2177. Camp Law And Camp Life

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No. 2177-36:661. A Sermon Delivered On A Thursday Evening, October 19, 1890, {a} Before Leaving Home For His Winter’s Rest, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 14, 1890.

For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall be holy so that he sees no unclean thing in you, and turns away from you. {De 23:14}

1. I will scarcely allude to the context, which you ought to notice at home, but I must say as much as this: the Lord cared for the cleanliness of his people while they were in the wilderness, literally so; and this text is connected with a sanitary regulation of the wisest possible kind. What I admire in it is that God the glorious, the all-holy, should stoop to legislate about such things. Such attention was very necessary for health and even for life, and the Lord, in condescending to it, conveys a severe rebuke to Christian people who have been careless in matters respecting health and cleanliness. Saintly souls should not be lodged in filthy bodies. God takes notice of matters which people who are falsely spiritual speak of as beneath their observation. If the Lord cares for such things, we must not neglect them. But oh, what condescension on his part that his Spirit should dictate to Moses concerning these external concerns! I bow before the majesty of a condescension to which nothing is too low.

2. Observe, also, how it shows us the all-reaching character of the law of Moses. It overshadowed everything; it guided, arranged, restrained, or suggested all the acts of the people under its tutorship. Wherever they were, in their most public or private acts, the people were always under the supervision of the law. By reason of their sinfulness, this holy code of regulations became a yoke which they were not able to bear; still it was a very necessary and salutary law, for which they should have been grateful at all times, since it was for their good in every respect, and tended to bless them both spiritually and physically, socially and religiously.

3. Dear friends, the great thing that I would bring out at this time is the spiritual lesson of the text — how the Lord would have his people clean in all things. The God of holiness commands and loves purity — purity of all kinds. He says, “Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” Cleanliness of body is sometimes neglected by people professing godliness; I speak to their shame. It ought not to be possible for grace and dirt to meet in the same person. I must confess I feel a great horror at Christian people who are so dirty that one cannot sit in the same pew with them without nausea. This is the trial of many visitors among poor people who profess religion, that certain of them are not clean in their houses, and in their clothes. Filth may be expected in people of unclean hearts, but those who have been purified in spirit should do their utmost to be pure in flesh, and clothes, and dwelling. If cleanliness is next to godliness — and I am sure it is — it ought to be observed by those who profess godliness. Does not the same text which says “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,” also say, “and our bodies washed with pure water?” The Christ who redeemed us did not redeem us so that we should be covered with filthiness. He has redeemed the body as well as the soul, and he has made it to be the temple of the Holy Spirit; surely we must cleanse his temple, and not allow it to be defiled. I like the idea of those sailors on board ship, who knew that the ship was going down, and therefore, put on their Sunday’s best, so that they might die as clean and neat as they could. I would not care to die in filth, or to live in it. A Christian should be clean in all things — in his person, in his house, in his garments, and in his habits. For his own sake, but especially for the sake of others, he should carefully observe sanitary laws, lest he is found guilty of the command which says, “You shall not kill.” Now, if God speaks about this matter of cleanliness, I am sure I may do so, and ought to do so. If anyone is offended let him take a basin of clean water and wash the offence away. If anyone thinks I am being personal, let him have a personal bath, and so obliterate the mark. If cleanliness is a point which God does not omit, he would not have his servants silent about it.

4. Still, I pass on from that to the greater lesson of the passage. You will notice that the presence of God in the midst of his people was all-reaching and everywhere. No part of the camp was exempt from God’s walking in it. Not merely in the holy place was God, or in the Holy of holies between the cherubim, but he was everywhere in the streets of the canvas city, and in its outskirts. When troops of Israelites went out to war, and consequently set up temporary camps, they were to remember that God was still walking in the midst of them; and this was to be the great motive power of their lives — the presence of God. The high privilege of being a people near to Jehovah involved continual watching so that nothing might offend his sacred majesty. Oh sirs, every man, whether a Christian or not, ought to remember that God is everywhere, that there is no escaping from his presence, that even the shadows of night furnish no veil under which we may sin with impunity. But as for the chosen, who know the Lord, it is for them to have the lowliest respect for one so glorious, and yet so graciously near. We may ever pray that —

   Our weaker passions may not dare
   Consent to sin, for God is there.

He is daring indeed who would sin in the face of God. Sin in the teeth of God? Approach the throne of the Great King, and be disloyal there? God forbid! The Lord forgive us our audacities! There is a special presence, higher and other than the universal presence of God; and since this is the unique privilege of the saints, it should be to them a constant check, or a perpetual spur. The presence of God is to us a check to evil, and a spur to good.

5. About this presence, and its effects, I am going to speak at this time, as the Spirit of the Lord may help me. Oh, for an anointing from the presence of the Lord!

6. There are three things which I shall speak of. The first is an instructive comparison, which I may draw from this text. The text speaks about the camp of Israel, and that is a comparison which may very aptly illustrate the nature of the church of God; for the church is spiritually a camp. Secondly, here is a special privilege — “The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you.” And then, thirdly, here is demand for corresponding conduct. “Therefore, because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, therefore your camp shall be holy, so that he sees no unclean thing in you, and turns away from you.” May this lesson be learned by us all today!

7. I. First, then, AN INSTRUCTIVE COMPARISON. The church of God is in many respects comparable to a camp.

8. It is a camp for separation. Men who are encamped are separated from the traders, householders, and others near whom they are staying. They are separated especially from the adversaries with whom they are at war. When you come near to a camp, you are challenged by the sentry, for you must not come there without warrant. In wartime a picket {b} is sure to be in your path whichever way you come near to the camp; for during a campaign warriors are a separated people, and must keep themselves so. Such ought the church of God to be. We are crusaders, and are separated from the masses for the service of the cross which we bear on our hearts. We are in an enemy’s country, and we must keep ourselves to ourselves very much, or else we shall certainly fail in that holy military discipline which the Captain of our salvation would have us strictly enforce. An attempt is being made, here and there, to make the church like the world, and it has already been carried out by actual experiment. The most ridiculous and even discreditable things are in such cases done in the name of religion, and under cover of church purposes. Oh friends, this custom comes from the lowest depth, and is full of the cunning of Satan. It will be our destruction if the attempt should succeed. The great object of a Christian should be to separate the church more and more entirely from the world. Our Lord was not of this world, but was crucified outside the gate: “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.” The reproach today, dreaded by feeble minds, is that of being narrow-minded, bigoted, strict, precise. Let us willingly take it up. It is his reproach: let us not attempt to escape it. Let it be our resolve that, as far as we ever can, we will be nonconformists to the ways even of worldly Christians. Let us not be conformed to this world, but transformed in the spirit of our minds. Ours is the holy dissidence of spiritual dissent from evil, the sacred separation of Separatists from error. Are we a camp, dear friends? The question might lead us to judge others: I will put it in the singular. Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? If so, I must, as a soldier, live in my barracks, or remain in my lines. I must be separated; and I must, as a follower of the Lamb, “go to him outside the camp,” being determined to live the separated life as he instructs me to. Every true church, then, is a camp for separation.

9. Next, it is a camp, because it is on the defensive. As I have said before, we are marching through an enemy’s country. The children of Israel marched through the wilderness, and the Amalekites frequently harassed them, and killed the hindmost of them; as the Amalekites harass us, and, alas! they kill the hindmost of us. It is not those who are in the front lines with their captain, not those who follow close to the standard, nor those who go out armed in his strength, who fall by the enemy. Those who play about in the rear, who gather up the stones of the desert, and hoard them up as a treasure — it is these upon whom the Amalekites pounce. Yet their arrows are far flying, and none of us is safe from the enemy, except as the Lord keeps us. Therefore, we must go around armed at all times. I heard say of a certain clergyman, that he told his bishop, when he went to a ball, that he was “off duty”; but his bishop very properly replied, “When is a clergyman off duty?” I ask the same question of a Christian, When are you off duty? Never. The policeman wears a badge on his arm to show that he is on duty: you wear nothing on your arm, it is on your whole self. Buried with the Lord in baptism, the sacred watermark is on you from head to foot, the sign that henceforth you are dead to the world, and are alive in newness of life. You cannot strip yourself of so comprehensive a distinction; it is impossible to erase it, it is an indelible sign, and if you are false to it, then you are traitors indeed. If you are living as you should do, you are living for Christ, always and ever, in every place, and at all times. You are to serve God in your enjoyments, as well as in your employments; in your leisure as much as in your labour. You are to serve him, not only in what is mistakenly called his house, but also in your own house. Indeed, and you yourself are to be the temple of the living God always. Brethren, we are soldiers at all times, and must never doff our regimentals. We must keep rank, and march in close formation, for every day is a battle for the church of God. There is no truce between the church and error, between the saint and sin. If there is a truce, it is an unholy one, and must be broken, for God himself has proclaimed eternal war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Our condition is one of warfare, and nothing else, until the last great victory shall crush the serpent’s head. The church is a camp, for it is on the defensive.

10. It is a camp, too, especially, because it is always assailing the powers of darkness. It is carrying the war into the enemy’s territory. That, no doubt, is the special intention of the words of our text. Read the ninth verse, “When the host goes out against your enemies, then keep from every wicked thing.” Learn, then, that we are to go out against the enemy. It is not for the church of God to protect her own borders, and think, “This is enough”; she must go out to conquer new territory for her Lord. There used to be in our churches too much of contentedness with isolation and inactivity. The hymn went up from a quiet, do-nothing assembly —

   We are a garden walled around,
   Chosen and made peculiar ground,
   A little spot enclosed by grace
   Out of the world’s wide wilderness.

We dare not feel content to let the wilderness remain what it is; we may not give up vast regions to the dragon and the owl. No, no, dear friends, we are going to break up more ground, and make the little spot into a far wider space; and if the garden is walled around, we hope to build a wall around many more acres of ground, and so enlarge the garden of the Great King. The church of God is like fire, and you cannot say to fire, “You must burn comfortably at the corner of that haystack, and never think of going any farther.” “No,” says the fire, “I will burn it all down.” “But there are farm buildings over there: do not touch those sheds and barns.” The fierce fire is insatiable; it never stops while there is anything to be consumed. Even so a true church has within herself an ambition for her Lord that his kingdom may be extended everywhere; and that ambition is as insatiable as that of Alexander, which a conquered world could scarcely satisfy. If there were only one sinner left, it would be worth the while of all the saved millions to continue to pray day and night for that one sinner, and to set all its tongues moving to tell to that one sinner the gospel of Christ. Alas, we are a very long way off from having a lone soul to watch over! A few are saved, and untold millions are perishing. Feeble are the lamps which as yet are kindled, the vast proportion of the world is wrapped in tenfold night. We are as yet only a handful of grain on the top of the mountains, and our desire should be to grow until “its fruit shall shake like Lebanon: and those of the city shall flourish like the grass of the earth.” We have a world to conquer, and we cannot afford to loiter. We have a kingdom to set up for the Lord of hosts, and we must not sleep, for the adversaries of the Lord are raging. We are an army, sworn to war against the Canaanites of error and sin, to cast down their walled cities, to break their idols, and to cut down their groves. The church of God is the great army of peace, purity, liberty, and love: she wars against war, she wars against sin, she wars against oppression, she wars against falsehood, uncleanness, intemperance, unrighteousness; and her fight has only just begun. Do you not feel, my brethren, dwelling in this wicked city of London, that our appropriate description is a camp?

11. And next, dear friends, the church of God is a camp because we are on the march. A camp is pitched in one place for temporary purposes, for the army is moving on tomorrow, and then the camp will be in another place. The Israelites, especially, were not dwelling in the desert; they were only marching through it into the land that God had promised to them. It is good for us to remember that we are ourselves in a movable camp, marching, marching onward, marching forward; but always marching and moving. This is not our rest. We are not at home: we are on foreign travel. Alas! I am afraid that we do not believe this, but are like the children of Israel, who took forty years in the wilderness to perform a journey which, I suppose, might have been accomplished in forty days or less. It was not far, after all, from Egypt to Canaan; we should think nothing of it as a journey now; and even for that great mass of people, who necessarily travelled slowly, it did not need to have been a long passage; but they took forty years over it, because they marched this way and that way, in endless mazes lost, wandering rather than journeying towards a definite place. Do you not think that a great many Christian people are practising the same method of motion without progress? Have you not seen some of them, like the King of France, march up a hill and down again? Is that not the way with most? Bravely they lift the lance, and hold the shield, and rush out to the battle. They ride all around the enemy, and take stock of him, and come home to tell what they have seen; and that is all they do! Multitudes are for ever playing at being Christians. Do you not note their childish see-saw, up and down, up and down; but their movement leaves them no higher than at the first. May God save us from this! The camp must go onward. Thus says the Lord, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward.” We ought to be advancing in grace, in knowledge, in earnestness, in holiness, in usefulness, and if not, we scarcely resemble the figure of a camp.

12. Yet, once more, no doubt a camp, as formed for temporary purposes, was a sign of the church; for although the church stands still and remains, yet in her individual members she is subject to the same law of decay, and death, and change, as the rest of the world. Soon the camp shall cease; and the soldiers become citizens, and the tents are exchanged for mansions. The church is militant on the earth only for a time. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Oh brethren, we are at present rather a camp than a city; for we pass away, and our brethren also, as the days fly by. I remember this church and congregation thirty-six years ago; and my brother William Olney {c} behind me will remember it too; but neither he nor I can recall all the names of our brother soldiers who were with us then. They are gone from us at our Captain’s call. I do not say that they are lost, for they are not so; but they are lost to us for present aid. You cannot say that a thing is lost when you know where it is, and we know where they are; but they are not here, and we sadly miss them. Others have sprung up, but a whole generation has passed away. Part of our legion have forded the dividing stream,

   And we are to the margin come,
   And soon expect to die.

13. To us also there remains a rest, but we remember that here we have no continuing city, we seek one to come. We endeavour to make the camp as comfortable as the desert will permit; but it can never be a home. When you are in the East, your tent-bed awaits you; you sleep well, you wake up, there is your breakfast; but very soon they roll up the tent, and pull up the poles, and put the whole thing on camels, and you are again homeless on the burning sand. You can never count on anything like staying permanently in one place when you are following camp life. Such is the life of the believer: camp life is his lot, and it is good for him to be prepared to rough it.

14. Here we are in a tabernacle, that is, a tent which is to be taken down; but we are going to a city that has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. We have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and we are wending our way there; but, as yet, we are like Bedouin Arabs, or like our own soldiers on a campaign, when they have no permanent barracks, but live in tents.

15. We remember very sadly, that, when rough men get into camp — and soldiers, as a rule are rough enough — they think that they may do anything. In this respect the camp of God is to differ from all other camps, as much as white from black. To this day it is a kind of popular error that a soldier may indulge himself in uncleanness, and be less blamable than other people. I have heard the remark, “The young man is in the army; and what can you expect of him?” But God’s people are to be soldiers, and theirs is to be camp life; but their camp is holy, and so must each one of them be. Thus says the Lord, “When the host goes out against your enemies, then keep from every wicked thing.” “The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall be holy; so that he sees no unclean thing in you, and turns away from you.” A camp of angels should not be more holy than a church of saints among whom the Lord God has taken up his abode.

16. So much upon the very instructive figure of the text.

17. II. Secondly, I come to notice A SPECIAL PRIVILEGE. The text mentions a privilege especially promised to Israel, but I am sure, to a very high and real degree, enjoyed by ourselves. “The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you.”

18. By this walking is intended a special presence of love. The Lord is present in his church in a higher sense than in the world. The Lord walks in the midst of his church as a man takes pleasure in the walks of his garden. The church is the garden of the Lord, his paradise. “His delights are with the sons of men.” He looks on this one, and on that — all plants of his own right-hand planting: he looks to see where the knife is needed, so that he may prune the vine; or where refreshment is needed, so that he may water the roots. The Lord, with unutterable care, is in the midst of his church. Remember how he says, “I the Lord keep it; I will water it every moment; lest anyone harms it, I will keep it night and day.” If you want to find God on earth, you must look among his chosen. Where is a father most at home except with his children? God has said, “This is my rest for ever: I will dwell here; for I have desired it.” While Israel was a dweller in tents the ark of the covenant was among them, the sign of the Lord’s presence; and in his warring church the great Captain of the host is always lovingly near. Hear how he gives the assurance, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” There are special lines of love for his own, which make us sometimes cry, “Lord, why is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” But so it is our Lord Jesus walks up and down our ranks, and sees our order or disorder, our courage or our cowardice; and this is the best reason why we should behave ourselves properly. He loves us, and we must not grieve him. See the force of this argument, “The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp; therefore your camp shall be holy.”

19. God is present in the camp of his people with a special presence of observation. He sees all things; but his eyes are, in the first place, fixed on his church. With burning glance he searches the very heart of professors. I tremble while I speak this word. It is often bowing me to the dust. With regard to the ungodly, I may say of them, “The times of this ignorance God winks at”; but to his people he says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” There is a discipline in the house of God which is carried on, not by church officers, nor by the church itself, but by the providence of God. Men die before their time, and others are sick who might be well; sick, I mean, through bad behaviour in the church of God. Thus says the apostle: “For this reason many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” If you are not my child I have nothing to say about your behaviour: I leave you to your own father. But if you are my boy, my child at home, I must speak to you, I must correct you, for I bear a responsibility towards you. So it is with God. He will bear much from the ungodly which he will not endure from his own people. Here is a text which I would like to wrap up in my heart: “The Lord your God is a jealous God.” That wondrous love of his must have jealousy linked with it. Our God loves us so much, so entirely, with all the infinity of his Godhead, that if we do not love him in return, and yield the holy fruits of love, he is grieved and angry. “The Lord your God is a jealous God.” See, then, the argument: if it is so, that God is especially watchful over his church, let your camp be holy. The Lord cries, “Be holy; for I am holy.” “Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” It is not for Jehovah’s camp to be fouled. He would not have any putrid matter, anything offensive, remain within the camp literally; and spiritually he will have us keep all filthiness away from his church. He will have us just, true, pure, sincere, holy; and if we are not so, his anger will burn like fire. Lord, have mercy upon us! Christ, have mercy upon us! What more can we say?

20. Again, dear friends, the unique privilege of Israel is to have a special presence of salvation. “The Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you.” God is with his people, to help them in their times of trouble, to rescue them out of danger, to answer their cries in their necessity, to save them in the hour of temptation. He is with us to deliver us in all things in which we require deliverance. Have we not found him so? I could touch this string with no feeble or wavering hand. This very week I have found him with me, to deliver me in many things — many things that seemed to lay me low, matters which concerned the Lord’s church. Trouble was there; but the Lord was there also. Oh, what a blessing it is! “The Lord is there.” Do you have any troubles and difficulties, dear friend, and are you a child of God? Do you belong to Christ? Well, the Lord is with his people to deliver them. Should this not be a grand argument why the camp should be holy, for if he hears our prayers, we are bound to obey his precepts? If he will give us our will, let his will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven. May God help us to do so!

21. And, next, the Lord is with the camp of his people, not only to deliver them, but as a special presence for victory. He routs their enemies, and gives his saints success. All the hope that the church has of doing any good in the world must come from the Lord’s being in the midst of her. If any error is to be trampled down as straw for the dunghill, if any sinner is to be snatched like a lamb from between the jaws of the lion, if any dark neighbourhood is to be enlightened, it must be because God is with his people. “Without me you can do nothing.” This word is most true. It is he, and he alone, who can give up our enemies before us. Very well, then, let the camp be holy, lest we lose that presence, and he is gone.

22. Once more, it is a special presence in covenant. “The Lord your God.” Listen to that word — “Jehovah your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you.” The living God is our God. Men have many gods, even in England — gods of their own making; but my God is the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I believe in the Old Testament God, who is the same as the God of the New Testament. I abhor the idea of a new Godhead. Jehovah is one and the same to me. But oh, if he is our God by special covenant, if he has taken us to be his people, and we have taken him to be our God, it is most delightful, but it involves us in a grave responsibility to be a holy people. If we can say,

   ’Tis done, the great transaction’s done.
   I am my Lord’s, and he is mine,

then let us be holy, and let our whole camp be holy. Otherwise our vows are a fiction, our professions are a lie. Do we wish to provoke the Lord, and to vex his Spirit? May the Lord save us from this evil!

23. See, then, the special privilege. I have already told you what it involves.

24. III. So now I have only to dwell for a minute or two upon the last point a little more distinctly — A CORRESPONDING CONDUCT. “Therefore your camp shall be holy; so that he sees no unclean thing in you, and turns away from you.”

25. Observe, then, that this rule, that the camp is holy, applies to the most common places where we are found. “Therefore your camp shall be holy.” As I have already said, men generally think that they may take great licence in a camp; but the Lord says, “Therefore your camp shall be holy.” When you are out for a holiday, be holy. When you say, “Now we have one or two friends coming to the house, and we will indulge ourselves somewhat,” be holy; and let the conversation and the entertainment be holy. Let not only the church meeting be holy; but let the family gathering be holy, whether at Christmas, or on a Bank holiday, or at another time. Let the common meals be holy, no excess or murmuring being tolerated. Let the board {table} and the bed be holy. Let the body and the mind be holy. Let the most common act you do be holiness to the Lord. Let the bells upon the horses ring out only this note, “Holiness to the Lord.” “Holiness becomes your house, oh God”; but holiness becomes also all the houses of your people. Holiness is the ordained livery of a servant of God, and he who does not wear this garment has disgraced himself and his master. He is wearing, in fact, the livery of the King’s enemies. Let him watch what he is doing. If my memory does not deceive me, when Oliver Cromwell was first contending with the king, the soldiers who joined him were mostly gentlemen-farmers, and they wore their own buff-jerkins; {d} and as many on the other side were dressed much the same, mistakes were made; and, in a rough-and-tumble fight, they did not know cavalier from roundhead. {Puritan} So Cromwell said, on a certain occasion, that all his soldiers must be dressed in a certain colour, and not a man could be in his troop who did not come by such a day with such a coat on. Well, you say, why should they wear a uniform? Some of them did not like it; but his orders were peremptory, that not a man should be with him if he did not wear the regulation dress, since by their common array they knew each other, and could not be mistaken in a scuffle. Holiness is the white raiment of the believer; be sure that you put it on, because, otherwise, we shall not know you, and the world will not know you, and you will be mistaken for an enemy. I am afraid you will be treated as having gone over to the enemy, if we catch you in the usurper’s black instead of the king’s white. The Holy Spirit arrays you in the white raiment of holiness, that you may shine out bright and clear and distinct before the sons of men.

26. But now, notice this, too. While this holiness pertained to their most common things, it was also ordered that every unclean thing was to be put from them. “So that he may see no unclean thing in you.” This is an awful text. I will not preach about it, but I will just repeat it to you again: “So that he may see no unclean thing in you.” Ah, me! We often see unclean things in ourselves, do we not? Yes; but we often overlook much uncleanness, and do not notice it because our eyes are dim. We have lost, perhaps, the spiritual sense of smell that would detect the unclean thing. Our senses have become perverted by the foul world in which we live. But then, think of this — the pure and holy God — the thrice-holy God — he speaks of himself in this way, “So that he sees no unclean thing in you.” Brothers, sisters, what a house-cleaning this calls for! What hard sweeping this requires — that “he sees no unclean thing in you!” Remember, the pith of that text concerning the Paschal Lamb lies in God’s sight of the sprinkled blood. Notice, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” So here the very force of the text lies — “so that he sees no unclean thing in you.” Oh, for grace and watchfulness to keep clear of touching the unclean thing! Let us come continually to the washing-place — even to the fountain opened. Let us beseech the cleansing Spirit to operate as with fire, and burn his purifying way through and through our souls, so that in the church of God the Lord may not see any unclean thing in any one of us.

27. Note well the fearful warning which is added. If there is in the camp an unclean thing tolerated and delighted in, and he sees it — if it becomes conspicuous and grievous to him, then the worst consequences will follow — “Lest he turns away from you.” Oh! what would happen to us if the Lord were to turn away from us as a church? Horror takes hold on me at the thought. The pastor will die in due time: that is a little matter, for the Lord can send another. But if the Lord were to pass away from us, what an overwhelming desolation! Ichabod would be written in large capitals across this house if the Lord were gone. And yet my wonder often is that he has not gone, when I remember the unclean things that I have to see and mourn over. I see very little compared with what the Lord sees, but I see enough to make me tremble. The Lord sees much about us that grieves him, even when we think there is nothing amiss. Let us pray that the Lord does not go from us. I invite you earnestly to pray that during my absence God may keep all the camp in holy working order; so that he may see no unclean thing, and may not turn away from his people. Oh Lord, in your love bear with us, and remain with us for evermore!

28. I am finished; but there is a little fragment that follows my text which I want some of you to get before I go. Read this. This follows the text. It is a curious thing that it should follow the text. I think that it is put here on purpose for me to have a word for the sinner before I am finished. “You shall not deliver to his master the servant who is escaped from his master to you: he shall live with you, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of your gates, where it suits him best: you shall not oppress him.” I wonder whether any runaway has come into our place of worship tonight. Certainly there are some of Satan’s slaves here. I would recommend you to run away from the devil, and not give him a moment’s notice. Flee from his service immediately. There is no getting away from sin except by instantaneous flight. Run for it! Run at once. Steal away to Jesus. Do not stop to think twice. The prodigal said, “I will arise, and go to my father”; and he arose and went to his father. Deliberating about it, and giving notice, never serves anyone’s purpose in the matter of repentance to life. Instantaneous flight is your wisdom. Run away in a twinkling. If you do run away, and get among the Lord’s people, we will never give you up to your old master. He may come here after you; but we know him, and are not to be deceived by him in this matter. He has come here after many; but we have not given up any of his runaways, and by God’s grace, we will never part with you, but defy the man-catcher to take you away. Jesus says, “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out”; and so you see he will harbour you, and not return you to your Master. There were slaves in Moses’ day, but if they ran away no one ever sent them back to their master; and therefore it was not much of slavery after all. The devil has many slaves; but if they run away to Jesus, they shall never be sent back. Come, then, dare to be free from Satan’s power. Strike for liberty! Your tyrant lord has no right to you. I know you sold yourself, but you were not your own to sell; you were stolen goods. The devil can have no more property in you than you had in yourself, and that was nothing, for you are not your own. Fly away, poor hunted dove, to Jesus’ wounds; and when once you get there, the hawk cannot reach you. Safe in the Rock of Ages you shall dwell as a dove in the clefts. Though I have dealt faithfully with the uncleanness of professing believers, I now invite the vilest and the foulest to come to Jesus for safety and liberty.

   There is a fountain fill’d with blood,
   Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains.

Ransomed sinners may dwell among us, in whatever place they shall choose. Neither will we oppress them with hard questions or irksome duties, but we will bind them to be free, as we are ourselves bound to liberty, in the name of the Lord our God. May God bless you, dear friends, and during my absence may you be fed with the finest of the wheat! May the blessing of the Lord rest upon you! If we do not meet again in this wilderness below, may we meet, when camp life is over, in the city above, to go out no more for ever! May the blessing of the Lord rest on you for evermore!

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1Pe 2]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Seeking to Persevere — Let Us Not Fall” 668}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction — ‘As Thy Day, Thy Strength Shall Be’ ” 745}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 87” 87}


{a} W. Olney died shortly after this sermon and was buried on the following Wednesday, so we assumes the sermon was preached on this date.
{b} Picket: Mil. A small detached body of troops, sent out to watch for the approach of the enemy or his scouts. OED.
{c} Alas! my brother W. Olney has himself since crossed the stream.
{d} Buff-jerkin: A garment for the upper part of the body, worn by men in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; a close-fitting jacket, jersey, or short coat, often made of leather. OED.

Letter From Mr. Spurgeon

Beloved Friends, — Up to this date I have had no opportunity to enjoy rest, but have been at first suffering, and now slowly recovering. This, however, is not lost time, if I only have grace to improve the trial. Let us always seek sanctification through affliction rather than escape from it.

I have no question that there is great wisdom in the Lord’s laying aside his instruments. It is for his own glory, for by it he shows that he is not in need of them; and it is for their humbling, for hereby they learn how deep their need of him is. The uninterrupted reception of blessing through one channel might foster in our foolish hearts an idolatrous confidence in the means; and therefore there comes a break in the use of that means, so that the Lord may be all the more tenderly remembered. We may be sure that, if the Lord dries up a cistern, it is because he would have us flee to the fountain of inexhaustible strength.

I desire to rejoice that, in all these thirty-six years, with sicknesses so frequently upon me, I have never been compelled to drop either the weekly sermon or the monthly magazine. There has either been an interval of power, or I have been a little ahead with the work when the stroke has laid me aside. May I not say “Hitherto has the Lord helped me?” Having received help from God, I continue to this day; and I shall remain in my calling as long as there is work for me to do for my Lord.

I send my loving Christian greetings to all my hearers and readers, with earnest request for their prayers for myself personally, and for a blessing upon the sermons, and all the work at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

The times are out of course; the walls of human confederacies are crumbling, the form of this world is passing away; “but the Word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached to you.”

                         Yours in loving service for our Lord Jesus,
                         C. H. Spurgeon
Mentone, December 6, 1890.


The Christian, Seeking to Persevere
668 — Let Us Not Fall
1 Lord, through the desert drear and wide
   Our erring footsteps need a guide;
   Keep us, oh keep us near thy side.
   Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
2 We have no fear that thou shouldest lose
   One whom eternal love could choose;
   But we would ne’er this grace abuse.
   Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
3 Lord, we are blind, and halt, and lame,
   We have no strong hold but thy name:
   Great is our fear to bring it shame.
   Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
4 Lord, evermore thy face we seek:
   Tempted we are, and poor, and weak;
   Keep us with lowly hearts, and meek.
   Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
5 All thy good work in us complete,
   And seat us daily at thy feet;
   Thy love, thy words, thy name, how sweet!
   Let us not fall. Let us not fall.
                           Mary Bowly. 1847.


The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction
745 — “As Thy Day, Thy Strength Shall Be”
1 Afflicted soul, to Jesus dear,
   Thy Saviour’s gracious promise hear;
   His faithful word declares to thee
   That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
2 Let not thy heart despond, and say,
   How shall I stand the trying day?
   He has engaged, by firm decree,
   That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
3 Should persecution rage and flame,
   Still trust in thy Redeemer’s name;
   In fiery trials thou shalt see
   That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
4 When call’d to bear the weighty cross,
   Or sore affliction, pain, or loss,
   Or deep distress, or poverty,
   Still, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
5 When ghastly death appears in view,
   Christ’s presence shall thy fears subdue;
   He comes to set thy spirit free;
   And “as thy day, thy strength shall be.”
                        James Fawcett, 1782.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 87
1 God in his earthly temple lays
   Foundations for his heavenly praise;
   He likes the tents of Jacob well,
   But still in Zion loves to dwell.
2 His mercy visits every house
   That pay their night and morning vows;
   But makes a more delightful stay
   Where churches meet to praise and pray.
3 What glories were described of old!
   What wonders are of Zion told!
   Thou city of our God below,
   Thy fame shall Tyre and Egypt know!
4 Egypt and Tyre, and Greek and Jew,
   Shall there begin their lives anew:
   Angels and men shall join to sing
   The hill where living waters spring.
5 When God makes up his last account
   Of natives in his holy mount,
   ‘Twill be an honour to appear
   As one new born or nourish’d there.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

(Copyright (c) 2016, Answers In Genesis, Kentucky, United States. Permission for non-profit publishing or distribution of this sermon on paper is freely granted. Contact Answers In Genesis for permission for all other forms of publishing or distribution. Sermons updated by Larry and Marion Pierce of Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. We have not knowingly changed the meaning of this sermon. We intended only to eliminate archaic language. If you find a place where you think we have changed the meaning, please contact us so we can correct it. Contact information: email: [email protected], phone: (226) 243-6286.

Spurgeon Sermons

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

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

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