2395. The Blessings Of Public Worship

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No. 2395-41:13. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, February 3, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, January 13, 1895.

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. {Lu 18:10}

1. This is called a parable; yet it is rather an incident, an anecdote, a statement of facts. You will observe that our Lord never used a fable. Fables may be employed to illustrate what is earth-born; but only the parable, which is in itself true, is adapted to illustrate spiritual truths. I say this just now because, the other day, I read an assertion that the story of the rich man and Lazarus was only a fable, like that of Jotham. But most of our Lord’s parables are not only parables, but literal facts; and all of them might be facts. I would almost go the length of saying that all of them have been actual facts; and in this case there is nothing parabolic at all. It is the statement of an incident which literally occurred, for truth is best illustrated by truth; and since Christ had nothing to teach but what was pure truth, he illustrated it by truth, and never went into the realm of fiction, or invented a tale, or told a story which was not a fact, much less did he ever teach by a mere fable.

2. There were two men who went into the temple to pray, they prayed just in the way that our Lord describes, and they went away, the one justified, and the other without a blessing. I am not going into the full teaching of the parable on this occasion; but I want to make a few observations concerning public worship in the Lord’s house. Beginning to preach again on Thursday nights, after my season of rest, I thought that this sermon should be a kind of preface or introduction to our gatherings for prayer, and praise, and preaching, and hearing the Word. May God grant us a blessing in beginning again this holy employment; and may we be in health and strength and spiritual vigour, and be of some use to the people of God!

3. I. Beginning, then, I would say, first, that IT IS GOOD TO WORSHIP GOD IN PUBLIC: “Two men went up into the temple to pray.”

4. It is good to pray anywhere. He who does not pray in private is only a hypocrite when he pretends to pray in public. Yet, though we pray in private, though we get into such a habit of prayer and are so full of the spirit of prayer that we can pray anywhere, yet it is good to go and mix with others, and openly worship God who delights to be worshipped like this. It was written very early in the history of our race, “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” It has been the custom of the godly to meet for worship in all times. The sheep of Christ are gregarious; this is their nature, they love to gather themselves into congregations, to feed in the same pasture, and to enjoy together the presence of their great Shepherd. It will always be so; the more pious and godly men are alone, the more they will love associated worship. If it should ever happily come to pass that each feeble one among us should be as David, and every David should be as the angel of the Lord, yet even then we should find strength and help in our service for God by meeting together for united worship. The apostolic command is, “Let us consider each other to stir up to love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting each other: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” Public worship is not everything; if there were no private worship, it would be nothing by itself. To go up to the temple, is not everything. The man who does not meet God outside the temple will not meet God inside the temple, he may rest assured of that.

5. Yet, it is good, it is desirable, that it should be said of us as it was said of the men mentioned in our text, “Two men went up into the temple to pray.” For public worship is, first of all, an open affirmation of our faith in God, and of our belief in prayer. If we pray in private, no one knows it; at least, no one should know it, for our Lord’s direction is very plain, “You, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.” Our acts of personal devotion must be sacred to God and our own souls; but when we go up to the public assembly, whether it is only two or three, or of many thousands, it does not matter, there is to that extent an open declaration that we believe in God, that, let others do as they may, as for us, we worship him, we believe in the reality and power and usefulness of prayer, and, therefore, in the light of day, before all men, we gather ourselves together to pray. I thank God that there is, in this unbelieving London, by so many thousands of assemblies of worshipping people, a public testimony constantly borne to the fact that we believe in God, and that we believe in prayer.

6. Public worship is also, in the next place, a good way of securing unity in prayer. A number of people may agree to pray about one thing, yet they may never see each other’s faces; their prayers may blend at the mercy seat, but they must lack an emphatic consciousness of unity such as we have who come together to pray. Our Lord Jesus promised his special presence to the united gatherings of his people when he said. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Oh, dear friends, what should we do if we were not able to come together to mingle our sighs and cries and tears, and, better still, to blend our joys, our psalms, our shouts of victory? Since we are members of one mystical body, it is only right that we should, as members of that one body, worship together, lifting up the joyful song in tuneful harmony, and blending our supplications, —

    “Around our common mercy seat.”

7. I also think that public worship is a great means of reviving. At any rate, it is so to me. I never feel that I can pray so well as when I am in the midst of my own dear friends; and, often, when things are flagging within the soul, to get together with brighter spirits, in whom the life of God is more vigorous, is a great help. It does not seem so very long ago, — although these spectacles and my many grey hairs tell me that it must have been long since, — that I used to say to my mother that hymn which begins, —

    Lord, how delightful ’tis to see
    A whole assembly worship thee!
    At once they sing, at once they pray;
    They hear of heaven, and learn the way.

Dr. Watts put it very well; and I can utter the same sentiment, —

    Lord how delightful ’tis to see
    This vast assembly worship thee!

when the house is full from floor to ceiling, —

    At once they sing, at once they pray;
    They hear of heaven, and learn the way.

Those two men, of whom our Saviour spoke, did well to go up to the temple to pray; and we shall do well not to cease from the habit of assembling ourselves together for public worship in the Lord’s house.

8. Then, dear friends, public worship is a part of the great system by which God blesses the world. It has much to do with the gathering, the sustenance, the strengthening, the invigorating, and the extension of the Church of Christ; and it is through the Church of Christ that God accomplishes his purposes in the world. Oh, the blessings that come to us in our public assemblies! Are there not, sometimes, days of heaven on earth? Have we not felt our hearts burning within us when we have been listening to the Word, or joining in the praise or the prayer? Those houses of God where the gospel is truly preached, whatever their architecture may be, are the beauty and the bulwarks of the land. May God bless them! Wherever the Lord’s people are gathered together, in a cathedral or in a barn, — it does not matter where, — it is none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven when God is there; and who among us would dare to stay away? As long as we have legs to carry us, and health with which to use those legs, let us be found among the waiting assemblies in God’s sanctuary.

9. For, once more, it seems to me that public worship on earth is a rehearsal for the service of heaven. We shall sing together there, brethren, not solos, but grand chorales and choruses. We shall take parts in the divine oratorio of redemption; it will not be some one melodious voice alone that shall lift up the eternal hallelujah. I spoke playfully of our brother Mayers singing the Hallelujah Chorus all by himself; but neither he nor any other man can do that; we shall all have to take our parts to make the harmony complete. I may never be able to rise to certain notes unless my voice shall be wondrously changed; but some other sinner, saved by grace, will run up the scale, no one knows how high; and what a range of melody the music will have in heaven! I believe that our poor scales and modes of singing here are nothing at all compared with what there will be in the upper regions. There, the bass shall be deeper and yet the notes shall be higher than those of earth; even the crash of the loudest thunders shall be only like a whisper in comparison with the celestial music of the new song before the throne of God. John spoke of it as “the voice of many waters.” The waves of one ocean can make a deafening, booming noise; but in heaven there shall be, as it were, the sound of sea on sea, Atlantic on Pacific, one piled on another, and all dashing and crashing with the everlasting hallelujahs from the glad hearts of the multitude that no man can number. I expect to be there, and I remember that verse in one of our hymns that says, —

    I would begin the music here,
       And so my soul should rise;
    Oh, for some heavenly notes to bear
       My passions to the skies!

But you cannot sing that heavenly anthem alone, because, however well you can sing by yourself, that is not the way you will have to sing in heaven, there you will have to sing in harmony with all the blood-washed hosts. Therefore let us often come up to the Lord’s house; and when we are gathered together, let us again take up the words of Dr. Watts, and say, —

    I have been there and still would go,
       ’Tis like a little heaven below.

That little heaven below shall help to prepare us for the great heaven above.

10. That is our first observation, then. It is good to worship God in public.

11. II. Secondly, IT IS GOOD TO HAVE AN ERRAND WHEN WE GO UP TO PUBLIC WORSHIP. “Two men went up into the temple to pray.” They went there for that express purpose.

12. Now, whenever we go to the assembly of God’s people, we should have some good errand, and the right errand is what these two men had, they went up to the temple to pray. I would rather that you came with a bad errand than that you did not come at all. I have known people come to pick pockets, and yet they have gone away with a blessing. I am sorry if any of you came tonight on that errand, yet I am glad that you are here; perhaps friends will prevent you committing the sin of theft by taking a little extra care of their pockets. I have known people go into the house of God out of sheer mockery, and yet God has blessed them, for his ways are strangely sovereign. But that is to be ascribed to matchless mercy, and it is not the way we ought to appear before the Lord.

13. When we go to the sanctuary, we should go on an errand, we should go up to pray; we should not go merely from custom. Do we not often do that? Not so much on Thursday nights, I think, for people come then because they like to come; but on Sundays it is such a proper thing with certain people to go to a place of worship that they almost wish it was not so proper, and they would like to have a good excuse for staying at home. Well, if you come only out of custom, and you do not get a blessing, please do not wonder at it. If you do not come for anything, and you do not get anything, do not be disappointed. If you go to a shop across the road, and do not intend to buy anything, do not be surprised if you come out without anything; and if you come here, and do not want anything, very well, you will go away with nothing. Is it not just what you might have expected? He who goes to the river, and takes no rod or net with him, will have no fish in his basket, even though there may be shoals of them in the water. So, if we want to be blessed in our worship, we must come with an errand, even as these two men went up into the temple “to pray.”

14. Neither do I think that we should come up to the assembly of God’s people merely to hear sermons. The proper thing is to come “to pray.” “But we do hear sermons,” one says. Yet, I hope that does not hinder your praying. Someone said, the other day, that people who go to church go to pray, but that we who go to chapel go to hear sermons. My dear friend, that remark shows what kind of sermons you get at church, because those who come to hear us preach pray while we are preaching, and they find that there is nothing that helps them to pray as much as a good sermon does. In fact, there is no worship of God that is better than the hearing of a sermon, I dare to say that, if a sermon is well heard, it puts faith in exercise as you believe it, it puts love in exercise as you enjoy it, it puts gratitude in exercise as you think of all the blessings that God has given to you. If the sermon is what it should be, it stirs all the coals of fire in your spirit, and makes them burn with a brighter flame, and a more vehement heat. To imply that hearing a sermon is not worship, is really to slander your minister. It must be a very bad sermon in which there is, as it were, a jerk out of the prayers to get into it, for the supplication should lead up to the sermon, and then the discourse should be a continuation of the prayer that has preceded it, and bring it back to the mind again, so that all present may pray all the better and worship God all the more acceptably because of the discourse to which they have been listening.

15. Still, if anyone comes to hear a sermon, especially as, perhaps, some of you came while I was away, to criticize the preacher, that is not the way to get a blessing. I do not mind if you criticize me; you may do that when you like, only you will not get blessed by doing it; but when there are other preachers here, and one says that he does not like this one, and another says that he does not like the other, then, if you do not get a blessing out of the service, who is to blame? “Two men went up into the temple to pray”; and if we go to the house of God, and seek to turn all of the worship into a prayer, we shall not come away without a blessing. The main object in all worship is that we get near to God, and really do pray to him.

16. Neither do I think that we should go to the house of God merely to get comforted and cheered. That is a very sweet result from hearing the Word; but it should not be our main object in going to hear it, we should meet together so that we may draw near to God. If it is the Lord’s will not to comfort but to rebuke us, and if it is his purpose not to cheer but to cast us down, we shall still feel, “What I received came from God. I prayed to him, and he spoke to me; and I had special fellowship with the living God, while I was also in communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ. That is what I went for, and that is what I have had.”

17. The tax collector teaches us what we should go to the house of God to do and to say. There should be, in God’s presence, confession of sin. Each one of us should, when we draw near to the Lord, bow down in his presence with reverent awe. If the very angels veil their faces when they come near him, we must humbly bow before him when we come to worship in his house. He is in heaven, and we are on earth. He is our Father, but he is also our Father who is in heaven; and we poor sinful creatures can never come into the light of his presence without perceiving that we are full of sin. I have heard some people talk about “walking in the light as God is in the light,” as if that meant that they had no sin. Listen to what the apostle John says, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other,” and then “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son” is still needed, for even then it “cleanses us from all sin” Without its continual application there would be no walking in the light; and the more walking in the light there is, the clearer will be the perception of every speck and stain in the character. So, the more true our worship is, the more certain we shall be to make confession of sin.

18. Communion with God and confession of sin should always be remembered by us when we come up to the house of God.

19. Then there should be asking for mercy. We should come as paupers seeking relief. We should come as rebels craving pardon. We should come as pardoned ones still asking for renewed signs for forgiveness; as men, once washed, who still come so that their feet may be cleansed, that they may be clean every bit as they pursue their course on the journey of life.

20. In the tax collector’s prayer there is, in the Greek, a reference to sacrifice. He cried, “Lord, be propitious to me the sinner.” “Have mercy on me for the sake of the great propitiation, the great expiation.” Those who come up to God’s house on a right errand, come to find Jesus, to prove the power of his precious blood, to be perfumed with the incense of his all-sufficient merit, and to be covered with his matchless righteousness. That is the right way of coming up to the assembly of God’s people, to speak with him humbly, for we are sinful; prayerfully, for we are full of need; believingly, for Jesus has offered a sacrifice, and we are accepted in and through him.

21. That, dear friends, is the second division of my discourse, it is good to have an errand when we go up to public worship. I will just pause here, and pass a few questions around for everyone to ask, “Did I come tonight on any such errand? Is that my general habit, to go up to my place of worship on such an errand? Or do I go jauntily, as if it were an ordinary transaction to go up for the worship of God?” I will not propose any answers to you; your own consciences will be able to give the reply. Only let them speak, and may God bless the enquiry to you all!

22. III. Thirdly, IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO UP TO PUBLIC WORSHIP ON A GOOD ERRAND, AND YET TO FORGET IT: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector.”

23. It was very remarkable that a Pharisee should forget his errand; that is the one point concerning him to which I am going to call your attention; he went up to the temple to pray, and he did not pray. He never prayed a word, but he did something else. If it had been written, “Two men went up into the temple to boast,” I should give the Pharisee the palm, for he certainly did that magniloquently; {pompously} but as it is said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray,” then it is certain that this Pharisee quite forgot why he had come, for he never prayed at all.

24. Well, now, who was the gentleman that forgot his errand? It was the person who ought especially to have remembered it, for he was a Pharisee. By profession he was a separatist from others because of his supposed particular holiness. He was a man amazingly acquainted with the Word of God, at least, with the letter of it. He wore some little black boxes between his eyes with texts of Scripture inscribed on them, and he wore others around his wrist; and he had very broad blue borders to his garments, for he was particularly observant of what he read in the law of Moses. And, generally, a Pharisee was a teacher; he was first cousin to a scribe, and often was a scribe himself. He had written out a copy of the law, and he had its precepts at his finger tips. Now, surely, if there is anyone who goes up to the temple to pray, this is the man who will pray. If anyone forgets why he came, it will not be this person. But, listen. That was the very man who forgot all about it; and this may be true of a minister, a deacon, an elder, one of the brethren who prays at prayer meetings, the leader of a Bible class, a teacher in the Sunday School, the best kind of people. “Oh!” you exclaim, “we can only say what is honourable about them”; and yet it was one of this class who forgot why he went up into the temple. Let me remind you church members who make a loud profession, that it was a great professor who went up to the temple to pray, and did not do it. What would you say to your boy, who went to a shop, and then came home, and said that he had forgotten his errand? And what will you say to yourself, dear friend, especially if you happen to be someone notable, if it should be you who went up to the temple to pray, and did not pray? Oh, do not let it be so in your case; do not leave this house tonight until you have had real fellowship with God, through Jesus Christ his Son, if you have never had it before!

25. How do we know that this man forgot his errand? We know it by what he said. He did not pray at all. He said, “God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” By his words he must be judged, as you and I will be; and his words go to prove that he forgot why he went up to the temple. He acted as though he was in his own house, praising himself, instead of being in God’s house, where only the Lord is to be praised.

26. Why did this man fall into this great blunder, and forget why he went up to the temple? He did it because he was so full of himself that there was no room for God in his heart; he was so satisfied with himself that he felt no need of prayer. He already had all that he required, and he had so much that he could only stand still, and overflow with a kind of gratitude to the one to whom he owed everything, namely, himself. Though he said, “God, I thank you,” he did not mean it; he meant all the praise for himself. He was so fine a bird, and had such rich feathers, that he felt that everyone ought to admire him as much as he admired himself.

27. Well now, brother Christians, you will say to me, “Has this any bearing on us?” Listen. Do you never feel perfectly satisfied with yourselves? Are there not times when there is no sin that burns the conscience, when you think that you are a somebody, a pattern saint, a highly experienced good old man, a rare Christian matron, and so on? The devil tells you all that, does he not? And you believe him. Or else you say that you are such a smart young man; you have only recently joined the church, yet you have already gotten into the Lord’s work in a wonderful way, there must be a great deal in you. You do not put this boasting into English, because we do not talk English to our hearts when we get proud; it is a kind of Greek which we talk, by which we try to conceal our own meaning from ourselves. Then we feel, perhaps, that we are getting perfect; that is the time when we forget to pray, and we go into the house of God, and, when we come out, we make some remark about the preacher’s manner, or about Sister So-and-so, whose bonnet is really too smart for a Christian woman to wear, or about our friend So-and-so, who spoke rather roughly to us. We, — we, — we, — we are so good that we can find fault with all others, and say, “God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, or even as this tax collector”; and then we do not pray.

28. Whenever you get one inch above the ground in your own esteem, you are that inch too high. The way to heaven is down, down, down. As for self, it must sink; our sense of sin must grow deeper and deeper, and a sense of obligation to grace must be more and more fully impressed on our heart, until we are able to say with great emphasis, though it is in the deep silence of the soul, “God be merciful to me the sinner!” Otherwise, we shall come to the temple on the errand of prayer, and we shall forget it; we shall go to the closet to pray, and yet shall not pray; or we shall read the Bible, and not find anything on which to feed our souls, because we are not hungry, but full. We shall not seek true wealth, because we shall imagine we are not poor, but rich; we shall not go to the source of all might, because we shall imagine we are not weak, but strong. If we go up to the temple as the Pharisee did, there will be nothing for us even in the place where prayer is accustomed to be made.

29. IV. So I close this discourse with a fourth observation. IT IS POSSIBLE TO CARRY OUT OUR ERRAND IN GOING UP TO PUBLIC WORSHIP. We can go up to the temple to pray, and really pray.

30. Who is the man who is most likely to pray? According to this parable, it was the tax collector. It was a man under a sense of sin. It was a man who felt that he was the sinner, even if no one else was a sinner. It was this man, to whom sin was a reality, not a fiction, and to whom the mercy of God was a real need, and not a mere doctrine, who craved that mercy at the throne, and felt that only sovereign grace could give it. It was this man who pleaded the precious blood of the propitiation, and felt that only by that way could he receive pardon. That was the man who truly prayed. Oh, have I not sometimes gone to pray with a breaking heart, groaning, and crying, and longing to see my Lord’s face, and to have a sense of acceptance in the Beloved; and I have come away, and felt that I had not prayed because I could not use language and words such as I would wish to use; and yet, on looking back, I have seen that it was then that I prayed most?

31. Next to the sense of sin, the tax collector had a sense of need. When the need is felt the heaviest, prayer is truest. When the soul is lowest, then the flood of supplication is the highest. I am sure you pray best when you have least satisfaction with yourself, and you get nearest to God when you get farthest from self. When you feel that you are not worthy to lift up your eyes to heaven, it is then that heaven’s eyes look down on you. The sorrowful thought of a broken heart is immeasurably better than the indifference of a callous spirit. Bless God for a humble mind that trembles at his Word; it is much better than that presumption which puts aside all feeling. There are some who will go to heaven questioning their own state all the way, yet they will arrive there safely; and there are some who never doubted their state, who may have to doubt it when it is too late. Anyway, it is a deep sense of sin, a deep sense of need, a deep sense of dependence on sovereign grace, that helps a man to come to the house of God, and to go away with his errand well done.

32. Let us all try to bring our needs before God, let us sink ourselves in his presence into the very depths, and then let us come and joyfully take what he freely offers to all who trust his dear Son. Let us receive grace from his hands, not as courtiers who have a right, but as those who feel like dogs under the table, and yet cry, “Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”

33. The tax collector arouses our pity, as we hear his groans and sighs, and see him beat his breast; but when we know that this is the man whom God blessed, and that he went to his house justified rather than the other, we no longer pity him, but we seek to emulate his repentance and his grace, and we pray the Lord to help us to come like this to his feast with a hearty appetite, to come like this to his wardrobe conscious of our own rags, to come like this to his fulness admitting our own emptiness, to come like this to the fountain of eternal life feeling that apart from it we are dead. Then we shall truly pray, even as this despised tax collector did.

34. Poor soul, almost in despair, you think, “I have no right to be here; I am so guilty, I am so vile.” You are the very kind of sinner Christ died to save; not sham sinners, who have to pretend to be sinners, but you miserable sinners, you real sinners; not you who make marks on your skin, like some beggars do, so that you may seem to be wounded; but you who are as bad as you can be, you who have sinned so deeply that you feel as if you were already lost, you who lie at hell’s dark door, you who are dragged around by the hair of your head by the foul fiend of the pit, you who are in your own esteem the worst of all men. Come to Christ tonight. Make way for them. Stand back, for these are the people he came to save. He has come “to seek and to save those who were lost.” Believe that Christ died to save you, and you are saved. Throw yourself on his atoning sacrifice, and it avails for you at once. Glorify him by trusting him for your salvation. Let him be your High Priest, and from first to last your Saviour, and he is yours as surely as you are a living man or woman. Go your way justified rather than the other who does not want the propitiation of the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you! Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 122 Lu 18:1-14}

We will read two portions of Scripture relating to public worship; the first will be Psalm 122, one of David’s “Songs of degrees.”

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

“I was glad for my own sake, for I hungered and thirsted to go into the house of the Lord; I was glad for the sake of those who offered to go with me, for I delight to see in others a longing desire to profit by the means of grace; I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’ ”

2, 3. Our feet shall stand within your gates, oh Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together:

So is every true church of God when it is in a healthy state. There are no divisions, no schisms: “Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together.” It is not a long straggling street, a dislocated village; but all the houses are rightly and regularly placed, and surrounded with strong munitions of defence against the adversary. May this church always be blessed with such unity that it shall be as a city that is compact together!

4. Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.

We should go up to the house of God, then, for two purposes, first, “to the testimony of Israel”; that is, to hear what God testifies to us, and also publicly to testify our confidence in him; and, next, we should go up “to give thanks to the name of the Lord.” We should especially do this when we have been restored from beds of languishing sickness and pain, or when we come up from the house of mourning.

But what is there in God’s house that should tempt us to go there?

5. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

The preaching of the gospel is like the setting up of a throne of judgment, “for the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”; and long before the last great judgment day arrives, and the final assize begins, the ministry of the gospel is God’s judgment seat, at which ungodly men may learn what they are in the sight of the Judge of all, what their present state of condemnation is, and what it will be finally unless they repent.

6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

Ask that she may be free from persecution without, and from anything like disturbance within: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

6. They shall prosper who love you.

Neglect of the means of grace is the death of all soul prosperity; but an earnest love for the house of God, and all who belong to God, will bring us true spiritual prosperity.

7-9. Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, “Peace be within you.” Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.

Now let us read a short passage from the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke.

1-7. And he spoke a parable to them for this purpose, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, “There was in a city a judge, who did not fear God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Avenge me of my adversary.’ And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she wearies me.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night to him, though he bears long with them?

He hears their prayer for a long time because it does not weary him. It pleases him, he loves to hear their sighs and cries, but will he not yield to their entreaties? What do you think? Shall not the good, gracious, loving God yield at length?

8. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Faith enough to make such prayers as this; faith enough to pray with persistence? Oh, if we had faith enough to resolve to have a blessing, and determined never to cease crying to God until we had it, we should have far more favours than we have so far gained from our God.

9-12. And he spoke this parable to certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, God, ‘I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’

A fine peacock, truly! See how he spreads out his feathers, and struts before God, glorifying himself.

13. And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but beat on his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’

“The sinner,” it should be; it is so emphatically in the Greek. There is a Pharisee, the righteous man according to his own estimate, and all the rest were sinners. Here is the tax collector, he is the sinner, and he thinks everyone else is righteous. These were two very conspicuous individuals, the self-righteous man and the sinner; and they are both here tonight. I will not ask them to stand up; but no doubt both of them are present. Now what became of them?

14. I tell you, this man —

The sinner —

14. Went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone who exalts himself shall be abased; and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

It is God’s usual method to reverse the order of what man does, and to turn things upside down: “Everyone who exalts himself shall be abased; and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” You remember how the Virgin Mary, in her song, praised the Lord for this very habit of his: “He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted those of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he has sent away empty.” That is his regular way of working, and he will continue to do so.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 122” 122 @@ "(Song 1)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Prayer Meetings — Let Us Pray” 999}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Bless Me, Even Me Also, Oh My Father!’ ” 607}

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By C. H. Spurgeon.

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Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 122 (Song 1)
1 How did my heart rejoice to hear
   My friends devoutly say,
   “In Zion let us all appear,
   And keep the solemn day!”
2 I love her gates, I love the road;
   The church adorn’d with grace,
   Stands like a palace built for God
   To show his milder face.
3 Up to her courts with joys unknown
   The holy tribes repair;
   The Son of David holds his throne,
   And sits in judgment there.
4 He hears our praises and complaints;
   And, while his awful voice
   Divides the sinners from the saints,
   We tremble and rejoice.
5 Peace be within this sacred place,
   And joy a constant guest!
   With holy gifts and heavenly grace
   Be her attendants blest!
6 My soul shall pray for Zion still,
   While life or breath remains;
   There my best friends, my kindred dwell,
   There God my Saviour reigns.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 122 (Song 2)
1 Pray that Jerusalem my have
   Peace and felicity:
   Let them that love thee and thy peace
      Have still prosperity.
2 Therefore I wish that peace may still
   Within thy walls remain,
   And ever may thy palaces
   Prosperity retain.
3 Now, for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes,
   Peace be in thee, I’ll say;
   And for the house of God our Lord,
   I’ll seek thy good alway.
                  Scotch Version, 1641, a.


Public Worship, Prayer Meetings
999 — Let Us Pray <8.7.>
1 Let us pray! the Lord is willing,
      Ever waiting, prayer to hear;
   Ready, his kind words fulfilling,
      Loving hearts to help and cheer.
2 Let us pray! our God with blessing
      Satisfies the praying soul;
   Bends to hear the heart’s confessing,
      Moulding it to his control.
3 Let us pray! though foes surrounding,
      Vex, and trouble, and dismay;
   Precious grace, through Christ abounding,
      Still shall cheer us on our way.
4 Let us pray! our life is praying;
      Prayer with time alone may cease:
   Then in heaven, God’s will obeying,
      Life is praise and perfect peace.
                        Henry Bateman, 1862.


The Christian, Contrite Cries
607 — “Bless Me, Even Me Also, Oh My Father!”
1 Lord, I hear of showers of blessing
      Thou art scattering, full and free;
   Showers, the thirsty land refreshing;
      Let some droppings fall on me,
                                 Even me.
2 Pass me not, oh gracious Father!
      Sinful though my heart may be;
   Thou might’st curse me, but the rather
      Let thy mercy light on me,
                                 Even me.
 3 Pass me not, oh tender Saviour!
      Let me love and cling to thee;
   I am longing for thy favour;
      When thou comest, call for me,
                                 Even me.
 4 Pass me not, oh mighty Spirit!
      Thou canst make the blind to see;
   Witnesser of Jesus’ merit,
      Speak the word of power to me,
                                 Even me.
 5 Have I long in sin been sleeping,
      Long been slighting, grieving thee?
   Has the world my heart been keeping?
      Oh forgive and rescue me,
                                 Even me.
 6 Love of God, so pure and changeless,
      Blood of God, so rich and free,
   Grace of God, so strong and boundless,
      Magnify them all in me,
                                 Even me.
 7 Pass me not, this lost one bringing,
      Satan’s slave thy child shall be,
   All my heart to thee is springing;
      Blessing other, oh bless me,
                                 Even me.
                        Elizabeth Codner, 1860.

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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