A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, September 23, 1866, by C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. (Exodus 17:8)
1. There were two great trials which the children of Israel had to endure in passing onward to the promised rest,—their needs and their enemies; but I must add a third, which sprang from these two by reason of the unbelief of their hearts; that third evil, far worse than the other two, was their sins. Probably, my brethren, you have found out by now that you could contentedly endure your needs, and could courageously contend with your foes, if you were not weakened and hampered by your sins. A man’s worst foes are those of his own household. As for Israel’s needs, I think Israel may be congratulated in having known them; for, suppose they could have brought with them enough provision from Goshen, or could have been supplied by trading purveyors, they would never have been honoured to feed upon the manna which dropped from heaven; and suppose a canal had been dug for them to flow at the edge along the entire road of the march, or that they could have found a succession of wells near by the places where they pitched their tents, then they never would have drunk from that marvellous rock whose flints gushed with water, of which the apostle tells us that it was Christ, or an eminent type of Christ. They were gentlemen commoners upon the bounty of heaven; courtiers fed from the table of the King of kings; they were lifted up to eat angels’ food; they were satisfied with royal dainties. In this light, they are to be congratulated for their needs, for, if they had not known hunger, nor thirst, neither would they eaten have manna, nor would they have drunk the water from the rock. And you, beloved, are much in the same case. The day will come when in clearer light than this, you will thank God for your necessities, and be of the same mind as the apostle, who said, “Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my infirmities, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”; and again, “for when I am weak, then I am strong.” You will thank God that your necessities were the platform for his providence to display its care upon, that the very wilderness was a blessing to you because he prepared a table for you in the midst of it, and might have left you to prepare one for yourself, if it had not been a desert place. As for the enemies which beset the children of Israel, I was about to say they might almost be congratulated on account of them too, for, fierce as they were, yet they could never have had victories if they had not known battles. The foes of Israel were only so many sheaves for Israel’s victorious sword to reap: just as the wild beasts of the wood yield food to the hunter, so were the haters of Israel as a prey to their valiant men. Over every enemy of his people the right hand of the Lord was gloriously exalted. You too, brethren, you will have reason to thank God for all your enemies. If your life were one of perpetual peace, it is clear there could be no triumphs; if there were not campaigns of warfare, there would be no shouts of those who triumph, no trophies to hang up in the halls of memory. Oh if we can be kept from sins, if we can be preserved from their power, we may be thankful for needs, and even thankful for foes when we look at them in the light of the fiery pillar of God’s promised presence. But our sins! our sins! our sins! what shall we do with them? If it were not for the victorious blood by which we conquer, we might lie down in despair; for who among us is, alone and unaided, a match for his sins?
2. This morning we thought of considering the war with Amalek as a typical representation of the experience of God’s people, and our prayer is that we may speak so that those who are greatly troubled and afflicted may derive some comfort from the truth advanced, and that lagging saints may be stimulated to fight the battles of their Master, lest the curse go out against them, “because they did not come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” We shall use the text three ways, first, as a picture of the experience of each individual Christian; secondly, as a representation of the history of any one Christian church; and thirdly, as a very excellent description of the history of the entire church of the living God, from its first day even until its close.
3. I. First, then, we have here THE EXPERIENCE OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN.
Observe, the children of Israel were emancipated from bondage,
and had left Egypt behind, even as you and I have been rescued from
our natural estate and are no longer the servants of sin. They had
been redeemed by blood sprinkled upon the door posts and upon the
lintel, and we too have had redemption applied to our souls, and have
seen that God has looked upon the blood and has passed over us. They
had feasted upon the paschal lamb as we have done, for Jesus has
become to us our food and our drink, and our soul is satisfied with
him. They had been pursued by their enemies, even as we were pursued
by our old sins, but they had seen these furious foes all drowned in
the Red Sea, which they had passed through dryshod; and we, too, have
seen our past sins for ever buried in the Red Sea of atoning blood.
Our iniquities, which threatened to drive us back into the Egypt of
despair, are gone for ever; they sank like lead in the mighty waters,
the depths have covered them—there is not one of them left; Israel
sang a new song upon the other side of the sea; and we too have
rejoiced in God, and like Miriam we have sounded the loud tambourine
of exultation and have danced with holy joy, while our lips have
chanted the hymn of victory—
“Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.”
Many of us are now free from the yoke of sin and Satan, and as the Lord’s freemen we glorify his name. Oh that all of us were in such a happy state!
The children of Israel were probably anticipating ease,
forgetting that the promised land was still many days’ journey beyond
them. Inexperience and childishness made them expect a continuance of
uninterrupted song and feasting, and there was a time when we
indulged the same foolish hopes. We said to ourselves, “Let us be at
peace, for the warfare is over; now we may take our ease. Pharaoh is
drowned, the horses and the chariots have sunk like lead in the
mighty waters; no whips of the taskmaster now, no bricks to make
without straw, no more shall we be trodden down by a cruel people and
worn out with the labours of the brickkiln; with a high hand and a
mighty arm we have been brought out; let us rejoice and be merry, let
us be glad all our days, and dance all through the desert.” That was
the voice of our inexperience and folly; how soon were our budding
hopes nipped by an unexpected frost! for, like Israel, we soon
experienced tribulations. Suddenly there came upon us the thirst
and the hunger which only Heaven’s love could supply; and when we
least dreamed of it, the fierce Amalek of temptation came down like a
wolf on the fold. Young Christian, do not dream that as soon as you
are converted your struggle is over, but conclude that your conflict
has only just begun. Some people look upon regeneration as being the
change of the old nature into a new; experience teaches us that this
is a very false description of the new birth. Conversion and
regeneration do not change the old nature; that still remains the
same; but we have at our new birth infused into us a new nature, a
new principle, and this new principle at once begins a contest with
the old principle; hence the apostle tells us of the old man and of
the new man; he speaks of the flesh lusting against the spirit, and
the spirit striving against the flesh. I do not care what the
doctrinal statement of any man may be upon the subject; I am sure
that the experience of most of us will prove conclusively that there
are two natures within us, that only a complex description can
describe us at all; we find a company of two armies within us, and
the fight goes on, and, if anything, grows hotter every day. We do
trust that the right principle grows stronger, and we hope that
through grace the evil principle is weakened and mortified; but, at
present, it is with most of us a very sharp contest, and if it were
not for divine strength, we might throw down our weapons in
hopelessness. Young Christian, you have begun a life of warfare, rest
assured of that. You would never be told to endure hardness as a good
soldier of Jesus Christ if it were not so. You must not put that
sword up into its scabbard, but rather grind it sharp and hold it
always ready in your hand. Watch constantly, and pray without
ceasing; for, until you get your foot upon the golden pavement of the
New Jerusalem, you must wear a warrior’s harness, and bear a
warrior’s toils. Indeed, dear friends, there was that in the camp of
the children of Israel which ought to have taught them to expect
trouble, for was there not a voice heard among the murmuring host,
“Is the Lord among us or not?” That croaking voice of unbelief
foreboded ill. How could they expect to know peace when they doubted
the God of peace. “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the
wicked’”; and in proportion as the righteous are at all like the
wicked, in that proportion they lose peace. The cry of unbelief in
your heart and mine, when it says, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
ought to warn us that we are not yet in the land of rest, but shall
have to fight with many an enemy before the banner may be furled.
Besides, Israel ought to have remembered that there was an ancient
feud between the children of Esau and the children of Jacob, for had
not Esau been supplanted by his brother? Amalek, Duke Amalek as he
was called, was a descendant of Esau, and treasured up all his
father’s hatred and enmity towards the house of Israel. Did Israel
expect to journey close to Edom and not be attacked? And do you
expect, Christian, that sin shall be all around you and not assault
Is this vain world a friend to grace,
To help you on to God?
If you look for friendship from a sinful world you are grievously mistaken. There is a deadly hereditary feud between the Christian and the powers of darkness. It sprang up in the garden, in the day when God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed,” and it still continues today. You must fight if you would win the crown, and your pathway to the other side of Jordan must be the pathway of an armed crusader, who has to contend for every inch of the way if he is to win it.
6. In proceeding with the narrative we notice that they found opposition from an unexpected quarter. Ignorance may have made them count upon the friendliness of Amalek, for they evidently journeyed at their ease without proper precautions, presuming upon the relationship and peacefulness of the dwellers in the land. It is just where we feel most safe that we should be most cautious. “A man’s foes are those of his own household.” I do not think the Christian has so much to fear from open and avowed enemies as from those deceitful foes who pretend to be his friends. Sin is never so much a Jezebel as when it paints its face with daubs of respectability and patches of innocence. Dubious things are more dangerous than distinctly evil things. The border land between right and wrong is thronged with thieves and robbers; beware of cut throats, you who journey there. Even right things may easily become wrong when they carry away our hearts, and therefore we must guard against their attractions. Many people need not be much afraid of being led into drunkenness and blasphemy, for we are not likely to give way to these grosser evils; but we have far more reason to watch against worldliness and pride, for these are enemies which select the godly as their special object of attack. Take heed to your virtues, Christian, for these, when exaggerated, become your vices; take care of the good things in which you boast, for they may furnish heat for the hatching of the vipers’ eggs of pride and self-satisfaction.
7. Israel was assailed in a quarter which was unguarded because it was unlikely to be attacked. In Deuteronomy 15:17,18, we find that Amalek attacked the rear of the host. Those in the rear must have seemed to themselves to be the most secure, for Pharaoh’s host had been destroyed, and what further was there to fear? The weak and feeble came slowly on, in perfect ease, never so much as suspecting the existence of a foe; the vanguard, I have no doubt, kept well protected, for they knew not what bands might interrupt their onward march, but they thought the rear might be left exposed, and it was there the foe attacked them. Christian man, wherever you do diminish your caution, there, the foe will be upon you. When you say to yourself, “My mountain stands firm”; “I shall never be moved,” concerning such and such a thing, it is there that you are most likely to fall. We are strongest usually when we imagine ourselves weakest because we take the matter to God, and weakest where we dream that we are strongest because we refrain from prayer. It will be observed, I think, in most Christians’ experience that God has left them to see their weakness, where they themselves considered that no weakness could have been perceptible. Let us then set a watch all around, and ask the Lord to be a wall of fire around us, and a glory in the midst.
8. This attack of Amalek was rendered the more dangerous because it was sudden. It seems that Amalek caught them in an ambush, and fell upon them without notice. There was no regular proclamation of war, no pitching of the battle, no sending out of skirmishers and scouts, but the enemy attacked them suddenly like a gang of bandits. Just so will sin do with you and me. If the devil would send me a notice when he means to tempt me, I might readily contend with him and defeat him, but he will never do this. He will not tell you whether or not tomorrow he will tempt you in your business; this is not his way of hunting for his game: “Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.” He will, if possible, take you unawares, and before you can put on your armour his arrows will severely wound you. We are not ignorant of his devices. Well did the Master say, “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Watch!’” And oh! with what vigilance, what holy diligence must you and I watch against the windings and twistings of the old serpent, who will, if possible, bite our heels or insinuate his venom into our hearts.
9. I think I must not omit to say that this attack of Amalek, though designed for the greatest mischief, did not occur without a divine arrangement and overruling. We may be thankful that although Satan selected the most suitable season for himself yet the Lord made his devices of no effect. Amalek attacked them when they were faint and weary, but the manna and the flowing rock soon changed the face of affairs, and the novelty of this gracious supply inspired the host with unusual courage. Fresh from the feast, they had good stomach for the fray, and found congenial occupation for their renewed vigour in hewing down their assailants. Satan may attack us at our weakest point, but God has a way of making us suddenly strong, so that in the end the attack comes at a time when we are most prepared to repel it. Have you not observed this? If your present trial had come at another time you could not have borne it; if your present temptation had presented itself only a day before, you would have fallen a victim to it; but it came just after you had enjoyed such communion with Christ that sin had no influence over you, the charms of Jesus made you blind to all other beauties. You had had your mouth so filled with manna that you were made strong in the strength of God to put to rout the host of your foes. Brother, be always cautious, but be confident in God. Watch against the foe, but be thankful that there is another Watcher who foresees all the devices of the devil, and who will not deliver you into his hand, nor permit you to perish.
10. When the assault was made, the people were commanded to exert themselves. The message was given, “Go, choose out men, and fight with Amalek.” Israel never fought with Egypt. God fought for them, and they held their peace. When we are in our natural state under the bondage of sin, it is of very little use for us to fight against it; the only way of escape from the reigning power of sin is through the precious blood and the working of divine grace. But this was a different case. The children of Israel were not under the power of Amalek—they were free men; and so we are not under the power of sin any longer. The yoke of sin has been broken by God’s grace from off our necks, and now we have to fight not as slaves against a master, but as freemen against a foe. Moses never said to the children of Israel while they were in Egypt, “Go, fight with Pharaoh.” Not at all: it is God’s work to bring us out of Egypt and make us his people, but when we are delivered from bondage, although it is God’s work to help us, we must be active in our cause. Now that we are alive from the dead we must wrestle with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness if we are to overcome. “Go fight,” is the command. Do not many Christians act as if the sin would be driven out of them through their sleeping soundly? Let them be sure that a slumbering spirit is the best friend that sin can find. If your lusts are to be destroyed, they must be cut up root and branch by sheer force of personal exertion through divine grace, they are not to be blown away by languid wishes and sleepy desires. God will not relieve us of our sins as sometimes people have diseased limbs removed while under the influence of chloroform: we shall see our sins die while our minds are thoroughly active against them, and resolutely bent upon their destruction. “Go, fight with Amalek.” Greatly to be deplored is the way in which some Christians say, “Ah, well! it is my besetting sin,” or “It is my natural temperament,” or “It is my constitution.” Shame on you, Christian. What if it is so! Do you mean to say to your Father’s face that you have so great a love for the sin which he hates, that you will harbour it and invent hiding places for it? Why, when a sin does so easily beset you, you must muster your whole force and cry to Heaven for strength that the dangerous foe may be overcome, for one sin harboured in the soul will ruin you; one sin really loved and indulged will become damning evidence against you, and prove that you really do not love the Saviour, for if you did you would hate every false way. We must fight if we would overcome our sins.
11. Spiritual fighting must be conducted on most earnest and prudent principles. They were to choose out men. So we must choose out our ways of contending with sin. The best part of a man should be engaged in warfare with his sins. Certain sins can only be fought by the understanding; we ought then to sit down, and deliberately look at the evil, and learn its wickedness, by deliberately judging and considering its motives and its consequences. Perhaps when we clearly see what the sin is, Mr. Understanding, as Bunyan calls it, may be able to knock its brains out. One particular order of sins are only to be overcome by a speedy flight like that of the chaste Joseph. Sins of the flesh are never to be reasoned or parleyed with; there is no more reasoning with them than with the winds; understanding is perplexed, for lust like a hurricane of sand blinds the eyes. We must flee. It is true valour in such a case to turn the back. “Resist the devil,” says Paul, but he does not say resist lust; he puts it like this—“Flee youthful lusts.” When warring with the legions of unrighteousness we shall need all the best powers of our renewed nature, for the conflict will be stern. Oh! believer, you will need to bring your veterans, your select and choice thoughts into the fight with Amalek; the faith which has endured the storm must face the foe, the love which endures all things must march to the war. It is not child’s play to fight with sin. It needed all a Saviour’s strength to tread it in the winepress when he was here on earth, and it will need all your might and more to overcome it—you will only overcome it indeed through the blood of the Lamb.
12. This makes me notice that although the men of Israel were to fight, and the chosen men were to be selected, yet they were to fight under the command of Joshua, that is, Jesus, the Saviour. There is no fighting sin except under the leadership of Christ. We must fight sin with his weapons, we must see its sinfulness by the light of his sufferings, see its mischief in the sorrows of his death, see its destruction in the triumphs of his resurrection. We must flee to the strong for strength, and seek help where God has laid it, namely, on him who is mighty. When Jesus leads we need not be afraid. Promptly to follow Jesus is to secure a victory. His very name puts his enemies to rout; who can withstand the terrors of his arm?
13. The narrative points out to us that effort alone is not enough. Three men are seen wending their way up the steep sides of the hill, solemnly walking along, as if they had most weighty business at hand. They are seeking a point of advantage, from which to gall the foe with the artillery of prayer. So mighty was the prayer of Moses that all depended upon it. The petitions of Moses discomfited the enemy more than the fighting of Joshua. The edge of Moses’ prayer was more powerful than the edge of Joshua’s sword. It does not matter how loudly Joshua shouts to his men, unless Moses fervently cries to his God. The young soldier would soon have left the field if the old commander had left the prayer closet. Force and fervour, decision and devotion, valour and vehemence, must join their forces, and all will be well. You must wrestle with your sin, but the major part of the wrestling must be done alone in private with God.
14. Prayer, like Moses’, holds up the token of the covenant before the Lord. The rod was the emblem of God’s working with Moses, the symbol of God’s government in Israel. Learn, oh pleading saint, to hold up the promise and the oath of God before him. He cannot deny his own declarations. Hold up the rod of promise, and you will have what you need.
Moses grew weary, and then his friends assisted him. When at any time
your prayer flags, let faith support one hand, and let holy hope
uplift the other, and prayer seating itself upon the stone of Israel,
the rock of our salvation will continue and prevail. Beware of
faintness in devotion; if Moses felt it who can escape? It is far
easier to fight with sin in public, than to pray against it in
private. It is remarked that Joshua never grew weary in the fighting,
but Moses did grow weary in the praying; the more spiritual an
exercise, the more difficult it is for flesh and blood to maintain
it. Let us cry then for special strength, and may the Spirit of God
who helps our infirmities, as he allowed help to Moses, enable us
like him to continue with our hands steady until the going down of
the sun. It is not praying today nor yet tomorrow that will win
life’s battle, it is praying until the going down of the sun. It is
not pleading for a month, and then ceasing supplication, Christian,
it is “until the going down of the sun,” until the evening of life is
over; until you shall come to the rising of a better sun, or to the
land where they need no sun, you must continue to pray.
Long as they live should Christians pray,
For only while they pray they live.
Let us learn then that there is to be action, but there must be supplication. We cannot expect to conquer Amalek without a combination of the two.
16. I will not detain you much longer over this point, only to remark that where holy activity is joined with earnest supplication, the result concerning our sins is absolutely sure—the enemy must be defeated; we shall put our feet upon the necks of all our sins. There is no fear of their overcoming us if we only lay hold on divine strength.
17. And, if we ever overcome sin once, it should be the signal for proclaiming a general war against all sin. The fight and victory over Amalek brought from God’s mouth the solemn declaration that there should be war with Amalek for ever and ever. So it must be with you. Have you mastered one sin? Kill the next, and the next, and the next. Can you curb your temper now? Now strike your pride. Is your pride humbled? Now drive an arrow through the very liver of your sloth. And is your sloth overcome? Now seek, by divine grace, to strike through the neck of the next temptation. The child of Israel must go onward to the total destruction of every Amalekite.
But notice that in the whole business the glory was given to God. No
pillar was erected on that field of Israel’s warfare in commemoration
of Joshua, but an altar as a memorial to Jehovah. That day Israel did
not lift on high the banner of Joshua, and sing of him as of the
See, the conquering hero comes!
Sound the trumpets, beat the drums!
but that day it was said, “Jehovahnissi,” the Lord is our banner, for they ascribed the glory and honour to him whose right hand alone had gained for himself the victory. So must we do in all our successes, for if we overcome a sin and then boast ourselves, we are overcome by sin. If looking back upon the past we say with congratulation, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men are; I thank you for this and that”; but all the while are thinking that we have much more reason to thank ourselves, we show that we are still with the fetters upon our wrists dragged in captivity. I leave the point, hoping that some young Christian may have received a lesson in experience. And yet I fear that we must all learn experience for ourselves, and that what is told to us by others is only an idle tale, I pray that you who are coming up a new generation may not be as your father’s were, a stiffnecked people, but that you may walk before the Lord with greater holiness and strike Amalek with more stern determination than your fathers have done, so that the victory may be to God through you.
19. II. In the second place, the whole narrative may be interpreted AS THE HISTORY OF ANY ONE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
20. I draw a distinction between the general church and any one particular church. In the olden times the churches of our Lord Jesus Christ, though acknowledging one another and recognising their unity, were distinct organisations managing their own affairs. And here I will digress so far as to say, that the only Christian unity which you and I may ever expect to see and to seek after is, not the amalgamation of all churches into one colossal scheme of government, but the spiritual union of all the churches in working for the Lord, each church exercising its discipline within its own bounds, and carrying out Christ’s commands within its own walls, and at the same time recognising all other truly Christian churches as being parts of the one body of Christ. Instead of attempting to destroy all these separate churches in order to create unity, we should build up the walls of each house so that the whole city may be united together. Even the names which describe the varieties of our conscientious convictions are useful, and are only captiously objected to by a party who under the cloak of being non-sectarian are more sectarian than the worst of us could even slanderously be said to be. Suppose that all the livery companies in London should give up their distinctive names, so that there should be no Goldsmiths’ Company, nor Cloth Workers, nor Merchant Tailors, nor Fishmongers, but that all should be called citizens, it would be a wonderful piece of policy and would singularly unite the citizens of London, would it not? We believe that the opposite would be the case. The existence of the separate corporations, each with its particular interests to maintain, but all bound up with the prosperity of the city, helps to create unity; and so the unity of the Saviour’s body is preserved rather than destroyed by each believer carrying out his convictions of the Lord’s will, and associating himself with those who think like him, and wearing the name which describes them. Certain sectaries cry out, “We are called Christians.” “Yes, I say, and are we not too?” Are they brethren? So are we. Are they Christians? So are we. Do they seek to be followers of Christ? So do we. There is the less need for some to parade the name of Christians when they know that they are Christians. Let us try to live out our Christianity rather than emblazon it upon our doorposts.
21. I am not making an unscriptural distinction when I say, first of all, I am going to regard the narrative as a picture of a church, and then afterwards as a picture of the whole church. In any one church there will be, there must be, if it is a church of God, earnest contention for the truth and against error. We, as a church have, I trust been brought up out of Egypt, and are bound together by a common deliverance. We have to fight with Amalek. We are called to fight for the defence of those doctrines which we have learned and which we believe to be the truth as it is in Jesus. We are not merely to hold them as the unfaithful servant wrapped his talent in a napkin, but we are to proclaim what we believe to be true, and, if any contravene, we are to hold our own, or rather, hold the Master’s truth with a firm hand, and not be afraid to contend for it at all risks. Our chief war must always be with sin—with sin in ourselves, with sin in others, with sin everywhere. This is the great point in the Christian’s contention, and from this war the believer must never cease. Attack sin in every place, and for this reason, if for no other, that sin and error will always attack us. In this particular church I know there are various errors that are always falling upon us, and besetting some of the hindmost, the weakest and the feeblest. One opens one’s eyes with astonishment sometimes to see what strange errors people are falling into who should know better; but when you come to remember how far behind they were, and how very weak they were, it is not quite so great a marvel that they should be attacked by the foe. The fact is that in such an age as this, if we do not attack error, error will eat us up; and it comes to this—we must either fight sin, or sin as a fretting moth and a devouring canker will utterly devour us. If there is not an earnest contention for the truth amidst all the church members, there will soon be defections on this side and defections on the other side. Each church should teach its own distinctive principles with a vigorous, earnest, scriptural dogmatism. If we do indeed hold the very truth as it is in Jesus, we must fight for it valiantly, for if we do not fight Amalek, Amalek will certainly fight us, and the hindmost will always be suffering and the weakest go to the wall. It is on behalf of the weaker brethren, who are easily subverted, that we must watch and fight perpetually.
22. To all Christian effort in every church must be added unceasing intercession. The Christian pastor is in some respects comparable to Moses, for he is set apart as a leader in the band of brethren; and as such his business is not only to teach the people but to plead for them with God. I wish that some of our pastors were sustained as they should be by their Aarons and their Hurs. Alas! I know many a fainting brother whose hands are hanging down, who finds an Aaron to pull them lower still, and a Hur to depress his spirits even more. I would take up a mourning, a lamentation, for my brethren who toil in honourable but obscure spheres where cold neglect and chilling indifference are their portion. Alas for others, in the midst of churches torn with schism and polluted with heresy, whose life is one perpetual burden to them. I wish that it were far otherwise with them! I have to thank God, and under God to thank you, that so many of you act the part of Aaron and of Hur, and are willing to hold up the pastor’s hands, and the hands of all my other fellow labourers, the workers for Christ Jesus. But some of you do not do it. Some of you neglect prayer in the closet for the church’s work. I hope you are not neglecting prayer on your own account, but you do not pray as you should for the Lord to advance the interests of truth in the world; you neglect the prayer meetings, and abstain from the weekday means of grace! Brethren, these things ought not to be so. If you cannot be Moses you may be Aaron. If you cannot fight and assist Joshua, you may climb the hill and help Moses. If you can neither teach in the classes or in the Sunday School, nor preach in the streets and so fight, you can at least be much in the closet and much in prayer. Oh the untold benefits that come to a Christian church from the quiet prayerful members! least known on earth but best known in heaven. Let us have both at work. May the Lord Jesus help us to advance from strength to strength in earnest effort of every kind, and may be at the same time be our strength upon the mountain while we draw near to the throne in prayer.
23. III. But lastly, THE HISTORY OF THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IS HERE BEFORE US AS IN A PICTURE.
24. The sacramental host of God’s elect is still warring on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, “Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Though this is the age of the Holy Spirit, yet it is not incorrect to say that the Lord Jesus Christ is still at the head of his people. Listen to the shouts of war! Onward come the bands of priestcraft, cowled (a) monks, and shaven priests, with an allied host of England’s silly clergy arrayed in gaudy vestments and decked out with childish ornaments. A fierce effort is being made to restore the Romish Antichrist to his ancient seat. Now let the people of God stand firmly in their ranks, and let no man’s heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus and the eternal Joshua shall lift his sword, I do not know what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. There never was a day when Protestantism seemed to tremble more in the scales than now. The way to Rome and so the way to hell, is paved (I suppose with good intentions) by those Anglican clergy whose vocation it seems to be to show the longsuffering patience of a Protestant country.
Here we have a national church which has become the jackal for the
lion of Rome, and we greatly need a bold voice and a strong hand to
preach and publish the Old Gospel for which martyrs bled and
confessors died. The Saviour is, by his Spirit, still on earth; let
this cheer us. He is always in the midst of the fight, and therefore
the battle is not doubtful. Meanwhile, what a sweet satisfaction it
is to see our Lord Jesus like a greater Moses upon the hill up there,
prevalently pleading for his people! He is better than Moses, for his
hands never grow feeble; and if the prophetic hand of Jesus should
grow weak, there is his priestly office, like Aaron, to bear up one
hand, and his princely office, like Hur, a prince, to bear up the
other; and so the three together, prophet, priest, and king. He bears
aloft the wonder working rod,—Israel wins the day, and Amalek is
defeated. Oh anxious gazer! do not look at the battle so much below,
for there you shall be enshrouded in smoke and amazed with garments
rolled in blood; but lift your eyes up there where your Saviour lives
and pleads, for while he intercedes the cause of God is safe. Let us
fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that
all depends upon him. Now by the lilies of Christian purity and by
the roses of the Saviour’s atonement, by the roes and by the hinds of
the field, we charge you who are lovers of Jesus to do valiantly in
the Holy War; for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and crown
jewels of your Master, against the prostitute of Rome and the many
headed beast on which she rides, charge you with dauntless courage.
Those who gave your fathers to the flames and cast your ancestors to
rot in the prison, let them know that the spirit of your ancestors
still lives in you; let them see that there is a still seed upon
earth in whose heart truth still finds a tabernacle, men who can
suffer for truth, and can boldly declare it in the midst of foes.
Never become cowardly and lowly; never despair how can you? Christ at
your head like Joshua, and Christ in heaven like Moses; Christ here
with the holy gospel in his hand like a twoedged sword, and Christ
there with his atoning merits like a wonder working rod. Be strong
and very courageous, and by his help who does valiantly you shall yet
send up the shout of Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! for the Lord
God omnipotent reigns. May the Lord bless you all for Jesus’ sake.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon—Exodus 16:1-15 17:1-16]
(a) Cowl: A garment with a hood worn by monks. OED.