2094. Foundation Work

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No. 2094-35:373. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, July 7, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones, to lay the foundation of the house. {1Ki 5:17}

1. “The king commanded”: that is the beginning of all. Holy zeal waits for the king’s orders. But as soon as the command was given there was neither pause nor hesitation; “the king commanded, and they brought.” Oh, that it were always so in the church of God; that the King’s command would be at once followed by his people’s obedience! That obedience was true to every detail: “The king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones.” They did not omit one particular, or deviate in the least degree. The advice of the Blessed Virgin to the servants at the marriage feast is our advice to all workers — “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Work done without the Lord’s command may be nothing more than mere will-worship, unacceptable with the Lord. Where the word of a king is, there is power; and you may expect that power to go out with you when you go out under the guidance and authority of the divine command.

2. Solomon began to build the temple at the foundation. You smile, and wonder how he could have begun anywhere else. Ah, dear friends! I wish common sense ruled people in religion as well as in building temples; for many brethren begin their building at the top. To baptize an unbeliever on the basis of a faith which does not yet exist, is laying the top-stone before the foundation. To gather into church fellowship those who are not gathered to Christ, is attempting to pile on the roof before there are any walls. For any of you to make a profession of religion without being born again, is building the third story before there is any basement. How much we have in this world of hanging up houses in the air! — I mean, making professions without having anything upon which to base them. Begin with the foundation.

3. The foundation, in his case, had to be carried to a great height, because the area upon which the temple stood was high above the valley. Since there was not enough space on the mount, it was necessary to build up from the depth of the valley scores of feet in perpendicular height, to form a foundation upon which there would be sufficient space for the temple and its surroundings. Portions of the massive masonry which formed the foundation of the enlarged area remain, to be marvelled at by all who gaze upon them. Solomon paid special care to the foundation.

4. Most foundation work is out of sight, and the temptation is to pay very little attention to how it looked. It was not so with Solomon. Although it was very much out of sight, the king took care that the underground portion of the temple should be worthy of the rest of the edifice: it was to be made of “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones.” Builders in these days would think it absurd to spend time and labour in the hewing of stones which would never be seen. Foundations may call for something firm and solid, but certainly for nothing costly, and hewn with care. Out of sight, out of mind; and therefore no one will spend time and trouble on it. Not so the wise king engaged in the service of God. He paid great attention to underground work; and “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” were brought at his command to form the foundation of the temple. He designed it to make it all of the same quality: it was to be as truly “magnificent” in its foundation as in its roof. There was to be no inferior material, no scrimping of any portion of the work. It was for God, and it was to be built by the king of Israel; and it would neither honour God nor the king to have a bad foundation.

5. I want, dear friends, to urge that all our work for God should be done thoroughly, and especially that part of it which lies lowest, and is least observed by men. I shall first say, this is God’s method: he builds all his works with good foundations; secondly, this should be our method in all work for God; and, thirdly, this is a wise method. I shall briefly speak upon each, as the Holy Spirit shall help me.

6. I. First, THIS IS GOD’S METHOD.

7. Wherever you turn your eye upon the work of God, it is perfect. It will bear the keenest inspection. You may look at it from a distance with the telescope, or you may search into it with the microscope; but you shall find no imperfection. The Lord’s work is perfect, not merely on the surface, but to its centre. If you cut deep, or if you pull it to pieces, dividing atom from atom, you shall see the wisdom of God in the minutest particle.

8. Observe the work of creation. God took care that even in the material universe there should be a grand foundation for his noble edifice. We have the story of the outfitting of the world, during the seven days, for the habitation of man; but we do not have the history of the creation of the earth before that time. [To prepare for the seven days’ rapid furnishing of the earth for man, millions of years may have elapsed. The foundation was laid with great care. No limit can be set to the period preceding the making of man, if you only follow the Word of God in Genesis. “In the beginning” — that was a long, long while ago — “God created the heaven and the earth”; and during that process of creation it went through a great many stages; for God was determined that the house in which man should dwell should be thoroughly furnished for him.] {a} I cannot conduct you to the foundations of the earth; but I do ask you to go down with me into the cellar. Consider that vast deposit of salt for our comfort and health; and the mines of iron and other metals which lay the corner-stones of trade and commerce. Look at the quantities of coal laid up in the deep places for us. God would not send his child here in winter-time, and put no coal in the cellar for him; but he took long ages to provide the world with that fuel which is necessary for a thousand useful purposes. Those metals which are the best treasures of the soil, are usually placed lowest by God. “In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.” If ever science shall be able to investigate below the crust of the globe into its fiery caldron within, they will discover new wonders of God’s power and wisdom. What benefit may be bestowed upon us even by the secret fires which burn and rage within the world’s innermost heart, or what may be the blessing derived by us from these underlying fountains of water gathered in the depths, we cannot estimate. Suffice it to say that God’s creation is not only full of glory in its loftiest pinnacles, but also in its utmost depths. God is the Master-Builder, and he lays the foundation well.

9. The same is true of God’s work called Providence. No event happens that he has not planned, and ordained that a multitude of other events should precede or follow it. The doings of Providence are threaded together, like pearls on a string; there is a relationship of this to that, and of that to another. God does not allow events to blow about like scattered leaves in autumn; neither are they the inventions of a trying moment, when he is driven to new expedients so that his purpose may not be frustrated. Events dovetail into each other. Every fact is fitted and adapted to take its place in the design of the great Architect. Certain great principles underlie all history. One who had very little spiritual knowledge, yet confessed that “there is a power abroad which makes for righteousness”: he could not help seeing that; and he might have seen more had he opened his eyes. There is, in the affairs of man, many a touch of God’s own hand. History looks like a tangled skein; but when you and I shall see it disentangled, we shall marvel at the infinite wisdom and kindness and goodness of God. Behold, in all things everything is of him, and by him, and through him, to the praise of his glory. In God’s government of the universe he makes sure of his foundation.

10. But we come into clearer light when we look at the Lord’s greatest work of redemption. You and I are not saved in a haphazard manner. It is not as though God had saved us on the spur of the moment, as an afterthought which was not in his first intent. No; redemption plays an essential part in the purposes of the Lord. I delight to look back upon the Lord’s redeeming thoughts before all time, and say of them, “These are ancient things.” Long before the stars flew like sparks from the anvil of omnipotence, God had contrived the way for the redemption of his own. In the covenant council-chamber the divine Persons of the sacred Unity arranged the procedure of all-glorious grace; and today all things are performed according to the purpose of his eternal will. The foundation of redemption was securely laid in the covenant of grace, of which the Lord Jesus is the foundation. Infinite love, infallible wisdom, immutable faithfulness: all these combined to lay a foundation which can never be moved.

11. Go a little further, dear friends, and come to the day in which the Lord provided an atonement for us, and so laid an immovable foundation. It has been suggested that he might have saved us, if he willed, without a sacrifice, letting law and justice stand on one side. This is after the manner of the men of the day: the jerry-building of the hour scorns so little a thing as a foundation. But God does not build in this vile fashion. God will have no flaw in the salvation of his people; and so that there never might arise a question concerning the justice of the divine act by which their iniquity is passed over, he has exacted a penalty at the hand of their Surety. Now the Lord justly forgives their transgression. Justice, vindicated by a glorious sacrifice, brings for a foundation “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones.” All the angels of God might search all heaven in vain to find a fit foundation-stone for the temple of grace; but when the Only-Begotten of the Father offered himself without spot to God, it was seen that he was in all respects fit to be the foundation of man’s redemption. He is a chief Corner-Stone, elect, precious, able to bear all that can be laid upon him. What a wonder it was that God would yield him up to die, to be the basis of our hope! Talk about the great stones and costly stones of Solomon’s Temple, they are not worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as this chief Corner-Stone, on which all the hopes of his elect are laid; for they behold in him the sacrifice for sin, the destroyer of evil, and the reconciler of the lost. Glory be to God! in resting upon Jesus we do not build on the sand, but on a rock. He is the foundation of God, which stands firm. The whole temple of the church is sustained by him.

12. When you are rejoicing in your sonship, your union to Christ, your high privileges, your eternal glory, do not forget the less visible, but equally essential, foundation blessings of eternal personal election, the everlasting covenant, the unchanging purpose, and the infallible oath of God. Sing for evermore of the love which from eternity was fixed upon you, and of the purpose settled and established concerning you; for these lie at the foundation of all the favours you enjoy. Solomon’s foundations astonish beholders on earth; but those of God will fill angels with amazement throughout eternity.

13. Once more: while illustrating the truth that God’s method is to lay a good foundation, I must ask you to think of the application of redemption to the heart of every one of the redeemed in personal salvation. Beloved, when God saved us, it was no superficial work: the building of his grace in our souls is no wooden shanty, but a building which has foundations. Look back at the early dealings of God with you before you knew him: he says, “I girded you, though you have not known me.” Your experiences in your ungodly state were made to lay a foundation for the higher work of grace in your hearts. This was more fully seen in the operations of grace when God began to deal with you effectively. When he created in you conviction of sin, what an excavation there was! With some of us the throwing out of the old foundation lasted for years; and for myself, I began to think there never would be a trace of anything built up in my heart. What a trench was dug in my soul! Out went my supposed merits! What a heap of rubbish! Out went my knowledge, my good resolves, and my self-sufficiency! Eventually, out went all my strength. When this excavation was completed, the ditch was so deep that, when I went down into it, it seemed like my grave. Such a grief it was for me to know my own sinfulness, that it did not seem possible that this could help my building up in comfort and salvation. Yet so it is, that if the Lord intends to build high, he always digs deep; and if he intends to give great grace, he gives deep consciousness of the need of it. Our convictions of sin, though painful and humbling, are a necessary part of edification in righteousness. Since then we have been the subjects of a great deal of secret, unseen, underground work. The Lord has spent a world of care on us. My brother, you would not like to unveil those great searchings of heart of which you have been the subject. You have been honoured in public; and, if so, you have had many a whipping behind the door lest you should glory in your flesh. Whenever God has filled your boat with fish, and you have been more than ordinarily successful, that boat has begun to sink. Great mercies are great humblers of sincere souls. You have gone down in proportion as God has gone up with you. All those chastenings, humblings, and searchings of heart have been a private laying of foundations for higher things. Indeed, and the Lord has done much more than this in his own unseen but effective way. He has given instruction, and revelation, and sanctified fellowship, and these have been your own, and not another’s. No one has seen what the Lord has accomplished in you; but if it had not been for this, you could not have been built up in holiness and usefulness. Thank God, he works the greater wonders of his love in the dark, out of sight. Yet, just as the foundation is the most important part of the building, so the secret, humbling processes of grace have a value second to none. Yes, my brethren; for the building up of a temple for his indwelling, the Lord “brings great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones to lay the foundation of the house.”

14. II. I want now to see that THIS MUST BE OUR METHOD. We must build in this way, and make sure of our foundations.

15. First, let it be so in the building up of our own life. Every man and woman here, but especially those who are young, have a life to build up. It is a great thing to begin by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have believed twenty different gospels in so many years; how many more they will believe before they get to their journey’s end it would be difficult to predict. I thank God I only knew one gospel; and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always changing their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to produce much fruit to the glory of God. It is good to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in his Word. Draw into their places in your belief, and in your experience, those “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” of sure revelation which lay the doctrinal foundation of the temple of faith.

16. It is a great blessing to have a deep, solid, inward experience. Beloved, never think that you have taken hold of a truth until it has taken hold of you. We do a great deal of flimsy work in religion, to our cost and injury. If much of our supposed experience were laid on the wall of our confidence, the first real stone that pressed on it would crumple it all up. We want things solid, vital, real — “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones, to lay the foundation of the house.”

17. Beloved, how much is done in private by every Christian who is really sanctified, in the matter of the mastering of sin. It is not fit, in cases of inward conflict, to open the door or the window, and ask everyone to come in and see. If you have the wild beast of sin to tackle, shut the door and have it out alone, God helping you. You will never attain to a holy life unless there are secret conflicts with sin. There must also be hidden communings with God. That grace which is like an artesian well is grace indeed. When you have tapped the deep that lies under, up leaps the stream with an irresistible force, fresh from the very bowels of truth. I pray God to deliver us from the present superficialities of religion. Xavier {b} is said to have made innumerable converts in India by going about with a little pot of water and a brush, and sprinkling them as he went along. If men do not in that way make converts now, I am afraid the work is not much deeper or more effective. Unless men have new hearts, and right spirits, it is all in vain that they make new professions. We need to be baptized into the grace of God until every part of our old nature is buried with Christ, and all of our new nature is dyed in the colour of almighty love. May God grant that it may be so! Be thorough; be real, be intense. In your building up of character, look well to the foundation.

18. So it must be, next, in the building up of a church. Is that a church of God which is not founded on everlasting truth? There are numbers of hasty builders with wood, hay, and stubble; but these neither attend to foundation nor to material laid on it. Splendid stuff for rapid construction is good, well-trussed hay! Bring a truss at a time. What a pile of building we will show in a day! You wanted a house, and we have built you one in a jiffy. The wall is three feet thick, and wonderfully warm. We have built a house in a day. In this way new sects and parties have been marshalled and called churches of Christ. Is this worth while? “Thus says the Lord, ‘Shall it prosper?’ ” For my part, although I would be zealous in the service of my Lord, I had rather, by the grace of God, “lay great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” upon the solid, rocky old doctrines of the gospel, than gather the greatest crowd, without faith and life. The stones of the temple were so squared and polished that you could not get a knife in between them when they were placed side by side; the stones adjusted like this were like a solid, united mass. So let us build. “Slow work,” you say. Yes, but it will be equally slow in coming down, and that is the thing we must care about: we build for eternity.

19. To maintain solid truth you need solid people. Vital godliness is therefore to be striven for. Twenty thousand people, all merely professing faith, but having no energetic life, may not have grace enough among them to make twenty solid believers. Poor, sickly believers turn the church into a hospital, rather than a camp. Weak believers are poor stuff for building a church with. Alas! much has been done recently to promote the production of dwarfish Christians. The endeavour has been to increase breadth at the expense of depth. What would you think of those who should break the dams of our reservoirs to let the water spread over the country? The accident which did this in America has spread ruin throughout a great district. {c} I fear that nothing but mischief can come of the present liberal régime which talks about universal fatherhood, and virtually breaks down the separating wall which is meant to guard the church of God. If, in order to spread our sea, we make it very shallow, and it breathes miasma and death over the plain, it will be a sorry exchange for eternal life. Oh, to have a church built up with the deep godliness of men who know the Lord in their very hearts, and will seek to follow the Lamb wherever he goes! I look with great delight, although with much sorrow, upon our Society’s church-building on the Congo. When we think of the many men who have died there, it has indeed been true already that “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” have been laid for a foundation. If God will enable his church to make such sacrifices, he intends to build a fair palace for his glory. When the great demands of a work call for unusual consecration, and unknown donors drop large sums into the treasury of the church, then also there is hope for a grand structure. When Christian men, for the truth’s sake can part with friends, lose popularity, and involve themselves in loss, then “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” are being built into the foundation of the temple of the Lord.

20. This morning a large number of friends are present who have been attending the Sunday School Convention. I heartily welcome them, and I wish to turn my subject towards them, by saying — Dear friends, in the building up of character in others we must watch that we do the foundation work well. Sunday School teachers are those who do the foundation work; for they begin first with young hearts, while they are tender and susceptible. It is a most important thing that we have our children and young people well instructed in divine truth and soundly converted. If we tone down the gospel which we teach, under the notion of making it more suitable for children, we shall greatly err: we may make it more childish, but we shall not make it more fit for children, nor a more effective instrument for their salvation. The same gospel which is preached in this great Tabernacle to this crowd is preached downstairs in our Sunday School, to the young; and if I thought it was not so, I would despair of seeing any conversions. The lads and lasses need just the same truths as the adults, only it should be stated in simpler language, with more of parable and illustration. Fundamental truths are as much connected with the salvation of a child as with the salvation of a full-grown man. Christ receives adults, but he also permits little children to come to him. Let us always take good heed that our Sunday School teaching is as solidly truthful as our instruction of the church.

21. But may it never be forgotten that the major part of teaching will lie in example; and, therefore, the life of the teacher must be of the very best. It is amazing how children copy the conduct of a beloved teacher: for good or for evil, the force of example over the imitative faculty of youth is very great. When their hearts are tender they are moulded for God and good things, as much by what they see in our character as by what they hear from our lips. Most of you have seen in the British Museum the Egyptian brick which bears the mark of a dog’s foot on it. When it was as yet soft mud, a dog, who was wandering through the brick field, set his signature upon it, and there it stands — Dog of Nilus: his mark. Any casual word or foolish act may make a mark on a child’s character as indelible as the dog’s signature. This may be done when we are not intending it; how much more when with our heart’s intent we write upon a loving mind! An unhallowed remark, or an ill-advised act, may start a soul upon the course of destruction. Just as the Japanese copyist was very careful to imitate the crack in the plate, and the flaw in the design, so shall we find young people particularly apt to follow our faults and infirmities. Oh, for holy teachers and preachers! Let us be such that we may dare to tell our disciples to watch us, and have us for examples. How surely are the impressions of our early days retained when later learning is forgotten! How easily may you who work on the precious material of a young mind leave on it an undying record! I remember a man of God, who has now gone to his reward, who was the means of producing, under God, a library of useful lives. I do not mean books in paper, but books in boots. Many young men were decided for the Lord by his means, and became preachers, teachers, deacons, and other workers; and no one would wonder that it was so, if he knew the man who trained them. He was ready for every good word and work; but he gave special attention to his Bible class, in which he presented the gospel with clarity and zeal. Whenever any one of his young men left the country town in which he lived, he would be sure to have a parting interview. There was a wide-spreading oak down in the fields; and there he was accustomed to keep an early morning appointment with John, or Thomas, or William; and that appointment very much consisted of earnest pleadings with the Lord, that in going up to the great city the young man might be kept from sin, and made useful. Under that tree several decided for the Saviour. It was an impressive act, and left its influence; for many men came, in later years, to see the place, made sacred by their teacher’s prayers. We ought to be ingenious in our methods, and spare no pains to influence young people for their good. “Great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” may be fitly used in such building as this. If the Lord by our means prepares only one soul for eternal bliss, we shall not have lived in vain.

22. But, beloved friends, one of the most important things about dealing with children is, that we teach them what we have well prepared. Their mental food must be carefully cooked. If ever a teacher goes to the class without preparing the lesson, the teaching is sure to be very poor work. No one sees you when you are preparing your lesson; no one commends you for your diligent research. It is the public address which is noted; but the secret study is that to which the commendation really belongs. If this private preparation is neglected, it is a very serious omission. Indeed, bad work in places which are not easily seen is a wretched order of things. Some time ago it was my responsibility, as executor, to arrange for the sale of the goods and effects in a house most elegantly furnished. Certain fine pictures were to go to Christy and Manson’s. The drawing-room was expensively adorned, and the wall decorations were elaborate with a pattern in which gold stars were somewhat plentiful. When the paintings were taken down, I was very surprised to see that behind them the wall was bare of ornament, so that at no time could those pictures have been moved without showing how the decoration had been stinted. The owner was rich; yet his tradesman must needs practice such pinching economy of a little gilding. I am afraid if we were to take down the pictures in some Sunday School teachers and Christian ministers, there would be seen ugly patches of neglect. It should not be so, brethren, in the work of the Lord. It must not be so! Our power under God will lie very much in the heartiness of our private work. Years ago, when I was suffering from gouty rheumatism, a gentleman sought an interview, who was confident that he could cure me almost immediately. He was a marvellously positive quack, and before long he had informed me that he had in his exclusive possession a most astounding medicine. I do not know whether a smell of it would not have cured all the ills of humanity. No, he could not even hint what the medicine was; and I did not press the point, for I could not expect to be favoured with the golden secret; but I was indulged with some insight into the preparation of the miraculous drug. The professor said, “These pills are infallible in their effect, because they are so powerful. Their power does not lie in the mere ingredients, which are extremely simple; but their efficacy is the result of the careful preparation of the material by myself.” Being a very healthy man, and full of life-force, the professor professed to work up these pills in such a way that he transferred to them the electric or biological energies of his own personality; and by this he infused health power into the sick. I have never taken the aforesaid pills; but I have used their author’s assertion as a lesson. I believe that if preachers and teachers work into their lessons the life of their souls, and the whole power of their minds, their teaching will be far more effective for good than if they merely repeat good things, and put no heart into them. See to it that your heart and soul is worked into your teaching. Next time we are studying the Scripture lessons, let us think to ourselves, “This is foundation work. No one will know how I have worked at it; but the Lord, whom I serve, will take note of all that I do, and he will be pleased with conscientious foundation work.” Brethren, we must put “good stones, costly stones, and hewn stones” into the unseen part of our edifice, so that, as a whole, our work may be fit for the thrice-holy Lord.

23. III. My time fails me; but under my third point I must carefully, though briefly, present the reasons why this should be done. IT IS A WISE METHOD.

24. First, because it is suitable for God. You build your temple for God, and not for men: you should, therefore, make that part of the building good which will be seen by him; and since he sees it all, it must be all of the best. The Lord sees just as much the foundation as he does the top-stone: all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Even heathens recognised this. A Greek sculptor had to prepare an image of a god, for one of the temples. He was working away with all his might at the back of the head, and at the hinder garments of the figure. One said to him, “Your work is needless, for that part of the figure is to be built into the wall.” “But,” he said, “the gods can see in the wall. This is for the gods, and not for men.” Let us catch the spirit of the heathen artist, and do work for God in a manner fit for the Omniscient. It is fitting that the foundation which is invisible should be perfected, if we expect the Invisible God to accept it; for, otherwise, if we spend our strength on what is seen by men, it will be pretty evident that we, after all, are working for the praise of man, and not for the glory of God.

25. Next, look well to the foundation that is out of sight, for your own sake. No builder can afford to be negligent over the unseen part of a building; for it would involve a serious injury to his character. The very act of scrimping is base and degrading, and lowers a man’s tone. I do not care who he is, if he habitually trifles over what is not seen, the habit will defile his sincerity in other respects, and lead him to practical hypocrisy in religious concerns. The mere idea that we need not do our best if we are not seen, is debasing to the soul. Today many aim at doing things cheaply, getting through work as fast as possible, and making a great show for the money. Let us avoid this popular form of lying! Let us do every part of our work as beseems men who are the elect of God, redeemed by precious blood, and called into fellowship with Christ by the Holy Spirit. What if a sham might pass current with other men, yet it must not be adopted by those who are of heaven-born race, and have a quickened conscience within their heart. “Why,” one says, “no one would respect you any the less if you did such work slightingly, for everyone else is doing it.” Listen: I should respect myself the less if I scrimped on my work, and I place a great value on my own respect of myself. What if another esteems me? I am still wretched if I know that he is mistaken, and do not have the approbation of my own conscience. A conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards men, is of more worth than the applause of nations.

26. Further, lay the foundation well, and look to that part which is out of sight, because in this way you will secure the superstructure. There was a bit of a flaw in the foundation, but no one saw it; for the builder covered it up very quickly, and ran up the whole concern as quickly as possible. The walls were built, and built well. It seemed clear that the fault down below was of no consequence whatever; and since it had saved money on the underground construction, was it not so much the better? How long was this the case? Well, the next year nothing happened: a longer time elapsed, and then an ugly crack came down the wall. Had there been an earthquake? No, there was no earthquake. Perhaps a hurricane had beaten upon the work? No, there was no hurricane: the weather was the same as usual. What was the cause of that gaping space which marred the beauty of the building, and threatened to bring it down? It was that blunder long ago: that underground neglect produced the terrible mischief above, which would involve a great expense, and perhaps render it necessary to take the whole the building down. What was out of sight did not always remain out of mind; it only needed time to produce a dangerous result. If certain men of our acquaintance had been soundly converted at first, backsliding and apostasy would not have followed, to our shame and grief. If certain preachers had done their work in the church of God better in years now past, those sad departures from the truth, which now vex the saints, would not have occurred. If today you do not teach your children the gospel fully and clearly, the evil may not be seen in your present classes, nor possibly even in this generation: but children’s children will bear the impression of the slight work done at this hour. Years may be needed for the development of the full result of a false doctrine.

27. Besides, dear friends, to lay a good foundation, on Solomon’s part, was the way to save himself from future fears. Buildings which have to hold a crowd endure seasons of test and trial. Years ago, I was preaching in a building which was extremely crowded, and, to my apprehension, there was a continuous tremor. I grew so anxious that I said to a friend, who understood such matters, “Go downstairs and see whether this building is really safe; for it seems hardly able to bear the weight of this crowd.” When he returned he looked anxious, but gave me no answer. The service ended quietly, and then he said, “I am so glad that everything has gone off safely. I do not think you should ever preach there again; for it is a very frail affair; but I thought that if I frightened you there would be more risk in a panic than in letting the service go on.” Solomon had built with “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones”; and therefore, when the vast multitudes came together around the temple, it never occurred to him to fear that the great weight of people might cause a shifting of the foundation. Oh, no! he stood there, and prayed to God with a collected mind, altogether undisturbed by any apprehension of possible disaster. He who builds well for eternity will escape a thousand fears. Doubts and fears are often born from a knowledge that something has been left undone, or has been done slightly, in the process of building on Christ. Beloved members of this church, you who are often subject to doubts and fears, do you not think that these might be cured by a more real faith and truer dealings with God? Are you lax concerning your private study of the Word, or negligent in your secret prayers? If so, I do not wonder that you have doubts. Here is a suggestion for the way of curing and preventing them. Make your religion solid work: have no more of it in appearance than you have in reality. Get down to the rock every time. Do nothing with careless superficiality. If you pray, plead with your whole heart. If you hear the Word, put your very soul into it. “Sure work for eternity!” is your motto. Especially look well to the underground and unseen parts of godliness; so that your comfort shall be constant and joyful.

28. Beloved, lastly, look well to the foundation, and to the secret part of your dealings with God, because there is a fire coming which will test all things. “Every man’s work shall be revealed: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work to determine what kind it is.” No matter where we build, nor how we build, the fire will come upon all the works of man. The wood, hay, and stubble builders cry, “Do not bring any fire here! The proposal is horrible!” But they protest in vain, for God has determined that the fire shall be. Now, even should you build the upper and visible part of your life with stone, it will not avail if the under portion is of hay. The fire will bring it all down. What a blaze! What a blaze! Stand far off, and see its smoke go up like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. What is left? Only a handful of black ashes! Is this the whole remaining result of an entire life? Is this the substance of a life of notoriety, and publicity, and honour? How terrible! Yet if the foundation part of your life is of consumable material, that must be the bitter end. But, God be thanked, the man who builds on the rock Christ Jesus, and builds on him gold, silver, and precious stones, has no reason to fear the last conflagration. Today he weeps, because he has built so little. “Oh Lord,” he says, “I wish I could have done a thousand times as much for you!” But after the fire has gone through it and through it, and what is built remains, how thankful he will be! See how it shines amid the fire! The flames give it a glow and a shine never seen before. The rust and the tarnish are gone, and the whole fabric shines like the pure gold which it really is. Its precious stones are even more brilliant than before, and in nothing has the structure suffered loss. The Lord be praised! A life well grounded in Christ Jesus, made sound throughout by the power of the Spirit, will bear to be inspected by God, and even to be inspected by the envious eyes of men, who would gladly find fault with it; and at last it will bear the trial of the judgment day, and will be found to the praise and glory of God for ever and ever. Therefore, see to it that you lay the foundation of all your religion with “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones,” so that it may last for ever.

29. To those of you who are not converted, let this be the final word of my sermon: build on God’s foundation, build on Christ, the sacrifice appointed by the Lord for the putting away of sin; and see to it that with sincere repentance, childlike faith, and gospel holiness, you build on it “great stones, costly stones, and hewn stones,” which shall lie firmly on the One Foundation, and never be removed from it, world without end. Amen.

[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 34 1Ki 5:13-18]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 34” 34 @@ "(Version 1)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 118” 118 @@ "(Song 2)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Unchanging Love — The Firm Foundation” 732}


{a} Bracketed text indicates that as brilliant as Spurgeon was, even he did not understand the age of the earth issue. Editor.
{b} Francis Xavier, (April 7, 1506-December 3, 1552), was a Roman Catholic missionary born in Xavier, Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain), and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a study companion of St. Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, (Paris) in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in evangelization work most notably in India. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Xavier"
{c} The Johnstown Flood (or Great Flood of 1889 as it became known locally) occurred on May 31, 1889. It was the result of the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam situated on the Little Conemaugh River 14 miles up-stream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, made worse by several days of extremely heavy rainfall. The dam’s failure unleashed a torrent of 20 million tons of water from the reservoir known as Lake Conemaugh. With a flow rate that temporarily equalled that of the Mississippi River, the flood killed 2,209 people and caused $17 million US of damage (the equivalent of about $425 million in 2012 dollars). See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnstown_Flood"

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 34 (Version 1)
1 Through all the changing scenes of life,
   In trouble and in joy,
   The praises of my God shall still
   My heart and tongue employ.
2 Of his deliverance I will boast,
   Till all that are distress’d
   From my example comfort take,
   And charm their griefs to rest.
3 Come magnify the lord with me;
   With me exalt his name;
   When in distress to him I call’d
   He to my rescue came.
4 Oh make but trial of his love;
   Experience will decide
   How blest are they, and only they,
   Who in his truth confide!
5 Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
   Have nothing else to fear;
   Make you his service your delight,
   He’ll make your wants his care.
                     Tate and Brady, 1696.


Psalm 34 (Version 2)
1 Lord, I will bless thee all my days,
   Thy praise shall dwell upon my tongue
   My soul shall glory in thy grace,
   While saints rejoice to hear the song.
2 Come, magnify the Lord with me;
   Come, let us all exalt his name:
   I sought the eternal God, and he
   Has not exposed my hope to shame.
3 I told him all my secret grief,
   My secret groaning reach’d his ears;
   He gave my inward pains relief,
   And calm’d the tumult of my fears.
4 To him the poor lift up their eyes,
   Their faces feel the heavenly shine;
   A beam of mercy from the skies
   Fills them with light and joy divine.
5 His holy angels pitch their tents
   Around the men that serve the Lord;
   Oh hear and love him, all his saints;
   Taste of his grace, and trust his word.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 118 (Song 1) <7s.>
1 To Jehovah hymn the lay,
   Ever shall his love endure
   Oh let grateful Israel say,
   Stands his love for ever sure.
2 Oh let Aaron’s house reply,
   Evermore his love shall last:
   All, who fear him, shout and cry,
   Stands his love for ever fast.
3 On the everliving name,
   In distress on JAH I cried:
   JAH to my deliverance came,
   And my prison open’d wide.
4 See Jehovah near me stand!
   What from mortal shall I dread?
   See Jehovah lift the hand!
   Victor on my foes I tread.
5 Hark! the voice of joy and song
   Echoes from the faithful seed;
   By his right hand firm and strong
   He hath done a mighty deed.
6 High Jehovah’s hand is raised
   By the conquest he hath won:
   Be Jehovah’s right hand praised!
   He a mighty deed hath done.
                     Richard Mant, 1824.


Psalm 118 (Song 2)
1 Behold the sure foundation stone
   Which God in Zion lays,
   To build our heavenly hopes upon,
   And his eternal praise.
2 Chosen of God, to sinners dear,
   And saints adore the name;
   They trust their whole salvation here,
   Nor shall thy suffer shame.
3 The foolish builders, scribe and priest,
   Reject it with disdain;
   Yet on this rock the church shall rest,
   And envy rage in vain.
4 What though the gates of hell withstood,
   Yet must this building rise:
   ‘Tis thine own work, Almighty God,
   And wondrous in our eyes.
                     Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 118 (Song 3) <7s.>
1 Thee, Jehovah, will I bless;
   Thou didst my request allow:
   Thee my Saviour I confess,
   Author of my health are thou.
2 Lo, the stone, which once aside
   By the builders’ hands was thrown,
   See it now the buildings pride,
   See it now the corner stone!
3 Lo, we hail Jehovah’s deed,
   Strange and wondrous in our eyes!
   Lo, the day our God hath made!
   Bid the voice of gladness rise.
4 Save, Hosanna! Lord, I pray!
   Save, Hosanna; God of might:
   Lord, for us thy power display;
   Lord, on us thy favour light!
5 He, Jehovah, is our Lord;
   He, our God, on us hath shined:
   Bind the sacrifice with cord,
   To the horned altar bind.
6 Thee I bless, my God and King!
   Thee, my God and King, I hail!
   Hallelujah, shout and sing!
   Never shall his goodness fail.
                     Richard Mant, 1824.


The Christian, Privileges, Unchanging Love
732 — The Firm Foundation <11s.>
1 How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
   Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
   What more can he say than to you he hath said,
   You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
2 In every condition — in sickness, in health,
   In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
   At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
   “As thy days may demand shall thy strength ever be.”
3 “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay’d!
   I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
   I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
   Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.”
4 “When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
   The rivers of grief shall not thee overflow:
   For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
   And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
5 “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
   My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
   The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
   Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”
6 “E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
   My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
   And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
   Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.”
7 “The soul that on Jesus hath lean’d for repose,
   I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
   That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
   I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”
                        George Keith, 1787.

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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