2521. Deadness And Quickening

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No. 2521-43:277. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, October 29, 1885, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 13, 1897.

Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way. {Ps 119:37}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1072, “My Prayer” 1063}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2521, “Deadness and Quickening” 2522}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3026, “Vanity Deprecated” 3027}
   Exposition on Ge 32; Ps 119:33-40 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2979, “Our Banner” 2980 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 119:25-40 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3420, “Could He Not? Ah! But He Would Not!” 3422 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 119:32-40 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2521, “Deadness and Quickening” 2522 @@ "Exposition"}

1. David, when he wrote these words, was in downright earnest. There were times with him when he grew lukewarm and cold, and then we remember that he soon fell into grievous sin; but at the time when he was penning this verse, his spirit was lively, and active, and energetic, and hence it was that he prayed so carefully about himself: “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way.” If you read the preceding verse, you will notice that he was thinking of the reality and depth and power of true religion, for he prayed, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness,” by which he evidently wished that his whole soul might be set on divine things, — that, just as misers seek after gold, and store it up, and feast their eyes on it, so he might be eager after the things of God, and might store them up, making them to be his heavenly delicacies, his particular pleasure.

2. Dear friends, you know as well as I do that there are many kinds of Christians. I am sorry to say that there are some nominal Christians who are no credit to Christianity; they bear the name of Christians, and though I will not say that they are dead, yet certainly they are very sickly, and seem ready to die. They stand among the people of God, and their names are put down in the church-book; but if they are spiritually alive, theirs is a very feeble form of life. Their heart is not in God’s ways; they are active and energetic when they get into the shop, but they are half asleep when they are in the sanctuary. They leave “footprints on the sands of time” when they are devoting their attention to politics; but when they come to the things of God, they tread so lightly that we cannot tell that they have passed that way. It seems to me to be a horrible thing that many a man should give fifteen ounces out of the sixteen to the world, and yet that he should label himself a Christian, because of that one odd ounce which he pretends to give to God. The major part of his being, his very self, runs to turn the mill-wheel of daily care and toil; and there is just a driblet that is supposed to be saved up for Christ. Let it not be so with you, or with me, dear friends; but let us pray that our hearts may be inclined to the things of God, that the whole force of our nature may run in a heavenly, spiritual, gracious, holy direction, so that we may be epistles written by God’s own right hand, “known and read by all men.” It is only a man who is in this state of spiritual health and activity who will pray such a prayer as that of our text; it is only he who gets to be so careful about his eyes that he will not look on sin, and so careful about his daily ways that he is lively and quick in the things of God.

3. Hoping and believing that I am addressing many such earnest active Christians, I suggest that we, dear brothers and sisters, consider this double prayer. First, it seems to me that David here prays for deadness in one direction: “Lord, make me dead to vanity”; and, secondly, he prays for life in another direction: “Quicken me in your way Lord, make me alive to those things that are true and real, lasting and eternal!”

4. I. First, DAVID HERE PRAYS FOR DEADNESS IN ONE DIRECTION, — deadness to the world, that he may be so dead to it that he will not even look at it: “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.” He wants to be so completely delivered from the love of worldly things that he may not consider them worth even a glance; so far from pursuing them with his feet, or labouring for them with his hands, or going after them with his heart, he thinks them not worth a thought, and prays God by his grace to turn away his eyes from even looking on them.

5. What, do you think the psalmist means here by vanity? I think he probably means four things, or one thing which may be seen under four aspects. Many a Christian prays, “Lord, turn away my eyes from beholding vanity,” that is, frivolity. To some men, life is all trifling; they are the butterflies of God’s garden, alighting on flowers, but never sucking the honey out of them. They just dance their little hour in the sunbeam of existence, as the gnats do on a summer’s evening. They come, they dance, they die; and that is the end of them as far as this life is concerned. Even in our way there will frequently come frivolous things. I do not say that Christians are to disregard all trifles, and that there are not things, very trifling in themselves, which may be sanctified and used for purposes of restoration and recreation, and so be made beneficial to us; but I do say this, if a man, calling himself a Christian, should live for mere frivolity, if to him life should be all play and not work, a day-dream and not a battle, if he should make his life to be, as the poet puts it, —

    Like ocean into tempest-tossed,
    To waft a feather, or to drown a fly,

it is a sad pity, it is a grievous evil, that it should be so. I believe that there are many professing Christians who are spending their lives in drawing up buckets full of nothing, because they let them down into dry wells. They have nothing particular to do, and they do it very diligently; but they do nothing else. They spend their years, from the beginning of January to the end of December, like a tale that is told. Now, instead of acting like this, the man who leads the true life, the heroic life, the real life, makes everything sublime, and his prayer is that his eyes may be turned away from beholding frivolities. We have put away childish things, for Christ has made us men. We cannot be decoyed again into the kindergarten, to learn those “beggarly elements of the world” that are only fit for tiny children. We are on the confines of the eternal state, we are standing even now close to the frontier of the glory-land. Christ has bought us with his blood, and the trumpets of his coming are already sounding in our ears; God forbid that we should sleep, as others do, and toy and play, as so many around us do! Our prayer is, “Turn away our eyes from beholding vanity.” We have something better to do than to make this world into a mere theatre, and to let it be true of us that this life is only a play, with men and women as the actors in it. No, —

    “Life is real, life is earnest,”

now that we have been quickened by the Spirit of God, and have entered into the life of God.

6. I think there is also another meaning in this word vanity, namely, carnality. You know, beloved, that the things of this life belong to the flesh; they are seen, tasted, handled, and felt. But then, the things that are seen are temporal; the things that can be touched, and of which the senses are cognizant, are all passing away. These things that we see, and taste, and grasp, and hold, are only for time; they are all going. Men think that spiritual things are dreams, and that temporal things are realities; but it is the other way around; the things that are not seen are eternal, these invisible things shall last for ever. When eyes are blind in the grave, and ears are deaf beneath the sod, then the invisible shall become all the more real to us, when eyes and ears and mere earthly senses have passed away from us.

7. Sometimes, the Christian man gets into this state when he asks, “What shall I eat; what shall I drink; and what shall I wear?” I cannot and I do not want for ever to be asking and answering those questions. “The Gentiles seek after all these things.” I am now of a higher race than the mere worldling, there is another life now flowing in my veins. I cannot live for these temporal things. I may use them, but I must not abuse them. I may have them under my feet, but I must not permit them to crush me, and to be above my head. I can float over them, as a ship sails over the sea; but I cannot let them into myself, for that would be to sink the ship, as when the vessel takes on water from a large wave, and begins to go down under its weight. I must not let my heart be troubled even though my head may sometimes seem to be. No, a Christian man turns right away from what to other men seems the most important business of life, and he says, “Lord, it is all vanity to me.” To children of God, these things seem so frail, so fleeting, as to be scarcely worth a thought; and we get away into our room, and we shut the door, and we speak in secret to our Father, who sees in secret; and then all things apart from him grow to be mere vanity, and smoke, and folly, and sin. We cannot always be pestered with these daily cares. No, Lord, turn away our eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken us in your way!

8. I think, however, that the psalmist means even more than that, and perhaps, still more forcibly, this third thing: “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity,” that is, falsehood, for that is what he means by vanity, what seems to be something, but really is nothing. That bubble from the child’s soap and pipe looks as if it were a solid creation of rainbows, but it is gone in almost less time than you can think; and there are many things in the world just like that, especially at this present time. We have new doctrines being preached, and new’olegies being taught, which are nothing but vanity; there is not as much real substance in them as there is in a soap-bubble. When certain false doctrines are being preached, there are some people who are very anxious at once to know what they are. They are curious to see and to know everything; they would be much wiser if they would pray with David, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.” If you can read a tainted book that denies the inspiration of the Scriptures, and attacks the truth of God, and if you derive any profit from it, you must be a very different being from myself. I have to read such books, I must read them sometimes to know what is said by the enemies of the gospel, so that I may defend the faith, and help the weaklings of the flock; but it is a sorry business. When those who are qualified to do so are reading these heretical works, if they are doing it really in the fear of God for the good of their fellow men, they remind me of Sir James Simpson and the two other doctors when they discovered the medical and surgical value of chloroform. They sat at the table, and scarcely knew what was going to happen; but they took a dose each, risking their lives by doing so; and when they came back to consciousness, they had certainly made a great discovery. But, dear friends, I do not feel that I am required to take all the drugs and poisons in the world, one after another, just for the sake of testing and trying them, so that I may come and tell you all about their effects. If I did so, probably one of these times I should not come back to you, and that would be that end of that business. It is all very well for Sir James Simpson and other eminent physicians and surgeons to make such experiments, for it is part of the duty of their profession; but it is not for the majority of us to do so. When you go home tonight, I should recommend you to eat for supper those kinds of food which you have been accustomed to eat, and which your forefathers ate before you, to the building up of the physical body; and if anyone comes and says to you, “Here is some very wonderful food; there is no telling what effect it will have on you, it may make you turn into horses”; — I do not know why you should not turn into horses if the doctrine of evolution is true, — “here is food that is to evolve you into something very marvellous”; you say to the man, “Keep it for yourself, my dear sir; I would not deprive you of it, for I am not at all ambitious to try such things.” I do believe that it is good for a child of God, when he has found honey, to eat it; and if anyone calls out, “Here is something even sweeter,” let him answer, “You may keep it for yourself; I am perfectly satisfied with what I have, honey is sweet enough for me.” If I had gathered manna in the morning in the wilderness, and someone had cried out to me, “Here, I have found a wonderful fungus, a brilliant mushroom, and I am going to make my breakfast from it”; I should have replied, “Well, my friend, inasmuch as this manna came down from heaven, it came from the best place I know of, and I feel perfectly satisfied to eat angels’ food. It exactly suits me, and it has suited me so long that I will not deprive you of all the mushrooms you can find; so far as I am concerned, you may have your fungi, and fatten yourself up on them, or kill yourself with them if you are so insane as to eat them; but they are not fit food for me.” In just that way, dear friends, my mind is made up about the things of God; and concerning all the poisonous novelties that are introduced so freely nowadays, I pray to the Lord, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken you me in your way.”

9. I am sure also that David had a fourth meaning for the word vanity, and that it included, not only falsehood, but wickedness in every form. From that, we are to turn even our eyes away. Do you hear that anything is evil? Do not touch it, do not taste it, do not handle it, do not look at it, keep far away from it. Is there a plague from hell let loose among the sons of men? My son, do not go near the infected region. If it is the house of the strange woman, or any other haunt of vice, however enchanting the amusement, however alluring the attractions, do not turn in that direction; do not even look that way. With Peter, I would cry, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Young man, please, leave the place of danger, even though you must leave your clothes behind you, as Joseph did; do not stay even to see what it is that would fascinate you. One look from the basilisk’s {a} eye may fasten you to the place where you shall be destroyed; therefore I say to you, as the angels said to Lot, “Escape for your life; do not look behind you, neither stay in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest you are consumed.” What have you and I to do, with such gunpowder hearts as ours, where the sparks of temptation are flying? Let us, if we can, keep entirely clear of the dangers of the present day; if there is only the smell of sin about anything, say at once, “This is not for me. I am a child of God, and what another man might do, I could not do, I must not do, I will not do, I scorn to do. My Lord clothed me in the snow-white vestments of a priest to the Most High God, on that day when he taught me to wash my robes in the blood of the Lamb; and the slightest speck will stain my new garment, which might not show on another man’s apparel. Therefore, I must not, I dare not, go near the mire; but I must keep clear of it, and pick my way with care along the King’s highway.” Dear friends, do not look towards any sin, for looking creates longing, and longing fosters lusting, and lusting brings sinning. Keep your eyes right, and you may keep your heart right. If that first woman had not looked on the forbidden tree, and had seen “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,” she would not have picked and eaten the fruit, and we should not have been the children of sorrow. Oh Lord, turn away my eyes, for if you will keep my eyes right, then I shall be right altogether. “The light of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is good, your whole body shall be full of light”; so that, if the eye is kept right, all is well. Oh Lord, keep my eyes right! Turn them away from beholding vanity in all these forms: frivolity, carnality, falsehood, and wickedness.

10. When the psalmist prayed this prayer, he felt that his eyes were inclined to go this way; otherwise he would not have said, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.” It is much like when a child is having his portrait taken, and he is told by the photographer to look in one particular direction; but there is something in the street that amuses him, and distracts him. The soldiers are passing the window, and he looks at them; and you have to hold his little head firmly to get him to look the right way. So the psalmist seems to say, “Lord, make me to look the right way. Do not let me be attracted to look out there to spoil the picture of my life. Turn away my eyes; hold my head firmly, and make me look the right way. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.” It was David’s tendency to look that way; is it not your tendency and mine also? Oh, sadly let us confess that we are too much attracted by what is foolish and vain! I know that I cannot remember good things as well as I can evil things; some abominable saying, that I heard as I was passing along in the street, will stick with me for years, when many a gracious sentiment is blown away from me by the first breeze that comes. If you do not feel the force of natural depravity in your heart, I think it must be through lack of power or willingness to feel. Alas! we seem to drink up sin readily enough; but we must take care to put good and true thoughts into our minds. This river of our life brings down plenty of snags, the old dead trees from the evil country come floating down the stream; but seldom does it bring to our door a log of the cedars of Lebanon. Such good wood is scarce in this river; but its torrent seems to bear along all that is base and vile. We have need to cry much to God, for the set of the current of the old nature is all the wrong way. We find another law in our members, warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin and death, so that we have to cry, with Paul, “Oh wretched man that I am!” and with David, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.”

11. The psalmist, in the next place, knew the evil of a growing familiarity with vanity. He prayed, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity,” because he knew by experience that you cannot go near to vanity without being drawn nearer, and then a little nearer, and then a little nearer still. For the most part, men do not fall into great sin by sudden surprises. It is sometimes so; but, usually, there are several descending platforms, and the descent is made by slow degrees. When King David walked on the top of his house, that fatal evening, and saw Bathsheba washing herself, if he had been in a right state of heart, as in former times, he would, with all delicacy, have at once retreated from the sight. But he had grown cold and dull in spirit for months, — perhaps for years, — and that incident was only the match to light the fuel which had been so long in the drying, and which, once kindled, burned to such a fearful conflagration. The sin itself seemed to come on him suddenly, but the preparation for the sin had been in the making long before. Oh friends, if we begin to look at iniquity, we shall almost certainly fall! There are some sins that we poor, frail creatures cannot endure to look at. We are like moths near a burning candle; the only safety for us is to get out of the room, and fly into the open air; but if we stay near the light, we shall certainly burn our wings, and perhaps even destroy ourselves. So we must take care that we do not get used to sin. I believe that even the common reading in the newspapers of accounts of evil things is defiling to us, and that, if we habitually read such things, we shall come at last to think less and less of the coarser forms of vice than we ought to do. It is said that “familiarity breeds contempt.” So it does where heavenly things become familiar to those who have no spiritual perceptions; but it also breeds a hardness of conscience — a kind of callousness, where there ought to be delicacy. I have heard of blind people, accustomed to read by touch, who have had to cut the tips of their finger-nails in order to secure sufficient delicacy to make out the raised letters. Familiarity with sin covers the fingers of the conscience with a hard skin, so that we do not feel as we ought. Do not some of you know, when you began to associate with worldly people, — when, for example, for the first time you went to an evening party, — you came home, and felt that you could not pray, and you said to yourself, “This will not do. I must stay away from such company for the future; but oh, how shall I get back to my God? I cannot bear to be in this state of heart.” But now, alas! you can go into such company, and enjoy it, and you are just as worldly as any of them; and yet your condition does not trouble you at all. I spoke with one who used to be a member of this church, he always seemed a truly spiritual man to me, but he had left to attend another ministry, — a ministry, I am afraid, in which there was not much of the savour of Christ, — and I said to him, “Well, do you like your new minister?” “Yes,” he answered. “And does your soul prosper?” I asked. “My dear sir,” he replied, “I do not think that, for these last three or four years, I have known whether I had any soul or not.” That is a dreadful state to get into. When this friend first of all united with us in church fellowship, he would have recoiled with horror from such a condition; and you also can grow so thoughtless and careless that, at last, you will do things you never would have dreamed of doing before. Therefore, it is good to begin with such a prayer as this, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity, lest I look, and, looking, I come to look with admiration, and looking further, I come to look with desire, and looking further still, I look myself into perdition.” Let your prayer begin at the root of the evil, and have nothing whatever to do with it. Pluck out your eyes sooner than look at sin; for it would be better for you to enter into life blind than that, having two eyes, you should bring yourself into hell-fire by your sin. So says the Saviour, and he cannot err.

12. The psalmist, therefore, would have none of this vanity, and nothing whatever to do with it, because he could not tell how far he might be drawn if once he began to look at evil. And observe, too, that he craved divine help. It shows the pitiful weakness of our nature, and the way in which David, an eminent saint, felt that weakness when even he cried to God, “Turn away my eyes.” But man, can you not turn away your own eyes? Of course, he can; yet let no man here trust in himself to turn away his own eyes from sin. Let him put the case into higher hands than his own, crying, “Lord, I am so frail, so fallible, so feeble, so liable to fall, that you must be the custodian of my eyes, or else my eyes will be my destruction. Superintend my eyes, Lord! Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.” I like this prayer of David, because it shows his perfect dependence on his God.

13. Then observe that he expects God to help him in a particular way: “Turn away my eyes.” He does not say, “Put out my eyes, oh Lord!” but he prays, “Let me look another way, — a better way.” The way not to be affected by sin is to look at something else. He who will see death, and become familiar with the grave, will learn to turn his eyes away from vanity. He who will see heaven, and think of its splendours, will turn his eyes away from vanity. He who will look at hell, and the place appointed for the wicked, will turn away his eyes from vanity.

14. But, beloved, there is a better cure than any of these. If you have fixed your eyes on Christ the crucified, the risen, the exalted, the soon to come, if your eyes are taken up with him, you shall find that passage true in many senses, “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” Salvation from a wandering, frivolous mind is to be found in looking at Christ by holy meditation. Nothing can keep us away from the fangs of error like falling into the embraces of Christ. Looking at Jesus is the great remedy against looking at sin. Turn away my eyes from vanity, my Lord, by filling them full with a vision of yourself, and holding me spell-bound with that grandest spectacle that eyes of men, or angels, or even of God himself ever saw, — the spectacle of God Incarnate bearing our sin in his own body on the tree. Keep your eyes fixed there, and all will be well.

15. II. So much, then, for David’s prayer for deadness. Now I have less time — as I intended, — for the second division of my subject. Having prayed for deadness in one direction, DAVID PRAYS FOR LIFE IN ANOTHER DIRECTION. About thirteen years ago, I preached from the latter part of this text, and the sermon is still extant, {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1072, “My Prayer” 1063} so I can be all the briefer now: “Quicken me in your way.” Let us dwell for a little on this prayer of David, and try to pray it ourselves.

16. First, it is clear from this text that the psalmist was in God’s way. Dear friend, if you are not in God’s way, may he bring you into it at once! There is one gate into that way; over it is inscribed, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” As soon as you do that, you are immediately in the way, for he is the way. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The first thing is to get into God’s way; but that is not everything.

17. In the next place, those who are in God’s way are to pray that they may have increasing life while they are in that way. Little can be done in God’s way without life; his way is not a way of death, for “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” We must be living men, living in God’s way, if we would run in that way. Suppose God’s way to be faith. We must not have a dead faith; otherwise, we shall be deceived. The faith which works has life in it; it is that living faith which changes the life, and produces good works. Lord, quicken me in my faith! Deliver me, oh my God, from having a dead faith in a living Saviour! Oh Lord, give me a living faith that shall operate on my whole life in all respects for your glory!

18. There is God’s way of service as well as God’s way of faith; and how can we serve the living God with dead works? How can a dead man serve God at all? I am afraid there is a good deal of dead preaching, and dead praying, and dead praising; but God does not consider it as anything at all. It is only the living discourse that comes from the heart, and the living psalm that wells up from a grateful spirit, and the living prayer which comes from a soul that hungers and thirsts after God, that he can accept. We must have life if we are to serve God. Quicken me, oh Lord, in the way of your service! You, dear friend, are going to teach a Sunday School class next Lord’s day; pray, “Lord, quicken me to teach the children! Let me do it in a living way.” You, my dear brother, are going to stand up at the corner of a street, and speak for Christ in the open air. Pray, “Lord, quicken me in bearing living testimony to your living truth!” It is all-important not to serve God half asleep; it can be done very easily. I believe that, if it were proper, I could preach a very dull, sleepy sermon, — snore it, in fact, — and then I believe that I should set all of you snoring most devoutly all through the place. I have seen the thing done, figuratively, if not literally; the minister asleep, deacons asleep, the members asleep, the hearers asleep; everything done very properly, very regularly, very orderly, never a jar or a jolt; but all sound asleep. May God save us from ever coming into that condition! Let the prayer of each of us be, “Quicken me in the way of your service, oh Lord!”

19. “Quicken me, also, in the way of devotion.” It is a sad thing to try to pray when you feel sleepy in prayer; then is the time to cry, “Lord, help me to pray as if I were carrying the gates of heaven by storm! Help me to draw near to you with my whole heart and soul. If I am alive at anything, let it be in my devotions. If I am dead anywhere, let it be in the world; but if I am alive anywhere, let it be when I draw near to you, my God!” This ought to be the prayer of each of us, “Quicken me, oh Lord, in the way of devotion!” And as for God’s way of holiness, may you and I be made so thoroughly alive in it that we shall do nothing that does not have on it the mark of “Holiness to the Lord!”

20. Yet once more, observe that no one but God can give us this life in God’s way. All life comes from him, but this is especially the case with spiritual life. The sculptor can make the marble seem to breathe, but he cannot breathe life into it; and you and I may do and ought to do much for ourselves, but in the matter of real life, that must come from God alone. Let us, then, cry to him, “Quicken me in your way, oh Lord!”

21. Lastly, we need this quickening often. Those who were quickened yesterday need to be quickened again today. He who burned with zeal, a week ago, needs to have fresh oil poured into his lamp continually; otherwise it will soon burn dim. There was never a man yet who had such a supply of grace that he could afford to do without constantly resorting to God for more. “Quicken me, quicken me, quicken me,” is the prayer of the soul when first it begins to live. It is the prayer of the Christian when he gets into the stern struggles of life, and the poisonous damps {b} of the world; and the prayer of the Christian when he is about to die is still, “Quicken me, oh Lord, quicken me in your way! Oh Life of life, be life to me! Oh Spirit of God, breathe into me power, vigour, force, energy! Give me all these by giving me yourself to be my life.”

22. I invite each one of you personally to offer this prayer, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way.” It is the preacher’s prayer. Let each of us who preach the gospel ask God to keep the dust out of our eyes, and make us full of spiritual life; for, if we are not filled with heavenly life, we shall be a curse to our people instead of a blessing. This prayer is also most suitable for you who are workers for Christ: “Quicken me in your way.” You know how I sometimes illustrate the truth that hard work cannot be done except by strong people. If we were going to make a railway tunnel through a hill, the contractor would not go to Brompton Hospital, and pick out a hundred poor consumptives. Just imagine you see him trying to do it; he says, “There, my men, are the picks and the spades, go and tunnel through that hill.” Why, they are panting and groaning in the effort to carry the tools! They will never get through that hill; all the picks and all the spades will be of no use to them. But let the man get a hundred good strong English navvies, {c} and they seem to bore a way through the hill while you are talking about it; and, before long, the whole work is done, and the train is puffing through the tunnel. So, if you Christian workers keep up to the mark, “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” you will tunnel a way through the mass of London’s sin; but if you are not spiritually strong, what can you do against the enormous evils of London, of England, and of the whole world? We shall have to be getting elixirs and tonics to strengthen you, and all the time of the church will be taken up in patting you on the back, and trying to comfort you. You had better go back to the hospital, and pray, “Oh Lord, quicken me in your way!” May God speedily make you stronger! But while you are so weak, you cannot do this great work, for it requires those who are spiritually strong to serve the Lord with the utmost vigour.

23. Yet, if any are sufferers rather than workers, each of them also needs to pray this prayer: “Oh Lord, quicken me in your way!” You can endure pain, you can bear poverty, you can suffer almost anything, when God quickens you in his way; but these burdens grow more heavy when the soul is at a distance from the Lord. Have any of you backslidden? Have you stolen in here after having long wandered away from your Lord? Well, here is a prayer for you also: “Quicken me in your way.” Have any of you felt this week that you are getting into the rear rank of the army of life, and that your life is ebbing away? Then cry to the Lord, “Quicken me. Quicken me.” “Oh!” one says, “I am full of doubts.” Yes, when you are sick and ill, you do begin to doubt; but pray, “Quicken me. Quicken me.”

24. Perhaps some poor sinner here is saying, “I wish I could be saved.” Well, this text may be a guide to you. Stay far away from everything that is sinful, get out of the way of Satan; and pray to the Lord, “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way.” Do not come and hear sermons, and then go into places of amusement where you forget them all; but let each one of us bow before the living Christ, and pray, “Oh Lord Jesus, quicken me by your blessed Spirit! There is such a thing as spiritual life; breathe it into me. I am a poor dead soul; if I have any life at all, I have only enough life to perceive that I am as one dead.

    If aught is felt, ’tis only pain
       To find I cannot feel.
    Oh make this heart rejoice or ache!
       Decide this doubt for me;
    And, if it be not broken, break,
       And heal it, if it be.”

“Quicken me, oh Lord, quicken me!” And he will do it, for he has declared, “Whoever comes to me, I will in no wise cast out.” May we all come to him now, and then we shall all meet in the glory-land, eventually, through his grace! Amen and Amen.

{a} Basilisk: A fabulous reptile, also called a cockatrice, alleged to be hatched by a serpent from a cock’s egg; ancient authors stated that its hissing drove away all other serpents, and that its breath, and even its look, was fatal. OED. {b} Damp: An exhalation, a vapour or gas, of a noxious kind. OED. {c} Navvy: A labourer employed in the excavation and construction of earth-works, such as canals, railways, embankments, drains, etc. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 119:32-40}

We have here some of the jottings from David’s journal, the notes of his experience as recorded in his diary. The whole Psalm is a great chest full of gold rings. They all fit into each other; but each ring is also perfect in itself.

33. Teach me, oh LORD, the way of your statutes; and I shall keep it to the end.

We forget what others teach us, but we never forget what God truly teaches us. He who has been graciously taught will finally persevere.

34. Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; yes, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

This is the great point concerning thorough godliness, — to observe God’s law with our whole heart. In these days, there is much slurring in religious matters; but those who love God properly love him with their whole heart, and they are careful even in what others call “little things.” Live for God with the utmost heartiness, exactness, and precision, every moment. “The Lord your God is a jealous God”; therefore, serve him with great jealousy and sincerity of spirit.

35. Make me to go in the path of your commandments; for in it I delight.

And when a man delights to do what is right, God will help him to do it. The psalmist seems to speak like a little child who has not found the use of his limbs yet. He says, “Make me to go; take hold of me, as a nurse does of her charge, and enable me to take my first trembling, tottering footsteps. Make me to go, for I delight to go. Lord, help me to carry out my soul’s desire.”

36. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness.

“Make me covetous for holiness; let that passion which, in other men, goes after gold and silver, in me run after obedience and fellowship with you, my God. Incline my heart in another way than nature would incline it; nature puts it on the left hand, and makes me covetous; my God, put my heart on my right side, so that I may seek only after you and after holiness.”

37. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way.

The psalmist commends all his nature to the care of his God. Just now, he prayed about his feet; then, about his heart; now, about his eyes. We need the sanctifying grace of God in every faculty of our spiritual manhood, lest we go astray one way when we are watching against sin in another direction. It little matters at which gate a city is captured; if it is taken at all, it is taken. Oh, for grace to watch every portal of the town of Mansoul, lest we are overcome at any point!

38. Establish your word to your servant, who is devoted to your fear.

“Lord, make your Word to stand firm for me, for I love you, I am in your fear. Your fear has become part of myself.” If you notice, the words “is devoted” are put in by the translators. The verse should read, “Who to your fear,” as if his whole self had run into the mould and form of a God-fearing man. He asks God therefore to establish his Word to him, and so he did; what David asked, David’s God gave.

39. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for your judgments are good.

“Lord, never let me sin, so as to bring a reproach on your holy name! Keep me from doing anything that would grieve you, and cause your enemies to blaspheme.”

40. Behold, I have longed after your precepts:

That is a sure sign of a true child of God. Hypocrites may long after the promises, but only the true-born child of God longs after the precepts. If your chief desire is to be holy, that is a desire which comes from the Spirit of God. A bad man may desire to go to heaven; a desperately wicked man may wish to die the death of the righteous; but he who intensely longs to live a godly, righteous life is indeed the subject of divine grace. I am sure that there are some of us here who can say that we have made no bargains with God, nor put in any conditions whatever; if he will only help us to live holy lives, he may do what he wishes with us. Our one desire is this: “Behold, I have longed after your precepts.”

40. Quicken me in your righteousness.

Let that be the prayer of every one of us. Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 72” 72 @@ "(Song 2)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Holy Spirit — Divine Drawings Implored” 463}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Holy Spirit — His Operations Sought” 465}

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 72 (Song 1)
1 Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
   Does his successive journeys run;
   His kingdom stretch form shore to shore,
   Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
2 For him shall endless prayer be made,
   And praises throng to crown his head;
   His name like sweet perfume shall rise
   With every morning sacrifice.
3 People and realms of every tongue
   Dwell on his love with sweetest song,
   And infant voices shall proclaim
   Their early blessings on his name.
4 Blessings abound where’er he reigns;
   The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
   The weary find eternal rest;
   And all the sons of want are bless’d
5 Where he displays his healing power,
   Death and the curse are known no more;
   In him the tribes of Adam boast
   More blessings than their father lost.
6 Let every creature rise and bring
   Peculiar honours to our King;
   Angels descend with songs again,
   And earth repeat the loud AMEN.
                        Isaac Watts

Psalm 72 (Song 2) <7s.>
1 Hasten, Lord, the glorious time,
   When, beneath Messiah’s sway,
   Every nation, every clime,
   Shall the gospel’s call obey.
2 Then shall wars and tumults cease,
   Then be banish’d grief and pain;
   Righteousness, and joy, and peace,
   Undisturb’d shall ever reign.
3 As when soft and gentle showers
   Fall upon the thirsty plain,
   Springing grass and blooming flowers
   Clothe the wilderness again;
4 So thy Spirit shall descend,
   Soft’ning every stony heart,
   And his sweetest influence lend,
   All that’s lovely to impart.
5 Time shall sun and moon obscure,
   Seas be dried, and rocks be riven,
   But his reign shall still endure,
   Endless as the days of heaven.
6 Bless we, then, our gracious Lord,
   Ever praise his glorious name;
   All his mighty acts record,
   All his wondrous love proclaim.
                     Harriett Auber, 1829.

Holy Spirit
463 — Divine Drawings Implored
1 If thou hast drawn a thousand times,
      Oh draw me, Lord, again;
   Around me cast thy Spirit’s bands,
      And all my powers constrain.
2 Draw me from all created good,
      From self, the world, and sin,
   To the dear fountain the thy blood,
      And make me pure within.
3 Oh lead me to thy mercy seat;
      Attract me nearer still;
   Draw me, like Mary, to thy feet,
      To sit and learn thy will.
4 Oh draw me all the desert through
      With cords of heavenly love,
   And when prepared for going hence,
      Draw me to dwell above.
            Beddome and Rippon, 1800. a

Holy Spirit
465 — His Operations Sought
1 Spirit of Truth, thy grace impart,
      To guide our doubtful way;
   Thy beams shall scatter every cloud,
      And make a glorious day.
2 Light in thy light, oh may we see,
      Thy grace and mercy prove,
   Revived, and cheer’d, and bless’d by thee,
      Spirit of peace and love!
3 ‘Tis thine to soothe the sorrowing mind,
      With guilt and fear oppress’d;
   ‘Tis thine to bid the dying live,
      And give the weary rest.
4 Subdue the power of every sin,
      Whate’er that sin may be,
   That we, in singleness of heart,
      May worship only thee.
                     Thomas Cotterill, 1812, a.

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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