A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, April 27, 1862, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2Pe 3:8)
1. From this text certain people, more desirous to find arguments for their theories, than a truthful exposition of the apostle’s meaning, have drawn the inference that a day in Scripture is typical of a thousand years; that is to say, that inasmuch as God was six days in creating the heavens and the earth, and then rested on the seventh day, so we must expect to have a thousand years for every day; a thousand years in which the new heavens and the new earth will be in preparation, and then we shall enjoy in the seventh thousand a period of perfect peace and holiness. Now such may possibly be the case. It may so happen that when the six thousandth year of labour shall be over, we shall enter upon the millennial rest; the last chiliad may be a Sabbath to the preceding six. But even if we knew this, I am not sure that it would be of any great assistance to us in foretelling the day when the Church militant should be universally triumphant through the coming of her Lord, for the chronology of the past is surrounded with so much obscurity that we question whether any man will be able to tell us when the six thousand years will be over, or within a hundred or two of how old the world is. Our curiosity would be rather tantalized than gratified, even if this theory could be verified; for all the chronologies we have, even what the translators have put into our Bibles, are matters of conjecture, and their accuracy is far from indisputable. We could not, therefore, ascertain the times and seasons any the more certainly, nor ought we to desire to do so, for the Father keeps them in his own power, and as for the time of the end we believe no man knows it, no, not even the angels of God. Brethren, we would not wish to discover what God has hidden, nor to question where he declines to answer. It is certain, however, that our text does not teach the doctrine of the Sabbatic seventh thousand years; for looking at the whole drift of the passage, you will see that the words were written to meet the arguments of some who said, “Where is the promise of his coming; for since the Fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” “No,” answers the apostle, “It is not so;” and then he quotes the memorable case of the flood as an instance of Divine intervention. Knowing, moreover, that even the faithful had begun to chide the tardy hours, and think the promise was long in fulfilment, he meets the adversary and consoles the friend by the words of our text. He as much as says, “You do not know what you say when you speak of length of time, for you forget that in God’s estimate one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The apostle, no doubt, wrote this also for the encouragement of Christians in our day, who, because the chariot of Christ is long in coming to the triumph, are growing weary, and are ready to cast down their arms and leave the conflict. Like a good officer rallying the dispirited, he exhorts them to patience; “Beloved, it is not long; it may seem to be a tedious age to you, but it is fitting that you wait for awhile. Cease your impatience, and while you cry, ‘Why are his chariots so long in coming?’ remember that the time is not long to him; to him one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day.” What the apostle seemed to teach as the general principle that our estimate of time is not the right one, certainly not the Divine standard; and that when we look at time in relation to God, we must remember that the distinctions which are known to us are not observed by him.
2. Before, however, I enter upon the subject itself, let me remark that the apostle says he would not have us ignorant concerning this matter; and therefore, beyond a doubt, great importance is to be attached to it. Some have a wilful ignorance, and of them the apostle speaks in the preceding, verse: “This they willingly are ignorant of.” See to it, brethren, that you do not commit this sin of shutting your eyes to the light. Others have an idle ignorance; they will not study; they do not search the Scriptures; and, therefore, many things are not revealed to them. That the soul should be without knowledge is not good; and more especially, that the Christian’s mind should be without knowledge of God must be exceedingly harmful. We cannot form an idea of what God is, but we should be very careful that we do not make him to be what he is not. Our apostle is the more earnest that upon this point of God’s eternity we should make no mistakes, and should not estimate and measure the existence of the Infinite One by our rules and standards, because, practically, the worst results may flow from an error here; impatience may ripen into unbelief; this may rot into petulant complaint, and that may breed inaction, sloth, disobedience, rebellion, and we do not know how many other evils.
3. But now, to the text at once, and we will handle it, as God shall help us, in three ways. First, we shall say a little about the general principle of the text; secondly, taking the words of the passage, we shall dwell upon God’s estimate of a day; and then, in the third place, still keeping, to the words of the sentence, we shall enlarge upon God’s estimate of a thousand years.
A General Principle
4. I. First of all, then, we shall take the statement before us AS A GENERAL PRINCIPLE, “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
All time is equally present with God.
5. 1. In opening up this general principle, we remark that all time is equally present with God. When we know that an event is to transpire today, it appears very near to us; but when we know that it will not occur until a thousand years have elapsed, we think nothing of it; we feel that we shall have gone to our graves long before that era, and therefore, the event does not strike us as having any connection with ourselves. Now, it is not so with God. All things are equally near and present to his view; the distance of a thousand years before the occurrence of an event, is no more to him than would be the interval of a day. With God, indeed, there is neither past, present, nor future. He takes for his name the “I AM.” He does not call himself the “I WAS,” for then we should conceive that he used to be something which he is not now; that some part of his character had changed, or some attribute ceased from existence, for there is an ominous sound of annihilation in the sound of the word, “HE WAS.” Is it not rather a knell for the dead, than a name for the living? Nor does our Lord God speak of himself as the “I SHALL BE,” for that might lead us to imagine that he is not now something which he is to be in the ages to come: whereas, we know that his being is perfect, his essence is infinite, his dominion is absolute, his power is unlimited, and his glory is transcendent. Development is out of the question, he is all today that he will be in the future. Of the Lord Jesus we read that he is the Everlasting Father, and yet he has the dew of his youth. Childhood, manhood and old age belong to creatures, but at the right hand of the Most High they have no abode. Growth, progress, advancement, all these are virtues in finite beings, but to the Infinite the thought of such change would be an insult. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, belong to dying mortals, the Immortal King lives in an eternal today. He is the I AM; I AM in the present; I AM in the past; and I AM in the future. Just as we say of God that he is everywhere, so we may say of him that he is always; he is everywhere in space; he is everywhere in time. God is today in the past; he is today already in the future; he is today in that present in which we are.
6. This is a subject upon which we can only speak without ourselves fully understanding what we say, but yet, perhaps, a metaphor may tend to make the matter a little simpler. There is a river flowing along in gentle slope toward the sea. A boatman is upon it; his vessel is here; presently it is there; and soon it will be at the river’s mouth, only that part of the river upon which he is sailing is present to him. But up there, on a lofty mountain, stands a traveller; as he looks from the summit he sees the source of the river and gazes upon its infant stream, where as yet it is only a narrow line of silver; then he follows it with his clear eye until it swells into a rolling flood, and he tracks it until it is finally absorbed into the ocean. Now, as the climber stands upon that Alp, that whole sparkling line of water adorning the plain is equally present to him from its source to its fall; there is not one part of the stream which is nearer to him than another; in the long distance he sees all of it, from the end to the beginning. The boatman down there has moved since we have been looking upon him from the top of the mountain; he cannot see all of the river; he can only speak of the river from the perspective of where he was, where he is, and where he is to be; but we who see it as a whole speak of it as a whole, and it is all present before our view. Such, we think, is the stream of time to God. From the altitude of his observance he looks down upon it and sees it at a glance; taking in, not in many thoughts, but in one thought, all the revolutions of time and all the changes of the ages, and seeing both the thousands of years that have gone, and the thousands that are yet to come, as present in one view before his eye. Or, to use another metaphor: there are some stars which are known as double stars, and with the most powerful telescope it seems impossible to see any distance between them; they are all but joined; there are certain motions by which the astronomer perceives they are two stars and not one, but to the common observer they seem as one. Even with the most powerful telescope, we say, no distance is apparent between them; and yet it is perfectly certain that there may be millions and millions of miles of space between those two stars, but from the distance at which we stand they resolve themselves into one. So it is with the events of time. Such, for instance, as the fall and the redemption; there is to us a time of some thousands of years; but God, who is far seeing, from his lofty throne looks down upon them and they resolve themselves into one. He sees the fall as taking place in the morning of time, and the redemption as completed before the evening has come. To him they are one thought. We look at the fall and weep over it, and then afterwards we view the restoration in Christ and rejoice; but God regards the whole as one—the fall and the rising again of Israel are one. He links them so closely together that he clearly sees the glory which by the whole occurrence is brought to him, and the common good which is given to the creatures that his hands have made. I know that by metaphors, however simple we may make them, we cannot explain God to human minds, for the face of none of his attributes can be seen; yet it seems to me that we may by these thoughts be led to remember that a thousand years in the future are to God only as one day, and so too with the past, since he looks upon all things in one eternal NOW, since they stand perpetually present before his eye.
7. Let the sinner remember this. His sins, he says, were committed ten or twenty years ago; to God they are present in unmitigated hue of scarlet at this moment. Let the sinner remember this when he thinks of death and of the penalty after death. “Ah,” he says, “it is a long time to come.” Not so, sinner; to God it is only as a day, and if you could estimate it correctly, how near the judgment is to you, and how close are those consuming flames into which impenitent souls must be cast! Think of this, I urge you, oh dying man, tremble, and God help you to look upon your years as one day, and oh! remember, that one day in hell will be more painful than a thousand years on earth. God keep you from that place, for his name’s sake!
All time is equally powerless with God to affect him.
8. 2. Still, taking the text as a general principle, it teaches us in the next place, that all time is equally powerless with God to affect him. A day does not make any particular change in us that we can notice. We do not meet our friend at night, after having seen him the previous morning, and say, “My dear Sir, how much older you look!” There is no doubt we all grow older in one day, but the change is not very perceptible, at least by such coarse, common optics as those which mortal men possess. But if you take fifty years—what a difference is perceptible in any of us! Some of my dear friends around me, who are now grey or bald, were, fifty years ago, fine, tall, handsome young men, in the full strength and vigour of their days; and others of us, twenty years ago were prattling boys, fond of play and frolic, and now we have come to manhood, and are bearing the burden and heat of the day. The fingers of time blot the epistle of life very sadly. Concerning this present congregation, wait only a hundred years and where shall we all be? Unless the Lord comes each of is shall be slumbering in the dust, awaiting the trumpet of the archangel. But just as a day seems to make no change with us, so, but far more truthfully, a thousand years make no change with God. Ages roll on, but he remains the same as when the waves break themselves against the rock, but the rock stands firmly for ever. Brethren, we need be under no apprehension that God will ever be affected with weakness through the revolutions of time. The Ancient of Days, is for ever omnipotent, does not faint, neither is weary. Is the Lord’s arm waxed short? Is his ear heavy so that he cannot hear? Is his arm shortened so that he cannot save? We shall find, if this creaking earth is to perform revolutions upon its axis for another thousand years longer, that the Lord will show himself as strong to help his servants, and as mighty to crush his foes as in times past. And since time brings no weakness, certainly it shall bring no decay to God. Upon his brow there is never a furrow; no signs of palsy are in his hand. In the vision his head and hair, we are told, are white like wool, as white as snow, as the emblem of his eternity, as the Ancient of Days; but “his locks are bushy and black as the raven,” said another, as the emblem of his perpetual youth and of his eternal strength. Oh Sun, your fires shall one day become extinct! Oh Moon, you shall hide your light! and you, you Stars, when you are ripe shall fall like fig leaves from the tree! and as for you, oh Earth, your ancient mountains already crumble to decay, and you yourself and all that dwells on you shall pass away as a garment that is worn out! but as for you, oh God, you are the same, and of your years there is no end; from everlasting to everlasting you are God! And just as no weakness and no decay can be brought to God by time, so no change in his purpose can ever come through passing years. To what he has set his seal he stands fast, and what his heart decrees, that will he do. He knows no repentance; he is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent.
9. Moreover, just as there can be no change in his decree, so no unforeseen difficulties can intervene to prevent the accomplishment of it. Has he not said, and will he not do it? Has he not commanded, and shall it not come to pass? There shall be no unforeseen and unprovided energy required; no unexpected impediments shall block his path. Up until today he has levelled the mountains and bridged the seas; up until now his own right hand and his holy arm have gotten him the victory; up until now no weapon formed against him has prospered, and every tongue that has risen against him in judgment he has condemned; and so it shall be world without end. As long as there is a work to do, he shall do it; as long as there is an enemy to conquer, that enemy shall be overcome. Conquering and to conquer is your course, oh Lord, and throughout all ages you are the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. One day, in the matter of change, is to God as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
All time is insignificant to God.
10. 3. Yet further; no doubt the text intends to teach that all time is insignificant to God. Within the compass of a drop of water we are told that sometimes a thousand living creatures may be discovered, and to those little creatures no doubt their size is something very important. There is a creature inside that drop which can only be seen by the most powerful microscope, but it is a hundred times larger than its neighbour, and it feels, no doubt, that the difference is amazing and extraordinary. But to you and to me, who cannot even see the largest creature with the naked eye, the gigantic animalcule is as imperceptible as his dwarfish friend, they both seem so utterly insignificant that we squander whole millions of them, and are not very penitent if we destroy them by thousands. But what would one of those little protozoa say if some prophet of its own kind could tell it that there is a creature living that would consider the whole world of a drop of water as nothing, and could take up ten thousand thousand of those drops and scatter them without exertion of half its power; that this creature would not be encumbered if it should carry on the tip of its finger all the thousands that live in that great world—a drop of water; that this creature would have no disturbance of heart, even if the great king of one of the empires in that drop should gather all his armies against it and lead them to battle? Why, then the little creatures would say, “How can this be; we can hardly grasp the idea?” But when that protozoa philosopher could have an idea of man, and of the utter insignificance of itself, and of its own little narrow world, then it would have achieved an easy task compared with what lies before us when we attempt to have an idea of God. The fact is, it is only because he is infinite that he can even observe our existence. We think of the infinite nature of God in being able to marshal all the stars, and govern all the orbs which bespangle the brow of night; but I take it to be quite as great a wonder that he should even know that such insignificant nothings as we are in existence, much more that he should count every hair of our heads, and not allow one of them to fall to the ground without his express decree. The Infinite is as much known in the minute as in the magnificent, and God may be as readily discovered by us in the drop of water as in the rolling orb; but this is wonderful of God, that he even observes us. What do you think now, brethren? Do you not think that the thousand years which we make so much fuss about are only comparable to a drop, and that the one day that we think so little of is a particle of that drop, and that both the drop and the particle are alike to God, and are utterly insignificant to him? They are not to be mentioned; they are only cyphers in his great existence; they are only drops in the ocean of his life, they are only one leaf in an eternal forest of existence, they are only one grain of sand on the mighty shore of the perpetual being of the ever living one. A thousand years are as a day, and a day as thousand years.
All time is equally obedient to God.
11. 4. I think we ought also to learn from the text that all time is equally obedient to God. You and I are the servants of time, but God is its sovereign Master. I cannot make an hour longer than it is—I often wish I could. When there is only an hour’s time between some important labour, and more preparation is needed, one would pull an hour at both ends if one could; but it is rigidly an hour, and refuses to be lengthened. There are times when we would make a day, if we could, much shorter; when we are racked with pain, we say in the morning, “Oh that it were evening!” We want to bring the two ends of the day together, but unhappily they refuse to move from their fixed position. Time, inexorable Time, goes on, with so many ticks of the clock, and though every motion of the pendulum may be as the cutting of a sword into our vitals, yet Time will not relent, but on he goes—to the miserable he will never be fast, and to the happy he will never be slow; he himself and his footsteps retain incessantly one ordained motion. Not so, however, with God. Time is not his master. If he shall say to the sun, “Stand still, and you, moon, in the valley of Ajalon,” they must stand there eternally, unless he bids them move again; and if, on the other hand, he should bid them speed their course until the sundial should go forward many degrees, it must be so. The horses of the sun must hasten their speed, they must fly onward as God himself shall ordain, for he is their charioteer, and the reins are in his hands. To him if the days were longer, or if they were shorter, it would be nothing; he does not care for these. Oh, brethren, we do not understand him; but let us adore him; we cannot comprehend him, but let us admire him. I say again, this is wonderful that he is Time’s Master, and bids him move slowly or rapidly, and Time is obedient to the behests of the Eternal God. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God's Estimate of a Day
12. II. Now we shall say only a few words upon the second point.—GOD’S ESTIMATE OF A DAY. He can make a day as useful, and to him it shall be as long as a thousand years.
13. Brethren, I think this is one of the most brilliant of the Church’s hopes. We have been saying, “How many converts have been made by the Missionary Society during fifty or sixty years?” and we have said, “Well, at this rate, how long will it be before the world is converted?” Ah! “At this rate;” but how do you know God’s rate? God can do as much in a day as has been done in a thousand years that are past, if he so wills it. To the snail a hundred yards is a very long distance, but to a stag or a hound how little it is; and then to a steam engine it is nothing; and then to a ray of light it becomes nothing at all; and then there may be something that travels even much more swiftly than light as light does more swiftly than the snail, and then where would distance be? It is annihilated; it is gone. So is work, and labour, and toil with God. It is for you and I continually to work, work, work, and if our pace be only that of the snail, we must still persevere, hoping to reach the end. But the day may come when God shall make one minister more mighty than a thousand; when one sermon shall be enough to convert a congregation; when that one congregation shall in an instant be endowed with fiery tongues and all the brethren shall go forth and themselves become preachers; and before one day, one natural day is set, it may be possible for God to have made the light of the gospel flash from one end of the earth to the other, as quickly as the light of the sun travels from east to west. Do not limit the Holy One of Israel.
When he makes bare his arm,
What shall his work withstand?
When he his people’s cause defends,
Who, who shall stay his hand?
When he comes forth out of his chamber like the sun, what thick darkness shall shade his light? He loosens the bands of Orion, and guides Arcturus with his sons; shall he not when he chooses loosen the bands of his Church, and guide forth those stars of his right hand—the chosen preachers of the gospel of Christ? Only let him will it, and there shall be one day written in the records of the Church that shall be equal in achievements, in conquests, and in triumphs, to any thousand years of her history recorded previously. This should lead us to remember that when God speaks of judging the world at the day of judgment, he will find no difficulty in doing it. Two hundred judges might find it difficult to try in one day all the cases that might be brought before them in a single nation, but God, when he holds the great assize, shall be able to convict every guilty one, and to absolve every penitent, and that, too, in one day. The Judgment could not be performed better if it lasted through an age; it shall be none the worse because it is confined to a day. Oh Master, let us see your great works! Come forth, and once again make days illustrious things. When you brought up your people out of Egypt, when you led them through the Red Sea, you did not need a thousand years to break the pride of Egypt, and to raise a wail from the sons of Mizraim. It was only an uplifted rod; a few hours of divided sea, a terrific union of the parted floods, and lo, Egypt’s horses and chariots passed away, and they sank like lead in the mighty waters. You did not need a thousand years to break the power of Jabin, king of Hazor,—you only spoke, and the mighty river, the river Kishon, swept them away; the stars fought from heaven, the stars fought against Sisera. The might of the heathen was broken, and Israel was free. You did not need a thousand years to drive back Sennacherib. Lo, you only put your bit into his mouth and your hook into his nose, and in one night the angel of the Lord struck the horse and the rider and they lay dead, and you led him back into confusion into the house of his God, and he fell by the hands of the offspring of his own body. Glory be to you, Jehovah! When you rise up in the greatness of your might you shall kill kings and overthrow mighty kings; the two-leaved gates of brass shall open and the bars of iron shall be cut in pieces; you shall in one day cause the nations of the earth to say, “The Lord, he is God, the Lord, he is God, the Lord, he is God alone.”
God's Estimate of a Thousand Years
14. III. But we now turn to notice GOD’S ESTIMATE OF A THOUSAND YEARS. A day is to him as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The complaint which is brought by mournful unbelieving Zion is, “He is long in coming; his widowed spouse waits for him, but the bridegroom tarries.” Oh, the long and dreary winter, oh, the dark and dreary winter, when will summer come? When shall the rain be over and passed, and the voice of the turtledove be heard in our land? We have waited almost two thousand years, and yet the Son of Man has not come. The dweller in the isle brings no tribute, the inhabitant of the wilderness does not bow to lick the dust. Christ does not reign yet in Jerusalem, nor do his ancients behold his face wearing the crown of his Father David. “How long, how long?” the saints under the altar cry, “How long?” (Re 6:9, 10) and the saints at the altar here today take up the same wailing notes, “How long? how long? how long?” But he answers, “I am not long. What if I have waited and the time is long for you; yet it is not long for me.” God bids you to think for a moment, that if you really measure correctly, it is no lengthened period of time that he has made the vision to tarry. For first see, my brethren, the time that has elapsed since Christ’s crucifixion is not long compared with eternity. Try if you can to measure Eternity. You will find your task to be impossible. Even should another thousand years roll on, what would some three thousand years be compared with Eternity? You might form a comparison between a shell full of water from the sea in the child’s hand and all of the sea itself, but it would be not possible by human figures to put down the comparison between two or three thousand years and Eternity. Indeed, the comparison cannot be made; it is nothing contrasted with all things; it is the unit put in comparison with the infinite. Why, therefore, do you think him to be long? If in all eternity you are to meditate upon the riches of God in Christ revealed to you in these six thousand years, if through all the eternal ages this is to be the subject of your meditation, do you wonder that it should have been so long? Do you not rather marvel that it should be such a short a time?
15. Then, again, when you say that God is long in the accomplishment of his great purposes, remember that he has no need to be in a hurry. Whatever you and I find to do, we must do it with all our might: for there is neither work nor device in the grave where we are hastening; but God lives, and lives for ever. Our sun goes down; if the labourer wishes to get his day’s work done, he must toil with the sweat upon his brow; but God’s sun never goes down; he may, like a God, take his own time, and go about his work leisurely; surely he does not need run to reach his purpose. When two little kings become offended with one another, immediately they hasten into war; but when some mighty monarchy becomes provoked, it can take its time, and wait, and marshal all its troops for the battle. You might have seen yesterday, the clouds gathering hastily, with the winds pursuing them in fierce rushings. Their black host speedily covered the face of the sky, the rain fell in rattling drops, and poured upon the earth in torrents, there was haste and fury, but we knew from the very haste with which the clouds came together, that they only betokened a hurried storm. But when the clouds come slowly up to the great rendezvous—when at last God’s trumpet sounds to summon his black warriors to the battle—when you see, at length, the sharp flash, the glitter of his spear, who is the Lord of tempests, and his mighty ones come up to be marshalled in their line: then the trumpet sounds again exceedingly loud and long, and for many an hour the earth shall be deluged with the rain, and men shall shake when they hear the voice of God breaking the cedar and rending the mountain tops. That which gathers long lasts long; the little is always in a hurry, but the great can wait. “He who believes shall not make haste,” simply because believing makes him great; and God, on whom believers rest, makes no haste because of his greatness; he may well take his time, and go leisurely about his work. There is no need, we say, that the Lord our God, who is rich in years, should spend his time as we must do who have only a few years.
16. Besides, there is an advantage in his being slow—it tries our faith. We are getting weary, some of us, because we have little faith; but if the Church of Christ shall keep on from today until another thousand years sending out the choice of her ministry to the most desolate regions to preach; if she shall continue to send her young, brave sons, fresh to the altar of distant martyrdom; if our Churches at home shall continue to pay a spiritual taxation like what Israel paid when Solomon’s temple was being built; if everyone of us shall be willing to spend and to be spent for God; and if the Church shall keep at that stretch for two thousand years to come; (we pray God she may not have the trial,) but if she should, then there will be honour to her God, who by his grace sustained her, and there will be honour to her faith, which thus honoured God. To win a fight when it lasts only for an hour, what is there in it? One gallant charge and the foes have fled. Comrade but that is a battle worthy to be written with your Waterloos and your Marathons, when hour after hour, and day after day, valour disdains to succumb, and patience endures the fight while foot to foot the soldiers stand. To see gallant courage fiercely longing for the charge, but obediently awaiting the signal. Look, brethren, how they stand like lions at bay, stand bearing wounds, and agony, and the horrors of death, until at last, the captain gives the triumphant signal, and they dash upon their foes, the ranks of the enemy are broken, and the foes fall at their feet. So it is today. We are standing in our Churches, like British soldiers in their solid square, we roll our deadly musketry against our enemy, but the foe is in the distance, and we cannot reach him as we wish. Great Master, you shall come, and then at one triumphant charge, we shall give only one great cheer—“The Lord God omnipotent reigns,” and they shall fly like chaff before the whirlwind, and like the mist before the storm.
17. Further, it is well that God should thus be long, because he is unravelling revelation. I fear, I have seldom been in the position of those hearers, who would wish the preacher to be longer, but there have been books of which one could say when we have reached the last page, “Oh that there was another volume, that our interest might continue!” Now, what is the history of the Church, except the great book of God’s revelation of himself to man? The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed to loosen the seals, and to open the book for us, and year after year he reads another page, and yet another in the Church’s history. Brethren, if Christ should come today, if we should have no more conflicts, no more difficulties, no more trials, then we might suppose that the book had come to its brilliant golden end; but if it keeps on a thousand years to come, so much the better: the glowing eyes of angels do not wish for the end of the story, and the bright eyes of immortal spirits before the throne, when it shall be all over, shall not regret that it was too long. No, let it go on, great Master; let a thousand years run on; our loving hearts will patiently bear it, as though it were only one day.
18. And more: the victory of Christ at the end will be all the greater, and the redemption all the more glorious, because of this long time of strife and confusion. I have often admired, in reading history, how in the grand duel between good and evil, God has seemed to give all the advantage to his foe. Did you notice this in the combat of old between Patience and Suffering? God is in Job; Job is on a dunghill: the messengers come in such an order as most naturally to break his spirit: at last he is touched in his bone, and in his flesh with sore blains, and yet in spite of that, Job on the dunghill, is master over the Prince of hell, with Providence at his back. God gave the foe the advantage, and yet won the victory. So, in the greater battle which is now waging; when first the gospel was preached, learning, eloquence, and power, all these might aid the cause, but Christ disdained to take them. “No,” he said, “my enemy shall have the learning; the philosophers of Greece shall have the wisdom of men; their orators shall wield all eloquence, but not my apostles; as for power, I have not chosen the great ones of this world.” So that the eloquence, learning, pomp, and power of nations were put into the opposite scale, and then Christianity came out, like a naked wrestler, all unarmed against one who was clothed from head to foot in mail of proof. The gospel comes out like a David with nothing except a sling and a stone against one the staff of whose spear is like a weaver’s beam. See the hosts of Philistia come up armed to the teeth every one of them, and there are thousands of them: there is God’s hero; he is only one man; he has no weapon except the decayed bone of a donkey’s jaw, but he dashes at them right and left, hip, and thigh, with a great slaughter, and strikes them until heaps upon heaps with the jaw bone of a donkey he has killed a thousand men. Brethren, whenever you see anything in the world which would lead you to believe that the enemy is getting the upper hand, say, “Ah, it is only God throwing in the advantage on the side of his enemies.” The battle was fair enough before, but he is giving them all on their side, letting them have every weapon, bidding them take all the power, and all the wit, and all the eloquence and learning. We will beat them yet. Now in the name of him who lives and was dead once more we, who are God’s servants, full of weakness, throw down the gauntlet against the world that seems to be omnipotent; against your learning, and your eloquence, and your multitudes, and your authorities, and your dignities, your powers and your state alliances, we still throw down the gauntlet; take it up, oh earth, if you dare, but remember when we make the challenge, we expect stern fighting. We know from God’s authority, who cannot lie, that a glorious victory awaits us. Now you see, brethren, this is why God is taking a thousand years for it. He can shake the old prostitute of the seven hills tomorrow if he wishes, he can knock down the idol gods today if so it pleases him. Tonight, before you and I go to sleep, every idol might be cast to the moles and to the bats if Jehovah willed it, but he does not. “No,” he says, “they shall have their time; they shall have their opportunity; they shall strive against me; I will hold in my power; I will not go out against them; I will let them lay their plans with deliberation and execute their schemes at their leisure, but I will laugh at them in their preparations, and I will at last crush them in my hot displeasure;” and then the shout shall be the louder, and the choral song shall be the more mighty, and the everlasting hallelujah shall have a deeper bass, and yet it shall have a shriller note of glory when at the last the triumph shall be won. After all the two hundred years of Israel’s bondage, Egypt’s power was broken and Israel went free; while Miriam took her timbrel and danced before the Lord: so we shall also, in a few days, when all the adversaries are overthrown, take up for ourselves the same song of Moses and the Lamb—“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has cast the horse and his rider into the sea. So let all your enemies perish, oh Lord, and let those who hate you become as the fat of rams.”
19. I shall now leave my subject to the consideration of the faithful to cheer their hearts. If you think the work has been long and tedious, you will not think so any more, brother, if you obey Peter’s exhortation, “Do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” As for those present who do not know Christ, may the one day of their conversion take place today; and that one day of God’s grace and favour in their hearts they shall find to be as good as a thousand years spent in the pleasures of sin. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, he who does not believe shall be damned.” God help us to believe, for Christ’s sake! Amen.