2448. “Herein Is Love.”

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No. 2448-42:25. 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 19, 1896.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. {1Jo 4:10}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1707, “Herein is Love” 1708}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2394, “Love’s Climax” 2395}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2448, “Herein is Love” 2449}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4 Php 4:1-9 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2394, “Love’s Climax” 2395 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4:9-21 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2256, “Daniel’s Band” 2257 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2383, “Seeing and Testifying” 2384 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Jo 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2730, “Secret of Love For God, The” 2731 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ac 25; 26; 1Jo 4 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3153, “Paul Cheered in Prison by His Lord” 3154 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Are there not scenes and circumstances which now and then transpire before us that prompt an exclamation like that of the apostle, “Herein is love?” When we have seen the devotedness of a mother to her children, when we have seen the affection of friend for friend, and caught a glimpse in different human relationships of the kindness that exists in human hearts, we have said, “Herein is love!” Yesterday, these words seemed to rise up and float on my tongue, although I did not use them, for they seemed to be consecrated for something higher than creature affection. I had the painful duty of attending the Abney Park Cemetery, to bury a beloved sister in Christ, one of the most useful women we had among us; and as I stood there to commit her body to the grave, I was pleased, — I cannot tell you how I was pleased beyond measure, on that dark foggy day, at that distance from town, to find nearly a hundred, mostly poor people, gathered there to show their respect to their friend, who had helped in many cases to feed and clothe them, and in every case had tried to point them to Christ. There were thousands of tears shed of the sincerest and most heavenly kind. While conducting the service, I could not help feeling not only a sympathy with her bereaved husband, but with those who had been the objects of our sister’s care, — men and women, who perhaps had given up a day’s work, and walked long dreary miles in the unpropitious weather of yesterday, so that they might come and mingle their tears together over the dust of one who, as a Christian woman, had served them well. I could not help thinking, and it suggested the text to me, “Herein is love!” Seeing what love had done, and seeing how love comes back in return, I said within myself, when love has learned its way into one heart, it scatters its seed and multiplies in the hearts of hundreds more. Love fosters love; let it once begin, and no one can tell its end.

2. But the words were too sacred for me to use, even at that solemn service, though they came up so suddenly to the surface of my mind. The apostle had consecrated them for another love, still higher, more profound, more perfect, and more celestial. I shall ask you tonight to look at and consider the wonder which the apostle discovered, and made him, with uplifted hands, exclaim, “Herein is love!”

3. The wonder, he tells us, which astonished him was not that we loved God; for suppose that all men had loved God, what wonder would there have been in it? God created us. We are amazing examples of his power and wisdom. The various devices for securing our comfort and maintaining us in life, the devices inside the body and outside the body, the way in which the whole world is made to be the servant of man, so that, as George Herbert says, —

    “Man is one world, and hath another to attend him,”

these signs of benevolence ought to have made all men love God. If every creature who sprang from the loins of Adam had lived a perfect life of obedience, and had continually reverenced the God who made him and supplied his needs, there would not have been anything so very remarkable in the fact, for God deserves the love of all his creatures. Making his sun to shine on us, and giving us fruitful seasons, keeping us in life, and preserving us from going down into the pit, we ought to love him; and if we did, it would not be anything to arouse astonishment.

4. And, beloved brethren, when the grace of God comes into the human heart, casts Satan out of it, and renders us capable of loving God, there is nothing very surprising in our loving him. I shall not ask you to think of the ordinary love which there is in common Christians. Indeed, the wonder about it is that it should be so ordinary, so little, so faint. It is a great wonder, to be spoken of with tears, that God should do so much for us, and that we should love him so little in return. Watts did well to pen those lines, —

    Dear Lord! and shall we ever lie
       At this poor dying rate?
    Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
       And thine to us so great?
    Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
       With all thy quickening powers,
    Come, shed abroad a Saviour’s love,
       And that shall kindle ours.

But now, think of the truly earnest missionary; think of such men as Carey, or Moffat, or John Williams, — men who give up all the comforts of life, all the hopes of remuneration, and go out among a barbarous people, to suffer insult, perhaps to meet death for Christ’s sake. They brave the terrors of fever and pestilence; they pass through jungles; they dare tempestuous seas; no mountains are too high, no weather is too stern to deter them. They force their way into the centre of Africa, or high up among the Eskimos, so that they may only tell of the love of Jesus to dying men. It may seem very amazing to us, but if you come to think of it, compared with what Christ has done for them, they may, and they usually do, sit down and confess that they have done nothing of which to boast. They have done only what it was their duty to have done, and they all confess that they fall short of the service which Christ deserves. Though we might say, in a modified sense, “Herein is love,” yet, after all, it is only faintly spoken, for it is only comparatively true.

5. After we have read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, or some other history of the saints, and known the story of their confessing Christ before the Inquisitors, singing joyful hymns when their bones were out of joint on the rack, or standing boldly upright on the blazing faggots while their flesh was being consumed, still testifying to the preciousness of Christ, have we not said, “Herein is love?” Well might we say so as we contrasted our love with theirs; but after all, if you will only think for a minute, it is a little thing for a man to be willing to burn to death for one who saved him from everlasting burning. It is sharp work, but it is soon over, and the reward makes up for it all, while grace sustains the sufferer under the fiery trial. There is nothing, even in the love of martyrs, worthy of praise when compared with the very great love of Christ. These are stars; let them hide their heads in the presence of the Sun. These are all sweet flowers; yet do not compare them with the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley, whose fragrance fills both earth and heaven. Those whose spiritual senses are qualified to judge forget everything else while they stand entranced before this one gathering up of everything, that is lovely, and cry, “Herein is love!”

6. Oh! this love of Christ; it is beyond all degree, standard, or measure. In comparison with it, other love, high and noble as that other love may be, dwindles into insignificance. Then let me ask you now, somewhat more in detail, to think of the love of God in Christ Jesus towards us, as the text presents it.

7. I. The love of God is LOVE FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT LOVE HIM. “Not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”

8. When God loves those who love him, it seems to be according to the law of nature; but when he loves those who do not love him, this must be above even all laws, — it is according, certainly, to the extraordinary rule of grace, and grace alone. There was not a man on earth who loved God. There was no one who did good, — no, not one; and yet the Lord fixed the eye of his electing love on sinners in whom there was no thought of loving him. There is no more love for God in an unrenewed heart than there is of life within a piece of granite. There is no more of love for God within the soul that is unsaved than there is of fire within the depths of the ocean’s waves; and here truly is the wonder, that when we had no love for God he should have loved us. This is a mild way of expressing it, for instead of loving God, my brethren, you and I withheld from him the poorest tribute of homage. We were careless, indifferent. Days and weeks passed over our heads in which we hardly thought of God. If there had not been any God, it would not have made much difference to us concerning our thoughts, and habits, and conduct. God was not in all our thoughts; and, perhaps, if someone could have informed us that God was dead, we should have thought it a fine piece of news, for then we could live as we liked, and need not be under any fear of being judged by him. Instead of loving God, though now we rejoice that he loves us, we rebelled against him. Which of his laws have we not broken? We cannot put our finger on one command without being compelled to acknowledge that we have violated its claims, or come short of its demands.

9. I do not want to expound on a general doctrine tonight, I rather want to press home to the conscience of every man here that God loves him. You know very well that God did not love you because you loved him, for there was not — you will confess it painfully, — anything like love for God in you, but much, very much, that sprang from natural enmity and aversion to him. Why, then, did he love you? Men do not generally love those who hate them, those who spite them, those who give them bad names; and yet God loved us! Why, there are some of the Lord’s people whom God loved who, before conversion, used to curse him to his face! The Sabbath day was the day they took for sensual pleasure. They were drunkards; they were unclean; they were everything that is vile; and yet he loved them! Oh, the wonder of this! When they were reeking in the kennels of sin, — when there was no sin too black and too vile for them to commit, — God loved them. Oh, never dream that he began to love you when you began to love him! Oh, no! but it was because he loved you hard and fast, when you were revelling in your sin, that his love put its arms around you, lifted you out of your sin, and made you what you are. Oh, but this is good news for some of you! Perhaps you are still, as all God’s people once were, living in sin. You hardly know why you have strayed in here, but perhaps, while you sit and listen, you may hear that God has loved you. Oh, that it may come to be true, so that you may prove to be one of his chosen people, whom he loves even though in sin, and whom he will love until you come out of sin and turn to Christ and receive pardon for it! Pray, dear Christian people, pray that it may be so. God hears prayer. Send up the prayer silently now, — “Lord, attract some of your chosen people to Christ tonight; let some who never thought of him, but were bent on sinning rather than of being brought to God, see Jesus, and find salvation through him.” “Herein is love”; God loved the unlovely, the hateful, the vile, the depraved, and loved them though they did not love him.

10. II. Another part of the wonder lies in this, THAT THIS LOVE SHOULD COME FROM SUCH A ONE AS GOD IS. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”

11. What does God want in loving us? You never saw a fly on the dome of St. Paul’s; it would have been too small an object for you to see when walking around the Cathedral. Now, a fly on the dome of St. Paul’s is a monstrous being, a marvellous individual, compared with you crawling around this world. Why, it bears a much larger proportion to St. Paul’s than you do to this globe! What an insignificant little creature you are! Supposing you could love that fly, — it would seem a strange thing; or that an angel could love that fly, — it would be stranger still. But that God should love us, is much more a wonder. Lift up your eyes now to the heavens, and count the stars. Listen to the astronomer, as he tells you that those little specks of light are mighty worlds, some of them infinitely superior to this world of ours, and that there are millions on millions of such worlds glittering in the sky, and that perhaps all these millions that we can see are only like one little corner, one little sand-hill of the worlds that God has made, while throughout boundless space there may be long leagues of worlds, if I may use the expression, innumerable as the sands that belt the shore around the great and mighty deep. Now, one man in a world — how little! But one man in myriads of worlds, one man in the universe — how insignificant! And herein is love, that God should love so insignificant a creature. For what is God, compared with the worlds, their number, and their probable extent of space? God is infinitely greater than all the ideas we suggest by such comparisons. God himself is greater than all space. No conception of greatness that ever crossed a mind of the most enlarged faculties can enable us to apprehend the grandeur of God as he really is. Yet this great and glorious Being, who fills all things, and sustains all things by the word of his power, condescends to rivet on us — not his pity, notice that, not his thoughts, but the very love of his soul, which is the essence of himself, for he is love. “Herein is love!” An insignificant creature, vile, and filthy, and polluted, loved by the august Creator, and loved with all the infinite affection of Jehovah’s heart. Stand still and wonder. You cannot fathom this depth, you cannot scale this height, for imagination’s utmost stretch dies away at the effort.

12. III. And is it not a point of wonder THAT THIS LOVE SHOULD BE UNSOUGHT FOR?

13. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent his Son.

14. We never sent for him; he sent for us. Suppose that, after we had all sinned, we had fallen on our knees, and cried persistently, “Oh, Father, forgive us!” Suppose that day after day we had been, with many pitiful tears and cries, supplicating and entreating forgiveness from God. It would be great love then that he should devise a way of pardoning us. But no; it was the very opposite. God sent an ambassador of peace to us; we sent no embassy to him. Man turned his back on God, and went farther and farther from him, and never thought of turning his face towards his best Friend. It is not man who turns beggar to God for salvation; it is, if I may dare to say it, as though the Eternal God himself begged his creatures to be saved. Jesus Christ has not come into the world to be sought for, but to seek those who are lost. It all begins with him. Unsought, unbidden by the object of his compassion, Jesus came into the world. Now, I wonder if it may come true tonight that some here shall be found by God, after whom they have never sought? Such things have happened. When John Williams was converted, — I think you know the story, — there had been an agreement made to go out with a little party of youths to commit sin, — a very foul sin, too, — and they sent John Williams into Whitfield’s Tabernacle to look at the clock, and the clock happened to be over the door, so that young Williams was obliged to go a little way up the aisle to see it. There was a crowd, and something that was being said by the preacher caught his ear, and he stood and listened. His companions outside began to be vexed with him for keeping them so long, but he kept them even longer, and the deed of darkness that was to have been done that night was never done, for God had found John Williams, who had never sought after him. I do not say this to encourage any of you to put off seeking the Lord, for the command is, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near”: but still, here is the mercy. It is written, “I am found by those who did not seek me; I said, ‘Behold me, behold me,’ to a nation that was not called by my name.” The grace of God sometimes comes in like a sheriff’s officer, takes a man by the collar, and says to him, “You must turn tonight.” Jesus Christ sometimes comes to men as he did to Zacchaeus, who was up in the sycamore tree; he says, “Come down, for today I must stay at your house.” It is not, “If you wish,” but “I must; I must; it must be so.” So, oh Lord, make a “must” of it tonight! Oh, make a “must” of it to many here, that you must stay in their house; then they must give up their sins, and they must turn to you! But herein is love, the wonderful love of God in condescending like this, not only to wait for us, but to wait on us, and come to us with his almighty grace, and save us. Though I speak very feebly on these points, I hope that your hearts will not beat feebly. I trust the children of God will be praising and magnifying the Lord, as they say to themselves, “That is just how he dealt with me; that is precisely how he showed his favour to me. ‘Herein is love.’ ”

15. IV. How, too, may THE THOUGHTFULNESS OF DIVINE LOVE raise our admiration. “Not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

16. Now observe the consideration and counsel this implies. We had sinned against God’s law, but his law was not an arbitrary despotism; it was the embodiment of a constitution equitably and benevolently adapted for the government of the universe. It was framed in such wisdom that obedience involved happiness, and violation permanent misery. And punishment for breaking God’s laws was not in any respect irrelevant or unconnected with the harmony of reciprocal interests. Not to punish the guilty would be to exact the penalty of suffering from the innocent. Think what an injury and injustice would be inflicted on all the honest men in London if the thieves were never punished for their roguery. It would be making the innocent suffer if you allowed the guilty to escape. God, therefore, not from arbitrary choice, but from very necessity of rightness, must punish us for having done wrong. How was this to be avoided? His mighty love suggested the plan. Had it not done so, a parliament of angels could not have devised a scheme. The assembled senate of all the intellects that God had ever made could not have sketched a plan by which the eternal laws of right and wrong should stand unshaken, and God’s honour should be untarnished, and yet he should be able to forgive us. But God’s love thought out a plan, a wondrous plan, by which Jesus came to be a Substitute, to stand in our place, so that we might go free. But I will not pause over the plan, because there is the open display of that kindness and love for us now to look at.

17. V. “Herein is love,” — SELF-DENYING LOVE, AMAZING LOVE, UNPARALLED LOVE, — language fails me; I know no words by which to describe the excellence of this love.

18. It is love divine, love beyond degree: God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It was necessary that this only-begotten Son of the Father should suffer in the flesh, that he should be delivered up into the hands of sinners, cruelly mistreated, spit on, nailed to a tree, and put to death. Who among us would give up his son? Dear, unspeakably dear to us are the children of our loins. Well, we might give them up for our country in the day of battle; we might say, “For our hearths and for our homes let the young men go,” but it would be hard, as many a widowed mother has known when she has read the list of the killed in battle, and seen that her brave boy has fallen. The blood-stained drapery of war has had very little glory in her eyes after that. But who among us would think of giving up his son to die for his enemy, for one who never did him any service, but treated him ungratefully, repulsed a thousand overtures of tenderness, and went on perversely hardening his neck? No man could do it. Ah! then think what manner of love it is that God’s only-begotten Son should be willing to die, that the Holy One should be willing to become a man, willing to take our sins on him, willing to suffer for those sins, willing to endure the bloody sweat, willing to bare his shoulders to the lictor’s scourge, willing to give himself up, body and soul, to the pangs of such a death as was never known before or since. “Herein is love!” If ever I have coveted powers of speech such as God has committed to some men, powers of thrilling the soul and moving the heart, I covet them tonight, for how can I speak of the wondrous tragedy of the cross? How can I describe the death-throes of my blessed Lord and Master?

19. Instead of attempting what I must certainly fail to accomplish, I only ask you to let your mental vision look for a minute at the spectacle itself. He who is the Lord of glory is mocked by rough soldiers. They spit on his face; they pluck his hair; they call him king, and they bow with mimic homage before him. He is scourged, and the scourging is no child’s play. He is made to carry his cross on his shoulders through the streets of Jerusalem. He is brought to a rising knoll outside the city gates, — the Old Bailey, the Tyburn {a} of Jerusalem. He is thrown on his back; the iron is driven through his hands and feet; he is lifted up; the cross is fixed into its place with a jar to dislocate his bones. He cries, “I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint!” He suffers fever through the irritation of the nerves of the hands and feet, until his mouth is dried up like an oven, and his tongue cleaves to his jaws. He cries, “I thirst!” and they give him vinegar mingled with gall. Meanwhile, his soul is in tortures such as no man has ever felt. His spirit, lashed by a hurricane of divine wrath, is like a sea when it boils as a pot, seething and tossing to and fro. Oh, the unknown depths of Jesus’ griefs! — and all this for his enemies; for us who did not love him; for us who never asked it from him; for us who refused to have it; for us who, when we are brought to accept the mercy, do not understand it; for us who, even when we somewhat understand it, do not feel anything like a corresponding gratitude; for us who, even if we feel the gratitude, do not show it, but go our way and forget it; for us who are utterly unworthy of anything like such affection! “Herein is love!” Oh, stand and wonder! I can do no more than ask you to wonder with me; and may God grant that our wondering may end in something reciprocal by way of love for him, and something practical by means of love put into action!

20. VI. With this question I shall conclude, WHAT OUGHT TO BE THE RESULT OF LOOKING INTO THIS GREAT WONDER?

21. As the apostle tells us in the next verse: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love each other.” Christian, by the love which God has revealed to you, you are bound to love your fellow Christians. You are to love them though they have many infirmities. You have some yourself; and if you cannot love one because he has a crusty temper, perhaps he may reply that he cannot love you because you have a lethargic spirit. Jesus loved you with all your infirmities; then love your infirm brethren. You tell me you cannot love because you have been offended by such a brother; but you also offended Christ. What! shall Christ forgive you all your myriad offences, and you not forgive your brother? What was it, after all? “Well, he did not treat me respectfully.” Ah! that is it, — a poor worm wants to be treated respectfully! “But he spoke disparagingly of me; and there is a sister here, — she may be a Christian woman, but she said a very unkind thing about me.” Well, yes; but what does it matter? I have often thought, when people have spoken badly about me, and they have been very, very false in it, perhaps, if they had known me better, they might have found something true to say, and so I must be like we sometimes say of a boy when he is beaten and does not deserve it, “Well, he did deserve it, some time or other, for something else.” Rather than get angry, smile over the offence. Who are we, that we should expect everyone to honour us when no one honoured our Lord? Oh, let us be ready at once to forgive even to seventy times seven. A beautiful spirit worthy of a Christian was that of a man who found his horse in the pound one day, and the farmer who put it in said, “I found your horse in my field, and I put it in the pound; and if ever I catch it there again, I will put it in again.” “Well,” replied the other, “I found six of your cows in my farm-yard the other night eating my hay; I just drove them out, and put them into your farm-yard; I did not put them in the pound; and if ever I catch them in my yard again, I will do the same.” “Ah!” the farmer said, “you are a better man than I am”; and he immediately went and paid the fees, and let his neighbour’s horse out of the pound, ashamed of himself. Such a generosity of disposition becomes you, especially to your fellow Christians. If God has such wonderful love for us, let us love those who offend us, and show hearts of compassion towards the Lord’s poor people. It is easy to be courteous to those who are better off than ourselves, and show deference to those who wear respectable attire; but the thing is to love the Lord’s people who are poor, — indeed, and to love them all the more tenderly for their poverty, for they have in some respects more of the image of Christ than we have. Christ was poor, and so are they. And let us cleave close to God’s persecuted ones. Some people always run away from a man as soon as anyone flings a handful of dirt at him; but if God so loved us when we were sinners, we ought to love our fellow Christians when they are under a cloud. Are they persecuted for righteousness’ sake? Then every brave spirit ought to say, “I am for that man, — I am for that man.” I was pleased with the remark of a brother I met the other day. Alluding to the love he felt for his minister, he said, “The first reason why I came to hear him and love him was that I saw him abused in all the newspapers, and I said, ‘There is something good in that man, I am sure of it, and since he is the weaker one, and all are against him, I am on his side until I find something against him.’ ” Oh, take care to rally around the persecuted Christian! Whenever the child of God is evil spoken of, say, “My place shall be at his side; I will share in such an honour as that, so that I may share in the honour which awaits the saints hereafter.”

22. I have tried to speak to some here who are not converted, and to put a few very comforting thoughts before them. If they go home and seek the Lord, he will be found by them; indeed, and if they trust Jesus at once, they shall be saved. A young lady was reading a newspaper, and her mother said, “Are you finished with it?” She said, “Yes, I am finished with it; I was only looking at it to see the death of Jane ———— . Poor girl, she used to be a Sunday School teacher with me.” Well, she said she had finished with it, but you may depend on it she had not, for the fact that one was dead who had been her companion had not been finished with her; it would speak to her, and impress her, and if she shook it off, the responsibility would not have been finished with her. You have heard a sermon tonight, and you may think, “Now I am finished with it.” Well, it may be so, but it has not finished with you. You will be called to account for every truth it contains, for every reminder to your conscience, and every affectionate invitation that reaches your heart. Very few sermons, alas! ever are finished. Most of them are listened to and forgotten, but if they were all finished, — that is, if their counsels and admonitions were carried into effect, — what a blessing it would be! No, you are not finished with it and this text is not finished with you. I think — indeed, I seem to know — that there are some who never will be finished with this text, neither in this life nor in the life to come, for the text is saying to you tonight, “Though you do not love God now, yet you shall love him, for he has loved you, loved you with an everlasting love,” and the thought of this text will entice you to go and seek Jesus to see if it is so; and when you find it so, you will say to your children, “There is no text in the Bible more beautiful to me than that one, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us’ ”; and you may tell to your children’s children that on such an evening that text seemed to get into your soul, and to be set ringing there like the old bell on the Inchcape {b} Rock, — the more violent the storm, the louder it rang; and you shall hear it ring, ring, ring until it rings you to Christ, and rings you into heaven, and then in heaven it will make sweet music in your ears, and you will say even there, “Herein is love, not that I loved God, but that he loved me, and gave his Son to be a propitiation for my sins.”

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Holy Spirit — The Holy Spirit” 454}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 23” 23 @@ "(Version 3)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — The Unsearchable Love Of God” 782}

{a} Tyburn was used for centuries as the primary location of the execution of London criminals; the Old Bailey was the main criminal court of London. Editor. {b} “The Inchcape Rock” is a ballad written by English poet Robert Southey. Published in 1802, it tells the story of a 14th-century attempt by the Abbot of Arbroath (“Aberbrothock”) to install a warning bell on Inchcape, a notorious sandstone reef about 11 miles (18 km) off the east coast of Scotland. See Explorer "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Inchcape_Rock"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 23}

I hope we all know this Psalm by heart; may we also know it by heart-experience! It is a sweet pastoral song just suited to our Sabbath evening worship. There is here no din of arms, no noise of war; but there is a delightful hush, only broken by the gentle tinkling of the sheep-bell. May God give us that sweet rest tonight!

1. The LORD is my shepherd;

All true rest begins with Jesus, since all the comfort of the sheep is provided for them by their shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd.” Is it so? Can you look up, poor defenceless sheep, and say, “The Lord is my shepherd?” Then comes the blessed inference: —

1. I shall not lack.

I do not lack, I cannot lack; I never shall lack with such a Shepherd as I have. He will provide for me; indeed, more, God himself is my provision. All I need I have, for “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not lack.” I cannot provide for myself, but I shall not lack. Famine may come, and others who have no God to go to, may pine and perish, but in the worst season I shall not lack, for “The Lord is my shepherd.”

2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures:

I am so weak that I even need God’s help to enable me to lie down; but “He makes me to lie down.” Yes, the rest of the soul is so hard to attain that no one ever does reach it except by the power of God. He who made the heavens must make us to lie down if we are really to rest. What delightful rest it is when we lie down in his pastures, which are always green! Did you ever find them dry? Our Shepherd makes us not only to feed, but so to feed that we lie down in the midst of the pastures. There is more than we can eat, so the Lord makes a couch of it for us: “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”:

2. He leads me beside the still waters.

There is, first, contemplation: “He makes me to lie down.” Then there is activity. “He leads me.” There is also progress, and there is provision for our advance in the heavenly way: “He leads me.”

He leads me beside the waters of tranquillity, not by the rushing torrents of excitement, nor by the place of noisy strife. “He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.”

“He leads me beside the still waters.” Not, he drives, or drags; but he himself leads, going first to show the way. It is for me to follow, happily to follow, where “He leads me beside the still waters.”

3. He restores my soul:

He can do it at once. He restores now. He is a restoring God. “He restores my soul.” He brings my wandering spirit back when I forsake his ways; and having done that, he leads me, even more carefully than before, for a second time we have the psalmist’s declaration, “He leads me.”

3, 4. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:

Though death’s shadow hovers all around me, and dampens my spirit, though I feel as though I must die, and cannot bear up under the present trial any longer, “Yes, though I walk,” for I do walk, I will not quicken my pace, I will not be in a flurry, I will not run for it. Though death itself shall overshadow me, I will keep up my walk with God. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” There is none, therefore I will not fear any. We often feel more afraid through our fear itself than through any real cause for fear. Some people seem to be always on the lookout for fear where there is none. Do not look for any, nor let any enter your heart; say with the psalmist, “I will fear no evil”: —

4. For you are with me;

Should a sheep fear when the shepherd is with it? What reason has it to fear if that Shepherd is omniscient, omnipotent, and full of tenderness?

4. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

Your rule and your correction: your rod, with which I sometimes am made to smart; your staff, with which I am supported. These are my comforts; why should I fear?

Are you drinking in all this precious truth, dear friends? Are you feeling it in your soul’s deepest experience? This Psalm is very good to read, but it is far better to write out from your own experience. Make it a song of your own; not merely a song in the Book, but a song for yourselves.

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies:

There is a fight going on, and there are enemies all around. You do not generally have tables set up in the hour of battle; but God keeps his people so calm amid the bewildering cry, so confident of victory, that even in the presence of their enemies a table is spread with all the state of a royal banquet. “You prepare a table.” There is a cloth on the table, there are the ornaments on it, and there are all the accompaniments of a feast: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” They may look on if they like; they may grin, they may wish they could devour, but they cannot sit down at the table, and they cannot prevent me from sitting down at it. Let them blow their trumpets, let them fire their guns: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It is the very best of security and repose that is described here. I know of no expression, not even that of lying down in green pastures, that is more full of restfulness than this: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

5. You anoint my head with oil;

At some feasts, they poured perfumed ointments on the heads of the guests, so God will leave out nothing that is for the joy and comfort of his people. “You anoint my head with oil.” You shall have delicacies as well as necessities; you shall have joy as well as safety; you shall be prepared for service as well as preserved from destruction.

5. My cup runs over.

I not only have what I wish, but I have more; not only all I can hold, but something to spare: “My cup runs over.” If this is the case with your cup, dear friend, let it run over in thankful joy; and if you have more of this world’s substance than you need, ask the poor and needy to come and catch what flows over.

6. Surely —

This is another of the psalmist’s inferences, and a very certain one. He does not say, “Perhaps,” but, “Surely”

6. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

Here is a prince of the blood-royal of heaven attended by two body-guards, — goodness and mercy, — which keep close behind him. These are the grooms that ride on the horses of salvation: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.” “Goodness” — to provide for me; “mercy” — to blot out my sin. “Goodness and mercy shall follow me,” — not only now and then, but, “all the days of my life.” When I get grey-headed and feeble, and have to lean heavily on my staff, these twin angels shall be close behind to bear me up, and bear me through.

6. And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Even while I am here in this world, I will be —

    No more a stranger or a guest
       But like a child at home,

dwelling with God; and eventually, in the fullest sense, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

I always compare this Psalm to a lark. It begins on the ground among the sheep, but up it goes until you may hear its blessed notes echoing among the stars: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” It has its nest in the grass of the green pastures; but it flies up like the strains of sweetest music rising even to the skies: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” May God grant that this may be the portion of every one of us, for his great name’s sake! Amen.

 The Sword and the Trowel
 Table of Contents, January, 1896.
 Lessons from Mount Nebo. An unpublished Sermon by C. H. Spurgeon, delivered at New Park Street Chapel in 1855.
 Our Alma Mater. Reminiscences of the Pastors’ College.
 Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon’s Work-room. — (1) The room itself. (2) Personal Notes. (3) Personal Notes on a Text. By S. S.
 “Our Own Men” and their Work. XXV. Pastor Levi Palmer, Taunton. By H. T. S. (with Portrait.)
 The One Request. Poetry written by C. H. Spurgeon in 1853.
 Begin at the Beginning. By Charles Spurgeon.
 Waiting at the Gate. A Paraphrase of Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon’s “Personal Notes on a Text” in December Sword and Trowel.
 The Women of Morocco. By N. H. Patrick. (Illustrated.)
 Good Tidings from Tunisia. By Dr. Churcher.
 Come to Jesus. A Valedictory Address by Mr. Thomas Spurgeon, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on September 28th, 1879, just before his Second Voyage to Australia.
 A Statement and an Appeal concerning Eleanor Hall Mission, Waltham Cross.
 Dr. Barnardo’s Boys at the Tabernacle. (With three Illustrations.)
 Notices of Books.
 Notes. (Mrs. Spurgeon’s new volume, Ten Years After! Pastor Thomas Spurgeon’s Volume, Down to the Sea. Forthcoming Meetings and Services at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. The Spurgeon Memorial Sermon Society. Tabernacle Auxiliary of the Zenana Mission. Death of Mr. Herbert Olney. Metropolitan Tabernacle Sunday-school Bible-classes. College. C. H. Spurgeon’s Evangelists. Colportage. Baptisms at Metropolitan Tabernacle and Haddon Hall.)
 Lists of Contributions.

With this number of the Magazine is presented, gratis, a FINE ART PICTURE OF THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, on plate paper, 20 in. by 12½ in., suitable for framing as a companion to the portraits of Pastors C. H. and Thomas Spurgeon given with The Sword and the Trowel for January 1893, 1894, and 1895.

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 London: Passmore and Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.

The Sword and the Trowel. London: Passmore and Alabaster. This is one of the few monthlies we delight to consult, for, ever since its inception, it has sounded with unfaltering lip the clear note of a free-grace Gospel, and proclaimed liberty to poor captive sinners through the ransom-blood of the Lamb of God only. The ‘Sword’ has lost none of its sacred keenness, nor the ‘Trowel’ any of its edifying usefulness, although other hands now wield both. The manly Christianity of the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon survives, we rejoice to note, in the well-arranged pages of the Tabernacle monthly. Some of the literary contributions are remarkable for their originality, force, and suggestiveness. The Old Book is still honoured, the old theology is asserted, the work of Christ is exalted, the realities of spiritual experience are in right proportion insisted on, while the necessity of ‘good fruit’, as the practical effect of divine life in the heart, is duly emphasized.” — Review in “The Gospel Magazine,” January, 1896.



Holy Spirit
454 — The Holy Spirit
1 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
      With all thy quickening powers,
   Kindle a flame of sacred love
      In these cold hearts of ours.
2 Look how we grovel here below,
      Fond of these trifling toys;
   Our souls can neither fly nor go,
      To reach eternal joys.
3 In vain we tune our formal songs,
      In vain we strive to rise;
   Hosannas languish on our tongues,
      And our devotion dies.
4 Dear Lord! and shall we ever lie
      At this poor dying rate?
   Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
      And thine to us so great?
5 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
      With all thy quickening powers,
   Come, shed abroad a Saviour’s love,
      And that shall kindle ours.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 23 (Version 1)
1 My Shepherd will supply my need,
   Jehovah is his name;
   In pastures fresh he mikes me feed,
   Beside the living stream.
2 He brings my wandering spirit back
   When I forsake his ways:
   And leads me, for his mercy’s sake,
   In paths of truth and grace.
3 When I walk through the shades of death,
   Thy presence is my stay;
   A word of thy supporting breath
   Drives all my fears away.
4 Thy hand, in spite of all my foes,
   Doth still my table spread;
   My cup with blessings overflows;
   Thine oil anoints my head.
5 The sure provisions of my God
   Attend me all my days;
   Oh may thy house be mine abode,
   And all my work be praise!
6 There would I find a settled rest,
   While others go and come;
   No more a stranger, or a guest,
   But like a child at home.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719


Psalm 23 (Version 2)
1 The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want
   He makes me down to lie
   In pastures green: he leadeth me
   The quiet waters by.
2 My soul he doth restore again,
   And me to walk doth make
   Within the paths of righteousness,
   E’en for his own name’s sake.
3 Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale,
   Yet will I fear no ill;
   For thou art with me, and thy rod
   And staff me comfort still.
4 My table thou hast furnished
   In presence of my foes;
   My head thou dost with oil anoint,
   And my cup overflows.
5 Goodness and mercy all my life
   Shall surely follow me;
   And in God’s house for ever more
   My dwelling place shall be.
                        Scotch Version, 1641.


Psalm 23. (Version 3)
1 The Lord my Shepherd is,
   I shall be well supplied;
   Since he is mine, and I am his,
   What can I want beside?
2 He leads me to the place
   Where heavenly pasture grows,
   Where living waters gently pass,
   And full salvation flows.
3 If e’er I go astray,
   He doth my soul reclaim;
   And guides me in his own right way,
   For his most holy name.
4 While he affords his aid,
   I cannot yield to fear;
   Though I should walk through death’s dark shade,
   My Shepherd’s with me there.
5 In spite of all my foes,
   Thou dost my table spread;
   My cup with blessings overflows,
   And joy exalts my head.
6 The bounties of thy love
   Shall crown my following days;
   Nor from thy house will I remove,
   Nor cease to speak thy praise.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 23 (Version 4)
1 The Lord my pasture shall prepare,
   And feed me with a Shepherd’s care;
   His presence shall my wants supply,
   And guard me with a watchful eye;
   My noonday walks he will attend,
   And all my midnight hours defend.
2 Though in the paths of death I tread,
   With gloomy horrors overspread,
   My stedfast heart shall fear no ill,
   For thou, Oh Lord! are with me still:
   Thy friendly crook shall give me aid,
   And guide me through the dreadful shade.
                     Joseph Addison, 1712.


The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
782 — The Unsearchable Love Of God
1 Oh Love of God, how strong and true!
   Eternal, and yet ever new,
   Uncomprehended and unbought,
   When every human heart is thine.
2 We read thee best in him who came
   To bear for us the cross of shame;
   Sent by the Father from on high,
   Our life to live, our death to die.
3 We read thy power to bless and save,
   Even in the darkness of the grave;
   Still more in resurrection light,
   We read the fulness of thy might.
4 Oh love of God, our shield and stay,
   Through all the perils of our way;
   Eternal love, in thee we rest,
   For ever safe, for ever blest!
                        Horatius Bonar, 1861.

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).

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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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