2237. Gratitude For Deliverance From The Grave

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No. 2237-38:1. A Sermon Delivered in June 1884, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, January 3, 1892.

In connection with the dedication of the Jubilee House, which commemorated the fifieth year of a life often threatened by grievous sickness. {a}

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely: but he has not given me over to death. {Ps 118:17,18}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2237, “Gratitude for Deliverance from the Grave” 2238}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2540, “Declaring the Works of the Lord” 2541}
   Exposition on Ps 118 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3264, “God’s Care of Elijah” 3266 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 118 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3427, “Blessed Christ, The” 3429 @@ "Exposition"}

1. How very differently we view things at different times and in differing states of mind! Faith takes a bright and cheerful view of matters, and speaks very confidently, “I shall not die, but live.” When we are slack concerning our trust in God, and give way to misgivings and doubts and fears, we sing in the minor key, and say, “I shall die. I shall never live through this trouble. I shall one day fall by the hand of the enemy; and that day is hastening on. Hope is failing me. Bad times are at the door. I shall not live through this crisis.” So our tongues show the condition of our inner man. We talk according to our moods and feelings, and would make others think that things are as we see them with our jaundiced eyes. Is it not a pity that we give a tongue to our unbelief? Would it not be better to be dumb when we are doubtful? Muzzle that dog of unbelief! Dog did I call him? He is a wolf; or should I call him the hound of hell? His voice is that of Apollyon: it is full of blasphemy against God. Unbelieving utterances will do no good to you, and will do harm to those who listen to your babblings. It would be wise to say, “If I should speak like this, I should offend against the generation of your children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.” Let us be dumb with silence when we cannot speak to the glory of God. But, oh, it is a blessed thing, when faith is in our spirit reigning and powerful, to let it have ample opportunity to proclaim the honours of his name! To give his heart a tongue, is wise in man when his heart itself is wise. The more talk we get from the mouth of faith, the better: her lips drop sweet-smelling myrrh. A silent faith, if there is such a thing, robs others of blessings; and at the same time it does worse, for it robs God of his glory. When we have a joyful faith in full operation, let us say so, and let us openly and boldly say, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” I would follow my own advice, and crave a patient hearing from you.

2. You know, perhaps, that this text was inscribed by Martin Luther upon his study wall, where he could always see it when at home. Many Reformers had been put to death — Huss, and others who preceded him, had been burned at the stake; Luther was cheered by the firm conviction that he was perfectly safe until his work was done. In this full assurance he went bravely to meet his enemies at the Diet of Worms, and indeed, went courageously whenever duty called him. He felt that God had raised him up to declare the glorious doctrine of justification by faith, and all the other truths of what he believed to be the gospel of God; and therefore no faggots could burn him, and no sword could kill him until that work was done. So he bravely wrote out his belief, and set it where many eyes would see it, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” It was no idle boast; but a calm and true conclusion from his faith in God, and fellowship with him. May you and I, when we are tried, be able, through faith in God, to meet trouble with the same brave thoughts and speeches! We cannot show our courage unless we have difficulties and troubles. A man cannot become a veteran soldier if he never goes to battle. No man can get his sea-legs if he always lives on land. Rejoice, therefore, in your tribulations, because they give you opportunities for exhibiting a believing confidence, and glorifying the name of the Most High by it. But take heed that you have faith, true faith in God; and do not become a puppet of impressions, much less a slave of the judgments of others. To have David’s faith, you must be as David. No man may take up a confidence of his own making: it must be a real work of the Spirit, and growth of grace within, grasping with living tendrils the promise of the living God.

3. I will read the passage from the Psalms over again, and we will consider it by God’s help. “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely: but he has not given me over to death.”

4. First, here is the believer’s view of his afflictions. “The Lord has chastened me severely.” Secondly, here is the believer’s comfort under those afflictions. “He has given me over to death. I shall not die, but live.” And, thirdly, here is the believer’s conduct after his afflictions and after his deliverance from them — “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”

5. I. At the outset, here is THE BELIEVER’S VIEW OF HIS AFFLICTIONS. “The Lord has chastened me severely.”

6. On the surface of the works we see the good man’s clear observation that his afflictions come from God. It is true he perceived the secondary hand, for he says, “You have thrust powerfully at me so that I might fall.” There was one at work who wanted to make him fall. His afflictions were the work of a cruel enemy. Yes; but that enemy’s assaults were being overruled by the Lord, and were made to work for his good; so David, in the present verse, corrects himself by saying, “The Lord has chastened me severely. My enemy struck at me so that he might make me fall; but in very truth my gracious God was using him to chasten me so that I might not fall. The enemy was moved by malice, but God was working by him in love towards my soul. The second agent sought my ruin, but the Great First Cause accomplished my education and establishment.”

7. It is good to have grace enough to see that tribulation comes from God: he fills the bitter cup as well as the sweet goblet. Troubles do not spring out of the dust, neither does affliction grow up from the ground, like hemlock from the furrows of the field; but the Lord himself kindles the fiery furnace, and sits as a refiner at the door. Let us not dwell too much upon the part played by the devil, as though he were a power co-ordinate with God. He is a fallen creature, and his very existence depends on the will and permission of the Most High. His power is borrowed, and can only be used as the infinite omnipotence of God permits. His wickedness is his own, but his existence is not self-derived. Blame the devil, and blame all of his servants as much as you will; but still believe in the mysterious and consoling truth that, in the truest sense, the Lord sends trials upon his saints. “Explain this statement,” you say. Oh, no; I am not called upon to explain it, but to believe it. A great many things, when they are said to be explained by modern thinkers, are merely explained away, and I have not yet begun to learn that wretched art. Remember how Peter told the Jews that he, whom God by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge decreed to die, even his son Jesus Christ, nevertheless taken by them with wicked hands, when they had crucified and slain him. The death of Christ was predetermined in the counsel of God, and yet it was none the less an atrocious crime on the part of ungodly men. The omnipotence and providence of God are to be believed; but man’s responsibility is not therefore to be questioned. Our afflictions may come distinctly from man, as the result of persecution or malice; and yet they may come with even greater certainty from the Lord, and may be the necessary outcome of his special love for us.

8. For this reason we may wisely moderate our anger against second causes. If you strike a dog with a stick, he will bite the stick; if he were more intelligent, he would snap at the person using the stick; and, if that intelligence were governed by the spirit of obedience, he would yield to the blow, and learn a lesson from it. So, when Shimei reviled David, and Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head”; David meekly replied, “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who shall then say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ” A sight of God’s hand in a trial is the end of rebellion against it in the case of every good man. He says, “It is the Lord: let him do what seems good to him.” We may lie at his feet, and cry, “Show me why you contend with me”; but, if the reason does not appear, we must bow in reverent submission, and say with one of old, “I was dumb, I did not open my mouth; because you did it.” Job saw the Lord in his many tribulations, and therefore praised him, saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Surely there is nothing better for a man of God than to perceive that his smarts and sorrows come from his Father’s hand, for then he will say, “The will of the Lord be done.” This is the great point in the believer’s view of his afflictions: “He makes sore, and binds up: he wounds, and his hands make whole.”

9. Next the believer perceives that his trials come on as a chastening. “The Lord has chastened me severely.” When a child is chastised, two things are clear: first, that there is something wrong in him, or that there is something deficient in him, so that he needs to be corrected or instructed; and, secondly, it shows that his father has a tender care for his benefit, and acts in loving wisdom towards him. This is certainly true if the father is an eminently kind and yet prudent parent. Children do not think that there can be any need for chastening them; but when years have matured their judgment, they will know better. “No chastening for the present seems to be joyful”; if it did seem joyful, it would not be chastening. The “needs-be” is not only that we have various trials, but that we are in heaviness through them. In the smart of the sorrow lies the blessing of the chastisement. God chastens us in the purest love, because he sees that there is an absolute necessity for it: “for he does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Our fathers, according to the flesh, too often corrected us according to their own pleasure, and yet we gave them reverence; but the Father of our spirits corrects us only of necessity — a necessity to which he is too wise to close his eyes. Shall we not, therefore, pay greater reverence to him, and bow before him, and live? When Hezekiah recovered from his sickness, he wrote, “Oh Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit.” I do not find that men live by carnal pleasure, nor that the life of the spirit is ever found in the wine-vat or in the oil-press; but I do find that life and health often come to saints through the briny tears, through the bruising of the flesh, and the oppression of the spirit. I have found it so, and I bear my willing witness that sickness has brought me health, loss has conferred gain, and I do not doubt that one day death will bring me fuller life.

10. Be wise then, dear child of God, and look upon your present affliction as a chastening. “What son is he whom the father does not chasten?” “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” There is not a more profitable instrument in all God’s house than the rod. No honey was sweeter than what dropped from the end of Jonathan’s rod; but that is nothing compared to the sweetness of the consolation which comes through Jehovah’s rod. Our brightest joys are the birth of our bitterest griefs. When the woman has her travail pangs, joy comes to the house because the man-child is born; and sorrow is to us also, very often, the moment of the birth of our graces. A chastened spirit is a gracious spirit; and how shall we obtain it unless we are chastened? Like our Lord Jesus, we learn obedience by the things which we suffer. God had one Son without sin, but he never had a son without sorrow, and he never will have while the world stands. Let us, therefore, bless God for all his dealings, and in a filial spirit confess, “You, Lord, have chastened me.”

11. Consider the psalmist’s view of his affliction a little more carefully. He noted that his trials were severe: he says, “The Lord has chastened me severely.” Perhaps we are willing to acknowledge in general that our trouble is from the Lord; but there is a soreness in it which we do not ascribe to him, but to the malice of the enemy, or some other second cause. The false tongue is so ingenious in slander that it has touched the tenderest part of our character, and has cut us to the quick. Are we to believe that this also is, in some sense, from the Lord? Assuredly we are. If it is not from the Lord, then it is a matter for despair. If this evil comes without divine permission, where are we? How can a trial be met which is independent of divine rule, and outside of the sacred zone of providential government? It is hopeful when we find that all our ills lie within the ring-fence of omnipotent overruling. It is one comfort that we see a wall of fire all around us, a circle so complete that even the devil, malicious as he is, cannot break through it, to do more than the Lord allows. The camels are gone, the sheep, the oxen, the servants, all are destroyed: all this is most trying; but it is still true — “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” But, see, another messenger comes, and cries, “There came a great wind from the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead.” Might not Job, then, have said, “This is a blow which I cannot bear; for it is evidently from the prince of the power of the air?” No, but even after that, he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” When his wife said, “Curse God, and die,” he still blessed God, and held his integrity. He told her that she spoke as one of the foolish speaks, and then he wisely added, “Shall we receive good from the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” “In all this Job did not sin, nor charged God foolishly.” May we stand firm in patience as he did, even when our troubles overflow!

12. It is folly to imagine, as we have sometimes done, that we could bear anything except what we are called upon to endure. We are like the young man who says he needs a job. What can you do? He can do anything. You never hire that man because you know that he can do nothing. So it is with us. If we say, “I could bear anything but this,” we prove our universal impatience. If we had the choice of our crosses, the one we should choose would turn out to be more inconvenient than what God appoints for us; and yet we will have it that our present cross is unsuitable and especially galling. I would say to any who are of that mind, “If your burden does not fit your shoulder, bear it until it does.” Time will reconcile you to the yoke if grace remains with you. It is not for us to choose our affliction; that remains with him who chooses our inheritance for us. Read well this word, “The Lord has chastened me severely,” and see the Lord’s hand in the soreness of your trial. Even while the wound is raw, and the smart is fresh; be conscious that the Lord is near.

13. Yet there is in the verse a “but,” for the psalmist perceives that his trial is limited; “but he has not given me over to death.” Certain of the buts in Scripture are among the choicest jewels we have. Before us is a “but” which shows that, however deep affliction may be, there is a bottom to the abyss. There is a limit to the force, the sharpness, the duration and the number of our trials.

   If God appoints the number ten,
   They ne’er can be eleven.

Whenever the Lord mixes a potion for his people, he weighs each ingredient, measures the bitters, grain by grain, and does not allow even a particle in excess to mix into the draught. Like a careful dispenser, he will not pour out a drop too little or too much.

   To his church, his joy, and treasure,
      Every trial works for good:
   They are dealt in weight and measure,
      Yet how little understood;
         Not in anger,
      But from his dear covenant love.

14. Our Father’s anger at our sin will never blaze into wrath against us, though in mercy he will strike our sins. Remember, then, this gracious boundary. “The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” We have never yet experienced a trouble which might not have been worse. One affliction kills another: the wind never blows east and west at the same time. When the Lord strikes you with his left hand, he sustains you with his right hand; just as tribulations abound, so do consolations abound through Christ Jesus. The whole band of troubles never comes all at once. Everything painful is graded and proportioned to the man and his strength, and the object for which it is sent. With the trial the Lord makes the way of escape so that we may be able to bear it. Faith can see an end and limit where natures dim eye sees endless confusion. Where the carnal sense —

   Sees every day new straits attend,
   And wonders where the scene will end,

faith looks over the intervening time, and comforts herself with what is yet to come. Faith sings pleasant songs when she foots it over weary roads.

   The road may be rough,
   But it cannot be long,
   So let’s smooth it with hope,
   And cheer it with song.

May the Lord keep your faith alive, my brothers and sisters, and then whatever trials surge around you, you will sit on the Rock of ages, above the waves, and joyfully sing praises to your divine Deliverer! Oh, how sweet to say, as I now do, “The Lord has chastened me severely: but he has not given me over to death!”

15. II. This brings me secondly, to consider THE BELIEVER’S COMFORT UNDER HIS AFFLICTIONS. The believer’s comfort under his afflictions is this — “I shall not die, but live.”

16. Occasionally this comes in the form of a premonition. I do not think that I am superstitious: I imagine that I am pretty clear of that vice; yet I have had premonitions concerning things to come or not to come; and, moreover, I have met so many Christian men who, in the time of trouble have received exceptional warnings, or sweet assurances of coming deliverance, that I am bound to believe that the Lord does sometimes whisper to the heart of his children, and assure them in trial that they shall not be crushed, and in sickness that they shall not die. How do you understand the story of John Wycliffe, at Lutterworth, in any other way than this? He had been speaking against the monks, and various abuses of the church. He was the first man known to history that preached the gospel in England during the Popish ages — we know him as the Morning Star of the Reformation. He was a man so great that, if he had possessed a printing-press, we might never have needed a Luther; for he had an even clearer light than that great Reformer. He lacked the means of spreading his doctrine, which the art of printing supplied. He did much: he prepared everything for Luther’s hand: and Luther was only the proclaimer of Wycliffe’s doctrine. Wycliffe was ill — very ill, and the friars came around him, like crows around a dying sheep. They professed to be full of tender pity; but they were very glad that their enemy was going to die. So they said to him, “Do you not repent? Before we can give you viaticum — the last oiling before you die — would it not be good to retract the harsh things which you have said against the zealous friars, and his Holiness of Rome? We are eager to forget the past, and give you the last sacrament in peace.” Wycliffe begged an attendant to help him sit up; and then he cried with all his strength, “I shall not die, but live, to declare the works of the Lord, and to expose the wickedness of the friars.” He did not die, either: death himself could not have killed him then; for he had more work to do, and the Lord made him immortal until it was done. How could Wycliffe know that he spoke truly? Certainly he was free from all foolhardy bragging; but there was upon his mind a foreshadowing of future work that he had to do, and he felt that he could not die until it was accomplished. Now, do not be making up premonitions about all kinds of things because I have said that sometimes the Lord grants them to his saints. This would be a mischievous piece of absurdity. I remember a young woman, who lived not far from here, who had a premonition that she would die. I do not think that there was really much the matter with her; but she refused to eat, and was likely to be starved. I went to see her, and she told me that she had a premonition that she should die, and therefore she should not waste food by eating it. She spoke to me very solemnly about this premonition, and I replied, “I believe there may be such things.” Yes: she was sure I was on her side! Then I went on to say, I once had a premonition that I was a donkey, and it turned out true in my case; and now I had much the same premonition about her. This surprised her, and I asked her friends to bring her food. She said she would not eat it; and then I told her that if she was resolved on suicide, I would mention it at the church meeting that evening, and put her out of the church, since we could not have suicides in our membership. She could not bear to be put out of the church, and began to eat, and it turned out that my premonition about her was correct; she had been foolish, and she had the good sense to see that it was so. I felt bound to tell you this story, lest you should imagine that I would support you in sentimental nonsense. While there are so many stupid people in the world, we need to give cautions where the wise do not need them. Forecasts of good from the Lord may come to those who are severely sick; and when they do, they help them to recover. We are of good courage when an inward confidence enables us to say, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”

17. This, however, I only mention by the way. When a believer is in trouble he derives great comfort from his reliance on the compassion of God. The Lord scourges his sons, but he does not slay them. The believer says, “My Father may make me smart with the blow of a cruel one; but he will do me no real harm, nor allow anyone else to injure me. He will not lay upon me more than is right, nor more than what I am able to bear. He will restrain his hand when he sees that I have no strength left. Moreover, I know that even when he brings me very low, still underneath me are the everlasting arms. If the Lord kills, it is only to make alive: if he wounds, it is that he may heal. I am sure of that.” Oh believer, never let anything drive you away from this confidence, for it has sure truth for its foundation! The Lord is good, and his mercy endures for ever. It is not killing, but curing, that God intends when he takes the sharp lancet in his hand. The nauseous medicine, which makes the heart sick, works for the cure of a worse sickness. “His compassions do not fail.” He may often put his hand into the bitter box, but he has sweet cordials ready to take the taste away. For a short time he has forsaken us, but with great mercies he will return to us. You have an effective comfort if your faith can keep its hold upon the blessed fact of the Lord’s fatherly compassion.

18. Next, faith comforts the tried child of God by assuring him of the forgiveness of his sin, and his security from punishment. Please notice the very distinct difference between chastisement and punishment. I do not say between the meaning of the words, but between the two things which I just now would indicate by those terms. Here is a boy who has committed a theft. He is brought before the magistrate so that he may be punished. Punitive justice will be executed upon him by imprisonment or by a birch rod. Another boy has also stolen — stolen from his father, and he is brought before his father, not to be punished as a law-breaker, but to be chastised. There is a great difference between the punishment awarded by justice and the chastisement appointed by love. They may be alike in painfulness, but how different in meaning! The father does not give to the child what he would deserve if it were a punishment according to the law, but what he thinks will cure him of the wrong-doing by making him feel that his sin brings sorrow. The magistrate, although he desires the good of the offender, has mainly to consider the law in its bearings upon the whole mass of the population, and he punishes as a matter of justice what wrongs the commonwealth; but the parent acts on other principles. “The Lord has chastened me severely,” and in that he has added a fatherly part; “but he has not given me over to death,” which would have been my lot if he had dealt with me as a judge. My heart trembles at his sword, and cries, “Do not enter into judgment with your servant, oh Lord: for in your sight no man living shall be justified.” The sentence of justice has been fulfilled upon our Lord, and our comfort is that now there is nothing punitive in all our troubles. “He has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities”; nor will he do so, for he has already laid our sins upon Christ, and Christ has vindicated the law by bearing its penalty, so that nothing more in the way of penalty is demanded by the moral government of God. What we receive from the rod of the Lord bears the blessed aspect of chastening from a father’s hand; and this is a cheering fact, which makes even the sharpest smart to be profitable. “Surely the bitterness of death is past,” when, in the case of the believer, even death has ceased to be the penalty of sin, and is changed into a sweet falling asleep upon the bosom of the Well-Beloved, to wake up in his likeness. Every other affliction is changed in the same way. Our wasps have become bees: their sting is not the prominent thought, but the honey which they lay up in store. “All things work together for good to those who love God,” and chastisement is chief among those “all things.” What a well of comforting thought is here!

19. Furthermore, it is a great blessing to a child of God to feel a full assurance that he has eternal life in Christ Jesus. “The Lord has chastened me severely: but he has not given me over to death.” Notice the words, “Given me over.” It is the most awful thing outside of hell to be given over by God. I fear that there are some such people. Does not the psalmist refer to such when he says, “They are not in trouble like other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish?” While God’s own people are chastened every morning, and plagued all day long, the ungodly prosper in the world, and increase in riches. Concerning his chosen the Lord says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” But those who are not the Lord’s are left unchastened, because the Lord has said of them, “Leave them alone, they are given to idols.” They are allowed their transient mirth; let them make the most they can of it, for their end will be desolation.

20. Unbroken prosperity and undisturbed health may be signs of being “given over to death”; and they are in such cases where sin is committed without pangs of conscience, or apprehensions of judgment. Such freedom from fear may be maintained even in death: “There are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.” All goes quietly with them; “Like sheep they are laid in the grave.” But “in hell they lift up their eyes, being in torments.” To be given over to death is often followed by callousness, presumption, and bravado; but it is a dreadful doom, the direst sentence from the throne of judgment as for this life. But you, dear child of God, have this comfort, he has not given you over, he is thinking upon you. By scourging you, he is proving that he has not given you over. Men do not prune the vine they intend to uproot; nor thresh out the weeds which they intend to burn. He who is chastened is not given over to destruction. Years ago, I was taken very ill, in Marseilles, while attempting to come home to England. As I lay in bed, it seemed as if the cruel mistral {b} wind was driving through my bones, and breaking them with agony. I ordered a fire to be kindled; but when I saw the man begin to light it with a bundle of little branches, I cried out to him, “Please let me look at that.” I found that he was using the dry prunings of the vine, and my tears were in my eyes as I remembered the words — “Men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Comfort followed, for I thought, “I am not unfeeling, like those dried-up shoots; but I am the bleeding vine, which is sharply cut with the pruning-knife; I feel the keen blade in every part of me.” Then I could say, “The Lord has chastened me severely: but he has not given me over.” What joy lies in this, “He has not given me over!” As long as the father chastens his boy, he has hope for him; if he ceased to do so altogether, we might fear that he thought him to be too bad to be reclaimed. Be glad, then, dear child of God, that since the Lord chastens you severely, he has not erased your name from his heart, and his hands, nor yielded you up to your enemy’s power.

21. Another meaning may be found in this text, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely: but he has not given me over to death.” We are comforted by reliance upon God’s power for success in our life-work. The critics said — and I must quote this because this sermon is very much a personal one — the critics said, when the lad began his preaching, that it was a nine days’ wonder, and would soon come to an end. When the people joined the church in great numbers, they were “a parcel of boys and girls.” Many of those “boys and girls” are here tonight, faithful to God to this hour. Then there came upon me a heavy, heavy stroke — a severe chastening, which those of us who were present would never forget if we live for a century; and we seemed to be made the reproach of all men, through an accident {c} which we could not have foreseen or prevented. But still the testimony for God in this place, by the same voice, has not ceased, nor lost its power. Still the people throng to hear the gospel after these thirty years and more, and still the doctrines of grace are in the forefront, notwithstanding the opposition. In the darkest hour of my ministry I might have declared, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” If you have been set on fire by a divine truth, the world cannot put an extinguisher upon you. That candle which God has lit, the demons of hell cannot blow out. If you are commissioned by God to do a good work, give your whole heart to it, trust in the Lord, and you will not fail. I bear my joyful witness to the power of God to work mightily by the most insignificant of instruments.

   The feeblest saint shall win the day,
   Though death and hell obstruct the way.

22. Once more, though we may die, we are sustained by the expectation of immortality. When we gather up our feet in the last bed, we may utter this text in a full and sweet sense, “I shall not die, but live.” When Wycliffe died with respect to his body, the real Wycliffe did not die. Some of his books were carried to Bohemia, and John Huss learned the gospel from them, and began to preach. They burned John Huss, and Jerome of Prague; but Huss foretold, as he died, that another would arise after him, whom they should not be able to put down; and in due time he more than lived again in Luther. Is Luther dead? Is Calvin dead today? That last man the moderns have tried to bury in a dunghill of misrepresentation; but he lives, and will live, and the truths that he taught will survive all the slanders who have sought to poison it. Die! Often the death of a man is a kind of new birth to him; when he himself is gone physically, he spiritually survives, and from the grave there shoots up a tree of life whose leaves heal nations. Oh worker for God, death cannot touch your sacred mission! Be content to die if the truth shall live all the better because you die. Be content to die, because death may be to you enlargement of your influence. Good men die like seed grain only to multiply. When saints are apparently laid in the earth, they leave the earth, and rise and mount to heaven’s gate, and enter into immortality. No, when the sepulchre receives this mortal frame, we shall not die, but live. Then we shall come to our true stature and beauty, and put on our royal robes, our glorious Sabbath dress.

23. III. So I finish with just two or three words on THE BELIEVER’S CONDUCT AFTER TROUBLE AND DELIVERANCE. “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”

24. Here is declaration. If we had no troubles, we should all have the less to declare. A person who has no experience of tribulation, what great deliverance does he have to speak of? Such people despise the afflicted, and suspect the character of the best of men, for lack of power to understand them. What does the man know about the sea who has only walked on the beach? Get with an old sailor, who has been a dozen times around the world, and often wrecked, and he will interest you. So the much-tried Christian has great wonders to declare, and these are chiefly the works of the Lord; for “those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” Tried Christians see how God sustains in trouble, and how he delivers out of it, and they declare his works openly: they cannot help doing so. They are so interested themselves in what God has done that they grow enthusiastic over it; and if they held their peace, the stones would cry out.

25. If you read the chapter further down, you will find that they not only give out a declaration, but they offer adoration. They are so charmed with what God has done for them, that they laud and magnify the name of the Lord, saying, “I will praise you: for you have heard me, and are become my salvation.” The saints of God, when they are rescued from their sorrows, are sure to sing, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

26. This done, they make a further dedication of themselves to their delivering God. As the psalm puts it, “God is the Lord, who has shown us light.” It was very dark! It was very, very dark! We could not see our hand, much less the hand of God! We were frozen with fear. We thought we were as dead men, laid out for burial; when suddenly the Lord’s face shone in upon us, and all darkness was gone, and we leaped into joyful security, crying “God is the Lord, who has shown us light.” We were convinced that it was no one other than the true God who had removed the midnight gloom. Doubts, infidelities, agnosticisms — they were impossible. We said, “God is the Lord, who has shown us light.” In the fourth watch of the night, in the prison where the cold stone shut us in, where the darkness had never known a candle, there a light shone all around us, and an angel struck us on the side, and told us to put on our sandals, and gird ourselves, and follow him. We obeyed the word, and our chains fell off; and when we came to the iron gate which had always been our horror, it opened of its own accord, and we went out into the streets of the city, and we scarcely felt that it could be true, but thought we saw a vision. But when we had considered the thing, and found it was even ourselves, and ourselves set in a large place at perfect liberty, then we said, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar.” God has shown us light, and we will live for him for ever and for ever. Oh, you, tried believers, who have, nevertheless, not been given over to death, who can say tonight, “I shall not die, but live,” present yourselves anew to your delivering Lord as living sacrifices through Jesus Christ your Lord! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 18]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Sacred Gratitude — ‘Return Unto Thy Rest’ ” 708}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 73” 73 @@ "(Part 2)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Sacred Gratitude — Gratitude For Daily Mercy” 710}


{a} Will the reader kindly note the remarks at the end of this sermon, before he reads this discourse? C. H. S.
{b} Mistral: A violent cold northwest wind experienced in the Mediterranean provinces of France and neighbouring districts. OED.
{c} Surrey Hall Disaster: On Sunday morning, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon was to preach for the first time at Surrey Gardens Music Hall. The building had seating for over ten thousand people and was one of the largest auditoriums in England at that time. The young preacher arrived early at the Hall and was amazed to see the streets and garden area thronged with people. When the doors were opened, the people entered quickly and soon the place was full. Wisely, Spurgeon started the service earlier than the time announced. He led in prayer and then announced a hymn, which the large congregation sang reverently. He then read Scripture and commented on it, and this was followed by a pastoral prayer. As he was praying, voices began to shout “Fire! Fire! The galleries are giving way! The place is falling!” Spurgeon stopped praying and did his best to calm the people, but the damage had been done. In the stampede that followed, seven people were killed and twenty-eight injured. Spurgeon tried to preach, hoping that that would arrest the crowd, but the tumult and the shouting were even too much for the prince of preachers. He then asked the people to sing a hymn as they exited in an orderly manner, and he himself left in a state of shock. He spent the next week in a broken condition, wondering if he would ever preach again.

This sermon begins a new volume; in fact, it begins volume 38 of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. I have, myself, selected it, and prepared it for the press, because it is most suitable as my own personal testimony at the present moment. The subject is even more my own this day than it was seven and a half years ago; for I have been in deeper waters, and nearer to the mouth of the grave. With my whole soul I praise delivering grace. To the Lord God, the God of Israel, I consecrate myself anew. For the covenant of grace, for the revelation of infallible truth in the Bible, for the atonement by blood, and the immutable love of the ever-blessed Three-In-One, I am a witness; and more and more I would remain faithful to the gospel of the grace of God. I see each day more reasons for faith, and fewer excuses for doubt. Those who wish may hoist their anchors and be drifted around by the current of the age; but I will sing, “My heart is fixed, oh God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise!”

The whole passage, Ps 118:13-18, is inscribed on a marble slab on the Jubilee House at the back of the Tabernacle, and I am told that many went to read it while I lay in the greatest peril through severe sickness, and were comforted by it. When the Lord permits me to return, I must raise yet another memorial to his praise.

                               C. H. Spurgeon
Sermons in this series:
   See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2538, “An Epistle Illustrated by a Psalm.” 2539
   See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2539, “The Joy Of Holy Households.” 2540
   See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2237, “Gratitude For Deliverance From The Grave.” 2238
   See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2540, “Declaring The Works Of The Lord” 2541


The Christian, Sacred Gratitude
708 — “Return Unto Thy Rest”
1 My heart is resting, oh my God;
      I will give thanks and sing;
   My heart is at the secret source
      Of every precious thing.
2 Now the frail vessel thou hast made
      No hand but thine shall fill;
   The waters of the earth have fail’d,
      And I am thirsting still.
3 I thirst for springs of heavenly life,
      And here all day they rise;
   I seek the treasure of thy love,
      And close at hand it lies.
4 And a “new song” is in my mouth,
      To long-loved music set;
   Glory to thee for all the grace
      I have not tasted yet.
5 I have a heritage of joy
      That yet I must not see:
   The hand that bled to make it mine;
      Is keeping it for me.
6 My heart is resting on his truth,
      Who hath made all things mine;
   Who draws my captive will to him,
      And makes it one with thine.
            Ann Letitia Waring, 1850, a.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 73 (Part 1)
1 Lord, what a thoughtless wretch was I,
   To mourn, and murmur, and repine,
   To see the wicked placed on high,
   In pride and robes of honour shine.
2 But, oh their end! their dreadful end!
   Thy sanctuary taught me so:
   On slipp’ry rocks I see them stand,
   And fiery billows roll below.
3 Now let them boast how tall they rise,
   I’ll never envy them again;
   There they may stand with haughty eyes,
   Till they plunge deep in endless pain.
4 Their fancied joys, how fast they flee!
   Just like a dream when man awakes:
   Their songs of softest harmony
   Are but a preface to their plagues.
5 Now I esteem their mirth and wine
   Too dear to purchase with my blood;
   Lord, ‘tis enough that thou art mine;
   My life, my portion, and my God.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 73 (Part 2)
1 God, my supporter and my hope,
   My help for ever near,
   Thine arm of mercy held me up,
   When sinking in despair.
2 Thy counsels, LOrd, shall guide my feet
   Through this dark wilderness;
   Thy hand conduct me near thy seat,
   To dwell before thy face.
3 Were I in heaven without my God
   ‘Twould be no joy to me;
   And whilst this earth is mine abode,
   I long for none but thee.
4 What if the springs of life were broke,
   And flesh and heart should faint?
   God is my soul’s eternal rock,
   The strength of every saint.
5 Still to draw near to thee, my God,
   Shall be my sweet employ;
   My tongue shall sound thy works abroad,
   And tell the world my joy.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 73 (Part 3)
1 Whom have we, Lord, in heaven but thee,
   And whom on earth beside;
   Where else for succour shall we flee,
   Or in whose strength confide?
2 Thou art our portion here below,
   Our promised bliss above;
   Ne’er can our souls an object know
   So precious as thy love.
3 When heart and flesh, oh Lord, shall fail,
   Thou wilt our spirits cheer;
   Support us through life’s thorny vale,
   And calm each anxious fear.
4 Yes, thou, our only guide through life,
   Shalt help and strength supply;
   Support us in death’s fearful strife,
   Then welcome us on high.
                     Harriett Auber, 1829.


The Christian, Sacred Gratitude
710 — Gratitude For Daily Mercy
1 Lord, in the day thou art about
      The paths wherein I tread;
   And in the night, when I lie down,
      Thou art about my bed.
2 While others in God’s prisons lie,
      Bound with affliction’s chain,
   I walk at large, secure and free
      From sickness and from pain.
3 ’Tis thou dost crown my hopes and plans
      With good success each day;
   This crown, together with myself,
      At thy blest feet I lay.
4 Oh let my house a temple be,
      That I and mine may sing
   Hosanna to thy majesty,
      And praise our Heavenly King!
   Cento by John Hampden Gurney, 1838-1851.
                  From John Mason, 1883

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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