3096. The Second Time

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No. 3096-54:277. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, May 24, 1874, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, June 11, 1908.

And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers. {Ac 7:13} {a}

1. This did not happen on the first occasion when they went down into Egypt. Joseph knew them then, but they did not recognise him. He filled their sacks with grain, put the purchase-money into their sacks, gave them provision for the way, and sent them home, but he gave them no sign by which they were able to recognise him as their long-lost brother; and I want to show you that, just as it was with Joseph so it is with Jesus. There are times when sinners do not know him even when they are speaking to him, and on the first occasion he does not reveal himself to them; but it is a very delightful thought that, very often, at the second time, Jesus is made known to his brethren even as Joseph was. I will tell you the gist of my discourse at once. It is this, — if you have sought the Saviour, and have not yet found him, seek him again. If your first seeking has been a failure, let my text be a message of encouragement to you: “At the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers”; let it encourage you to seek the Saviour again in the hope that, at the second time, Jesus may make himself known to you.

2. We are constantly preaching the same gospel, in the simplest terms we can find; and the gospel that we preach is this, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Believing in Christ is simply trusting in him, trusting in his great atoning sacrifice, in which he stood in the room and place and stead of sinners, and suffered as their Substitute, so bearing, that they might never have to bear, the righteous wrath of God on account of their sin. We might have supposed that every person who attended our ministry did at least fully understand the plan of salvation, but it is not so. There are seekers here who are still in the dark. The light shines on their eyes, but those eyes are blind; even in broad daylight they grope as in the night, because there is a night within their spirit which it is not in our power to change into spiritual day. There are some seekers after Christ who, notwithstanding the simplicity of the gospel, remain seekers for weeks, or months, or even years. Yet, it seems to me that no man, who is outside of Christ, ought to remain in that condition for another hour. During that hour he may die, and be damned, and it ill becomes him to run so solemn and terrible a risk. If I had any doubt of my being saved in Christ, I would give no sleep to my eyes nor slumber to my eyelids until I had found him. I should say to myself, “I must have him; I cannot live without him.” Yet there are some who seem to be awakened to a sense of their danger, and who are apparently concerned about their soul’s eternal interests, yet they remain in that state of semi-concern and semi-awakening not merely for an hour, or for a day or two, but from month to month, and even from year to year, continually crying with Job, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” yet never getting any nearer to the Saviour, — turning their faces towards Zion, yet never truly starting on the heavenly pilgrimage; — desiring, hoping, fearing, resolving, debating, yet never actually trusting in Christ, and so are not saved.

3. Our fear concerning these seekers, who are not finders, is that one of two things will happen to them; either they will fall into utter despair, or else into complete infidelity, — perhaps into both, for despair is often the mother of infidelity. They will first, perhaps, fall into gloom, depression, despondency; and at last they will say, “It is no use for us to keep on seeking the Saviour; for if we do seek him, we shall not find him. If we pray, we shall not be heard. If we listen to the gospel, it will not bless us. If we make an appeal to Christ, he will not grant our request”; and so they will settle down into deeper and deeper and even deeper gloom, and declare that there is no salvation for them. Out of this despair may ultimately come an utter infidelity like that of those of old who said, “There is no hope: but we will walk according to our own devices, and every one of us will do whatever his evil heart imagines.” We have known some who have said that, since there was no hope for them in the next life, they would have their fling in this life. They were going to be lost, they said, and therefore they might just as well enjoy themselves here while they could. If they could not be pardoned, they might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, they would lay the reins on the necks of their lusts, give full sway to all their passions, and plunge into sin until they were covered with its pollution.

4. Dear seeking friend, I tremble lest that should ever be the case with you. I fear lest you should wipe away those tears, and that they should be succeeded by the infidel’s jest. I dread lest those tremblings should cease, and be succeeded by a conscience seared as with a hot iron. Such experiences have happened to others, and I am afraid lest they should happen to you. The sun has been shining on you, and it seemed as if it was going to melt you into penitence. It will certainly do one of two things, it will either soften you or harden you; and if the melting time should pass over, and you are not melted, there may then come a hardening time, and you will become gospel-hardened, and remain for ever without hope concerning the world to come. May the God of infinite love and mercy graciously grant that it may not be so with you; and so that it may not be so, I shall try now to speak to you some words of encouragement; and may God the Holy Spirit move all who are the Lord’s people to pray that those words of encouragement may be the means of bringing you, this very hour, to full acceptance with God through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!

5. I. I want to remind you, first, that THERE IS SOMETHING WHICH YOU DO NOT KNOW.

6. Those who went down into Egypt did not know their brother Joseph in his exalted position, but “at the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers.” Sinner, you need above everything else to know Christ. When Joseph’s brothers went down into Egypt, they thought that, if they could buy grain there, it would be enough to supply all their needs; but, the grand thing that God had in store for them there was not merely grain, but that they might find Joseph, who would secure for them all the grain and everything else that they could possibly need. So, sinner, I remind you again that your great need is to know Jesus Christ; and if you do come to know him, you will have all that you can possibly require.

7. You need to know Christ as Lord of all. The keys of all the granaries of Egypt were under the power of Joseph; he could open or close them when he pleased, and when he gave his orders, no one could countermand them. So, only in a much higher sense, it has pleased the Father that in Christ all fulness should dwell, “Therefore he is able also to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him.” Infinite ability to save is treasured up in Christ because he is Lord of all. Oh, how I wish that you all knew this! You tell me, friend, that you do know this. Yes, you know that it is a fact, but you do not realize that all that is needed for your salvation is laid up in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and that nothing is needed from you, and that you do not have to procure anything from any other source. If you only knew Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, to be the appointed and anointed Saviour, able to save you to the uttermost, it would make a grand change in your whole life.

8. But you also need to know, not only that Christ is Saviour and Lord, but that he is your Brother, one with you in nature, relationship, and love. The sons of poor old Jacob did not know that the man who was lord over Egypt was their own brother. They had never even dreamed of such a thing, yet all the while his heart was palpitating with love for them. The passion of his soul could scarcely be restrained. He saw the well-remembered image of his father in every one of their faces, and he longed to weep on their necks, and to tell them how much he loved them; he restrained himself for a while, but “the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers,” and then, oh, how glad they were to know him as their brother! And, dear friend, if you ever found out that Jesus Christ is your Brother, and that he loved you before the foundation of the world, — if ever you should make this blessed discovery that, for love of you, he took your nature upon himself, and was born at Bethlehem, — that for love of you he sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane, — and that for love of you he died on the cross of Calvary, — oh, what joy will fill your spirit then! This is what you need to know, — Christ in his eternal love for sinners, Christ in his brotherhood with all who trust him, Christ in his everlasting union with all his redeemed people; and if you ever know this, you will know more than Solomon himself could have taught you, and you will be able to speak on a theme which will far exceed any on which Demosthenes {b} or Cicero was ever able to speak. Oh soul, we want you to know that Jesus is ready to forgive you, ready to befriend you, ready to help you, ready to enrich you, ready to enrich you with his own spotless robe of righteousness in place of your own filthy rags, ready to be all in all for you between here and heaven! I pray that the Holy Spirit may impart this knowledge to you this very hour, so that you may go out of this place saying, “Christ has now been made known to me. I never knew him before. I have ridiculed his religion, I have despised his gospel; but now that I know that he loved me, and gave himself for me, that makes all the difference. Knowing that I am one of his chosen people, one of his redeemed ones, one for whom his precious blood was shed, I can never speak against him again; but I will praise him as long as I live, and after I die I shall live again to extol him for ever and ever for having made himself known to me as my Lord, and Saviour, and Brother.” That is what you all need to know if you have not yet learned it.

9. II. Now, secondly, THERE IS A REASON WHY, AT YOUR FIRST GOING, YOU DID NOT LEARN THIS.

10. Joseph was not made known to his brothers on their first visit, nor have you yet found Jesus so as to know his love. You have sought him in some way or other, but he has not yet made himself known to you. Shall I try to tell you why?

11. I cannot be sure, but I think that one reason is that you have not really looked for Christ to be made known to you. These sons of Jacob went down into Egypt, not to hunt for Joseph, but to buy grain. In the same way, you prayed, but what did you pray for? You say that you asked that your sins might be pardoned, that you might be saved from hell. That is quite right as far as it goes, for you need that, even as Joseph’s brothers needed grain, but you need more than that, as they did. Your prayers were not answered because you did not really ask for what you needed most. Your previous searches ended in failure because you were not seeking for what you needed most. If you had truthfully said, — 


   Thou, oh Christ, art all I want;

   More than all in thee I find;


and then had presented to God this petition, — 


   Gracious Lord, incline thine ear,

   My requests vouchsafe {grant} to hear;

   Hear my never ceasing cry;

   Give me Christ, or else I die.

   Wealth and honour I disdain,

   Earthly comforts all are vain;

   These can never satisfy,

   Give me Christ, or else I die, — 


you would soon have received an answer to your supplication. But if you have been praying in the wrong way, it may be that is the reason why, the first time you went to Christ, he was not made known to you.

12. In the next place, you did not go to him with a confession of your guilt. Joseph’s brothers went down into Egypt, the first time, simply to buy grain; but they did not go there to search for their brother Joseph, feeling that they had done a great wrong to him; but he took means to bring home to them a sense of their guilt, so that they said to each other, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother.” Though his life had not actually been taken, it was no credit to them that he had been spared. They had practically aimed at his murder, and they confessed their guilt; and you, sinner, have been guilty of the death of Jesus. Have you ever realized that it was your sins that fastened him to the cross of Calvary? Have you ever thought how greatly you have sinned against Jesus, the ever-blessed Son of God! No; you have thought of your sin as committed against yourself, or against your neighbour, but not as against Jesus; yet this has been the greatest of all your sins, that you have been the cause of his death. And when he convinces you that he loved you before he made the world, this will cause you to condemn yourself because you have not loved him in return. I know that, when I found out that Christ had bought me with his precious blood, I feel grieved at heart to think that I have been an enemy to him for so long. This is what you all need to know, and what some of you do not yet know. Since you have not came to him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, you cannot wonder that Jesus has not yet revealed himself to you.

13. You remember that, when Joseph’s brothers went down into Egypt the first time, they did not all go. They left Benjamin at home, so Joseph would not reveal himself to them until Benjamin was with them. And sometimes, when sinners go to Christ, they do not go whole-heartedly. They leave some faculty or capacity dormant, just as these brothers left Benjamin at home. You prayed, you say, but what kind of a prayer was it? It was a cold, languid prayer, scarcely worthy of the name; you did not put your heart into it, and you know that our Lord Jesus Christ said, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force,” implying that intense earnestness is required if we would prevail with God. Or if lukewarmness was not the hindrance in your case, possibly there was a Benjamin-sin that you had not given up, or a Benjamin-self-confidence that you wanted to keep; but all these must be abandoned if Christ is to make himself known to us. We shall never learn to know the Lord until we go to him, and pray from our very soul, — 


   Thou dost freely save the lost!

   Only in thy grace I trust:

   With my earnest suit comply;

   Give me Christ, or else I die.

   All unholy, all unclean,

   I am nothing else but sin;

   On thy mercy I rely,

   Give me Christ, or else I die.

   Lord, deny me what thou wilt,

   Only ease (rid) me of my guilt;

   Suppliant at thy feet I lie,

   Give me Christ, or else I die.


If you resolve to be lost, you will be lost; but if you resolve that, by God’s grace, you will not be lost, but will cry to him for mercy as long as there is in you any power to cry, I venture to believe that you will not be lost. That very persistence which the Holy Spirit has implanted in your spirit is a sign for good. You may well expect that the Lord intends to save you when he makes you resolve that you will not let him go unless he shall bless you. Perhaps the reason why you have failed until now to find Christ is that you have not been in real earnest in seeking him.

14. I may tell you one thing, you have kept the Lord waiting for so long that, if he were to make you wait even longer, you ought not to wonder. In some of our London squares which are still private property, you may drive through almost any day in the year, and no one tries to stop you; but, occasionally, the owner has the gate shut just for a minute or two, and you have to ask permission to go through. The gate is only shut in order to preserve the rights of the proprietor over the roadway; and, in a similar way, a sinner will sometimes find the gate of mercy shut for a while, to make him understand that God has the sovereign right to do as he wishes, and that it sometimes pleases him to withhold for a time the light of his countenance. But, sinner, if God were to make you pray to him for fifty years, if he heard you at the last, it would be well worth your while to keep on praying. If he were to let you seek him for twenty years, and give you the light of his countenance only at the last, you might be satisfied to have it so. He is not likely to do anything of the kind; but if he did, you might be more than content as long as he only blessed you.

15. III. Now we will turn to the third point. I have reminded you that your great need is to know Christ, and mentioned some reasons why you have not yet known him. Now I want to assure you that THERE IS GREAT HOPE IN YOUR GOING TO HIM AGAIN.

16. I will read the text once more: “At the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers.” They went again to their brother, and you had better go again to Christ, for remember that you must go or perish. You sang, just now, — 


   Perhaps he will admit my plea,

   Perhaps will hear my prayer;

   But if I perish, I will pray,

   And perish only there.

   I can but perish if I go;

   I am resolved to try;

   For if I stay away, I know

   I must for ever die.


That is most true. Here is only one door to salvation, and that door is Christ’s, so you had better keep on knocking if the door remains closed. There is really one road to heaven, and if that road seems to be blocked, you had better try again and again to pass along it, for there is no other way. You must either know Christ or else everlasting perdition must be your portion. Joseph’s brothers knew that they must either go down into Egypt for grain or else starve, so they went there; and, poor sinner, go to Christ, because you must go, and there is nowhere else for you to go.

17. Another reason why you should go to Christ again is because others have gone to him, and done well by going. I wish I could speak personally to every seeker here who has so far sought Christ in vain, and encourage him by my own case. I sought the Lord, when I was a child, not only for days, and weeks, but for months, and even for years before I found him. I can scarcely tell how it was that my brain was so muddled and my heart so distracted that I could not find him; but I know that I wanted Christ, and yet could not get him. I remember how I made up my mind that I would go to every place of worship in the town where I lived, and I did go to every dissenting place of worship that I knew of. Sometimes I heard a man preach up election, and then I said to myself, “That doctrine will do very well for the saints, but it is not for me.” I went to hear another man, who was preaching the precepts of the gospel; that was just like teaching people to dance who had no legs, and was no good to me. Then I went to another place, where the minister was preaching some intellectual doctrine of which I could make neither head nor tail. So I went in vain from one place to another, and often I went down on my knees, and my little bedroom was the scene of sorrowful groans and falling tears. But, in God’s good time, I found the Lord, and at this moment I know that I am saved; so why should you not also come to know Christ even though, until now, he has not made himself known to you? And not only I, but hundreds of those who are sitting here had a hard time in coming to Christ, but they did come to him at last, so why should not you?

18. You are like poor Mercy in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” When Christiana and her children went in at the gate, Mercy was left outside, and while Christiana pleaded for her admission, she knocked so loudly that she startled her friend inside. When the Keeper of the gate looked out, poor Mercy had fallen down in a swoon through fear that she would not get in, but he took her by the hand, and led her gently in, and told those who stood by to bring something to stop her fainting. So you see that Mercy got in, and so will you if you only keep on knocking. Knock as if you would break the gate down, feel that you must get in, put your whole soul into your prayers, and keep on seeking for Jesus with all your might, feeling that you must be saved, and that you cannot rest content until Christ reveals himself to you. Since others have found mercy, why should not you?

19. Go again, because, as I have already reminded you, since you went the last time, you have lingered far too long. You were very earnest in seeking the Saviour a few months ago, but, since you did not succeed in finding him, your earnestness passed away. But remember that, before this time, your soul might have been lost. Thank God that you are still alive; for, if your body had been in your grave tonight, your soul would have been in hell. Since you are not there, take heart, and resolve to seek the Saviour once more, for it may be that you will soon find him. I will tell you a secret: I believe that you are a man or a woman in whom God has put his Spirit, who has already begun to work within your heart. I think you are one of those to whom Jesus will reveal himself; I believe he has long wanted to do so. When Joseph’s brothers went down to Egypt the first time, though he did not tell them who he was, he knew well enough who they were. He was rough in his manner towards them; but when they went away, I am certain that he wished they would come back the next morning, and I expect he said to his servants, “Send word to the guards at the frontier of Egypt that, when those men come back from Canaan, they are to let me know at once that they have come back.” They probably made their grain hold out longer than Joseph thought it would; but even when he was busy about the affairs of the kingdom of Egypt, I have no doubt that he often sat down, and said to himself, “I wonder when those brothers of mine will be here again. I should like to hear about my father, I should like to see my brother Benjamin.” He was wanting them badly, yet they did not know it; and Jesus Christ is wanting you, for those to whom he reveals himself are those whom he loved long before they were born, and long before the world was made. For love of them he came down from heaven to earth, and lived in poverty, and died in shame, so that he might save them. He is married to them, and they are as dear to him as the spouse is to her husband. Jesus wants you, sinner, and if you only know this, I feel sure that it will be sufficient to make you say, “Then I will go to him yet again trusting that he will reveal himself to me.”


   I’ll go to Jesus, though my sin

      Hath like a mountain rose;

   I know his courts, I’ll enter in,

      Whatever may oppose.


20. IV. What will happen if you do go to Christ again? This story of Joseph and his brothers gives us A PREDICTION OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU GO TO CHRIST AGAIN.

21. Suppose that the Spirit of God should now work on your soul, and show you that all that is needed for your salvation is already done, that you have nothing to do because Christ has done it all. Suppose that the Holy Spirit should then enable you simply to put your trust in Jesus, you will be saved, saved now, and saved for ever. Yet it is possible that your experience will be like that of Joseph’s brothers. At first, when you know who Jesus is, you will tremble in his presence. You will say to yourself, “After these many years of hearing the gospel, and slighting it, will Jesus receive me now?” You will fall on your knees, and even while you are in prayer, possibly you will feel, “It cannot be any use for me to seek him; I am growing old now, and I have wasted a long life, and spurned the grace of God, which has been pressed on me all these years; I fear it is no use for me to seek the Lord now.”

22. Then I will tell you what will happen next. Christ will invite you to draw near to him, just as Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” The Holy Spirit will incline you to think about Christ, and you will think about who he was, and what he was, and what he did, and what he is; and you will hear a voice which will say to you, “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth,” and you will look to Jesus, and so you will be drawn near to him.

23. What will happen then? Why, what happened to Joseph’s brothers. He will fall on your neck and kiss you. By that act you will realize that all your offences are forgiven, and your transgressions are all blotted out; that kiss will be to you the sign of forgiveness and acceptance. And then Christ will say to his servants, “Take off my brother’s filthy rags, make him clean, give him a change of clothes, and let him sit at my table, and feast with me.” Then he will tell you that he will provide for you all your days, and eventually will take you to dwell with him in heaven for ever and ever.

24. Does someone ask, “Can all that happen to me tonight?” I answer, — Yes, if you will dispense with every other confidence, and come and rest in Jesus only, it will happen to you tonight. “But, sir,” says another, “I have been seeking for so long.” There is really no need for anyone to be seeking Christ for a long while. Remember what Paul wrote, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who shall ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, ‘Who shall descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what does it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in him shall not be put to shame.’”

25. “But,” one says, “I cannot understand how the simple act of trusting Christ can change the heart, and save the soul.” Even if you cannot comprehend it, it is true that, as soon as a man has trusted Christ, he knows that he is saved; then he loves Christ for saving him, the impulse of love and gratitude changes his whole attitude towards God, and towards God’s will, so that he desires to do the very things which once he did not love to do, while sin, which was formerly his delight, has become a misery to him, and he longs with all his heart to escape from it.

26. There is salvation for each one here who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, but there is no salvation in any other way. As my eye ranges around this audience, I see that many of you are strangers to me; but I know the characters of some who are now present. I know that there are some here who were once members of a Christian church, but who fell through drunkenness. There are others here who once made a profession of faith in Christ, but who were turned aside by one sin or another, and so disgraced their profession; yet the Lord says to them, “Return, you backsliding children; come back to your God.” I charge you to come back without further delay. Some of you have been inclined to return to the Lord, yet I fear that you are again relapsing into indifference. May the Lord bring you a second time, and make sure work of it, even as the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers!

27. As for you strangers, who are with us at this service, if you are unconverted, it may be that you have been satisfied with your state so far, even though you have never possessed real vital godliness. Well, if it is so, I pray that you may speedily learn to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and your Brother. Never be satisfied with anything short of that. Some people think they are all right because they have learned the catechism and are familiar with the Prayer-Book; others feel perfectly content because they know the creed of the place they usually attend. Ah, sirs, all that is of no avail; nothing and no one except Jesus Christ and him crucified can save a single soul; and it is no use merely to know him by report; you must know him personally and spiritually, your heart being humbled before him because your sins slew him, your heart rejoicing before him because God allowed him to be put to death in order to save your soul alive.

28. Dear hearers, if I should never be able to speak to you again, let this one truth ring in your ears, and remain in your hearts, “Other foundation can no man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ”; so that, if you are not built on Christ, the Rock of Ages, you are not on the only foundation that will endure the test of time, and death, and judgment; and you are building on the sand, and your building will come down just when you most need a shelter, and great will be its fall. You must have Jesus made known to you, and only Jesus can make himself known to you by his ever-blessed Spirit. The sun alone can show you the sunlight, and Jesus must visit you in a supernatural way, and reveal himself to you by his own Spirit. You must be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit; and if it is not so with you, and if you are not resting on him alone, where he is you can never come. But if you know him, if you are in him, go your way in peace, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Knowing him, you have saving knowledge, and you shall eventually be with him where he is, to behold his glory, and to dwell with him for ever. May God grant to all of you this privilege, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 7:1-8} {c}

1, 2. “Do not judge, so that you are not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again.

Use your judgment, of course: the verse implies that you will judge in a right sense. But do not indulge the criticizing faculty against others in a censorious manner, or as if you were set in authority, and had a right to dispense judgment among your fellows. If you impute motives, and pretend to read hearts, others will do the same towards you. A hard and censorious behaviour is sure to provoke reprisals. Those around you will pick up the peck measure you have been using, and measure your grain with it. You do not object to men forming a fair opinion of your character, neither are you forbidden to do the same towards them, but since you would object to their sitting in judgment on you, do not sit in judgment on them. This is not the day of judgment, neither are we his Majesty’s judges, and therefore we may not anticipate the time appointed for the final assize, nor usurp the prerogatives of the Judge of all the earth.

Surely, if I know myself properly, I need not send my judgment on circuit to try other men; for I can give it full occupation in my own Court of Conscience to try the traitors within my own heart.

3-5. And why do you see the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, ‘Let me pull the mote out of your eye’; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam from your own eye; and then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote from your brother’s eye.

The judging faculty is best employed at home. Our tendency is to spy out splinters in other men’s eyes, and not to see the beam in our own. Instead of beholding, with gratified gaze, the small fault of another, we should act reasonably if we penitently considered the greater fault of ourselves. It is the beam in our own eye which blinds us to our own wrong-doing; but such blindness does not suffice to excuse us, since it evidently does not shut our eyes to the little error of our brother. Officiousness pretends to play the oculist; but in very truth it plays the fool. Imagine a man with a beam in his eye pretending to deal with so tender a part as the eye of another, and attempting to remove so tiny a thing as a mote or splinter! Is he not a hypocrite to pretend to be so concerned about other men’s eyes, and yet he never attends to his own? Jesus is gentle, but he calls that man a “hypocrite” who fusses about small things in others, and pays no attention to great matters at home in his own person. Our reformations must begin with ourselves, or they are not true, and do not spring from a right motive. We may rebuke sin, but not if we indulge it. We may protest against evil, but not if we wilfully practise it. The Pharisees were great at censuring, but slow at amending. Our Lord will not have his kingdom made up of hypocritical theorists, he calls for practical obedience to the rules of holiness.

After we ourselves are sanctified, we are bound to be eyes to the blind, and correctors of unholy living; but not until then. Until we have personal piety, our preaching of godliness is sheer hypocrisy. May none of us provoke the Lord to say to us, “You hypocrite!”

6. Do not give what is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and tear you in pieces.

When men are evidently unable to perceive the purity of a great truth, do not set it before them. They are like mere dogs, and if you set holy things before them they will be provoked to “turn again and tear you in pieces”: holy things are not for the profane. “Outside are dogs”: they must not be allowed to enter the holy place. When you are in the midst of the vicious, who are like “swine,” do not bring out the precious mysteries of the faith, for they will despise them, and “trample them under their feet” in the mire. You are not needlessly to provoke an attack on yourself, or on the higher truths of the gospel. You are not to judge, but you are not to act without judgment. Do not consider men to be dogs or swine; but when they affirm themselves to be such, or by their conduct act as if they were such, do not put occasions in their way for displaying their evil character. Saints are not to be simpletons; they are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools.

Great King, how much wisdom your precepts require! I need you, not only to open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut.

7, 8. Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you: for everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”

To men you may not always speak of heavenly things, but to God you may.

Ask, seek, knock”; let your prayer be adapted to the case; let it increase in intensity; let it advance in the greatness of its object. To receive a gift is simple, to find a treasure is more enriching, to enter into a palace is best of all. Each form of prayer is prescribed, accepted, and rewarded in a manner suitable to its character. The promise is universal for all who obey the precept. The commands are in opposition to the methods of carking care which have been denounced in the former chapter; and they are encouragements to the precepts of giving and non-resistance mentioned previously, since he who can have from God for the asking may well give to men who ask, and even yield to those who unjustly demand. With such boundless supplies at our command, we should not be either niggardly or contentious. Lord, help me to be finished with fretting, and to abound in asking, seeking, knocking; so that I shall soon overflow with thanksgiving.


{a} Two other sermons by Mr. Spurgeon, on this incident, based on Genesis 45:1-5 are as follows: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 449, “Joseph and His Brethren” 440} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2516, “Jesus and His Brethren” 2517}
{b} Demosthenes (384-322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demosthenes"
{c} From the Gospel of the Kingdom, a Popular Exposition of the Gospel according to Matthew. By C. H. Spurgeon. (Passmore and Alabaster, 3s. 6d.)

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