A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, September 11, 1864. by C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
And Melchizedek the king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the Most High God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave tithes of all to him. (Genesis 14:18–20
1. What a splendid type Abram is, in the narrative before us, of our Lord Jesus Christ! Let us read this story of Abram in connection with our Saviour, and see how full of meaning it is. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the abundance of his love, had taken us to be his brothers; but we, through our sin, had moved into the land of Sodom, and Jesus Christ lived alone in his safety and his happiness, enjoying the presence of God. The hosts of our enemies, with terrible force and cruel fury, carried us away captives. We were violently borne away with all the goods which we possessed, into a land of forgetfulness and captivity for ever. Christ, who had lost nothing by this, nevertheless being a “brother born for adversity,” pursued our haughty foes. He overtook them; he struck them with his mighty hand—he took their spoil, and returned with crimsoned vesture, leading captives captive. He restored what he did not take away. I think as I see Abram returning from the slaughter of the four kings; I see in him a picture of someone greater than Abram, returning “from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, travelling in the greatness of his strength.” Who answers the question of who he is? “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Abram was that righteous man raised in the East, to whom God gave his enemies as driven stubble to his bow; and so the Lord Jesus has driven our enemies like chaff before the wind, for they fled at the presence of Jehovah Jesus; and by the valour of the atoning Lamb they have been utterly broken in pieces for ever. Let that thought dwell with you, it may furnish you with subject matter for meditation at your leisure.
2. We shall this morning consider Abram rather as the type and picture of all the faithful. He was the father of the faithful; and in his history you have condensed—as I think—the history of all faithful men. You will scarcely find a trial which will befall you, which has not in some respect happened to Abraham. I will not say that he was tempted in all points like we are, but he was tempted in so many points that he richly deserves to be called the father of the faithful, being partaker of flesh and blood even as all the children are who belong to his faithful family.
3. Observe then, in handling our subject in this manner, that believers are frequently engaged in warfare. Notice, secondly, that when they are thus engaged, they may expect to be met by their Lord, the great Melchizedek; and remember, thirdly, that when they are favoured with an interview with him, and are refreshed by him as with food and wine, then, like Abram, they consecrate themselves anew, and as Abram gave tithes of all, even so do they.
The Believer is Often Engaged in Warfare
4. I. We mention then, what you must all know very well by experience—you who are God’s people—THAT THE BELIEVER IS OFTEN ENGAGED IN WARFARE.
5. This warfare will be both within and without—within with the innumerable natural corruptions which remain, with the temptations of Satan, with the suggestions of his own wicked heart; and without, he will frequently be engaged in warfare, wrestling “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The particular case of Abram leads me to remark that sometimes the believer will be engaged in warfare, not so much on his own account as on the account of erring brethren, who, having gone into bad company, are by and by carried away captive. It was no quarrel of Abram’s, it was Lot’s matter. Lot had gone to Sodom. Instead of standing in the separated path of the true believer, he had joined himself to the world, and when evil days came, Lot was carried away captive with the rest. Abram cared little enough for the king of Sodom: I do not suppose he would have taken his sword from the sheath for all the men who lived in Admah or Zeboiim; but for Lot’s sake, seeing him in bad company and in danger, he draws the sword. And sometimes, brethren, when we see those who are God’s servants putting themselves into an alliance with evil systems, we find them carried away captive, and taken where we believe their hearts would never go, and we feel compelled to come out and draw the sword against the common enemy of Christ and of all his people; and although they may heartily wish that we would leave them alone in their sin, and let them be quiet in their evil union, we see into what spiritual declension it leads them, and we cannot be silent, but must draw the sword when conscience and when God demand it, and never sheath it until God’s work is done. However, this rarely occurs; for the most part the Christian spends his sword’s edge upon his own spiritual foes: and truly we have enough of these. What with pride, sloth, lust; with the archenemy of souls, and his insinuations and blasphemies; with the lust of the eye, the pleasures of this world, and the pride of life; with enemies who come upon us even from providence in the form of temptations, arising out of our trials and our vocations, we ought to carry our sword always drawn; and, above all, we should always carry the shield of faith and take the weapon of all prayer. The Christian is never to feel himself at ease as long as he is on this side of Jordan. This is an enemy’s land. Expect a foe behind every bush, look to hear the shot come whistling by, and each night adore almighty grace that you have not fallen as prey to your cruel and remorseless foes. The Christian is engaged throughout his whole life as a soldier—he is so called in Scripture—“A good soldier of Jesus Christ”; and if any of you take the trouble to write out the passages of Scripture in which the Christian is described as a soldier, and provision is made for his being armed, and directions given for his warfare, you will be surprised to find there are more of this kind than concerning any other metaphor by which the Christian is described in the Word of God. His chief and main business seems to be, like his Master, to bear witness for the truth; “For this purpose I was born and sent into the world”; and although in himself he was a man of peace, yet he can say with his Master, “I did not come to send peace but a sword”; for wherever he goes, he finds that his presence is the signal for war—war inside him and war outside him: he is a man of peace, and yet a man of war because he is a man of peace. The Christian is engaged in warfare with sin, Satan, error, and falsehood, and sometimes he is called to fight for erring friends.
6. Observe that this war is one against powerful odds. The four kings mentioned in this chapter were all great sovereigns. From what little we can glean from secular history, they appear to have been very mighty monarchs, and they must have been assisted by very valiant armies to have defeated the giants whose names are mentioned in the opening verses. They appear to have carried away the five kings of the plain with the greatest possible ease; yet here is Abram, who has little more than three hundred of his own armed servants at his call, and yet he ventures against the embattled thousands of the kings of nations. Such is the warfare of the Christian: he has to contend against foes far too many for him—he is like the worm that is to arise and thrash the mountain. He is little and despised, and if he measures his own strength he will find it to be perfect weakness; and yet, for all this, he anticipates a victory, and like Abram, hurries to the holy war.
7. Carefully notice, that since it is a battle of fearful odds, it is one which is carried on in faith. Abram did not venture to this battle with confidence in his own strength, or reliance upon his own bow, but he went in the name of the Lord of Hosts. Faith was Abram’s continual comfort. Sometimes his faith failed, as it will in the best of us, but still the spirit of the man’s life was a simple confidence upon God, whom he had not seen, but whose voice he cheerfully obeyed. The Christian is to carry on his warfare in faith. You will be vanquished, indeed, if you attempt it by any other method. Brethren, there is not a sin in your heart which will not master you if you seek to fight it by resolutions of your own; faith in the precious blood of Christ must win you the victory, and the world will laugh you to scorn if you assail it with any other weapons than such as Calvary will furnish you. “This is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith”; and if you ask faith what weapon she uses, her reply is, “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb.” Live near to Jesus Christ, rest upon the power of his atonement and the prevalence of his plea, and then go forward against every enemy without and every foe within, and you shall be more than a conqueror.
8. In this great battle, carried on by faith, Abram had a right given to him from God, and the promise of God’s presence virtually in that right. What business had Chedorlaomer to come to Canaan? Had not Jehovah said to Abram, “I will give to you all this land?” Therefore he and his confederate monarchs were neither more nor less than intruders. For thirteen years they might have exercised sovereignty over the cities of the plain, but those cities and everything around them virtually belonged to Abram. It is true they would have laughed at the very idea of Abram’s claiming the whole land of Canaan, but that claim was nevertheless valid in the court of heaven, and the patriarch by divine right was heir of all the land. Christian, you are, by virtue of a covenant made with you to drive out every sin, as an intruder. “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.” You are to drive out every error, for you are a servant of the truth and the truth alone has a right to live and a right to exist; and in fighting this lawful warfare, you may expect that the right arm of the Most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth will be bared that he may show himself strong on behalf of all those who are valiant for his truth and for his name. Do not fear; the battle is not yours, but God’s. You do not go a warfare at your own expense; and although hell may roar as it will, and earth is all up in arms, and your own heart may fail you, and your flesh when you take counsel with it may make you feel like a coward, yet say, “In the name of God I will destroy them,” go forward and conquer. “They surround me about like bees,” said David, “yes, they surround me about like bees: but in the name of God I will destroy them”; and what David did you shall do through David’s God.
9. Yet more, the Christian is engaged in a conflict in which he walks by faith and leans upon God; but yet it is a conflict in which he uses all means, calls in all lawful assistance, and exerts himself with all vigour and speed. Abram did not sit still and say, “Well, God will deliver Lot; he has promised to keep his servants as the apple of his eye”—oh! no, that is not faith; that is foolish presumption. Abram did not take his time about it, and go marching leisurely after the foe, nor did he go without the assistance of his friends, Aner, and Eshcol, and Mamre. So the Christian, if he sees any method by which he may be assisted in overcoming sin or promoting truth, uses it with wisdom and discretion. He trusts in God as though he did nothing himself, and yet he does everything as if all depended upon him. He knows that good works cannot save him, and he equally knows that he is not saved unless there are some fruits of good works. He understands that the means of grace cannot by themselves convey grace to him, and yet at the same time he never despises them, but looks to find a blessing in the use of them. He understands that the ministry, and private prayer, and the searching of the Scriptures cannot save him, but he also understands that by using the means which God has given to him, and diligently pressing forward and setting a bold face before the foe, he is in the path of God’s ordinances, and may expect to have God’s help.
10. And do observe, dear friends, yet again, that Abram marching on like this with activity, and using discretion, by attacking his enemies at night rather than by day, did not cease until he had gained a complete victory over them. It was not enough to attack them at one corner of their host, nor merely to deliver Lot, but now that he is come out against them he will win a sure and decisive victory. Oh beloved, you and I are never to sit still and say, “It is enough.” Have I defeated my drunkenness? Have I overcome my blaspheming habits? Am I delivered from Sabbath breaking? Have I become honest and chaste? Yet this is not where I should stop. Have I tried to bring down my self-conceit, my pride, my sloth? It is very well and good, but let me never be satisfied with any attainment short of absolute perfection. We do not believe we shall be perfect in this life, but we will never be satisfied until we are. “Onward,” is the Christian’s motto. As long as there is one sin which is not removed we will fight, and cry, and groan, and go to the cross concerning it. As long as there is one soul in this world unsaved, we will wrestle with the mighty One of Jacob to stretch out his hand to save it. As long as there remains one error upon earth, as long as we have a tongue to speak and God gives us grace, we will bear our witness against it. In this battle there is no holding back our hand until the victory is completely won; we must bring back the goods, and the men, and the women, and Lot, and the whole company; for the victory must be complete. We must be more than conquerors through him who has loved us. Let us anticipate the time when it shall be so. Oh brethren, I think I see the victors ascending in triumphal state the starry steeps, Christ at their head rides gloriously; he who loved them leads the vanguard; the gates open to him as the great Conqueror who has led their captives captive. I think I see the glad faces of all those soldiers of the cross as they enter the portals of eternal peace.
I ask them whence their vict’ry came—
They with united breath,
Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
Their triumph to his death.
See then, beloved, here you are this morning soldiers; you are to fight by faith in God. However tremendous the power of your adversaries, you are not to fear since God is with you. You are to fight, using discretion as your armour bearer, but you are also to couple this with perseverance, continuing faithful to the end, for only those who overcome shall sit upon the throne of God forever.
11. We have thus perhaps said enough concerning this first point, and now, may the Holy Spirit bedew with his holy influences while we speak of the second, for otherwise it will be only talk.
The Believer May Expect to See His Lord
12. II. While engaged in such earnest spiritual contention, the believer may expect TO SEE HIS LORD.
13. When Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego were fighting Christ’s battles in the fiery furnace, then the Son of Man appeared to them. Just as in the building of Jerusalem in troublesome times, they had the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other; so our Lord Jesus Christ, while he teaches us to use the sword, takes care to edify and build us up in the faith at the same time. He understands that warriors require strengthening food, and that especially when they are under stern conflict they need extraordinary comforts so that their souls may be sustained and refreshed. Why does Jesus Christ, as portrayed here under the type of Melchizedek, appear to his children in times of conflict? Answer—He comes to them first, because they are weary. In every conflict which the child of God has to wage, it is not the private person who goes to the warfare, it virtually is Christ fighting—Christ contending. It is a member of Christ’s body labouring against Christ’s enemy for the glory of the Head. Christ the Head has an intense feeling of sympathy with every member, no matter how humble. Since there is a vital union between Christ and every member, there is also an undying sympathy; and whenever, brother, you contend for the faith until you grow weary, Jesus Christ will be sure to give you some proof of his close communion with you. The martyrs protest that they never had such communion with God anywhere as among the caverns of the hills, or the swamps of the woods, to which they were exiled for Christ; and that even on the rack, in extremity of torture, or even upon the gridiron in the heat of the fire—even there the sweet presence of Christ has been overpoweringly delightful to them, so that they almost lost the sense of pain. You, Lord, do send a plenteous rain, by which you do refresh your heritage when it is weary! Spend your strength for God, brother, for when fainting seems inevitable, then shall come such a sweet renewing of your strength, that, like an eagle, you shall stretch your wings and mount aloft to commune with God in solitary joys. Christ, your Melchizedek, will meet you in your conflicts, if he never did before.
14. The King of Peace met the returning warrior for another reason. Abram was probably flushed with victory, and this is a very dangerous feeling for any child of God. When the seventy disciples returned to Christ they said, with evident exultation, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us”: but Jesus Christ sweetly and gently rebuked them by saying, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” The true secret of a Christian’s joy is not to be his conquest over sin or over error, but the person of his Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord knows that his people, if they are successful, even in spiritual warfare, when they have used the best of means and felt the best of motives, are nevertheless very liable to the intoxication of pride, and therefore he either sends “a thorn in the flesh,” or else, what is better still, he comes himself. I am persuaded, beloved, that the best cure for pride is a sight of Christ. Oh! when your eyes see him, then your own loathsomeness, blackness, and deformity, are clearly revealed. I am fair until the sun arises—then am I black indeed. I think myself to be pure until I see him whiter than any fuller could make him, and then I fall down and cry, “Unclean, unclean, unclean!” “Now my eye sees you,” Job said, “therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Down go your flaunting flags and your lofty plumes, when you have a sight of Christ. There was no humbler man than George Herbert—no humbler man than Samuel Rutherford—and these were men who lived close to Christ. Christ’s presence is a cure all. When Melchizedek comes, every spiritual disease flees before him. The Church at Laodicea was very far gone, but how did the Master propose to cure it? Here it is—“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him.” What, Lord, is this your delightful treatment of your sick Church? “Yes, my communion with you, poor lukewarm Laodicea, will revive you.” Truly that is a most suggestive metaphor by which John describes the countenance of Christ; he says, “His countenance was as the sun shining in its strength.” So, Lord, it does not matter how dark I am, the moment you show your face, all must be light. This, I think, was the reason why the King of Righteousness met Abram, to turn away his thoughts from the tempting joys of victory, to his sure portion in the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.
15. Yet again, was not this visit bestowed because Abram was about to be tried in a still more subtle manner than he had been before? It is easier to fight Chedorlaomer, than to resist the king of Sodom. Joshua down in the plain never grew weary when he was fighting the Amalekites, but Moses on the mountain felt his hands grow heavy. Why? Because the more spiritual the exercise, the more aptness there is in us to grow weary in it; and so the more spiritual the temptation the more likelihood of our becoming a prey to it, and the more strength we need to overcome it. That was a very subtle temptation to Abram, by the king of Sodom. Why it looked so right—perfectly right. Abram has brought back these captives: he has a right to the spoil; he ought, therefore, to take it. If he had done so, no one could blame him on ordinary rules, but then there is a higher rule for believers than for other men. Brethren, I contend that the common rules of morality are binding upon all, but that a supernaturally high rule of morality should regulate the Christian; that the Christian is not allowed to wink at an evil because he has educated his conscience not to think it so, but he shall so act that there shall not be any wrong in the action, upon the common judgment of any unbiased spectator. He who is of the King’s Council, must walk very carefully, lest he offend his Master. I tell you, from experience, that the nearer you come to Christ, and the more you have of communion with him, the more zealous you must be of yourself, or else, if other men escape the rod, you will not: you will have to smart for it behind the door, where another may not see nor understand your grief. Beloved, it is good to have communion with Christ, to prepare us against subtle temptations, for to feed us upon Melchizedek’s food and wine, is to make us more than a match for the king of Sodom. Oh Jesus! when I have seen your face, my soul does not see the dazzling beauties of earthly excellence. Brother, if you have ever seen Christ’s face, that painted prostitute, the world, will never win your love again. Did you ever eat the pure white bread of heaven? Then the brown, gritty bread of earth will never suit you, but will break your teeth with gravel stones. You will never care to drink earth’s sour and watery wine, if you have once been made to drink from the wines on the lees well refined—the spiced wine of Christ’s pomegranate. If you want to be strengthened against the most subtle worldly temptations, cry, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for your love is better than wine”; and you may go out to conflicts of every kind, more than a conqueror, through him who has loved you.
16. Thus we have spoken upon the fact that Melchizedek met Abram, and the reasons. Now, let us look a little more closely at what he did. How did he meet Abram? The reply is easy—he met him as one possessing a royal priesthood.
17. Christ meets us, brethren, as a priest and a king in all our battles. What a mercy it is that Christ visits us as a priest, for we never fight against sin without being in some measure partakers of it. I do not believe there ever was a controversy for truth upon which any gracious man, though engaged upon the right side, could not look back without some regrets and some tears. I much believe that even Martin Luther or John Knox, when upon their death beds, although never regretting that they contended earnestly for the faith, yet felt that while they were in the flesh, something of flesh mingled with all that they did. It will be like this to the end, and even, when contending against our own sins and lusts, yet, beloved, our very repentance has something in it to be repented of, and our very fleeing to the cross has something in it of a lingering from the cross, and therefore something of evil. Jesus, all hail! How much I need to meet you as a priest! And you, beloved, do you not feel that you need him too? Do you not, as you look upon Calvary and the flowing blood, confess that you need, in all spiritual conflicts, to meet Christ?
18. But Melchizedek was also a king, and truly thus we want to view our Lord whenever we are fighting his battles. “The Lord reigns,” is perhaps one of the most comforting texts in the entire of God’s Word to the contending Christian. “Ah!” the poor soul says, “I am trodden underfoot by Satan, but do not rejoice over me, oh my enemy: although I fall, yet I shall rise again, for the Lord reigns.” Oh! that is our consolation when at any time we think we are routed, when we see our Church dismayed and our banner trailing in the mire, then we remember Jesus, for God the Father has exalted him, “and given him a name which is above every name: so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Hail! King of Righteousness and Peace, how much do we need to meet you! Come, mount your glorious chariot, ride out conquering and to conquer drawn by your three white horses, meekness, truth, and righteousness! Heaven adores you, earth obeys you, hell trembles in your presence, gates of brass must burst at your touch, and bars of iron snap at your word! Oh immortal King, ride gloriously and let your people see you and rejoice in you. But we must see Christ, see him, by close communion with him. You cannot see him by my description. Melchizedek met Abram, and Jesus Christ must meet you; he must stop you suddenly, when you least expect it, and reveal himself to you as he does not to the world. Jacob before wrestling was met by hosts of angels at Mahanaim, but what are these when compared with the Lord himself? There is a high blessing in being met by angels—do not mistake me there—but oh! to be met by the angel of the covenant, the Michael the archangel, to be met by him, ah! what comfort is here! And will he meet me? Will he meet you? Yes, we can answer, he will, for we have met with him. “My eyes have seen the King in his beauty,” many of us can say, and our souls are exceedingly comforted and full of holy joy because we have seen him as Priest and King.
19. The next enquiry is, what did he do for him? He brought him food and wine, precisely setting forth what Jesus does, who brings us his flesh and his blood. Carnal people say, in order to understand Christ’s words, that when you eat bread and drink wine at the Lord’s table, there is his flesh in the bread, or that the bread is transubstantiated into flesh, and the same with the wine; but the spiritual mind understands that these emblems awaken the spiritual powers, and that then the spiritual powers—not the lips and the stomach, but the spiritual powers—do really and spiritually feed upon the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, and so the Word is fulfilled: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, there is no life in you.” I do not know that Christian people feed altogether on doctrine. I know that the truth of God is food, but believers get richer nourishment than even this affords. When I am very gloomy, I like to take down some work upon the high doctrines, God’s sovereignty, election, perseverance, and I receive comfort; but there are other times when I am brought very low, and that kind of food will not suit me. I am obliged then to turn to my Lord himself. There is, I believe, in times of conflict no food which can sustain an immortal soul except the Master Himself—communion with him, a putting of the fingers into the print of the nails, and a thrusting of the hand into the side—this is the sovereign remedy for unbelief, and the best food for faith. His revealed presence is our noblest nutriment. When Christ reveals himself, then all grows calm and peaceful; but until we can get him, we still remain in darkness, and we see no light. The worshipper who came up to the temple could not live upon the brazen laver, nor the golden snuffers, nor even upon the cherubic emblems, he needs to partake with the priests of the lamb offered in sacrifice; and so the true food for the child of God is Jesus Christ himself—not so much ordinances and doctrines, which are only the utensils and the vestments, but Christ himself, the very Christ, made flesh for us, received with joy into our soul, and fed upon until, like Abram, we go on our way rejoicing. That is what the royal priest did for the patriarch.
20. Bear with me patiently while I tell you what Melchizedek said to him. First he blessed him, and then he blessed God, and that is just what we need our Lord to do for us. We want our Lord Jesus Christ first to bless us. “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.” We need a blessing upon our own souls and especially upon our own works. What are our works when we have done them all except futile vanity, until God comes to strengthen us? Beloved, you and I may contend for Christ until we are dumb, but there is not a soul that will see the light or know the truth by our witness by itself; we may go with tender hearts and seek to bring sinners to the cross of Christ, but we shall never bring a sinner unless God’s own arm is revealed. We shall come back like the prophet, saying, “Who has believed our report?” and feeling that the arm of God has not been revealed to men. But when, on the other hand, the possessor of heaven and earth has blessed us, then our earthly substance is blessed and our earthly words are blessed, and then we receive a heavenly blessing; heaven’s rest and peace, heaven’s omnipotence rests upon us, and in the glory of a heaven given strength we go out confident of victory. We need a blessing from Christ. Ask it now, beloved, ask it now you who are weary with last week’s fighting, you who can scarcely endure any longer by reason of your trials and troubles, say to him now, “Melchizedek, bless me! Oh Jesus, bless me now.” Possessor of heaven and earth, do not forget any one of us, your beloved ones, but give us a blessing.
21. Beloved brethren, Melchizedek did not stop there, but he fulfilled another part of his priestly office—he blessed God. Whenever we are singing here, when I am in good spirits, my soul takes wing and wants to fly to heaven; when we all sing with power and force there is a sweetness and grandeur about the song which we do not often encounter; yet I am always conscious that we cannot praise God as he deserves to be, and in this I bless the great Melchizedek that although we cannot bless God as he should be blessed, yet he can. Jesus Christ presents the praises of his saints before God as well as their prayers. He is the Intercessor, and while he has the vials full of sweet odours to present, he also presents the music of our harps; both our offerings come up accepted in the Beloved. Now what do you say, brethren, have you done anything this week that is of good repute? Has God given you any success? Dear sister, have you won any souls for Christ? I know you have. Dear brother, has God blessed you in any witness bearing? Have you felt that God has been with you? Well now, come and lay your honours down at his feet; whatever they may be, put them there , and pray the great Melchizedek to take out of your heart every particle of self-glory and every atom of self-exaltation, and ask him to say for you in a higher sense than you can ever say it, “Blessed be the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, who has delivered my enemies into my hand.” Thus you shall be glad that the great Melchizedek has met you.
22. I have talked like this, but truly one word from the lip of Christ will be worth ten thousand of mine; and if you ever have seen him, you will think me a very amateur when I try to paint him. If today you get as much as ten minutes real fellowship with Jesus, you will wonder how it is, that I, if I know anything about him, could talk in this cold way. Go your way, brethren, and pray that Melchizedek will meet you.
Dedicating Self to God
23. III. Lastly, and very briefly indeed, since our time is gone, when a wrestling believer is favoured with a sight of the great Melchizedek, voluntarily and yet necessarily he makes a new dedication of himself to God. You see Abram does not appear to delay a moment, but he gives to Melchizedek a tithe of all, by which he seemed to say, “I recognize the authority of my superior liege lord, to all that I am, and all that I have.” There is one of our hymns which says—
Hail, Melchizedek divine;
You, great High Priest, shall be mine;
All my powers before you fall—
Take not tithe, but take them all.
And truly our holy faith deserves from us that we should give our all to Christ. I wish that some Christians, however, practised the rule of giving a tenth of their substance to the Lord’s cause. The Lord’s Church need never lack if you had a bag in which you stored up for Christ: when you gave anything, you would not feel it was giving of your own; your left hand would not know what your right hand did, for you would be taking from the Lord’s stock which you had already consecrated to the Lord’s cause. No less than one tenth should be the Lord’s portion, especially with those who have enough to live on; and more than this, I think, should be expected of those who have wealth. But there is no rule binding with iron force upon you, for we are not under law in Christ’s Church, but under grace, and grace will prompt you to do more than law might suggest; but certainly the Christian should acknowledge himself not to be his own, and that he has nothing to retain for his own private account. I pray God if I have a drop of blood in my body which is not his, to let it bleed away; and if there is one hair in my head which is not consecrated to him, I would have it pulled out, for it must be the devil’s drop of blood and the devil’s hair. It belongs to either one or the other: if not to God, then to Satan. No, we must, brethren, have no division of ourselves, not living for this world and for God too. Mark Anthony yoked two lions together, and drove them through the streets of Rome: they do strange things at Rome, and there are many people who can yoke two lions together, and drive towards Rome; but you will never be able to yoke the lion of the tribe of Judah and the lion of the pit together—they are at deadly antagonism, and Christ will not have you for his servants if you seek to serve two masters. I know that any talk of mine here will be in vain, but if, beloved, you should see Christ, and have communion with him, your consecration to him will be a matter of course. I will suppose that this afternoon one of you should sit down in your arm chair, and, as you are sitting there, you will be thinking, “How little I have been giving recently to the cause of Christ! How seldom I have opened my mouth for him!” Perhaps you will think, “I have prospered in the world too, but I really cannot afford it! My expenses are so great!” Suppose the Lord Jesus Christ should come into the room with those pierced hands and bleeding feet—suppose he were to remind you of what he has done for you, how he visited you in your low estate, when your heart was breaking under a sense of sin, you would not then tell him you could not afford to give to his cause. Suppose our Lord Jesus Christ should look you in the face and say to you, “I have done all this for you. What will you do for me?” What would be your answer? Why you would say, “Take it all, my Master, take it all, all that I am, and all that I have shall be for ever yours.” Or, if you felt niggardly—supposing he should say to you, “If you will never ask anything from me, I will never take anything from you.” Would you agree to that? No, but since you still will have immense demands to make upon his liberality, do not cease still to give your whole spirit, soul and body, as a whole burnt offering to God. Just as Abram did before Melchizedek so do in the presence of Christ, acknowledge that you are his, and give yourself to him.
24. My dear brethren, I pray God that this may stir you up to seek a high grade of piety and to live in daily communion with a living Saviour, and he will bless and keep you.
25. But there are some of you who are not like Abram. You as yet have no desire to see Melchizedek. There are some of you who are strangers and afar off. Ah! I may rather compare you to the men of Sodom. Christ has done something for you as Abram did for Sodom. You know it was only for the sake of Lot that he brought them back, but he did bring them all back, and for the sake of Lot gave a respite to them all; although a few years after they had grown so wicked that they were all destroyed. My Master has given a respite to free you all. While his great work was the salvation of his own chosen, yet he has spared you all in the land of the living. Take heed lest you do as the men of Sodom did, for then a more fiery hail, a more terrible destruction must come upon you, since you do not turn aside from your evil ways, nor seek his face. Trust Christ, and you are saved; believe in him and your sins are forgiven; but if you refuse, beware, lest that come upon you which is written in the prophets, “Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish!” The Master now send us away with his benediction. Amen.