2585. Spiritual Gleaning

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No. 2585-44:409. A Sermon Delivered On An Autumn Evening, In The Year 1856, By C. H. Spurgeon, At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, August 28, 1898.

Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. {Ru 2:15}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 464, “Sermon for Gleaners, A” 455}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2585, “Spiritual Gleaning” 2586}

1. Our country cousins have been engaged recently in harvest occupations, and most of them understand what is meant by gleaning. Perhaps all of them are not so wise as to understand the heavenly art of spiritual gleaning. That is the subject which I have chosen for our meditation on this occasion, my attention having been called to it while I have been riding along through the country; and since I like to comment on the seasons of the year as they come and go, I shall give you a few homely remarks with regard to spiritual gleaning. In the first place, we shall observe, that there is a great Farmer. It was Boaz in this case; it is our Heavenly Father who is the Farmer in the other case. Secondly, we shall notice a humble gleaner. It was Ruth in this case; it is every believer who is represented by her; at least, we shall consider the subject like that. And, in the third place, here is a very gracious permission given: “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.”

2. I. In the first place, then, we will consider something concerning THE GREAT FARMER — GOD.

3. The God of the whole earth is a great Farmer; in fact, all farming operations are really dependent on him. Man may plough the soil, and he may sow the seed, but only God gives the increase. It is he who sends the clouds and the sunshine, it is he who directs the winds and the rain, and so, by various processes of nature, he makes the food for man. All the farming, however, which God does, he does for the benefit of others, and never for himself. He has no need of any of those things which are so necessary for us. Remember how he spoke to Israel of old: “I will take no young bull out of your house, no he-goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is mine, and its fulness.” All things are God’s, and all he does in creation, all the works of his providence, are not done for himself, but for his creatures, out of the benevolence of his loving heart.

4. And in spiritual matters, also, God is a great Farmer; and there, too, all his works are done for his people, so that they may be fed and satisfied, as with marrow and fatness. Permit me, then, to refer you to the great gospel fields which our Heavenly Father farms for the good of his children. There is a great variety of them, but they are all on good soil, for the words of Moses are true of the spiritual Israel: “The fountain of Jacob shall be on a land of grain and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.” God, as the great spiritual Farmer, has many fields, but they are all fertile, and there is always an abundant harvest to be reaped in them.

5. One field is called doctrine field. Oh, what large sheaves of blessed grain are to be found there! He who only gleans in it will find very much spiritual nutriment. There is the large sheaf of election, full, indeed, of heavy ears of grain like Pharaoh saw in his first dream, “fat and good.” There is the great sheaf of preservation, where it is promised to us that the work that God has begun he will assuredly complete. And if we do not have faith enough to partake of either of these sheaves, there is the most blessed sheaf of all, — indeed, it is many sheaves in one, — the sheaf of redemption by the blood of Christ. Many a poor soul, who could not feed on electing love, has found satisfaction in the blood of Jesus. He could sit down, and rejoice that redemption is finished, and that for every penitent soul there is provided a great atonement, by which he is reconciled to God.

6. I cannot take time to tell you about all the sheaves in the doctrine field. Some say there are only five; I believe the five great doctrines of Calvinism are, in some degree, a summary of the rest; they are distinctive points on which we differ from those who “have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” But there are many more doctrines besides these five; and all are equally precious, and all are equally valuable to the true believer’s soul, for he can feed on them to his heart’s content.

7. I wonder why it is that some of our ministers are so particular about locking the gate of this doctrine field. They do not like God’s people to get in. I believe it is because they are afraid Jeshurun would grow fat and kick, if he had too much food; at least, that is what I must be charitable enough to suppose. I fear that many are like the huge grain monopolist; they buy the doctrine of election, but keep it to themselves; they believe it is true, yet they never preach it. They say that all the distinguishing doctrines of grace are true; but they never proclaim them to others. There are Particular Baptists who are as sound in doctrine as any of us; but, unfortunately, they never make any sound about it; and though they are very sound when alone, they are very unsound when they come into their pulpits, for they never preach doctrine there. I say, swing the gate wide open, and come in, all you children of God! I am sure there are no weeds in my Master’s field. If the doctrine is a true one, it cannot harm the child of God; and so, since it is the truth, you may feast on it until your soul is satisfied, and no harm will come of it. The idea of reserve in preaching, — keeping back some doctrines because they are not fit to be preached! — I will repeat what I have said before, it is a piece of most abominable impudence on the part of man, to say that anything which God has revealed is unfit to be preached. If it is unfit to be preached, I am sure the Almighty would never have revealed it to us. No, like the old man described by Solomon, these preachers, who do not proclaim good, sound doctrine, are “afraid of what is high.” It is a sign of their senility that they fear to talk about these great things. God was not afraid to write them, and we, therefore, ought not to be afraid to preach them. The doctrine field is a glorious field, beloved; go into it often, and glean; you may find there more than an ephah of the finest wheat every day.

8. Then, next, God has a field called promise field; on that I need not dwell, for many of you have often been there. But let us just take an ear or two out of one of the sheaves, and show them to you, so that you may be tempted to go into the field to glean more for yourselves. Here is one: “ ‘The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,’ says the Lord ‘who has mercy on you.’ ” There is a heavy ear for you, now for another: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.” Here is another; it has a short stalk, but there is a great deal of grain on it: “My grace is sufficient for you.” Here is another: “Do not fear, for I am with you.” Here is another one: “Do not let your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; so that where I am, there you may be also.” There is the promise of Christ’s glorious second coming; and is that not a heavy ear of wheat for the Lord’s children to pick up? Yes, beloved, we can say of the promise field what cannot be said of any farmer’s field in England, namely, that it is so rich a field, it cannot be richer, and has so many ears of grain in it, that you could not put in another one. As the poet sings, —

    How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
    Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
    What more can he say than to you he hath said,
    You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Go and glean in that field, Christian; it is all your own, every ear of it; pull great handfuls out of the sheaves, if you like, for you are truly welcome to all you can find.

9. Then there is ordinance field; a great deal of grain grows in that field. One part of it reminds us of the ordinance of believers’ baptism; and, truly, God’s children are greatly profited even by the sight of the baptism of others; it comforts and cheers them, and helps them to renew their own dedication vow to the Lord Most High. But I must not detain you long in this field, though it is for many of us a very hallowed place. Some of my friends never go into this field at all, it is too damp a soil for them; and though the grain is very fine, and very high, they are afraid to go there. Let us leave that part of the field, and pass on to the place of communion. Oh, it is sweet, divinely sweet, to sit at the table of our Lord, to eat the bread and drink the wine! What rich dainties are provided there for us! Has not Jesus often given us there “the kisses of his mouth,” and have we not there tasted his love, and proved it to be “better than wine?” Beloved, go into that ordinance field; walk in the ordinances of the Lord blameless, and do not despise either of them. Keep his commandments, for so you will find a great reward, and so he will fill your souls with marrow and fatness.

10. But God has one field on a hill which is as rich as any of the others; and, indeed, you cannot really and truly go into any of the other fields unless you go through this one, for the road to the other fields lies through this one, which is called the field of fellowship and communion with Christ. Ah! that is the field to glean in; some of you have only run through it, you have not stopped in it; but he who knows how to stay in it, and to walk around in it, never loses anything, but gains much. Beloved, it is only in proportion as we hold fellowship with Christ, and commune with him, that either ordinances, or doctrines, or promises, can profit us. All those other things are dry and barren unless we have entered into the love of Christ, unless we have experienced our union with him, unless we have a sympathy with his heart, unless we bear his likeness, unless we dwell continually with him, and feel his love, and are ravished with his delights. I am sorry to say that few Christians think as much as they ought to about this field; it is enough for them to be sound in doctrine, and tolerably correct in practice; they do not think as much as they should about holding fellowship with Christ. I am sure, if they did, there would not be half so many bad tempers as there are; nor half so much pride, and not a tenth so much sloth, if our brethren went into that field more often. Oh, it is a blessed one; there is no such field as that! You may go into it and revel in delights, for it is full of everything good that the heart can wish for, or the soul imagine, or the mind conceive of. Blessed, blessed field is that! And God leaves the gate of that field wide open for every believer.

11. Children of God, go into all these fields; do not despise one of them; but go and glean in them all; for there is the richest gleaning in all creation.

12. II. Now, in the second place, we have to think and speak of A HUMBLE GLEANER. Ruth was a gleaner, and she may serve as an illustration of what every believer should be in the fields of God.

13. He should be a gleaner, and he may take a whole sheaf home if he likes; he may be something more than a gleaner if he can be; but I use the metaphor of a gleaner, because I believe that is the most a Christian ever is. Some may ask, “Why does the Christian not go and reap all the field, and take all the grain home with him?” So he may, if he can; if he likes to take a whole sheaf on his back, and go home with it, he may do so. And if he will bring a large wagon, and carry away all there is in the field, he may have it all; but, generally, our faith is so small that we can only glean, we take away only a little of the blessing which God has prepared so abundantly; and though, sometimes, faith takes and enjoys much, yet, when we compare it with what there is to be enjoyed, a gleaner is the true picture of faith, and more especially of little faith. All it can do is to glean; it cannot cart the wheat home, or carry a sheaf on its shoulders; it can only take it up ear by ear.

14. Again, I may remark, that the gleaner, in her business, has to endure much toil and fatigue. She rises early in the morning, and trudges off to a field; if that is shut, she trudges to another; and if that is closed, or the grain has all been gleaned, she goes to another. All day long, though the sun is shining on her, except when she sits down under a tree, to rest and refresh herself a little, still she goes on stooping, and gathering up her ears of grain; and she does not return home until nightfall, for she desires, if the field is good, to pick up all she can in the day, and she would not like to go back unless her arms were full of the rich grain she so much desires to find.

15. Beloved, so let it be with every believer; let him not be afraid of a little weariness in his Master’s service. If the gleaning is good, the spiritual gleaner will not mind fatigue in gathering it. One says, “I walk five miles every Sunday to chapel”; another says, “I walk six or seven miles.” Very well, if it is the gospel, it is worth, not only walking six or seven miles, but sixty or seventy, for it will pay you well. The gleaner must look for some toil and trouble; he must not expect that everything will come to him very easily. We must not think that it is always the field next to our house that is to be gleaned; it may be a field at the further end of the village. If so, let us go trudging off to it, so that we may get our hands and arms full.

16. But I remark, next, that the gleaner has to stoop for every ear she gets. Why is it that proud people do not profit under the Word? Why is it that your grand folk cannot get any good out of many gospel ministers? Why, because they want the ministers to pick up the grain for them! And besides that, many of the ministers hold it so high above their heads, that they can scarcely see it. They say, “Here is something wonderful”; and they admire the cleverness of the man who holds it up. Now, I like to scatter the grain on the ground as much as I ever can; I do not intend to hold it up so high that you cannot reach it. One reason is that I cannot; I do not have the talent to hold it up where you cannot see it; my ability will only allow me just to throw the grain on the ground, so that the people can pick it up; and if it is thrown on the ground, then everyone can get it. If we preach only to the rich, they can understand, but the poor cannot; but when we preach to the poor, the rich can understand it if they like, and if they do not like it, they can go somewhere else. I believe that the real gleaner, who gets any spiritual food, will have to stoop to pick it up; and I would gladly stoop to know and understand the gospel. It is worth while going anywhere to hear the gospel; but, nowadays, people must have fine steeples on their places of worship, fine gowns for their ministers, and they must preach most eloquently. But that is not the way the Lord ordained; he intended that there should be plain, simple, faithful preaching; and it is by the foolishness of such preaching that he will save those who believe. Beloved friends, remember that gleaners who are to get anything must expect to stoop.

17. Note, in the next place, that what a gleaner gathers, she gets ear by ear. Sometimes, it is true, she gets a handful; but that is the exception, not the rule. In the case of Ruth, handfuls were let fall on purpose for her; but the usual way is to glean ear by ear. The gleaner stoops, and picks up first one ear, and then another, and then another; only one ear at a time. Now, beloved, where there are handfuls to be gotten at once, there is the place to go and glean; but if you cannot get handfuls, go and get ear by ear. I have heard of certain people, who have been in the habit of hearing a favourite minister in London, saying, when they go to the seaside, “We cannot hear anyone after him; we shall not go to that chapel any more.” So they stay at home all day on the Sunday, I suppose forgetting that passage, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is.” They cannot get a handful, and therefore they will not pick up an ear. So the poor creatures are starved, and they are glad enough to get back home again. They should have gone, if they could get only one ear; and he is a sorry minister who cannot give them that; and if they only get one ear, it would be worth having. If it is only six words of God, if we think on them, they will do us good. Let us be content, then, to glean ear by ear; let us take away a whole sheaf with us if we can; but if we cannot do that, let us get the good grain one ear at a time.

18. “Oh!” says a friend, “I cannot hear some ministers at all; they preach such a mingle-mangle of truth and error.” I know they do; but it will be a strange thing if you cannot get an ear or two of wheat even from them. There is a great deal of straw, you are not required to take that away; but it will be remarkable if you cannot pick up an ear or two of good grain. You say, “The error that the man preaches distresses my mind.” No doubt it does; but the best way is to leave the falsehood alone, and pick out the sound truth; and if there is no sound truth in the sermon, a good plan is to read it all backwards, and then it will be sure to be sound. I heard a man of that kind once, and when he said a thing was such and such, I said to myself that it was not; and when he said such and such a thing would happen, I said it would not; and I enjoyed the sermon then. He said that the people of God, through their sin, would perish; I had only to put a “not” into his sentence, and what a sweet and comforting message it was then! That is the way, when you hear a bad sermon, just to qualify what the preacher says. Then, after all, you can make his discourse suggest spiritual thoughts to you, and do you good. But you must be content, wherever you go to hear the Word, to pick up the grain ear by ear.

19. Note, next, that what the gleaner picks up, she keeps in her hand; she does not pick it up, and then drop it down, as some do in their spiritual gleaning. There is a good thought at the beginning of the sermon; but you are all expecting to hear another, and you let the first go. Then, towards the end of the discourse, there is another flash perhaps; and, in trying to catch that, you have forgotten all the rest. So, when the sermon is over, it is nearly all gone; and you are about as wise as a gleaner, who should set out in the morning, and pick up one ear, then drop that, and pick up another; then drop that, and pick up another; she would find, at night, that she had gotten — indeed, what? — that she had gotten nothing for all her trouble. It is just the same in hearing a sermon: some people pick up the ears, and drop them again as fast as they pick them up.

20. But one says, “I have kept nearly the entire sermon.” I am glad to hear it, my friend; but just allow me to make a remark. Many a man, when he has nearly the whole sermon, loses it on the way home. Very much depends on our conduct on our way back from the house of God. I have heard of a Christian man who was seen hurrying home, one Sunday, with all his might. A friend asked him why he was in such haste. “Oh!” he said, “two or three Sundays ago, our minister gave us a most blessed discourse, and I greatly enjoyed it; but as soon as I was outside the chapel, there were two deacons, and one pulled one way, and the other pulled the other way, until they tore the sermon all to pieces; and though it was a most blessed discourse, I did not remember a word of it when I got home; all the savour and unction had been taken out of it by those deacons; so I thought I would hurry home tonight, and pray over the sermon without speaking to them at all.” It is always the best way, beloved, to go straight home from your places of worship; if you begin your chit-chat about this thing and the other, you lose all the savour and unction of the discourse; therefore I would advise you to go home as quickly as you can after service; possibly, you might then get more good than you usually do from the sermon, and from the worship altogether.

21. Then, again, the gleaner takes the wheat home, and threshes it. It is a blessed thing to thresh a sermon when you have heard it. Many people thrash the preacher; but that is not half so good as threshing the sermon. They begin finding this fault and the other with him, and they think that is doing good; but it is not. Take the sermon, beloved, when you have listened to it, lay it down on the floor of meditation, and beat it with the flail of prayer; so you will get the grain out of it. But the sermon is no good unless you thresh it. Why, that is as if a gleaner should stow away her grain in the room, and the mice should find it; in that case, it would be a nuisance to her rather than a benefit. So, some people hear a sermon, and carry it home, and then allow their sins to eat it all up; so, it becomes an injury to them, rather than a blessing. But he who knows how to flail a sermon well, to put it into the threshing machine, and thresh it well, has learned a good art, from which he shall profit much.

22. I have heard of an aged Scotchman, who, one Sunday morning, returned from “kirk” rather earlier than usual, and his wife, surprised to see him home so soon, said to him, “Donald, is the sermon all done?” “No,” he answered, “it is all said, but it is not all done by a long shot.” We ought to take the sermon home, to do what the preacher has said; that is what I mean by threshing it. But some of you are content if you carry the sermon home; you are willing enough, perhaps, to talk a little about it; but there is no thorough threshing of it by meditation and prayer.

23. And then, once more, the good woman, after threshing the grain, no doubt afterwards winnowed it. Ruth did this in the field; but you can scarcely do so with the sermons you hear; some of the winnowing must be done at home. Observe, too, that Ruth did not take the chaff home; she left that behind her in the field. It is an important thing to winnow every sermon that you hear. My dear friends, I would not wish you to be spongy hearers, who suck up everything that is poured into their ears. I would have you all to be winnowers, to separate the precious from the vile. With all ministers, there is a certain quantity of chaff mixed with the grain; but I have noticed in some hearers a sad predilection to take all the chaff, and leave the grain behind. One exclaims, when he gets out of the building, or even before, “That was a curious story that the preacher told; would it not make a good anecdote for me at the next party I attend?” Another says, “Mr. Spurgeon used such and such an expression.” If you hear a man talk in that way, do you know what you should say to him? You should say, “Stop, friend; we all have our faults, and perhaps you have as many as anyone else; can you not tell us something Mr. Spurgeon said that was good?” “Oh, I do not remember that; that is all gone!” Just so; people are ready to remember what is bad, but they soon forget anything that is good. Let me advise you to winnow the sermon, to meditate on it, to pray over it, to separate the chaff from the wheat, and to take care of what is good. That is the true art of heavenly gleaning; may the Lord teach it to us, so that we may become “rich to all the intents of bliss,” that we may be filled and satisfied with the favour and goodness of the Lord!

24. III. Now, in the last place, here is A GRACIOUS PERMISSION GIVEN: “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.”

25. Ruth had no right to go among the sheaves to glean, but Boaz gave her a right to go there by saying, “Let her do it.” For her to be allowed to go among the sheaves, in that part of the field where the wheat was not already harvested, was a special favour; but to go among the sheaves, and to have handfuls of grain dropped on purpose for her, was a further proof of the kindness of Boaz.

26. Shall I tell you the reasons that moved the heart of Boaz to let Ruth go and glean among the sheaves? One reason was, because he loved her. He would have her go there, because he had conceived a great affection for her, which he later displayed in due time. So the Lord lets his people come and glean among the sheaves, because he loves them. Did you have a rich gleaning among the sheaves, the other Sabbath? Did you carry home your sack, filled like the sacks of Benjamin’s brothers, when they went back from Egypt? Did you have an abundance of the good grain of the land? Were you satisfied with favour, and filled with the blessing of the Lord? That was all owing to your Master’s goodness; it was because he loved you that he dealt so bountifully with you. Please look over all your mercies as proofs of his love; especially, look over all your spiritual blessings as being signs of his grace. It will make your grain grind all the better, and taste all the sweeter, if you think that it is a proof of love that your sweet seasons, your high enjoyments, your blessed ravishments of spirit, are so many proofs of your Lord’s affection for you. Boaz allowed Ruth to go and glean among the sheaves because of his love for her; so, beloved, it is God’s free grace that lets us go among his sheaves, and that lets us lay hold of doctrine-blessings, promise-blessings, or experience-blessings. We have no right to be there by ourselves; it is all the Lord’s free and sovereign grace that lets us go there.

27. There was another reason why Boaz let Ruth glean among the sheaves, — that was, because he was related to her. And that is why the Lord sometimes gives us such sweet mercies, and takes us into his banqueting house, because he is related to us. He is our Brother, our Kinsman, closely related to us by ties of blood; indeed, more than that, he is the Husband of his Church, and he may well let his wife go and glean among the sheaves, for all she gets is not lost to him; it is only putting it out of one hand into the other, since her interests and his are all one. So he may well say, “Beloved, take all you please; I am none the poorer, for you are mine. You are my partner, you are my chosen one, you are my bride; so, take it, take it all, for it is still in the family, and there is none the less, when you have taken all that you can.”

28. What more shall I say to you, my beloved brothers and sisters? Go gleaning, spiritually, as much as you ever can. Never lose an opportunity for getting a blessing. Glean at the mercy seat; glean in the house of God; glean in private meditation; glean in reading pious books; glean in associating with gracious men and women; glean everywhere — wherever you go; and if you can pick up only an ear a day, you who are so much engaged in business, and so much penned up by cares, if you can only spare five minutes, go gleaning a little; and if you cannot carry away a sheaf, get an ear; or if you cannot get an ear, make sure of at least one grain. Take care to glean a little; if you cannot find much, get as much as you ever can.

29. Just one other remark, and then I will close. Oh child of God, never be afraid to glean! All there is in all your Lord’s fields is yours. Never think that your Master will be angry with you because you carry away so much of the good grain of the kingdom; the only thing he is likely to be offended with you for is, because you do not take enough. “There it is,” he says; “take it, take it, and eat it; eat abundantly; drink, yes, drink abundantly, oh beloved!” If you find a sweet promise, suck all the honey out of the honeycomb. And if you get hold of some blessed sheaf, do not be afraid to carry it away rejoicing. You have a right to it; do not let Satan cheat you out of it. Sharpen up the sickle of your faith, and go harvesting; for you may, if you wish; and if you can, you may take a whole sheaf, and carry it away for spiritual food. But if you cannot take a whole sheaf, may the Lord teach you how to glean among the sheaves, even as Ruth did in the fields of Boaz; and may he, in the greatness of his grace, let fall a few handfuls on purpose for you, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {De 8}

1. “All the commandments which I command you today you shall observe to do, so that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your forefathers.

Observe, dear friends, that the Lord demands of his people universal obedience to his commands: “All the commandments which I command you today you shall observe to do.” Christians, although they are not under the law, are under the sweet constraints of love; and that love incites them to complete obedience, so that they desire to leave nothing undone which the Lord commands.

And this obedience is to be careful as well as complete: “All the commandments which I command you today you shall observe to do”; not only do them, but do them with care. When the commandment applies to a certain duty, obey it in full, both in the letter and in the spirit, for there are numerous and weighty blessings attached to obedience, — not by merit, but by grace. If we walk carefully in the fear of God, we shall find that in keeping his commandments there is great reward.

2. And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.

It is good to have a good memory, and that is the best memory which remembers what is best worth remembering. There are many things which we would gladly forget, yet we find it hard to forget them; they often rise up at most inappropriate times, and we loathe ourselves to think that we should ever remember them at all. But, whatever we forget, we ought always to remember what God has done for us. This should arouse our gratitude, create deep humility, and foster our faith both for the present and the future: “You shall remember all the way which Jehovah your God led you these forty years in the wilderness” If forty years of the Lord’s leading should make some of us bless his holy name, what ought you to do, my brethren, who, perhaps, are getting near the four-score years? What praise and gratitude should be rendered by you to him who has led you all your lifelong!

See what God intends to accomplish by our wilderness experience. It is, first, to “humble” us. Has it had that effect? Then it is to “prove” us. Ah, I am afraid it has had that result, and has proved what poor wretched creatures we are! That has been proved in our experience again and again. It is, also that it may be known what is in our heart, whether we will keep God’s commandments, or not.

3. And he humbled you, and permitted you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, —

What a wonderful sequence there is in these short sentences! “He humbled you, and permitted you to hunger”; and one would think that the next sentence would be, “and allowed you to starve.” No; it is, “and fed you with manna.” They had all the better appetite for the manna, and were all the more ready to see the hand of God in sending the manna, because of that humbling and hunger which God had previously permitted them to endure. “Fed you with manna, which you did not know.” The very name by which they called it was, “Manna,” or, “What is this?” “for they did not know what it was.” “And fed you with manna, which you did not know.”

3. Neither did your forefathers know; so that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

God can make us live on bread, if it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer; he makes our souls to live on his Word. He could, if it so pleased him, make our bodies live by that Word without any outward sustenance whatever.

4. Your clothing did not wear out on you, neither did your feet swell, these forty years.

What a wonderful experience the Israelites had in the wilderness! They were always fed, though in a waste howling wilderness, dry and barren. They always had water following them from that stream which flowed out of the flinty rock, from which you might sooner have expected to strike fire than to obtain water. And as for their clothing, they did not wear out. They had no shops to go to, and they were unable to make new clothes in the wilderness, on account of their frequent moving to and fro; yet they were always clad; and, though they were a host of weary pilgrims, marching backwards and forwards for forty years, yet their feet did not swell. Oh, what a mercy that was! “He keeps the feet of his saints.” Has it not been so with you also, dear friends? You have said, “What shall I do if I live so long, and if I have to bear so many troubles, and make so many marches through the very valley of the shadow of death?” What will you do? Why, you will do as you have done! Trust in God, and go on. You shall be fed, and you shall be upheld even to the end.

5. You shall also consider in your heart, —

Note that we are not only to remember God’s dealings with us, but we are to consider them, to ponder them, to weigh them. “Consider in your heart,” —

5. That, just as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you.

Do I speak to anyone who is just now under the rod? “Consider in your heart,” then, that God is dealing with you as a father deals with his sons, “for what son is he whom the father does not chasten?” How would you like to be dealt with? Would you rather be without the rod? Then remember that “if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards, and not sons.” Do you wish to be treated like that? I am sure you do not; you wish to have the children’s portion; so you say, “Deal with me, Lord, as you are accustomed to do with those who fear your name.” We are willing to have the rod of the covenant for the sake of the covenant to which it belongs.

6-8. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the LORD your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey;

This also is the experience of the child of God; in one sense, in heaven; but in another, and perhaps a truer sense, even here below. “We who have believed enter into rest.” By faith, we take possession of the promised land; and when a Christian gets out of the wilderness experience of doubting and fearing, and comes into the Canaan experience of a simple faith and a fully assured trust, then he comes “into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey”; for God gives to his people not only all they need, but something more. He gives them, not only necessities, but also luxuries, delights, and joys.

9. A land where you shall eat bread without scarcity, you shall not lack anything there;

When you live in communion with God, and he brings you into the full enjoyment of the covenant blessings, then there is no scarcity with you, there is no lack of anything.

9. A land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig copper ore.

They had no silver and gold, but then the princes of Sheba and Seba were to offer them gifts, and bring them their gold and their silver. But if they had nothing for show, they had plenty for use, for iron is a great deal more useful metal than gold; and the copper, which they hardened into bronze, was of much more service to them than silver would have been. God will furnish you, dear brother, with all the weapons you need for the Holy War; there may be no gold and silver ornaments for your pride, but there shall be iron instruments to help you in your conflict with your adversaries.

10. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which he has given you.

God permits his people to eat, and to be full; but, when they are so, they must take care that they do not become proud, and that they do not begin to ascribe their profiting to themselves.

11. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you today:

Whenever we see the word “Beware” in the Bible, we may be sure that there is something to beware of. The point here to note is, that our times of prosperity are times of danger. I remember that Mr. Whitfield once asked for the prayers of the congregation “for a young gentleman in very dangerous circumstances,” for he had just come into a fortune of £5,000. Then is the time when prayer is needed even more than in seasons of depression and of loss.

12-16. Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and live in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; then your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the rock of flint; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your forefathers did not know, that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end;

Why do we get these passages repeated? Surely it is because we have such slippery memories, and the Lord has to tell his children the same thing over and over again: “precept upon precept: line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”; because we forget so soon.

17-20. And you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. And it shall be, if you do at all forget the LORD your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. Just as the nations which the LORD destroys before your face, so you shall perish;

“If you sin as they do, you shall fare as they do.”

20. Because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.”

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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