Sermon 263. The Story of God's Mighty Acts
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, July 17th, 1859, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old."-Psalm 44:1.
PERHAPS there are no stories that stick by us so long as those which we hear in our childhood, those tales which are toldus by our fathers, and in our nurseries. It is a sad reflection that too many of these stories are idle and vain, so thatour minds in early infancy are tinctured with fables, and inoculated with strange and lying narratives. Now, among the earlyChristians and the old believers in the far-off times, nursery tales were far different from what they arenow, and the stories with which their children were amused were of a far different class from those which fascinated usin the days of our babyhood. No doubt, Abraham would talk to young children about the flood, and tell them how the watersoverspread the earth, and how Noah alone was saved in the ark. The ancient Israelites, when they dwelt in their own land,would all of them tell their children about the Red Sea, and the plagues which God wrought in Egypt when he brought his peopleout ofthe house of bondage. Among the early Christians we know that it was the custom of parents to recount to their childreneverything concerning the life of Christ, the acts of the apostles, and the like interesting narratives. Nay, among our puritanicancestors such were the stories that regaled their childhood. Sitting down by the fireside, before those old Dutch tiles withthe quaint eccentric drawings upon them of the history of Christ, mothers would teach their children about Jesus walking onthe water, or of his multiplying the loaves of bread, or of his marvellous transfiguration, or of the crucifixion of Jesus.Oh, how I would that the like were the tales of the present age, that the stories of our childhood would be again the storiesof Christ, and that we would each of us believe that, after all, there can be nothing so interesting as that which is true,and nothing more striking than those stories which are written in sacred writ; nothing that can more truly move the heartofa child than the marvellous works of God which he did in the olden times. It seems that the psalmist who wrote this mostmusical ode had heard from his father, handed to him by tradition, the stories of the wondrous things which God had done inhis day; and afterwards, this sweet singer in Israel taught it to his children, and so was one generation after another ledto call God blessed, remembering his mighty acts.
Now, my dear friends, this morning I intend to recall to your minds some of the wondrous things which God has done in theolden time. My aim and object will be to excite your minds to seek after the like; that looking back upon what God has done,you may be induced to look forward with the eye of expectation, hoping that he will again stretch forth his potent hand andhis holy arm, and repeat those mighty acts he performed in ancient days.
First, I shall speak of the marvellous stories which our fathers have told us, and which we have heard of the olden time; secondly, I shall mention some disadvantages under which these old stories labour wit regard to the effect upon our minds; and, then, I shall draw the proper inferences from those marvellous things which we have heard, that the Lord did in the days of yore.
I. To begin then, with THE WONDERFUL STORIES WE HAVE HEARD OF THE LORD'S ANCIENT DOINGS.
We have heard that God has at times done very mighty acts. The plain everyday course of the world hath been disturbed withwonders at which men have been exceedingly amazed. God hath not always permitted his church to go on climbing by slow degreesto victory, but he hath been pleased at times to smite one terrible blow, and lay his enemies down upon the earth, and bidhis children march over their prostrate bodies. Turn back then, to ancient records, and remember what Godhath done. Will ye not remember what he did at the Red Sea, how he smote Egypt and all its chivalry, and covered Pharaoh'schariot and horse in the Red Sea? Have ye not heard tell how God smote Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites,because they withstood the progress of his people? Have ye not learned how he proved that his mercy endureth for ever, whenhe slew those great kings and cast the mighty ones down from their thrones? Have you not read, too, how God smote the childrenof Canaan, and drove out the inhabitants thereof, and gave the land to his people, to be a possession by lot for ever?Have you not heard how when the hosts of Jabin came against them, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera? The riverof Kishon swept them away, "that ancient river, the river Kishon," and there was none of them left? Hath it not been toldyou, too, how by the hand of David, God smote the Philistines, and how by his right hand he smote the children of Ammon? Haveyounot heard how Midian was put to confusion, and the myriads of Arabia were scattered by Asa in the day of his faith? Andhave you not heard, too, how the Lord sent a blast upon the hosts of Sennacherib, so that in the morning they were all deadmen? Tell-tell ye these, his wonders! Speak of them in your streets. Teach them to your children. Let them not be forgotten,for the right hand of the Lord hath done marvellous things, his name is known in all the earth.
The wonders, however, which most concern us, are those of the Christian era; and surely these are not second to those underthe Old Testament. Have you never read how God won to himself great renown on the day of Pentecost? Turn ye to this book ofthe record of the wonders of the Lord and read. Peter the fisherman stood up and preached in the name of the Lord his God.A multitude assembled and the Spirit of God fell upon them; and it came to pass that three thousand in oneday were pricked in their heart by the hand of God, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. And know you not how the twelveapostles with the disciples went everywhere preaching the Word, and the idols fell from their thrones? The cities opened widetheir gates, and the messengers of Christ walked through the streets and preached. It is true that at first they were drivenhither and thither, and hunted like partridges upon the mountains: but do ye not remember how the Lord did get unto himselfavictory, so that in a hundred years after the nailing of Christ to the cross, the gospel had been preached in every nation,and the isles of the sea had heard the sound thereof? And have you forgotten how the heathen were baptized, thousands at atime, in every river? What stream is there in Europe that cannot testify to the majesty of the gospel? What city is therein the land that cannot tell how God's truth has triumphed, and how the heathen has forsaken his false god, and bowed hisknee toJesus the crucified? The first spread of the gospel is a miracle never to be eclipsed. Whatever god may have done at theRed Sea, he hath done still more within a hundred years after the time when Christ first came into the world. It seemed asif a fire from heaven ran along the ground. Nothing could resist its force. The lightning shaft of truth shivered every pinnacleof the idol temple, and Jesus was worshipped from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.
This is one of the things we have heard of the olden times.
And have ye never heard of the mighty things which God did by preachers some hundreds of years from that date? Hath it notbeen told you concerning Chrysostom, the golden-mouthed, how, whenever he preached, the church was thronged with attentivehearers; and there, standing and lifting up holy hands, he spake with a majesty unparalleled, the word of God in truth andrighteousness; the people listening, hanging forward to catch every word, and anon breaking the silence withthe clapping of their hands and the stamping of their feet; then silent again for a while, spell-bound by the mighty orator;and again carried away with enthusiasm, springing to their feet, clapping their hands, and shouting for joy again? Numberlesswere the conversions in his day. God was exceedingly magnified, for sinners were abundantly saved. And have your fathers nevertold you of the wondrous things that were done afterwards when the black darkness of superstition covered the earth, whenPopery sat upon her throne and stretched her iron rod across the nations and shut the windows of heaven, and quenchedthe very stars of God and made thick darkness cover the people? Have ye never heard how Martin Luther arose and preached thegospel of the grace of God, and how the nations trembled, and the world heard the voice of God and lived? Have you not heardof Zwingle among the Swiss, and of Calvin in the city of Geneva, and of the mighty works that God did by them? Nay, as Britonshaveye forgotten the mighty preacher of the truth-have your ears ceased to tingle with the wondrous tale of the preachersthat Wickliffe sent forth into every market town and every hamlet of England, preaching the gospel of God? Oh, doth not historytell us that these men were like fire-brands in the midst of the dry stubble; that their voice was as the roaring of a lion,and their going forth like the springing of a young lion. Their glory was as the firstling of a bullock; they did push thenation before them, and as for the enemies, they said, "Destroy them." None could stand before them, for the Lord theirGod had girded them with might.
To come down a little nearer to our own times, truly our fathers have told us the wondrous things which God did in the daysof Wesley and of Whitefield. The churches were all asleep. Irreligion was the rule of the day. The very streets seemed torun with iniquity, and the gutters were filled full with the iniquity of sin. Up rose Whitefield and Wesley, men whose heartsthe Lord had touched, and they dared to preach the gospel of the grace of God. Suddenly, as in a moment,there was heard the rush as of wings, and the church said: "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to theirwindows?" They come! they come! numberless as the birds of heaven, with a rushing like mighty winds that are not to be withstood.Within a few years, from the preaching of there two men, England was permeated with evangelical truth. The Word of God wasknown in every town, and there was scarcely a hamlet into which the Methodists had not penetrated. In those days of theslow-coach, when Christianity seemed to have bought up the old wagons in which our fathers once travelled-where businessruns with steam, there oftentimes religion creeps along with its belly on the earth,-we are astonished at these tales, andwe think them wonders. Yet let us believe them; they come to us as substantial matters of history. And the wondrous thingswhich God did in the olden times, by his grace he will yet do again. He that is mighty hath done great things and holy ishisname.
There is a special feature to which I would call your attention with regard to the works of God in the olden time; they deriveincreasing interest and wonder from the fact that they were all sudden things. The old stagers in our churches believe thatthings must grow, gently, by degrees; we must go step by step onward. Concentrated action and continued labour, they say,will ultimately bring success. But the marvel is, all God's works have been sudden. When Peter stood upto preach, it did not take six weeks to convert the three thousand. They were converted at once and baptized that veryday; they were that hour turned to God, and become as truly disciples of Christ as they could have been if their conversionhad taken seventy years. So was it in the day of Martin Luther: it did not take Luther centuries to break through the thickdarkness of Rome. God lit the candle and the candle burned, and there was the light in an instant-God works suddenly. If anyonecould have stood in Wurtemburg, and have said: "Can Popery be made to quail, can the Vatican be made to shake?" The answerwould have been:-"No; it will take at least a thousand years to do it. Popery, the great serpent, has so twisted itself aboutthe nations, and bound them so fast in its coil, that they cannot be delivered except by a long process." "Not so," however,did God say. He smote the dragon sorely, and the nations went free; he cut the gates of brass, and broke in sunder the barsof iron, and the people were delivered in an hour. Freedom came not in the course of years, but in an instant. The peoplethat walked in darkness saw a great light, and upon them that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, did the light shine.So was it in Whitefield's day. The rebuking of a slumbering church was not the work of ages; it was done at once. Have yenever heard of the great revival under Whitefield? Take as an instance that at Camslang. He was preaching in the church-yardto agreat congregation, that could not get into any edifice; and while preaching, the power of God came upon the people, andone after another fell down as if they were smitten; and at least it was estimated that not less than three thousand personswere crying out at one time under the conviction of sin. He preached on, now thundering like Boanerges, and then comfortinglike Barnabas, and the work spread, and no tongue can tell the great things that God did under that one sermon of Whitefield.Noteven the sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost was equal to it.
So has it been in all revivals; God's work has been done suddenly. As with a clap of thunder has God descended from on high;not slowly, but on cherubim right royally doth he ride; on the wings of the mighty wind does he fly. Sudden has been the work;men could scarce believe it true, it was done in so short a space of time. Witness the great revival which is going on inand around Belfast. After carefully looking at the matter, and after seeing some trusty andwell-beloved brother who lived in that neighborhood, I am convinced, notwithstanding what enemies may say, that it isa genuine work of grace, and that God is doing wonders there. A friend who called to see me yesterday, tells me that the lowestand vilest men, the most depraved females in Belfast, have been visited with this extraordinary epilepsy, as the world callsit; but with this strange rushing of the spirit, as we have it. Men who have been drunkards have suddenly felt an impulsecompelling them to pray. They have resisted; they have sought to their cups in order to put it out; but when they havebeen swearing, seeking to quench the Spirit by their blasphemy, God has at last brought them on their knees, and they havebeen compelled to cry for mercy with piercing shrieks, and to agonize in prayer; and then after a time, the Evil one seemsto have been cast out of them, and in a quiet, holy, happy frame of mind, they have made a profession of their faith in Christ,andhave walked in his fear and love. Roman Catholics have been converted. I thought that an extraordinary thing; but theyhave been converted very frequently indeed in Ballymena and in Belfast. In fact, I am told the priests are now selling smallbottles of holy water for people to take, in order that they may be preserved from this desperate contagion of the Holy Spirit.This holy water is said to have such efficacy, that those who do not attend any of the meetings are not likely to be meddledwith by the Holy Spirit-so the priests tell them. But if they go to the meetings, even this holy water cannot preservethem-they are as liable to fall prey to the Divine influence. I think they are just as likely to do so without as with it.All this has been brought about suddenly, and although we may expect to find some portion of natural excitement, yet I am persuaded it is in the main a real, spiritual, and abiding work. There is a little froth on the surface, but there isa deep running current that is not to be resisted, sweeping underneath, and carrying everything before it. At least thereis something to awaken our interest, when we understand that in the small town of Ballymena on market day, the publicans havealways taken one hundred pounds for whiskey, and now they cannot take a sovereign all day long in all the public houses. Menwho were once drunkards now meet for prayer, and people after hearing one sermon will not go until the minister has preachedanother, and sometimes a third; and at last he is obliged to say: "You must go, I am exhausted." Then they will breakup into groups in their streets and in their houses, crying out to God to let this mighty work spread, that sinners may beconverted unto him. "Well," says one, "we cannot believe it." Very likely you cannot, but some of us can, for we have heardit with our ears, and our fathers have told us the mighty works that God did in their days, and we are prepared to believethat Godcan do the same works now.
I must here remark again, in all these old stories there is one very plain feature. Whenever God has done a mighty work ithas been by some very insignificant instrument. When he slew Goliath it was by little David, who was but a ruddy youth. Laynot up the sword of Goliath-I always thought that a mistake of David-lay up, not Goliath's sword, but lay up the stone, andtreasure up the sling in God's armory for ever. When God would slay Sisera, it was a woman that mustdo it with a hammer and a nail. God has done his mightiest works by the meanest instruments: that is a fact most trueof all God's works-Peter the fisherman at Pentecost, Luther the humble monk at the Reformation, Whitefield the potboy of theOld Bell Inn at Gloucester in the time of the last century's revival; and so it must be to the end. God works not by Pharaoh'shorses or chariot, but he works by Moses' rod; he doth not his wonders with the whirlwind and the storm; he doth them by thestill small voice, that the glory may be his and the honour all his own. Doth not this open a field of encouragement toyou and to me? Why may not we be employed in doing some mighty work for God here? Moreover, we have noticed in all these storiesof God's mighty works in the olden time, that wherever he has done any great thing it has been by someone who has had verygreat faith. I do verily believe at this moment that, if God willed it, every soul in this hall would be converted now. IfGodchose to put forth the operations of his own mighty Spirit, not the most obdurate heart would be able to stand againstit. "He will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy." He will do as he pleases; none can stay his hand. "Well," says one,"but I do not expect to see any great things." Then, my dear friend, you will not be disappointed, for you will not see them;but those that expect them shall see them. Men of great faith do great things. It was Elijah's faith that slew the priestsof Baal. If he had the little heart that some of you have, Baal's priests had still ruled over the people, and would neverhave been smitten with the sword. It was Elijah's faith that bade him say: "If the Lord be God, follow him, but if Baal, thenfollow him." And again: "Choose one bullock for yourselves, cut it in pieces, lay it on wood and put no fire under, call yeon the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of Jehovah." It was his noble faith that bade him say: "Take theprophets of Baal; let not one of them escape"; and he brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there-a holocaustto God. The reason why God's name was so magnified, was because Elijah's faith in God was so mighty and heroic. When the Popesent his bull to Luther, Luther burned it. Standing up in the midst of the crowd with the blazing paper in his hand he said:"See here, this is the Pope's bull." What cared he for all the Popes that were ever in or out of hell? And when he wentto Worms to meet the grand Diet, his followers said: "You are in danger, stand back." "No," said Luther, "if there wereas many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the roofs of the houses, I would not fear; I will go"-and into Worms he went,confident in the Lord his God. It was the same with Whitefield; he believed and he expected that God would do great things.When he went into his pulpit he believed that God would bless the people, and God did do so. Little faith may do little things,but great faith shall be greatly honoured. O God! our fathers have told us this, that whenever they had great faith Thouhast always honoured it by doing mighty works.
I will detain you no longer on this point, except to make one observation. All the mighty works of God have been attendedwith great prayer, as well as with great faith. Have you ever heard of the commencement of the great American revival? A manunknown and obscure, laid it up in his heart to pray that God would bless his country. After praying and wrestling and makingthe soul-stirring enquiry: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Lord, what wilt thou have meto do?" he hired a room, and put up an announcement that there would be a prayer-meeting held there at such-and-such an hour ofthe day. He went at the proper hour, and there was not a single person there; he began to pray, and prayed for half an houralone. One came in at the end of the half-hour, and then two more, and I think he closed with six. The next week came around,and there might have been fifty dropped in at different times; at last the prayer-meeting grew to a hundred, thenothers began to start prayer-meetings; at last there was scarcely a street in New York that was without a prayer-meeting.Merchants found time to run in, in the middle of the day, to pray. The prayer-meetings became daily ones, lasting for aboutan hour; petitions and requests were sent up, these were simply asked and offered before God, and the answers came; and manywere the happy hearts that stood up and testified that the prayer offered last week had been already fulfilled. Then it waswhenthey were all earnest in prayer, suddenly the Spirit of God fell upon the people, and it was rumored that in a certainvillage a preacher had been preaching in thorough earnest, and there had been hundreds converted in a week. The matter spreadinto and through the Northern States-these revivals of religion became universal, and it has been sometimes said that a quarterof a million people were converted to God through the short space of two or three months. Now the same effect was producedin Ballymena and Belfast by the same means. The brother thought that it lay at his heart to pray, and he did pray; thenhe held a regular prayer-meeting; day after day they met together to entreat the blessing, and fire descended and the workwas done. Sinners were converted, not by ones or twos but by hundreds and thousands, and the Lord's name was greatly magnifiedby the progress of his gospel. Beloved, I am only telling you facts. Make each of you your own estimate of them if you please.
II. Agreeable to my division,, I have now to make a few observations upon THE DISADVANTAGES UNDER WHICH THESE OLD STORIESFREQUENTLY LABOUR. When people hear about what God used to do, one of the things they say is: "Oh, that was a very long whileago." They imagine that times have altered since then. Says one: "I can believe anything about the Reformation-the largestaccounts that can possibly be given, I can take in." "And so could I concerning Whitefield and Wesley,"says another, "all that is quite true, they did labour vigorously and successfully, but that was many years ago. Thingswere in a different state then from what they are now." Granted; but I want to know what the things have to do with it. Ithought it was God that did it. Has God changed? Is he not an immutable God, the same yesterday, to-day and for ever? Doesnot that furnish an argument to prove that what God has done at one time he can do at another? Nay, I think I may push ita littlefurther, and say what he has done once, is a prophecy of what he intends to do again-that the mighty works which havebeen accomplished in the olden time shall all be repeated, and the Lord's song shall be sung again in Zion, and he shall againbe greatly glorified. Others among you say, "Oh, well I look upon these things as great prodigies-miracles. We are not toexpect them every day." That is the very reason why we do not get them. If we had learnt to expect them, we should no doubtobtain them, but we put them up on the shelf, as being out of the common order of our moderate religion, as being merecuriosities of Scripture history. We imagine such things, however true, to be prodigies of providence; we cannot imagine themto be according to the ordinary working of his mighty power. I beseech you, my friends, abjure that idea, put it out of yourmind. Whatever God has done in the way of converting sinners is to be looked upon as a precedent, for "his arm is not shortenedthat He cannot save, not is his ear heavy that He cannot hear." If we are straitened at all, we are not straitened inourselves, and with earnestness seek that God would restore to us the faith of the men of old, that we may richly enjoy hisgrace as in the days of old. Yet there is yet another disadvantage under which there old stories labour. The fact is, we havenot seen them. Why, I may talk to you ever so long about revivals, but you won't believe them half so much, nor half so truly,asif one were to occur in your very midst. If you saw it with your own eyes, then you would see the power of it. If youhad lived in Whitefield's day, or had heard Grimshaw preach, you would believe anything. Grimshaw would preach twenty-fourtimes a week: he would preach many times in the course of a sultry day, going from place on horseback. That man did preach. It seemed as if heaven would come down to earth to listen to him. He spoke with a real earnestness, with all thefire of zealthat ever burned in mortal breast, and the people trembled while they listened to him, and said, "Certainly this is thevoice of God." It was the same with Whitefield. The people would seem to move to and fro while he spoke, even as the harvestfield is moved with the wind. So mighty was the energy of God that after hearing such a sermon the hardest-hearted men wouldgo away and say: "There must be something in it, I never heard the like." Can you not realize these as literal facts? Do theystand up in all their brightness before your eyes? Then I think the stories you have heard with your ears should havea true and proper effect upon your lives.
III. This brings me in the third place to the PROPER INFERENCES THAT ARE TO BE DRAWN FROM THE OLD STORIES OF GOD'S MIGHTYDEEDS.
I would that I could speak with the fire of some of those men whose names I have mentioned. Pray for me, that the Spirit ofGod may rest upon me, that I may plead with you for a little time with all my might, seeking to exhort and stir you up, thatyou may get a like revival in your midst. My dear friends, the first effect which the reading of the history of God's mightyworks should have upon us, is that of gratitude and praise. Have we nothing to sing aboutto-day?-then let us sing concerning days of yore. If we cannot sing to our well-beloved a song concerning what he is doingin our midst, let us, nevertheless, take down our harps from the willows, and sing an old song, and bless and praise his holyname for the things which he did to his ancient church, for the wonders which he wrought in Egypt, and in all the lands whereinhe led his people, and from which he brought them out with a high hand and with an outstretched arm. When we have thusbegun to praise God for what he has done, I think I may venture to impress upon you one other great duty. Let what Godhas done suggest to you the prayer that he would repeat the like signs and wonders among us. Oh! men and brethren, what wouldthis heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival of religion-menwhose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessionsthat God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations. Why, look you herein this present assembly what objects there are for our compassion. Glancing round, I observe one and another whose historyI may happen to know, but how many are there still unconverted-men who trembled and who know they have, but have shaken offtheir fears, and once more are daring their destiny, determined to be suicides to their own souls and to put away from themthatgrace which once seemed as if it were striving in their hearts. They are turning away from the gates of heaven, and runningpost-haste to the doors of hell; and will not you stretch out your hands to God to stop them in this desperate resolve? Ifin this congregation there were but one unconverted man and I could point him out and say: "There he sits, one soul that hasnever felt the love of God, and never has been moved to repentance," with what anxious curiosity would every eye regard him?Ithink out of thousands of Christians here, there is not one who would refuse to go home and pray for that solitary unconvertedindividual. But, oh! my brethren, it is not one that is in danger of hell fire; here are hundreds and thousands of our fellow-creatures.
Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? Hitherto all other means have been used without effect. God is mywitness how often I have striven in this pulpit to be the means of the conversion of men. I have preached my very heart out.I could say no more than I have said, and I hope the secrecy of my chamber is a witness to the fact that I do not cease tofeel when I cease to speak; but I have a heart to pray for those of you who are never affected, or who, ifaffected, still quench the Spirit of God. I have done my utmost. Will not you come to the help of the Lord against themighty? Will not you r prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Here they are; I commend them to you. Men andwomen whose hearts refuse to melt, whose stubborn knees will not bend; I give them up to you and ask you to pray for them.Carry their cases on your knees before God. Wife! never cease to pray for your unconverted husband. Husband! never stop yoursupplication till you see your wife converted. And, O fathers and mothers! have you no unconverted children? have younot brought them here many and many a Sunday, and they remain just as they have been? You have sent them first to one chapeland then to another, and they are just what they were. The wrath of God abideth on them. Die they must; and should they dienow, to a certainty you are aware that the flames of hell must engulf them. And do you refuse to pray for them? Hard hearts,brutishsouls, if knowing Christ yourself ye will not pray for those who come of your own loins-your children according to theflesh.
Dear friends, we do not know what God may do for us if we do but pray for a blessing. Look at the movement we have alreadyseen; we have witnessed Exeter Hall, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey, crammed to the doors, but we have seen noeffect as yet of all these mighty gatherings. Have we not tried to preach without trying to pray? It is not likely that thechurch has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? O dear friends! let us agonizein prayer, and it shall come to pass that this Music Hall shall witness the sighs and groans of the penitent and the songsof the converted. It shall yet happen that this vast host shall not come and go as now it does, but little the better; butmen shall go out of this hall, praising God and saying:-"It was good to be there; it was none other than the house of God,and the very gate of heaven." Thus much to stir you up to prayer.
Another inference we should draw is that all the stories we have heard should correct any self-dependence which may have creptinto our treacherous hearts. Perhaps we as a congregation have begun to depend upon our numbers and so forth. We may havethought: "Surely God must bless us through the ministry." Now let the stories which our fathers have told us remind you, andremind me, that God saves not by many nor by few; that it is not in us to do this but God must do itall; it may be that some hidden preacher, whose name has never been known, will yet start up in this city of London andpreach the Lord with greater power than bishops or ministers have ever know before. I will welcome him; God be with him; lethim come from where he may; only let God speed him, and let the work be done. Mayhap, however, God intends to bless the agencyused in this place for your good and for your conversion. If so, I am thrice happy to think such should be the case. But placeno dependence upon the instrument. No, when men laughed at us and mocked us most, God blessed us most; and now it is nota disreputable thing to attend the Music Hall. We are not so much despised as we once were, but I question whether we haveso great a blessing as once we had. We would be willing to endure another pelting in the pillory, to go through another ordealwith every newspaper against us, and with every man hissing and abusing us, if God so pleases, if he will but give us ablessing. Only let him cast out of us any idea that our own bow and sword will get us victory. We shall never get a revivalhere unless we believe that it is the Lord, and the Lord alone, that can do it.
Having made this statement, I will endeavour to stir you up with confidence that the result may be obtained that I have pictured,and that the stories we have heard of the olden time, may become true in our day. Why should not every one of my hearers beconverted? Is there any limitation in the Spirit of God? Why should not the feeblest minister become the means of salvationto thousands? Is God's arm shortened? My brethren, when I bid you pray that God would make theministry quick and powerful, like a two-edged sword, for the salvation of sinners, I am not setting you a hard, much lessan impossible, task. We have but to ask and to get. Before we call, God will answer; and while we are yet speaking he willhear. God alone can know what may come of this morning's sermon, if he chooses to bless it. From this moment you may praymore; from this moment God may bless the ministry more. From this hour other pulpits may become more full of life and vigourthanbefore. From this same moment the Word of God may flow, and run, and rush, and get to itself an amazing and boundlessvictory. Only wrestle in prayer, meet together in your houses, go to your closets, be instant, be earnest in season and outof season, agonize for souls, and all that you have heard shall be forgotten in what you shall see; and all that others havetold you shall be as nothing compared with what you shall hear with your ears and behold with your eyes in your own midst.Oh ye, towhom all this is as an idle tale, who love not God,, neither serve him, I beseech you stop and think for a moment. Oh,Spirit of God, rest on thy servant while a few sentences are uttered, and make them mighty. God has striven with some of you.You have had your times of conviction. You are trying now, perhaps, to be infidels. You are trying to say now-"There is nohell-there is no hereafter." It will not do. You know there is a hell and all the laughter of those who seek to ruin yoursoulscannot make you believe that there is not. You sometimes try to think so, but you know that God is true. I do not arguewith you now. Conscience tells you that God will punish you for sin. Depend upon it-you will find no happiness in trying tostifle God's Spirit. This is not the path to bliss, to quench those thoughts which would lead you to Christ. I beseech you,take off your hands from God's arm; resist not still His Spirit. Bow the knee and lay hold of Christ and believe on him. Itwillcome to this yet. God the Holy Spirit will have you. I do trust that in answer to many prayers he intends to save youyet. Give way now, but oh, remember if you are successful in quenching the Spirit, your success will be the most awful disasterthat can ever occur to you, for if the Spirit forsake you, you are lost. It may be that this is the last warning you willever have. The conviction you are now trying to put down and stifle may be the last you will have, and the angel standingwith theblack seal and the wax may be now about to drop it upon your destiny, and say, "Let him alone. He chooses drunkenness-hechooses lust-let him have them;; and let him reap the wages in the everlasting fires of hell." Sinners, believe on the LordJesus: repent and be converted every one of you. I am bold to say what Peter did. Breaking through every bond of every kindthat could bind my lip, I exhort you in God's name-Repent and escape from damnation. A few more months and years, and yeshall know what damnation means, except ye repent. Oh! fly to Christ while yet the lamp holds out and burns, and mercyis still preached to you. Grace is still presented; accept Christ, resist him no longer; come to him now. The gates of mercyare wide open too-day; come now, poor sinner, and have thy sins forgiven. When the old Romans used to attack a city, it wassometimes their custom to set up at the gate a white flag, and if the garrison surrendered while that white flag was there,theirlives were pared. After that the black flag was put up, and then every man was put to the sword. The white flag is upto-day; perhaps to-morrow the black flag will be elevated upon the pole of the law; and then there is no repentance or salvationeither in this world or in that which is to come. An old eastern conqueror when he came to a city used to light a brazierof coals, and, setting it high upon a pole he would, with sound of trumpet proclaim, that if they surrendered while the lampheldout and burned he would have mercy upon them, but that when the coals were out he would storm the city, pull it stonefrom stone, sow it with salt, and put men, women, and children, to a bloody death. To-day the thunders of God bid you to takethe like warning. There is your light, the lamp, the brazier of hot coals. Year after year the fire is dying out, neverthelessthere is coal left. Even now the wind of death is trying to blow out the last live coal. Oh! sinner, turn while the lampcontinues to blaze. Turn now, for when the last coal is dead thy repentance cannot avail thee. Thy everlasting yellingin torment cannot move the heart of God; thy groans and briny tears cannot move him to pity thee. To-day if ye will hear hisvoice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation. Oh, to-day lay hold on Christ, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and yeperish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."