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1983. Man, Whose Breath Is In His Nostrils

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No. 1983-33:529. A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for of what account is he? {Isa 2:22}

1. Man, especially since the fall, is a very unspiritual creature. His spirit is animal. He is made up, as the old writers used to say, of soul and soil. Alas, the soil terribly soils his soul! “My soul cleaves to the dust” might be the confession of every man in one sense or another. We bear the image of the first Adam, who was of the earth earthy: earthy enough are we.

2. One result of the prevailing materialism of our corrupt nature is our craving for something tangible, audible, visible, as the object of our confidence. We want something which can be touched, heard, seen, or felt: we cannot be satisfied with what appeals only to the soul or the spirit. It seems as if man is so unspiritual that he cannot believe in a spiritual God; and yet anything other than a spiritual God is an absurdity. Man cannot see God; therefore he will not trust in him. He cannot hear his voice, therefore he will not attend to the movement of the Holy Spirit upon his soul. Humanity is carnal, sold under sin, infected with idolatry; and this fact remains true in a measure even of the regenerate. Their old nature is the same as it always was, except that it is held in check by the new nature. As long as sin remains in us — and this will be as long as we are in this body — our tendency will be to be weary of God, who is a Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. We seek after something to worship, something to love, something to rely on, which is so near akin to the baser part of our nature that we may commune with it through the senses. It is sad that it should be so, but it has always been so throughout the history of man, and sad traces of it are to be seen even in the history of God’s own church.

3. Man is by nature an idolater. Under the most favourable circumstances he flies to his idols, even as the dog seeks after carrion, or the vulture hurries to its prey. The Lord’s people, Israel, were delivered out of Egypt with a high hand and with an outstretched arm, and God’s presence among them was abundantly certified by many signs and tokens. This was a noble beginning. The circumstances which afterwards surrounded them were especially helpful. They were placed in the wilderness, where, if they lived at all, they must live through the special protection and provision of God; for they reaped no harvests, and they gathered into no barns: the bread they ate fell from heaven, the water they drank came from a rock which had been struck by the command of God through the rod of Moses. All day long they were sheltered from the burning sun by a canopy of cloud, and at night the canvas city was made bright with that same canopy turned into a flame of fire. They were in the wilderness alone, and apart; shut out from the rest of the world, surrounded as it were by the Lord himself, who was a wall of fire all around them, and the glory in their midst. Nothing could have been more favourable for faith in God. Yet they must have a god that they can see. “Make us gods to go before us,” they cried with such furious clamour that Aaron yielded to their evil desires, and made for them the image of an ox. Behold the people of God, whom he had brought out of Egypt, bowing before the image of an ox that eats grass — an image which Moses in sarcasm called a calf. They turned the glory of the invisible God into that of a brute beast, and said — “These are your gods, oh Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” Then they degraded themselves, and laid their manhood prostrate on the ground in adoration of the image of a bull. How is humanity fallen!

4. For century after century this was always the tendency of Israel, the most spiritual nation of men upon the face of the earth. This nation, educated by miracle and instructed by revelation, continually turned aside after the gods of the heathen. Abraham among his own descendants after the flesh had few who were like him in his high spiritual faith. The world of spiritual realities seems to be too bright, too holy for the best of such gross and carnal beings as we are.

5. The people of Isaiah’s day were like the rest of their race: they showed their unspiritualness and their inability to walk in the light of the Lord by making their own wealth their chief confidence. We read in the same chapter — “Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures,” {Isa 2:7} and then it is added, “their land also is full of idols.” Alas! this idolatry of wealth is common among God’s people even at this day. “Give us today our daily bread” is a prayer which falls far short of the general desires even of Christian people. Our demands are for luxuries, and plenty of them. Many would be coming down in the world very terribly if they had to receive from hand-to-mouth — day by day their daily bread. Yet the Lord Jesus has put these words into our mouth. The providence of God is to some professing Christians a mere dream: they cannot rest until they have something more substantial to rely on than the care of heaven. You think I am sarcastic; is it not true? See how your professed believers hunger to seize the best opportunities: they scrape and they hoard as eagerly as the merest worldlings. I have not a word to say against that scriptural prudence which tells us, like the ant, to store up for wintry times; but I speak of the hunger to be rich, and of the selfish expenditure which forgets entirely that our substance is to be used for the glory of God, and that we are only stewards. I ask again, do not many slave, and hoard, and grasp as if there were no promise in the Scriptures of temporal provision from God’s own right hand, and no exhortation to lay up our treasures in heaven? Are we liars? Do we say that all that we are and have is the Lord’s, and after this do we live for ourselves, as if there were no redemption and no hereafter? That there should be a need for the preacher to raise such questions is an indication that there is a common tendency to worship wealth, or at least to regard it as a substantial support.

6. Nations also, like the Israelite people, are apt to idolize power; yes, even power in the form of brute force. We read — “Their land also is full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.” Cavalry and war chariots were as much in repute in that age on land as ironclads {a} are to this day upon the sea; and Israel trusted in these. Jehovah was the guardian of his people, the Lord of hosts is his name. He alone was a match for Egypt and Babylon; but the kings of Israel and Judah did not think so. They could not feel secure without great armies; they must multiply their horses and their chariots. They forgot that “a horse is a vain thing for safety”; they did not know that in the Lord alone is the salvation of his people. The same feeling crops up among God’s people today. We pine for visible power, it may be physical or mental, as the case requires; but we thirst to have it available, embodied in some human form. We cannot rest upon God alone and feel that when we are weak we are strong. The Lord does not take pleasure in the strength of the horse nor in the legs of a man, but his people often do. Eloquence, cleverness, intellect — these are still the idols which the church dotes on: she has not yet understood the words, “ ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord.” Still we make too much of the instrument and too little of the Divine Worker; still there is more expected from music, architecture, and oratory, than from the simple gospel and the attendant working of the Holy Spirit. How hardly can men be brought to trust in the invisible God! Alas! it is still true, “Their land also is full of idols: the poor man bows down, and the great man humbles himself.” Oh Church of God, how long will it be before you believe your God?

7. These people, in the heat of their idolatry, set up many idols. They made anything into a god. He who was so impoverished that he could not make a god of silver would make an idol out of a tree which would not rot; and having carved and gilded it, he prostrated himself before it. To what a height of folly has a man come when he can do this! You tell me that this idolatry is confined to heathen countries. Alas! it is not so; idolatry is common even here. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” is a text that still needs to be preached from — indeed, to be preached in Christian congregations; for idols will intrude themselves into the sanctuary of the Lord. The shapes and forms of modern idols are many and crafty. We see no elephant-headed deity such as is the fear of the Hindus, and no absurd fetish such as the African dreads; but more dangerous, because more subtle and secret, forms of idolatry are allowed to remain in our midst. Oh that the Lord would in his people fulfil the word, “He shall utterly abolish the idols!”

8. May we not easily make idols of ourselves? Almost before we are aware of it, we may be so debased. What is more degrading than for a man to worship himself! We read of some whose god is their belly: this is the grosser part of self. What heathen ever worshipped his own belly? Yet we all too much trust in ourselves at times — what is this except idolatry? Do we not seek ourselves in a measure — is this not idolatry? Do we not reverence our own achievements and attainments — in what does this differ from idolatry? Many men have made many gods and lords for themselves. Like a child who must have a toy, man must have a visible trust and confidence. For this purpose, “he has sought out many inventions.” He will even worship reptiles of the river, and plants of the garden, rather than be without a visible deity. Alas, poor foolish creature!

9. I need not enlarge upon this. You all know how true it is that, one way or another, man gets away from the spiritual life which would make God everything to him, and he wanders into the sensual region, where he either finds another god, or else allows some symbol or priest to stand between him and God. So sadly through sin is our nature twisted and biassed, that we seem to be bewitched by idolatry.

10. As I have already said, there is nothing more absurd in the history of human nature than the fact that man is apt to trust in man. To worship something superior to myself is bad enough if it is not God; but to begin to put my dependence on a man like myself or upon myself, and so to allow man, who at the best is a sorry creature, to take the place of God, is indeed a gross evil. Do you wonder that God has pronounced a curse upon this provoking folly, this insult to his divine majesty? Hear the words of this anathema: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm.” The sin is none the less accursed because of its commonness. What God blesses is blest indeed, and what he curses is cursed with an emphasis. Concerning that sin so common and so accursed I have to speak at this time. May the Lord bless the word that we may be kept from this transgression! Here is the text: “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for of what account is he?”

11. We will handle the text like this — First, What is man? Answer: “His breath is in his nostrils.” Secondly, What is to be our relationship to man? “Cease from man.” And, thirdly, Why should we cease from him? It is answered by another question, “Of what account is he?” This raises the question, “What is there in him or about him that renders him a proper object of reverence or confidence?” May the Holy Spirit send us a profitable meditation!

12. I. Our first enquiry is, WHAT IS MAN? This question is asked many times in Scripture, and it has been frequently answered with a copiousness of instruction. David even asks from heaven, “Lord, what is man?” I will not, however, go over all that wide expanse of thought which the Bible puts before us, but simply answer the enquiry from the point of view of our text.

13. What is man? He is assuredly a very feeble creature. He must be weak, for “his breath is in his nostrils.” We measure the strength of a chain by its weakest link. If other links are strong, yet if one is ready to snap, we judge that the whole chain is far from strong, and is not to be depended on. See, then, how weak man is, for he is weakness itself in a vital point. He has bones that may be hard and durable, and he has many a strong sinew, tough and wiry, as we sometimes say; but there is a weak point about him which is found in a matter on which his life depends, namely, his breath. And what is our breath? A vapour which we scarcely see ourselves — a thing so unsubstantial that when we have it we scarcely see it, and yet when we lose it life is gone from us. Our earthly existence depends on our breath, and that breath is mere wind. How feeble must that creature be whose vitality rests on a foundation so airy and unsubstantial as mere breath! A vapour is not more fleeting. We talk about strong men. Is any man strong? We speak of the strength of our constitutions: how is that strong which depends on a puff of air? It is a marvel that so frail a life is not ended sooner. That we live is miraculous; that we die is only natural. Readily enough may that house fall which is built, not on sand, but on air. Dr. Watts has well said —

   Our life contains a thousand springs,
      And fails if one be gone;
   Strange that a harp of thousand strings
      Should keep in tune so long!

We are dust, and that dust hastens to dissolve, and so to return to the kindred dust of the earth. Under our feet are our graves, and above us are the stars which will soon look down upon our silent tombs. The trees cast their leaves, but they grow green again; we shed our life’s glories once and they return no more. So the trees outlive us, and beneath their shade we are reminded that man is far more frail than the tree which he fells with the axe. Yes, the very grass which he mows outlives the mower. Man is a mere shadow: we have scarcely time to say that he is before he is not. Are we not foolish if we place our reliance upon such a feeble creature, so weak that his breath, his unsubstantial breath, is essential to his life? Who are you, oh man, who trusts in man? If you have half a grain of wisdom left, how can you leave the ever-living God and put your reliance upon a poor creature who is as the grass, that today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven? Go, rest on a reed, or ride upon a moth, or build on a bubble; but do not rely on a man.

14. Moreover, man is a frail creature; for his strength must be measured by his fleeting breath, and that breath is in his nostrils. It seems as though his life in his breath stood at the gates, ready to be gone, since it is in his nostrils. The text does not say that his breath is in his lungs, deep, hidden below, but in his nostrils — at the door, in the most exposed part of the face, at two open portals which can never be shut; as if it meant to secure an easy exit at any moment. Brethren, there are ten thousand gates to death. One man is choked by a grape pit, another dies through sleeping in a newly whitewashed room; one receives death as he passes by a reeking sewer, another finds it in the best kept house, or by a chill taken in a walk. Those who study neither to eat nor to drink anything unwholesome, nor go into quarters where the arrows of death are flying, yet pass away suddenly, falling from their couch into a coffin, from their seat into the sepulchre. The other day one of our own brethren sat down in his chair to sleep for a moment; but it was his last sleep. Another stumbled in his own room never again to rise: these were apparently in health. Life is never sure for an instant. How can we place our trust in a creature which is so soon gone. Shall we make the insect of an hour the object of our fond affection and our chief dependence? How can we be so foolish as to trust our treasure in a purse made of such a spider’s web? The chest should be fit for the treasure; do you mean to trust your soul’s confidence in a man who shall die — who may die in an hour? I asked, “What is man?” But before the question is answered I have to ask, “Where is he?” He is gone like a watch in the night. How can we make a dying man the object of a living trust? “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.”

15. Man is a weak and frail creature; he is also a dying creature. Need I further enlarge upon this? To our sorrow, many of us know that it is so. Some of you had fathers of your flesh, but they passed away and you were fatherless before you could earn your bread. Had not God preserved the orphan, you would have been miserable indeed. Some of you once leaned upon a manly arm and looked up into the smiling face of a husband; but the dear one has been laid in a grave wet with floods of tears: it is good for you that your Maker does not die. There are those here who once enjoyed dear friendships: these seemed essential to your lives, but ruthless death has torn Jonathan away from David. It has come closer, and stolen the child from his mother, and the wife from the husband. Man is always dying while he lives. Oh, do not set all your love, or much of your confidence, or any of your worship upon a creature that will soon be worms’ meat.

16. Contemplate the dead! What do you think now of your idol? You who could sit down by the hour together and revel in the sight and company of your beloved object, what do you think now of what you doted on? If you could see it uncovered after a few days you would say, “Deliver me from this noxious smell, this horrible corruption, this dreadful mass of decay!” Therefore, could you ever be so vain and foolish and bereft of reason as to make a thing that comes to this your trust and confidence? The prophet says, “Who are you, that you should be afraid of a man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; and forget the Lord your Maker, who has stretched out the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.” In this he rebukes our fears, but equally rebukes our carnal trusts.

17. But I think that the text also reminds us that man is a very fickle creature. His breath is in his “nostrils.” That is the place where he wears his life, and this hints to us that he is sadly changeable. Just as his breath is affected by his health, so he is changed. Today he loves, and tomorrow he hates; he promises fair, but he forgets his words. He swears that he will be faithful to death, and immediately he betrays the confidence reposed in him. No dependence can be wisely placed in him. Oh man! Oh woman! Change is written on your brow. The lapse of years alters you, yes, the flight of days and hours suffices to transform you! We may better trust the winds and waves than you! David said in his haste, “All men are liars.” That may not be quite true, and may bear the mark of hasty judgment; but it is a rough-hewn truth, which is far more accurate than flattering compliments. David might have deliberated, and then have said very much the same thing with great certainty. In some senses the broad verdict is correct as it stands; for if we make an arm of flesh our trust, to whomever that arm belongs, we shall find that we have rested on a broken reed. In the time of our calamity, when we most need help, we shall find that mortal assistance is either gone through falsehood, or is incompetent through feebleness. Then we shall know the curse of trusting in man, whose breath is in his nostrils. Who will stand by us when we are slandered? Does not that winter make all the swallows take to their wings? Who can help us when the soul is in despair? Oh my brothers! who can help us when our spirit is wounded, when the arrows of grief pierce the heart? Who can help us when we come to die? When the mysteries of eternity darken around us, and we leave the light of day, what friend or fond one can be at our side as we enter the unknown land? There are certain points of life in which every man must tread a lonely pathway. We then need God, and if we have made a god of any man, what shall we do? Ah me! what reason we have to look to him who is always the same! Remember how he says, “I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

18. If you read the chapter through, you will also find that man is a trembling creature, a cowardly creature, a creature indeed who, if he were not cowardly, still has abundant reason to fear. Read from the nineteenth verse: “They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth terribly. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which each one made for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake the earth terribly.” Think of the days of divine wrath, and especially of the last dread day of Judgment, and of the dismay which will then seize upon many of the proud and the great. Are you going to make these your confidants? Are you going to give up Christ for the sake of the smile of those who will wail in terror when he comes? Is it so, that for the sake of some young man or woman who does not love God, and one day must quail before the coming Judge, you will let your Lord and Saviour go? It is concerning such a temptation as this that the text thunders at you: “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils,” who will fear and flee and lose his breath in very dread at the appearing of the Lord. Cease to regard these as the fond objects of your love and trust, lest the curse of God should lie upon your soul throughout eternity. Oh my hearers, listen to this!

19. So much concerning what man is, according to our text. Is it not a powerful argument against placing man where God alone should be?

20. II. Secondly, WHAT IS TO BE OUR RELATIONSHIP TO MAN, or what does the text mean when it says, “Cease from man?

21. It implies, does it not, that we very probably have already too much to do with this poor creature man? We cannot “cease” from what we have nothing to do with. The text implies that in all probability we have entered into associations with man which will need changing. We may even require to reverse our present conduct, break up unions, cancel alliances, and alter the whole tenor of our conduct.

22. “Cease from man” means, first, cease to idolize him in your love. Do any of you idolize any living person? Answer honestly. It is very common to idolize children. A mother who had lost her babe fretted and rebelled about it. She happened to be in a meeting of the Society of Friends, {Quakers} and there was nothing spoken that morning except this word by one female Friend who was moved, I do not doubt, by the Spirit of God to say, “Truly, I perceive that children are idols.” She did not know the condition of that mourner’s mind, but it was the right word, and she to whom God applied it knew how true it was. She submitted her rebellious will, and at once was comforted. Cease from these little men and women; for, though you prize them so, they are of the race from which you are to cease. Cease from them, for their breath is in their nostrils, and indeed it is only feebly there in childhood. A proper and right love for children should be cultivated; but to carry this beyond its due measure is to grieve the Spirit of God. If you make idols of children you have done the worst you can for them, whether they live or die. Cease from such folly.

23. I will not go into the many cases in which men have been idolized politically, or idolized by a blind following of their teaching. You can idolize a minister, you can idolize a poet, you can idolize a patron; but in doing so you break the first and greatest of the commandments, and you anger the Most High. He declares himself to be a jealous God, and he will not yield his throne to another. Upon any who are erring like this, let me press the text home: “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for of what account is he?”

24. Next, “Cease from man”: cease to idolize him in your trust. There is a measure of confidence that we may place in good and gracious men, for they are worthy of it; but a blind confidence in any man is altogether evil. I do not care who he may be, you cannot read his heart; and some of the greatest deceptions that have ever been done in this world have been accomplished by people who seemed to be self-evidently honest and sincere. I remember conversing with a person, who was concerned in one of the great speculations which brought loss and ruin to many, and as I looked into his honest face and heard his open-hearted talk, I said to myself, “This is not a man who is capable of robbery. He is a plain, blunt, farmer-like kind of man, who might even be the victim of the confidence trick.” I afterwards learned that this is the usual style of the man who hypes a company, or betrays a trust. Of course if a man looks like a thief, you button up your pockets, and smile if he invites you to buy shares; but you are off your guard when the man appears to be the embodiment of simple honesty. The woman in the bus who picks your pocket looks like the last person to be capable of such a thing, and this is why she is able to do it. Transfer this knowledge to other matters, and it may save you sorrow. If you start trusting anyone with a blind confidence beyond what you ought to give, and especially if you trust your soul with any priest or preacher, whoever he may be, you are a fool, and your folly may turn out to be an everlasting mischief, which can never be undone. Hear this, and learn what God would teach you, “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for of what account is he?” Do not idolize man by laying yourself at his feet, or following him in the dark; for it will not only be in itself a folly, but it will bring you under the curse of my text.

25. Cease to idolize any man by giving him undue honour. There is an honour to be paid to all, for the apostle says, “Honour all men.” A measure of courtesy and respect is to be paid to every person, and particularly to those whose offices demand it; therefore is it written, “Honour the king.” Some also, by their character, deserve much respect from their fellow men, and I trust we shall never refuse “honour to whom honour is due”; but there is a limit to this, or we shall become toadies and slaves, and, what is worse, idolaters. It grieves one to see how certain people dare not even think, much less speak, until they have asked how other people think. In some congregations there are weak people who do not know whether they have liked the sermon until they have asked a certain venerable critic to whom they act as echoes. The majority of people are like a flock of sheep: there is a gap, and if one sheep goes through, all will follow. If the ringleader should happen to be an infidel or a new-theology man, so much the worse; if he should happen to be orthodox, it is much better in some ways; but then it is a pity that people should follow the truth in so thoughtless a manner. Public opinion is a poor substitute for conscience, and is no substitute at all for righteousness and truth. Because the general opinion bids you to bow down before this man or that, will you do so? Will you forget God, and conscience, and right, and truth, and ask another man to tell you when you may breathe? God’s people should scorn such grovelling. If the Son shall make you free, you will be free indeed. Jesus loves that the soldiers in his host should acknowledge his supremacy; but once acknowledging him as Lord, he would have them feel that no man or set of men shall draw them away from his word, either in doctrine or in precept. Worship is for God only: render it to him, and “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.”

26. Equally does the text tell us to cease from the fear of man. Oh, how many are kept from doing right through some man or some woman, wealthy relative, or influential friend! Are there not men in workshops who join with others in their ribaldry because they are afraid to speak out lest they should be laughed at and singled out as hypocrites? Are there not people in well-to-do circles who must attend a certain place of worship because all the respectable people go there? No matter which way conscience would take them, they are bound to follow the fashion: the fear of men is upon them. They do not want to be despised and talked about. But, my dear friends, if any of you are doing wrong under fear of men, do not excuse yourselves, but at once obey the word which says, “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.” Who are you that you should put man before God? Is this not a grievous presumption? The fear of God ought so to be before your eyes that the fear of man will not weigh with you in the least. “I fear man,” one said, “but I fear God infinitely more”: this was near the mark. Our Lord said, “Do not fear him who can kill the body, but afterwards has no more that he can do; but fear him who can cast both body and soul into hell; yes, I say to you, ‘Fear him.’ ” Dismiss the cowardly fear which would make you false to your convictions in any degree, and so “cease from man.”

27. Once more, cease from being worried about men. We ought to do all we can for our fellow men to set them right and keep them right, both by teaching and by example; but certain folks think that everything must go according to their wishes, and if we cannot see eye to eye with them, they worry themselves and us. This is not right, and that is not right, and indeed nothing is right except what is hammered on their anvil. Let us please our neighbour for his good, for edification, but let us not become men-pleasers, nor grieve inordinately because unreasonable people are not satisfied with us. To our own Master we stand or fall, and interfering brethren must be so good as to remember that we are not their servants, but we serve the Lord Christ.

28. Moreover, brethren, let us not be unduly cast down if we cannot set everyone right. Truly, the body politic, common society, and especially the church, may cause us great anxiety; but still the Lord reigns, and we are not to let ourselves die of grief. After all, our Lord does not expect us to rectify everything, for he only requires of us what he enables us to do. We are not magistrates, nor dictators, and when we have done our best and kept our own garments clean, and given earnest warning, and cried to God by reason of the evil of the times, then this word comes in, “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for of what account is he?”

29.But they say.” What do they say? Let them say! It will not harm you if you can only gird up the loins of your mind, and cease from man. “Oh, but they have accused me of this and that.” Is it true? “No, sir, it is not true, and that is why it grieves me.” That is why it should not grieve you. If it were true it ought to trouble you; but if it is not true leave it alone. If an enemy has said anything against your character it will not always be worth your while to answer him. Silence has both dignity and argument in it. Nine times out of ten if a boy makes a blot in his copy-book {b} and borrows a knife to take it out, he makes the mess ten times worse; and since in your case there is no blot after all, you need not make one by attempting to remove what is not there. All the dirt that falls upon a good man will brush off when it is dry: but let him wait until it is dry, and not dirty his hands with wet mud. “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.”

30. Brethren in Christ, let us think more of God and less of man. Come, let the Lord our God fill the whole horizon of our thoughts. Let our love go out to him; let us delight ourselves in him. Let us trust in him who lives for ever, in him whose promise never fails, in him who will be with us in life, and in death, and through eternity. Oh that we lived more in the company of Jesus, more in the sight of God! Let man go behind our back, and Satan too. We cannot spend our lives in seeking the smiles of men, for pleasing God is the one object we pursue. Our hands, and our heads, and our hearts, and all that we have and are fully occupied for the Lord, and therefore we must “Cease from man.”

31. Cease from man because you have come to know the best of men, who is more than man, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and he has so fully become the beloved of your souls, that no one can compare with him. Rest in Christ concerning your sins, and cease from priests. Rest, also, in the great Father concerning your providential cares: why rest in men when he cares for you? Rest in the Holy Spirit concerning your spiritual needs; why do you need to depend on man? Yes, throw yourself wholly and entirely on the God all-sufficient, El Shaddai, as Scripture calls him. Some read it, “the many-breasted God,” who is able to supply from himself all the needs of his creatures. He will do for us extremely abundantly above all that we ask or even think. “Oh rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him,” and cease from man. That was a wise and tender word of our Saviour to the woman who had washed his feet. He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven you”; and then, as they began to criticize her, and talk about the expense and the waste of the ointment, he added to her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace:” as much as to say, “They are going to have a discussion about you, but go out of earshot of it. They are going to criticize what you have done, do not wait to hear them, but go home. I have accepted you, let that be enough for you; never mind them. Do not desire to know their opinions.” Often for a child of God it is the best advice that can be given — “Go in peace.” Certain doubters are about to argue; let them argue among themselves, but go in peace. Why do you want to know the last new doubt? Would you like to taste the last new poison? “Prove all things,” but when it has been proved to be evil be finished with it. Do not desire to hear what can only tend to stagger your faith and defile your conscience. You have heard enough of that stuff already; go in peace. When men begin to criticize Christ and the doctrines of grace, cease from them. Steal away to Jesus in private prayer. Five minutes’ communion with your Lord will be worth five years of this idle talk. Go in peace, and “Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.” Do you hear that one professor declares that there is no God, and another that there is no providence, and another that there is no atoning sacrifice, and another that there is no hereafter? Now that we know that a mad dog is around, let us keep out of his way. It does not matter who he is; we have nothing to do with him. When a thief meets me, I need not stay even to say, “Good night” to him. Cease from such a man, for the very breath of his nostrils breathes death to what is good.

32. III. We finish with that last question: WHY ARE WE TO CEASE FROM MAN? The answer is, because he is of no account.

33. Begin, dear brethren, by ceasing from yourselves. Every man must cease from himself first, and then he must cease from all men, as his hope and his trust, because neither ourselves nor others are worthy of such confidence. “Of what account is he?” If his breath is in his nostrils, see how short his life is, of what account is he? If his breath is in his nostrils, see how weak he is, of what account is he? If his breath is in his nostrils, see how fickle he is, of what account is he?

34. What value shall I put down for man? Some men would wish to have themselves written down at a very high value, but a cipher is quite sufficient. Write man at nothing, and you are somewhat above the mark. Of what account is he? Compared with God, man is less than nothing and vanity. Consider him so, and act upon that valuation. If there were no men on the face of the earth, how would you live? If God alone filled all your thoughts and all your heart, how would you live? Live just like that. Then if there are a billion men upon the face of the globe — and there are more — they will not sway you. If the city teems with them, and if the forum is disturbed with their noise, and if they ride up to the capitol in triumph, what of that? We have ceased from them, and we shall never have reason to regret it, for they will be no loss to us. If we try to count up what the loss might be if we lost their aid, it comes to nothing; for of what account are they? Cease from them and go straight on in the path of faith and duty, resting in God and believing in him. Care nothing for the vanity of vanities, but trust in the Verity of verities, even God himself.

35. This is a special subject, and someone will say, “Can such a text as this be useful for the ungodly?” Yes, it hits the nail on the head. Some of you have been trying to save yourselves. “Cease from man.” You have been looking to your feelings; you have been looking to your works; you have been looking to this and that of your own; cease altogether from that evil man — yourself. Of what account are you? Some of you have kept back from Christ because you have made much of this poor nobody that is crushed before the moth, this worm of the earth, this mere vapour. Now, rise above your dead selves and think more of God. Believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him, and may his Holy Spirit help you now to come and commit your souls into the hands of the risen Redeemer, even to him who is able to save you and keep you to the end. May God so help you, for Jesus Christ’s sake.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 2]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 63” 63 @@ "(Song 3)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Peaceful Trust — Delight In God” 688}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 39” 39}

{a} Ironclad: Clad in iron; protected or covered with iron; esp. of a vessel for naval warfare. OED.
{b} Copy-book: A book in which copies are written or printed for pupils to imitate. OED.

The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for October, 1887.
The Case Proved. By C. H. Spurgeon.
How we Kept the Jubilee.
World-wide Triumphs of Christianity.
Bishop Hannington, of East Equatorial Africa.
Odd Incidents in Scottish Struggles.
“What Can You See?”
About Clocks.
Lord Cromwell, Earl of Essex.
Passing the “Dudgeon” Light-ship.
Work and Weal.
Hop-pickers’ Sayings — Quaint and Curious.
Sketches of Bush Work in Queensland.
Notices of Books.
Pastors’ College.
Stockwell Orphanage.
Colportage Association.
Society of Evangelists.

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

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 63 (Song 1)
1 Early, my God, without delay,
   I haste to seek thy face;
   My thirsty spirit faints away
   Without thy cheering grace.
2 So pilgrims on the scorching sand,
   Beneath a burning sky,
   Long for a cooling stream at hand,
   And they must drink or die.
3 I’ve seen thy glory and thy power
   Through all thy temple shine;
   My God, repeat that heavenly hour,
   That vision so divine.
4 Not all the blessings of a feast
   Can please my soul so well,
   As when thy richer grace I taste,
   And in thy presence dwell.
5 Not life itself, with all her joys,
   Can my best passions move;
   Or raise so high my cheerful voice,
   As thy forgiving love.
6 Thus, till my last expiring day,
   I’ll bless my God and King;
   Thus will I lift my hands to pray,
   And tune my lips to sing.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 63 (Song 2)
1 Oh God of love, my God thou art;
   To thee I early cry;
   Refresh with grace my thirsty heart,
   For earthly springs are dry.
2 Thy power, thy glory let me see,
   As seen by saints above;
   ‘Tis sweeter, Lord, than life to me,
   To share and sing thy love.
3 I freely yield thee all my powers,
   Yet ne’er my debt can pay;
   The thought of thee at midnight hours
   Turns darkness into day.
4 Lord, thou hast been my help, and thou
   My refuge still shalt be;
   I follow hard thy footsteps now; —
   Oh! when thy face to see?
               Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.

Psalm 63 (Song 3)
1 Oh God, thou art my God alone:
   Early to thee my soul shall cry:
   A pilgrim in a land unknown,
   A thirsty land, whose springs are dry.
2 Oh that it were as it hath been,
   When praying in the holy place,
   Thy power and glory I have seen,
   And mark’d the footsteps of thy grace.
3 Yet through this rough and thorny maze,
   I follow hard on thee, my God:
   Thy hand unseen upholds my ways;
   I safely tread where thou hast trod.
4 Thee, in the watches of the night,
   When I remember on my bed,
   Thy presence makes the darkness light,
   Thy guardian wings are round my head.
5 Better than life itself thy love,
   Dearer than all beside to me;
   For whom have I in heaven above,
   Or what on earth compared with thee?
6 Praise with my heart, my mind, my voice,
   For all thy mercy I will give;
   My soul shall still in God rejoice;
   My tongue shall bless thee while I live.
                     James Montgomery, 1822.

The Christian, Peaceful Trust
688 — Delight In God
1 Oh Lord, I would delight in thee,
      And on thy care depend;
   To thee in every trouble flee,
      My best, my only Friend.
2 When all created streams are dried,
      Thy fulness is the same;
   May I with this be satisfied,
      And glory in thy name!
3 Why should the soul a drop bemoan,
      Who has a fountain near;
   A fountain which will ever run
      With waters sweet and clear?
4 No good in creatures can be found
      But may be found in thee;
   I must have all things, and abound,
      While God is God to me.
5 Oh that I had a stronger faith,
      To look within the veil;
   To credit what my Saviour saith,
      Whose word can never fail!
6 He that has made my heaven secure,
      Will here all good provide;
   While Christ is rich, can I be poor?
      What can I want beside?
7 Oh Lord! I cast my care on thee,
      I triumph and adore:
   Henceforth my great concern shall be
      To love and please thee more.
                        John Ryland, 1777.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 39
1 Behold, Oh Lord, my days are made
   A handbreadth at the most;
   Ere yet ‘tis noon my flower must fade,
   And I give up the ghost.
2 Then teach me, Lord, to know mine end,
   And know that I am frail;
   To heaven let all my thoughts ascend,
   And let not earth prevail.
3 What is there here that I should wait,
   My hope’s in thee alone;
   When wilt thou open glory’s gate
   And call me to thy throne?
4 A stranger in this land am I,
   A sojourner with thee;
   Oh be not silent at my cry,
   But show thyself to me.
5 Though I’m exiled from glory’s land,
   Yet not from glory’s King;
   My God is ever near at hand,
   And therefore I will sing.
                  Charles H. Spurgeon, 1866.

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.

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