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2976. Order is Heaven’s First Law

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Order Is Heaven’s First Law

No. 2976-52:97. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, February 22, 1906.

Neither shall one thrust another; every one shall march in his own column. {Joe 2:8}

1. Those who have been able to observe the marching of an army of locusts have been amazed beyond measure with the marvellous regularity of their advance. Agur, who must surely have seen them, says, “The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out by bands.” The wonder is, that creatures comparatively so insignificant in size, and so low down in the scale of intelligence, should maintain such more than martial order, both in their long flights and in their devouring marches. The ablest commanding officers would be at their wits’ end if ordered to marshal a multitude numbering even a thousandth, or perhaps a millionth part of the countless hordes of these destructive marauders; and yet, by instinct, the locust soldiers can and do keep rank better than the most veteran regiments of the line, as I can personally testify, from having seen miles of them in one of the Italian valleys. “Every one shall march in his own column,” says the prophet, “and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; every one shall march in his own column.”

2. I. As I considered this remarkable fact in insect life, my meditations led me to note THE ORDER WHICH REIGNS, not among locusts only, but THROUGHOUT ALL OF GOD’S WORLD; and then I said to myself, — In this way there should be order and arrangement in the Christian Church. God has trained his great insect army, and among them order reigns; but this is no exception to the general rule, for all the hosts of God are marshalled in rank and file, and are never left to be a disorganized mob of forces. From the most minute to the most magnificent, all creatures feel the sway of order, and they well observe the laws imposed by their Creator.

3. Look up to the heavens, and observe the innumerable stars that glisten there so plentifully, that numeration fails. Looked at through the telescope, stars are so abundant that the heavens appear to be covered with dust of gold; and yet, we have no record that one of these bodies has ever interfered with the orbit of its fellow sphere, or if such a catastrophe has ever been permitted, it has been part of the all-comprehending scheme. The majestic orbs move, each one in its own orbit, and all in perfect harmony. Even the aberrations, as we call them, are nothing but the result of regular law, and the astronomer finds that he can calculate them with the greatest possible accuracy. There are no irregularities, discords, or failures among the constellations; and if to the student of the heavens such should appear to be the case, he only has to master the universal law more fully, and he discovers, with astonishment, that every eccentricity is a necessary incident in a system grander than he had thought. Mere novices in astronomy talked about irregularities, but Newton and Kepler found a mathematical precision revealed in everything. At no point need we be afraid that the universe will be thrown out of sync. If a man had placed innumerable wheels in a machine, there would be, in due time, a breakdown somewhere. Oil would be needed here, a cog would be broken there, a band would be snapped in this place, or a piston would be seize there; but God’s great machine of the universe, whose wheels are so high that the sublime Ezekiel, when he saw them, felt that they were terrible, has continued to revolve these many thousands of years, and has never yet been stopped for cleaning or repair, because God has impressed on every atom of it the most docile spirit of submission, and his powerful hand is at work every instant amid the machinery giving force to his laws.

4. Nor is it so in the coarser inanimate forms of matter only, but the same law holds good with the whole animal creation. Not locusts only, but the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, all obey their Maker’s bidding, and both live and move according to rule and order, all forming portions of the perfect circle struck out by the divine compasses. What a wonderful thing it is that mighty streams of fish should come, during certain seasons, from the North, and swarm near enough to our coasts to afford our fellow citizens so large a portion of their daily food! If there is complaining in our streets, there need not be, for extended fisheries would supply all the inhabitants of Britain, even if they were multiplied a hundred times; and yet there would be no perceptible diminution in the teeming population of all the sea, for God has so arranged it that there shall be most of those kinds which are most required for food. But what a marvel that, at the fixed period, the unguided fish should migrate in such countless shoals, and should return again, in due season, to their old abodes among the Arctic waves!

5. Notice, too, how every kind of animal is necessary for all the rest. So beautiful is the order of nature, that we cannot deliberately destroy a race of little birds without suffering from their extinction. When the small birds were killed in France, by the peasantry, who supposed that they ate the grain, the caterpillars came and devoured the crops. Man made a defect in an otherwise perfect circle; he took away one of the wheels which God had made, and the machine did not work perfectly; but leave it alone, and no jars or grindings will occur, for all animals know their time and place, and fulfil the purpose for their existence. You spoil the harmony of nature’s concert if even the sparrow’s chirrup is unheard. The stork and the crane fly at God’s bidding, the swallow and the martin know their pathway; the prowling beasts and rapacious birds, as well as the domestic cattle, all hold their own in nature’s arrangements. Like the bejewelled breast-plate of the high priest, nature is full of gems, each one in its setting, and the glory is marred if one is lacking. Be assured that the wild donkey and coney, leviathan and behemoth, eagle and dove, gnat and lizard, are all arranged for the highest good, and are beautiful in their season. “Neither shall one thrust another; every one shall march in his own column.”

6. Rising a little higher, there is also order in the providence of God. When you view the great world of human history, it looks like a skein of thread much twisted and tangled. When you study it, you see nations rise and fall, like boiling waves of a foaming sea. You read of horrible wars, wantonly begun and wickedly continued. The human race seems to have destroyed its sons without a motive. Men rush on each other with all the fury of fiends, and tear each other like wolves, and yet they do not eat what they have killed. The history of mankind appears at first sight to argue the absence of God. We ask, “How is this? We expected to find, if God were in providence, something more orderly and regular than we see here. Instead of a grand volume from a master pen, we see words flung together without apparent connection. We expected to find a sublime poem, such as angels might love to read; but all this is confusion, void and unintelligible, — strokes and dashes without meaning for us.” Indeed, my brethren, and so it is; but we are little children, and do not yet understand God’s hieroglyphics; we write in large letters, and do not have the transcript of the celestial shorthand. Our limited field of vision only lets us see a brick or two of the great house, and immediately we begin to criticize the infinite Architect and his work. After all, supposing this world to have existed six thousand years, what is that? In God’s sight, it is only as a day, or as yesterday when it has passed. We see only one thread of history, a ravelling of life, and then we vainly imagine that we can form a fair judgment of the tapestry intricately woven by the finger of the Lord.

7. Coming down from these great things to ourselves, depend on it that all the events in our own little lives are marching straight on to a gracious consummation. You, child of God, sometimes say, “What can be the purpose of this cross? What can be meant by that bereavement? Why am I perplexed by this dilemma? Why is this difficulty piled like a barricade across my path?” Well, you do not know now, but you shall know hereafter; meanwhile, settle it firmly in your faith that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.” Your affliction does not jostle your prosperity, but promotes it. Your losses do not cause your loss, they really increase your true riches. Onward still, laden with untold blessings, every event is marching for the benefit of the righteous and for the humble spirit. God has his way in the whirlwind, and the clouds are the dust of his feet; only be patient, and wait on him with childlike confidence, and the day shall come when you shall wonder, and be astonished, that there should have been such order in your life when you thought it was all confusion, such love when you thought it unkindness, such gentleness when you thought it severity, such wisdom when you were wicked enough to impugn the rightness of your God. Brethren, the events of our history march on as rightly as a victorious legion under a skilful leader. Do not let us arraign the wisdom of what happens to us, or imagine that we could order our affairs in a better way. Our good and ill, our joy and grief, all keep their places. “Neither shall one thrust another; every one shall march in his own column.”

8. II. But we must rise even higher. We have come from the world of matter to the world of living creatures, and up to the world of intellectual beings, and NOW LET US THINK OF GOD HIMSELF.

9. We may say of all has attributes that “neither does one thrust another, but each one marches in his own column.” Let us be careful at any time, in thinking of God, that we do not indulge in reflections on one attribute to the forgetting of the rest. Many Christians are much soured in their disposition by considering God only in the light of sovereignty. Now, that he is a Sovereign, is a great, deep, mysterious, but also most blessed truth, and we would defend divine sovereignty with all our might against all comers; but, at the same time, absolute sovereignty is not the only attribute of God, and those who keep their eye fixed on that, to the exclusion of all other qualities and prerogatives, get an unbalanced idea of God, and very likely they fall into errors of doctrine, and, even more likely, they become hard-hearted towards their fellow men, and forget that the Lord has no pleasure in the death of sinners, but desires rather that they should turn to him, and live.

10. On the other hand, many injure their minds very greatly by reflecting entirely on the one thought of God, that he is good. It is a blessed truth, that he is good and benevolent, and full of compassion, and Holy Scripture tells us that “the Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works.” God forbid that we should seek to diminish the kindness of God, or think lightly of it, “for his mercy endures for ever.” Yet some look at that one emerald ray as though it were the entire spectrum; they gaze on one star, and regard it as the Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus, all in one; and, alas! worse results follow, for they are tempted to think sin to be a mere trifle, since they ignore the justice and sovereignty of God. They exclude God’s righteousness and vengeance from their minds so that, when they hear of hell, and of the wrath that will come on the impenitent, they shudder with inward unbelief, and try to doubt it; and, perhaps, manage to find texts of Scripture which look as if they helped them in their perverted and jaundiced view of the Most High. They think they are glorifying God, but they are really dishonouring him, for God is no more altogether mercy than he is altogether sovereignty, and he is no more altogether sovereignty than he is altogether mercy.

11. The fact is, that every glory meets in God. All that is good, and excellent, and great, may be found in him in complete perfection. God would have you so to think of him, for, in the atonement, which is his grandest revelation of himself, he has been pleased to show you —

    How grace and justice strangely join;
    Piercing his Son with sharpest smart,
    To make the choicest blessings thine.

12. This leads me on a step further, to observe that the same order is perceptible in the doctrines of the Word of God. Doctrines, which look as if they contradicted each other, are nevertheless fully agreed. It is the defect in our mental vision which makes separate truths appear to cross each other’s orbit, for it is certain that the truths of Scripture do not thrust each other, but each one goes on in its own path. Perhaps the fiercest of fights has been waged over the great fact that salvation is by grace, and the equally certain fact that man is responsible to God under the gospel, and that, if he perishes, his ruin lies at his own door, and is not to be charged on God in any sense whatever. This has been the arena in which intellectual gladiators have fought with each other age after age. If they had stood side by side, and fought the common enemy, they would have done good service; for I believe, in my soul, that they both hold some truth, and that either of them will hold error unless he will yield something to his rival. There are some who read the Bible, and try to systematize it according to rigid logical creeds; but I dare not follow their method, and I feel content to let people say, “How inconsistent he is with himself!” The only thing that would grieve me would be inconsistency with the Word of God. As far as I know this Book, I have endeavoured, in my ministry, to preach to you, not a part of the truth, but the whole counsel of God; but I cannot harmonize it, nor am I anxious to do so. I am sure all truth is harmonious, and to my ear the harmony is clear enough; but I cannot give you a complete score of the music, or mark the harmonies on the gamut, I must leave the Chief Musician to do that.

13. You have heard of the two travellers who met opposite the statue of Minerva, and one of them remarked, “What a glorious golden shield Minerva has!” The other said, “No, but it is bronze.” They argued with each other, they drew their swords, they killed each other; and, as they fell, dying, they each looked up, and the one who said the shield was made of bronze discovered that it had a golden side to it, and the other, who was so bold in affirming that it was gold, found that it had a bronze side too. The shield was made of two different metals, and neither of the combatants had seen both sides. It is just so with the truth of God, it is many-sided and full of variety. Grand threefold lines run through it; it is one yet three, like the Godhead. Perhaps you and I have only seen two of the lines, — many people refuse to see more than one, — and there may be a third yet to be discovered, which shall reconcile the apparently antagonistic two, when our eye shall be clarified by the baptism in the last river, and we shall ascend the hill of the Lord to read the truth of God in the light of the celestial city.

14. However, it is clear that salvation is altogether by grace, and equally clear that, if any man perishes, it is not for lack of invitations on God’s side, — honest invitations to come to Christ. We hear our Master saying, “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Some friends are so afraid of that text that they generally quote it “weary and heavy laden,” which is not the true reading; but the labouring ones are invited to Jesus. Christ gave many such invitations, yet did he not also say, “No man can come to me, unless the Father who has sent me draws him”? Amid the soft rain of tenderness we hear thundering overhead that solemn truth, “So then it is not by him who wills, nor by him who runs, but by God who shows mercy.” “Therefore he has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he wills he hardens.” As we listen to that thunder, we bow to the sovereignty of God; yet, amid the pauses, we hear the Master say, “Whoever wills, let him take the water of life freely,” and we also hear him say, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Let us believe both sets of truths, and not oppose ourselves to friends who hold either the one or the other, but seek to bring them to believe both; for since the Bible is true, both of them are the truth of the living God. Observation leads me to think that those people, who are willing to hold the entire revealed truth, are generally Christians of a more active spirit, and more desirous for the conversion of souls than those who contract their minds, and only hold one or two great theological dogmas. If we will only lay aside our Chinese shoes, and allow our feet to grow as they should, we shall find it far better walking on the road to heaven, and we shall be more ready for any work which our Master may call us to do.

15. III. Now we turn to THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

16. Dear friends, you and I who have entered into the kingdom of grace, and have received a life which the worldling cannot understand, (for the carnal mind knows nothing of the spiritual life,) must remember that our thoughts, graces, and actions, ought all to keep their proper position, so that it may be said of them, “Neither shall one thrust another; every one shall march in his own column.”

17. As for our thoughts, we ought to endeavour, as God shall teach us by his Spirit, to keep our thoughts of God’s Word in their due harmony. Some brethren, for example, are altogether doctrinal in their inclinations. Doctrinal study is admirable; may God send us much of it! Yet doctrine is not all that we are taught in the Sacred Word; there are duties and promises also; why despise these? Then again, other professors of religion are altogether of a practical turn; and, while they value James, they depreciate Paul. They do not like an expository sermon, they cannot endure it; but if you give them a precept, they rejoice greatly. They are quite right as far as they go. May the Lord send us much more practical Christianity! But this is not all. There are others who only want what is coming within the range of experience, and some of these will hear no sermon unless it deals with the corruption of the human heart, or with the dark moods of the child of God: others will have no experience but the bright side, you must always preach to them out of the Canticles, inditing the good matter concerning the sweet love of Christ towards his spouse. Now, each of these forms of preaching is good in its place; but he who would keep close to the Scriptures, and preserve completeness in his thoughts, must weigh well the doctrines, and seek to get a clear view of the covenant of grace, and the economy of salvation; he must study the precepts, and ask the Holy Spirit to give the fleshy heart, on which those precepts may be written as on living tablets; and then he must watch his experience, mourning over inbred sin, but rejoicing also in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, through whose blood we have the victory.

18. We must endeavour, as much as possible, to exercise our thoughts on all the subjects which God has given us to think on in his Word, and applied to our hearts by the workings of the Holy Spirit. Where this is done, we shall avoid one thought thrusting another, and each will go in its own path. I have heard of doctrinal preachers who hated the very sound of the word “duty”; I have also heard the practical brother declare that he detested “election”; while the brother who deals only with experience has affirmed that the doctrinal preacher was merely “a dead-letter man.” Oh, what naughty words for God’s children to use on each other, — bitter sentences which they only use because they know so little! Shame on us that we say, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and “I am of Cephas,” for all these are ours to profit by if we are Christ’s. Learn from the doctrinal, learn from the practical, learn from experience. Blend them all together, and do not let one thrust another, but allow each to go straight on in its own path.

19. The same should hold good in the graces which we cultivate. The Lord Jesus Christ is pleased to put, by his Holy Spirit, into the hearts of those whom he has saved, certain lovely and precious things, but it is not always easy to get these in due harmony. For example, I know a brother who is very faithful; he does not mind telling you of your faults, but then, he is not affectionate in spirit, and so he never warns you of your infirmities in a way that does you good. Now, if that brother could get affection to balance his fidelity, what an admirable man he would make! I remember well another brother who was all affection, and nothing else. He was so affectionate as to be effeminate; and I, poor rough creature as I am, could never bear the sight of him. He always reminded me of a pot of treacle, and his calling appeared to be the anointing of everyone he met. If he could only have mixed a little fidelity with his sweetness, he would have been a much better and stronger man. Secker says that Christianity ought, first, “to make a man more of a man; and, then, more than a man”; and so it would if we sought, by the power of the Spirit, to cultivate all the graces.

20. The beauty of the human countenance does not consist exclusively in having a bright eye; no, the fine eye helps, but all the other features of the face must balance it. A man may have the finest possible forehead, and yet he may be extremely ugly because his other features are out of proportion; so it is with character. Character must have all the graces, and all the graces in harmony. Take, for example, the virtue of meekness; it is a lovely thing to be of a meek and quiet spirit, but then, my brethren, how could reforms ever be accomplished if all were so meek that they could not speak out against error? Where would you find your Luthers and your Calvins? Meekness must be balanced by the virtue which is its compensating quality, namely, courage. Affection must be strengthened by fidelity. A man must be patient under affliction, but he is not to be so patient as to be idle; he must couple energy with his patience, in order to reveal a practical faith. When we have each of these, we shall be what Paul and James call “perfect.” Then we shall have come to be “entire, lacking nothing,” having reached “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Christian men should be men-Christians. If your child should have a rapid growth in his arms, but not in his legs, or if his legs should lengthen, but not his arms, what a strange being he would be! What a monster! It is the growth of each limb in proportion that brings a man to perfection. So, my brethren, when our heads grow faster than our hearts, it is a bad sign; yet how many know a great deal more than they feel, and criticize much more than they believe! It is also an evil thing when a man’s tongue grows bigger than his head, when he has more to say than he knows or does; when, like Mr. Talkative, he can talk about the road to heaven, but makes no progress in it.

21. The same proportions and balancing should be found in our Christian duties. This is too large and difficult a subject to go fully into now, but we will have a word or two about it. A man is not in his outward action a complete Christian because he is attentive to one duty, for God would have his people attend to all. It will sometimes be a question with you as to how much time should be given to private devotion, how much to family worship, and how much to church worship; and you may easily make great mistakes here. I remember a brother, a very excellent man, too, who was always at prayer meetings and public services; but, unfortunately, being always away from home, his family was so neglected that the sons grew up one after another to be the most precocious specimens of depravity that the parish could exhibit. We thought, and we hinted as much to our brother, that, if he could be at home sometimes to teach the children, whose mother was as neglectful of them as the father was, — and so the mischief became doubled, — he would be far more in the path of duty than in attending public services to the neglect of family piety; I only wish he had been able to see the propriety of our advice, for he has had to smart for his folly. It is not often that a man’s private devotions obtrude in this way; but I know one professor, who used to spend so long a period in private prayer, that he neglected his business, and also the assembling of himself with God’s people; it was, indeed, an unusual vice, but it came to be quite a sin in his case. This last is a very unusual fault, and one that I could almost excuse, because it is so unusual; but I recommend far more strongly the careful thinking of how much time is due to God in the prayer closet, how much at the family altar, how much at the prayer meeting, and how much to the week-night services, for we must give to each according to its due proportion.

22. Again, the difficulty will often occur to you, my brethren, as to how much is due to diligence in business and how much to fervency in spirit. No one can draw the line for another. Each one must judge for himself, but this must be the law: “Neither shall one thrust another; every one shall march in his own column.” There may be a time in which you may lawfully give all the hours of the day to business. Your business may require it, and there are junctures with commercial men when, to go to weekday services, would be almost insanity; they must keep doing their work, or else there will come a failure; and then the name of Christ will be evil spoken of. There will be times, too, with the working man, when, if he were to insist on coming to the Monday evening prayer meeting, or to the Thursday night lecture, he would be altogether out of the path of duty; there is a demand for labour just at some particular time, and he must obey the call, and he is in the path of duty in doing so. I am afraid that there are not many who fail in that way, but crowds who err in the opposite direction. Some will keep the shop open so late that there is no time for family prayer; and others will confine their servants so strictly that they can never get out on week-nights to hear a sermon. It does not strike the employer’s mind that some of the young people would perhaps like to be at the prayer meeting on Monday night, nor will the employer be there himself. Now, I cannot say to you, you must give so must time to God, and so much to business; you yourself must ask God the Holy Spirit to guide you; but remember, you must not let one thrust another. It is a good saying of an old divine, “Never bring to God one duty stained with the blood of another.” As much as lies in you, give to each distinct duty its due proportion.

23. There is an even greater difficulty with regard to the arrangement of distinct duties, when they are likely to run counter to each other. Here is a servant. His master expects him, after he has entered into an engagement with him, to do such and such unnecessary work on the Sabbath. The young man says, “No, I cannot do that; it is clearly unscriptural, and I must obey God rather than man,” But there are certain things which come somewhere between the necessary and the unnecessary, and the servant may properly enquire, “What is my duty?” You must settle it carefully within your own mind. Do you have any sordid or selfish motive for deciding in any particular way? If so, be very cautious how you decide; but seek the Lord’s glory, and the Lord’s glory alone, and say, “While I am, as a servant, to serve man, yet I am the Lord’s free man, and I must walk both as a servant and the Lord’s free man, and not forget either.”

24. Sometimes, the matter of the conduct of children towards parents has come to our attention. A harsh parent has said, “My children shall not carry out their religious convictions.” In such cases, we have had occasionally to recommend the child to wait until he has grown a little older; at other times, we have told the child to break through the parent’s evil command, since we cannot hold that the parent can have any right to make his child disobey God. In the matter of the child’s religion, when he is able to judge for himself, he is as free as his parent, and has a right to choose for himself; and while the parent should seek intelligently to guide him, coercion must never be tried. If the parent is ungodly, the child is free from all obedience to wicked commands; and must act then in obedience to a higher Parent, and to a greater law, namely, the law of God. The same thing happens, at times, with regard to the husband and the wife. Of course, a good wife continually wishes to do what will please her husband, and she is happy to be subservient to him as far as may be; but when it comes to a point of conscience, and the two relationships clash, the relationships of the Heavenly Bridegroom and the earthly husband, it is not always easy to decide on a fitting course of action; but we may at least be certain that we must not be motivated by selfishness, nor by a desire to avoid persecution, nor to please men; but we must stand on the side of honesty to God, fidelity to the King of kings, and a regard for the truth as it is in Jesus. Do try if it is possible, and I believe it is possible, in every case to harmonize all your relationships, so that neither one of them shall thrust another, but each shall walk in its own path.

25. IV. So, brethren, my concluding remark shall be that, since this is to be true in the little commonwealth of the heart, and the home, IT OUGHT ALSO TO BE TRUE OF THE CHURCH AT LARGE.

26. It is a great blessing when the members of the church do not thrust each other, but everyone goes in his own path. There are different orders of workers, and these must cooperate. Alas! workers in a Sunday School do not always agree with each other. Then, workers in Sunday Schools {a} are not always so fond of workers in Ragged Schools as they might be, and perhaps the workers in Ragged Schools may sometimes look down with coldness on the distributors of tracts. It should never be so. We are like the different members of the body, and the eye must not say to the foot, “I have no need of you,” neither must the hand say to the ear, “I have no need of you.” Every man must work according to the gift of the Holy Spirit. When a man steps out of his proper calling into another, he makes a great mistake, both for himself and for the Church at large; and when one brother envies another, and picks holes in his character, and finds fault with his service, he needs to hear that inspired question, “Who are you who judges another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.” I pray all the bands of workers to maintain a holy unanimity, being of one accord, focused on the same thing, provoking each other to nothing but love and good works, striving for nothing except that they together may promote the glory of the Lord Jesus.

27. And as it is true in any one church with regard to the labourers, so it should be also with regard to the different ranks and classes of Christians. The rich should never say, “We do not want so many poor in the church,” neither should the poor man say, “Our minister favours the wealthy; there is more thought for the rich than there is for the poor.” There is just as much fault on one side as there is on the other, in these things. While we sometimes find the purse-proud man looking down on the poor, it quite as often happens that the poor man takes umbrage where there is no need for it, and is much more wicked in his jealousies than the other in his purse-pride. Let it never be so among Christians, but lest the brother of high degree rejoice that he is exalted, and the poor that he is brought low. We need both, and cannot do without either; and having both in the church, neither should one thrust another, but each should go in his own path.

28. The same thing holds true for the educated and the uneducated. I have often been saddened when I have heard a sneer against a brother who cannot speak grammatically. The brother who can speak grammatically, perhaps, does not try to speak at all; and yet he sneers at the other, and says, “Well, really, I wonder that such fellows should preach; what is the good of them?” Now, until you have done better than he does, do not find fault with him. God uses him; so surely you ought not to despise him! The fact is, brethren, that the learned and educated minister is necessary and useful; we have no right to sneer at those who have gone through college and earned a high degree of learning, for they are useful; but, on the other hand, who among us hears of such men as Richard Weaver, and Mr. Carter, and others who are labouring among the poor, and dares to despise them? If I might have my choice, I should prefer to work with them rather than with the fine-spun gentlemen; but, still, every man in his own order, each man in his own way; let the one take his position and the other take his position, and never say a jealous or an angry word concerning each other, neither let one thrust another, but each one go straight on in his own path.

29. So it ought to be with all our churches. In this large city of London, there is no excuse for anything like jealousy among the various Christian churches. If we were to build as many places of worship as would reach, set side by side, from here to London Bridge, on both sides of the road, and without a single house or shop in all the distance, and if we were to put gospel preachers into them all, I believe they could all be filled without any of them being a hindrance to another, for the millions in this city are so enormous that there is no chance of our being jostled by each other. We are like fishermen in the deep sea; because there are a hundred boats, none of them need come off the worse. If there were fifty thousand boats, they could all be full where the fish are so abundant. Perhaps you say, “I hear Mr. So-and-so, and what a dear man he is!” Very likely he is, but so is someone else. It would be a great pity if everyone could hear only one man. It would be a very sad thing if everyone wanted to come to the Tabernacle, for we cannot make it any bigger than it is; and it would be a very wretched thing if everyone wanted to go somewhere else, for then we should have an empty house; but now, each one listening according as his own spiritual taste may guide him, or as his spiritual appetite may dictate to him, we are formed into different communities, which prosper individually, but which would glorify God much more if all differences were cast aside, and if we sought each other’s good, and profit, and edification.

30. And so, to conclude, it ought to be with the different denominations. I sometimes think that these will continue for ever. They are of no harm to the Church of God, but a great blessing; for some of them take up one point of truth which is neglected, and others take up another; and so, between them all, the whole truth is brought out: and it seems to me that the Church of Christ is even more one than if all the various sections were brought together into one grand ecclesiastical corporation; for this would, probably, feed some ambitious person’s vanity, and raise up another dynasty of priestcraft, like the old Babylon of Rome. Perhaps it is quite as good as it is; but let each body of Christians keep to its own work, and not sneer at the work of others. Let all feel, “We have this to do, and we will do it in the name of God.” Let each body of Christians try to correct its neighbour in its errors and mistakes, but let each work hand in hand, and stand foot to foot in the common battle and the common service; for, oh my brethren, the time will come when our little narrow jealousies will all melt away like the hoar-frost when the sun rises! When the King shall come in his glory, or we are carried to the other side of the stream of death, and see beyond the curtain which parts us from the invisible world, we shall look with very different eyes on some things which seem so important now. We shall then see that God has forbidden us to glory in anything but the cross of Christ, and that the one thing necessary, after all, to contend for was, “By grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

31. Now, may the Lord help us to go straight on in our own paths, no one thrusting another, but all working together for God. And if there are any among us who are not converted, let me remind those that they are out of order, and let me tell them what comes of that. When a man sets himself in opposition to God’s laws, they crush him as surely as he is there. Throw yourself from the Monument, {b} and the law of gravity will not be suspended to save you. Even so, if you are out of order with God, there is no help for it, but your destruction is certain, if you remain opposed to him. Oh, that you may be led, by divine grace, to get into order with God, — to be reconciled to God by the death of his Son! He tells you the way to get into order. It is this, — simply trust Jesus. That is the way to rectify all errors. He who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved. May God bless us all with that salvation, for his name’s sake! Amen.

{a} Ragged School: A free school for children of the poorest class. OED. {b} The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known as The Monument, is a 202 ft tall stone Roman doric column in the City of London, near to the northern end of London Bridge. It is located at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 202 ft from where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. It is possible to reach the top of the monument by climbing up the narrow winding staircase of 311 steps. A cage was added in the mid-19th century at the top of the Monument to prevent people jumping off, after six people had committed suicide between 1788 and 1842. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_the_Great_Fire_of_London"

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