2670. Pride Catechized

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Pride Catechized

No. 2670-46:169. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, October 19, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, April 15, 1900.

Should it be according to your mind? He will repay it, whether you refuse, or whether you choose; and not I: therefore speak what you know. {Job 34:33}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2670, “Pride Catechized” 2671}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2834, “Conceit Rebuked” 2835}
   Exposition on Job 34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2670, “Pride Catechized” 2671 @@ "Exposition"}

1. Dear friends, it is never wise to dispute with God. Let a man strive with his fellow, but not with his Maker. If we must discuss any point, let it be with imperfect beings like ourselves, but not with the infallible and infinitely wise God; for, in most of our discussions, these questions will come back to us, “Should it be according to your mind? Are you master? Is everyone to be subordinate to you?” I am going to speak, this evening, to those who have a quarrel with God concerning the way of salvation. They are very unwise not to take salvation just as God brings it to them; but they do not. They have some difficulty or other, so they raise a dispute, and they have been, perhaps for years, criticizing the Saviour whose infinite goodness has provided a way of salvation exactly adapted to their needs. I am going to use Elihu’s words, and apply them to their case.

2. I. To begin at the beginning, here is, first, A QUESTION: “Should it be according to your mind?” You say that you are willing to find mercy, and that you are very teachable; but you object to the plan of salvation as it is revealed in the Scriptures.

3. First, then, what is it to which you object? Do you object to the very basis of the plan, namely, that God will forgive sin through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, his Son? I know that some do object to this; they cannot bear to hear about atonement by blood, or justification by imputed righteousness. Others, who will not say that they object to atonement, spirit away its very meaning. They cannot endure that glorious doctrine of substitution which is such a joy to us. Christ standing in the sinner’s place, and the sinner then standing in the place of Christ, — Christ taking the sinner’s sin, and the sinner wearing Christ’s righteousness, — all this they absolutely reject. “No doubt Christ did something for sinners,” they say; but they cannot define what he did; and, as for the sin of any man being actually put away by Christ being punished in the room and place and stead of the ungodly sinner, they will not believe it.

4. Yet, that is God’s plan of salvation, and some of us know, in our innermost hearts, that we never had peace until we accepted that plan of salvation; and that now, if it should be taken away from us, we should lose all the joy of existence, and should go back to the despair which, at one time, was so heavy on us that we could sympathize with Job when he said, “My soul chooses strangling, and death rather than my life.” We could better afford that the sun should be quenched, that the moon should be darkened, that all springs should be dried, that the very air itself should disappear, — we could better afford to die, and rot in our graves, than that we should lose our Saviour, and his atoning blood, and justifying righteousness. Whatever you, Mr. Objector, may say about it, we say to you, “Should it be according to your mind?” Would you have Christ to die, and yet not really secure salvation by his death? Could you invent a better plan, or even one half so good, —

    “So just to God, so safe for man,” —

so consolatory to a wounded conscience, so constraining to gratitude when that conscience has been pacified? Would you, could you, propose anything one-thousandth part as good as God’s plan of salvation? Even if you could, “should it be according to your mind?” Who are you, a guilty sinner, to despise the Saviour’s blood? If you had your just deserts, you would years ago have been in the lowest pit of hell; will you set aside the cross of Christ, and seek to put something else in the place of the crucified Redeemer?

5. But, possibly, you do not object to the doctrine of substitution, but your objection is to the way of salvation by faith. “I do not like that doctrine of justification by faith,” one says, “for I am sure that, when it is preached, people will begin to think that there is no virtue in good works, and that they may live as they like.” I have often heard such a remark as yours, my friend, but experience is dead against you. Whenever justification by faith has been uppermost in the preaching, the morals of the people have been purest, and their spirituality has been brightest. But whenever the preachers have extolled the works and ceremonies of the law, or the Armenianism which brings in something of trust in works, or human power, it is most certain that there has been a declension in the point of morals, while religion itself has seemed almost ready to expire. You may go to those who preach up salvation by works to hear them talk, but you had better not go to see how they live, whereas those who preach justification by faith can boldly point to the multitudes who have accepted this truth, and whose godly lives prove the sanctifying power of the doctrine.

6. But if you object to this doctrine, how would you like to have it altered? “Oh, well! I would like to have some good feelings put in with faith.” And how, then, would any man be saved? Can he command his own feelings? Those feelings come naturally enough after faith; but, if they are demanded without faith, how will they ever be presented to God? Besides, feelings would claim some credit if they were joined with faith like this. A man would be able to boast that he had felt his way to heaven, and he would have the same self-congratulatory spirit which we see in those who trust in works and ceremonies; and so Christ would be robbed of his glory as the sinner’s Saviour. Man would put his dirty hand on the crown, and place it on his own head; but that must never be the case. You shall be saved if you trust the Saviour; but if you do not like that way of salvation, you never can be saved. Why should the plan of salvation be changed for you? Is God to be tied down to act only as you please? Is he to alter his gospel to suit the whims of rebellious men? That must not be. There is no mistake about this matter: “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God rests on him”; and our Lord himself said, “He who does not believe shall be damned.” That is the only message for him if he continues in his unbelief; and it shall not be altered to suit the mind of any man who lives.

7. “Oh, but!” some say, “we object to the requirements of the gospel, especially to that verse where Christ says, ‘You must be born again.’ Where is the need of that? We were christened when we were children; we were confirmed as we grew older; we have taken the sacrament; but we do not agree with that hard saying, ‘You must be born again.’ ” They will not walk with Christ if he insists on that condition.

8. Moreover, he requires the giving up of all known sin, the hating of all sin, and the objector says, “But may I not retain my one darling sin? May I not keep my pet evil? I will give up everything else, but that one I must have.” And when men are told that, wherever Christ comes, he makes a radical change, he casts out Satan and all his imps, drives them out by brute force, and takes complete possession of the soul, — they bar the door of their heart against the Saviour, for they do not want such strong measures as his in their case.

9. Well, sirs, since you say that Christ’s requirements are not according to your mind, what would you like them to be? Do you wish to be allowed to continue taking what you call your little drop, which is powerful enough to make you reel across the street? Then there is someone over there who would like to keep his adulteries, and another who would like to keep his petty thefts, and another who would like to keep on with his swearing, and another who would like to retain his covetousness, so that he could still grind the poor to powder, and make money by crushing them, What sin is there, in the whole world, that would be put to death if men were left to pick and choose the Agag which each one wished to save? No; Christ came to save his people from their sins, — not in them; and it is essential for salvation that sin should be repented of, and, being repented of, should be renounced, and that, by the help of God, we should lead a new life, under a new Master, serving from a new motive, because the grace of God has renewed our spirit.

10. “Should it be according to your mind?” No, certainly not; for, putting all reasons into one, it is not the slightest use for you to make any objection to the gospel, for you will be lost if you do not accept it just as it is revealed in the Scriptures. Christ will never alter the gospel one jot or tittle — not the cross of a “t” or the dot of an “i” — to please the biggest man who lives. “Oh! but, really, I am a man of education; am I to be saved in the same way as the man who does not know A from B?” Precisely; there is no other way of salvation for you. There is not one gate for Doctors of Divinity and another for the poor and ignorant. “But I am a person of good character, a matronly woman; am I to be saved just in the same way as a Magdalene?” Precisely the same; there is no other Saviour for you than the one in whom Mary Magdalene delighted and trusted. “But, sir, you do not surely mean to say that all these street urchins are to go to heaven in the same way as a man who has kept shop, and been respectable, all his life!” Yes, I do; all must go by exactly the same road. Queens and chimney-sweeps must enter heaven by the same gate, or not enter at all. There is only one name given among men by which we must be saved; there is no other Saviour but Christ Jesus the Lord; he suits every class of people, big sinners and little ones, if there are any little sinners anywhere. All must come to Christ, and at his feet confess their sin, for God’s plan cannot be altered for anyone. My dear sir, we are not going to have any enlargement, or rather, any mystification, of the plan of salvation to suit your profound mind. There will be no golden handles put to the doors of heaven to suit you, my lord, with all your wealth and pride. No, no, no; come to Christ, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest; but there is no other way of obtaining rest of heart and conscience.

11. So I have tried to mention a few of the objections which men make to God’s plan of salvation. Now let me ask two or three questions. First, should not God have his way? Is it not intolerable that you and I should raise objections at all when the mercy of God, if it ever comes to us, is a pure gift of charity? God may well say to us, “Shall I not do as I wish with my own?” There is no man living who has any absolute right to receive anything from God except destruction. We have all merited that terrible doom, but nothing beyond that. If we were shut up in prison, and kept on dry bread, as long as we were outside of hell, we should still be under obligation to God. If the Lord should choose to show mercy to only one man in the world, he has a perfect right to do so; if he chooses to give it to a few, or if he chooses to give it to all, he has the right to do so. He is absolutely sovereign, and these are the words that he would have every one of us to hear and to heed: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” The crown rights of the King of kings must never be assailed; for us beggars to turn choosers, and to dictate to God what he shall give to us; — for us condemned criminals to begin to make bargains with God as to how he shall preserve our lives, if he chooses to do so, — oh, this will never do! You know, dear friends, that when we give even a trifling charity, we like to do it in our own way. I remember that, one Christmas time, a certain gentleman had given away a quantity of meat to many poor people; he had been so generous that he had given away all he had. The next morning, a woman came to him, bringing back the piece of meat which she had received, which was meant for boiling, and she said she wanted to have a piece for roasting. There was nothing left for exchanging, so she had to take what had been given to her, or go without any at all. You are quite sure that, the next year, that woman’s name was put down among the first to have a Christmas gift, are you not? On the contrary, the gentleman said, “She will not be troubled, next year, either with a boiling piece or a roasting piece from me; I will take good care of that.” I think it was quite natural that he should say so, for our common proverb regards it as ingratitude when we “look a gift horse in the mouth.” When anything comes to us entirely as a gift, it is not for us to criticize it, but to accept it; and this is especially true of God’s great gift of salvation. Oh Lord, if you will only save me, save me in anyway! If I may be delivered from this accursed sin of mine, and made pure and holy, do it, Lord, in your own gracious way! It is not for me to suggest any plan to you, but to leave myself entirely in your hands, and to let it be according to your mind.

12. Further, is not God’s way the best? The mind of God is so infinitely great, and good, and wise, that it cannot be supposed that, even if he left the plan of salvation to our option, we could choose anything half as good as what he decrees and appoints. Should he, for a single moment, hold his sovereignty in abeyance, and allow us to be kings and princes on our own account, what follies we should perpetrate! We should choose a way of salvation that would not honour God, nor destroy evil, nor even be good for ourselves. Some people would like a heaven into which they could enter without being born again; but what kind of heaven would that be! Some would like to have joy and peace without believing in Christ. Some would like to have eternal felicity, and yet indulge their lusts. This would be an evil of the most awful kind. It is better that sin should bring to man infinite sorrow than that it should be linked with eternal enjoyment. The mischief of it is that it gets linked with enjoyment for a while by foolish men, who forget what must come afterwards; but God has never joined these two things together, it is only wicked men who have pretended to celebrate this unholy marriage. God proclaims a perpetual separation between sin and happiness, and it is good that it should be so.

13. Now, to conclude this first part of our subject, suppose the plan of salvation should be according to any human mind, whose mind is to decide what it shall be? Yours? No, mine. And another says, “No, mine.” Our proverb rightly says, “Many men, many minds”; and if we were to have salvation arranged according to the mind of each one of us, there would be a pretty quarrel before we left this place. You say, friend, that it is to be according to your mind; but why not according to your neighbour’s mind? If man’s mind were to decide it, what should we have? Why, you would all contradict each other, and there would be no plan of salvation at all it God did not settle it once and for all.

14. Then, besides, should it be according to your mind today? “Yes,” you say, “I have made up my mind.” But you will take your mind to pieces tomorrow, — what little there is of it, — and then you will put it together again the next day, and say, “I have made up my mind; I am a man of mind, you know.” Ah, yes! we know you, sir. There is a certain tribe of people around, nowadays, who call themselves “men of culture,” and they sneer at everyone who does not go in for that kind of boasting. If they were really men of mind, they would never talk like that, for the man who has the most culture generally has enough to be a little modest, and not to brag about what he is. Well, then, if salvation is to be according to man’s mind, whose mind is to decide it, and on what day, and at what hour of the day is the verdict of that man’s mind to be taken? It is vacillating, changing like the moon, never twice in the same mood on the same day; so salvation cannot be according to our mind, for it would be chaos, it would be destruction, if that were the case.

15. II. Now, secondly, here is A WARNING: “He will repay it, whether you refuse, or whether you choose.”

16. By this I understand that, whatever our will may be, God will carry out his own purpose. As surely as God is God, he will never be defeated in anything. He who is omniscient, and therefore sees the end from the beginning, is also omnipotent, and therefore can work his own will exactly as he chooses, — he will never be baffled by the will of men. I believe in the free-agency of man as much as anyone who lives; but I equally believe in the eternal purpose of God. If you ask, “How do you reconcile those beliefs?” I answer, — They have never been at variance yet, so there is no need to attempt to reconcile them. They are like two parallel lines, which will run side by side for ever; — man responsible because he does what he wishes, and God infinitely glorious, achieving his own purposes, not only in the world of dead, inert matter, but also through those who are free agents; without changing them in the least degree, leaving them just as free as they ever were, yet he, in every jot and tittle, performs the eternal purpose of his will.

17. I would also remind you that, though you object to God’s way of salvation, God will punish sin just the same. There is many a man who has said, “I will never believe that God will send men to hell”; but he himself has gone there, and then he has changed his mind in a very remarkable and terrible way when it is too late. There are many who say, “It should be this, or it should not be that”; but they do not ask, “What does the Scripture say?” Yet that is the all-important point; for, whatever you may say concerning what it should be or should not be, makes no difference to God. He will take less notice of you and your opinion than you do of a gnat or a midge that flies around you on a summer’s evening. He is so infinitely great and good that any opposition you and I may think that we can raise against him shall be less than nothing, and vanity. Shall tow contend with fire, or the wax with the flame? Shall nothing oppose itself to omnipotence? Shall the creature of a day, that is and is not, attempt to wrestle with the Eternal? No, this cannot be; therefore, God will have his way, and he will punish sin.

18. And, further, my friends, though you may object to God’s way of salvation, others will be saved by it. Christ did not die in vain. He will rejoice in everyone whom he purchased with his blood. He will not lose one of the jewels that are to deck his crown for ever. You may strive against his kingdom, but that kingdom will come when he pleases. The King eternal, immortal, invisible, shall surely reign for ever and ever; and if your voice is not heard in the great Hallelujah chorus of heaven, yet not one of its notes will be missing. Christ shall be glorified to the highest possible degree, whoever may oppose him. It is good that those who object to God’s plan of salvation should know these facts. That is how Christ treated objectors when he was on the earth. When they murmured at what he told them, he did not tone down the unpalatable truth; he did not say to them, “You are robbing me of my honour and glory, and I shall never prosper”; but he said, “No man can come to me, unless the Father, who has sent me draws him.” On another occasion, he said, “You do not believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you.” He did not humble himself to them, but again proclaimed his own truth in all its majesty and sublimity, so that they might bow before him and his message.

19. Just once more, on this point, let me say that God will certainly magnify his own name, whoever may oppose him: “Whether you refuse, or whether you choose,” shall make no difference to him. His grace comes like the dew, which does not tarry for man, neither waits for the sons of men. Often, he is found by those who do not look for him; and to those who were not his people, he says, “You are my people”; so magnifying his own amazing grace. Whoever may stand up against him, he shall lack none of his honour and glory, world without end.

20. III. This brings us to the third part of our subject, on which I desire to say exactly what Elihu said: “and not I.” We cannot be absolutely sure what these three words mean; but, if they mean what I think they do, they teach us a lesson, which I have called A PROTEST.

21. Whenever you find anyone opposing God, say to yourself, “and not I.” When there is any wrong thing being done, and it comes under your notice, say, “and not I.” Take care that you do not go with a multitude to do evil; do not take on your tongue just what others may be saying, but bear your individual protest against the evil; even if you stand alone, say, “and not I.”

22. What Elihu meant, I think, was this. Whoever opposes God should know that he is not dealing with a man like himself. If you hear a preacher make a statement, and you feel, “That is not the Word of the Lord,” pray God to forgive him for his sin in making it; but if he speaks with the sound of his Master’s feet behind him and what he says is the Word of God, then do not trifle with it. If it is clearly a revealed truth, it may grate against your feelings, and set your teeth on edge; but what of that? You had better get your teeth and your feelings put right, for the truth of God cannot be altered in order to please you. Someone says, “I cannot believe that statement, because it seems too shocking.” That is just why I do believe it, for it does me good by shocking me; and if it is in God’s Word, I am bound to accept it. “Oh!” you say, “but something within me revolts against it.” It is only natural it should do so, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”; and it naturally cries out against the thing that is most surely true. The supreme majesty of God’s Word is that before which we have to bow, and not the insignificant usurpers of our inward feelings, fancies, and whims. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.”

23. Elihu also means, I think, “I will not be responsible for the man who refuses God’s Word. I will not stand in his place, or take the blame which is due to him. He shall be repaid, and not I, for I have spoken the truth. I will not bear the responsibility of it. If men choose to refuse it, they must take the consequences; to the Lord alone they must stand or fall.”

24. And, once more, Elihu means, “If you refuse God’s Word, it is not I. I will not share in your rebellion against him.” Ah! my dear hearers, there are some of you who think yourselves very intelligent, and wise, and thoughtful, and you imagine that you know a great deal more than I do, and therefore you refuse to receive God’s Word. Well, if you do so, I will not; I am determined about this matter, and I say, with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.” And, notice that, by “Jehovah” I mean the Old Testament God. I have never seen him superseded in his own Word, though some men profess that it is so. According to them, the God of the Hebrews was not the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, though Jesus never said so, but quite the opposite. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, is he whom we worship today; and his character, as it is written out in full in the Old and New Testament, is what we admire and delight in. Others may have new gods, newly come up, which our forefathers did not know; but not I. He who made the heavens and the earth, he who led his people out of Egypt, and divided the sea, even the Red Sea, he whose mercy endures for ever, the God who shines out all along as the God of a covenanted people to whom he revealed himself, “this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even to death.” Learned men may dispute as much as they like about him, but we bow humbly at his feet. We question nothing that he does; we believe it to be right even when we do not understand it; and it is our hope that others will do the same; but if they will not, it will not affect our own decision.

25. IV. Our last point is, A CHALLENGE AND AN INVITATION.

26. If there are any who refuse the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, for any reason known only to themselves, we venture to ask them to say what it is: “Therefore speak what you know.” It was not in Elihu’s mind to tell Job to be silent, and never open his mouth again. Speech is the glory of man, and freedom of speech, as far as concerns his fellow creatures, is the right of every man. It is far better that, when there is a difficulty or an objection, it should be honestly stated, than that it should lie smothered up within the soul to breed untold mischief. Therefore, if you have an objection to God’s Word, write it out, and look at it. Or, if you do not care to do that, state it, if not to your friend, — if you prefer privacy, — state it to yourself; only bring it out, and let it be known. But, at the same time, when you are speaking, “speak what you know.”

27. Now, what do you really know about God? Most of us know very little; but, still, I think we know enough to know that he is not the god of modern times, whom some preach. One single night of frost will destroy millions and millions of creatures that were happy and enjoyed life; and this is done by that God of whom we are often assured that he cannot possibly punish sin, or put men to pain. But he does it. Hear the cry of the poor seamen, when the storm tosses the great barque, and drives it on the rock. See how everywhere the Lord is a great and terrible God. Even though he condescends to be a Father to those of us who trust in Jesus Christ, his Son, and is gentle as a nurse to us, yet he is the God of thunder and of fire, the great and almighty God, the King who will not be questioned by his subjects, and who will not alter his arrangements to please their whims.

28. It is good for us to speak of God as we have found him. He has dealt kindly and graciously with us: “he has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities”; otherwise we would have been cast away for ever. We long that others may be able to speak of God in the same way; not saying what they would have him to be, but what he has revealed himself to be, in nature, and in providence, and especially in grace. Let us all come humbly to his feet. He invites us to look to his dear Son, and so find peace and salvation. If we will not do so, there is nothing for us but to be driven from his presence, and from the glory of his power, world without end. Will we dare to defy him? Have we the impiety to do so? Oh God, humble us! Beneath the terror of your majesty, and the glory of your righteousness, and the supreme splendour of your love, bow us down, to accept your grace, and to become yours for ever and ever! May God grant that it may be so, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Job 34}

1-3. Furthermore Elihu answered and said, “Hear my words, oh you wise men; and give ear to me, you who have knowledge. For the ear tries words, as the mouth tastes food.

I wish that verse was always true, especially concerning those who hear what purports to be the gospel; I only wish they would test and try what they hear, just as, with their mouth, taste what they eat. But, just as there are some people who will eat anything that is set before them, so there are some who will accept anything that they hear, without exercising any spiritual discernment whatever. “It is cleverly put,” they say, and therefore they receive it; yet they would scarcely be foolish enough to eat unhealthy food simply because it was skilfully carved.

4, 5. Let us choose justice for ourselves: let us know among ourselves what is good. For Job has said, ‘I am righteous: and God has taken away my justice.

Yes, Job had said something like that, yet not quite that. He had denied the charges of gross sin which his friends brought against him, and he had, in that sense, declared that he was righteous, and so he was. There may have been in Job a little of the spirit which Elihu denounces here; he may, perhaps, have thought that God had not dealt well with him, in letting him fall into so much trouble, since he was a righteous man. Elihu will not permit this notion to pass unchallenged. Mistaking Job’s meaning, he denounces it, just as I have heard preachers sometimes give a description of Calvinism such as it never was, and then they have proceeded to burn the man of straw which they have themselves made. It is one of the easiest things in the world to misquote or misinterpret your opponent’s statement, and then denounce it, and think you have refuted him, whereas you have only dissipated the chimera {a} of your own brain. Elihu proceeds to deal with Job in this way.

6-9. Should I lie against my right? My wound is incurable without transgression.’ What man is like Job, who drinks up scorning like water? Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, and walks with wicked men. For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.’

He did not mean that Job did really go into the company of the wicked; but that, in his saying that it had been no profit to him that he should delight himself with God, — which Elihu declares that Job said, though I do not remember that he ever did say so, — he was making himself the associate of ungodly men. Any of us would be doing so if we, in our sorrowful moments, should say that we had derived no profit from delighting ourselves with God. It would not be true; it would be a rebellious and wicked speech, and, in some degree, it would be an atheistic speech.

10. Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

That was well spoken. Let us never, even for a moment, imagine that God can do anything that is unrighteous or unjust. God is a sovereign, and therefore he may do as he wishes with his own grace; but there is never any injustice in any of the acts of his sovereignty. He is infinitely wise, and just, and merciful, in all that he does. He does as he wishes, but he never wishes to do anything that could possibly be done better. His own will is the best that can be.

11-17. For the work of a man he shall render to him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yes, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert justice. Who has given him a charge over the earth? or who has disposed the whole world? If he set his heart on man, if he gathers to himself his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again into dust. If now you have understanding, hear this: listen to the voice of my words. Shall even he who hates right govern?

Do you suppose that it could be so, — that the Governor of all the earth should hate what is right? This would be rank blasphemy.

17. And will you condemn him who is most just?

Will you, poor puny mortal, arraign the Most High and dare to condemn him who is most just?

18, 19. Is it appropriate to say to a king, ‘You are wicked?’ and to princes, ‘You are ungodly?’ How much less to him who is not partial to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor? For they all are the work of his hands.

This is the same kind of argument as Paul used in writing to the Romans: “Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ ” Shall the potter’s clay resist the power of the potter, who assuredly has the right to do what he wishes with his own clay? And if we do not speak lightly against princes, how much less should we speak against the King of kings and Lord of lords, whose infinite majesty fills all things. What, after all, are princes, and rich men, and great men, in comparison with the great God who made them all? “They all are the work of his hands.”

20. In a moment they shall die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without a hand.

An invisible power takes away the strength in which they boasted, and then, what does the prince become, with all his glory, or the warrior, with all his victories? What, but so much corruption that must be buried out of sight?

21, 22. For his eyes are on the ways of man, and he sees all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

How gloriously is this great truth put! This Elihu was a man of real eloquence; what a weighty sentence this is! How worthy to be treasured up in the memory! “There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.” Not even in the grave can they be concealed from the eye of God; and if it were possible for them to hide beneath the skirts of death himself, yet God would see them, and drag them out to judgment.

23. For he will not lay on man more than is right; that he should enter into judgment with God.

For, if man were badly treated, and more were laid on him than ought to be, he would have cause to enter into judgment with his Maker. But God will never compromise his own eternal holiness in such a way as this. He will not lay on man more than is right. You who are greatly afflicted, and in severe distress, ought to believe this; and if the Spirit of God shall give you a full conviction of the truth of it, it will afford you great comfort. The waves of your distress will come just as far as God wills, but at his bidding they must stop, as the sea stops in the fulness of its pride when Jehovah says to it, “So far you shall come, but no farther.” Therefore, leave your case in his hands, for he will not lay on you more than is right.

24-28. He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their place. Therefore he knows their works, and he overturns them in the night, so that they are destroyed. He strikes them as wicked men in the open sight of others; because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways: so that they cause the cry of the poor to come to him, and he hears the cry of the afflicted.

It is a dreadful thing for princes and great men when the poor begin to cry to God against them. God will soon take up that quarrel; for, while the cries of mere politicians and partisans are unheeded by him, the cry of the afflicted always commands his attention, and he will, in due time, rectify all that is wrong.

29. When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble?

This is a most comforting question; for, if God gives quietness to the spirit, no one can really trouble you. When Christ has once spoken peace to our heart, and given us a holy calm, then we are glad because we are quiet, and who is he who can raise a storm in our soul again? “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” also passes all distraction. It cannot be broken by all the demons in hell. Oh, how blessed is this assurance!

29. And when he hides his face, who then can see him?

If God will not be seen, who can possibly see him? If he grows angry with a man, and leaves him, what can that man do? When even his own beloved people no longer see his face, what joy can be theirs? What can make day when the sun is gone? What can make joy when Christ is gone?

29, 30. Whether it is done against a nation, or against a man only: That the hypocrite does not reign, lest the people are ensnared.

God has ways of dealing with his children by which he weeds out hypocrites, lays them low, and does not allow them to have rule over his people.

31. Surely it is appropriate to be said to God, ‘I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:

That is the spirit of the true-born child of God: “Father, I know that what I have suffered is a chastisement from your hand, and I accept it as such. ‘I will not offend any more, I quit the sin that grieved you.’ ”

32. Teach me what I do not see:

“Show me why you contend with me. Point out to me the evil which you would have me put away.”

32-35. If I have done iniquity, I will do no more.’ Should it be according to your mind? He will repay it, whether you refuse, or whether you choose; and not I: therefore speak what you know. Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man listen to me. Job has spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom.

This man is getting proud and conceited, I think. He spoke well when he was defending God against all charges and complaints; but now that he turns on Job, the patriarch is a wiser man and a better man than he is. Elihu is not fit to unloose the latchets of Job’s sandals, yet he begins to accuse him. It sometimes happens that dogs bark at their masters, yet the masters are not to be blamed; and it is not always the best man who reproves others. Sometimes, a very foolish man will be the loudest in his rebukes of those who are wiser and better than himself, and will find fault with those whom he ought to commend. It was so in the case of Elihu and Job.

36, 37. My desire is that Job may be tried to the end because of his answers for wicked men. For he adds rebellion to his sin, he claps his hands among us, and multiplies his words against God.”

Well, thank God, we are not going to be judged by Elihu, nor by any other of our fellow creatures; to our own Master we stand or fall, and if we trust in him, he will make us to stand even in the great day of judgment itself, blessed be his holy name!

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence — Providence Mysterious” 211}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Confession Of Sin” 597}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Confessing And Pleading” 570}

{a} Chimera: An unreal creature of the imagination, a mere wild fancy; an unfounded conception. OED.

God the Father, Acts, Creation and Providence
211 — Providence Mysterious
1 God moves in a mysterious way
   His wonders to perform;
   He plants his footsteps in the sea,
   And rides upon the storm.
2 Deep in unfathomable mines
   Of never failing skill,
   He treasures up his bright designs,
   And works his sovereign will.
3 Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
   The clouds ye so much dread
   Are big with mercy, and shall break
   In blessings on your head.
4 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
   But trust him for his grace;
   Behind a frowning providence
   He hides a smiling face.
5 His purposes will ripen fast,
   Unfolding every hour;
   The bud may have a bitter taste,
   But sweet will be the flower.
6 Blind unbelief is sure to err,
   And scan his work in vain:
   God is his own interpreter,
   And he will make it plain.
                  William Cowper, 1774.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
597 — Confession Of Sin <7s.>
1 Sovereign Ruler, Lord of all,
   Prostrate at thy feet I fall;
   Hear, oh, hear my earnest cry;
   Frown not, lest I faint and die.
2 Vilest of the sons of men,
   Chief of sinners I have been;
   Oft have sinn’d before thy face,
   Trampled on thy richest grace.
3 Justly might thy fatal dart
   Pierce this bleeding, broken heart;
   Justly might thy angry breath
   Blast me in eternal death.
4 Jesus, save my dying soul;
   Make my broken spirit whole;
   Humbled in the dust I lie;
   Saviour, leave me not to die.
                  Thomas Raffies, 1812, a.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
570 — Confessing And Pleading
1 By thy victorious hand struck down,
      Here, prostrate, Lord, I lie:
   And faint to see my Maker frown,
      Whom once I dared defy.
2 With heart unshaken I have heard
      Thy dreadful thunders roar:
   When grace in all its charms appear’d,
      I only sinn’d the more.
3 With impious hands from off thy head
      I’ve sought to pluck the crown;
   And insolently dared to tread
      Thy royal honour down.
4 Confounded, Lord, I wrap my face,
      And hang my guilty head;
   Ashamed of all my wicked ways,
      The hateful life I’ve led.
5 I yield — by mighty love subdued;
      Who can resist its charms?
   And throw myself, by wrath pursued,
      Into my Saviour’s arms.
6 My wanderings, Lord, are at an end,
      I’m now return’d to thee:
   Be thou my Father and my Friend,
      Be all in all to me.
            Compiled from Simon Browne, 1720.

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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