2242. God’s Will About The Future

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No. 2242-38:61. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, October 16, 1890, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, February 7, 1892.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and stay there for a year, and buy and sell, and get gain”: whereas you do not know what shall happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. For you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live, and do this or that.” But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin. {Jas 4:13-17}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1773, “What is Your Life?” 1774}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2242, “God’s Will About the Future” 2243}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3126, “Pictures of Life” 3127}
   Exposition on Jas 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2795, “Double Drawing Near, The” 2796 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Men today are just the same as when these words were first written. We still find people saying what they are going to do today, tomorrow, or in six months time, at the end of another year, and perhaps still further. I have no doubt there are people here who have their own career mapped out before them pretty distinctly, and they feel almost certain that they will accomplish it all. We are like the men of the past; and this Book, though it has been written so long ago, might have been written yesterday, so exactly does it describe human nature as it is at this present time.

2. The text applies with very particular force when our friends and fellow workers are passing away from us. Sickness and death have been busy in our midst. Perhaps in our abundant service we have been counting on what this brother would do this week, and what that sister would be doing next week, and so on. Even for God’s work we have had our plans, dependent in great measure on the presence of some beloved helpers. They have appeared among us in such buoyant health, that we have scarcely thought it possible that they would be struck down all in a moment. Yet it has often been so. The uncertainty of life comes home to us when such things occur, and we begin to wonder that we have thought anything at all certain, or even probable, in such a shifting, changing world as this. With this in full view, I am going to talk about how we ought to behave with regard to the future, and attempt to draw some lessons for our own correction and instruction from the verses before us.

3. Following the line of the text, and keeping as close to it as we can, we will notice, first, that counting on the future is folly. Then we will observe what is clear enough to us all, that ignorance of the future is a matter of fact. In the third place, I shall set before you the main truth of this passage, that recognition of God in the future is wisdom, our fourth point shall be that boasting about the future is sin; and our final thought will be, that the using of the present is a duty.

4. I. To begin with, it will need only a few words to convince you that COUNTING ON THE FUTURE IS FOLLY. The apostle says, “Come now!” as if he meant, “You are acting absurdly. See how ridiculous your conduct is.” “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will do such and such a thing.’ ” There is almost a touch of sarcasm in the words. The fact of frail, feeble man so proudly ordering his own life and forgetting God, seems to the apostle James so preposterous that he scarcely deems it worth while to argue the point, he only says “Come now!”

5. Let us first look at the form of this folly, and notice what it was that these people said when they were counting on the future. The text is very full of suggestions about this matter.

6. They evidently thought everything was at their own disposal. They said “We will go, we will continue, we will buy, we will sell, we will get gain.” But is it not foolish for a man to feel that he can do as he likes, and that everything will happen as he desires; that he can both propose and dispose, and does not have to ask God’s consent at all? He makes up his mind, and he determines to do just what his mind suggests. Is it so, oh man, that your life is self-governed? Is there not, after all, One greater than yourself? Is there not a higher power that can prosper you or stop you? If you do not know this, you have not yet learned the first letter of the alphabet of wisdom. May God teach you that everything is not at your disposal; but that the Lord reigns, the Lord sits King for ever and ever!

7. Notice, that these people, while they thought everything was at their disposal, used everything for worldly purposes. What did they say? Did they determine with each other, “We will today or tomorrow do such and such a thing for the glory of God, and for the extension of his kingdom?” Oh, no, there was not a word about God in it, from beginning to end! In this they are only too truly the type of most men today. They said, “We will buy; then we will carry our goods to another market at a little distance; we will sell at a profit; and so we will get gain.” Their first and their last thoughts were of the earth earthy, and their one idea seemed to be that they might get sufficient to make them feel that they were rich and increased in goods. That was the highest ambition in their minds. Are there not many who are living just in that way now? They think that they can map our their own life; and the one object of their efforts seems to be to buy and sell, and get gain; or else to obtain honour, or to enjoy pleasure. Their heart does not rise into the serene air of heaven; they are still grovelling here below.

8. All that these men of old spoke of doing was to be done entirely in their own strength. They said, “We will, we will.” They had no thought of asking for the divine blessing, nor of entreating the help of the Most High. They did not care for that, they were self-contained; they called themselves “self-made men”; and they intended to make money. Who cannot make money who has made himself? Who cannot succeed in business who owes his character, and his present standing, entirely to his own exertions, and to his own brain? So they were full of self-confidence, and began planning for their future without a shadow of doubt concerning their own ability. Alas, that men should do so even today, that, without seeking counsel from God, they should go forward in proud disdain, or in complete forgetfulness of “the arrow that flies by day,” and “the pestilence that walks in darkness,” until they are suddenly overwhelmed in eternal ruin!

9. It is evident that to those men everything seemed certain. “We will go into such a city.” How did they know that they would ever get there? “We will buy, and sell, and get gain.” Did they regulate the markets? Might there be no fall in prices? Oh, no! they looked upon the future as a dead certainty, and upon themselves as people who were sure to win, whatever might become of others.

10. They also had the foolish idea that they were immortal. If they had been asked whether men might not die, they would have said, “Yes, of course all men must die some time or other,” for all men consider all men mortal; but in their hearts, they would have made an exception in their own case, if we may judge them by what we were apart from sovereign grace. “All men consider all men mortal but themselves.” Without any saving clause, they said, “We will continue there for a year.” How did they know that they would see a single quarter of that year through? But you must not press such men too closely with awkward questions. If you had done so, they would have said, “Do not talk about death; it makes one melancholy.”

11. Having looked at the form of this folly of counting on the future, let us speak a little on the folly itself. It is a great folly to build hopes on what may never come. It is unwise to count your chickens before they are hatched; it is madness to risk everything on the unsubstantial future.

12. How do we know what will happen tomorrow? It has grown into a proverb that we ought to expect the unexpected; for often the very thing happens which we thought would not happen. We are constantly surprised by the events which occur around us. In God’s great oratory of providence, there are passages of wondrous eloquence, because of the surprise-power that is in them. They come upon us unawares, and overwhelm us. How can we count on anything in a world like this, where nothing is certain but uncertainty?

13. Besides, the folly is seen in the fact of the frailty of our lives, and the brevity of them. “What is you life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little while.” That cloud upon the mountain — you see it as you rise in the morning; you have scarcely dressed yourself before all trace of it has gone. Here in our streets, the other night, we came to worship through a thick fog, and found it here even in the house of prayer. But while we worshipped, there came a breath of wind; and on our way home a stranger would not have thought that London had been, only a few hours before, so dark with dirty mist; it had all disappeared. Life is even as a vapour. Sometimes these vapours, especially at the time of sunset, are extremely brilliant. They seem to be magnificence itself when the sun paints them with heavenly colours; but in a little while they are all gone, and the whole panorama of the sunset has disappeared. Such is our life. It may sometimes be very bright and glorious; but still it is only like a painted cloud, and very soon the cloud and the colour on it are both gone. We cannot count on the clouds, their laws are so variable, and their conditions so obscure. Such also is our life.

14. Why, then, is it, that we are always counting on what we are going to do? How is it that, instead of living in the eternal future, where we might deal with certainties, we continue to live in the more immediate future, where there can be nothing but uncertainties? Why do we choose to build upon clouds, and pile our palaces on vapour, to see them melt away, as previously they have often melted, instead of by faith getting where there is no failure, where God is all in all, and his sure promises make the foundations of eternal mansions? Oh! I would say with my strongest emphasis: “Do not count on the future.” Young people, I would whisper this in your ears; “Do not discount the days to come.” Old men, whispering is not enough for you, I would say, with a voice of thunder: “Do not count on distant years”; in the course of nature, your days must be few. Live in the present; live for God; trust him now, and serve him now; for very soon your life on earth will be over.

15. So we see that counting on the future is folly.

16. II. Secondly, IGNORANCE OF THE FUTURE IS A MATTER OF FACT. Whatever we may say about what we intend to do, we do not know anything about the future. The apostle, by the Spirit, speaks truly when he says, “You do not know what shall happen tomorrow.” Whether it will come to us laden with sickness or health, prosperity or adversity, we cannot tell. Tomorrow may mark the end of our life; possibly even the end of the age. Our ignorance of the future is certainly a fact.

17. Only God knows the future. All things are present to him; there is no past and no future to his all-seeing eyes. He dwells in the present tense for evermore as the great I AM. He knows what will happen tomorrow, and only he knows. The whole course of the universe lies before him, like an open map. Men do not know what may happen in a day, but Jehovah knows the end from the beginning. There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass — one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.

18. Since the knowledge of the future is hidden from us, we ought not to pry into it. It is perilous, it is wicked, to attempt to lift even a corner of the veil that hides us from things to come. Search into those things that are revealed in Holy Scripture, and know them, as far as you can; but do not be so foolish as to think that any man or woman can tell you what is to happen tomorrow; and do not think so much of your own judgment and foresight as to say, “That is clear; I can predict that.” Never prophesy until after the event, and then, or course, you cannot prophesy; therefore never attempt to prophesy at all. You do not know what shall happen tomorrow, and you ought not to make any unhallowed attempt to obtain the knowledge. Let the doom of King Saul on Mount Gilboa warn you against such a terrible course.

19. Further, we are benefited by our ignorance of the future. It is hidden from us for our good. Suppose a certain man is to be very happy eventually. If he knows it, he will be discontented until the happy hour arrives. Suppose another man is to have great sorrow very soon. It is good that he does not know it, for now he can enjoy the present good. If we could have all our lives written in a book, with everything that was to happen to us recorded in it, and if the hand of Destiny should give us the book, we should be wise not to read it, but to put it away, and say: —

   My God, I would not long to see
      My fate with curious eyes,
   What gloomy lines are writ for me,
      Or what bright lines arise.

It is sufficient that our heavenly Father knows; and his knowledge may well satisfy us. Knowledge is not wisdom. He is wisest who does not wish to know what God has not revealed. Here, surely, ignorance is bliss: it would be folly to be wise.

20. Because we do not know what is to happen tomorrow, we should be greatly humbled by our ignorance. We think we are so wise; do we not? And we make a calculation that we are sure is correct! We arrange that this is going to be done, and the other thing; but God puts out his little finger, and removes some friend, or changes some circumstance, and all our propositions fall to the ground. It is better for us, when we are low before the throne of God, than when we stand up and plume ourselves because we think we can say, “Oh, I knew it would be so! See how well I calculated! With what wondrous forethought I provided for it all!” Had God blown upon our plans, they would have come to nothing. We know nothing for sure. Let that thought humble us greatly.

21. Since these things are so, we should remember the brevity, the frailty, and the end of our life. We cannot be here for long. If we live to the extreme age of men, how short our time is! But most of us will never reach that period when we may say to each other, “My lease has run out.” How frail is our hold on this world! In a moment we are gone, gone like the moth; you put your finger on it; and it is crushed. Man is not great; man is less than little. He is as nothing; he is only a dream. Before he can scarcely say that he is here, we are compelled to say that he is gone.

22. We are glad that we do not know when our friends are to die; and we feel thankful that we cannot foretell when we shall depart out of this life. What good would it do us? Some who are in bondage through fear of death might still be in even greater bondage, while those who are now careless about it would probably feel more content in their carelessness. If they had to live another twenty years, they would say, “At any rate, we may sport away nineteen of them.” As for those of us to whom this world is a wilderness, and who consider ourselves as pilgrims hurrying through it, we know enough when we know that this is not our rest, because it is polluted, and that the day will soon come when we shall enter the Canaan of our inheritance, and be “for ever with the Lord.” Meanwhile, the presence of the Lord makes a heaven even of the wilderness. Since he is with us, we are content to leave the ordering of our lives to his unerring wisdom. We ought, for every reason, to be thankful that we do not know the future; but, at any rate, we can clearly see that to count on it is folly, and that ignorance of it is a matter of fact.

23. III. Thirdly, RECOGNITION OF GOD WITH REGARD TO THE FUTURE IS TRUE WISDOM. What does our text say? “For you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live, and do this, or that.’ ”

24. I do not think that we need always, in every letter and in every handbill, put “If the Lord wills”; yet I wish that we used those very words more often. The fashionable way is to put it in Latin, and even then to abbreviate it, and use only the consonants, “D.V.,” to express it. You know, it is a fine thing when you can put your religion into Latin, and make it very short. Then no one knows what you mean by it; or, if they do, they can praise your scholarship, and admire your humility. I do not care about those letters “D.V.” I rather like what Fuller says when he describes himself as writing in the letter such passages as “God willing,” or “God lending me life.” He says, “I observe, Lord, that I can scarcely hold my hand from encircling these words in parenthesis, as if they were not essential to the sentence, but may as well be left out as put in. Whereas, indeed, they are not only of the commission at large, but so of the quorum, that without them all the rest is nothing; therefore hereafter, I will write these words freely and fairly, without any enclosure around them. Let critics censure it for bad grammar, I am sure it is good divinity.” So he quaintly puts the matter. Still, whether you write, “If the Lord wills,” or not, always let it be clearly understood; and let it be conspicuous in all your arrangements that you recognise that God is over all, and that you are under his control. When you say, “I will do this or that,” always add, in thought if not in word, “If the Lord wills.” No harm can come to you if you bow to God’s sovereign sway.

25. We should recognise God in the affairs of the future, because, first, there is a divine will which governs all things. I believe that nothing happens apart from divine determination and decree; even the little things in life are not overlooked by the all-seeing eye. “The very hairs of your head are numbered.” The position of a bulrush by the river is as fixed and foreknown as the position of a king, and the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as much as the stars in their courses. All things are under regulation, and have an appointed place in God’s plan; and nothing happens, after all, but what he permits or ordains. Knowing that, we will not always say, “If the Lord wills”; yet we will always feel it. Whatever our purposes may be, there is a higher power which we must always acknowledge; and there is an omnipotent purpose, before which we must bow in lowliest reverence, saying, “If the Lord wills.”

26. But while many of God’s purposes are hidden from us, there is a revealed will which we must not violate. It is chiefly in reference to this that the Christian should always say, “I will do this or that, provided that, when the time comes, I shall see it to be consistent with the law of God, and with the precepts of the gospel.” I say now, “I will do this or that,” but certain other things may occur which will render it improper for me to do so. Hence, to be quite in accordance with the Word I so deeply reverence, I must always put in the saving clause, sometimes giving utterance to it, but in every case meaning, whether I put it into words or not, “I will do such and such, if it is right to do it; I will go, or I will stay, if it is the will of God.”

27. In addition to this, there is a providential will of God which we should always consult. Believers are familiar with this guidance, which comes from the circumstances that surround us. Sometimes a thing may seem to us to be right enough morally, and yet we may not quite know whether we should do it or not. Or perhaps there are two courses equally right, when judged by the Word of God, and you are uncertain which to follow. The highest wisdom, in such a case, is to wait for God to make a path plain by some act of providence. When you come where two roads meet, in your perplexity, pause, kneel down, and lift your hearts to heaven, asking your Father for the way. And whenever we are planning what we should do — and we ought to make some plans, for God’s people are not to be without forethought or prudence — we should always say, or mean without saying, “All my plans must wait until the Lord sets before me an open door. If God permits, I will do this; but if the Lord wills, I will stop, and do nothing. My strength shall be to sit still, unless the Master wishes me to go forward.” May I whisper into the ear of some very quick, impetuous, and hasty people, that it would be greatly to their soul’s benefit if they knew how to sit still? Many of us seem as if we must always do everything at once, and hence we make no end of trouble for ourselves. There is often a blessed discipline in postponement. It is a grand word, that word, “wait”; especially in this particular connection. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Be patient; sometimes even to be passive in the hand of God will be our strength, and to stand still until the cloudy-fiery pillar moves in front of us, will be our highest wisdom.

28. There is yet another sense I would give to this expression: there is a royal will which we would seek to fulfil. That will is that the Lord’s people should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. So, as the servants of the Most High, we go out to do this or that, “if the Lord wills,” that is to say, if, by doing so, we can fulfil the great will of God in the salvation of men. I wish that this was the master motive with all Christians; that we were each willing to say, “I will go and live in such a place, if there are souls to be saved there. I will take a house on such a street, if, by living there, I can be of service to my Lord and Master. I will go to China or Africa, or to the ends of the earth, if the Lord wills; that is to say, if, by going there, I can be helping to answer that prayer, ‘Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.’ ” Dear Christian friends, do you put yourselves entirely at God’s disposal? Are you really his, or have you kept back a bit of yourself from the surrender? If you have retained any portion for yourself, that little reserve that you have made will be the channel by which your life will bleed away. You say, “We are not our own; we are brought with a price”: but do you really mean it? I am afraid that there is a kind of mortgage on some Christians. They have some part they must give, as they imagine, to their own aggrandizement. They are not all for Christ. May the Lord bring us all to his feet in whole-hearted consecration, until we can say, “We will not go to that city unless we can serve God there. We will not buy, and we will not sell, unless we can glorify God by not buying and selling; and we will not wish even for the honest gain that comes from trading; unless we can be promoting the will of God by getting it. Our best profit will consist of doing God’s will.” A man can as much serve God by measuring calico, or by weighing groceries, as he can by preaching the gospel, if he is called to do it, and if he does it in a right spirit. This should always be our aim, and we should always put this in the forefront of our life. “I go or stay, I ascend or I descend, if the Lord wills; the Lord’s will shall be done in my mortal body whether I live or whether I die.”

29. May this be your resolve, then; let this clause, “if the Lord wills,” be written across your life, and let us all apply ourselves to the recognition of God in the future. It is a grand thing to be able to say, “Wherever I go, and whatever happens to me, I belong to God; and I can say that God will prepare my way as well when I am old and grey-headed as he did when I was a boy. He shall guide me all the way to my everlasting mansion in glory; he was the guide of my youth, he shall be the guide of my old age. I will leave everything to him, all the way from earth to heaven; and I will be content to live only a day at a time; and my happy song shall be —

   So for tomorrow and its need
      I do not pray,
   But keep me, guide me, hold me, Lord,
      Just for today.”

30. IV. And now, fourthly, BOASTING ABOUT THE FUTURE IS EVIL. “But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” I will not say much on this point, but briefly ask you to notice the various ways in which men boast about the future.

31. One man says, about a certain matter, “I will do it, I have made up my mind,” and he thinks, “You cannot turn me. I am a man who, when he has once put his foot down, is not to be moved from his place.” Then he laughs, and prides himself in the strength of his will; but his boasting is sheer arrogance. Yet he rejoices in it, and the Word of God is true of such a one: “All such rejoicing is evil.”

32. Another mans says, “I shall do it, the thing is certain”; and when a difficulty is suggested, he answers, “Tut, do not tell me about my proposing and God’s disposing; I will propose, and I will also dispose; I do not see any difficulty. I shall carry it out, I tell you. I shall succeed.” Then he laughs in his foolish pride, and rejoices in his proud folly. All such rejoicings are evil. They are foolish; but, what is worse, they are wicked. Do I address myself to any who have no notion about heaven or the world to come, but who feel that they are perfect masters of this world, and, therefore talk in the manner I have indicated, and rejoice as they think how great they are? To such I will earnestly say, “All such rejoicing is evil.”

33. I hear a third man say, “I can do it. I feel quite competent.” To him the message is the same, his boasting is evil. Though he thinks to himself, “Whatever comes in my way, I am always ready for it,” he is greatly mistaken, and errs grievously. I have often been in the company of a gentleman of this kind, but only for a very little while; for I have generally gotten away from him as soon as I could. He knows a thing or two. He has gotten the great secret that so many are seeking in vain. All of you ordinary people, he just snuffs you out. If you had more sense, and could do as he does — well, then, you could be as well off as he is. Poor man! “No one needs to be poor,” he says. “No one needs to be poor. I was poor for a little while; but I made up my mind that I would not remain poor. I fought my own way, and I could begin again with a crust, and work myself up.” You will notice his frequent use of the capital I, but ah, dear sir, God has thunderbolts for these great I’s! They offend him; they are a smoke in his nostrils. Pride is one of the things which his soul hates. No man should speak in such a strain: “All such rejoicing is evil.”

34. But that young man over there talks in a different tone. He has been planning what he will do when he succeeds; for, of course, he is going to succeed. Well, I hope that he may. He is going to buy, and sell, and get gain; and he says, “I will do such and such when I am rich.” He intends to have his fling then, and to enjoy himself; he laughs as he thinks what he will do when his toilsome beginnings are over, and he can have his own way. I would ask him to pause and consider his life in a more serious vein: “All such rejoicing is evil.”

35. There is, of course, a future concerning which you may be certain. There is a future in which you may rejoice. God has prepared for those who serve him a crown of life, and by humble hope you may wear the crown even now. You may, by the thoughts of such amazing bliss, begin to partake of the joy of heaven; and this will do you no harm. On the contrary, it will set your heart at rest concerning your brief stay on earth, for what will it matter to you whether your life is cloudy or bright, short or long, when eternity is secure? But concerning the uncertainties of this fleeting life, if you begin to rejoice, “All such rejoicing is evil.”

36. V. That brings me to my last and most practical point, which is this: THE USING OF THE PRESENT IS OUR DUTY. “Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” I take this text with its context. It means that he who knows what he ought to do, and does not do it at once, to him it is sin. Although the text does not refer to men who live in guilty knowledge of duty, and neglect it; its message is to men who know the present duty, and who think that they will do it eventually.

37. In the first place, it is sinful to defer obedience to the gospel. “He who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Do you say, “I am going to repent?” Your duty is to repent now. “I am going to believe,” do you say? The command of Christ is, “Believe now.” “After I have believed,” one says, “I shall wait a long time before I make any profession.” Another says, “I am a believer, and I shall be baptized some day.” But since baptism is according to the will of the Lord, you have no more right to postpone it than you have to postpone being honest or sober. All the commands of God to the individuals to whom they are given come as a present demand. Obey them now. And if anyone here, knowing that God invites him to believe, refuses to believe, but says that he hopes to trust Christ one of these days, let me read this to him: “To him who knows to do good, and does not do it,” — this word is in the present tense, — “to him it is sin.”

38. In the next place, it is sinful to neglect the common duties of life, under the idea that we shall do something more eventually. You do not obey your parents, young man, and yet you are going to be a minister, are you? A pretty minister you will make! As an apprentice you are very dilatory and neglectful, and your employer would be glad to see the backside of you; he wishes that he could burn your indentures; and yet you have an idea you are going to be a missionary, I believe? A pretty missionary you would be! There is a mother at home, and her children are neglected while she talks to her neighbours; but when her children are off her hands, she is going to be a true mother in Israel, and look after the souls of others. Such conduct is sin. Look after your children; darn the stocks, and attend your other home duties; and when you have done that, talk about doing something in other places. If present duties are neglected, you cannot make up for the omission by some future piece of exotic endeavour to do what you were never called to do. If we could all be quiet enough to hear that clock tick, we should hear it say, “Now! Now! Now! Now!” The clock in it resembles the call of God in the daily duties of the hour. “To him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin,” even though he may dream of how he will, in years to come, make up for his present neglect.

39. Then, dear friends, it is sinful to postpone purposes of service. If you have some grand project and holy purpose, I would ask you not to delay it. My dear friend, Mr. William Olney, whose absence we all mourn tonight, {b} was a very prompt, energetic man. He was here, he was there, he was everywhere, serving his Lord and master; and now that he is suddenly struck down, his life cannot be said to be in any sense unfinished; there is nothing to be done in his business; there is nothing to be done in his relationship to this church. There is nothing left undone with regard to anyone. It is all as finished as if he had known that he was going to be struck down. I believe that that is the way we all ought to live. Mr. Whitfield said that he would not go to bed unless he had put even his gloves in their right place. If he should die in the night; he would not like to have anyone asking, “Where did he leave his gloves?” that is always the way for a Christian man to live; have everything in order, even to a pair of gloves. Finish up your work every night; indeed, finish up every minute. I have seen Mr. Wesley’s Journal, though it is not exactly a “journal”; it does not give an account of what he did in a day, nor even what he did in an hour. He divided his time into portions of twenty minutes each; and I have seen the book in which there is the record of something done for his Lord and Master every twenty minutes of the day. So exactly did he live, that no single half-minute ever seemed to be wasted. I wish that we all lived in that way, so that we looked, not at projects in some distant future that never will be accomplished, but at something to be done now.

40. Last Thursday, when I was speaking, I said that some Christian people had never told the story of the cross to others, and urged them to begin to do so at once. A young friend, sitting in this place, leaned over the front of the pew, and touched a friend sitting there, saying to her, “I would like to speak to you about that.” He had never spoken to her before, he did not even know her, and so he addressed her while the service was proceeding. A member of the church, sitting by her side, who heard what the young man said, was so pleased with his prompt action, that she stayed after the service to sympathize and help, while he explained the way of salvation. The young person, to whom he spoke, came to tell me, last Tuesday, that she had found the Saviour through that well-timed effort. Dear friends, that is the way to serve the Lord. If we were to do things at the moment when they occurred to us, we should do them purposefully. But, oh, how many pretty things you have always meant to do, and have never even attempted! You have strangled the infant projects that have been born in your mind; you have not allowed them to live, and grow into manhood of real action. First thoughts are best in the service of God, and the carrying of them out would secure great benefit to others and much fruit for ourselves. “To him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” May God help us, if we are saved, to get at this holy business of serving the Lord Christ, which as far exceeds buying and selling, and getting gain, as the heavens are higher than the earth. Let us do something for Christ at once. You young people who are newly converted, if you do not very soon begin to work for Christ, you will grow up to be idle Christians, scarcely Christians at all; but I believe that to attempt something suited to your ability almost immediately, as God shall direct you, will put you on the path of a useful career. God will bless you, and enable you to do more as the years roll onwards.

41. I have this last word: “To him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin,” that is, it is sinful in proportion to our knowledge. If there is any brother here, into whose mind God has put something new, something good, please translate it into action at once. “Oh, but no one has done it before!” Someone must be first, and why should you not be the first if you are sure that it is a good thing, and has come into your heart through God the Holy Spirit? But if you know to do good, and do not do it; it will be sin every minute that you leave it undone. Therefore get at it at once. And you, my sister, who tonight, while sitting here, have been thinking of something you might have done which you have not yet attempted, attempt it at once. Do not let another sun rise, if you can help it, before you have begun the joyful and blessed service. “The time is short.” Our opportunities are passing, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.” Be up and doing. Soon we shall be gone. May we never hear the summons to go home while there is anything left undone that we ought to have done for our Lord and Master!

42. I am conscious of having spoken only very feebly and imperfectly; but, you know, my heart is heavy because of this severe trial which has come upon us through the stroke that has happened to our beloved deacon, William Olney; and when the heart is so sad, the brain cannot be very lively. May God bless this word, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Jas 4]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 90” 90}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 39” 39}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence — Providence Mysterious” 211}

{a} It is remarkable that this sermon selected for this week should be so particularity suitable for the present trying time. It ought to be read with special solemnity. Oh, that it may be the means of leading many to make the great preparation for the future which only believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have! Each page of this sermon is surrounded by a black rectangular box.
{b} This sermon was preached at the time when Mr. William Olney, the senior deacon of the Tabernacle church, was lying unconscious, after a paralytic stroke. He fell asleep in Jesus the next morning. On the following Lord’s day evening, the Pastor preached from Ac 13:36, the sermon that will be published next week, “If the Lord wills.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2243, “His Own Funeral Sermon” 2244}

When last week’s sermon was sent to the printers. Mr. Spurgeon was unable to write a letter to go at the end of it, for he was suffering so severely that he could not even dictate a message to his sermon readers. It was not then anticipated that his illness would take the terrible form it afterwards assumed; but on Tuesday, January 26, when the doctor came, he was obliged to report his patient’s condition as “serious.” Since then, the daily bulletins have carried the sad tidings far and wide; and most of the readers of the sermons probably know, by this time, that their beloved preacher has been suffering from the same malady that so grievously afflicted him during last summer and autumn. His illness, on this occasion, has not developed exactly the same symptoms as before; but at the date of writing this note (January 31), the doctor reports that “his condition gives cause for the gravest anxiety.”


It is with profound regret that the Publishers record the death of the beloved Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. He was called to his rest, at Mentone, on Sunday, January 31, at 11 p. m.

To all who were privileged to know Mr. Spurgeon, this event has come as a great sorrow; a sorrow which will certainly be shared by every reader of the weekly sermons.

I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: Yes, says the Spirit, so that they may rest from their labours; and their works follow them.” {Re 14:13}

The weekly Sermon and The Sword and the Trowel will be continued as usual, the Publishers having a large quantity of manuscripts and Sermons so far unpublished.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 90
1 Our God, our help in ages past,
   Our hope for years to come;
   Our shelter from the stormy blast,
   And our eternal home!
2 Under the shadow of thy throne
   Thy saints have dwelt secure;
   Sufficient is thine arm alone,
   And our defence is sure.
3 Before the hills in order stood,
   Or earth received her frame,
   From everlasting thou art God,
   To endless years the same.
4 A thousand ages in thy sight
   Are like an evening gone;
   Short as the watch that ends the night
   Before the rising sun.
5 Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
   Bears all its sons away;
   They fly forgotten, as a dream
   Dies at the opening day.
6 Like flowery fields the nations stand,
   Pleased with the morning light:
   The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
   Lie withering ere ‘tis night.
7 Our God, our help in ages past,
   Our hope for years to come;
   Be thou our guard while troubles last,
   And our eternal home!
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

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

God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence
211 — Providence Mysterious
1 God moves in a mysterious way
   His wonders to perform;
   He plants his footsteps in the sea,
   And rides upon the storm.
2 Deep in unfathomable mines
   Of never failing skill,
   He treasures up his bright designs,
   And works his sovereign will.
3 Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
   The clouds ye so much dread
   Are big with mercy, and shall break
   In blessings on your head.
4 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
   But trust him for his grace;
   Behind a frowning providence
   He hides a smiling face.
5 His purposes will ripen fast,
   Unfolding every hour;
   The bud may have a bitter taste,
   But sweet will be the flower.
6 Blind unbelief is sure to err,
   And scan his work in vain:
   God is his own interpreter,
   And he will make it plain.
                  William Cowper, 1774.

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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