A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 31, 1859, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30)
1. The single sentence which I have selected for my text consists of these words:—“I am meek and lowly in heart.” These words might be taken to have three distinct bearings upon the context. They may be regarded as being the lesson to be taught: “Learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” One great lesson of the gospel is to teach us to be meek—to put away our high and angry spirits, and to make us lowly in heart. Perhaps, this is the meaning of the passage—that if we will only come to Christ’s school, he will teach us the hardest of all lessons,—how to be meek and lowly in heart. Again; other expositors might consider this sentence to mean, that is the only spirit in which a man can learn from Jesus,—the spirit which is necessary if we wish to become Christ’s scholars. We can learn nothing, even from Christ himself, while we hold our heads up with pride, or exalt ourselves with self-confidence. We must be meek and lowly in heart, otherwise we are totally unfit to be taught by Christ. Empty vessels may be filled; but vessels that are full already can receive no more. The man who knows his own emptiness can receive abundance of knowledge, and wisdom, and grace, from Christ; but he who glories in himself is not in a fit condition to receive anything from God. I have no doubt that both of these interpretations are true, and might be borne out by the connection. It is the lesson of Christ’s school—it is the spirit of Christ’s disciples. But I choose, rather, this morning, to regard these words as being a commendation of the Teacher himself. “Come to me and learn; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” As much as to say, “I can teach, and you will not find it hard to learn from me.” In fact, the subject of this morning’s discourse is briefly this: the gentle, lovely character of Christ should be a high and powerful inducement to sinners to come to Christ. I intend so to use it: first of all, noticing the two qualities which Christ here claims for himself. He is “meek;” and then he is “lowly in heart;” and after we have observed these two things, I shall come to drive the conclusion home. Come to him, all you who are labouring and are heavy laden; come to him, and take his yoke upon you; for he is meek and lowly in heart.
2. I. First, then, I am to consider THE FIRST QUALITY WHICH JESUS CHRIST CLAIMS. He declares that he is “MEEK.”
3. Christ is no egotist; he takes no praise for himself. If ever he utters a word in self-commendation, it is not with that object; it is with another design, namely that he may entice souls to come to him. Here, in order to exhibit this meekness, I shall have to speak about him in several ways.
4. 1. First, Christ is meek, as opposed to the ferocity of spirit revealed by zealots and bigots. Take, for a prominent example of the opposite of meekness, the false prophet Mohammed. The strength of his cause lies in the fact, that he is not meek. He presents himself before those whom he claims as disciples, and says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am neither meek, nor lowly in heart; I will have no patience with you; there is my creed, or there is the scimitar—death or conversion, whichever you please.” The moment the Mohammedan religion withdrew that very forcible argument of decapitation or impalement, its work of conversion stopped, and never progressed; for the very strength of the false prophet lays in the absence of any meekness. How opposite this is to Christ! Although he has a right to demand man’s love and man’s faith, yet he does not come into the world to demand it with fire and sword. His might is under persuasion; his strength is quiet forbearance, and patient endurance; his mightiest force is the sweet attraction of compassion and love. He knows nothing of the ferocious hosts of Mohammed; he bids none of us to draw our sword to propagate the faith, but says, “Put up your sword into its scabbard; those who take the sword shall perish by the sword.” “My kingdom is not from this world, or else would my servants fight.” No, Mohammed is not the only instance we can bring; but even good men are subject to similar mistakes. They imagine that religion is to be spread by terror and thunder. Look at John himself, the most lovely of all the disciples: he would call fire from heaven on a village of Samaritans, because they rejected Christ. Hear to his hot enquiry,—“Do you wish us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Christ’s disciples were to him something like the sons of Zeruiah to David; for when Shimei mocked David, the sons of Zeruiah said, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray you, and take off his head.” But David meekly said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah?”—and put them aside. He had something of the spirit of his Master; he knew that his honour was not then to be defended by sword or spear. Oh blessed Jesus! you has no fury in your spirit; when men rejected you, you did not draw the sword to strike, but, on the contrary, you gave your eyes to weeping. Look your Saviour, disciples, and see whether he was not meek. He had long preached in Jerusalem without effect, and at last he knew that they were ready to put him to death; but what does he say when he was standing on the top of the hill and viewed the city that had rejected his gospel? Did he invoke a curse upon it? Did he allow one word of anger to leap from his burning heart? Ah! no; there were flames, but they were those of love; there were scalding drops, but they were those of grief. He beheld the city, and wept over it, and said, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you refused.” And for a further proof of the absence of all uncharitableness, observe that, even when they drove the nails into his blessed hands, yet he had no curse to breathe upon them, but his dying exclamation was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Oh sinners! see what a Christ it is that we bid you serve. No angry bigot, no fierce warrior, claiming your unwilling faith: he is a tender Jesus. Your rejection of him has made his heart yearn over you; and though you abhor his gospel, he has pleaded for you, saying, “Let him alone yet another year, until I dig about him; perhaps he may yet bring forth fruit.” What a patient Master he is! Oh! will you not serve him?
5. 2. But the idea is not brought out fully, unless we take another sense. There is a sternness which cannot be condemned. A Christian man will often feel him self called to bear most solemn and stern witness against the error of his times. But Christ’s mission, although it certainly testified against the sin of his times, yet had a far greater reference to the salvation of the souls of men. To show the idea that I have in my own mind, which I have not yet brought out, I must picture Elijah. What a man he was! His mission was to be the bold unflinching advocate of the right, and to bear a constant testimony against the wickedness of his age. And how boldly did he speak! Look at him: how grand is the picture! Can you not conceive him on that memorable day, when he met Ahab, and Ahab said, “Have you found me, oh my enemy?” Do you hear that mighty answer which Elijah gave him, while the king trembles at his words. Or, better still, can you picture the scene when Elijah said, “Take two bulls, you priests, and build an altar, and see this day, whether God is God or Baal is God.” Do you see him as he mocks the worshippers of Baal, and with a biting irony says to them, “Cry aloud, for he is a god.” And do you see him in the last grand scene, when the fire has come down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice, and licked up the water, and burned the altar? Do you hear him cry, “Take the prophets of Baal; do not let any escape?” Can you see him in his might hewing them in pieces by the brook, and making their flesh a feast for the fowls of heaven? Now, you cannot picture Christ in the same position. He had the stern qualities of Elijah, but he kept them, as it were, behind, like sleeping thunder, that must not as yet waken and lift up its voice. There were some rumblings of the tempest, it is true, when he spoke so sternly to the Sadducees, and Scribes, and Pharisees; those woes were like murmurings of a distant storm, but it was a distant storm; whereas, Elijah lived in the midst of the whirlwind itself, and was no still small voice, but was as the very fire of God, and like the chariot in which he mounted to heaven—fit chariot for such a fiery man! Christ here stands in marked contrast. Picture him in a similar position to Elijah with Ahab. There is Jesus left alone with an adulterous woman. She has been taken in the very act. Her accusers are present, ready to bear witness against her. By a simple sentence he emptied the room of every witness; convicted by their conscience they all retire. And now what does Christ say? The woman might have lifted her eyes, and have looked at him, and said, “Have you found me oh my enemy?”—for she might have regarded Christ as the enemy of so base a sin as that which she had committed against her marriage bed. But instead of that Jesus said, “Does no man condemn you? Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Oh, how different from the sternness or Elijah! Sinners! if I had to preach Elijah as your Saviour I should feel that I had a hard task, for you might throw it in my teeth—“Shall we come to Elijah? He will call fire down from heaven on us, as he did upon the captains and their fifties. Shall we come to Elijah? Surely he will kill us, for we have been like the prophets of Baal?” No, sinners; but I bid you come to Christ. Come to him, who, although he hated sin more than Elijah could do, yet nevertheless, loved the sinner—who, though he would not spare iniquity, yet spares the transgressors, and has no words except those of love and mercy, and peace and comfort, for those of you who will now come and put your trust in him.
6. I must put in a word here by way of caveat. I am very far from imputing, for a single moment, any blame to Elijah. He was quite right. No one but Elijah could have fulfilled the mission which his Master gave him. He needed to be all that he was, and certainly not less stern; but Elijah was not sent to be a Saviour; he was quite unfit for that. He was sent to administer a stern rebuke. He was God’s iron tongue of threatening, not God’s silver tongue of mercy. Now, Jesus is the silver tongue of grace. Sinners! hear the sweet bells ringing, as Jesus now invites you to come to him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden; for I am not stern, I am not harsh, I am no fire-killing Elijah; I am the meek, tender, lowly hearted Jesus.”
7. 3. Christ is meek in heart. To exhibit this quality in another light, recall to your minds Moses. Moses was the meekest of men; and yet Christ far excels Moses in his meekness. Around Moses there seems to be a hedge, a ring of fire. The character of Moses is like Mount Sinai; it has bounds set around it, so that one cannot draw near to him. Moses was not an approachable person, he was quiet and meek, and tender, but there was a sacred majesty about the King in Jeshurun that hedged his path, so that we cannot imagine the people making themselves familiar with him. Whoever read of Moses sitting down upon a well, and talking to a prostitute like the woman of Samaria? Whoever heard a story of a Magdalene washing the feet of Moses? Can you conceive Moses eating food with a sinner, or passing under a sycamore tree, and calling Zacchaeus, the thievish tax collector, and bidding him come down? There is a kind of stately majesty in Moses, no mere affectation of standing alone, but a loneliness of superior worth. Men looked up to him as to some cloud capped mountain, and despaired of being able to enter into the lofty circle, within which they might have communed with him. Moses always had in spirit what he once had in visible token; he had a glory about his brow, and before he could converse with men he must wear a veil, for they could not bear to look upon the face of Moses. But how different is Jesus! He is a man among men; wherever he goes no one is afraid to speak to him. You scarcely meet with anyone who fears to approach him. There is a poor woman, it is true, who has the flux, and she fears to come near him, because she is ceremonially unclean; but even she can come behind him in the crowd, and touch the hem of his garment, and power goes out of him. No one was afraid of Jesus. The mothers brought their little babes to him: whoever heard of their doing that to Moses? Did any babe get a blessing from Moses? But Jesus was all meekness—the approachable man, feasting with the wedding guests, sitting down with sinners, conversing with the unholy and the unclean, touching the leper, and making himself at home with all men. Sinners! this is the one we invite you to—this homely man, Christ. Not to Moses, for you might say, “He has horns of light, and how shall I draw near to his majesty? He is bright perfection—the very lightnings of Sinai rest upon his brow.” But sinners, you cannot say that about Christ. He is as holy as Moses—as great, and far greater; but he is still so approachable that you may come to him. Little children, you may put your trust in him. You may say your little prayer,
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look on me, a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to thee.
He will not cast you away, or think you have intruded on him. You prostitutes, you drunkards, you revellers, you wedding guests, you may all come; “This man receives sinners, and eats with them.” He is “meek and lowly in heart.” That gives, I think, a still fuller and broader sense to the term, “meek.”
8. 4. But yet, to push the term a little further, Christ on earth was a king; but there as nothing about him of the exclusive pomp of kings, which excludes the common people from their society. Look at the Eastern king Ahasuerus, sitting on his throne. He is considered by his people as a superior being. No one may come in to the king, unless he is called for. Should he venture to pass the circle, the guards will kill him, unless the king stretches out the golden sceptre. Even Esther, his beloved wife, is afraid to draw near, and must put her life in her hand, if she comes into the presence of the king without being called. Christ is a king; but where is his pomp? Where is the janitor that keeps his door, and drives away the poor? Where are the soldiers who ride on either side of his chariot to screen the monarch from the gaze of poverty? See your King, oh Zion! He comes, he comes in royal pomp! Behold, Judah, behold your King comes! But how does he come? “Meek and lowly, riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt, the foal of a donkey.” And who are his attendants? See, the young children, boys and girls! They cry, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” And who are they who wait upon him? his poor disciples. They pull the branches from the trees; they throw their garments in the street, and there he rides on—Judah’s royal King. His courtiers are the poor; his pomp is that tribute which grateful hearts delight to offer. Oh sinners, will you not come to Christ? There is nothing in him to keep you back. You do not need to say, like Esther did of old, “I will go in to the king, if I perish I perish.” Come, and welcome! Come, and welcome! Christ is more ready to receive you than you are to come to him. Come to the King! “What is your petition, and what is your request? It shall be done for you.” If you stay away, it is not because he shuts the door, it is because you will not come. Come, filthy, naked, ragged, poor, lost, ruined, come, just as you are. Here he stands, like a fountain freely flowing for all comers. “Whoever will, let him come and take from the waters of life freely.”
9. 5. I will give you only one more picture to show the meekness of Christ, and I think I shall not have completed the story without it. The absence of all selfishness from the character of Christ, makes one ingredient of this precious quality of his meekness. You remember the history of Jonah. Jonah is sent to prophecy against Nineveh; but he is selfish. He will not go for he shall receive no honour by it. He does not want to go on so long a journey for so small a price. He will not go. He will take a ship and go to Tarshish. He is thrown out into the sea, swallowed by a fish, and vomited by it upon dry land. He goes away to Nineveh, and not lacking courage, he goes through its streets, crying, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” That one man’s earnest cry moves the city from one end to the other. The king proclaims a fast; the people mourn in sackcloth and confess their sins. God sends them news of mercy, and they are spared. But what will Jonah do? Oh, do not tell it, you heavens; let no one hear of it—that any prophet of God could do like this! He sits down, and he is angry with God. And why is he angry? Because, he says, “God has not destroyed that city.” If God had destroyed the city he would have shouted over the ruins, because his reputation would have been safe; but now that the city is saved, and his own reputation for a prophet tarnished, he has to sit down in anger. But Christ is the very reverse of this. Sinners! Christ does thunder at you sometimes, but it is always so that he may bring you to repentance. He does take Jonah’s cry, and utter it far more mightily than Jonah could; he does warn you that there is a fire that never can be quenched, and a worm that does not die; but if you turn to him, will he sit down and be angry? Oh! no; I think I see him. There you come as poor prodigals; your father falls upon your neck and kisses you, and you are accepted, and a feast is made. Here comes the elder brother, Jesus. What does he say? Is he angry because you are saved? Ah! no! “My Father,” he says, “my younger brothers have all come home, and I love them; they shall share my honours; they shall sit upon my throne; they shall share my heaven.” “Where I am, there they shall be also.” I will take them into union with myself, and since they have wasted their inheritance, all that I have shall be their’s for ever. Oh! come home, prodigal, there is no angry brother and no angry father. Come back, come back, my brother, my wandering brother, I invite you; for Jesus is rejoicing to receive you. Do you not see, then, that the meekness of Christ is a sweet and blessed reason why we should come to him?
10. II. The second virtue which Christ claims for himself, is LOWLINESS OF HEART.
11. When I looked this passage up in the original, I half wondered how it was that Christ found such a sweet word for the expression of his meaning; for the Greeks, do not know much about humility, and they do not have a very good word use for this idea of lowliness of heart. I find that if this passage stood in another connection, the word might even be interpreted “degraded, debased,” for the Greeks thought that if a man was humble, he degraded himself—that if he stooped, he debased himself outright. “Well,” Christ says, “if you think so, let it be, and he takes the word.” The word means, “near the ground.” So is Christ’s heart. We cannot be so low that he will not stoop to reach us. I would just explain the lowliness of Christ’s heart in this way. Christ is “lowly in heart;” that is, he is willing to receive the poorest sinner in the world. The Pharisee thought that the keeper of the gate of heaven would admit only the rich, and not the poor. Note Christ’s teaching. There were two who came to the gate at one time; one was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; he knocked, and thought that he must enter for sure; but “in hell he lifts up his eyes being in torments.” There came another, borne on angel’s wings. It was a beggar, whose many sores the dogs had licked; and he had not even have to knock at the gate, for the angel’s carried him immediately into the very centre of paradise, and laid him in Abraham’s bosom. Jesus Christ is willing to receive beggars into his bosom. Kings, you know, condescend, when they permit even the rich to be presented to them, and the kissing of a monarch’s hand is something very wonderful indeed, but to have the kisses of his lips who is the King of kings, is no uncommon thing for men that are shivering in rags, or that are sick upon miserable beds, in dingy attics. Christ is “lowly in heart;” he goes with what men call the common crowd, he has nothing of affected royalty about him—he has a nobler royalty than that, the royalty that is too proud to think anything of a stoop, that can only measure itself by its own intrinsic excellence, and not by its official standing. He receives the lowest, the meanest, the vilest, for he is “lowly in heart.” If I have among my congregation some of the poorest of the poor, let them come away to Christ, and let them not imagine that their poverty needs to keep them back. I am always delighted when I see a number of women here from the neighbouring workhouse. I bless God that there are some in the workhouse that are willing to come; and though they have sometimes been put to a little inconvenience by so doing, yet I have known them to sooner give up their dinner than give up coming to hear the Word. God bless the workhouse women, and may they be led to Christ, for he is meek and lowly in heart, and will not reject them. I must confess also, I like to see a working man here and there in the midst of the congregation. Oh! what a mercy, that in the palace of the Great King there shall be found these workmen. They shall be made partakers of the kingdom of God. He makes no distinction between prince and pauper; he takes men to heaven just as readily from the workhouse, as from the palace.
12. Further, this lowliness of heart in Christ leads him to receive the most ignorant as well as the learned to himself. I know that sometimes poor ignorant people get a notion in their heads that they cannot be saved, because they cannot read and do not know much. I have sometimes, especially in country villages, received this answer, when I have been asking anything about personal religion. “Well, you know, sir, I never had any education.” Oh! but, you uneducated, is this a reason why you should stay away from him who is lowly in heart? It was said of an old Greek philosopher, that he wrote over his door, “No one except the learned may enter here.” But Christ, on the contrary, writes over his door, “He who is simple let him turn in here.” There are many great men with long handles to their names who know little about the gospel, while some of the poor unlettered ones spell out the whole secret, and become perfect masters in divinity. If those who really deserve them had degrees, then often diplomas would be transferred, and given to those who hold the plough handle or work at the carpenter’s bench; for there is often more divinity in the little finger of a ploughman than there is in the whole body of some of our modern divines. “Do not they understand divinity?” you say. Yes, in the letter of it; but as to the spirit and life of it, D. D. often means DOUBLY DESTITUTE.
13. The lowliness of Christ may be clearly seen in yet another point of view. He is not only willing to receive the poor, and to receive the ignorant, but he is also always ready to receive men, despite the vileness of their characters. Some teachers can stoop, and freely too, to both poor and ignorant; but they cannot stoop to the wicked. I think we have all felt a difficulty here. “However poor a man may be, or however little he knows,” you say, “I do not mind talking with him, and trying to do him good; but I cannot talk with a man who is a rogue or a vagabond, or with a woman who has lost her character.” I know you cannot; there are a great many things Christ did which we cannot do. We, who are the servants of Christ, have attempted to draw a line where duty has its bound. Like the domestic servant in some lordly mansion who does not stoop to menial employment, we are above our work. We are so fastidious, that we cannot go after the chief of sinners, and the vilest of the vile. Not so, Christ. “He receives sinners and eats with them.” He, in the days of his flesh, became familiar with the outcasts. He sought them out so that he might save them; he entered their homes; he found his way into the slums, like some diligent officer of the police, he was willing to lodge where they lodged, eat at their table, and associate with their class to find them. His mission was to seek as well as to save. Oh, see him stand, with arms wide open! Will that thief, who is justly executed for his crimes, be recognised by him? Yes, he will. There, with his arms outstretched, he hangs; the thief flies as it were to his bosom, and Jesus gives him a most blessed embrace. “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Christ has received the thief with open heart and open arms too. And there is Mary Magdalene. Do you see her? She is washing the feet of Jesus. Why, she is a bad character, one of the worst women on the town. What will Christ say? Say? Why, hear how he speaks to Simon, the pious, reputable Pharisee. He says after telling the parable concerning the two debtors, “which of them shall love him most?”—and then he explains that this woman who has had much forgiven, and therefore she loves him much. “Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven,” says he, and she goes her way in peace. There are many men you and I would not demean ourselves to notice, that Christ will take to heaven at last; for he is “lowly in heart.” He takes the base, the vilest, the scum, the offscouring, the filth, the garbage of the world, and out of such stuff and matter as that, he builds up a holy temple, and gathers to himself trophies for his honour and praise.
14. And further, while I speak of the lowliness of Christ’s heart, I must remark on another thing. Perhaps one is saying here, “Oh! sir, it is not my conduct that keeps me back from Christ; but I feel my nature restrains me; I am such a dolt, I shall never learn in his school. I am such a hard hearted one, he will never melt me, and if he does save me, I shall never be worth his having.” Yes, but Christ is “lowly in heart.” There are some great goldsmiths that of course can only think of preparing and polishing the choicest diamonds; but Jesus Christ polishes a common pebble, and makes it a jewel. Goldsmiths make their precious treasures out of precious materials; Christ makes his precious things out of dross. He begins always with bad material. The palace of our King is not made of cedar wood, as Solomon’s was, or if it is made of wood, certainly he has chosen the knottiest trees and the knottiest planks with which to build his abode. He has taken those to be his scholars who were the greatest dunces; so amazing is the lowliness of Christ’s heart. He sits down on the form with us to teach us the A, B, C, of repentance, and if we are slow to learn it he begins again, and takes us through our alphabet, and if we forget it he will often teach us our letters over again; for though he is able to teach the angels, yet he condescends to instruct babes, and as we go step by step in heavenly literature, Christ is not above teaching the basics. He does not teach only in the University, and the Grammar school, where high attainments are valued, but he teaches in the day school, where the basics and first principles are to be instilled. It is he who teaches the sinner, what sinner means in deep conviction, and what faith means in holy assurance. It is not only he who takes us to Pisgah, and bids us view the promised land, but it is he also who takes us to Calvary, and makes us learn that simplest of all things, the sacred writing of the cross. He, if I may use such a phrase, will not only teach us how to write the highly ornamental writing of the Eden Paradise, the richly gilded, illuminated letters of communion and fellowship, but he teaches us how to make the pothooks and hangers of repentance and faith. he begins at the beginning; for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” Come, then, you dolts, you fools; come you sinners, you vile ones; come, you dullest of all scholars, you poor, you illiterate, you who are rejected and despised by men; come to him who was rejected and despised as well as you. Come and welcome! Christ bids you come!
Let not conscience make you linger
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requires,
Is to feel your need of him:
This he gives you;
‘Tis his Spirit’s rising beam.
Come, poor sinners! come to a gentle Saviour! and you shall never regret that you came to him.
15. III. Having thus spoken on the two attributes of our Lord’s character, I propose to conclude, if God shall help me, by knocking home the nail, by driving in the wedge, and pressing upon you a conclusion from these arguments. The conclusion of the whole matter is this, since Christ is “meek and lowly in heart,” sinners come to him.
16. Come to him, then, first, whoever you may be, for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” When a man has done anything wrong, and wants help through his difficulty, if about to employ some counsel to plead for him in a court of law, he might say, “Oh! do not engage Mr. So-and-so for me; I hear he is a very hard hearted man; I should not like to tell him what I have done, and entrust my case into his hands. Send for Mr. So-and-so; I have heard that he is very kind and gentle; let him come and hear my case, and let him conduct the pleadings for me:” Sinner! you are sinful, but Christ is very tender hearted. Speed your way to Christ’s private room,—your own closet of prayer. Tell him all you have done; he will not upbraid you: confess all your sins; he will not chide you. Tell him all your follies; he will not be angry with you. Commit your case to him, and with a sweet smile he will say, “I have cast your sins behind my back; you have come to reason with me; I will reveal to you a matter of faith which excels all reason,—‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they are red like crimson, they shall be whiter than snow.’” Come to Christ, then, sinful ones, because he is “meek and lowly in heart,” and he can bear with the account of your offences. “But, sir, I am very timid, and I dare not go.” Ah, but however timid you may be, you need not be afraid of him. He knows your timidity, and he will meet you with a smile, and say, “Do not fear. Be of good cheer. Tell me your sins, put your trust in me, and you shall even yet rejoice to know my power to save. Come now,” says he, “come to me at once. Linger no longer. I do not strive nor cry, nor cause my voice to be heard in the streets. A bruised reed I will not break, the smoking flax I will not quench; but I will bring forth judgment to victory.” Then come to Christ, you timid ones for he is meek and lowly in heart. “Oh,” one says, “but I am despairing; I have been so long under a sense of sin, I cannot go to Christ.” Poor soul! he is so meek and lowly, that, despairing though you may be, take courage now; though it is like a forlorn hope to you, yet go to him. Say, in the words of the hymn—
I’ll to the gracious King approach,
Whose sceptre pardon gives;
Perhaps he may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives.
I can but perish if I go;
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know
I must for ever die.
And you may add this comfortable reflection—
But if I die with mercy sought
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (delightful thought!)
As sinner never died.
Come to him, then, timid and despairing; for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” First, he bids you to confess. What a sweet confessor! Put your lip to his ear, and tell him all. He is “meek and lowly in heart.” Do not fear. None of your sins can move him to anger, if you only confess them. If you keep them in your heart, they shall be like a slumbering volcano; and a furnace of destruction you shall find even to the uttermost by and by. But confess your sins; tell them all; he is “meek and lowly in heart.” Happy confession! when we have such a confessor.
17. Again, he bids you to trust him; and can you not trust him? He is “meek and lowly in heart.” Sinner! put confidence in Christ. There never was such a tender heart as his, never such a compassionate face. Look him in the face, poor soul, as you see him dying on the tree, and say, is that not a face that any man might trust? Look at him! Can you doubt him? Will you withhold your cause from such a Redeemer as this? No, Jesus! you are so generous, so good, so kind. Take my cause in hand. Just as I am, I come to you. Save me, I beseech you, for I put my trust in you.
18. And then Jesus not only bids you confess and believe, but he bids you afterwards to serve him. And surely, sinners, this should be a reason why you should do it, that he is so “meek and lowly in heart.” It is said, “Good masters make good servants.” What good servants you and I ought to be, for what a good Master we have! Never an ill word does he say to us. If sometimes he points out anything we have done amiss, it is only for our good. He does not chasten for his profit, but for ours. Sinner! I do not ask you to serve the god of this world—that foul fiend who shall destroy you after all your service. The devil is your master now, and you have heard the wages he bestows. But come and serve Christ, the meek and lowly one, who will give you good cheer while you are serving him, and give you a blessed reward when your work is done.
19. And now, best of all, sinners! come to Christ. Come to him in all his offices, for he is “meek and lowly in heart.” Sinner! you are sick—Christ is a physician. If men have broken a bone, and they are about to call a surgeon, they say, “Oh! is he a feeling tender hearted man?” For there is many an army surgeon who takes off a leg, and never thinks of the pain he is giving. “Is he a kind man?” says the poor sufferer, when he is about to be strapped down upon the table. Ah! poor sufferer, Christ will heal your broken bones, and he will do it with downy fingers. Never was there so light a touch as this heavenly surgeon has. Not only is it a pleasure even to he wounded by him, but even more so to be healed by him. Oh! what a balm he gives to the poor bleeding heart! Do not fear; there never was such a physician as this. If now and then he gives to you a bitter pill and a sour draught, yet he will give you such honeyed words and such sweet promises with it, that you shall swallow it all up without murmuring. No, if he is with you, you can even swallow up death in victory; and never know that you have died because victory has taken the bitter taste away.
20. Sinner! you are not only sick, and therefore bidden to come to him, but you are moreover in debt, and he offers now to pay your debts, and to discharge them in full. Come, come to him, for he is not harsh. Some men, when they do mean to let a debtor off, first have him in their office, and give him as much as they can of the most severe rebukes;—“You rogue, you! how dare you get into my debt, when you knew you could not pay? You have brought a deal of trouble on yourself, you have ruined your family,” and so forth; and the good man gives him some very sound admonition, and very rightly too; until at length he says, “I will let you off this time; come, now, I forgive you, and I hope you will never do so again.” But Christ is even better than this. “There is all your debt,” he says, “I have nailed it to the cross; sinner, I forgive you all,” and not one accusing word comes from his lips. Come, then, to him.
21. I fear I have spoiled my Master in the painting; something like the artist who had to depict some fair damsel, and he so misrepresented her features, that she lost her reputation for beauty. I have sometimes feared lest I should do the same, and so distort the face of Christ, and so fail in giving the true likeness of his character that you would not love him. Oh! could you see him! If he could stand here for one moment, and tell you that he was meek and lowly in heart. Oh, I think you would run to him and say, “Jesus, we come. You meek and lowly Messiah, be our all!” No, you would not come; I am mistaken. If sovereign grace does not draw you under the sound of the gospel, neither would you be converted even though Christ should appear before you. But now hear the message of that gospel—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved; for he who believes on him, and is baptized shall be saved; he who does not believe, must be damned.”