2854. Lame Sheep

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Lame Sheep

No. 2854-49:505. A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, October 22, 1903.

Make straight paths for your feet, lest what is lame is turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. {Heb 12:13}

1. There are some believers with strong and vigorous faith. Soaring high, they can mount up with wings as eagles. Fleet of foot, they can run, and not be weary; or, with steady progress, they can walk, and not faint. But all are not so highly privileged. I suppose there is seldom a family which has no sickly member. However hale and hearty most of the sons and daughters may be, there is likely to be some weak one among them. So it certainly is in the spiritual household; and it will be, therefore, my business just now to look after the weak ones. I trust that the word which I shall be enabled to speak may lead their companions also to look after them, and may God grant that, by these means, many troubled ones may be conducted into peace and safety!

2. I. IN GOD’S FLOCK, THERE ARE ALWAYS SOME LAME SHEEP.

3. Some of these people of God, who are compared to lame sheep, seem to have been so from their birth. Their lameness is in their constitution. Do you not know some friends of yours who are naturally despondent? They always look at the dark side of everything; and if there is no dark side at all, they have a very fine imagination, so they very soon conjure up some difficulty or trouble. They appear to have been born with a propensity to read black-letter literature, and nothing else. Illuminated missals are not for them; they cannot bear the fine colours, which delight our eyes; they like the dark points. If they turn to the Bible, they seem naturally to fall on the threatenings; or if they read the promises, they shake their heads, and say, “Ah, these are not for us!” They make heavy troubles out of the common cares of life, and it is only carrying out the same spirit which causes them to grieve and fret over the whole course of their Christian pilgrimage. For them, the road is always rugged, the pastures unsavoury, and the waters turbid. You will find such unhappy souls in all our churches; people who seem from their very conformation to be lame as for their faith, — timorous, trembling, and full of doubts and fears.

4. Besides, have you never noticed a constitutional tendency in some professors to stumble, and get lame? If there is a slough, they will fall into it; if there is a thicket, they will get entangled in it; if there is an error, they will run into it. Good people we trust they are, and they do believe in Jesus; but, somehow or other, they do not see things clearly. Men to them are like walking trees. Such people go off on a tangent if anyone makes noise enough to attract their attention. “Lo, here!” and “lo, there!” are cries at the sound of which they go off immediately. Let some divine discover a novel doctrine, and they are on the new track at once, never thinking where it will lead them. Let a would-be philosopher suggest some new theory, which clashes with the Word of God, and the things of the Spirit, and their eager appetite is whetted, and they will leave the old fields of truth to wander in the barren wastes of science falsely so-called. When you go to market, if you are a sensible person, you do not turn aside from all the good wares and fair merchandise to waste your time and your money over the quack vendor of nostrums that he advertises with large pictures and loud talk. Your common sense directs you to seek wholesome food and useful articles; but there are credulous people ready to be caught with any bait. So, too, there is no lack of simpletons in all our congregations, — good, thoughtless people, lame and limping in all their walk, troubled with scepticism, and plagued with curiosity. Unstable as water, they shall not excel.

5. Can you not detect, too, some who are lame in point of character? They seem to have been so from their very birth. There is something about their gait that is unsteady. As you look at them, you are ready to say, “Yes, good people they may be but they are of an odd kind.” We hope they are sincere, but they are like Mephibosheth, who was dropped by his nurse, and was lame in both his feet. If they walk at all, it is a dreadful hobble. They do their best, and we cannot condemn them, but there is an awkwardness about their whole deportment. They are lame sheep at the best. With some, it is a cross temper; with others, it is a general moroseness, which it does not seem as if the grace of God itself would ever cure in them; or it may be a natural indolence oppresses them; or it is quite possible that habitual impatience harasses them. Now, the grace of God should eradicate these vices; it can and will, if you yield to its influence; for the grace of God, which brings salvation, teaches us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts. With some of us, the conquest over such evil propensities has been already gained. Still, there are among us those sheep that are lame in this particular respect; they are, if I may say so, constitutionally unsound from their very first entrance into the fold.

6. Moreover, they betray their lameness when there is anything you give them to do. If they are Sunday School teachers, they cannot walk regularly, or keep step with their fellows; or they fail to help the young scholar on. Ask them to visit in any district, the steps they take are marked by indiscretion. Appoint them to preach at any of your meeting places, their speech is not straightforward; they go over the plainest ground of gospel statement with a lack of consistency, like the walk of a man whose legs are not equal. Whatever they attempt, they do it just as a lame man would go on an errand. They are slow in their movements, and slovenly in their performances. They are aptly compared to lame sheep. Well, you know such people. I wonder whether you are one yourself; at least, there are some such about, lame from their birth.

7. Other sheep of Christ’s flock are halt and lame because they have been poorly fed. Bad food is the cause of a thousand disorders. Many a sickly man, instead of being dosed with drugs, needs to be nourished with wholesome food. Had he something better to eat, he might conquer his diseases. Sheep cannot thrive well on bad food. It is true that many really good Christians have been badly fed. The preaching they have heard has, perhaps, been altogether false doctrine. The poor souls have sat and listened to moral essays, maudlin sentiments, or various subtleties that could not nourish their faith, or invigorate their spiritual constitution. If they sometimes suspected that it was not all right, they did not like to desert the place they had long been accustomed to attend, or to forsake the minister they had long been accustomed to hear. They are afraid of being thought too critical, so they have gone on with bad fare to the detriment of their health and strength, their comfort and usefulness. It is more than probable that poisonous doctrine has gotten into their constitution, and done them real mischief, hence they are lame. In hundreds, not to say thousands, of cases that I know, Christians are lame through a kind of hazy teaching, in which, if there is not anything positively bad, there is nothing positively good. I have read the remark that, if you were to hear thirteen lectures on geology from any decent lecturer, you would probably get a pretty clear idea of his system, but that you might hear thirteen hundred sermons from many a minister without knowing what he believes. There is a systematic habit, nowadays, of keeping back the positive doctrines, and the essential truths of the gospel; or of referring to them so vaguely that the sound of words gives no clue to the sense. The whole atmosphere is so full of fog that people cannot see where they are. The preacher would appear to be profoundly deep; but he is not clear. He stirs the mud, and makes himself and his subject equally obscure. Or, perhaps, he is so superficial that he does not touch on those truths which lie at the foundation of the blessed hope of eternal life. Those who sit under such a ministry need not wonder why they do not grow in grace.

8. Indeed, and how much ministry there is that has nothing but chaff in it! What else can we say of those exquisite preparations for the pulpit in which cuttings from the reviewers, cullings from the poets, and choice scraps from Scripture writers are woven together with a fine overture to begin, and a flowing peroration to finish? What can we say of it but chaff, chaff, without a grain of pure wheat from first to last? I should like to chain eloquence down to a post; there let it be bound for ever in the land of forgetfulness, never again let it lift its brazen face in this world. Aiming at oratory, cultivating rhetoric, the gospel, which eschews the words of man’s wisdom, and demands great plainness of speech, has been disparaged and displaced. We shall not get back a strong race of Christians until we get back such a sturdy band of outspoken men as dare their reputation, if not their lives, on the unvarnished testimony they give to the truth they know, the truth as it is in Jesus, the truth as it burns in their own hearts, and fires their tongues, the truth as it commends itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But, undoubtedly, there are thousands of Christians, at this good hour, who are lamed for life through unqualified, unhallowed teaching. May God save us from its hateful witcheries, and its baneful influences! If we are called to preach, let us preach; but let us know what we have to say, and let us say it as though we meant it, or for ever hold our tongues. There are some preachers, who seem to speak as if they meant to say nothing, and they succeed to their heart’s content, if that is their intention; nothing comes of it. The children of God, trained under their auspices, do not know whether God has an elect people or not, — whether the saints will persevere, or whether they will fall away, and perish, — they do not know whether Christ redeemed everyone, or someone. They have no clear notion whatever of the things which make for their peace. May we be preserved from all wilful ignorance and woeful infatuation! May God supply us constantly with solid food, and sound health to digest it!

9. Very many of the Lord’s sheep are lame because they have been worried. Sheep often get worried by a dog, and so they get lamed. It may be that I am addressing some poor child of God who has been beset and frightfully tormented by Satan, the accuser of the brethren. Oh, what trouble and what terror he can inflict on us! He can suggest the most infernal insinuations. He can inject into our minds such blasphemous thoughts as make us stagger and reel; he can make us breathe, as it were, the very atmosphere of the infernal lake. Those who have passed through this bitter experience will know how they carry the marks of a conflict with Satan on them, after they have once been assailed by him; wounds and scars that they will bear on them to their grave. He is such a cruel adversary that, even when we overcome him, our strength is impaired by the battle. The fatigues and perils of our pilgrimage are light in comparison with our temptations. We had better go a thousand miles, over hill and dale, than have to stand foot to foot with that dread adversary of souls for an hour. Very many a child of God has been lamed in that fray. Others, too, have been harassed by persecutors. Many a poor woman has lost her cheerful spirits through a harsh, ungodly husband, who has aroused her fears, or vexed her with sneers; and not a few dear young children have been broken down for life through the harsh treatment they have had, for the sake of conscience, to endure at home. True, there may be examples in which sufferers of this kind out of weakness have been made strong; but, for the most part, when from day to day, from hour to hour, one is insulted and assaulted, the trial is heavier than any ordinary fortitude can bear, insomuch that those who have encountered it have gone halting like lame sheep all their days.

10. Some precious saints I have known have grown lame through a rough and weary way, just as sheep can be lamed if they are driven too fast, or too far, or over too stony a ground. To what an excess of trouble some children of God have been exposed! The Lord has graciously helped them through all their adversities. Still, the trouble they have had to endure has taken a toll on their hearts. They seem as if they never could quite recover from the sudden shock, or the protracted anxiety that has once impaired their strength, wrinkled their face, and dried up their moisture. If they had more grace, no doubt they would recover their health, and renew their youth; but there are some gentle spirits which, when once crushed, are unable to rally, therefore they remain lame.

11. Perhaps more still are lamed through the rough road of controversy. If you are a child of God, and you know your bearings, keep always as much as ever you can out of the jingle-jangle of controversy. Little good ever comes of your subtle arguments, but they do engender much strife. Do you tell me that we are told to “prove all things?” Yes, so we are; and it is good to give heed to the admonition; but we are also told to “hold firmly to what is good,” and we must not forget the latter half of the precept. Some people seem to think that, in order to prove all things, they have to analyze and define every particular and every particle with scrupulous nicety. To prove the quality of the meat that is brought to your table, there is no occasion for you to eat the whole joint. A small sample will enable you to pronounce a sound opinion. Apply the same rule to books, and it will save you a world of trouble. They may dish up old dogmas, or they may throw out new theories; they may contain the reveries of the thoughtful, or the ramblings of the idler; they may be conceived with a purpose, or composed for a price. In any case, you must have a voracious appetite if you would read them all through. But it is quite unnecessary. Take the paper knife, and just cut open a page in the centre. One tasting will generally suffice for a fair testing. You can see, within a little, what tack their authors take. If they do not agree with the Word of God, away with them! You have proved them quite enough. You will get little reward for your pains if you worry your poor mind to solve afresh the points which are settled among us. We have believed and rejoiced in the truth for these many years. Yes, believed in conclusive evidence where we once stood in doubt; rejoiced with joy unspeakable where we once looked with dreary misgiving. What more can you require? But many have been lamed through choosing rough places, and venturing among thorns and briers, and leaving the beaten tracks without experience enough to avoid injury to themselves, or skill enough to clear a path in which others may safely follow.

12. Very many of the Lord’s sheep have become lame through negligence, faintness, and the gradual declension of spiritual health. They have backslidden; they have been remiss in prayer, omitted reading the Word, and forsaken communion with God, so it is no marvel that their walk betrays their weakness. A bad cold is the parent of many ailments. Beware of catching a chill in religion. Lameness is not infrequently the result of a fall. A broken bone, or a compound fracture, or a serious dislocation of the joints, is not easily healed. Those who have such injuries can tell you how helpless it makes them, how long it is before they can walk without crutches, and how often a change of weather will remind them, by ache and twinge, that cures leave scars behind. Certainly it is so with any man who has fallen into gross sin after making a profession of faith in Christ. However fully he may be restored by divine grace, he will feel its effects as long as he lives.

13. II. There are, and I suppose we may expect there always will be, lame ones in God’s flock; so I proceed to show that THE REST OF THE FLOCK SHOULD SEEK THEIR HEALING: “Make straight paths for your feet, lest what is lame is turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

14. Some Christian people seem to be so inconsiderate, and unsympathetic, that they treat all the lame of the flock with harshness. You may be strong and vigorous in your physical constitution, strangers to nervousness and depression of spirits. Be thankful, then, but do not be presumptuous. Do not despise those who suffer from infirmities that have never come over you. Your turn may come before long. You are yet in the body, and exempt from no ailment to which your fellow creatures are prone. I have known domineering spirits whose insolence it was hard to quiet, so they jeered at the weaklings; and, presently, their own complaints have been hard to pacify, so they moaned over their own grievances. The more arrogant they have been, when all was well with them, the more crestfallen and desponding have they been in the gloom, when things have gone badly for them. Those who often crow the most croak the worst. There is a passage in the thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel which I would recommend every strong, rough man to read and diligently consider: “Thus says the Lord God to them; ‘Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and the lean cattle. Because you have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, until you have scattered them abroad; therefore I will save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.’ ” Jehovah is our Shepherd, and he is very tender with his little lambs and his weak sheep: and if we are not tender with them, too, we shall soon be made to smart for our hard-heartedness. It sometimes happens that those people, who have seldom or never had an illness in their lives, feel little sympathy for those who have to bear much pain and sickness. Others, who have never suffered from poverty themselves, will sometimes shut up their hearts of compassion against those who are poor. Or if they dole out a charity, they will too often spoil a good deed with a harsh word. “You who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak”; and if that is too much to expect of you, the least that I can ask is that you will bear with them. I do beseech you, by the gentleness of Christ, that you tread lightly in the sick room, and speak softly to those who are crushed by adversity. There are diseases that provoke irritability. Peevishness, or despondency, may be a symptom of the particular ailment that prostrates one’s energies, and impairs one’s entire being. Do not be censorious; that would be cruel. Let those of you who are blessed with health, and walk in the sunshine, be considerate of your brothers and sisters who are blighted with a malady they cannot shake off, or enveloped in a cloud that darkens all their prospects. Learn to make another’s case your own. Be kind. Let every tone of your voice, every gesture of your limbs, every look on your face, show the kindness of your heart. God will surely requite it. He watches his children in the furnace. If you grieve them in their trouble, he will vex you in his severe displeasure. And there are spiritual ailments which, like bodily ones, require tender care and gentle treatment. Do not aggravate the sorrows of those who are harassed with doubts, tempted with evils, and distracted with anxious cares. Their story may appear simple enough to you, but it is very serious to them. What troubles them might not give you a moment’s concern. Do not pass it over, therefore, as nonsense. Your Lord and Master knew how to condescend to men of low estate; and his condescension was always pure, never arrogant. He is far more gentle than the tenderest among us. Oh, how desirable to learn his way!

15. Do you ask then, what he says we are to do for these lame ones?

16. Evidently, we ought to comfort them. “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” Cheer the heart when the limbs are weak. Tell the doubting that God is faithful. Tell those who feel the burden of sin that it was for sinners Christ died. Tell the backsliders that God never does cast away his people. Tell the desponding that the Lord delights in mercy. Tell the distracted that the Lord devises means to bring back his banished. Covet the character of Barnabas. He was a son of consolation. Study the sacred art of speaking a word in season. Apprentice yourself to the Comforter. Acquaint yourself with the sacred art of comforting the sad. Let your own troubles and trials qualify you to sympathize and help. You will be of great value in the Church of God if you acquire the art of compassion, and are able to help those who are bowed down.

17. But will you please give heed to the special instruction? We are to make straight paths because of lame people. You cannot heal the man’s bad foot, but you can pick all the stones out of the path that he has to pass over. You cannot give him a new leg, but you can make the road as smooth as possible. Let there be no unnecessary stumbling-blocks to cause him pain. Do you ask me how you can observe this precept. If you have to preach the gospel, preach it plainly. Poor sinners are dull enough of understanding; they can puzzle themselves, without your puzzling them. If you had to feed a child, it would be folly to put a quarter loaf of bread down before him, and account your duty done. Nor will it profit the majority of the people to preach the gospel to them in the abstract, giving them a great lump of truth to digest as best they can. No; but you should divide a child’s bread into small pieces, — crumble it up, and then pour the milk on it, so that he may be able to feed on it. So we must cater to God’s tried and troubled people. We must speak simply, use homely illustrations, and quote precious promises. Even though someone may be offended? Well, let him take umbrage. We need not be anxious to pacify any of those critical people, and God forbid that we should offend any of his little ones; for he is jealous over them. If one feeble soul gets a hold of the truth through its being made plain to him, he will be grateful to you; nor is “God unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love.”

18. Would you make straight paths? Then, take care that your teaching is always according to the Bible. Many lame people have been injured by a mixture of heathen philosophy and Christian doctrine. What is it that leads to the spread of Popery in this country? Where did this dogma of baptismal regeneration come from? If every minister had preached that believers only ought to be baptized, there would have been no pretext for infant sprinkling, and certainly no baptismal regeneration. If you go a little to the right, or a little to the left, and so diverge from the high road, you do not know where it will take you. Have you ever tried that in a Surrey lane? Perhaps you have been beguiled by some pleasant-looking path to leave the main road, fully expecting to come back into it again a little further on, not for a moment supposing that you had changed your course altogether until you have found yourself two or three miles from the place that you wanted to get to. It is better for you always to keep to the Scriptures, friends; for if you go a little away from them, you do not know where you may wander; and, in teaching others, you may lead them astray. Errors, that seem slight and frivolous at first, become sad and serious in a little while. A little deviation from the Word of God will presently lead to a total dissent from its teaching. Heaven only knows how far you may go astray when you once begin to turn your feet aside. Make straight paths for your feet, then, because there are lame ones who otherwise will be turned out of the way.

19. And, in all our walk and conversation, let us make straight paths for our feet as those who strive for holiness of life. Unholy Christians are the plague of the church. They are spots in our feasts of love. Like hidden rocks, they are the terror of navigators. It is hard to steer clear of them: and there is no telling what wrecks they may cause. The inconsistencies of professors spread dismay among weak, desponding believers. It is not merely the mischief you will do to yourself, church member, if you grow wanton and worldly, or the grief you will bring to the stronger brethren; but it is the pain and peril to which you will expose the young, the weak, the tender ones of the flock. That poor little girl in that cottage will have your character thrown in her teeth; that poor struggling woman, whose godless husband she has sought to reclaim, will be sure to hear his cruel taunt, “Ah, there is one of your crew! That is how they live.” The unclean life of anyone who happens to stand in an eminent place, does damage which it is impossible for us to estimate. The jeer does not only land on the transgressor himself, but also on the whole company of God’s people with whom he was associated; they all have to bear the taunt, and feel the smart. Many a lame one is staggered by this. Were he a strong Christian, of course he would say to himself, “Well, there was a Judas among the disciples, and there will be false professors among ourselves; so we must not pin our creed to any creature in the world.” The less confidence he could repose in the disciples, the more closely he would cleave to the Lord. But timid, trembling Christians are put out of countenance, and out of heart, too, by the delinquencies of those they were accustomed to look up to. They say, “If a Christian man acts like this, can there be anything in Christianity worth seeking for, and living for, after all?” So the lame are put out of the way. Oh, do walk carefully! When you try to teach others, do make your walk an example to those you wish to teach. I would say this to myself especially. Let your life be so pure that it arouses no suspicion; let your conduct be so upright that it needs no explanation or apology; let your character speak for itself, a light that shines, an example that you need not be ashamed of yourself, and such as others may wish to emulate. And please beware of any secret sin, of any evil habits such as you would only tolerate when screened from observation; for, as sure as you live, if you are a child of God, it will come out one of these days, to your shame. The openly profane may enjoy a measure of impunity, but the professed follower of Christ never can play the hypocrite without provoking speedy retribution. Ah, David thought he had covered up his sin with Bathsheba, did he not? When he had accomplished Uriah’s death, he seems to have imagined that no one would ever know anything about it. But how soon it was discovered, and that, too, without its being divulged by anyone who connived at his guilt! The Lord saw it, and he would not hide it. Never let a child of God think that his Heavenly Father will overlook his wilful misdeeds. There is no special providence to shield you from eating the fruit of your own ways. “Be sure your sin will find you out.” “Make straight paths for your feet, lest what is lame is turned out of the way.”

20. Once more let me admonish you. Do not be negligent when your Lord is so vigilant. Do not even be careless when you see him so cautious. The Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, evidently cares for the lame ones. The charge he gives is a proof of the concern he feels. He tells us to be considerate of them, because he himself takes a warm interest in their welfare.

21. III. WHAT NOW SHALL I SAY TO YOU WHO FEEL YOUR OWN WEAKNESS AND INFIRMITY?

22. You lame ones who cannot walk without limping, I know how you complain. “Ah!” you say, “I am no credit to Christianity. Though, in all sincerity, I do believe in Jesus, yet, alas, I can scarcely think I am one of his true disciples, called, and chosen, and faithful! I fear that, after all, he will disown me.” Ah, beloved, that he never will do! If you really are trusting in him, and resting on him, or even touching the hem of his garment, he cannot and he will not leave or forsake you. True, it would be likely enough if his ways were like our ways, and it will cause him great care to get you safely home. When Mr. Great-Heart went with Miss Much-Afraid and Mr. Feeble-Mind on the road to the Celestial City, he had his hands full. He says of poor Mr. Feeble-Mind, that, when he came to the lions he said, “Oh, the lions will have me!” And he was afraid of the giants, and afraid of everything on the road. It caused Great-Heart much trouble to get him on the road. It is so with you. Well, you must know that you are very troublesome and hard to manage. But, then, our Lord Jesus is very patient; he does not mind taking trouble. He has laid down his life for you, and he is prepared to exercise all his divine power and wisdom to bring you home to his Father’s house. If he were to desert you, there would be no eye to pity, no hand to lead you; but there is no fear of his changing the purpose of his heart. Having loved his own, he loves them to the end. I have heard say — I do not know how true it is, — that, when one of her family is a little weak-headed, the mother is sure to love that one best, and show him the most attention. Her tenderest thoughts will always turn towards her helpless babe, and her keenest anxieties will hover over the child who is ill. She may forget, for a while, the strong and the hale; but those who need her help most are quite certain to be never out of her mind. Be of good cheer, then. “As one whom his mother comforts,” so the Lord will comfort you. “Just as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him.”

23. You may say, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack.” You may gratefully sing, “He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those who are with young.” In the divine economy, the more care you require, the more care you shall have. Besides, you know something of our blessed Redeemer’s covenant engagements. If our Lord Jesus Christ had failed to bring his weak ones home, it would be much to his dishonour. “Those whom you gave me I have kept,” he says, “and not one of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” So Satan only had his own. How the wolf would howl over one sheep branded with the Saviour’s name were he to fall prey to his teeth! What malignant hilarity and derision there would be among the infernal spirits if the good Shepherd failed to bring home one lost sheep whom he had rescued! The joy among the angels of God, they would say, was premature. The Son of man, they would say, had sought, found, but failed to save the lost. Then the weaker the victim, the keener would the satire be. Ribald lips might shout out the taunt, “He saved the healthy; the halt he could not save.” So it would be more discredit to Christ to lose a weak one than a strong one, or for one lame sheep to be lost than if some of the healthier of them should perish; but there is no danger of such a calamity. The oversight of the Shepherd secures the safety of all the flock. They are all numbered, and each one in particular is known to him. Our Lord is a shepherd who loves his sheep so well that, were one of them taken and held between the jaws of a lion, he would run to the rescue, and tear the lion as David did of old. He would kill the lion and the bear to get his poor little one saved from the teeth of the devourer. You shall not die, but live. “Oh!” you say, “but I cannot preserve myself.” No, you cannot; and in your weakness lies your great strength. Jesus Christ will be sure to cover you with his power, so that, when you are utterly defenceless, you shall be most efficiently defended. “Ah!” another says, “I have had a weary life of it so far.” Yes, but you have brighter days to come. Some of God’s children, after living in the joyful sunlight all their lives, as they draw near the closing scene, have felt much darkness and depression of spirits. This in no degree imperils their security; they will wake up all right in the morning. But, then, others of God’s children have passed most of their days under a cloud, until the gloom seemed to settle on their visage, and obscure even the radiance of their hope; and yet, when the hour of their departure was at hand, the mists and fogs have all dispersed, light has streamed into their souls, and their sweet peace and sacred joy have been like an overflowing tide. The very ones that went limping and mourning, while they were on their pilgrimage, have played the man, and displayed the faith of Christians most wondrously when the trial that they dreaded all their lifelong overtook them. Just as Ready-to-Halt left his crutches behind, they have begun to sing and rejoice when they were departing. Like clear shining after rain, like a brilliant sunset after a stormy day, in the evening it was light with them; and, I think, it will be so with many of you.

24. There are some flowers that must be grown in the shade. I believe God made and adapted them to flourish most in shady places. Some ferns never thrive so well as in some little corner of the brook where the dampness continually washes them. Perhaps you are one of those flowers or ferns, planted in a soil that suits your growth. Well, if it is so, do not murmur about your lot. The gloom that hovers over you may help the peace of your heart. I have known women, pure and pious, for whom the sunny scenes of life have had no charms; but their bright faces, their beaming eyes, and their benevolent hearts have shone with a beautiful brilliance as they have flitted about like angels in the rooms of the sick, the wards of the hospital, or among the beds of the wounded and the dying. Consider him who was the Man of sorrows, but whose spirit was not crushed. In the midst of dire distress, he said to his disciples, “Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And, beloved, do not be unmindful of the comfort you may derive under any affliction, when you trace it to the will of God. If you suffer as an evildoer, if it is your own fault, the scourge that chastens you will invite no pity, and the conscience that reproaches you will aggravate your pain. If, on the other hand, you can trace the hand of the Lord in a cross or a calamity, your course is immediately clear. It would be folly to repine; your wisdom is to resign yourself entirely to his will. Bear it patiently, and God will reward you plentifully. Your prayer shall come up before him acceptably, and the answer shall come down speedily, when you would rather glorify the Lord than gratify yourself.

25. It is not for me to say what particular purpose there may be in the personal afflictions that any of the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father are called to bear; but I cannot help observing that the peaceable fruits of righteousness, which these tried ones produce, are very sweet and luscious. Let me appeal to you. Have you not often proved the truth of those words of the psalmist, “You have known my soul in adversities”? And is it not so, that the notice which the Lord has taken of you, and the care he has exercised over you, have made you love him more tenderly than you ever did before? You could say, with David, “Your right hand has held me up, and your gentleness has made me great.” Oh, what prayer you have poured out when his chastening was on you! Such prayer is sweet to the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not marvel that he lets you suffer so much when your suffering yields such rich perfume. Well, dear friends, when we get so choice a compensation now, what shall we receive hereafter? Surely, in the ages to come, the lowliest of worshippers shall sing the loudest, —

    While heaven’s resounding mansions ring
       With shouts of sovereign grace.

Their soprano notes shall rise above the angels’ harps, and the full tide of human voices, with a distinctness like this, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” The personal tribute of extraordinary love and gratitude shall sound out its solo, and then blend with the general chorus.

26. And now, to close, let us read our text again. “Therefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest what is lame is turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” See to it that you are not negligent of this ministry of love. Remember how high a reputation Job got in his day for the care he bestowed on those who were frail and infirm. Eliphaz the Temanite said of him, “Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was falling, and you have strengthened the feeble hands.” And do not forget the reproof which the Lord gave to the shepherds of Israel: “The diseased you have not strengthened, neither have you healed what was sick, neither have you bound up what was broken, neither have you brought again what was driven away, neither you have sought what was lost.” Above all, consider the example of our Lord Jesus. His eye was always keen to spy out the lame, the blind, the halt; and his hand was always stretched out immediately for their relief. “He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with him.” And if you and I, beloved, walk with God, and God is with us, our godliness will show itself in the compassion we feel, and the kindness we show to the feeble and the faulty, the cross-grained and the crippled.

27. May the Lord bless these counsels to the strong, and these cordials to the weak; and may we all come to that blessed land where “the inhabitant shall not say, ‘I am sick’: the people who dwell in it shall be forgiven their iniquity!” Amen.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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