1972. A Bit Of History For Old And Young

by on

No. 1972-33:385. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, July 10, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

And he blessed Joseph, and said, “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who fed me all my lifelong to this day, the Angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.” {Ge 48:15,16}

1. Joseph was in a class by himself. In Jacob’s family he was like a swan in a duck’s nest; he seemed to be of a different race from the rest, even from his childhood. He was the son of old age, the son of the elders, that is, a child who was old when he was young in thoughtfulness and devotion. He reached an early maturity, which did not end in an early decline. As a result of this, Joseph was in a class by himself with respect to his trials. Through his brothers’ hatred of him he was made to suffer greatly, and at last was sold into slavery, and underwent trials in Egypt of the severest kind. “The archers have severely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.” But, brethren, see the reward; for he had blessings which were altogether his own. “His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” He was as much distinguished by the favour of God as by the disfavour of his brothers. When Jacob is old and about to die, he gives Joseph a blessing all for himself, in addition to what he received with his brothers. In the forty-ninth chapter we read, “Gather yourselves together, and hear, you sons of Jacob: and listen to Israel your father”; and they did so, and received as a family such blessings as their father’s prophetic eye foresaw; but before this, “by faith Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph” at a private interview especially granted to them. Had not his tribulations abounded, his consolations would not so have abounded. Do you seem yourself, my friend, to be singled out for particular sorrows? Do the arrows of affliction make your life their target, and are you chastened above all other men? Do not be regretful, for the arrows are winged by covenant love, which intend by their wounds to prepare you for a special work which will lead up to a special benediction from your Father who is in heaven. The day will come when you will be grateful for every smart you now endure; yes, grateful for that bitter pang of unkindness from your brethren, though now it tortures your heart. The abundance of the revelation of God is usually joined with a thorn in the flesh either before or after it. Notwithstanding your grief, there shall yet be born to you, as to Joseph, a Manasseh, for God shall make you to forget all your toil, and an Ephraim, for God shall make you fruitful in the land of your affliction. You shall be blessed above all others. “Even by the God of your father, who shall help you; and by the Almighty, who shall bless you with blessings from heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: the blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.” Surely it is good for a man that he bears the yoke in his youth: his shoulders shall be all the better able to bear the government when God shall lay it upon them. Instructed by affliction, the man shall become a father to his people, and a comforter to the afflicted.

2. Our text tells us that Jacob blessed Joseph, and we perceive that he blessed him through blessing his children; which leads us to the next remark, that no better favour could fall upon ourselves than to see our children favoured by the Lord. Joseph is doubly blessed by seeing Ephraim and Manasseh blessed. Dear young people, to whom I now speak, your fathers can say, “We have no greater joy than this, that our children walk in the truth.” If any of you who are unconverted knew the deep searching of heart of your parents about you, I think you would not long be careless and indifferent about divine things; and if you could conceive the flashes of heavenly joy that would light up your parents’ hearts if they saw you saved in the Lord, it would be an inducement to you to consider your ways, and turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart. God himself, next to giving to his chosen the covenant of grace, can do them no greater earthly kindness than to call their children by his grace into the same covenant. Will you not think of this?

3. Those of us who are parents are bound to do our best, so that our children may be partakers with us of the divine inheritance. As Joseph took Ephraim and Manasseh to see their aged grandfather, let us bring our children where blessings may be expected. Let us be careful of the company into which we take our sons and daughters. Let us never conduct them where they may get harm rather than benefit. Carefully, lovingly, wisely, using no undue severity, let us guide them into likely places for the divine benediction, and encourage them to seek the blessing for themselves by the fact that their parents are seeking it for them. The father who will not seize every opportunity of getting a blessing for his Ephraim and Manasseh is not likely to see the lads seeking the blessing for themselves. Especially should this care be taken by parents who are growing rich, whose offspring will be tempted by this very fact to seek grander company than the poor people of God can afford them. I do not doubt that these two sons of Egypt’s prime minister were exposed to extremely great temptations. As the sons of a very wealthy and distinguished parent, their tastes might lie in an Egyptian direction. I believe that they were nevertheless greatly swayed to the right side, and led to worship the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, by the zeal of the father, Joseph, and by the memory of the benediction of their dying grandfather. There is no trace of their having inclined to the religion of the king and the nobles of Egypt, but they adhered to the faith of their father. Oh that all the descendants of Puritan fathers might be steadfast to the pure truth of God in these evil days!

4. Furthermore, observe that if we want to bless young people, one of the likeliest means of doing so will be our personal testimony to the goodness of God. Young men and women usually feel great interest in their fathers’ life story — if it is a worthy one — and what they hear from them of their personal experience of the goodness of God will remain with them. We all read biographies, and we value the results of experience which we find there, but the biographies of our own relatives are particularly treasured; and when these biographies are not only read, but spoken, what wonderful force they have! I remember in my younger days hearing a minister, blind with age, speak at the communion table, and bear witness to us young people, who had just joined the church, that it was good for us that we had come to put our trust in a faithful God; and as the good man, with great feebleness and yet with great earnestness, said to us, that he had never regretted that he had given his heart to Christ as a boy, I felt my heart leap within me with delight that I had such a God to be my God. His testimony was such as a younger man could not have borne: he might have spoken more fluently, but the weight of those eighty years behind it made the old man eloquent to my young heart. We who are growing grey in our Master’s service ought not to be backward to speak well of his name. Why, my brother, you will not be able to do so much good in heaven as you can on earth, for they all know about it up there, but men here need our witness to the God whom we have tried and proved. Let us make occasions in which we may speak well of the Lord, even the God who has fed us all our lifelong, and redeemed us from all evil. This is one of the best ways in which to bless the lads. The benediction of Jacob was intertwined with his biography; the blessing which he had himself enjoyed he wished for them, and as he invoked it he helped to secure it by his personal testimony.

5. One further thing: I want you to notice, that Jacob, in desiring to bless his grandsons, introduced them to God. He speaks of “God before whom my fathers walked: God who blessed me all my lifelong.” This is the great distinction between man and man: there are two races, he who fears God, and he who does not fear him. The religion of this present age, such as it is, has a wrong direction in its course. It seeks after what is called “the enthusiasm of humanity,” but what we need far more is enthusiasm for God. We shall never go right unless God is first, midst, and last. I despair for benevolence when it is not based upon devotion. We shall not long have love for man if we do not first and chiefly cultivate love for God. What our boys need in starting in life is a God: if we have nothing else to give them, they have enough if they have God. What our girls need in leaving the nurture of home, is God’s love in their hearts, and whether they have fortunes or not, is a little matter. In fellowship with God lies the essence of true human life: life in God, life by the knowledge of the Most High, life through the Redeeming Angel — this is life indeed.

6. Jacob died as one who had been delivered from all evil, indeed, even the evil of old age. His eyes were dim; but that did not matter, for his faith was clear. I love to think that we are going where our vision of God will not be through the eye, but through the spiritual perceptions. These were brighter in Jacob in his old age than ever before; his faith and love, which are the earthly forms of those perceptions, were apprehending God in a more forcible manner than ever, and therefore signified little that the eyes which he would need no longer were failing him. We cannot say that he was in decline, after all; for he was losing what he only needed in this world of shadows, and was gaining fitness for the higher state. His gracious faculties grew as his bodily faculties declined; and, therefore, he felt that his life was ending in a fulness of blessing such as he wished for the children of his dearest son. How ardently do I wish the same blessing for all the young people before me! The Lord God Almighty bless you! When your earth-born faculties fail you, may heavenly graces more than supply their place!

7. All this is introduction; so now we must come at once and plunge into the discourse, and I will be brief upon each point of it. Jacob’s testimony, by which he blessed the sons of Joseph, has in it four points.

8. I. First, HE SPEAKS OF ANCESTRAL MERCIES; he begins with that “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked.” As with a pencil he sketches the lives of Abraham and Isaac. He does not fill in with colours, but the outline is perfect: you see the two men in their whole career in those few words — “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked.”

9. They were men who recognised God and worshipped him, beyond all others of their age. God was to them a real existence; they spoke with God, and God spoke with them; they were friends of God, and enjoyed familiar acquaintance with him. No agnosticism blinded their understandings, and deadened their hearts. They were worshippers of the one living and true God. Happy children who have such fathers! happier children who are like such fathers!

10. They not only recognised God, but they acknowledged him in daily life. I take the expression, “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,” to mean that he was their God in common life. They not only knelt before God when they prayed, but they walked before him in everything. When they went out from their tents, and when they returned from their flocks, they walked before God. They were never away from his service, or without his presence. He was their dwelling-place. Whether they sojourned under an oak or lived by a well, whether they entertained strangers or walked in the field to meditate, they lived and moved in God. This is the kind of life for you and for me: whether we live in a great house or in a poor cottage, if we walk before God we shall lead a happy and a noble life, whether that life is public or obscure. Oh that our young people would firmly believe this!

11. They walked before God; that is, they obeyed his commands. They heard his call, they followed his bidding. Abraham left his country and kindred to go to an unknown land which God would show him; yes, more, he took his son, whom he greatly loved, and stood prepared to sacrifice him at God’s command. Isaac also yielded himself up to be killed, if Jehovah willed it so. To them the will of the Lord was paramount: he was law and life to them, for they loved and feared him. They were prompt to hear the behests of God, and rose up early to fulfil them. They acted as in the immediate presence of the All-Seeing.

12. To the full they trusted him. In this sense they always saw him. We sometimes talk about tracking him. We cannot track him, except as we trust him; and because they trusted, they tracked him. Notwithstanding all the danger and difficulty of their pilgrim state, they lived in perfect security in an enemy’s land, for the Lord had said, “Do not touch my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” They were serene and tranquil because they walked before God, knowing him to be their friend, and that he was their shield and their very great reward. For temporal things they had no anxiety for they lived upon the All-Sufficient God. Therefore these two men, Abraham and Isaac, though much tried, led peaceful lives: they conversed with heaven while they sojourned on earth.

13. They enjoyed the favour of God, for this also is intended by walking before him. His face was towards them: they sunned themselves in his smile. God’s love was their true treasure. We read that God had blessed Abraham in all things, and of Isaac we hear even the Philistines say, “We saw certainly that the Lord was with you.” God was their wealth, their strength, their very great joy. I say again, happy sons who have such ancestors! happier still if they follow in their track!

14. So Jacob spoke of Abraham and Isaac, and so can some of us speak of those who went before us. Those of us who can look back upon godly ancestors now in heaven must feel that many ties bind us to follow the same course of life. Had they transgressed against the Lord our duty would have called us to leave the ways of the family, even as Abraham left his kindred who dwelt on the other side of the flood; but since their way was right, we are doubly called to follow it, because it is the good old way, and the way our godly fathers trod.

15. There is a charm about what was prized by our fathers. Heirlooms are treasured, and the best heirloom in a family is the knowledge of God. When I spoke, the other day, with a Christian brother, he seemed very happy to tell me that he sprang from a family which came from Holland during the persecution of the Duke of Alva, and I felt a brotherhood with him in claiming a similar descent. I dare say our fathers were poor weavers, but I would far rather be descended from one who suffered for the faith than bear the blood of all the emperors within my veins. There should be a sacredness to you young people in the faith for which your ancestors suffered. Do not choose the society of Egypt, and its wealth and honours, but keep to the stock of Israel, and claim the inheritance of Jacob as Ephraim and Manasseh did. Let it not be said that as your family increased in riches it departed from the living God. Shall the goodness of God be perverted into a reason for apostasy?

16. The way of holiness in which your fathers went is a fitting way for you, and it is seemly that you maintain the godly traditions of your house. In the old times they expected sons to follow the secular calling of their fathers; and although that may be regarded as an old-world mistake, yet it is good when sons and daughters receive the same spiritual call as their parents. Grace is not tied to families, but yet the Lord delights to bless to a thousand generations. Very far are we from believing that the new birth is by blood, or by the will of the flesh, or by the will of man. The will of God reigns here supreme, and absolute; but yet there is a sweet fitness in the passing on of holy loyalty from grandfather to father, and from father to son. I like to feel that I serve God “from my fathers.” I feel that it is right and good that I should be found preaching out of my whole soul the same doctrine which my grandfather and my father preached, and equally fit that my sons should be found, as they are, preaching no other gospel than what we have received — “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” I say again, if our fathers were wrong we ought boldly to dissent from them, and obey God rather than man; but where they are right we are bound to follow them. I stood last Wednesday in a kind of dream as I gazed upon my much beloved grandfather’s place of sepulchre. I was encouraged by seeing the record of his fifty-four years of service in the midst of one church and people, and I rejoiced that, could he rise from the dead, he would find his grandson preaching that very same old-fashioned and much-despised Calvinistic doctrine of the grace of God which was his joy in life and his comfort in death.

17. A godly ancestry casts responsibility upon young people. These Ephraims and Manassehs perceive that their fathers knew the Lord, and the question arises, “Why should they not know him?” Oh my beloved young friends, the God of your fathers will be found by you and be your God. The prayers of your fathers have gone before you; let them be followed by your own. Be hopeful of being heard at that mercy seat where they found grace to help in every time of need. They died in the hope that you would fill their places; shall not their hopes become facts? Do I speak to some who have godly parents in heaven, and yet they are themselves pursuing the ways of sin or of worldliness? Registered in that heavenly archives are your mother’s prayers. I trust they will yet be heard. Even now they stand like a hedge around you, making it hard work for you to go to hell. Will you force your way to perdition over a father’s grave? Will you, by a desperate effort, push aside your pleading mother’s form, and pursue your dreadful road to ruin? If so, you will involve yourselves in tremendous guilt. I beseech you hear the tender voice of love which now invites you to be blest.

18. A godly ancestry should invest a man’s case with great hopefulness. May he not argue, “If God blessed my ancestors, why should he not bless me? If they sought mercy, and found it, why should not I? My father and my mother were not perfect, any more than I am; but they had faith in God, and he accepted them and helped them. If I have faith in God he will accept me, and be faithful to me. They were saved as sinners trusting in the blood of Jesus, and why should not I?” I beseech you put this argument to the test, and you will find it to hold good.

19. II. So we have seen Jacob seeking to bless his seed by bearing testimony to the blessings which God had bestowed upon his house. Now he comes to deal with PERSONAL MERCIES. The old man’s voice faltered as he said, “The God who fed me all my lifelong.” The translation would be better if it ran, “The God who shepherded me all my lifelong.”

20. He spoke of the Lord as his shepherd. Jacob had been a shepherd, and therefore he knew what shepherding included: the metaphor is full of meaning. There had been a good deal of Jacob about Jacob, and he had tried to shepherd himself. Poor sheep that he was, while under his own guidance he had been caught in many thorns, and had wandered in many wildernesses. Because he would be so much a shepherd to himself, he had been hard put to it. But over all, despite his wilfulness, the shepherding of the covenant God had been exercised towards him, and he acknowledged it. Oh dear saints of God, you to whom years are being multiplied, give praise to your God for having been your shepherd. You delight in the twenty-third Psalm, sing it sometimes with variations by using the past tense: “The Lord has been my shepherd; and I have known no lack. He has made me to lie down in green pastures; he has led me beside the still waters. Yes, though I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death in times of great darkness, yet I have feared no evil: for he has been with me, his rod and his staff have comforted me.” Bear your witness to the shepherding of God, for this may lead others to become the sheep of his pasture.

21. This shepherding had been perfect. Our version correctly says that the Lord had fed Jacob all his lifelong. Take that sense of it, and you who have a daily struggle for subsistence will see much beauty in it. Jacob had a large family, and yet they were fed. Some of you say, “It is all very well for you to talk about providence who have few to provide for.” I answer, it is better still to talk about providence where a large household requires large provision. Remember Jacob had thirteen children, yet his God provided them bread to eat and clothes to wear. None of that large company were left to starve. You think perhaps that Jacob was a man of large estate. He was not so when he began life. He was only a working man, a shepherd. When he left his father’s house he had no attendants with camels and tents. I suppose he carried his little bit of provision in a handkerchief, and when he laid down that night to sleep, with a stone for his pillow, the hedges for curtains, the heavens for his canopy, and the earth for his bed, he had no fear of being robbed. God was with him, apart from this, he had nothing to begin life with except his own hands. Whatever he received from his father Isaac afterwards, he had at first to fight his own way; but he knew no lack either at the beginning or at the end, for he could speak of the great Elohim as “the God who fed me all my lifelong.” Hundreds of us can say the same. I remember one who came to be wealthy who used to show me with great pleasure the axle of the cart in which he used to wheel his goods through the streets when he began in business: I liked to see him mindful of his origin. Take care that you do not go and say, “See how I have prospered by my own talents and industry!” Do not talk so proudly, but say “God has fed me.” Mercies are all the sweeter when seen to come from the hand of God.

22. But besides being fed Jacob had been led, even as sheep are guided by the shepherd who goes before them. His journeys, for that period, had been unusually long, perilous, and frequent. He had fled from home to Padanaram; after long years he had come back again to Canaan, and had met his brother Esau; and after that, in his old age he had journeyed into Egypt. To go to California or New Zealand in these times is nothing at all compared to those journeys in Jacob’s day. But he says, “God has shepherded me all my lifelong”; and he means that the great changes of his life had been wisely ordered. At home and in exile, in Canaan and in Goshen, God had been a shepherd to him. He sees the good hand of God upon him in all his wanderings, until he now finds himself sitting up on his bed and blessing Joseph through his sons. I am glad that he went into detail with these young men, for they needed to be confirmed in their fidelity to God. They were in a perilous condition, for they had the privilege of the rank and fashion of Egypt, and were tempted to forsake the poor family of the Hebrews. Some of you young fellows begin where your fathers left off: and, having the means of self-indulgence, you are apt to follow the fashions and frivolities of the period. Oh that the Holy Spirit may make you feel that you need God with you with wealth as much as your fathers needed God without wealth! You may come to beggary yet with all your inheritance if you cast off the fear of the Lord and fall into sin. You who begin life with nothing but your own brains and hands, trusting in your father’s God, shall yet sing as your fathers sang, “the God who fed me all my lifelong.” Young men and young women beginning life, I charge you to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. It is not life to live without God: you miss the kernel, the cream, the crown of life if you miss the presence of God. Life is only a bubble blown up of toil and trouble without God. Life ends in a blighted hope if you do not have hope in God. But with God you are as a sheep with a shepherd — cared for, guided, guarded, fed, and led, and your end shall be peace without end.

23. III. Thirdly, bear with me while I follow Jacob in his word upon REDEEMING MERCIES. “The Angel who redeemed me from all evil.”

24. There was for Jacob a mysterious Personage who was God, and yet the Angel or messenger of God. He puts this Angel in apposition with the Elohim: for this Angel was God. Yet he was his Redeemer. He saw him doing the office of the next of kin: though God he was his goel, and, as his kinsman, accomplished redemption for him. Jacob’s faith enabled him, like Job, to know that his Redeemer lives. He saw that this covenant messenger had redeemed him from all evil, and he magnified the name of the Lord who revealed himself in this Angel. When he was in his most severe straits, this Redeeming Angel always intervened. He fell into an evil state through the influence of his mother, and he did Esau serious wrong. He fled for his life, and at that time there was a great gulf between him and God. Then that Angel came in, and bridged the gulf with a ladder by which he might rise to God. The kinsman, God, came in, and showed him how the abyss might be crossed, so that he might return to his God. When he was away in Padanaram he began to sink very low, while haggling with churlish Laban. Then again the Angel came and said, “Get out from this land, and return to the land of your kindred.” The Redeeming Angel held back wrathful Laban, and when Esau came to meet him in hot anger the Angel specially appeared to Jacob. The Angel wrestled, as a Man, with Jacob to get Jacob out of Jacob, and raise him into Israel. How marvellous was the redemption which was accomplished for him that night at Jabbok! Jacob came out from the conflict halting, but he walked before the Lord far better than ever before. That same mysterious person had told him to go down into Egypt with the promise that he would go down with him. It was the Angel of God’s presence who held his shield over Jacob, and preserved him from all evil.

25. Brothers and sisters, let us also tell of the redeeming mercies of the Lord Jesus towards us. He redeemed us on the bloody tree; but he has also redeemed us from our death in sin. Do you remember the place and time when Jesus first met you? Perhaps not. But blessed be the Redeeming Angel who quickened me into spiritual life! I recall the place and time with pleasure. He redeemed us also from despair: when, under a sense of sin, we could not dare to hope, he came to us and showed us our healing in his wounds, and our life in his death. Afterwards, when our corruptions began to arise, and we had a hard battle to believe that such sinners were indeed saved, the Redeeming Angel confirmed our faith, and gave us inward strength. Do we not remember well when he said to us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you?” I want you to look back and remember the times when you were sick, and this Redeeming Angel so sweetly visited you that you were half afraid to get well, for fear you should lose his presence: your bed had become a throne for you.

26. You remember, too, when that pinch came in business, so that you could not see how to provide things honest in the sight of all men; then Jesus revealed his love and told you to think of the lilies and the ravens, which neither spin nor sow, and yet are clothed majestically and fare sumptuously. Many a time has the Lord delivered you because he delighted in you. When you were likely to fall into sin, when you did get very wrong in spirit, he beheld you in pity, and restored your soul. Though you were so lukewarm that he was ready to spue you out of his mouth, yet he knocked at your door, and when you admitted him he came in and supped with you, and your soul was soon on fire with love for him. He restored your soul, and the love of your espousals came back to you. Blessed Redeemer, how graciously do you deliver! Oh that we more often thought of the interventions of the loving Christ! He did not only redeem us when he died, but he still redeems us by his living power. This is the sum of our life: the Angel of the covenant has delivered us day by day, is delivering us, and will deliver us to the end. Do you wonder that we commend him to our offspring, and desire to commit them to his loving care? Young friends who do not know the Saviour, I would gladly lead you to this Guardian Angel, this Godlike Man who will save you from all evil from this day on and for evermore.

27. IV. Now comes the last point — I do not know if anyone has gone to sleep in this close atmosphere, but if so, let him kindly wake up, for I have something to say which will interest him. Jacob has spoken of ancestral mercies, personal mercies and redeeming mercies, and now he deals with FUTURE MERCIES, as he cries “Bless the lads.” He began with blessing Joseph, and he finishes with blessing his lads.

28. Oh dear friends, if God has blessed you, I know you will want him to bless others. There is the stream of mercy, deep, broad, and clear: you have drunk from it, and are refreshed, but it is as full as ever. It will flow on, will it not? You do not suppose that you and I have dammed up the stream so as to keep it all to ourselves. No, it is too strong too full a stream for that. It will flow on from age to age. God will bless others as he has blessed us. Unbelief whispers that the true church will die out. Do not believe it. Christ will live, and his church will live with him until the heavens are no more. Has he not said, “Because I live, you shall live also?” “Oh,” you say, “but we shall not see such holy men in the next generation as in past ages.” Why not? I hope the next age will see far better men than any of those who are with us at this time. Pray that it may be so. Instead of the fathers, may there be the children, and may these be princes before the Lord!

29. The stream of divine grace will flow on. Oh, that it may take our sons and daughters in its course! “Bless the lads.” Sunday School teachers, is that not a good prayer for you? Pray the Lord to bless the lads and the lasses, because he has blessed you. There is the stream, it must flow somewhere; pray, “Lord, make it flow to my family; and to my class.” For your mercy’s sake, gracious Lord, “bless the lads.”

30. We need not say in what precise form or way the blessing shall come: let us leave it in all its breadth of inconceivable benediction. May the Lord bless our youth as only he can do it; and if he causes them to fear and trust him, he will be blessing all of us, and blessing ages to come. Upon these Ephraims and Manassehs will depend the work of the Lord in the years to come. Therefore, with emphasis we pray, “Bless the lads.” As for us, we are content to work on, saying, “Let your work appear to your servants”; but our anxious desire is that our children may reap the result of our labours, and therefore we add, “and your glory to their children.”

31. In closing, I wish to bear a personal testimony by narrating an incident in my own life. I have been preaching in Essex this week, and I took the opportunity to visit the place where my grandfather preached for so long, and where I spent my earliest days. Last Wednesday was to me a day in which I walked like a man in a dream. Everyone seemed bound to recall some event or other of my childhood. What a story of divine love and mercy did it bring before my mind! Among other things, I sat down in a place that must always be sacred to me. There stood in my grandfather’s manse garden two arbours made of yew trees, cut into sugar-loaf fashion. Though the old manse has given way to a new one, and the old chapel has gone also, yet the yew trees flourish as previously. I sat down in the right hand arbour and remembered what had happened there many years ago. When I was a young child staying with my grandfather, there came to preach in the village Mr. Knill, who had been a missionary at St. Petersburg, and a mighty preacher of the gospel. He came to preach for the London Missionary Society, and arrived on the Saturday at the manse. He was a great soul winner, and he soon spied out the boy. He said to me, “Where do you sleep? for I want to wake you up in the morning.” I showed him my little room. At six o’clock he woke me up, and we went into that arbour. There, in the sweetest way, he told me of the love of Jesus, and of the blessedness of trusting in him and loving him in our childhood. With many a story he preached Christ to me, and told me how good God had been to him, and then he prayed that I might know the Lord and serve him. He knelt down in that arbour and prayed for me with his arms around my neck. He did not seem content unless I stayed with him in the interval between the services, and he heard my childish talk with patient love. On Monday morning he did as on the Sabbath, and again on Tuesday. Three times he taught me and prayed with me, and before he had to leave, my grandfather had come back from the place where he had gone to preach, and all the family were gathered to morning prayer. Then, in the presence of them all, Mr. Knill took me on his knee, and said, “This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes. I am persuaded that he will preach in the chapel of Rowland Hill, where (I think he said) I am now the minister.” He spoke very solemnly, and called upon all present to witness what he said. Then he gave me a sixpence as a reward if I would learn the hymn —

   God moves in a mysterious way
   His wonders to perform,

I was made to promise that when I preached in Rowland Hill’s Chapel that hymn should be sung. Think of that as a promise from a child! Would it ever be other than an idle dream? Years flew by. After I had begun for some little time to preach in London, Dr. Alexander Fletcher had to give the annual sermon to children in Surrey Chapel, but since he was taken ill, I was asked in a hurry to preach to the children. “Yes,” I said, “I will, if the children will sing ‘God moves in a mysterious way.’ I have made a promise long ago that that should be sung.” And so it was: I preached in Rowland Hill’s Chapel, and the hymn was sung. My emotions on that occasion I cannot describe. Still that was not the chapel which Mr. Knill intended. All unsought by me, the minister at Wotton-under-Edge, which was Mr. Hill’s summer residence, invited me to preach there. I went on the condition that the congregation should sing, “God moves in a mysterious way” — which was also done. After that I went to preach for Mr. Richard Knill himself; who was then at Chester. What a meeting we had! Note this! he was preaching in the theatre! His preaching in a theatre took away from me all fear about preaching in secular buildings, and set me free for the campaigns in Exeter Hall and the Surrey Music Hall. How much this had to do with other theatre services you know.

   God moves in a mysterious way
   His wonders to perform.

After more than forty years of the Lord’s lovingkindness, I sat again in that arbour! No doubt it is a mere trifle for outsiders to hear, but to me it was an overwhelming moment. The present minister of Stambourn meeting-house, and the members of his family, including his son and his grandchildren, were in the garden, and I could not help calling them together around that arbour, while I praised the Lord for his goodness. One irresistible impulse was upon me: it was to pray God to bless those lads who stood around me. Do you not see how the memory fostered the prayer? I wanted them to remember when they grew up my testimony of God’s goodness to me; and for that same reason I tell it to you young people who are around me this morning. God has blessed me all my lifelong, and redeemed me from all evil, and I pray that he may be your God. I would especially address you who have godly parents. I beseech you to follow in their footsteps, so that you may one day speak of the Lord as they were able to do in their day. Remember that special promise, “I love those who love me; and those who seek me early shall find me.” May the Holy Spirit lead you to seek him today; and you shall live to praise his name as Jacob did.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ge 47]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — Going To Worship” 916}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence — Gratitude For Providence” 214}
The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for July, 1887.
Over the Hills and Far Away.
The Patentee and the Preacher.
William and Gavin Martin.
Touches of Nature in the Gospels.
The Bible ever New.
The Protestant Succession.
Lessons from the Queen’s Jubilee Procession.
“Lift up your Eyes, and Look on the Fields.”
New Baptist Chapel, St. Helier’s.
Notices of Books.
Pastors’ College.
Stockwell Orphanage.
Colportage Association.
Society of Evangelists.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Colportage Association Annual Report.

Price 3d. Post-free, 4 Stamps.
Passmore & Alabaster, 4 Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.

Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
916 — Going To Worship <7s.>
1 To thy temple I repair;
   Lord, I love to worship there;
   When, within the veil, I meet
   Christ upon the mercy-seat.
2 Thou, through him, art reconciled;
   I, through him, become thy child;
   Abba, Father! give me grace
   In thy courts to seek thy face!
3 While thy glorious praise is sung,
   Touch my lips, unloose my tongue,
   That my joyful soul may bless
   Christ the Lord, my righteousness.
4 While the prayers of saints ascend,
   God of love! to mine attend;
   Hear me, for thy Spirit pleads;
   Hear, for Jesus intercedes!
5 While I hearken to thy law,
   Fill my soul with humble awe;
   Till thy gospel bring to me,
   Life and immortality:
6 While thy minister proclaim
   Peace and pardon in thy name,
   Through their voice, by faith, may I
   Hear thee speaking from on high.
7 From thy house when I return,
   May my heart within me burn;
   And at evening let me say,
   “I have walk’d with God today.”
               James Montgomery, 1821.

God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence
214 — Gratitude For Providence
1 When all thy mercies, oh my God,
   My rising soul surveys,
   Transported with the view, I’m lost
   In wonder, love, and praise.
2 Oh how shall words, with equal warmth,
   The gratitude declare
   That glows within my ravish’d heart!
   But thou canst read it there.
3 To all my weak complaints and cries
   Thy mercy lent an ear,
   Ere yet my feeble thoughts had learnt
   To form themselves in prayer.
4 When in the slippery paths of youth
   With heedless steps I ran,
   Thine arm unseen convey’d me safe,
   And led me up to man.
5 Through hidden dangers, toils, and deaths,
   It gently clear’d my way:
   And through the pleasing snares of vice,
   More to be fear’d than they.
6 When worn with sickness, oft hast thou
   With health renew’d my face;
   And when in sins and sorrow sunk,
   Revived my soul with grace.
7 Through every period of my life
   Thy goodness I’ll pursue;
   And after death, in distant worlds,
   The glorious theme renew.
8 When nature fails, and day and night
   Divide thy works no more,
   My ever grateful heart, oh Lord!
   Thy mercy shall adore.
9 Through all eternity to thee
   A joyful song I’ll raise;
   But oh! eternity’s too short
   To utter all thy praise.
                        Joseph Addison, 1712.

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).

Terms of Use

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.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390