2252. The Unknown Giver And The Misused Gifts

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No. 2252-38:181. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, September 25, 1890, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, April 17, 1892.

For she did not know that I gave her grain, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore I will return, and take away my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and will recover my wool and flax. {Ho 2:8,9}

1. In reading any of the records concerning the people of Israel and the people of Judah, one stands amazed by two things, and scarcely knows which to wonder about most. The first thing which causes astonishment is the great sin of the people; and the next thing, which is even more marvellous, is the great patience of God. I scarcely know which of the two things causes me greater surprise, that men should be so guilty, or that God should be so gracious. On every page of Israel’s history, the kindness and forbearance of Jehovah are revealed towards the people whom he had betrothed to himself. Even in the midst of their backsliding and idolatry, he did not forget the covenant which he had made with their forefathers. Yet, in spite of all this goodness, the people sinned times without number, and grieved his Spirit again and again; instead of being led to repentance, they sinned even more and more. Their iniquity, and the forbearance of God, stand like two mountain summits of the history of the chosen yet wayward people.

2. Let us just transfer these thoughts to ourselves, and see if we can, with any justice, throw a stone at the people who, in spite of such love, went so far astray. Alas, we are condemned by the comparison! We are no better than they were. Our case is, perhaps, even more full of contradictions and inconsistencies, if that is possible. Is it not amazing, first of all, that we should have been so guilty, that we should have persevered in sin for so many years, that even after we have known God we should have been so unfaithful to him, so unfaithful to our own convictions, and to our own conscience? Is this awful fact not amazing? But that God should still love us, that he should follow us with warning and invitation, that his Holy Spirit should strive with us, and continue to strive until he wins the day, and that despite our shortcomings and our transgressions, he should have remained faithful to us, even to this very hour, is still more amazing. Oh my soul, sink low in deep humiliation because of your sinfulness! But, rise higher and even higher in adoration of the unutterable love, the boundless mercy of God to you in spite of your iniquity. Beloved brethren, if it were possible for us to only know adequately these two things, man’s sin and God’s love, we should have learned more than the greatest scientists of this world ever knew, and we should have attained to more true wisdom than all earth’s philosophers ever possessed. There are some who, in their search for knowledge, have almost seemed to walk the heavens in order to thread the stars, and to dive into the depths to arrange the rocks and all their ancient life; but there are two things that none of the wise among men have ever been able to understand — two things which unaided reason has always failed to grasp, and always will — sin and love; sin for its thunder, and love for its music: sin for its hell and love for its heaven. But we, who have been taught by the grace of God, do know something about sin: may we know increasingly what an evil it is! I trust we also know something about divine love; may we be filled with it, even to overflowing!

3. But, coming now close to our text, I am going to make four observations on it.

4. The first will be one that seems self-evident, yet is often forgotten, namely, that God is the Giver of every good gift. “I gave her grain, and wine and oil.” In the second place, I will dwell upon the sad fact that many do not seem to know this. “She did not know that I gave her grain, and wine, and oil.” My third observation will be, that this ignorance leads to perversion of God’s gifts: the gifts of God were profaned by being “prepared for Baal.” In the last place, the solemn truth will demand our attention, that this misuse of God’s gifts causes God to withdraw them. “Therefore I will return, and take away my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will recover my wool and my flax.” We lose what we are determined to put to improper uses. So, you see that my discourse promises to be a very practical one.

5. I. The first thought in the text which claims our attention will be, THAT GOD IS THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD GIFT. “I gave her grain, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold.”

6. Whether we know it, or not, it is true that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Do not, then, exalt over your brother if you are more richly endowed with God’s gifts than he is: “For who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?” All things that we possess have been bestowed upon us; for it is as certain that we brought nothing into the world, as that we shall take nothing out of the world. We receive everything from the great Distributor, who opens his hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing. Though used with reference to a higher gift than any of those mentioned in the text, the words of John the Baptist are true concerning all God’s gifts, “a man can receive nothing, unless it is given to him from heaven.”

7. But someone may say, “Grain and wine are mentioned here first of all; surely these are the fruit of tillage. Men sow, and reap. Men plant, and gather grapes. How, then, can these things be the gift of God?” Why, the moment we think seriously of this matter, we perceive that no farmer can command a harvest! No vine-dresser can be sure of fruit, unless he who rules the heavens, and sends the dews, the rains, the snow, and the frosts, shall take care both of the budding vine and of the ripening clusters. All that springs from the earth comes by a miracle of God’s benevolence. If God withheld his hand, you might plough your land, but you would wait in vain for the harvest; and unfruitful seasons would not return to you even so much as the seed which you had sown. When famines come upon the nations, because of blighted harvests, then men ought to understand that the grain, and the wine, and the oil are God’s gifts; but, alas, many are very slow to learn even that elementary lesson!

8. Perhaps others say, “Our share of these things comes to us as the earnings of labour.” Of course, in some form or other that must be true. Ever since man fell, that word of God to Adam, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” has been the rule of life for his sons. If men do not till the soil, but dwell in cities, they must still work; but in less pleasant ways than the farmer knows. They may have to toil in murky workshops, where they would be glad to catch a breath of fresh breezes that come over the fields. I know we get our food by our work; but then, who finds us work? Who gives us strength to do it? Only let God withdraw from us his gracious power, and our hands would hang feebly at our side. You know how true this is. When you have been laid aside on the bed of sickness, then you have understood that, unless God gave health, the bread-winner could not go out to his service, and there would be nothing on the table for the wife and children. It is God who gives us our food, however hard we work in order to earn it. We still need to present the petition that our Lord taught his disciples, “Give us today our daily bread.”

9. Besides this, the text also mentions the gain of commerce. “I multiplied her silver and her gold.” Here, also, God’s hand is plainly seen. I admit, of course, that men gain their silver and their gold by trading; but will the ship come home again in safety unless God watches over it? Will the men who go into the bowels of the earth, to dig for minerals, come up alive unless the providence of God still preserves them? Is not the blessing of heaven needed in every enterprise to which men can put their hand? “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it: unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman watches in vain.” The success of business is based upon a thousand conditions, and surrounded by many risks, as every merchant knows. How easily God can lay his finger upon any human scheme, and bring all our plans to naught! They used to call those who engaged in commerce “merchant venturers,” and they were aptly named. There is many a “perhaps” about business life in these days of cruel competition, even in our home trade; and it is even more risky when a man goes to a far-off land for gain. God must give him success, if he is to get it. In our bills of lading we even now insert a clause, by which the shipowner disclaims responsibility in certain contingencies, among which is mentioned “the act of God”; and when men dispatch a vessel, they often pray, and they always ought to pray, “God speed this ship,” for God-speed is needed if it is to reach its destination safely.

10. But some come by their own grain, and their own wine, and their silver, and their gold, by the legacies of their friends. In such a case, you may easily trace the gifts to God. If your parents have left you sufficient for your maintenance, who gave you those parents? Who placed them in a position to be so generous to you? Who arranged the place and manner of your birth except the great Lord of providence? If you are living in especially favourable circumstances, and are able to obtain food, and the other necessities of life, with a good share of its luxuries, which others can only gain by long labour, if at all, please ascribe it to the bountiful providence of the Most High. If you do not give all the glory to the Giver of these gifts, surely you are forgetting your God.

11. And yet, perhaps, another says, “I have not laboured with my hands, but I am a man of resources. What I possess is the result of thought. I have carefully created an invention, and in a few months I have been able to get for myself what others cannot get with a whole life of toil. Surely I may trace my prosperity to my capacious mind.” And if you do so, you will be very foolish, unless you also adore the God who gave you your mind. By whose power is it that you have had the wit to gain wealth so speedily? I beseech you be humble in the presence of God, or you may in a few days lose your reason, for it has often happened that men who have had more wit than others have been among the first to lose it. “Great wit to madness is allied.” In many a case it has proved to be so. Remember Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, builder of cities, inventor of great things, and yet “he ate grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws,” because he was proud, and exalted himself against God, neither gave glory for his greatness to the Most High.

12. We therefore settle it in our hearts as true, once and for all, that God is the Giver of the grain, and the wine, and the oil, and the silver, and the gold, and whatever temporal blessings we enjoy. If honestly gained, we trace them to his hand; and we would thank him now and always for every good gift that we have received from him.

13. I need not make a list of spiritual blessings, nor need I remind you that they all come from God. You know how dependent you are on him for them. By nature you are dead. What spiritual life can you get for yourselves without God? Can the dead make themselves to live? When you have been made alive, you are pardoned; can you pardon yourselves? From where can forgiveness come except from God? You have more than pardon if you are a child of God, you are possessed of righteousness; how shall you ever have it unless God arrays you in the righteousness of Christ? Joy and peace are our portion, but both come by believing; they are the gift of God. Holiness, too, and everything else that prepares us for heaven, and helps us to reach that blessed place, is the gift of God freely bestowed on unworthy men. We were unworthy when he began to bless us, and we are still unworthy; yet the hand that at first bestowed the gift upon us, continues to enrich us every day in all bounty. Shall we not praise him, lifting high our grateful song?

   Come thou fount of every blessing,
      Tune my heart to sing thy grace,
   Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
      Call for songs of loudest praise.

We will not withhold our thanks for such abounding goodness.

   Oh, to grace how great a debtor
      Daily I’m constrained to be!
   Let that grace, now, like a fetter,
      Bind my wandering heart to thee.

So much for the first point.

14. II. Now, secondly, and we come closer to our text, MANY DO NOT SEEM TO KNOW THIS. “She did not know that I gave her grain, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold.” She did not know, and in this lack of knowledge she does not stand alone. There are great numbers in the world who do not know this elementary truth, that all good gifts, of any kind whatever, come from the hand of God. Why is this?

15. With some it arises from natural ignorance. Myriads of men do not know God as yet; and they are to be pitied, if they have not even heard of him. I fear that in London there are many who have never received even the plainest instruction with regard to God and his Christ. It ought not to be so, since so many in earlier years have passed through our Sunday Schools. But all Sunday School teaching does not teach. There are many Sunday Schools into which a child may go and come out again, and know very little that will remain with him. It is a pity that this should be the case; but facts go to show that I state no more than the plain truth. There are many whom we may meet in the street who could give us no intelligent account of what they owe to God. They scarcely know who he is. They use his name as a part of their profanity, and that is all. Brethren, I charge you, by the living God, that as far as your ability goes, you do not permit a single person in London to be ignorant of God, and what men owe to him. With all your might, instruct those with whom you come in contact concerning the great Creator, Preserver, and Judge of men, and show them how all our blessings are to be traced to his generous hand. So a foundation shall be laid on which may rest a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

16. There are, however, many more who, from thoughtless ignorance, do not know that God gave them their providential mercies. Oh, what a thing it is that the majority of the people by whom we are surrounded should have a thought for everyone except God! Some people are strictly honest to their fellow men, but they never think that they owe God anything. Everyone is treated fairly by them except their Creator. They will be ungrateful to no one except their very best Friend; and all for lack of thought. Is it not ten thousand pities that so many miss heaven from heedlessness, and that so many go down to hell for lack of thinking how they may escape from it? “The wicked shall be turned into hell,” says the Psalmist, “and all the nations who forget God.” What did these do who perish like this? Did they blaspheme? No; they only forgot God. Did they oppose his purposes? No, it is not said to be so; but they forgot God. That is all. He who forgets his king becomes a traitor. The soldier who forgets his captain becomes a deserter. The child who forgets his mother, becomes a prodigal. But the man who forgets his God is the worst of all; his sheer thoughtlessness leads him into the abyss of woe.

17. Some lose sight of God because of their wrong thoughts. They look upon everything that happens as luck. “I was a lucky fellow,” one says. “I have been always wonderfully fortunate,” says another; “I have always had good luck.” So God is pushed from his throne, and men pay their tribute to an imaginary something, which is really nothing, but which they call “luck.” If luck has actually done anything for you, then by all means worship luck, and pay homage to it; but it is not so. Luck, fortune, and chance are the devil’s trinity. If things have gone well with you, it has been so because it has pleased the Most High to favour you. I pray that you may not be unmindful of the heavenly blessing, but thank your God, and bless his name.

18. “Well,” one says, “I do not attribute my success to luck. I say I owe it to myself.” So you turn from your God, and worship yourself, do you? The Egyptians have been considered the most degraded people of this world in their worship. They worshipped onions, until Juvenal {a} says, “Oh blessed people, who grow their gods in their own back gardens!” But I do not think they were quite so degraded as the man who worships himself. If I could bring my soul to worship an onion, I could never degrade myself low enough to worship myself. A man who makes himself his own god is mad. When you begin to adore yourself as a self-made man, you have surely come to the very abyss of absurdity and idolatry. “Do you not know that the Lord he is God; it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Let us not then be guilty of the folly of forgetting him to whom we owe our all. “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Still, alas, it is true that some, through their thoughtlessness or their corrupt thought about God, do not know that he gave them their grain and wine and oil.

19. There are others who forget God from assumed ignorance; they know better, but they profess that they are too intelligent to believe in God. Do you often hear the proud boastings of such men? Oh! It is folly of the most profound kind for any man to think he is too intelligent, or too clever, to believe in God, or to trace anything to him. “These things happen according to the laws of nature,” they say. “The arrangements of nature are fixed and invariable.” So “nature” becomes nothing more than a false god, which they worship. They have elevated a certain something which they call “nature” into the place of God, and they suppose that God is somehow tied by his own laws, and can never do anything other than what he has been accustomed to do; by such reasoning natural law is lifted up, and made higher than the omnipotent God himself! Go, you who worship nature, and worship her if you wish. I have not generally found much worship in it. I had a neighbour, who said to me, “I do not go and shut myself up in the stifling atmosphere on a Sunday; I stay at home, and worship the god of nature.” I said to him, “He is made of wood, is he not?” “What do you mean?” he said in some surprise. “I think,” I answered, “that I have heard you at worship, and you seem to me to adore your god by knocking him down.” “Ah!” he said; “have you heard me playing skittles {Cricket} on Sunday?” “Yes,” I said; “you are a pretty fellow to tell me that you stay at home, and worship the god of nature. Your worship is all a lie.” When you hear men talk about this god of nature, it often means that they only want an opportunity of having more drink, or of amusing themselves, or of otherwise wasting the hours of God’s holy day. As for us, I trust that we shall not assume an ignorance which is not ours. We know that God gave us all we have, and to him shall be the praise.

20. A great many have no real lack of knowledge at all, if you search their minds. Theirs is a practical ignorance. They do not know that God gave them these things, in the sense that they do not confess that it is so. They never speak about him as the one who provides for all their needs; they never praise him for his bounty. They may, perhaps, jerk out a “Thank God,” just as a matter of common speech; but there is no thankfulness in their heart. Practically, they live from year to year as if there were no God, and spend their time and their substance as if they were under no obligation whatever to the great Lord of providence. Practically it may be said of them, “They do not know that I gave them their grain and their wine and their oil.”

21. A lower depth is reached by those who do not recognise God because of their wilful ignorance; who, because of their deeds of darkness, hate the light, and refuse to acknowledge the gifts of God. Our Father in heaven “makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust.” But the unjust do not receive the refreshing showers as from his hand, nor do those who are evil acknowledge that it is God’s sun that shines on their head. They hate God, and are wilfully ignorant, “having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

22. Now, it does seem to be a very grievous thing that men should be indebted to God for everything, and should never praise him; that they should every morning be awakened by the light that he gives, and every evening be helped to sleep by the shadows of darkness with which he mercifully closes the day, and curtains the night; and yet that they should never adore his name. Am I not speaking to some here who, through a tolerably long life, have never thought of their God, or whose thoughts concerning him have been only fitful and feeble? I would like to hold you to your seat for a moment, my friend, while I ask you whether you do not feel ashamed that you have never considered the claims of the Most High, or have never thought that he could have any claims, but supposed that you just had to live to think of yourself and your friends, and perhaps of your fellow men, but never of your God? His goodness has been practically denied by you. You have lived as if there were no God, or as if he were too far off to operate on your life. You live as if you had received nothing from his hands. What you have received ought to have secured your service for him. Yet what have you done? Does a man keep a cow without expecting its milk? Would he keep a horse without putting it to work? Would he own a dog if it did not fawn over him, and come at his call? Yet God has kept you all these years, and he has had nothing from you but sheer forgetfulness, or, possibly, something worse than that. What do you say to this? I press the matter upon you, and ask you carefully to review it before your own conscience, and before the Lord, to whom you must one day give account. Since you have received so much from him, you should, at the very least, acknowledge that he is the Giver of all your good things. May God the Holy Spirit make you confess that you have not dealt well with your God, and strive with you until, by his almighty grace, you shall be constrained to change your evil course, and acknowledge the goodness and mercy you have received from him throughout your whole life!

23. III. In the third place, when men fail to recognise and acknowledge God’s goodness, THIS IGNORANCE OFTEN LEADS TO THE PERVERSION OF GOD’S GIFTS. See how God puts it with reference to the people of Israel, “I multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”

24. What a depth of infamy it would be to receive the bounty of one king, and to pay homage with it before the throne of his rival! This is what Israel did, and alas! too many imitate them today. The people burned incense to the false god of the heathen on every hill. “ ‘She decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me,’ says the Lord.” This was a great iniquity. The very gold which God gave them they formed into ornaments for their idol, and poured out the wine that came as a gift from heaven, as an offering at Baal’s shrine. There was a certain Indian potentate, who deposed his father from the throne, and then desired that father to send him his jewels, so that he might wear them at his own coronation. These people desired God’s gifts, in order that they might present them to Baal; and, alas! in this impiety they have many followers. How many there are who are using against God all that he has given them! They have prepared it for Baal.

25. We do this whenever the gifts of God are used to augment pride. This is a temptation that besets us all. We all have a tendency to swell and grow great simply because God has given us more than other people; whereas that only makes us all the greater debtors. I have heard that, in the days of imprisonment for debt, there were people in prison who used to be quite proud because they owed ten thousand pounds, and who looked down with scorn upon a poor fellow who had come in there only owing a hundred pounds, or perhaps, only a five-pound note. The more they were in debt, the more they thought of themselves. Now, is that not the case with every proud man? Because you have greater ability, or greater wealth, than another, you owe so much the more to God; and yet you are foolish enough to make that, which ought to be a reason for being humble, a reason for being proud. God surely feels that his gifts are being misused when we handle them so as to make ourselves haughty and important. In doing this we forget him who gave us all, even as Hosea in another place says concerning the people, “According to their pasture, so they were filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore they have forgotten me.”

26. Moreover, the gifts of God are perverted when we use them to justify sin, setting our necks stiffly in the way of evil, because, though we have wandered from God, the grain and the oil are still supplied to us. “These are my rewards that my lovers have given me,” said this nation that went after Baal; therefore she thought that her worship of Baal was worthy to be continued. How horrible a thing it is for a man to boast in his sin, because God does not swiftly follow it with judgment, and to continue in it because God does not at once withdraw his common mercies! Those whose hearts are set in them to do evil, because the sentence against the evil work is not executed speedily, shall have severe distress in the day when, at last, the righteous God arises in judgment.

27. Again, God’s gifts are misused when because of the very abundance of them, we begin to excuse excess. The drunkard and the glutton pervert what was meant to be a good gift into an occasion for sin and riot. God gives us all good things richly to enjoy; but when, instead of enjoying them, men abuse them, and ruin themselves, body and soul, by misusing the gifts of heaven, it would be little reason to wonder if God was aroused to remove the gifts put to such base use. And since so many of those around us do abuse God’s gifts in this manner, it behoves us, who desire to glorify God, to use all things with great temperance, and wholly to abstain from some things, lest we should cause our brother to stumble.

28. It is equally bad when a man uses the gifts of God’s providence so as to foster selfishness. His silver and gold are multiplied; he hoards it up and makes a god of it. The poor are at his gates. Let them stay there; why should he be troubled about them? The church of God needs his aid. Let it need it. It shall have nothing from him. “Soul,” says such a man, “you must lay up many goods for many years.” And, when he has accomplished his purpose, then he talks to his own soul again, poor creature that it is, and says, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years: take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” He has made a god of his goods, and so he has perverted God’s gifts, and used them to God’s dishonour. He has given them to Baal.

29. It grieves one’s heart to see gifts of God used to oppose God. What would you have thought of David, when Jonathan gave him his sword and bow, if he had taken the sword, and cut off Jonathan’s head, or if he had fitted an arrow to the string, and shot Jonathan in the heart? It would have been ingratitude. But men fight against God with God’s own gifts. A woman endowed with beauty, the rare gift of God, uses it to ensnare others into sin. God gives us garments, and there are some who use their very garments for nothing else but pride, and who go through the world with no motive but display. A man has a musical voice given to him, but he sings what God cannot be pleased to hear, and what no man or woman ought to listen to. Another has great intellect, and he gives himself up to pulling the Bible to pieces, and, as far as he can, to destroy much good. Another has a voice that is clear and loud, and skill in using it, and you hear him stand up and lead others to war against their Maker, and to sin with a high hand against the King of heaven. Oh, the pity is that there should be so much of good in the world, all heaped up to rot — that so many gifts of God should be used by men against him! When those in high authority oppress the righteous, they use their authority against God; and when men in high standing are seen at police courts advocating what is injurious to morals, they not only degrade themselves, but they make us think that the “nobility” with which they are said to be endowed must be a myth. May God keep us all, dear friends, from ever using the gifts of our Maker against our Maker; and we are certainly acting against him when we go contrary to anything that is honest, lovely, and of good repute; and when, in any way, we sanction what will do our fellow creatures wrong, and will be injurious to the interests of true righteousness, and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

30. My text is sadly true with reference to many: “She did not know that I gave her grain and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.” They prepared for God’s enemies what God himself had given to them, and what he meant to be used only for his own glory.

31. IV. And now my fourth observation is this: THIS PERVERSION OFTEN MOVES GOD TO WITHDRAW HIS MISUSED GIFTS. “Therefore I will return, and take away my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and will recover my wool and my flax.”

32. God has given to many of you a great many mercies. Remember that, if you become proud of them, if because you have become fat, like Jeshurun, you begin to kick, he can take his gifts away. If you forsake God who made you, and lightly esteem the Rock of your salvation, he will forsake you, and withdraw his bounty.

33. He can withdraw his gifts easily. “Riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven.” You have seen the crows on the ploughed field, have you not? There they are, blackening the ground. But clap your hands, and they are gone. So we have often seen it with a man’s wealth. There has been a little change in the money market, some little turn in commerce, and all his money has taken wings to itself, and flown away. Is it health and strength that you have, or great wit? Ah, sir, a puff of wind may take away life; a little air may be fatal to health! We do not know what dependent creatures we are. God can easily take away the blessings which he gives, therefore let us remember him in the use of them. “Whether, therefore, you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”

34. Moreover, God can take away his gifts unexpectedly. In the text, he says, “I will take away my grain in its time,” that is, in harvest, “and my wine in its season,” that is, just at the time of vintage. When it seems as if the harvest and vintage were secure, God would send a sudden blight upon both, and they would perish. God can take things away when they almost touch the tips of our fingers, and he can easily deprive us of misused blessings at the very moment when we think we are most sure of them. “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip”; and there is many an occasion of final disappointment when we think we have succeeded. We are only secure as we trust in the Giver of all good.

35. God can take away these things rightfully. What would you do yourself if you had one whom you fed who was always kicking against you? Would you feed a dog that was always barking at you, and trying to attack you, and do you mischief? Is it not right that God should take away providential benefits from men when they misuse them, and pervert them to his dishonour? It is by his grace that these things are ours at all; he has only to withdraw that grace, and to deal with us as we deserve, and lo! we are impoverished at once.

36. If God does take these things away, I would pray that he may take them from you mercifully. I was riding one day with a young gentleman, who was leading a very reckless life indeed, but whose father was a very gracious man. I found out that the son had taken to horse-racing, and I said, “That is right; go on as fast as you can. Until you have lost every penny you have, you will scarcely be willing to turn to God. Young fellows like you do not often come home, except around by the swine trough. When you get down to that, then, I trust, you will cry to God for mercy, and say, ‘I will arise, and go to my father.’ ” He was very astonished at my advice; but I think it was the right thing to say under the circumstances.

37. How often have I seen something of this kind take place! The Lord has taken away from a man wealth, or he has taken away health, or else the man has fallen into dishonour; the Lord takes away the grain in its time, and the wine in its season, and then it happens, as we have it in the verse before the text, the afflicted one says, “I will go and return to my first husband; for then it was better with me than now.” So long as you come to Christ, I do not mind if you come around by “Weeping Cross.” {b} Even if you come with a broken leg, with the loss of an eye, or with consumption making a prey of you, it will be good; if only your souls are saved, and you come home to your great Father, we will be glad. But why do you want to be whipped to Christ? Why not come willingly? Why do you need to have these truths burned into you as with a hot iron? Why not learn them easily. “Do not be as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle.” Do not be hard-mouthed with God, for he will master you, if he once takes you in hand. If he intends to bless you, he will conquer you, though he may have to use rough measures with you. Eventually, when he has broken you in, he will deal with you in all the infinite tenderness of his compassion; and you will acknowledge that even his roughness was all the result of his love for you.

38. Now, I close by saying that the Lord may take these things away from us justly. He sometimes withdraws his bounty without intending mercy. The sufferings of guilty men here are like the first drops of a horrible tempest that will continue for ever and ever. If they will not turn to him when he calls in mercy, but continue to reject his love, then he will begin to speak in thunder, and the first storm of his righteous wrath shall only be the beginning of an endless hurricane.

   Ye sinners, seek his grace,
      Whose wrath ye cannot bear;
   Fly to the shelter of his cross,
      And find salvation there.

I have tried to speak very earnestly; but if I have failed to speak as tenderly as I would, may the great Master forgive! Oh, that you would acknowledge your indebtedness to God! Oh, that you would cast away your idols! “As though God beseeched you by us: we pray you in Christ’s place, be reconciled to God.”

39. May God grant that you may be led by the blessed Spirit to yield yourself to him who has given you so much cause to trust him, and to his name shall be eternal honour! Amen, and amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ho 2]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Sacred Gratitude — ‘What Shall I Render?’ ” 709}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Expostulations — What Hope Have You?” 524}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Love Us Freely’ ” 596}

{a} Juvenal: Satire 15, line 10,11, page 489, Loeb Series 91
{b} Weeping Cross: A cross erected on or by the highway, especially for the devotions of penitents; hence, to return by the weeping cross, to return from some undertaking in humiliation or penitence. See Explorer "http://dictionary.die.net/weeping%20cross"

Will shortly be published. Price 2s. 6d.
From The Pulpit To The Palm-Branch

(Being a Sequel to the Sketch of Mr. Spurgeon’s Life and Labours entitled, “From the Usher’s Desk to the Tabernacle Pulpit.”)

A Memorial Of C. H. Spurgeon.

Including The Official Report Of The Services In Connection With His Funeral.

Passmore & Alabaster, 4, Paternoster Buildings, London; and all Booksellers.

The Christian, Sacred Gratitude
709 — “What Shall I Render?”
1 For mercies countless as the sands,
      Which daily I receive
   From Jesus’ my Redeemer’s hands,
      My soul, what canst thou give?
2 Alas! from such a heart as mine
      What can I bring forth?
   My best is stain’d and dyed with sin;
      My all is nothing worth.
3 Yet this acknowledgment I’ll make
      For all he has bestow’d;
   Salvation’s sacred cup I’ll take,
      And call upon my God.
4 The best return for one like me,
      So wretched and so poor,
   Is from his gifts to draw a plea,
      And ask him still for more.
5 I cannot serve him as I ought;
      No works have I to boast;
   Yet would I glory in the thought,
      That I should owe him most.
                        John Newton, 1779.

Gospel, Expostulations
524 — What Hope Have You? <7s.>
1 Sinner, what hast thou to show
   Like the joys believers know?
   Is thy path of fading flowers,
   Half so bright, so sweet, as ours?
2 Doth a skilful healing friend,
   On thy daily path attend,
   And where thorns and stings abound,
   Shed a balm on every wound?
3 When the tempests roar on high,
   Hast thou still a refuge nigh?
   Can, oh can thy dying breath
   Summon one more strong than death.
4 Canst thou, in that awful day,
   Fearless tread the gloomy way,
   Plead a glorious ransom given,
   Burst from earth and soar to heaven?
         Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, 1829, a.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
596 — “Love Us Freely” <8.7.>
1 Love us freely, blessed Jesus,
      For we have not aught to pay;
   Saviour thou, and we poor sinners,
      Is alone what we can say;
   Love us freely, blessed Jesus,
      For we have not aught to pay.
2 Love us ever, blessed Jesus,
      We are changing as the wind;
   If thy love on us depended,
      We should ne’er salvation find;
   Love us ever, blessed Jesus,
      We are changing as the wind;
3 Love and help us, blessed Jesus,
      Help us to be wholly thine;
   Every idol and enchantment,
      For thy glory to resign;
   Love and help us, blessed Jesus,
      Help us to be wholly thine.
4 Love and keep us, blessed Jesus,
      Keep us from denying thee;
   Keep our wayward feet from straying
      Into paths of vanity;
   Love and keep us, blessed Jesus,
      Keep us from denying thee.
                        Albert Midlane, 1865.

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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