2480. The Tender Grapes

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No. 2480-42:409. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, August 8, 1880, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, August 30, 1896.

The vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. {So 2:13}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 436, “Sermon for Spring, A” 427}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2480, “Tender Grapes, The” 2481}
   Exposition on So 2:1-3:5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2485, “Love’s Vigilance Rewarded” 2486 @@ "Exposition"}

1. The vine is of all trees the most useless unless it bears fruit. You cannot make hardly anything from it; you would scarcely be able to cut enough wood out of a vine to hang a pot on; you cannot turn it into furniture, and could barely you use it in the least degree for building purposes. It must either bear fruit, or else it must be consumed in the fire. The branches of the vine that bear no fruit are necessarily cut off, and they are used, as I have seen them used in the South of France many a time, in little twisted bundles for kindling the fire. They burn very rapidly, so there is soon an end of them, and then they are gone.

2. The vine is constantly used in Scripture as a picture of the nominal Church of Christ; so, like the vine, we must either produce fruit or we shall be accounted as good-for-nothing. Dear friends, we must serve God, we must bring out from our very soul, love for God and service for him as the fruit of our renewed nature, or else we are useless, worthless, and shall only bide our time here, and then we shall be cut down to be burned. Our end must be destruction if our life is not fruitful. This gives a very solemn importance to our lives, and it should make each of us seriously ask, “Am I producing fruit for God? Have I produced fruits suitable for repentance? For if not, I must, eventually, feel the keen edge of the Vine-dresser’s knife, and I shall be taken away from any kind of union that I now have with the Church which is Christ’s vine, and be flung over the wall as a useless thing whose end is to be burned.”

3. Beloved, you all know that there is no possibility of producing any fruit unless we are in Christ, and unless we remain in Christ. We must produce fruit, or we shall certainly perish; and we cannot have fruit unless we have Christ, we must be joined to Christ, vitally one with him, just as a branch is really, after a living fashion, one with the stem. It would be no use to tie a branch to the stem of the vine; that would not cause it to produce fruit. It must be joined to it in a living union, so must you and I be livingly joined to Christ. Do you know, by experience, what that expression means? For, if you do not know it by experience, you do not know it at all. No man knows what life is except the one who is himself alive, and no man knows what union to Christ is except he who is himself united to Christ. We must become one with Christ by an act of faith; we must be inserted into him as the graft is placed in the incision made in the tree into which it is to be grafted. Then there must be a knitting of the two together, a vital junction, a union of life, and a flowing of the sap, or else there cannot be any production of fruit. Again, I say, what a serious thing this makes our life to be! How earnest should be our questioning of ourselves! “For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart”; and so may there be about this matter. Let each one of us ask, “Am I producing fruit? I am not unless I am vitally united to Christ. I have publicly professed that I am in Christ, but am I producing fruit to his honour and glory?”

4. I think I hear someone say, “I hope I have begun to produce some fruit, but it is very little in quantity, and it is of very poor quality; and I do not suppose that the Lord Jesus will hardly stoop to notice it.” Well, now, listen to what the text says; it is the Heavenly Bridegroom, it is Christ himself, who, in this Song, speaks to his spouse, and invites her to come into the vineyard, and look around her. For, he says, “The vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.” So, you see, there was some fruit, though it could only be spoken of as “the tender grapes.” Some read the passage, “The vines in blossom exude a fragrance”; others think it refers to the grapes just as they begins to form. It was a poor little thing, but the Lord of the vineyard was the first to notice it; and if there is any little fruit for God on anyone here present, our Lord Jesus Christ can see it. Though the berry is scarcely formed, though it is only like a flower which has just begun to knit, he can see the fruit, and he delights in that fruit.

5. I want, as the Holy Spirit shall help me, to speak about those early fruits — those tender grapes — that are being produced by some who have only recently come to know the Lord; and first, we will enquire, what are these tender grapes? Secondly, what is the Lord’s estimate of them? and thirdly, what is the danger to these tender grapes? You will learn what that is from the 15th verse: “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes.”

6. I. First, then, WHAT ARE THESE TENDER GRAPES? What are these first-fruits of the Spirit of God of which our text says, “The vines with the tender grapes give a good smell?” While I am preaching, I shall be going over my own experience and the experience of many of God’s people; and though I shall not be specially speaking to them, it will do them good to remember what they passed through in the early days of their Christian life.

7. One of the first tender grapes that we find on living branches of the True Vine is, a secret mourning for sin, and very often, a public mourning, too. The man is no longer the mirthful, jovial, light-headed, dare-devil kind of fellow that he was. He has found that his life has not been right in the sight of God; he has become conscious that he has done much that is altogether wrong, and that he has left undone a thousand things which he ought to have done, and he feels heavy-hearted, and sad in spirit. His old companions notice that there is a change in him; he does not tell them much because they would only laugh at him, but he has a wound somewhere within his heart, an arrow has pierced his conscience, and his soul bleeds inwardly. The pleasure which he once took in sin is all gone now; and what is more, he grieves to think that he ever should have taken any pleasure in it. He hopes that God will forgive him, but he feels that he never will forgive himself. He beats on his breast, and wishes he could beat so hard as to kill the sin which is there; but he discovers that, when he would do good, evil is present with him, and that makes him cry, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He used to think that to believe in Christ was a very easy thing, and that to be a Christian was almost as simple a matter as kissing his hand; but he finds it quite another thing now. He has a heavy burden to carry, and it is crushing him to the ground; he is fighting with himself, and cannot get the victory. Whenever he sees his sin, it grieves him; and he is grieved because he does not grieve more than he does. He wishes his heart would become softer, and that by some means he could weep for sin more thoroughly, for he really does hate it with all his soul. Well now, this is one of the tender grapes; and if any of you are brought into that condition, I thank God for it. This is a crop that will ripen and sweeten before long. Surely, there never was a truly gracious soul who did not produce this as one of the first-fruits of the Spirit, a secret mourning for sin.

8. Another tender grape is, a humble faith in Jesus Christ. The man, perhaps, has gotten no further than to say, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! I trust myself with you, and you have said I am saved if I do that, and therefore I conclude that I am saved; but, oh, that I had more faith! Oh, that I could trust you without a doubt! But, Lord, you know all things; you know that, humbly, tremblingly, I accept you as my Saviour, and I am hopeful to be numbered among your people, though lowliest of them all. Though my faith is only like a grain of mustard seed, I bless you that I have even that grain; and I know that it will grow, for it has within it the life that you imparted.” That little trembling faith, like a freshly-lit candle which is easily blown out, is, nevertheless, one of the tender grapes. It will grow, it will come to perfection in due time, for the least true faith has everlasting life in it. All the demons in hell could not quench a single spark of God-given faith, for it is a living thing, and it cannot be destroyed. This faith possesses immortality, it shall defy death itself; yet, while it is so little, it is like the tender grapes which gives a good smell.

9. Then there comes another tender grape, and that is, a genuine change of life. The man has evidently turned right around; he is not looking the way he used to look, and he is not living as he used to live. At first he fails, and perhaps fails a good many times, like a child who is learning to walk, and has many a tumble; but he will never walk if he does not tumble a bit. So, when men begin to live the new life, they have many slips. They thought that ugly temper of theirs would never rise again, but it does, and it grieves them very much; and some old habit, from which they thought they had completely escaped, entangles them unawares, and they say, “Surely I cannot be a child of God if I do these things again”; and there is great sorrow, and brokenness of spirit, and soul-humbling. Well, that very soul humbling is a tender grape. That effort to do better — not in your own strength, because you have none, and you are sure to fail utterly if you attempt such a task alone; but the effort to do better in the strength of God, yet with the full consciousness of your own weakness, — all that indicates a real change. I know that there are some men who have been so long steeped in evil that, to master their old habits, is a very hard task. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then you may also do good, who are accustomed to do evil.” Nothing but almighty power could get the blackness out of the Ethiopian’s skin, or the spots out of the leopard. God can do it, and he can reverse the whole current of our lives; yet, nevertheless, while it is being done, there is often much of painful contrition and of brokenness of heart before him. See what a change it is that the Lord works in a man when he converts him from the error of his ways. There is Niagara, see the mighty flood come roaring down; what a sight it is! But can that Niagara be made to flow uphill? Yes, God can accomplish that marvellous feat; but while it is being done, think of the twists, and twirls, and whirlpools, and sheets of spray that there will be. The vast mass of water has to stop, and then to rush up again. What roaring of waves and shaking of rocks there will be even while God is performing this great operation! So it is when there is a change of heart in one who has long been steeped in evil, one who has been an obvious sinner; there is a great deal of distress of heart while the work is being done. Yet, if there is a radical change in the man, it is like the tender grapes, which is a sure sign of life in the vine which produces it.

10. Another very blessed fruit of spiritual life in the soul is, secret devotion. The man never prayed before; he sometimes went to a place of worship, but he did not care much about it. Now, you see that he tries to get alone for private prayer as often as he can. He may not have the privilege of a room to himself, but he climbs up into a hayloft, or goes down into a saw-pit, or retires behind a hedge; or, in order to be quite alone, perhaps he walks the streets of London. It is very easy to be alone in a crowded street; in busy Cheapside, there is many a man who is utterly lonely, for he does not know anyone in all the throng that rushes past him. It is a really awful loneliness that a man may have in the midst of a dense crowd, and his heart may then be talking with God as well as if he were confined to some private room. A soul must get alone if it is really born again, it cannot live without private prayer. I like also to see the young beginners in the divine life carrying a pocket Testament, so that they may just read a short portion whenever they can get a few spare moments, — two or three verses to lie in their memory, like a lozenge under the tongue, to melt there, and dissolve into their innermost being. It is a grand thing to keep a man right, and it is one of the tender grapes on the vine when there is a love for the Word of God, and a love for private prayer; I am sure that it is one of the signs by which we are not very often deceived. “Behold, he prays,” is an indication that God has renewed his heart.

11. Another of these tender grapes is an eager desire for more grace, a longing for more of the good things of the covenant. Why, those who are just brought to know the Lord would like us to preach seven sermons a day, and they would like to hear them all! I know that, when I was first brought to Christ, I was ravenous after the gospel. I felt like the great beast mentioned in the Book of Job, that “drinks up a river, and trusts that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth,” so thirsty did I seem to be after the river of the water of life. I do not think that the seats felt hard to me then, or that standing in the aisle was too tiresome as long as it was only the gospel that was preached to me, for there was an eager desire after it in my soul. If anyone can tell the poor seeking one, who has just a little light, where he can get ten times the grace he has, I warrant you that he will make the journey if he may only find it, that his feeble faith may grow to full assurance, that his repentance may be deeper, and that his love for God may be more intense. If his whole soul is set on attaining this object, it is obvious that these are the tender grapes that grow out of the life that is within the branches of the Vine.

12. There is also, in such people, another very precious sign of grace, and that is, a simple love for Jesus. The heart knows little, but it loves much; the understanding is not yet fully enlightened, but the affections are all on fire. “Your first love” is mentioned with special commendation in the Book of the Revelation; and I think that some of us, who have known the Lord for thirty years or more, can look back on our first love with something of regret. I hope that we love Christ better now than we did then, but there was a vividness about our first love which we do not always realize in our more matured experience. It was then very much as it happens when your servant lights a fire; at the first, the shavings, or the paper, or whatever it may be at the bottom of the kindling, makes a great deal more of a blaze than appears afterwards, and the fire is at its best when it all gets into one great steady ruby glow. It is to this state that the ardent love of Christians should come; but still, there is something very pleasing about that first blaze, and I could almost wish that we always blazed away as we did in the fervour of our first love. That first flame was one of the best signs that the fire was there, just as the tender grapes prove that the life is in the vine-branches. If, dear friends, you are now full of love for Christ, do not let anyone quench it, or even dampen it down; but may it burn more and more, like coals of juniper, which have a most vehement flame! May God grant that this love, and all the other tender grapes that I have mentioned, may be seen in everyone who has newly sought and found the Lord!

13. II. Now I must try to answer our second question, — WHAT IS THE LORD’S ESTIMATE OF THESE TENDER GRAPES? What does he think of that sorrow for sin, that little faith, that humble trust in his atoning sacrifice, that earnest attempt to live a changed life, that weariness of frivolity, that private prayer and study of the Scriptures, that eager desire for more grace, and that childlike love? What does the Lord think of all this?

14. Well, first, he thinks so much of it that he calls his Church to come and look at it. Look at the verses that precede our text: “My beloved spoke, and said to me, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land; the fig tree puts out her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.’ ” We do not usually call our friends to look at things which we do not ourselves admire; so here the Bridegroom calls his spouse to share in his joy in these signs of the heavenly life of the Church of God. Be always on the look out for the tender grapes. I think I know some Christians who do not appreciate these early fruits as they ought to. When dear children are brought to know the Lord, we cannot expect that such little shoots as they are should at first produce anything but tender grapes. There are some who do not take that view of the matter. “Ah!” they say, “there is no flavour in those grapes.” Did you expect that there would be? “Oh!” they cry, “they are tart and sour.” Of course they are; while they are tender grapes, they must be so. You cannot get the ripeness or the sweetness of maturity in what is just beginning to grow. Our Lord would not have us find fault with the fruit of young converts, but rather go and look at it, and admire it, and bless God that there is at least some, and that it is as good as it is. “Ah!” one says, “that young man does not know much.” Does he know that one thing, whereas he was blind, now he can see? Then, be thankful that he knows as much as that. “Oh!” you exclaim, “but he does not have much prudence.” No, my dear friend, do you suppose that this young man is to have as much prudence as you have at your age, and you are perhaps sixty or seventy? I might possibly say with truth that you do not have quite so much zeal as you might have to go with your prudence. “Oh, but!” you say, “we want the young man to be more mature.” Give him time, and he will get as mature as you are; but while the grapes are still tender, your Master and his, calls you to look at them, and to thank him for them, for there is something very cheering in the sight of the first weak, faint signs of the working of the Holy Spirit in the soul of a young believer.

15. What is Christ’s estimate of these tender grapes? Why, next, he calls them tender. He does not call them mature, he does not speak of them as ripe; he calls them “tender.” Do you know how he might have described them? He might have called them sour, but he does not; he calls them “tender.” He likes to use a sweet word, you see, the softest and best word that he can use; so, when you describe a young convert, my dear brother, do not at once point out his immaturity, but call him “tender.” Do not speak about his lack of discretion, but call him “tender.” Do not say, “Oh, well, I question whether he can be a child of God or not!” He is one of God’s little ones. A little child is just as much its mother’s child as the biggest one in the family is; and no doubt that little one whose voice we heard just now is as much beloved by the mother as any of her older sons or daughters. So it should be with those who are the little children in God’s great family of love; therefore, imitate your Lord, and call them “tender.”

16. Then he says something more: “The vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.” Of what do they smell?

17. Well, first, they smell of sincerity. You say, “That young man does not know much, but he is very sincere.” How many do I see, who come to make a confession of their faith in Christ, who do not know this doctrine, or have not had that experience, but they are very sincere! I can tell that they are genuine by the way they speak; they often make such dreadful blunders, theologically, that I know they have not learned it by rote, as they might get up a lesson. They talk straight out of their loving but ignorant hearts, and I like that they should do so, for it shows how true they are in what they say; and our Lord Jesus always loves sincerity. There is no smell so foul as the smell of hypocrisy; a religious experience that is made to order, religious talk such as some indulge in, which is all pious platitudes, is a stench in the nostrils of God. May the Lord save us from it! But these vines with the tender grapes exude the sweet smell of sincerity.

18. Next, there is about these young believers a sweet smell of heartiness. Oh, how hearty they generally are, how earnest, how lively! Eventually, some of the older folks talk about the things of God as if they were worn threadbare, and there was nothing of special interest in them; but it is not so with these new-born souls, everything is bright and fresh, they are lively, and full of earnestness, and Jesus loves that kind of spirit. He said to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, “I wish you were cold or hot.” It is lukewarmness that he cannot bear, but he approves of warm, simple heartiness; it is to him like the smell of the vines that bear the tender grapes.

19. There is sure to be also about these young Christians the sweet smell of zeal; and, whatever may be said against zeal, I will take up the clubs to defend it as long as I live. In the work of God, we cannot do without fire. We Baptists like water because our Master has ordained the use of it; but we must also have fire, fire from heaven, the fire of the Holy Spirit. When I see our young men and young women full of zeal for God’s glory, I say, “God bless them! Let them go ahead.” Some of the old folk need to put a bit in the mouths of these fiery young steeds, and to hold them in; but I trust that I shall always be on their side, and say, “No, let them go as fast as they like. If they have zeal without knowledge, it is a great deal better than having knowledge without zeal; only wait a bit, and they will get all the knowledge they need.”

20. These young believers have another sweet smell: they are teachable, ready to learn, willing to be taught from the Scriptures and from those whose instructions God blesses to their souls. There is also another delightful smell about them, and that is, they are generally very joyful. While they are singing, some dear old brother, who has known the Lord for fifty years, is groaning; what is the matter with the good man? I wish that he could catch the sweet contagion of the early joy of those who have just found the Saviour. There is something delightful in all joy when it is joy in the Lord, but there is a special brightness about the delight of those who are newly converted.

21. You see that Christ forms a correct, condescending, wise estimate of these vines with the tender grapes. He calls his Church to look at them, he calls them tender, he says that they have a sweet smell, and then he shows that he cares very much about them, for he says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” He does not want even the tender grapes to be spoiled.

22. Some people seem to think that no one but advanced Christians are worth looking after, but our Lord is not of that opinion. “Oh, it was only a lot of girls that joined the church,” someone said. “A lot of girls?” That is not the way that our Lord Jesus Christ speaks about his children. He calls them King’s daughters; and let them be called so. “They were only a pack of boys and young men.” Yes, but they are the material of which old men are made; and boys and young men, after all, are of much account in the Master’s esteem. May we always have many such in this church!

23. III. So I come to my third and closing question, — WHAT IS THE DANGER TO THESE TENDER GRAPES? The 15th verse says that they are in danger from foxes, and gives the command, “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”

24. Dear young friends who have recently found Christ, there are foxes around. We try all we can to fill the gaps in the hedge, so that we may keep the foxes out; but they are very crafty, and they manage to get in sometimes. The foxes in the East are much smaller than ours, and they seem to be even more cunning and more ferocious than those we have in this country, and they do much mischief to the vines.

25. In the spiritual vineyard there are foxes of many kinds. There is, first, the hard censurer. He will spoil the vines if he can, and especially the vines that have the tender grapes. He finds fault with everything that he can see in you who are only young believers. You know that you are simply depending on Christ for salvation; but this censurer says, “You are no child of God, for you are far from being perfect.” If God had no children but those who are perfect, he would have none under heaven. These censorious people will find fault with this and that and the other in your life and character, and you know well enough that you have all too many imperfections, and if they look for them, they can soon find them. Then they say, “We do not believe that there is any grace at all in you,” though you know that by the grace of God you are what you are. It may be that there is a fault in you which they have discovered, perhaps you were taken by surprise, and suddenly overcome. Possibly, they even set a trap for you, and allured you into it, provoking you to anger, and then turning around on you, said, “You have made a profession, have you? That is your religion, is it?” and so on. May God deliver you from these cruel foxes! He will often do so by enabling you not to pay any attention to them. After all, this is only the way in which all Christians have been tried, there is nothing strange in your experience from these censurers; and they are not your judges, you will not be condemned because they condemn you. Go and do your best in the service of your Lord; trust in Christ, and do not care what they say; and you will be delivered from that kind of fox.

26. A worse fox even than that one, however, is the flatterer. He comes to you smiling and smirking, and he begins to express his approval of your religion, and very likely tells you what a fine fellow you are. Indeed, you are so good that he thinks you are rather too precise, you have gone a little over the line! He believes in religion, he says, fully; though, if you watch his life, you will not think so; but he says that he does not want people to be overly righteous; he knows that there is a line to be drawn, and he draws it. I never could see where he drew it; but still he says he does, and he thinks that you draw the line a little too near the cross. He says, “You might be a little more worldly, you cannot get through life in your way; if you get out of society, you may as well get out of the world at once. Why do you make yourself appear so odd?” I know what he is after; he wants to get you back among the ungodly. Satan misses you, and he wants to have you back again, and he is sending Mr. Flatterer to wheedle you back, if possible, into your former bondage to himself. Get away from that fox at once. The man who tells you that you are too precise ought to be precisely told that you do not want his company. There never lived a man yet who was too holy, and there never will live a man who will imitate Christ too closely, or avoid sin too rigidly. Whenever a man says that you are too Puritanical, you may always smell one of these foxes. It would be better if we were all more Puritanical and precise. Has not our Father said to us, “Be holy; for I am holy?” Did not our Lord Jesus say to his disciples, “Be therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect?”

27. Then there comes another foul fox, Mr. Worldly-Wiseman. He says, “You are a Christian, but do not be a fool. Carry your religion as far as you can make it pay; but if it comes to losing anything by it, well then, do not do it. You see, this practice is the custom of the trade; it is not right, I know, but still, other people do it, and you ought to do it. If you do not, you will never prosper in business.” Mr. Worldly-Wiseman further says, “Never mind if you tell a lie or two, make your advertisements say what is not true; everyone else does it as a matter of course, and why should not you? Then try whether you cannot get a slice out of your customer here and a slice there when he does not know it, it is the custom of the trade; it is the way other people do, and, since it is the custom, of course you must do it.” To all such talk I reply that there is another custom, a custom that God has, of turning all liars into hell; take care that you do not come under that divine rule and law. There is another custom that God has, namely, that of cutting down as hypocrites those who do not walk honestly and uprightly towards their fellow men. The plea of custom will not stand for a moment at the judgment seat of Christ; and it ought to have no weight with us here. I know that there are many young people who, unless they are watchful and careful at the very beginning of their spiritual life, will become lame and never walk as they ought to do, because this fox has bitten them.

28. There is another ugly fox about, and that is, a doubting fox. He comes and says, “You seem very happy, and very joyful; but is it true? You appear to have become quite a different person from what you used to be; but is there, after all, such a thing as conversion?” This fox begins nibbling at every doctrine, he even nibbles at your Bible, and tries to steal from you this chapter and that verse. May God save you young people from all these foxes!

29. There are some foxes of evil doctrine, and they generally try to spoil our young people. I do not think anyone ever attempts now to convert me from my belief; the other day, when a man was arguing with another, I asked him, “Why do not you try me?” “Oh!” he said, “I have given you up as a bad case, there is no use trying to do anything with you.” It is so when we get to be thoroughly confirmed in our convictions of the truth; they give us up, and they generally say that we are such fools that we cannot learn their wisdom, which is quite correct; and so we intend to be as long as we ever live. But with some of the younger folk, they manage do it. They say, “Now, you are a person of considerable breadth of thought, you have an enlarged mind, you are a man of culture; it is a pity that you should cling to those old-fashioned beliefs, which really are not consistent with modern progress”; and the foolish young fellow thinks that he is a wonder, and so he is puffed up with conceit. When a man has to talk about his own culture, and to glory in his own advancement, it is time that we suspected the truth about him. When a man can despise others who are doing vastly more good than he ever dreamed of doing, and call such people antiquated and old-fashioned, it is time that he should get rebuked for his impudence, for that is what it really is. These clever men, as far as I know them, are simply veneered with a little learning, not the sixteen thousandth of an inch thick. There is nothing in most of them but mere pretence and bluster; but there are some who hold firmly to the old gospel, who have read as much as they are ever likely to do, and are fully their equals in learning, though they do not care to boast of their acquirements. Do not any of you young people be carried away with the notion that all the learned men are heretics; it is very largely the opposite, and it is your sham, shallow philosopher who goes running after heresy. Get out of the way of that fox, or else he will do much mischief to the tender grapes.

30. So, brethren, I close with this remark. If you have any sign of spiritual life, if you have any tender grapes on your branches, the devil and his foxes will be sure to be after you; therefore, endeavour to get as close as you ever can to two people who are mentioned together in my text, namely, the King and his spouse. First, keep close to Christ for this is your life; and next, keep close to his Church, for this is your comfort. Get among elderly Christian people, seek to catch up with those who have long known the Lord, those who are farther on the heavenly road than you are. Pilgrims to Zion should go to heaven in company, and often, when they go in company, and they can get a Mr. Great-Heart to go before them, it saves them from many a Giant Slay-Good and many a Giant Grim, and they get a safe and happy journey to the Celestial City where otherwise they might have been buffeted and tormented. Keep close to God’s people, whoever they may be; they are the best company for you, young believers. Some Christians may, like Bunyan’s pilgrim, start on the road to heaven alone; but they miss much comfort which they might have with companions of a kindred spirit. As for Christiana and her children, and the younger folk especially, they will do well to keep in company with someone of the Lord’s champions, and with the rest of the army with banners who are marching towards the Celestial City. May God bless and comfort all of you who know his name, henceforth and for ever! Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {So 8:11-14 Isa 5:1-7 Lu 13:6-9}

Reading from Song of Solomon chapter eight:

11, 12. Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he rented the vineyard out to keepers; each one for its fruit was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me:

“The great Gardener has graciously rented his vineyard out to me, so that I may keep it, and dress it; he has made it mine for the time being. I have some ground to till, some plants to tend, some vines to prune. It may not be a very large vineyard, still, it is mine, and I am accountable for it, and must look after it well. It is before me, I am thinking of it, I am caring for it, I am praying about it.”

12. You, oh Solomon, must have a thousand, and those who keep its fruit two hundred.

This is our resolve, — that our greater Solomon shall have the profits and proceeds of his own vineyard. It is ours on lease, but the freehold is his. He “must have a thousand,” and we shall be well content with our share of the vintage, joyful and glad that we may have “two hundred.”

13. You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice: cause me to hear it.

“For to hear that voice will be far better than the ‘two hundred’ which shall be my share of the fruit. If I may have you with me, oh my Lord, I will be better pleased, though my portion of fruit should be very small indeed, for in having you my portion will be great indeed! I hear, my Lord, that some of your people live with you until they are called your companions. There are some whom you do call your friends, there are disciples whom Jesus loves. These ‘listen to your voice: cause me to hear it.’ Unplug my deaf ear, give me a sensitive spirit, let my soul thrill, and my heart throb, and my whole being delight to obey every syllable that falls from your blessed lips. ‘You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice: cause me to hear it.’ ”

14. Hurry, my beloved,

“Do not let me have to wait long for you, oh my Beloved! Even at the beginning of this service, cause me to experience your presence.”

14. And be like a roe or a young hart on the mountains of spices.

“Are there mountains that separate me from you? Come and leap over them; for you are swift of foot, and sure of standing: ‘Be like a roe or a young hart,’ and when you come, the mountains of division shall change into mountains of spices, and all around me shall be sweet.”

Now reading from Isaiah chapter five:

1. Now I will sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved has a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

You and I, dear friends, are placed in a position where we have very choice opportunities for glorifying our God; we are like “a vineyard in a very fruitful hill,” most favourably placed for fruitfulness. The Well-Beloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: —

2. And he fenced it, and gathered the stones out of it, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press in it: and he looked that it should produce grapes, and it produced wild grapes.

Is that my case? Is it your case, dear friend? Has even our religion been a false thing? Has it been like wild grapes or poisonous berries? Have we been at times right only by accident, and have we never carefully and sedulously sought to serve our Lord, or to produce fruit for his praise? Oh Lord, you know!

3-6. “And now, oh inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, please judge between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done for it? Why then, when I expected that it should produce good grapes, it produced wild grapes? And now, I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be eaten up; and break down its wall, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste:

There is no destruction like what comes when God destroys the fruitless vineyard. When a human enemy or the wild boar out of the wood lays it waste, it may be restored again, but if, in righteous wrath, the Divine Owner of the vineyard himself lays it waste, what hope remains for it? “It shall be trodden down; and I will lay it waste”: —

6, 7. It shall not be pruned, nor cultivated; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain on it.” For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

This passage has a special reference to God’s ancient people, and one cannot read it without noting how literally this terrible threatening has been fulfilled.

Now reading from Luke chapter twelve.

6. He spoke also this parable, “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and looked for fruit on it, and found none.

Let every one of us read this parable as if our Lord Jesus Christ were now speaking it for the first time to each of us. There is a lesson here which we shall do well to heed.

7-9. Then he said to the dresser of his vineyard, ‘Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why does it encumber the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I shall dig around it, and fertilize it: and if it produces fruit, good: and if not, then after that you shall cut it down.’

“In that case, I will plead for it no longer, for it will have had its full time of testing, and every opportunity for producing fruit: ‘After that you shall cut it down.’ ” The parable is so simple that it needs no explanation, and therefore our Lord Jesus has not given any. May we all make a personal application of its solemn teaching! Amen.

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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