A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, February 4, 1866, by C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
You have a mighty arm: your hand is strong, and your right hand is high. (Psalms 89:13)
1. We are about, during the coming week, humbly but earnestly to beseech God for days of refreshing and seasons of revival. It is well for us at the outset distinctly to remind ourselves of the source from where all the strength must come. No genuine revival can ever arise from the flesh. “What is born of the flesh is flesh.” Human excitement at the utmost, and carnal zeal at its extremity, can do nothing towards the real conversion of souls. Here we are taught the lesson, “not by might nor by power.” Disappointments ought to have taught the Church of God this lesson long ago. The many revivals which she has had which have proved to be spurious,—the puffing up of excitement and not the building up of grace, all these should have driven her out of the last relic of her self-confidence, and have made her feel that it is not in herself to do anything in the Lord’s cause without his help. “Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” It is well to be constantly convinced of this. We must have God’s arm laid to the work, or else nothing will be accomplished which will stand the solemn tests of the last great day. Wood, hay, and stubble we may build alone, but gold, silver and precious stones are from the King’s treasury. “Without me you can do nothing,” was the Saviour’s word to his chosen apostles; how much more applicable must it be to us who are “less than the least of all saints!” In vain your holy assemblies, in vain your earnest desires, in vain your passionate addresses, in vain your efforts of a thousand forms: unless God himself shall step out from the hiding place of his power, and set himself a second time to his own glorious work, no good can come from all your toils. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it.”
2. Having reminded ourselves, dear friends, that our great strength lies in the God of Jacob, it is very comforting to notice how great this strength is. There is only one arm for us to rest upon, but blessed is the assurance—“you have a mighty arm.” Oh! if that God upon whom we have entirely to depend were stinted in might, and had a limit to his strength, we might despair. If the answer to the question, “Is the Lord’s arm waxed short?” were the doleful reply, “Yes, he is no longer mighty to save,” then we might give up the work: but stupendous strength is with the Most High, the treasury from which we draw is inexhaustible; we may come to God with the cheering confidence that we cannot possibly ask what it is not in his power to perform. We have the mighty God of Jacob to be our arm every morning and our salvation every night. I desire so to speak of our God as the Almighty Lord that you and I may be strengthened in the work in which we are engaged for his name’s sake.
3. In speaking upon the divine power, I shall have a few words this morning upon the power itself; then a few words upon its manifestations; and then somewhat to close up with upon the lessons to be derived from the power and its developments.
The Power of God
4. I. First, then, a few words about the POWER OF GOD itself, having as my intention the stirring up of believers’ minds to ask and to expect a great display of God’s power.
5. In the first place, God’s power is like himself, self-existent and self-sustained. Power in the creature is like water in the cistern; power in the Creator is like water in the fountain. The creature is the moon, which shines by reflected light; the Creator is the Sun whose light is underived, springing from himself within. Naturally and spiritually this statement holds good. All the power that you and I have to serve God with must first come from him; but he derives no power whatever from us. All our fresh springs are in God, but the rills of our grace do not minister to his fulness. “My goodness does not extend to you.” The mightiest of men add not so much as a shadow of increased power to the Omnipotent one. His sceptre is established by its own omnipotence. He sits on no buttressed throne, and leans on no assisting arm. His courts are not maintained by his courtiers, nor do they borrow their splendour of power from his creatures. He is himself the great central source and originator of all power. We must come then to his footstool, feeling that all must come from him. We must bring nothing but our weakness, nothing but our sense of need, and come to him crying, “Oh God, you are all sufficient in yourself. You do not need us, nor can we contribute anything to you. Now let your ability flow into us, and gird each of us poor weaklings with your might!”
6. In the next place, God’s power is comprehensive, including within itself all the power which resides in all the creatures in the universe. “God has spoken once; twice I have heard this, that power belongs to God.” When the wheels of a machine revolve, there is power in every cog; but all that power originally was in the engine which sets it into action, and in a certain sense is still there; but in a far higher sense all power resides in the Lord, “for in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Whatever power there may be in the mightiest of God’s creatures is still inherent in God himself. So, my brethren, if the Lord shall be pleased to teach some of you how to pray and others how to exhort; if he should gird you with might and send you into the midst of this Church to work spiritual miracles for him, the power will still be his, to be in an instant withdrawn if it so pleases him; and especially withdrawn if you begin to sacrifice to yourself and say, “My own arm has gained this victory for me.” All power resides perpetually and necessarily in the Lord Jehovah. The might which resides in any spiritual agency at this present moment, whether it is in the Book of God or in the ministry of truth, or in prayer, or in whatever else the Church serves the Lord, all that power is still comprehended in the Most High. Come then, beloved, let us all draw near to him, and pray that since all fulness is in himself, he would be pleased to give it to us; and since giving it does not impoverish, but the same strength still remains in him, let us be bold to make great demands upon the divine storehouse.
7. The power of God, I would remind you in the third place, is immutable. Whatever he did of old he is able to repeat now. His arm never did increase in strength; what more could he be than Almighty? It never did decrease; what else can we conceive him to be than God all sufficient? We speak of changing ages, but we must not dream of a changing God. There was the age of gold, and the age of silver, and we mournfully say that we have fallen upon the age of iron; but the God of all ages, like the finest gold, remains most pure and glorious for evermore. Our God is not the God of the past only, but of the present. Do not think of him as the Syrians did, that Jehovah is God of the hills and not the God of the valleys; the era of great men had no other God than he who watches over their humble sons. He is the God of us upon whom the ends of the earth have come. There is no change in the power of the everlasting Father; time and age work no decay in him. His eye has not waxed dim, neither has his natural force abated; he is still the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Mighty God. Let this encourage us then in our earnest entreaties that he would do for us wonders similar to those which he performed for the early Church. Let us plead for Pentecosts, for even mightier works than apostles saw. “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Open your mouths according to the model of the olden times, and sing to the Lord’s arm in your hearts as you sang with your lips just now—
Again thy wonted prowess show,
Be thou made bare again!
8. It is for us to remember also that God’s power is perfectly irresistible in its fulness. We grant that when God exerts very little of his strength, it is with him as it is with a man when he plays with a child; he may allow that child to overcome him. But when God exerts his omnipotence, who, who is there that can withhold his hand? Proud hearts are humbled, hard hearts are broken, iron melts, and rock dissolves. When the Lord visits the host, none of the men of might can find their hands. At your rebuke, oh God of Jacob, both the horses and the chariots are cast into a dead sleep. Let this encourage us—we have only to bestir our God and all things are possible. If we shall only see his goings forth in the sanctuary, there is nothing that by any possibility can thwart the desire of our soul or frustrate our wishes. Only plead with the Most High until you can cry with Luther, “Vici!” we have overcome him, we have conquered in prayer, and you have conquered altogether. Let your cry be heard in the ears of the God of Hosts—“Awaken! put on your strength, oh God! and go out with our hosts to the conflict for the glory of your name”; and if he condescends to answer, nothing can withstand him. This thought ought to comfort those of us who feel our weakness, and think that we can do nothing,—remember his strength, and remember that he can do everything. If you have any relatives for whom you have prayed, and no answer has come, and your own exertions have been mocked at and despised, come again to the Mighty God of Jacob, for he will do his good pleasure, and in answer to your prayers he will send out the blessing. His power is irresistible; lay hold upon it and prevail.
9. Nor will it be bad for me to remind you that this power is entirely independent. I mean that it needs nothing extraneous or beyond itself to enable it to work. This power is independent of place. Do you think that there was any sanctity in the upper room at Jerusalem? Behold this room is quite as sacred as that filled by the Spirit in years gone by. Do not dream that the city of Jerusalem of old, in the days of the Saviour was a more proper theatre for divine working than this is; he can make London rejoice even as he did Jerusalem of old. The divine power is equally independent of time. Do not dream that the ages have changed, so that in this day God cannot do his mighty works. Beloved, if you can conceive of an age that is worse than another, so much the more is it a fit platform for the heavenly energy; the more difficulty, the more room for omnipotence to show itself; there is elbowroom for the great God when there is some great thing in the way, and some great difficulty that he may overturn. When there is a mountain to be thrown into the valley, then there is almighty work to be done; and our covenant God only needs to see work to do for his praying people, and he will shortly do it. God is not dependent upon instruments any more than upon times and places. He who blessed the world by Paul and Peter, can do his good pleasure by his servants now. The Christ of the fishermen is still our Christ. Do not speak of Luther, and Calvin, and Zwingli, as though they were especially powerful in themselves, and therefore accomplished so marvellous a work. Oh, sirs, there are humble men and women among us whom God may just as well bless as those three mighties if it so pleases him. Do not dream that there was something about the Wesleys and Whitfield, which made them the only instruments for evangelising this nation. Oh God Almighty, you can bless even us! and among the thousands of ministers who so far may have ploughed as upon a rock, and laboured in vain, there is no one whom God may not take and make him as a twoedged sword in his hand, to strike through the hearts of his foes. Beloved, I have sometimes prayed, and do often pray, that out of that little band of men whom we have in our own College—some ninety or so—he would find for himself his arrows and fit them to the bow, and shoot them to the utmost ends of the earth. And why not? Unbelief has many mournful reasons, but faith sees none. In our classes there are women, there are men, there are children, upon whom the Lord may pour forth his Spirit, so that once again our sons and our daughters shall prophesy, and our young men shall see visions, and our old men shall dream dreams. We have only to wait upon the Most High, and he will honour us with success; for he can work in any place, in any time, among any people, and with any instruments. Let us come with confidence to his feet, and expect to see him lay bare his mighty arm.
10. This power, I must not forget to say, as a gathering up of the whole, is infinite. Power in the creature must have a limit for the creature itself is finite, but power in the Creator has neither measure nor bound. I am sure, beloved, we treat our God often as though he were like ourselves. We sit down after a defeat or disappointment, and we say we will never try again—we suppose the work allotted to us is impossible to perform. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Why do you limit the Holy One of Israel? God is not a man that he should fail, nor the Son of man that he should suffer defeat. Behold he touches the hills and they tremble; he touches the mountains and they smoke. When he goes out before his people he makes the mountains to skip like rams, and the little hills like lambs, what then can block up his path? You divided the Red Sea of old, oh God, and you broke the dragon’s head in the midst of the many waters, and you can still do according to your will, whoever may hinder. Oh, beloved, if I may only be privileged to lift up your hearts and mine to something like a due comprehension of the infinite power of God, we shall then have come to the threshold of a great blessing. If you believe in the littleness of God you will only ask for little, you will have only little; but enlarge your desires, let your souls be stretched until they become wide as seven heavens, even then you shall not hold the whole of the great God, but you shall be equipped to receive more largely out of his fulness. Ask of him that he would give the heathen to Christ for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession; for the sceptre of Jehovah shall go forth, and the monarchy of Christ shall be extended from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.
11. It would not be right, perhaps, to leave this point without observing concerning this divine power that it is all our own, for we are told that this God is our God for ever and ever. “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Christian, the potency which dwells in Jehovah belongs to you; it is yours to rest upon in holy trust, and yours to stir up in earnest pleading. That little sinew moves the great arm—I mean the sinew of the believer’s prayer. If you can pray, God will work. “To him who believes all things are possible.” It is not, “Can you work, oh God?” but it is, “Can you believe, oh Christian?” You have a mighty arm, oh God, but that arm is your people’s arm; for it is written, “he is their arm every morning, and their salvation every night.” Come then with confidence, you who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice, for this God is our God for ever and ever, and he will help us, yes, he will help us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
The Manifestations of this Power
12. II. Having given utterance to these few words upon his power in itself, I shall direct your attention to THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS POWER, which are quite varied in character and altogether innumerable in multitude.
13. Following the leading of the Psalm rather than the natural order of things, I will remind you of God’s tremendous power in destruction. You have this in the Psalm. “You have broken Rahab in pieces as one who is slain. You have scattered your enemies with your strong hand.” Look back with solemn awe upon the works of God in the overthrow of sin. See the whole earth deluged with destructive floods. “You have a mighty arm, oh God.” You have loosened the gates that shut in the sea. Greater than Samson you have borne away both posts and bar and all, and set free the hosts of waters so that they might overthrow your foes. Up from their cavernous prison house the furious waters leap to desolate the sin polluted world. Noah might have sung as he floated on that shoreless sea, “You have a mighty arm.” Turn your eye to the east, to the well watered plain of Sodom, and see how God’s anger smokes. He comes down to see if it is altogether according to its cry, and when Justice has proven her point, then judgment follows with swift foot. He rains hell’s torments out of heaven upon sinners; fiery hail and brimstone cover the cities of the plain, and its smoke goes up to heaven. “You have a mighty arm.” Let your eye glance along the banks of the Nile, where haughty Pharaoh vaunts himself against the Most High. Remember how he struck the firstborn of Egypt, the chief of all their strength! Let the terrible overthrow of the Red Sea never be forgotten. See how he scattered Amalek as chaff before the wind. See how he drove out the Hivites and the Jebusites, and gave their necks to the feet of his children who were his avengers. Speak to one another, and tell how he struck Philistia, how he made the sons of David cast out their shoe upon Edom, and gave Moab to be the washpot of their feet. Let the name of Sennacherib come up before you and remember how the Lord thrust a bit into his mouth and a hook into his jaws, and made him go back by the way by which he came. Remember Babylon and its heaps; Nineveh, and the owls and the dragons that haunt her ruined walls. Think upon the proud cities of Greece, cast down and destroyed because they worshipped idols; and Rome herself, only living like a widow in her weeds, weeping because God has bereaved her of her glory. “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he has made in the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear asunder, he burns the chariots in the fire.” Who is a God in might to be compared to him?
14. As we survey the works of his power in destruction, let the subject make us grateful. What a marvel that he has not struck us! My soul, remember when you defied him; when you scorned his grace, broke his Sabbaths, and blasphemed his name; yet he who breaks the ships of Tarshish by his strong east wind has not shipwrecked you, but on the sea of life you still sail securely. Oh sinner! remember that this longsuffering will not last for ever. Beware, lest he tears you in pieces and there is no one to deliver you. He is strong to strike, and condemned souls feel that he is so. If I could catch the distant sounds that rise from hell, I think they might be rendered into this one line—“You have a mighty arm!” Oh, how he strikes! Imagination fails to picture the terror of his blows. The day of mercy is over with the condemned, and they writhe in extreme agonies, while with Almighty hand, armed with an iron rod, he strikes, and strikes, and strikes again. “You have a mighty arm.” Oh, bow before him, you who have not loved him; tremble before him. “Kiss the Son, lest he is angry; and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled only a little.” You cannot face it out with him, neither can you escape him. You cannot set yourselves in battle array against the Almighty. Let the thorns set themselves in battle against the fire, but do not attempt to stand against him.
Oh sinners, seek his face
Whose wrath ye cannot bear;
Fly to the sceptre of his grace,
And find salvation there.
Looking at this part of the subject, here is a very strong argument for the people of God to stir them up to pray. The fearful nature of the sinner’s doom should arouse us to vehement and abiding earnestness. Must we not plead with God when we think of our fellow creatures who are liable to experience the terror of the Almighty’s arm? Will you not cry, you who have hearts not altogether turned to stone? Will you not plead with all your hearts, you who have any loving tenderness and generous pity within you? Will you not cry aloud and without sparing, that he would be pleased to give men good reason to see their danger, and turn them to himself, so that they may be washed in the Saviour’s blood, and escape the terrible wrath due to their iniquities?
15. Turning from the subject, the Psalm reminds us of the manifestation of God’s power in creation. “The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours: as for the world and its fulness, you have founded them. You have created the north and the south.” Now, beloved, it is well to remember the mighty power of God in creation. Man needs something to work with: give him material, and with cunning instruments immediately he makes for himself a vessel; but God began with nothing; and by his word alone out of nothing made all things. He used no instrument except his own word; “He spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Darkness and chaos lay in the way before him, but these soon gave place to the excellence of his might when he said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and all their hosts.” He garnished the heavens with the crooked serpent and the bear, and led out Arcturus with his sons. How rapid was that work, and yet how perfect, how gloriously complete! Well might “the morning stars sing together, and the sons of God shout for joy!” Now, Christian, I want you to draw living water out of this well. The God who in the old creation did all this, can he not work today? What if in the human heart there is nothing to help him, he made the world out of nothing, can he not make new creatures without the aid of human will? Even out of these stones, can he not raise up children to Abraham? His word fashioned the creation of old, and his word can still work marvels. Spoken by whomever he pleases to send, his word shall be as potent now as in primeval days. There may be darkness and confusion in the sinner’s soul; a word shall remove all, and swift and quick, requiring not even six days. God can make new creatures in this house of prayer and throughout this city. The Lord has only to will it with his omnipotent will, and the sinner becomes a saint, and the most rebellious throw down their weapons. Oh let creation encourage you to expect a new creation! The old creation had no blood upon it to plead with God to work, but we have the blood of Jesus to be our plea when we come before him with regard to the new creation, and we may cry, “Oh God, since you have given your dear Son to lay the foundations of this new earth and these new heavens, wherein righteousness dwells, come and build up your Church, and complete the last and noblest work of your hands.”
16. Again, God’s power is revealed, dear friends, to our joy, in works of sustaining as well as of creation. The next stanza of the Psalm seems to hint at that:—“Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in your name.” That is to say, when the showers come falling upon Tabor and Hermon, they send out the perfume of their flowers and produce the abundance for the flocks. Now, beloved, God’s power has been seen, I am sure, not only in holding up the world, but in preserving his Church in the world all these years. He would be thought to be a mighty man who held up the monument of London on the palm of his hand; but you bear up, oh God, the pillars of the heavens; and he who should take up St. Paul’s and turn it uppermost as though it were only a cup in his hand would be exceedingly mighty; but you take up the isles as a very little thing. What must be the power of God in sustaining and supporting all worlds? But as I have said, the spiritual power which preserves the spark of truth in the midst of a sea of error is equally great; to keep his sheep alive in the midst of wolves is equally marvellous. The mighty arm of God has been conspicuous in supporting his Church in years gone by. How the Lord has been in that gallant vessel! Never was there a barque more tempest tossed than she! No voyage was more dangerous than hers! She has tracked a narrow channel between threatening rocks and hidden quicksands. As for her crew, they have been a feeble folk, very little able to cope with boisterous elements, and furious tempests. Oftentimes the good vessel of the Church has mounted up to heaven upon the crown of an outrageous billow, and immediately has gone down again into the depths of a yawning sea, while her sailors have reeled like drunken men, staggering to and fro, being at their wits’ end; but they have cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he who was strong to stir up the deep from its very bottom and make it boil like a pot, has been equally strong to speak the word and still the raving of its waves. Let us then be of good comfort. Why should not God bless and help his well beloved Church now? Why should he not make her in these peaceful days to be a Beautiful Palace for himself to live in? For the fair edification of his Church new converts are needed. There can be no building up of her walls except by the quarrying of fresh stones. Oh God, we have confidence in you, you will help us. Your hand is strong, you have a mighty arm! Oh come, for the sustaining and increase of your Church, even in this our day!
17. But, beloved, the most striking manifestation of divine power is found in its fourth form, namely, in works of redemption. Typical of these was the great redeeming work at the Red Sea, and hence the song of Moses is joined with the song of the Lamb; for it was by Moses’ rod that God brought out the hosts of his beloved, and in mightier fashion and to a nobler tune shall the elect sing when they have been redeemed from all their enemies. Remember, dear friends of the mighty arm of God in working out the means of our salvation. That was no light labour, which Jesus undertook. Hercules cleanses the Augean stable,1 says the fable, but what an Augean stable was this world! Yet Christ will purge it; he is purging it, and did purge it by his death. This Aceldama shall yet become an Elysium;2 the field of blood shall be transformed into a garden of delights. Christ came to bear a load upon his shoulder which made the burden of Atlas look like nothing. Atlas, according to the heathen mythology, bore the world between his shoulders, but Jesus bears the world’s sin, and that is more. Can you see him there in the garden? Great drops of sweat prove what a tremendous toil he has undertaken. Do you see him on the cross? Not a bone is broken, but every bone is dislocated, to prove how great the labour, but how much greater still the strength which achieved the whole. Oh Lord Jesus! when we see that you have burst the gates of death, that you have trodden on the neck of sin, that you have broken the head of Satan, that you have led captives captive, and opened the gates of heaven to all your people, we may indeed sing, “You have a mighty arm.”
18. Just now we have most to do with the application of this redemption by the Spirit of God, for it is that concerning which we pray for. We have no reason to ask our Lord Jesus to finish the work of redemption, for he has completed it; on the tree he said, “It is finished.” It is its application which concerns our souls. And, beloved in the faith, it is a great joy to us to know that in bringing souls to Christ by the Holy Spirit, the omnipotence of God is very graciously displayed.
The Lessons from the Whole
III. Let us just a minute or two think of some sure signs of this, and this shall furnish us with the third point, namely, THE LESSONS FROM THE WHOLE. There have been given in the past very wonderful revelations of divine favour. Churches have grown very lukewarm, ministers very dull, doctrines have become unsound, the hearts of God’s people have failed, the faithful have almost died out; suddenly God has raised up some one man, perhaps some half dozen; and the face of the Church was changed from languor to energy. These men only struck the spark, and the flame flew over all lands. The Reformation was a marvellous type of genuine revivals, God given revivals which have been frequent in all times. In England we have had them, in America they have been abundant. Ireland has not been without them. In the darkest day when everyone said the cause of religion was growing hopeless, then the great lover of the Church has appeared. Have you never read the story of Livingstone preaching in a heavy shower of rain, outside the church of Shotts, to the multitude of people standing there, who would not stir from the hearing of the Word? Or have you not heard the story of Whitfield’s mighty preaching, when the people moved to and fro, as the grain is moved by the wind in summer, and at last fell down beneath the Word as the sheaves fall before the reaper’s scythe? Why may we not see all this again? Why not? And why not greater things than these? What hinders except our unbelief? Oh God, “You have a mighty arm.” Tens of thousands beneath one ministry have been made to feel the power of the cross, and why not again? Let us proclaim a crusade, let us gather together in prayer, and besiege the throne, and we shall see again a revival that shall make the age glad.
19. God has proven the power of his arm in the people whom he has saved. Saul of Tarsus seemed to be a very hard case, but the light from heaven, and the voice, which gently upbraided, had power over Saul, and he became one of the ablest of God’s servants. There is no heart so hard that God’s hammer cannot dash it to pieces. Let us never despair, while we can say of our God, “You have a mighty arm.” Beloved, if there should happen to come within these walls, at any time, some of the worst of men, we must not think that God will not bless them. Oh no; “You have a mighty arm.” Lord, here is a great and hard rock; now wield your great hammer, and the sparks shall fly, and the flint stone shall be broken into pieces. Quarry your own stones, oh God, and make them fit for your temple, for “you have a mighty arm.”
20. This is seen sometimes in the number converted. Three thousand, in one day, under Peter’s sermon; why not three thousand again? Why not thirty thousand? Why not three hundred thousand in a day? There is nothing too great for us to ask for, or for God to grant. He could, if he wished, turn the hearts of men, as he turns the rivers by his foot.
21. This might has been revealed in the instruments, which the Lord has employed. He has taken the base things and the despised, to make them the tools of his power, and we have then said, “You have a mighty arm” to do such wonders by such puny things.
22. Now, beloved, when I remember the past in these various signs of divine strength, I wish I had time to encourage your hearts to expect great things from God. We are not constrained in him, certainly. You will be constrained in your own heart, if you are constrained at all; and I do pray my mighty Master that he may not allow this to be, but give us large expectations, so that we may have large realisations.
23. There is a friend here who says, “I have been praying very long to this mighty God for the conversion of one who lies very near my heart, and I cannot get an answer.” No, beloved, it may be that God has not yet exerted his power; it is certain he has not, or your friend would be healed. There may have been a reason why the Lord would not work, namely, because you were not prepared for so great a blessing, and perhaps, had he honoured you to be the means of your friend’s conversion you would have grown proud. If you yourself now feel your own utter powerlessness, now will be the time for God to work. The reason for the delay may now have gone. Certainly the fact that God has not answered you, is no reason why he should not ultimately give you your desire. If he has delayed a little time, remember he never is too late, and certainly never forgets in the end. He may delay, but he cannot deny. Has your friend become worse and worse? Well, then, rampant sin often stirs God up. It is time for you to work, Lord, for they make void your law! I look upon the present age with very great comfort. Beloved, there never was a time in which Popery was so, I was about to say, omnipresent everywhere: it is working everywhere, openly and by stealth. The Church of England has become thoroughly putrid with Puseyism.3 Infidelity has grown very bold. Let all these powers of evil be developed and work their will, for good will come out of it in the end. All these provocations will arouse our God. I thought within myself, when turning over these matters and seeing the signs of a breaking out of the old moderatism in Scotland, “Ah, Lord! you have not answered your friends, perhaps you will hear your foes; and if your children’s prayers have not provoked you to bestir yourself, perhaps the harsh words of your enemies will do it.” It is a good thing for Zion when her enemies begin to curse and to lift themselves up against God, for then he will take up his own quarrel. Let them throw down the gauntlet, and God will take it up; and we know, when he does come out from his resting place, the victory is sure. It is for us, however, to cry to him, and not spare until he proves his cause to be his own by the potency which he puts into it. Let us, then, discard our despondencies and be of good courage, for his hand is strong and his right hand is high.
Lord, when iniquities abound,
And blasphemies grow bold,
When faith is hardly to he found,
And love is waxing cold;
Is not thy chariot hastening on?
Hast thou not given this sign?
May we not trust and live upon
A promise so divine?
24. Beloved, I am encouraged to expect the visitation of grace among us for these reasons:—It must be for God’s glory to save souls; there cannot be two opinions about it. Will he not therefore do it? Secondly, It must be due to Christ that souls should be saved. He cannot have seen all of the travail of his soul yet; I am sure he is not satisfied yet; he is to have many more yet. And shall he not have his seed and see his children? We can plead the blood, and that is a prevalent argument with the Most High. I look upon our prayers as tokens for good. Some of us can say we came up here with prayer, and our souls have been exercised during the week with groanings and longings towards the mighty God of Jacob, that he would bless this congregation, and bless the world. This, too, is a token for good. Our past history comforts me in cheering hope. “The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us.” Who would have thought beforehand that the Lord would bless us as he has done? It is now twelve years and more since I first came up to this great city, a stripling. With what trembling did I come! You were only very few and feeble, but still there was the true life lingering among you, and soon the blessing came. You remember our severe trials and troubles, when we went through fire and through water, and men rode over our heads; but our God has brought us out into a wealthy place. This very house is itself a monument of what God can do. We were poor and feeble folk and yet this house was built to his praise; and he has filled it, and kept it full. Where else has he been pleased to gather the multitudes year after year, with never failing, never flagging interest and earnestness? Where else has he been pleased to add to the Church by hundreds in the year, until the only difficulty is the time to see the enquirers, and to hear their confession of faith? In what other Church have there been four hundred and fifty souls added to the fellowship in one year? Where else has the baptismal pool been stirred with such a multitude of souls immersed into a profession of the Lord Jesus Christ? We do not say this, we trust we do not, with so much as a single grain of sacrificing to self, for what were we, and what was our father’s house, that he should have brought us so far? But we urge you to regard the past as a type of the future. Oh, do not retreat, you men of prayer! Do not fail now since God is still your arm! You carry bows, do not turn back in the day of battle! You have the trophies of past victories before your eyes! Now for a mighty attack upon the mercy seat, so that you may win power to overcome the gates of hell! Let us be vehement—violent I was about to say; for “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Let us cannonade the gate of heaven! Let us rise up, each man and each woman, every soul that has power, and let us cry to the mighty God, so that he would be pleased to give us such a blessing that we shall not have room enough to receive it. It must come, only be ready for it. It will come; it comes even now! Thank God! Take courage! Be on your watchtower! and may the Lord bless us for his name’s sake. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon—Psalms 89]