2292. Abraham, A Pattern For Believers

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No. 2292-39:37. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, January 22, 1893.

By faith he (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. {Heb 11:9,10}

1. Abraham’s life, taken literally, is full of instruction; but we shall be wise to take its spirit, and endeavour to make it our own. We cannot live just as Abraham did; but we can carry out the great principles which lay at the root of Abraham’s life; and, if the Holy Spirit will work in us a similar degree of faith to that of the holy patriarch, we may glorify God by our lives, even as he did.

2. The first point in which we must follow him is that our life must be a life of faith. We cannot be children of believing Abraham, unless we live by believing. If you follow your senses, you go by what you see. Now, by what this poor flesh would teach you to desire, you will know nothing about the life of Abraham. He was a man who saw what eyes can never see; he heard what ears can never hear; and he was moved, guided, stimulated by motives which men of the world can never feel. He was a great man, a very prince among men; first, chief, and father of all believing men; but he owed the preeminence of his character to the greatness of his faith. We must have his faith, and we must live by it, as he lived by it; and then God will be able to make something of even such poor, feeble creatures as we are. Let me remind you of what we read in the sixth verse, “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” If we would be like “faithful Abraham,” we must begin by being believers.

3. Abraham is a pattern in three things to us who believe; and those three things will be the divisions of our subject tonight. He is a pattern to us, first, in the mode of his living: “He sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, living in tents.” Secondly, Abraham is a pattern to believers in the company he kept: “With Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” And, thirdly, Abraham is a pattern to believers in the home he looked for: “For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”

4. I. First, dear friends, it should be our anxious desire to imitate Abraham spiritually IN THE MODE OF HIS LIVING. How did he live?

5. Well, first, he lived as a man cut off from old associations. He had lived in Ur of the Chaldees, on “the other side of the flood,” as the Scripture says; and he was called to leave his family, his estate, his country, and go to a land which he had never seen, and which God promised ultimately to give to his family to be an inheritance for ever. Abraham was not disobedient. He left his country; and he journeyed to the land pointed out to him. Now, dear friends, we are not, as a rule, to leave our friends and kindred; we should be very unkind and ungrateful if we did. There may, however, be occasions when even that may have to be done; but we are really to leave our old associations, our unspiritual, sinful, worldly associations, and to come right out. You who are born of Christian parents, and live in godly families, do not know much about this coming out, for you are very well shielded; but there are some here who, if they become Christians, will get “the cold shoulder” from everyone in the house. A man’s foes, in their case, will be those of his own household. They will have to quit their present business. They will have to cut the connection between them and many ungodly men and women. They will have to come right out from the old kith and kin of their ungodliness, and each one of them will have to say, “I am on the Lord’s side.

   ‘My old companions, fare ye well,
   I cannot go with you to hell.’ ”

Now, Abraham did this; and he never went back again, as some do who run away from their old master for a little while, and then go back to his cruel service to their own destruction.

6. I suppose Abraham was called out from the place where he lived, to live a separated life, because his relatives and acquaintances were idolaters. The Lord said to Israel, through Joshua, “Your forefathers lived on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.” Abraham must, therefore, be taken away from that connection, so that he might serve the living and true God. “Indeed,” you say, “but when he went to Palestine, he was among idolaters.” Yes, but it is one thing to walk up and down among idolaters; and quite another thing to be in the same family with them. Abraham was safe enough from idolatry when he moved around among the Canaanites, and saw their obscene worship; but he was not safe from it in a decent, respectable household like that of his father, where the teraphim were slyly adored, and the worship of false gods was carried on without the disgusting abominations that were common in Canaan. I think that more people are lost through half-way Christians than through profligates. Men seldom become drunkards through drunkards; they become drunkards through ——— well, we will say no more about that, you know what I mean; and I do not think that men often learn to grow up dishonest by the example of great thieves, but it comes through imitating people who are thought to be honest, and yet can pilfer. Ah, friends, it is a good thing to get a man right out from the world, even from the best side of it; for the best part of the world is bad enough, and complete separation from it, with a deep abyss between it and ourselves, is really necessary for our spiritual health.

7. Now, the next thing about Abraham was that, while he lived away from his country, he lived in the land of promise. That was an odd thing, was it not — that he should be a stranger in the land of promise? God had given it to him and to his seed by a covenant of salt; and yet he possessed not a foot of it except what he bought from the sons of Heth for a burying place. That is all he had. So, today, in this world, perhaps all that some of you will ever have is about six feet of earth for a burying place; and yet it is all yours, it is all yours. You are living in the land of promise. “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Those who fear the Lord are the true possessors of the world; and the day shall come when even this poor world itself, brought into subjection to the Christ of God, shall be ours; indeed, it is ours already, and much more than the world is also ours, as the apostle says, “Things present, or things to come, all are yours.” Abraham was in the land of promise, and yet he was a stranger in it.

8. In this point you must be like him. Regard everything about you as yours, and yet consider that you do not have anything in actual possession, except that little plot in the cemetery where sleeps one well-beloved, and where you too shall sleep, unless the Lord shall come. The point to be remembered is that we are to be strangers in this world. We are not to be mistaken for citizens of this world, we ought to be known to be strangers in it. Abraham never blushed to say, even to the lordly sons of Heth, “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you.” He did not want them to think that he was a Canaanite. I do not know what he would have done if they had fallen into that idea. Christian people, if you were what you should be, men would know that you did not belong to this ungodly race. You have been redeemed from among men; you have been endowed with a new life to which they are strangers; and it ought to be apparent in your daily walk and conversation that you seek another country. This world is not your country, and never can be.

9. Why was Abraham made to be a stranger in that country? I think it was that he might be tried, and that in the trial graces might be developed which could never have come out otherwise. And you are to be a stranger in the midst of your own friends, that your patience may be tried, that your faith may be exercised, and that your holy longings for the better country may often be felt.

10. Was he not put there, also, that, being absent from home, he might learn to look for it by faith? You are not to be in heaven just yet. It is not the time for you to be there. You are to be absent from heaven that you may long for it, that you may go there with a better appetite. I think a boy who goes away to boarding school loves home all the better when he comes back for his holidays. Oh, what a heaven will heaven be to some of God’s people who spend the most of their time on a hard bed, made harder by their lying long upon it, and who have none of the comforts of this life, and, perhaps, not too much of the comforts of the life to come! One hour with our God will make up for everything we suffer here; but our suffering will go a long way towards making heaven more truly heaven when once we get there.

11. Abraham was placed in Canaan as a stranger, in this sense, that he had nothing to do with many of the cares that vexed the sons of Heth. Nor have you as a Christian anything to do with the cares that vex the worldling. You ought to have no care to get rich. You are a stranger here; why do you want to heap up possessions when you are soon going away? You ought not to know the worldlings’ fret and worry. They are at home, and they may well fret. That house is decaying, this furniture is going out of repair; but what is that to you? It is none of yours. You are only a traveller staying at the inn; and if the place should fall down tomorrow, you will be gone. You are on your journey home; you are not a fixture, as these men are; you take very little concern in the things that they are most worried about. If I go to Mentone, I do not trouble about French politics; I know who is the President of the Republic, but I do not know the name of the great men who sit on his right and on his left hand, and I do not want to know. If I hear anything about politics, I like to know what is being done in my own dear homeland. So, you Christians, your citizenship is in heaven. As for these things which are down below, you take an interest in them as far as they concern the kingdom of God, and the good of your fellow men, but you are no partizan. Why should you be? You are a stranger and a foreigner; and so you keep aloof from party strifes, and from those cares and other things of which the men of the world think so much.

12. I think, also, that Abraham was sent to Canaan as a stranger, to be a witness for God. These people were soon to be destroyed, but their iniquity was not yet full; so they had another chance in the living of a man of God, a prophet of God, among them. You, my Christian friend, are a stranger here, and you are living here for the good of those around you. It may be that you may snatch some brand from the burning. Be content to stay if such is the case.

13. Abraham lived there to show the people what God could do for those who trusted in him. He was a mere gipsy in the land, moving around with his tent; and yet he came to be the richest man among them. Abraham was very greatly blessed in flocks and in herds, for God took care of him; and I think he did it to say to these Canaanites, “You see, with all your fret, and all your worry, God’s servant Abraham gets on better than you do.” So, when the king of Sodom offers Abraham wealth, he grandly says, “I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abraham rich.’ ” Yet the man was prospered; and by his prosperity he taught men this lesson, that he who trusts in God is no fool. He who trusts in God shall find, even in this life, as far as he is able to bear it, and God thinks fit, that the Lord “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”

14. Still, Abraham was, to all intents and purposes, a foreigner in the land that belonged to him, even as you are strangers in a world that belongs to you; and as your Lord came to his own, and his own did not receive him; and as God himself is a stranger in the world he made, even as David said to the Lord, “I am a stranger with you, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.”

15. To make this point still more clear concerning Abraham’s mode of living, I want you to notice that Abraham lived in tents. He never constructed a house; he built no booths; he simply had his tent, and he pitched it as he moved from place to place. Why was this? What did it mean? Not that you should live in a tent, but that you should feel that everything you have, all around you, all your possessions, are only frail things, and are apt to change. I know that you begin to look on that little property as a very sure thing; do not be deceived, the only sure thing is your God. You are beginning to look on your worldly income as pretty certain, and you rest on it. The only thing you may rest on is the faithful promise of your God. So you think your wife will live? Ah, me! I do not wish to grieve you; if I could prophesy, I would not tell you how soon she may be taken. You look on your children as young immortals; but they are not. You will have to bury them, or they will have to bury you. All things here pass away. I cannot tell you the strange joy I felt after the earthquake at Mentone. {a} I had been to see many of the houses that had been shaken down, and the two churches that were greatly damaged, and I was full of the earthquake. I had quite experienced its terrors and its power; and when I went up the stairs of my hotel, I thought, “Well, at any moment this may all come down with a crash. When I go to bed, it may all slip away”; and I felt a great delight in thinking that I actually experienced, not in a dream, but as a matter of fact, the shakiness of this poor earthquaky world, and how everything in it is without foundation, but is just a mere tent which might come down at any moment; a gust of wind might blow it over. When we are most comfortable in it, we may hear a voice saying, “Up and away: pack up your tent, and journey somewhere else.” Please hold this world loosely. Do not let your roots strike into this accursed soil. Live here as those who are soon to live there; and wait here as men who only wait until the trumpet sounds, “Boot and saddle; up and away, for this is not your rest.” When we live like this, we shall live as Abraham did, and as God would have us live.

16. II. Now, very briefly, in the next place, we must imitate Abraham IN THE COMPANY HE KEPT: “Living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.”

17. What a fortunate, indeed, what a gracious circumstance it was that Abraham could find the best company in his own neighbourhood! There are some men I know who are fine company outdoors, wonderful company, I have heard say, in the bar-parlour, {b} or at a banquet; but they are no company to anyone at home. Short, gruff, sharp barks like a wolf; this is all their family can get out of them. When they are once inside the house, they are not at home. When they are outside, and far away, then they are quite at home.

18. But here as Abraham, who lives in a tent, and has the happiness of finding his best company in his own family. I suppose that he lived with Isaac about seventy-five years. If you calculate, you will find that that is about the time. Did he live with Jacob? Yes, he must have lived at the same time as Jacob for about fifteen years. He saw his dear son Isaac married, and twin children born, and he saw their life long enough to see that Jacob was of that kind who would become a plain man living in tents; and Abraham found the sweetest company with his own dear family. May the Lord in mercy convert all our children, and their wives, and their children; and may we have a church in a house, as Abraham had a church in a tent! Happy men who can find their best company at home!

19. But that is not the point I want to mention. Abraham lived in tents with those like-minded with himself. We know a man by his company; and a man is blessed or cursed by his company. Abraham lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob; men of the same spirit as himself, quite different men, but men saved by the same grace, men who worshipped the same God, men who lived for the same purpose, men who were motivated by the same principles, men who were coheirs with him of the promised land. This is the company I keep; these are the dearest friends I know. If you want a merry evening, child of God, get together half-a-dozen who are, like yourself, God’s children; if you want an evening that you can look back upon with delight, gather such a company together. Never mind how poor the believers are; perhaps the poorer they are the better it will be, for they will talk more freely with God, often, than some of what we call the better class; the worse class, I have often had to call them. Children of God, who really have to look to him for daily bread, are often more full of faith than any other class of society. People of God who know the rough and tumble of the world, those who have withstood its hard usage, those who mix from day to day with ungodly men who scoff at them, these are the men who come to God in real earnest. They do not play at religion; they live it. Never mind their position or rank in life. If they are in good favour with God, let them be in good favour with you; and make your choicest companions among the people of God. I have seen some, who call themselves children of God, turn up their noses at God’s best people because they did not put their H’s in the right places, or they spoiled the Queen’s English. Bless the dear souls! If their hearts are right with God, what does it matter about the faultiness of their talk? Ah, how often have our souls been carried up to heaven by prayers that violated all the proprieties! And how often have I been made to feel as dull as death by a prayer that was wonderfully beautiful in its wording; cold moonlight, no sunshine; a pretty picture, but no life in it! Give us the life of God, and let us get into our tent with Isaac and with Jacob, and there let us find Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God, and we shall do well.

20. Dear young friends, who have recently come to Christ, take care that you keep company with God’s people. I do not want you to have a lot of acquaintances to talk to; but have one or two; perhaps two may be better than one, but one is good enough, one godly Christian to whom you can go and tell your troubles, one older than yourself who has been a little farther on the road than you have been. Talk with such saints, as Jacob probably talked with father Isaac, and Isaac with father Abraham, while they lived together in the same encampment, and lived in tents.

21. III. Now, lastly, I wish to say something that may lead your hearts away from this poor, dead, dull world; let us imitate Abraham IN THE HOME HE LOOKED FOR: “for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”

22. Note, first, that all saints live with an eye beyond time. You know, the horse and the cow are quite satisfied as long as there is something in the rack or the manger; they make no provision for future months. Young men, when they begin life, often wastefully spend all they get, and make no provision for old age. We do not commend you for your wisdom if you have done so; but we ask you not only to think of all that may be needed while you are here, but to think also of the hereafter. Can we live through this transient span of time, and never remember that we have to live for ever? Can we spend all our time upon time, and have no view for eternity? FOOLS, FOOLS, FOOLS, written in capital letters, are those who can use this life, and never regard it as the hinge upon which must swing the great door of their eternal state. Children of God have an eye for the world to come. They do not live “like dumb, driven cattle”; but they think of the changeless state into which death, or Christ’s coming, may speedily plunge them, and they live with an eye to that state.

23. Saints have good reason to live like this. They do not have much here, as a rule. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

   Alas, for us, if thou wert all,
   And nought beyond, oh earth!

Alas, for the believer in God, if all he had could be had here! Surely, we are to be greatly pitied as having missed the grandest purpose, if this world contains our all. But it does not contain our all; Christians have a hope beyond the grave. What an awful thing it must be for everyone here who must die, but who has no idea yet of what will become of him; or, if down deep in his conscience there is an idea of what it will be, it is “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation!” How can you go home happy? How many die in the streets! How many die in their sleep! Please, do not be so unconcerned as to be on the brink of eternal ruin, and yet never to think of it. May God give you to look beyond the grave, and make sure work for eternity!

24. We are told here that Abraham expected a city. That is an inspired description of heaven. On earth Abraham had no city; Lot went away to Sodom to seek a city, that city was burned with fire and brimstone, and Lot barely escaped with his life. Abraham kept to his tents; he knew nothing about city life, but “he looked for a city.”

25. Why is heaven called a city? Because it is a place of fellowship where men meet each other. You know, away in the country, there is sometimes a lonely cottage where they only see a man pass once in six weeks. They never see even the postman; they must go to get their letters. Heaven is not like such lonely places; we look upon heaven, not as a place where there will be half-a-dozen people of our own views and sentiments, but as a great city where there will be a wide fellowship among a multitude that no man can number.

26. It will be a city for security, within walls that never can be attacked, and with streets where there shall never be known an adversary. Heaven is a city because it is a place of splendour. Countries glorify themselves by the greatness of their cities. There is no city like the New Jerusalem.

27. It is a place of supply. Cities have great wealth, and great accumulations of useful things, which are not found in villages and hamlets. In heaven there is everything that heart can desire, fruits new and old laid up by the great Lord for his well-beloved.

28. Heaven is a place of freedom, and therefore it is called a city. Men get “the freedom of the city” here; and they are as proud of it as they well can be. But, oh, to be liverymen of glory, freemen of the company of the perfect, citizens of the New Jerusalem! This is what we look for. We are looking for a city. We think all this so-called city of London to be only a dissolving view. We consider this great country of England to be only like a house of cards which will soon be knocked over. We consider the whole world to be only a dream. There is a city, and we are looking for it.

29. The text said that Abraham “looked for a city which has foundations.” Saints look for something enduring. Abraham used to pull up the tent-pins, and his men would take down the big tent pole, and roll up the canvas, and they were soon away, always moving around that country with their flocks and herds. The tents had no foundations; but Abraham was looking for a city that had foundations. There is nothing on earth that really has a foundation. Even those buildings that seem most firm will be dissolved, and burned up in the last general fire. They are all “such stuff as dreams are made of,” and will be gone before long; but we look for a city that has foundations. Eternal love, eternal faithfulness, infinite power, endless bliss, immortal glory, make the foundations of the city to which we are now wending our way, where all is peace and joy, and nothing can ever disturb it. When I think of some of our dear friends who are already there, who have gone from this city to the city that has foundations, could I wish them back again? Could you wish them back to all the sorrow and grief of this poor trying life, back to the tent which has been dissolved, now that they have gained “the building of God, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?” No, beloved, stay where you are! We are hoping soon to join you. We can hear the sound of the coming chariot, and we shall soon be with you where Jesus is!

30. This was Abraham’s way of living, considering everything around him to be no more fixed and settled than an Arab’s tent, and looking for a city which has foundations.

31. That city was to have a Builder and a Maker, as all cities have. Hundreds and thousands of names would have to be mentioned to describe this city of London, and to say who the builders and makers of it were. You need not be anxious to know them, for they are not good for much, most of them. The builders and makers of the streets that we go through had better be forgotten; and, I think, their houses, too. But there is a city that is all built by one Builder, it is the city of God. There will be nothing there that is trumpery or temporary; everything there is the best of the best, most suitable for the inhabitants, and most glorious to behold. The very streets are paved with gold, extremely rich and rare. The best builders of earth cannot be compared to the great Builder above, the eternal Architect, the everlasting Freemason {c} who has built those many mansions where his saints shall live for ever.

32. I cannot tell you anything about heaven. If I could come back for a while after going there, I would like to come and tell you; but that must not be. You must read this Book, and study it. Above all, you must get heaven into your own heart, for you will never have your heart in heaven until you have heaven in your heart. You must have heaven in you before you will be in heaven; and you can learn about heaven by the practical knowledge of the Word of God, by living near to the Lord, and by an experience of his deep love and his eternal faithfulness. So, there is a city, which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.

33. Are you going there? Why, there are some of you who have here everything that you own. You are like the man, when the ship was sinking, who had all his property around his waist in pieces of gold, which sank him to the bottom of the sea. Everything that you have is here, and it is sinking you down to perdition. As for us who have believed in Christ, we have only a trifle of spending money just to pay the toll-gates on the road; but our treasure is up there, on the other side of the river, in the land of the hereafter, on the hill-tops of glory, with the ever-blessed, where we hope soon to be.

34. Saints look for their home at the end of their pilgrimage. When a man goes on a long journey, he likes to have thoughts of his home. How often have I told you how quickly my horses go home! They seem to know when their heads are turned homewards, and away they go. They pull up even the highest of Norwood’s hills with all their might because they are going home. They do not go so fast when they are coming here, and I do not blame them. They know where there is a good feed for them, and a place to lie down in; and even a horse goes best with his head towards home. Come, beloved, our heads are towards home, as many of us who believe in Jesus! We do not want to be lashed as we go up the everlasting hills. We will pull against the collar with all our might to get home as soon as we can.

35. Oh, but I wish you were all going with us! I wish you were all going the way that leads to the city that has foundations. Trust Christ; trust Christ; he is the Way. Come out from the world; lead the separated life; live upon an unseen God; and as surely as there is a God in heaven, you shall be in heaven in his good time; for he will never leave one believer outside in the cold. May God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} On February 23, 1887, an earthquake off the Mediterranean coast of southern France and northern Italy destroyed villages and killed more than 2,000 people. See Explorer "http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/earthquake-strikes-mediterranean"
{b} Bar-parlour: A small room adjoining the bar of a public-house. OED.
{c} Freemason: A member of a certain class of skilled workers in stone. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Heb 11:1-21}

This is the triumphal arch of faith. Here we find the names of many of the heroes of faith, and a brief record of some of the battles in which they fought and conquered. May you and I possess “like precious faith” as those whom we have described in this passage! We cannot enter heaven without it; we cannot fight our way through the world without it.

1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,

It gets a grip of what it hopes for, and holds it in its hand.

1. The evidence of things not seen.

We do see by faith. We see by faith what cannot be seen by our eyes; we grasp by faith what cannot be grasped with our hands. A strange mystery is the simple act of faith.

2. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

All the godly of the olden time had a good report of God and of holy men as the result of their faith.

3. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made from things which exist.

They were not evolved out of something else that existed before; evolution is a rank lie against revelation. The worlds were not made, not one of them was made, out of something preexistent; but they were framed by the Word of God, and the things which are seen were not made from things which are seen.

4. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,

He was a better man than Cain, and his offering was a better offering than Cain’s was; but the fundamental difference between the two brothers was, Abel had faith, and Cain had none. It was “by faith” that “Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” presented.

4. By which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead still speaks.

What wondrous faith this is! Here is a dead man speaking. Here is a man who is murdered by his brother; yet the one who is killed receives the approbation of God.

5. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;

Faith has conquered death itself, or else avoided it. There is scarcely anything which faith cannot do, for faith ranks itself on the side of the omnipotent God, and becomes all but omnipotent. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.”

5, 6. And was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he who comes to God must believe that he is,

He cannot come to a God who to his own mind is non-existent; he must believe that he is.

6. And that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

You must believe that God hears prayer. You must believe that he will punish the guilty, and that he will reward the righteous. Without this sure faith, you cannot come to him.

7. By faith Noah, being warned by God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house;

You see, faith and fear can live in the same heart; and they can work together to build the same ark. Faith and fear are very sweet companions, when the fear is filial fear, a holy dread of disobeying God. When we are moved with that fear, our faith becomes practical.

7, 8. By which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should later receive for an inheritance, obeyed;

He did not hesitate to leave his family, to leave his property, to leave his country; but he obeyed, “when he was called to go out into a place which he should later receive for an inheritance.”

8. And he went out, not knowing where he went.

Faith puts her hand into God’s hand, and follows where he leads, with sweet contentment, knowing that, if she cannot see, God can, and he will not lead us wrong. Do you not remember that hymn that our Brother Chamberlain sings so sweetly?

   So on I go — not knowing, I would not if I might;
   I’d rather walk in the dark with God, than go alone in the light;
   I’d rather walk by faith with him, than go alone by sight.
   Where he may lead, I’ll follow, my trust in him repose:
   And every hour in perfect peace I’ll sing, “He knows! he knows!”

9, 10. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.

There have been many here in this house of prayer who have looked for this city, and they have gone to it. Others of us sit waiting here until our Lord’s dear hand shall beckon us, and his voice shall say, “Come up higher.” We are looking for the city. Keep looking, beloved, there is nothing here worth looking for; but look for “a city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.”

11. Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and gave birth to a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

And this holy woman is enrolled among these saintly ones. Her faith was not all it ought to have been; but God saw that it was true faith, and he loved it, and he wrote the record of it.

12. Therefore sprang there even from one, and him as good as dead, as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea-shore innumerable.

This is true, literally, of Abraham’s seed according to the flesh. It is also true in a spiritual sense, for he is “the father of all those who believe,” and they are a multitude whom no man can number.

13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,

What long arms faith has! The promises are afar off, and yet faith embraces them tonight. Embrace the promises, dear friends, and stretch out your hands by faith to hands that have gone before.

   E’en now by faith we join our hands
      With those that went before;
   And greet the blood-sprinkled bands
      On the eternal shore.

13. And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

They not only were strangers and pilgrims, but they confessed it. Confessed faith is required. Oh, you who, like Nicodemus, come to Christ by night, be ashamed that you are ashamed, and come out, and boldly confess what you are!

14. For those who say such things plainly declare that they seek a country.

They were strangers and pilgrims here, and they sought a country elsewhere. Every man needs a country; and if we do not have one beneath the stars, we seek it somewhere else.

15. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

Ah, but God’s people are not mindful of that country from where they came out! They have the opportunity to return; but they have no wish to return. May God’s grace always keep any of you from turning back; for it is to turn back into perdition! Your faces are heavenward today; keep them so. Remember the doom of any who apostatize. It is impossible, “if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance.” “If the salt has lost its savour, how shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good-for-nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men.” Lord, keep your servants! Hold us up, and we shall be safe.

16. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.

They are not ashamed to be called God’s people, and he is not ashamed to be called their God. They are looking for a city, and he has prepared a city for them. Evidently he and they are well agreed. They want a heaven, and he is preparing heaven for them, and preparing them for heaven.

17-19. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he who had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, “That in Isaac shall your seed be called”: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from where also he received him in a figure.

This was one of the grandest achievements of faith. It was also a figure or type of God’s offering up his well-beloved Son almost on the same place.

20, 21. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.

The staff which had helped him so often in his early pilgrimage, the staff on which be leaned when he came back from the place of his wrestling, limping on his thigh. He leaned on it as he sat upright on his death-bed, and pronounced the parting blessing. So, you see, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all lived by faith, and did their works by faith, and distributed blessings to their children by faith. Friend, do you have this faith, or not? If you have it, you are blessed among men, blessed among women. If you do not have it, what hope is there for you either in this life or in eternity?

{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — The Heart Given To God” 658}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — The Heavenly Jerusalem” 866}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Heaven — Sweet Fields” 875}

A fine photo-print portrait of Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, suitable for framing, is presented gratis with the January number of The Sword and the Trowel. Copies can still be obtained from Messrs Passmore and Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings, London; or from all Booksellers. Price 3d., post free, 5d.

The Christian, Dedication To God
658 — The Heart Given To God
1 Oh happy day, that fix’d my choice
   On thee, my Saviour, and my God;
   Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
   And tell its raptures all abroad.
2 ‘Tis done! the great transaction’s done:
   I am my Lord’s, and he is mine:
   He drew me, and I follow’d on,
   Charm’d to confess the voice divine.
3 Now rest, my long divided heart;
   Fix’d on this blissful centre, rest:
   With ashes who would grudge to part,
   When call’d on angels’ bread to feast?
4 High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
   That vow renew’d shall daily hear:
   Till in life’s latest hour I bow,
   And bless in death a bond so dear.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.

The Christian, Heaven
866 — The Heavenly Jerusalem
1 Jerusalem! my happy home!
      Name ever dear to me;
   When shall my labours have an end,
      In joy, and peace, and thee?
2 When shall these eyes thy heaven-built walls
      And pearly gates behold?
   Thy bulwarks, with salvation strong,
      And streets of shining gold?
3 Oh when, thou city of my God,
      Shall I thy courts ascend,
   Where congregations ne’er break up,
      And sabbaths have no end?
4 There happier bowers than Eden’s bloom,
      Nor sin nor sorrow know:
   Blest seats, through rude and stormy scenes,
      I onward press to you.
5 Why should I shrink at pain and woe?
      Or feel at death dismay?
   I’ve Canaan’s goodly land in view,
      And realms of endless day.
6 Apostles, martyrs, prophets there
      Around my Saviour stand;
   And soon my friends in Christ below
      Will join the glorious band.
7 Jerusalem, my happy home!
      My soul still pants for thee;
   Then shall my labours have an end,
      When I thy joys shall see.
                  Eckington Collection, 1790.

The Christian, Heaven
875 — Sweet Fields
1 There is a land of pure delight,
      Where saints immortal reign;
   Infinite day excludes the night,
      And pleasures banish pain.
2 There everlasting spring abides,
      And never-withering flowers:
   Death, like a narrow sea, divides
      This heavenly land from ours.
3 Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
      Stand dress’d in living green;
   So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
      While Jordan roll’d between.
4 But timorous mortals start and shrink
      To cross this narrow sea,
   And linger, shivering on the brink,
      And fear to launch away.
5 Oh! could we make our doubts remove,
      Those gloomy doubts that rise,
   And see the Canaan that we love
      With unbeclouded eyes!
6 Could we but climb where Moses stood,
      And view the landscape o’er,
   Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
      Should fright us from the shore!
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

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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