A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 20, 1867, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Do not let your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)
1. The disciples had been like lambs, carried in the warm bosom of a loving Shepherd. They were now about to be left by him, and would hear the howlings of the wolves, and endure the terrors of the snowstorm. They had been like tender plants preserved in a hothouse, a warm and genial atmosphere had always surrounded them; they were now to endure the wintry world with its nipping frosts, and so it was to be proven whether or not they had an inward vitality which could exist when outward protection was withdrawn. Their Master, their Head, was to be taken from them; well might they cry with Elisha, “My Father, my Father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” We too, dear friends, although we have not enjoyed perhaps so entire an immunity as did the apostles, were at one time very graciously shielded from trouble; we had a summertime of joy and an autumn of peace, far other than this present winter of our discontent. It frequently happens that after conversion God, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, gives to the weaklings of the flock a period of repose, during which they rejoice with David, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters”; but for all of us there will come a time of trouble similar to that sorrowful occasion which led the Saviour to utter these memorable heart cheering words. If our conscious communion with Jesus should not be interrupted, yet some other form of tribulation awaits us, for the testimony of earth’s poet, that “man is made to mourn,” is well borne out by the inspired declaration, “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.” We must not expect that we shall be exceptions to the general lot of our race; there is no discharge in this war, we must all be conscripts in the armies of grief. We too shall do battle with strong temptations and feel the wounds of adversity. Albeit that bark so recently launched upon a glassy sea has all her streamers flying, and rejoices in a favourable wind, let her captain remember that the sea is treacherous, that winds are variable, and that the stoutest vessel may find it more than difficult to outride a hurricane. I rejoice to see the courage of that young man who has only just joined the army of the church militant, and is buckling on the glittering armour of the faith; as yet there are no dents and bruises on that fair helmet and burnished breastplate, but let the wearer count on blows, and bruises, and blood stains; indeed, let him rejoice if he endures hardness as a good soldier, for without the fight where would the victory be? Brethren in our Lord Jesus, without due trial where would our experience be, and without the experience where would the holy increase of our faith be, and the joyful triumph of our love through the revealed power of Christ? We must expect, then, to walk with our Lord to the gates of Gethsemane, both his and ours; we must expect to cross the Kidron Brook in company with our Master, and it will be well if we hear him say to us as he did to his disciples on that eventful night, “Do not let your hearts be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.”
2. My brethren, some of us live in the midst of trouble at this very hour. We do not remember any period more dark with portents of evil than the present watch of earth’s long night. Few events have occurred recently to cheer the general gloom. Our hopeful spirit has been accustomed to say, that all things considered, there are no times like the present times; query, whether any times have been more vexatious and troublesome, than those which just now are passing over our head. The political atmosphere is far from being clear, indeed, it is thick and heavy with death damps of mutual distrust, which bring no increase to England’s greatness, but greatly the opposite. There are those who think that our trade, especially in its more speculative department, has become thoroughly rotten; and one thing is quite certain, that many well known infamous transactions have sapped the foundations of credit, and stained our national honour. Is all England bankrupt, and our wealth a sham? Let us hope not. But who can see without alarm the great portion of our trade which is going from us through the folly of the many who combine to regulate what ought to be left perfectly free? If our trade continues much longer to depart from us, we shall become a generation of beggars, who will deserve no pity because we brought our poverty upon ourselves. There are, we fear, dark days coming upon this land; in fact, the dark days are come; for in no year of the last twenty has there been, brethren, such deep and wide spread distress in London as at the present moment. I am far from endorsing all the fears of the timid, yet I do see much ground for pleading earnestly with God to send to our rulers political wisdom to end the bitter disputes of class with class, and to our whole nation grace to repent of its many sins so that the chastening rod may be withdrawn.
3. Apart from these, we each have a share of home trials. Is there one here who is happy enough wholly to escape from the troubles of the hearth? Some have the wolf at the door, scarcity of food just now is felt in the houses of many a Christian; some of you are compelled to eat your food with carefulness, and go to your God in the morning and ask him to provide for you your daily food, and repeat that prayer with more meaning than usual, for just now God is making us to feel that he can break the staff of bread and send a famine in the land, if he so wills it. Many who are not altogether poor are, nevertheless, in sorrow, for reverses in business have, during the last few months, brought the affairs of many of the Lord’s people into a very perilous state, so that they can only troubled in spirit. Vexations abound and many a path is strewn with thorns. If this is not the form of our trouble, sickness may be raging where penury has not entered. Beyond all these there may be afflictions which it were not well to mention—griefs which must be carried by the mother alone, trials which the father alone must bear, or sorrows in which no one but the daughter can share. We all have our omer full of trials, day by day this bitter manna falls around the camp.
4. Trials arising from the church of God are many, and we add, that to the genuine Christian they are as heavy as any which he has to bear. I am sure, to those of us who have to look upon the church with the anxious eye of loving shepherds, to those of us who are set by God for the guidance and rule of his people, there are troubles enough, and more than enough, to bow us to the earth. In the best ordered church, such as this is and long has been, it must needs be that offences come. Sometimes it is a jealousy between brethren; at another time a strife between sisters; sometimes it is this one who has fallen into gross sin (God forgive these, who have pierced us through with many sorrows!) and another time it is a gradual backsliding which the pastor can detect, but which the subject of it cannot discern. Sometimes it is a heresy, which, springing up, troubles us; at another time it is a slander, which, like a deadly serpent, creeps through the grass. I have had little enough to complain about in these respects, but still such things are with us, even with us, and we must not consider them strange; as though some strange thing had happened to us. While men are imperfect there will be sins among the best of them, which will cause sorrow both to themselves and to those of the Lord’s people who are in fellowship with them.
Worst of all there are soul troubles. God save you from these. Oh the
grief of being conscious of having fallen from high places of
enjoyment, conscious of having wasted opportunities for eminent
usefulness, conscious of having been lax in prayer, of having been
negligent in study, of having been—alas! that we should have to add
it—unguarded in word and act! Ah! friends, when the soul feels all
this, and cannot get to the blood of sprinkling as it would, cannot
return to the light of God’s countenance as it would desire, it is
trouble indeed! It is terrible to be compelled to sit and sing
Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and his Word?
6. But my tale is all too long. It is clear that this mortal life has troubles enough. Suppose that these should meet, and that the man as a patriot is oppressed with the ills of his country, as a father and a husband is depressed with the cares of home, as a Christian afflicted with the troubles in the church, and as a saint made to walk heavily before the Lord because of inward afflictions: “why then he is in a sorry plight,” you say. Indeed he is; but, blessed be God, he is in a plight in which the words of the text are still applicable to him. “Do not let your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.”
7. Ceasing from this dolorous prelude, let us observe, that the advice of the text is very timely and wise; and, secondly, let us notice that the advice of the text is practical; it is not given to us to mock us, we must try to carry it out; and lastly, and perhaps that last may yield us good cheer, the advice of the text is very precious.
8. I. First, then, THE ADVICE OF THE TEXT IS VERY TIMELY AND WISE. There is no need to say, “Do not let your heart be troubled,” when you are not in affliction. When all things go well with you, you will need another caution—“Do not let your heart be exalted above measure: if riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.” The word, “Let not your heart be troubled,” is timely, and it is wise; a few minutes’ thought will lead you to see it. It is the easiest thing in the world in times of difficulty to let the heart be troubled; it is very natural for us to give up and drift with the stream, to feel that it is of no use “taking arms against” such “a sea of trouble,” but that it is better to lie passive and to say, “If one must be ruined, let it be so.” Despairing idleness is easy enough, especially to evil, rebellious spirits, who are willing enough to get into further mischief so that they may have an excuse to blame God all the more, against whose providence they have quarrelled. Our Lord will not have us be so rebellious.
9. He asks us to pluck up heart and be of good courage in the worst possible condition, and here is the wisdom of his advice, namely, that a troubled heart will not help us in our difficulties or out of them. It has never been perceived in time of drought that lamentations have brought showers of rain, or that in seasons of frost, doubtings, fears, and discouragement’s, have produced a thaw. We have never heard of a man whose business was declining, who managed to multiply the number of his customers by unbelief in God. I do not remember reading of a person whose wife or child was sick, who discovered any miraculous healing power in rebellion against the Most High. It is a dark night, but the darkness of your heart will not light a candle for you. It is a terrible tempest, but to quench the fires of comfort and open the doors to admit the howling winds into the chambers of your spirit will not stop the storm. No good comes out of fretful, petulant, unbelieving heart trouble. This lion yields no honey. If it would help you, you might reasonably sit down and weep until the tears had washed away your woe. If it were really to some practical benefit to be suspicious of God and distrustful of Providence, why then you might have a shadow of excuse; but just as this is a mine out of which no one ever dug any silver, just as this is a fishery out of which the diver never brought up a pearl, so we would say, “Renounce what cannot be of service to you; for just as it can do no good, so it is certain that it does much mischief.”
A doubting, fretful spirit takes from us the joys we have. You do
not have all you could wish, but you have still more than you
deserve. Your circumstances are not what they might be, but still
they are not even now as bad as the circumstances of some others.
Your unbelief makes you forget that you still retain your health even
if poverty oppresses you; or that if both health and abundance have
departed, you are a child of God, and your name is not blotted out
from the roll of the chosen. Why, man, there are flowers that bloom
in winter, if we only have grace to see them. Never was there a night
of the soul so dark but what some lone star of hope might be
discerned, and never a spiritual tempest so tremendous but what there
was a haven into which the soul could put if it had only enough
confidence in God to make a run for it. Rest assured that although
you have fallen very low, you might have fallen lower if it were not
that underneath are the everlasting arms. A doubting, distrustful
spirit will wither the few blossoms which remain upon your bough, and
if half the wells are frozen by affliction, unbelief will freeze the
other half by its despondency. Brother, you will win no good, but you
may get incalculable mischief by a troubled heart; it is a root which
bears no fruit except wormwood. A troubled heart makes what is bad
worse. It magnifies, aggravates, caricatures, misrepresents. If
only an ordinary foe is in your way, a troubled heart makes him swell
into a giant. “We were like grasshoppers in their sight,” said the
ten evil spies, “yes, and we were only like grasshoppers in our own
sight when we saw them.” But it was not so. No doubt the men were
very tall, but they were not so tall after all as to make an ordinary
six foot man look like a grasshopper. Their fears made them
grasshoppers by first making them fools. If they had possessed only
ordinary courage they would have been men, but being cowardly
they were reduced to grasshoppers. After all, what is an extra three,
four, or five feet of flesh to a man? Is not the bravest soul the
tallest? If he of shorter stature is but nimble and courageous, he
will have the best of it; little David made short work of great
Goliath. Yet it is so; unbelief makes our difficulties to be most
gigantic, and then it leads us to suppose that never a soul had such
difficulties before, and so we egotistically lament, “I am the man
who has seen affliction”; we claim to be peers in the realm of
misery, if not the emperors of the kingdom of grief. Yet it is not
so. Why? What ails you? The headache is excruciating! Well, it is bad
enough, but what would you say if you had seven such aches at once,
and cold and nakedness to reinforce them! The twitches of rheumatism
are horrible! I can very well endorse that statement! But what then?
Why there have been men who have lived with such tortures thrice told
all their lives, like Baxter, who could tell all his bones because
each one had made itself heard by its own particular pang. I know
that you and I often suffer under depression of spirit and physical
pain, but what is our complaint compared with the diseases of Calvin,
the man who preached at every daybreak to the students in the
cathedral, and worked on until long past midnight, and was all the
while a mass of disease, a complicated agony? You are poor! ah yes!
But you have our own room, scanty as it is, and there are hundreds in
the workhouse who find sorry comfort there. It is true you have to
work hard! indeed! but think of the Huguenot galley slave in the old
times, who for the love for Christ was bound with chains to the oar,
and scarcely knew rest day nor night. Think of the sufferings of the
martyrs of Smithfield, or of the saints who rotted in their prisons.
Above all, let your eye turn to the great Apostle and High priest of
your profession, and “consider him who endured such opposition from
sinners against himself, lest you be weary and faint in your mind.”
His way was much rougher
And darker than mine,
Did Christ, my Lord, suffer,
And shall I repine?
Yet this is the habit of unbelief to draw our picture in the blackest possible colours, to tell us that the road is unusually rough and utterly impassable, that the storm is such a tornado as never blew before, and that our name will be down in the registry of wrecks, and that it is impossible that we should ever reach the haven.
11. Moreover, a troubled heart is most dishonouring to God. It makes the Christian think very harshly of his tender heavenly Friend; it leads him to suspect eternal faithfulness, and to doubt unchangeable love. Is this a little thing? It breathes into the Christian a proud rebellious spirit. He judges his Judge, and misjudges. He has not learned Job’s philosophy; he cannot say, “Shall we receive good from the hand of the Lord, and shall we not also receive evil? The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; and blessed be the name of the Lord.” Inward distress makes the humble, meek, teachable child of God to become a wilful, wicked, rebellious offender in spirit. Is this a little thing? And meanwhile, it makes the family and the outsiders who know the Christian to doubt the reality of those truths of which the Christian used to boast in his brighter days. The enemy suggests to them, “You see these Christian people are no better sustained than others, the props which they leaned upon when they did not need them are of no use to them now that they do require them.” “See,” says the fiend, “they are as petulant, as unbelieving, and as rebellious as the rest of mankind; it is all a sham, a piece of enthusiasm which will not endure an ordinary trial.” Is this a small matter? Surely there are mouths enough to revile the throne of God, there are lips enough to utter blasphemy against him without his own dear children turning against him because he frowns upon them. Surely they should be bowed to the earth at the mere suspicion that they could do such a thing, and cry to God to save them from a troubled heart lest they should rebel against him.
I feel with regard to the Christian church that the truth which I am
endeavouring to bring forward is above all things essential. The
mischief of the Christian church at large is a lack of holy
confidence in God. The reason why we have had as a church, I believe,
unprecedented prosperity has been that on the whole we have been a
courageous, hopeful, and joyous body of Christian people who have
believed in our own principles most intensely, and have endeavoured
to propagate them with the most vehement earnestness. Now I can
suppose the devil coming in among us, and endeavouring to dishearten
us by this or that supposed failure or difficulty. “Oh,” he says,
“will you ever win the victory?” See! sin still abounds
notwithstanding all the preaching and all the praying. Do not the
jails stay full? Do you see any great moral change made after all?
Surely you will not make the advances you expected; you may as well
give it up. Indeed! and when once an army can be demoralized by a
lack of spirit, when once the British soldier can be assured that he
cannot win the day, that even at the push of the bayonet nothing can
await him but defeat, then the rational conclusion he draws is that
every man had better take care of himself, and take to his heels and
flee to his home. But oh, if we can feel that the victory is not
precarious nor even doubtful but absolutely certain, and if each one
of us can rest assured that the Lord of hosts is with us, that the
God of Jacob is our refuge, that the most discouraging circumstances
which can possibly occur are only mere incidents in the great
struggle, mere eddies in the mighty current that is bearing
everything before it; if we can only feel that sooner should heaven
and earth pass away than God’s promise be broken, I say, if we can
keep our courage up at all times, if from the youngest of us who have
recently joined with the venerable veterans who have for years fought
at our side, we can feel that we must win, that the purposes of God
must be fulfilled, that the kingdoms of this world must become the
kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, then we shall see bright and
glorious things. Some of you grow discouraged because you have tried
in the Sunday School, and you have seen no conversions in your class,
and you want to sneak away among the baggage; others of you have
tried to preach in the streets and you did not get along, and you
feel half inclined not to do anything more. Is this right? Some of
you have not felt as happy with other Christian people as you would
like to be; you do not think others respect you quite up to the mark
that you have marked for yourselves on your thermometer of dignity,
and you are inclined to run away. Is this right? Now I will boldly
say, “Those of you who are inclined to run, let them, for our
resolution is to stand firm. Those who are afraid, let them go to
their homes, for our eye is on the battle and the crown. Those of you
who cannot bear a little roughness and cannot fight for Christ, I had
almost said, we shall be better without your cowardly spirits, but I
would rather pray for you, so that you may pluck up heart and cry
with holy boldness, ‘Nothing shall discourage us.’” If all the demons
in hell should appear visibly before us, and show their teeth with
flame pouring from their mouths as from ten thousand ovens, yet as
long as the Lord of hosts lives we will not fear, but lift up our
banners and laugh our enemies to scorn.
We will in life and death
His steadfast truth declare,
And publish with our latest breath
His love and guardian care.
13. There is a great deal more to say, but we cannot say it; perhaps you will think it over, and perhaps you will perceive that of all the mischief’s that might happen to a good man, it is certainly one of the greatest to let his heart be troubled; and that of all the good things that belong to a Christian soldier, a bold heart and confidence in God are not the least. As long as we do not lose heart we have not lost the day; but if confidence in God is departed, then the floods have burst into the vessel, and what can save it? What indeed, except that eternal love which comes in to the rescue even at our extremity?
14. II. In the second place, THE ADVICE THAT IS GIVEN IS PRACTICAL: it can be carried out. “Do not let your heart be troubled.” “Oh,” someone says, “that is very easy to say, but very hard to do.” Here is a man who has fallen into a deep ditch, and you lean over the bank and say to him, “Do not be troubled about it.” “Ah,” he says, “that is very easy for you to say when standing up there, but how am I to be at ease while up to my neck in mire?” There is a noble ship stranded, and liable to be broken up by the breakers, and we speak from a trumpet and say to the mariners on board, “Do not be alarmed.” “Oh,” they say, “very likely not, when every timber is breaking, and the vessel is going to pieces!” But when he who speaks is full of love, pity, and might, and has it in his own power to make his advice become prophetic of deliverance, we need not raise difficulties, but we may conclude that if Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled,” our heart need not be troubled. There is a way of keeping the heart out of trouble, and the Saviour prescribes the method. First, he indicates that our resort must be to faith. If in your worst times you wish to keep your head above water, the life preserver must be faith. Now, Christian, do you not know this? In the olden times how were men kept from perishing except by faith? Read that mighty chapter in the Hebrews, and see what faith did—how believers overcame armies, put to flight the army of aliens, quenched the violence of fire, and stopped the mouths of lions. There is nothing which faith has not done or cannot do. Faith is encompassed with the omnipotence of God for her defence; she is the great wonder worker. Why, there were men in the olden times whose troubles were greater than yours, whose discouragements and difficulties in serving God were a great deal more severe than any you and I have known, yet they trusted God; they trusted God, and they were not confounded; they rested in him, and they were not ashamed. Their puny arm performed miracles, and their uplifted voices in prayer brought blessings from on high. What God did of old he will do now: he is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Christian, exercise faith. Did not faith bring your first comfort to you? Remember, when you were in despair under a sense of sin, what brought you joy. Was it good works? Was it your inward feelings? The first ray of light that came to your poor dark spirit, did it not come from the cross through believing? Oh, that blessed day when first I cast myself on Jesus and saw my sins numbered on the scapegoat’s head of old, what a flood of light faith brought then! Open the same window, for the sun is in the same place, and you will get light from it. Do not go, I urge you, to any other well but to this well of your spiritual Bethlehem which is within the gate, the water of which is still sweet and still free to you.
15. Ah, dear friends, there is one reason why you should resort to faith, namely, that it is the only thing you have to resort to. What can you do if you do not trust your God? Under many troubles, when they are real troubles, the creature is evidently put to a nonplus; human ingenuity itself fails. We are like the seamen in a storm who reel to and fro, and stagger like drunken men, and are at their wits’ end. Oh let us, now that every other anchor is dragged, cast out the great sheet anchor, (a) for that will hold. Now that every refuge has failed, let us flee to the Strong for strength, for God will be our helper. Surely it ought not to be difficult for a child to believe his father; it should not therefore be difficult for us to trust in our God today, and so to lift our spirits out of the tumult of their doubts. Someone will say, “Well, I can understand that faith is a practical way of getting out of trouble, but I cannot understand how we are to have faith.” Well, in this the Saviour helps us. You remember what he said when the people were hungering: “Give them food to eat.” “Ah,” they said, “there are so many; how can we feed them?” The Master began by saying, “How many loaves do you have?” That is just what he says here. He says, “It is faith that will get you out of trouble; but how much faith do you have?” He answers for them, “You believe in God.” I must do the same by you. Faith is what will deliver you. You say, “Where am I to get it?” Well, you have some already, have you not? You have five barley loaves and a few small fishes. You are unbelieving creatures, but you have some measure of faith. You believe that there is a God. “Indeed,” you say. You believe he is unchangeable, you believe that he is full of love, good and kind, and true and faithful. Now, really that is a great deal to begin with. You believe in God; most of us believe in a great deal more than that; we not only believe in a God, and in the excellence of his character, but we believe that he has a chosen people, that he has made a covenant with them, ordered in all things and sure, that the promises of his covenant will be fulfilled, that he never puts away his people; we believe that all things work together for good for those who love God; we believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin; we believe that the Holy Spirit is given to dwell in his people. Now this is a great deal, a solid. fulcrum upon which to place the lever. If you believe all that, you have only to employ this faith properly in order to lift your soul out of the horrible slough of doubt and fear into which it has stumbled. You believe all this; surely, then, there is some room for hope and confidence.
16. The Saviour goes on to say, “You believe in God,” very well; exercise that same faith with regard to the case in hand. The case in hand was this—could they trust a dying Saviour? Could they rest upon one who was about to be crucified, dead and buried, who would be gone from them except that his poor mangled body would remain in their midst? “Now,” Jesus says, “you see you have had enough of faith to believe in God; now exercise that same faith upon me; trust me as you trust God.” From this I infer that the intent of the exhortation I am to give you this morning is this. “You have believed God about other things, exercise that same faith about this thing whatever it may be.” You have believed God concerning the pardon of your soul, believe God about the child, about the wife, about the money, about the present difficulty. You have believed concerning God, the great invisible One, and his great spiritual promises, now believe concerning this visible thing, this loss of yours, this cross of yours, this trial, this present affliction; exercise faith about that. Jesus Christ did in effect say to his people, “It is true I am going from you, but I want you to believe that I am not going far; I shall be in the same house as you are in, for my Father’s house has many rooms to it, and although you will be here in these earthly mansions and I shall be in the heavenly mansions, yet they are all in the Father’s house, for in my Father’s house are many dwelling places.” “I want you to believe,” Jesus says, “that when I am away from you I am going about your interests, I am preparing a place for you, and moreover that I intend coming back to you. My heart will be with you, and my person shall soon return to you.” Now then, the intent of that applied to our case is this—believe that the present loss you sustain, or the present discouragement which threatens to overwhelm you—believe that God has a high design in it; that as Christ’s departure was to prepare eternal mansions for his people, so your present loss is to prepare a spiritual gain for you. I like that word of Christ when he says, “If it were not so I would have told you.” When a man makes a general statement, if he knows an exception he ought to mention it, and if he does not mention it his statement is not strictly true. Jesus says, “If it were not so I would have told you.” There is a large word of his which says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” A very awkward thing has happened to you; the trouble which you are now suffering is a very singular one; now, if ever there had been any exception to the rule which we have quoted, God in honour would have told it to you when he made the general statement, “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Such is his love and wisdom that if there had been one trial that would happen to one of his people which would not work for the good of that child of his, he would have said, “Dear child, there is an exception: one trouble will happen to you which will not work for your good.” I am clear that there is no exception to the statement that all things work together for good for those who love God, because if there had been an exception he would have put it in, he would have told us about it, so that we might know how far to trust and when to stop trusting, how far to rejoice and when to be cast down. Your case, then, is no exception to the rule; all that is happening is working for your everlasting benefit. Another place, however, another place will reveal this to you. Think of your Father’s house and its mansions, and it will mitigate your griefs. “Alas for us if you were all, and nothing beyond, oh earth!” There is another and a better land, and in your Father’s house, where the many mansions are, it may be you shall be privileged to understand how these light afflictions, which are only for a moment, have worked out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
17. Before I close this point, let me say it ought to be a great deal easier for you and me to live above heart trouble than it was for the apostles; I mean easier than it was for the apostles at the time when the Saviour spoke to them and for forty days afterwards. You say, “How was that?” Why because you have three things which they did not have. You have experience of many past troubles out of which you have been delivered. They had only been converted at the most three years; they had not known much trouble, for Jesus in the flesh had dwelt among them to ward off troubles from them. Some of you have been converted thirty—forty—what if I say sixty years, and you have had abundance of trouble—you have not been screened from it. Now all this experience ought to make it easier for you to say, “My heart shall not be troubled.” Again, you have received the Holy Spirit, and they had not. The Holy Spirit was not given, as you remember, until the day of Pentecost. His direct government in the church was not required while Christ was here. You have the Spirit, the Comforter, to abide with you for ever; surely you ought to be less distracted than they were. Thirdly, you have the entire Scripture they had only a part. They certainly had not the richest Scriptures of all, for they did not have the Evangelists nor any of the New Testament, and having, as we have, all that store of promise and comfort, we ought surely to find it no hard work to obey the sweet precept, “Do not let your heart be troubled.”
18. III. THE EXHORTATION OF THE TEXT OUGHT TO BE VERY PRECIOUS TO ALL OF US THIS MORNING, and we should make a point of pleading for the Holy Spirit’s aid to enable us to carry it out. Remember that the loving advice came from him. Who said, “Do not let your heart be troubled?” Who could have said it except the Lord Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief? The mother says to the child, “Do not cry, child; be patient.” That sounds very differently from what it would have done if the school teacher had said it, or if a stranger in the street had spoken. “Do not let your heart be troubled,” might be a stinging remark from a stranger, but coming from the Saviour, who “knows what strong temptations mean, for he has felt the same,” it drops like virgin honey for sweetness, and like the balm of Gilead for healing power. Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” His own face was towards the cross, he was close by the olive press of Gethsemane; he was about to be troubled as never man was troubled, and yet among his last words were these, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” As if he wanted to monopolize all tears, and would not have them shed so much as one; as if he longed to take all the heart trouble himself and remove it far from them; as if he would have them exercise their hearts so much with believing that they would not have the smallest room left for grief; would have them so much taken up with the glorious result of his sufferings in procuring for them eternal mansions that they would not think about their own present losses, but let them be swallowed up in a mighty sea of joyful expectation. Oh the tenderness of Christ! “Do not let your heart be troubled.” He is not here, this morning, in person, (oh God that he were!) but oh, if he will but look at us out of those eyes of his which wept, and make us feel that this cheering word wells up from that heart which was pierced with the spear, we shall find it to be a blessed word to our soul. Say it, sweet Jesus; say to every mourner, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” Brethren, the text should have for us the dignity of a command as well as the sweetness of a counsel. Shall we be tormented with trouble after the Captain has said, “Do not let your heart be troubled?” The Master of your spirit, who has bought you with his precious blood, demands that the harp strings of your heart should resound to the touch of his love, and of his love alone, and will you surrender those strings to be dolorously touched by grief and unbelief? Indeed, rather like George Herbert, say, “My hand shall find you, and every string shall have its attribute to sing.” At your word instead of mourning, I will bring forth joy; as you invite me I will put off my sackcloth and throw away my ashes, and “I will rejoice in the Lord always, and yet again I will rejoice.” Prize the counsel, because it comes from the Well Beloved.
Prize it next because it points to him. He says, “You believe in
God; believe also in me.” You know, if it were not for the connection
which requires the particular construction here used, one would have
looked to find these words, “You believe in me, believe also in God.”
Jesus was speaking to Jews, disciples, who from their youth up had
learned to believe in Emmanuel; believe in me. There, there, there is
the very cream of the whole matter. If you want comfort, Christian,
you must hear Jesus say, “Believe also in me”; you must approach
afresh to the fountain, and, believe in the power of the blood; you
must take that fair linen of his righteousness and put it on, and
With his spotless vesture on,
You’re holy as the Holy One.
You must see Jesus dead in his grave, and believe that you died there in him, and that your sin was buried there in him. You must see him rise, and you must believe also in him, that his resurrection was your resurrection, that you are risen in him. You must see as he climbs the starry way up to the appointed throne of his reward; this must be your belief also in him, that he has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in himself. You must see him far above all principalities and powers, the everliving and reigning Lord, and you must believe also in him that because he lives you shall live also. You must see him with all things put under his feet, and you must believe that all things are under his feet for you; sin, death, hell, things present and things to come, all subject to the Son that he may give eternal life to you, and to as many as the Father has given him. Oh! this is comfort. There is no place for a child’s aching head like its mother’s bosom. There is no shadow of a great rock in this weary land like our Saviour’s love consciously overshadowing us. His own side is the place where he does protect his flock from the sun. This is the pasture where he makes them to lie down; this is the river from which he gives them to drink, namely, himself. Communion with Jesus is glory. The saints feast, but it is upon his flesh; they drink, but it is of his blood; they triumph, but it is in his shame; they rejoice, but it is in his grief; they live, but it is with his life; and they reign, but it is through his power. It is precious advice, then, because it comes from him and points to him.
20. Once more, it is precious advice because it speaks of him. It says. “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus is here seen in action; anything which makes us remember Christ should be prized Jesus Christ comes to comfort us, but that comfort is all about himself; we should greatly prize it. We want to know more about Jesus. One great deficiency is our ignorance of him, and if the advice of this morning is calculated to make us know him better and value him more, let us prize it. Think of all he said and did, and what he is doing for us now. Now let your thoughts see him beyond the glittering starry sky with the many crowns upon his head; see him as your representative, claiming your rights, pleading before the throne for you, scattering blessings for you on earth, and preparing joys for you above.
That is the last thought, namely, that the advice is precious,
because it hints that we are to be with him for ever. “An hour
with my God,” says the hymn, “will make up for it all.” So it will;
but what will an eternity with our God be, for ever to behold him
smiling, for ever to dwell in him! “Abide in me.” That is heaven on
earth. “Abide in me” is all the heaven we shall want in heaven. He is
preparing the place now, making it ready for us above, and here below
making us ready for it. Courage, then, brethren, courage; let us not
fret about the way; our heads are towards home. We are not outbound
vessels, thank God; every wind that blows is bringing us nearer to
our native land. Our tents are frail, we often pitch and strike them,
but we nightly pitch them
A day’s march nearer home.
Be of good cheer, soldier, the battle must soon end; and that
bloodstained banner, when it shall wave so high, and that shout of
triumph, when it shall thrill from so many thousand lips, and that
grand assembly of heroes, all of them made more than conquerors, and
the sight of the King in his beauty, riding in the chariot of his
triumph, paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem, and the
acclamations of glorified spirits, and the shouts and hymns of
cherubim and seraphim—all these shall make up for all the fighting
And they who, with their Master,
Have conquer’d in the fight,
For ever and for ever
Are clad in robes of light.
May that be ours. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon—John 16]
(a) Sheet Anchor: A large anchor, formerly always the largest of a ship’s anchors, used only in an emergency. OED