did some of you. But the devil may say, “Your faith was imaginary; your conversion was a delusion.” So be it, oh Satan; we will not dispute with you, but we will begin again from this moment. It is such a mercy that faith does not need to grow old before it saves us: the faith born this moment saves the soul in its very birth. Is it so, that your faith is not more than five minutes old, my brother? Have you only just begun to trust Christ? Well, your faith has saved you quite as effectively as the faith of a man who has believed in Christ for fifty years. We must believe anew each day; yesterday’s believing will not do for today. Let us now look to Jesus Christ upon the cross, and trust him this morning as if we never trusted him before. “I will look again towards your holy temple.” It will do each man good to look anew to that cross which is the sole hope of his soul. There is nothing more sweetening to the spirit than to confess sin and accept mercy in the original way, and to go to Jesus anew just as we went at first. Let us do so at this moment.

22. A person proudly said the other day that he could no longer sing, — 

   I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
   But Jesus Christ is my all in all.

He had gotten beyond that! Hoity-toity, here’s a fine fellow! He has just risen from the dunghill, and is come to be a grand gentleman all at once! Nothing will do for him but — 

   See the conquering hero comes,
   Sound the trumpets; beat the drums.

Alas, for the top-heavy hypocrite! Shame on the proud self-magnifier! If he only knew himself he would confess his nothingness with a deeper emphasis than ever, and he would, like the tax collector, cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I believe that as a child of God grows in sanctification he deepens in humility, and as he advances to perfection he sinks in his own esteem. Oh that men would give up that bladder-blowing which seems to be so much admired in certain quarters! We have had much occasion to mourn over the lower life of some professors; but the higher life of others is not a bit better; it is false, proud, censorious, and impractical. Those who boast about perfection will have much to grieve over when once they come to their senses, and stand in truth before the living God. No man talks about living without sin until he is taken in the net of self-deception. I have walked with God for many years, and enjoyed the light of his countenance, but my experience is that I am today obliged to take a far lower place before him than I ever took before, while — 

   Less than nothing I can boast,
   And vanity confess.

Brethren, whether you will do so or not, I flee to the cross again. In the Rock of Ages I again hide myself. Who among us dares to come out from that divine shelter? “Jesus, lover of our soul, let us to your bosom fly.” Let all of us sing as though it were for the first time — 

   Just as I am — without one plea
   But that thy blood was shed for me,
   And that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
      Oh Lamb of God. I come.

23. Dear friends, it is due to God, it is due to Christ, it is due to the gospel, that we should every day believe with the same simplicity of undivided trust. Keep on believing in Christ, “to whom coming as to a living stone.” We are to live by faith. You may be quite sure that you are permitted to do this, for Christ is always a sinner’s Saviour. If you cannot come to him as saints, come to him as sinners. If your unfitness for fellowship as a servant comes before your mind and breaks your heart, yet remember that you may always return as a prodigal son. If you cannot feed in green pastures as sheep of the fold, yet yield to the strong hand of him who seeks the lost sheep. If you cannot come to Jesus as you should, yet come just as you are. If your garments are not clean, as they should be, yet come and wash them white in the blood of the Lamb.

24. This ought to be done more readily by us every day, for it should be a growingly easy thing to believe our God as experience proves his faithfulness. When we are at our worst let us trust with unshaking faith. Remember that then is the time when we can most glorify God by faith. To trust Christ when you have a shallow sense of sin, when your heart is glad and your face is bright, is only a weak trusting him; but to believe that he can cleanse you when your heart is black as hell, when you cannot see one good trait in all your character, when you see nothing but fault and imperfection about your entire life, when all your outward circumstances seem to speak of an angry God, and all your inward feelings threaten you with doom from his right hand, — this is to believe indeed. Such faith the Lord deserves from you. Oh, if you are only a little sinner, a little Saviour and a little faith may serve your purpose; if you have very little fear, and a little burden, and little care, and little need, why then you can not greatly prove or trust your Lord. But if you are up to your neck in sorrow, indeed, if you are drowned in it, as Jonah was, and are driven almost to despair, then you have a great God, and you should glorify him by greatly trusting him. If you are tempted to commit suicide, or to do some other rash and evil deed, do no such thing, but trust yourself with your God, and this will give him more glory than seraphim and cherubim can do. To believe in the promise of God, as you read it in his word, is a grand thing. To believe it, though you are sick and sorry, though ready to die, this is to glorify the Lord. Brethren, if I live I will believe the promise, if I die I will believe the promise, and when I rise again I will believe the promise. Let us resolve to believe though the world is in flames, and its pillars are removed. Let us believe though the sun is turned into darkness and the moon into blood. Let us believe though all the powers of the earth are marshalled in fight, and Gog and Magog gather themselves together to battle. Let us believe though the trumpet sounds for judgment, and the great white throne is set in the open heaven! Why should we doubt? The covenant confirmed by promise and by oath, and ratified with the blood of Jesus, places every believer under the broad shield of divine truth; and what reason can there be for fear? Oh my hearer, do you believe in Christ? Do you trust your God? If you can stand by that, you are not only a saved man, but you already give glory to God. So may he help you to do. Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Jon 1; 2]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 90” 90}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Think Of Jesus” 598}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — Faith Conquering” 533}

{a} Manx penny: A coin stamped with the device of three legs arranged in a form suggestive of a Catherine wheel. OED.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 90
1 Our God, our help in ages past,
   Our hope for years to come;
   Our shelter from the stormy blast,
   And our eternal home!
2 Under the shadow of thy throne
   Thy saints have dwelt secure;
   Sufficient is thine arm alone,
   And our defence is sure.
3 Before the hills in order stood,
   Or earth received her frame,
   From everlasting thou art God,
   To endless years the same.
4 A thousand ages in thy sight
   Are like an evening gone;
   Short as the watch that ends the night
   Before the rising sun.
5 Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
   Bears all its sons away;
   They fly forgotten, as a dream
   Dies at the opening day.
6 Like flowery fields the nations stand,
   Pleased with the morning light:
   The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
   Lie withering ere ‘tis night.
7 Our God, our help in ages past,
   Our hope for years to come;
   Be thou our guard while troubles last,
   And our eternal home!
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
598 — Think Of Jesus
1 When at thy footstool, Lord, I bend,
   And plead with thee for mercy there,
   Think of the sinner’s dying Friend,
   And for his sake receive my prayer.
2 Oh think not of my shame and guilt,
   My thousand stains of deepest dye;
   Think of the blood for sinners spilt,
   And let that blood my pardon buy.
3 Think, Lord, how I am still thine own,
   The trembling creature of thy hand;
   Think how my heart to sin is prone,
   And what temptations round me stand.
4 Oh think not of my doubts and fears,
   My strivings with thy grace divine;
   Think upon Jesus’ woes and tears,
   And let his merits stand for mine.
5 Thine eye, Thine ear, they are not dull;
   Thine arm can never shorten’d be;
   Behold me now; my heart is full;
   Behold, and spare, and succour me!
                  Henry Francis Lyte, 1833.

Gospel, Stated
533 — Faith Conquering <8s.>
1 The moment a sinner believes,
   And trusts in his crucified God,
   His pardon at once he receives,
   Redemption in full through his blood;
   Though thousands and thousands of foes
   Against him in malice unite,
   Their rage he through Christ can oppose
   Led forth by the Spirit to fight.
2 The faith that unites to the Lamb,
   And brings such salvation as this,
   Is more than mere notion or name:
   The work of God’s Spirit it is;
   A principle, active and young,
   That lives under pressure and load;
   That makes out of weakness more strong
   And draws the soul upward to God.
3 It treads on the world, and on hell;
   It vanquishes death and despair;
   And what is still stronger to tell,
   It overcomes heaven by prayer;
   Permits a vile worm of the dust
   With God to commune as a friend;
   To hope his forgiveness as just,
   And look for his love to the end.
4 It says to the mountains, Depart,
   That stand betwixt God and the soul;
   It binds up the broken in heart,
   And makes wounded consciences whole;
   Bids sins of a crimson like dye
   Be spotless as snow, and as white,
   And makes such a sinner as I
   As pure as an angel of light.
                        Joseph Hart, 1759.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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