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2984. A Silly Dove

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A Silly Dove

No. 2984-52:193. A Sermon Delivered In The Year 1863, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, April 19, 1906.

Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart. {Ho 7:11}

1. The race of Ephraim is not extinct. Men are to this very day very much like what they were in the days of the prophets. The same rebukes are still suitable, as well as the same comforts. Just as man has altered very little, if at all, in his outward bodily conformation, so he has not varied in the inner constitution; he is much the same today as he was in the time of Hosea. In this congregation, in the midst of the city of London, we have too large a company of those who are “like a silly dove without heart.”

2. To proceed at once with the text, I want you to notice four things: first; a saintly similitude; secondly, a secret distinction; thirdly, a severe description; and, lastly, a serious consideration.

3. I. Here we have A SAINTLY SIMILITUDE: “Ephraim is like a dove.”

4. The people are not compared here to the eagle that soars aloft, and scents its prey from afar, nor to the vulture which delights to gorge itself with carrion; they are not compared to any foul and unclean bird which was put aside under the law; but the very metaphor which is constantly chosen to set out the beauty of holiness, to describe the believer, and to picture the whole Church, — indeed, that very emblem by which we represent him who is holiness itself, God the Holy Spirit, — that same comparison to a dove is used here to describe those who were without heart. “Ephraim is like a dove,” — it is a saintly similitude.

5. Let me remind you that, in all congregations, there are those who are like doves, but not Christ’s doves, who never build their nests in the clefts of the rock, in the bosom of the Saviour. They are like doves; you can never tell them apart from genuine believers; and, like doves, they are perfectly harmless; they do no mischief to others in their lives. Track them, if you wish, you will never find them in the alehouse; they do not sing the song of the drunkard; no man ever looses anything in business by them. Men may have their pockets picked in the streets, but never by them. People may go staggering home under a wound, but that wound never comes from their hand; there is no uncleanness in their heart, and no slander on their tongue; they are amiable, admirable; we might almost hold them up for examples of propriety. Alas! alas! that we have only to look within to find that they are not what they seem to be.

6. Moreover, being like doves for harmlessness, they are also like them for loving good company. We do not find the dove flying with a host of eagles, but it consorts with its own kind. Some of you are never happier than when you are either in the Tabernacle or else in some of the classes formed by various members of the congregation. You also find such a pleasant excitement in the prayer meeting that you are not absent from it except when you are prevented by business. You love being where God’s people go; their hymns are sweet to your ears, in their prayers you find some kind of comfort, and in the ministry of the Word you take delight. You fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts, and it is a joy to us to see you do it; and yet it may be that, although you know how to congregate like doves, you are simply “like a silly dove without heart.”

7. Moreover, these people are even more like the dove, in that they have the same meekness apparently, as distinguishes the dove. They hear as God’s people hear, and sit as his people sit. They are not sceptics; they never object to the exposition of the doctrines to which they listen; they pick no holes in the preacher’s coat, — they have no particular fault to find either with the style or the matter of his discourse; they decorously frequent the house of God, and behave themselves in a seemly manner when there; indeed, more than that, they do seem with meekness to receive the Word, though they do not receive it as engrafted into their own hearts; they even receive it with joy when the seed is scattered on them, but having no root in themselves, the good seed comes to nothing. Oh my dear hearers, it is a great subject for thanksgiving that so many of you are ready and willing to listen to the Word with deep and profound respect; but I beseech you to remember that you may, in this, be like the dove, and yet, after all, you may be taken in the same net and destroyed with the same destruction as what fell on the Ephraimites, who were “like a silly love without heart.”

8. The dove, you know, is a clean feeder, and so we have many who get as far as that. They know the distinction between the precious and the vile; they will not feed on law, they can only live on grace; they have come to know the doctrines of the gospel, and they feed on them, — on pure grain well winnowed. You have only to bring in a little free will, and immediately they know the chaff from the wheat, and refuse to receive it. They cast it away as refuse metal, which is of no value to them. But, while they have an orthodox head, they have a heterodox heart; while they know the truth, and feel it, yet still it is not the right kind of feeling; they have never received it so as to incorporate it into their very being; they have accepted it with the same kind of belief, and in somewhat the same manner, as Simon did in Samaria; but, after a while, when trouble and persecution shall come, and become too hot, they will turn aside.

9. But I have to add yet further here, that there are some of these people who are like doves in another respect even more unusual as a dove is molested by all kinds of birds of prey, so these people, for a time, share the lot which befalls the people of God. Why, there are some who, for the mere coming to the house of God, get nicknamed “saints.” They are not saints, but, they have to bear the scoffing which is given to saints; and I know some, who have turned out to be great sinners, who have, for a time, put up with much scoffing and rebuke for the sake of Christ. When pointed at in the street, it has been part of the manliness of their character to acknowledge that they frequented such a place of worship. Though their soul has never been struck by the Divine Word, yet it has become so sweet in their ear, that they are willing to bear some degree of reproach for the sake of it. I should not like to be compelled to say precisely how the saint is to be distinguished by outward signs, for really the counterfeits nowadays are so much like the genuine, that it needs the wisdom of the infallible God himself to discern between the one and the other. We can have false faith, false repentance, false hope, and false good works. We have all kinds of shammings, — paint, varnish, tinsel, — and we may be so grained that a skilful eye will scarcely know whether it is the genuine wood or the artist’s skill. There are many ways of preparing metals, and, sometimes, the alloy seems to have in it, for some purpose, qualities which the unalloyed metal lacks. Oh Lord, the great Searcher of hearts, search us, lest we should have applied to us saintly names, and pass the saintly reputation and character, and hold saintly offices, and after all be cast away with the rubbish over the wall, and left to be consumed for ever and ever! But, enough on that point.

10. II. I have now to call your attention to A SECRET DISTINCTION: “Ephraim is like a dove without heart.”

11. This implies a lack of understanding. The dove knows very little, and experience scarcely teaches it anything. We may almost spread the snare in the sight of that bird, and yet it will fly into it, it is so silly. It does not seem to possess, at least to the outward eye, the wits and sense of some others of the feathered tribe. It has little or no understanding. And oh, how many there are who are, spiritually, like the dove; they have no real knowledge of the truth! They rest in the letter, and think that is enough. I solemnly believe that there are thousands who do not have the shadow of an idea of the meaning of the words which they hear every Sabbath day in a form of prayer. They repeat those prayers without any appreciation of the sense of them; they would probably not notice if the words were put in any other way. Doubtless they would get as much good out of them if they were thrown together in wild disorder, as they do out of the beautiful and magnificent array in which they are marshalled. Many, who come and hear the most simple truths, go away and say, “It is a riddle to us; we cannot understand how people can sit and listen to that.” Either they condemn the preacher’s words as trite or else as fanatical; they cannot understand them. You may fetch a clodhopper, and set before him the masterpiece of an eminent old painter, and tell him, “That picture is worth sixty thousand pounds.” He looks, opens his mouth, stares again, and he says he cannot make anything of it; he cannot see where the money could go. He would sooner have carts, and horses, and pigs, and cows, and sheep. Well, now, to some extent, we might almost sympathize with him; but the sophisticated art critics despise the man at once for having no soul above his clod. And it is just the same in spiritual things. Exhibit the glories of the person of Christ, and the matchless wisdom of the plan of salvation; that man can see nothing in it. “It is, no doubt, a very good and very proper thing,” he will attend to it, and so on; and then he goes to church, and thinks he is pious, sits in his seat, and goes through the routine, and then supposes he is reconciled to God. Oh, how many such silly doves we have fluttering in and out of our places of worship! As a quaint old preacher said, there were scarcely seats enough for the saints on account of the number of simpletons that came to listen.

12. But, again, they were silly doves without heart, because, lacking an understanding heart, they also lacked a decided heart. Sometimes, however, the dove would be slandered if we should use her as a metaphor in this respect. Have you not seen the dove, when, from afar, with her keen eye, she has seen her cot, fly straight away, over miles of sea and land, straight to her beloved home? There, she could not be used as a metaphor of the ungodly; but of a child of Jesus, who flies to him over the wild waves of sin. But, perhaps, you have seen the dove as first she rises in the air, and then flies around and around. She deliberates in order to find out what is the right direction, and, when she has made up her mind, away she flies straight as an arrow to the goal. But, while she is fluttering around, she is an apt emblem of some men. They are undecided whether for God or Baal. They halt, to use Elijah’s metaphor, between two opinions. “How long do you halt between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” On Sundays, they go to church; but, on Mondays, they take off their religious habits; the weather is too rough, or something else prevents them from going to the prayer meeting. On Sunday, they say, —

    My willing soul would stay
    In such a frame as this,
    And sit and sing herself away
    To everlasting bliss; —

but, on Monday or Tuesday, the sound of the wheels in the street, and the noise of those who buy and sell, drown out the music of Jerusalem in their ears, and they would gladly go back to the world again. Ah, they are silly doves, without understanding and without decision!

13. Indeed, there are some who may be said to have a kind of decision for a time; but they are like the dove, in that they are without resolution. The dove seeks to fly in one direction; someone claps his hands, and she changes in a moment; or else he sprinkles a handful of barley on the ground, and, though she was flying over there, she is over here again. How many people there are of that kind, setting their faces to Zion, intending to join the church; perhaps they have seen the elders and the pastor, and been accepted; but, after a little time, they say, “Well, they did not know all about it; there are more frightful things than they dreamed of in it!” Like Pliable, they would go to heaven, but they get into the Slough of Despond, and there is strange stuff there that gets into the ears and mouth, and so they get out on the side nearest home, and tell Christian he may have the brave country all to himself, for they do not like the miry places on the way. Or, it may be, that some old companion comes up from the country, and he will treat them to some place of amusement: or, perhaps, it may be that there is a prospect of gain to be had in some branch of business that is not quite so honest as it might be. But does not the money count as well? Is it not as good to spend? Will not other men think it worth twenty shillings to the pound, however it may have been gained? These people, who seemed so true and warm-hearted, are like the silly dove without resolution, and fly away again to their old haunts, and become just what they used to be.

14. So likewise there are many, like a dove, without bold hearts. They never turn on a persecutor. They never stood in the gap with Mr. Valiant-for-Truth, holding the sword in their hand. They cannot open their mouth to speak for Jesus, but they run away when they ought to stand up like a lion against their foes; they never give a reason for the hope that is in them. We have plenty of Baptist churches educating cowards by the score. They never come out before the whole church, — that would be too trying for their nerves. They are never expected to come out boldly on the Lord’s side. Too often, baptism is administered somewhere in a corner, when as few as possible are present; and, in that way, where we ought to have lion-like men, we breed those who hide their principles, and are ready to amalgamate with any sect of people as long as they can only bear the name of Christians. I wish, dear friends, we had bolder men for our Lord and Master. Be as full of love as you can, but take care that you mix iron with your constitution. Silly are the doves that have no bold heart for God. The day will come when only the bold heart shall win, for the fearful and unbelieving are to have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

15. Also, there are too many like a silly dove, in that they have a powerless heart. If you visit a great factory where there is a large engine, you will notice that the amount of power used in the factory is proportionate to the capacity of the steam-engine. If that should work only feebly, then the wheels cannot revolve beyond a proportionate rate, and every part soon discovers that there is some lack of motive force. Now, man’s heart is the great steam-engine of his whole being; and if he has a heart that palpitates with swift strokes, it will put his whole nature in motion, and that man will be mighty for his Lord and Master; but if he has a little, insignificant heart that never did glow, and never did burn, and never knew anything about the warmth, and life, and heat, and power, and blessing of God’s love, then he will fritter away his time, knowing the right and doing the wrong, loving in some way the thing that is beautiful, but still following what is deformed, giving his name to God, and giving what little strength he has to the other side. Brethren, I wish that there were not so many in all our communities that have only a pigeon’s heart, or a dove’s heart, or no heart at all.

16. The root of the matter lies here: those Ephraimites do not have renewed hearts, and so they fail. Truly, truly, it is true to this hour, as in Jesus’ day, “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Many strive to see it in their own way; but, until the effective grace of God comes down to turn their hearts from the great and extraordinary confidence which their proud flesh has in their own works, they never will see, they never can see, the kingdom of God. How many like Ephraim, then, have the heart altogether wrong because it is not renewed; therefore it has none of these qualifications which tend to make the man what he should be.

17. III. With great brevity, we notice, in the third place, A SEVERE DESCRIPTION: “Ephraim is like a silly dove.”

18. It is a fine word, that word “silly.” Hardly do I know another that is so eminently descriptive. There may be some kind of dignity in being a fool; but to be silly, — to attract no attention except ridicule, — is so utterly contemptible that I do not know how a more sarcastic epithet could be applied.

19. “Ephraim is like a silly dove without heart.” And why silly? Why, it is silly, of course, to profess to be a dove at all, unless it is a dove at heart, silly of you to enslave yourselves with the customs of a country of which you are not a citizen, — to bind yourselves with the rules of a family of which you are not a member. We find men, when they go to another country, if there is a conscription there, only too willing to plead their own nationality, in order to escape it; and yet we have people who will serve in the Christian conscription, who give as God’s people give, and outwardly do what God’s people do, and yet they are not of the godly nation, but are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Is this not silly, — to take the irksome toil, and not to get the joy and the benefit of it? You are silly to go and work in the vineyard, though you have never eaten of the clusters, and never can unless your heart is right in the sight of God. Is it not silly, then, to profess to be a dove at all, and yet not to be a dove?

20. Is it not silly, again, to think you can pass muster when your heart is wrong, — to imagine that, if you fly with the crowd, you shall enter heaven without being seen? Do you think to deceive Omniscience? Do you think infallible wisdom will not discern you? Do you think to enter heaven while your soul is estranged from God? Then, indeed, you are worse than a fool; you are “silly” to think such a thing. How can you hope to deceive your God like this? What is more silly than to play fast and loose in this way, — first, to sing the song of Zion, and then the song of lasciviousness? There is something dignified even in the devil himself; there is something awful about the grandeur of his wickedness, because he is consistent in it; but there is nothing of that consistency in you, because you are here and there, everywhere and nowhere; everything by turns, and nothing for long.

21. Some of you are so silly as to hasten your own condemnation. You know that, to be without God, and without Christ, will ruin you, and yet you do what keeps you from going to Christ; you hug the sins that prevent your laying hold on him, and still dandle on your knee the lusts which you know will shut the gates of heaven against you. Like Ephraim, you are silly enough to trust in what will be your ruin. Some of you rest on good works, or hope to be saved by good feelings. The two powers which had oppressed Ephraim, Egypt and Assyria, were still the powers on which he trusted. Do not imitate his folly by trusting in what will ruin you!

22. You are silly, again, because, when there is so much danger, you do not fly to the place of shelter. Oh silly dove, when the hawk is abroad, not to seek the clefts of the rock to hide itself! And how silly are some of you! Day after day, year after year, Satan is hawking after you; the great fowler is seeking your destruction; but the wounds of Christ are open to you, and the invitation of the gospel is freely given to you, and yet, you are so silly that though you know better, you prefer the pleasures of the day to the joys of eternity. Yet I do not know that you do prefer them, only somehow or other you are too silly to prove your preference, and go on, like a child that is playing on the hole of the cockatrice, making mirth over your damnation, too silly to make up your minds to choose either heaven or hell. I know there are some such people in the house; oh that the arrow might find out the right people; but, too often, these doves are so silly, in another respect, that they will not let the appeal of the gospel come home to them. They say, “It cannot be for me, for I go to Mr. A’s or Mr. B’s class; it cannot be for me, for I go to the prayer meeting, I contribute to the College, and every good work”; yet, all the while, it just means you who act on your own whims, but not for God, who give God anything but your heart, who are ready to make a sacrifice of everything, except that you refuse what he asks of you, “My son, give me your heart.” It was considered to be a sign of great calamity when the Roman augur slaughtered a young bull, and found no heart, and it is the worst of all calamities when a man has no heart to give to God. “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips; but their heart is far from me,” is one of the complaints against Israel of old, and one of the sins which made the prophets weep, and caused Jerusalem to be ploughed like a field.

23. IV. I close with just a few words on the fourth point, and that is, A SERIOUS CONSIDERATION. There are one or two things I would say solemnly, softly, and hopefully. Oh, that they may stick in the memory and the conscience of many of you!

24. Those of you, my hearers, who have been long sitting in this Tabernacle, some of you ever since it was built, and before then in other places under our ministry, yet are just the same as you used to be, ought to remember how sadly we look on those who are not saved. It is no rare thing to find the attendant of the sanctuary an unbeliever. It is a common thing to find the child of converted parents, the lad educated in the Sunday School, the man who has always had a seat in God’s house, still having no hope and without God in the world. Think of that! Do not be deceived; the gospel will harden such people as you are. Speaking after the manner of men, (for, with God, all things are possible, and a sovereign God does as he wills,) it does seem less and less probable that you ever should be called by grace after you have sat and listened to the Word for so long. The voice that once startled you now soothes you; the manner that once attracted the eye, and sometimes seemed to touch the heart, fails to do either; and the very truth that once went over your heads like a crash of thunder has so little force in it now that you even sleep under the sound of it. Think of that, you who are like a silly dove without heart.

25. Remember, too, that some of the vilest sinners who have ever lived have been manufactured out of this raw material. Some of the worst men were once, apparently, meek-hearted hearers of the Word, but they sat under the preaching of the gospel until they grew ripe enough to deny God and curse him. The unsanctified hearing of the gospel has sometimes produced more gigantic examples of sin than the deaf ear of the adder. Beware, my hearer! I know that you will say with Hazael, “Is your servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Yes, there is dog and devil enough in you, unless you have been changed by grace, to do that thing and twenty other things that you have never dreamed of yet. Think what multitudes of souls in hell there are like you, — silly doves without heart. Many of the population of that place of wailing once heard the gospel, heard it with gladness, and appeared to receive it for a time; but they had no root, and so the impression withered away. They never had been called effectually by grace, and never had been renewed in heart, although they had all the outward semblances of holiness. They have gone! Even now, your soul may listen to their groans and moans, the lesson of all which would be, “Make your calling and election sure, and do not be satisfied with the name to live while you are dead.”

26. May the Spirit of the living God stir you up to this; for, if not, I have one more consideration to urge on you. Remember how soon you may be in hell yourself. And those who go there, if they have been such as you are, go there with a vengeance. To go from under the shadow of the pulpit to the pit, is terrible. To go from the communion cup, to drink the cup of demons; from the song of saints to the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth of lost souls; from all the hallowed joys of God’s Sabbath, of God’s house, and of his Word, down to the unutterable infamy of spirits that have no love for God, but curse him day and night, — my hearers, that may be your lot within an hour, a week, a year. It does not matter what the time may be, for, if it ever is your lot, the time past shall seem to have been only the twinkling of an eye for its joy, though it may appear to you to have been ages for the awful responsibility which the day of mercy will have bequeathed on you. “Repent and be baptized every one of you,” as Peter said, so I say. If you have not as yet received Christ, lay hold on eternal life, and oh, that the Spirit of the living God, while I preach the Word generally, may apply it particularly, finding out his own chosen, and gathering them out of the ruins of the Fall, so that they may be jewels in the crown of the Redeemer! May the Lord make us doves, but God forbid that we should be “silly doves without heart.”

 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3565, “Sermon Theme Index” 3567 @@ "Sermons On Birds"}

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 78:10-61 1Pe 4:1-13}

This is the story of how the children of Israel behaved themselves towards their gracious God.

78:10-16. They did not keep the covenant of God and refused to walk in his law; and forgot his works, and his wonders that he had shown them. He did marvellous things in the sight of their forefathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through, and he made the waters to stand as a heap. In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.

In such a scene of miracles, surrounded by such prodigies of goodness, what did they do?

17. And they sinned even more against him by provoking the Most High in the wilderness.

What a fierce fire must sin be that it is even fed by the rivers of God’s goodness, and burns by means of what ought to have quenched every spark of it. Yet there is such a fire as that raging in our hearts, and even God’s mercies will make us more sinful unless his abounding grace comes with them to teach us how to use them properly.

18. And they tempted God in their heart by asking for meat for their lust.

Not for their needs, but “for their lust.” It is a dreadful thing when prayer itself is prostituted, and the mercy seat becomes a place for the expression of sinful desires which ought never to have been in our hearts. It was so, however, with these children of Israel.

19. Yes, they spoke against God;

As you read that “they spoke against God,” you naturally suppose that they uttered some blasphemy, or some denial of his Deity. Listen and learn: —

19. They said, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

That is speaking against him, — to speak unbelievingly, — to speak in a questioning way concerning his power. I am afraid that there are very few of us who can plead innocence on this score.

20. Behold, he struck the rock, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? Can he provide meat for his people?”

These things, which they lusted after, they also turned into subjects for unbelief; and they even misused the miracle, which they dared not deny.

21, 22. Therefore the LORD heard this, and was angry: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel. Because they did not believe in God, and did not trust in his salvation:

This was the provoking sin. The Lord would not endure such deliberate and wicked unbelief as this. After he had turned the rocks into rivers, could he not turn the stones into bread, and the dust of the desert into meat, if he chose to do so?

23-32. Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down manna on them to eat, and had given them from the grain of heaven. Man ate angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full. He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens: and by his power he brought in the south wind. He rained meat also on them as dust, and feathered fowls like the sand of the sea: and he let it fall in the midst of their camp, all around their habitations. So they ate, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desires; they were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was still in their mouths, the wrath of God came against them, and killed the fattest of them, and struck down the chosen men of Israel. For all this they still sinned,

Mercy failed to move them, and judgment failed too. The right hand of God’s gifts and the left hand of his chastisement were equally ignored.

32-34. And did not believe in his wondrous works. Therefore he consumed their days in vanity, and their years in trouble. When he killed them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.

Perhaps some of them sought him even while they were dying; and the remnant that survived trembled, and “returned and enquired early after God.”

35, 36. And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they flattered him with their mouth, and they lied to him with their tongues.

Oh, this is terrible! One would have thought that they would have been sincere when they were broken down with sorrow, but it was not so. And I fear that the kind of religion which has to be whipped into us is never good for much. It must have in it the element of spontaneousness if it is to be sincere; it was not so with these people.

37-41. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant. But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them: yes, many a time he turned his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes away, and does not come again. How often did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yes, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

In their unbelieving imagination, they circumscribed his power; they thought that he could do something, but not everything; they believed him one day, and doubted him the next.

42-45. They did not remember his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. How he had performed his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: and had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, so that they could not drink. He sent various kinds of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.

All these judgments fell on their enemies, but they failed to remember them.

46-56. He also gave their increase to the caterpillar, and their labour to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost. He gave up the cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. He cast on them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a path for his anger; he did not spare their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; and struck all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: but made his own people to go out like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they did not fear: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. Yet they tempted and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep his testimonies:

Oh, these terrible “yets!” Though God was faithful to the end, and kept his covenant, and brought them into the land which he swore to their forefathers that he would give them. “YET they tempted and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep his testimonies.”

57-61. But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their forefathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their carved images. When God heard this, he was angry, and greatly abhorred Israel: so that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; and delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.

Reading from First Peter: —

4:1. Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin: —

Brethren, we have a Saviour who suffered for us. As the Head was, such must the members expect to be. Let us, then, be resolutely determined that, suffer as we may, we will never turn aside from our Lord; for inasmuch as we suffered in him, yes, and died in him, we ought to consider that we are henceforth dead to sin, and that we have ceased from it, and can no longer be drawn into it. “He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”: —

2. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

The doctrine of substitution is the strongest possible argument for holiness. You lived in sin once, but Christ died for your sin, so you must consider that, in him, you died to sin, since he died in your place. And the argument is that, henceforth, your life is to be a life in him, a life of holiness, to the praise and glory of God.

3. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have done the will of the Gentiles, —

Suffice? Oh brethren, let it do much more than that! Let it make us cry, “Oh that we had never done the will of the Gentiles at all!” Some young people foolishly say that they must have a little time in which they can “see life.” Ah, those of you who have been converted in later years regret that you ever saw what men call “life,” which is only the alias for corruption and death! “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have done the will of the Gentiles,” —

3, 4. When we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In which they think it strange that you do not run with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

What a strange world this world is! It speaks evil of men because they will not do evil. Yet it has always been so; the men, “of whom the world was not worthy,” have been the very people of whom worldlings have said, “Away with such fellows from the earth! It is not fitting that they should live.” The world’s verdict concerning Christians is of little value.

5, 6. Who shall give account to him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are dead, so that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

This is a very difficult passage to expound, but I suppose the meaning is that the gospel was preached to those departed saints who had been called to die for Christ’s sake, and that it was preached to them for this very reason, that, while they were judged by wicked men, and were condemned to die by them, they still live a far more glorious life than they lived here, because they were enabled, by their martyr death, to consummate their consecration to God.

7, 8. But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be sober, and watchful in prayers. And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover a multitude of sins.

It covers them sometimes by not seeing them; for, where there is much love, we are blind to many faults which, otherwise, we might see; we do not exercise the sharpness of criticism which malice would be sure to exercise. Besides that, when love applies herself to prayer, and when, in addition to prayer, she kindly gives admonition to a beloved friend, it often happens that true Christian love does really prevent a multitude of sins. The apostle does not mean that, by loving another person, I shall cover my own sin; nor does he mean that the exercise of love, in the common acceptance of that word, can cover my sin. But if I have much love for others, I may be the instrument, in the hand of God, for covering many of their sins in one or other of the ways I have mentioned.

9, 10. Show hospitality to each other without begrudging. Just as every man has received the gift, even so minister the same to each other, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Whatever “the gift” is, whether it is money, or talent, or grace, “even so minister the same to each other, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God gives much to you so that you may give it to others; it is only meant to run through you as through a pipe. You are a steward; and if a steward should receive his lord’s goods, and keep them for himself he would be an unfaithful steward. Child of God, see to it that you faithfully discharge your responsibility as one of the “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

11-13. If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministers, let him do it according to the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; so that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with very great joy.

If you do not share in Christ’s humiliation, how can you expect to share in his exaltation? But if worldlings begin to rebuke and reproach you, take it for granted that they can discern something of Christ in you. Dogs do not usually bark at those who live in the same village with them; it is only at strangers that they bark. And when ribald tongues are lifted up against you, you have reason to hope that you are a stranger and a foreigner to the citizens of this world, for they love their own, as our Saviour reminded his disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”

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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