Sermon 363. The Glorious Right Hand Of The Lord


"And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord's hand waxed short? You shall now see whether My Word shall come to pass unto youor not." Numbers 11:23.

GOD had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a whole month he would feed the vast host in the wildernesswith flesh. Moses, being overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the outward means-calculates his commissariat-and is ata loss to know how the promise can be fulfilled.Shall the flocks and the herds be slain? How, then, should they have cattle wherewith to stock the land upon which theyhoped soon to enter? And if they should slaughter all their beasts, there would not be food enough for ravenous people fora month. Shall all the fish of the sealeave their watery element, and come to the tables of these clamorous hungry men? Even then, Moses thought there would bescarcely enough food to feed so vast a host for a month! You will see, my Brothers and Sisters, right readily the mistakewhich Moses made. He looked to thecreature instead of the Creator. Does the Creator expect the creature to fulfill his promise? No; only He who makes, fulfills.If He speaks, it is done-done by Himself-His promises do not depend for their fulfillment upon the cooperation of the punystrength of man! God as aSovereign gives an absolute promise; and He can do it without fear of mistake, because He has Omnipotence wherewith to fulfillHis greatest word. It were an error, indeed, to look to the sea for fish, instead of waiting upon Heaven for the promise;to look to the flocks for food,instead of believing on Him to whom belongs the cattle on a thousand hills! Suppose, my Friends, this country should bethreatened by an invasion of some foreign power, and you, in your wisdom and full of trembling, should say to those whoseprovince it is to guard our happyisland-"I fear this land can never be protected, for the Emperor of China has but very little power; the Presidents of theRepublics of South America have but little influence"? You would be stared at! Men would ask, what has that to do with thequestion? The troops of Britain areto defend the land, not the troops of China, or Bolivia. What matters the weakness of those republics or kingdoms? Theyare not expected to defend our land! You would be absurd in looking for help where help was neither expected nor promised.

And yet how commonly we do the same! Godhas promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do what God has promisedto do! And then, because we perceive the creature to be weak and feeble, we indulge in unbelief! Why do we look to that quarterat all? Will you look to the top of theAlps for summer heat? Will you journey to the north pole to gather fruits ripened in the sun? Or will you take your journeytowards the equator, so that your body may be braced by cool invigorating breezes? Verily you would act no more foolishlyif you did this than when you look tothe weak for strength, or the creature to do the Creator's work! The great folly of Moses is the folly of most Believers.Let us, then, put the question aright. The ground of faith is not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performanceof the promise, but theAll-Sufficiency of the invisible God most surely to do as He has saidl And then, if after that we dare to indulge in mistrusts,the question of God comes home mightily to us-"Has the Lord's hand waxed short?" And may it happen, too, in His mercy, thatwith the question, there maycome also that blessed promise, "You shall now see whether My Word shall come to pass unto you or not."

It is an amazing thing that such a question as this should ever be asked at all-"Has the Lord's hand waxed short?" If we lookanywhere and everywhere, apart from the conduct of man, there is nothing to suggest the suspicion. Look to God's Creation!Is there anything there which would make yousay, "Is the Lord's hand waxed short?" What pillar of the heavens has begun to reel? What curtain of the sky has been tornor moth-eaten? Have the foundations of the Earth begun to start? Do they not abide as the Lord has settled them? Has the sungrown dim with age? Have the starrylamps flickered or gone out in darkness? Are there signs of decay, today, upon the face of God's Creation? Have not howlingtempests, the yawning ocean, and death-bearing hurricanes asserted but yesterday their undiminished might? Say, is not thegreen earth as full of vitality, asready to yield us harvests, now, as it ever has been? Do the showers fall less frequently? Has the sun ceased to warm? Arethere any signs and tokens that God's Creation is tottering to its decay? No! Journey where you will, you will see God aspotent upon the face of the earth, andin the very bowels of the globe, as He was when He first said, "Let there be light," and there was light. There is nothingwhich would tempt us to surmise or suspect that the Lord's hand has waxed short. And look you, too, in Providence-is thereanything there that would suggestthe question? Are not His prophecies still fulfilled? Does He not cause all things to work together for good? Do the cattleon a thousand hills low out to Him for hunger? Do you meet with the skeletons of birds that have fallen to the ground fromfamine? Does He neglect to give tothe fish their food, or do the sea-monsters die? Does not God still open His hands and supply the needs of every livingthing? Is He less bounteous, today, than He was in the time of Adam? Is not the cornucopia still as full? Does He not stillscatter mercies with both His handsright lavishly? Are there any tokens in Providence, any more than in Nature, that God's arm has waxed short? And look, too,in the matter of Divine Grace-is there any token in the work of Grace that God's power is failing? Are not sinners still saved?Are not profligates stillreclaimed? Are not drunks still uplifted from their sties to sit upon the Throne of God with princes? Are not harlots astruly reclaimed as were those in the days of Christ? Is not the Word of God still quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edgedsword? Which of His arrows hasbeen blunted? Where have you seen the sword of the Lord snapped in two? When has God assayed to melt a heart and failedin the attempt? Which of His people has found the riches of His Grace drained dry? Which of His children has had to mournthat the unsearchable riches of Christhad failed to supply his need?

In Grace, as well as in Providence and Nature, the unanimous verdict is that God is still Almighty; that He does as He wills,and fulfills all His promises, and His counsels. How is it, then, that such a question as this ever came from the lips ofGod, Himself? Who suggested it? Whatsuggested it?What could there have been that should lead Him, or any of His creatures to say, "Is the Lord's hand waxed short?" We answerthere is but one creature that God has made that ever doubts Him! The little sparrows doubt not-though they have no barn norfield, yet they sweetly sing atnight as they go to their roosts, though they know not where tomorrow's meal shall be found. The very cattle trust Him,and even in days of drought, you have seen them when they pant for thirst, how they expect the water-how the very first tokenof it makes them show in their veryanimal frame, by some dumb language, that they felt that God would not leave them to perish! The angels never doubt Him,nor the devils either-devils believe and tremble! But it was left for man-the most favored of all creatures-to mistrust hisGod! This high, this black, thisinfamous sin of doubting the power and faithfulness of Jehovah was reserved for the fallen race of rebellions Adam! Andwe alone, out of all the beings that God has ever fashioned, dishonor Him by unbelief, and tarnish His honor by mistrust!

I shall now try, as God shall help me, to mention some four or five cases in which men act as if they really believed thatGod's hand had waxed short, and I pray that in the most of these cases, this malady may be at once healed by the fact thatGod has said, "You shall now see whether My Wordshall come to pass unto you or not."

I. First of all, with regard to THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE, how often is it true that she so behaves herself as if she had a questionin her mind as to whether the Lord's hand had waxed short? She believes that the Divine hand was once mighty enough to bringin 3,000 in one day by the simple preachingof Peter. She believes that her God was with her in olden times so mightily that her poor illiterate preachers were morethan a match for the scholars of Socrates and Solon, and were able to overturn the gods of the heathen, though they had bothpoetry and philosophy to be theirbulwarks. She still believes this and yet, how often does she act as though the Gospel had become effete and outworn, andthe Spirit of God had been utterly withdrawn from her? In those early days she sent her missionaries to the ends of the earth!They were unprovided for, but theywent forth without purse or script, believing that He who called them to go, would find them sustenance. They landed onislands that were unknown to man, and ventured among barbarous tribes who knew nothing of civilization! They ventured theirlives even to the death-but they wonfor Christ the empire of the whole earth till there was not a spot known to men at that time where the name of Jesus hadnot been preached, and where the Gospel had not been proclaimed! But, now, we-the degenerate sons of glorious fathers-areafraid to trust God! There are somewho would shut out the Gospel from India, because, indeed, it might disturb our pitiful empire over that people! There areothers who think the Gospel is ill-adapted to some minds, and that civilization must go before the Cross, and not the Gospelin the vanguard of all truecivilization among barbarous tribes! The mass of us-it is common to us all-the mass of us would be afraid to go out trustingin God to supply our needs! We would insist that everything should be prepared for us, and that the way should be paved! Weare not ready to leap aschampions upon the wall of the citadel, leading the forlorn hope, and planting the standard where it never stood before.No, we can only follow in the track of others! We have few Careys and few Knibbs, few men who can go first and foremost saying,"This is God's cause! Jehovah isthe only God, and in the name of the Eternal, let the idols be abolished!"

for more anointed ones to preach the Gospel, believing in its intrinsic might, assured that where it is preached faithfully,the Spirit of God is never absent! The doubts, the fears, the calculations, the policies, the judicious advisors of too manyChristians prove my point, that often theChurch acts as if she thought the Lord's hand were waxed short! O Zion! Get up! Get up! Count no more your hosts, for theirstrength is your weakness! Measure no longer your wealth, for your wealth has often been your poverty, and your poverty yourwealth! Think not of the learningor the eloquence of your ministers and missionaries, for full often these things do but stand in the way of the EternalGod! Come forth in simple confidence in His promise, and you shall see whether He will not do according to His Word; you shallsee a nation born at once; you shallbehold the reign of Christ hastening on when you know how to deal with the world in the power of faith, believing in Christ,knowing that He shall have the beastly for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession!

1 ought to say, here, that while this is a common sin of the Church, yet there are very many missionaries who have gone outfrom England during the last few years unconnected with any Society. And that there are now hundreds throughout the wholeearth who have no visible means of support but who,by faith and prayer, depending simply upon God, find themselves as well provided for as those who have a Society at theirback! I happen to be acquainted with some few of these men who have been foolish enough to trust God; who have been sillyenough to believe His promise; who havebeen weak enough to rely only upon Him! And I can say their testimony is, that in all things God has been as good to themas His Word, and I know they have been more useful as missionaries, and more successful in evangelization because they believedGod! They have proved their faithby their acts, and God has honored their faith by giving them great success. I speak thus not of all-there are a few exceptions-butstill, it is the general rule that as a Church, the Church does not believe God-she believes her subscribers, she does notbelieve the Lord! Shebelieves the committee- she does not trust in the Eternal. She trusts in the means-she does not rest on the bare arm ofGod. She wants to have her arm sleeved, girded about, and robed with the weavings of man!

II. But I now pass on to a second point. WHEN BELIEVERS DOUBT THEIR GOD WITH REGARD TO PROVIDENCE, the question might wellbe asked of them, "Is the Lord's hand waxed short?"

I do not doubt that I am speaking to some here, this morning, who have had many hisses and crosses in their business. Insteadof getting forward, they are going back, and perhaps even bankruptcy stares them in the face. Or possibly, being hard workingmen, they may have been long out of employment,and nothing now seems to be before their eyes but the starvation of themselves, and their little ones. It is hard to bearthis. This is an iron that enters into the very soul; the pangs of hunger are not very easily appeased, and to have need anddestitution constantly before oureyes is enough to bring down the strong man, and make the mighty tremble. Little do some of us know how sharp and how acutemust be these trials of famine and nakedness. But do you doubt, O Believer, do you doubt as to whether God will fulfill Hispromises wherein He said, "Hisplace of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure"? Would you questionthe advice of your Master-"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, How shall webe clothed? For after all thesethings do the Gentiles seek"? "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns.Yet your heavenly Father feeds them"? "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin,and yet I say unto you, that evenSolomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these"? And so you think that your heavenly Father, though He knowsthat you have need of these things, will yet forget you? When not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father, and thevery hairs of your head are allnumbered, yet you still mistrust and doubt Him? Perhaps your affliction will continue upon you till you dare to trust yourGod, and then it shall end. Full many there are who have been tried and sorely vexed till at last they have been driven insheer desperation to exercise faithin God-and the moment of their faith has been the instant of their deliverance! They have seen whether God would keep Hispromise or not.

And now, O true Believer, what say you to this picture? In the cold, cold winter, when the snows have fallen thick on everytree, and the ground is hard and crisp, you have sometimes seen the charitable man open wide the window of his house and scattercrumbs along the white snow; and you have seenthe birds come from all the trees around, and there they ate and were satisfied. A slanderer who lives next door tells youthat that man starves his children! Do you believe him? Feed the sparrows, and neglect the offspring of his loins? Give crumbsto birds, and not feed his sonsand daughters? You feel instinctively that the kind heart which remembers the fowls of Heaven must yet more remember hisown offspring! But what do you say to this picture concerning yourself? Your God hears the young ravens when they cry, andgives liberally to all the creaturesthat His hands have made, and will He forget His sons and His daughters? His people bought with blood, His own peculiarheritage? No. Dare to believe Him now. His hands have not waxed short. Dare to trust Him now. Please not Satan, and vex notyourself by indulging those hardthoughts of Him anymore! Say, "My Father, You will hear my cry. You will supply all my needs." And according to your faith,so shall it be done unto you. Look back, Sir, look back upon the past! How many deliverances have you had? You have been inas bad a plight as this,before-did He leave you then? He has been with you in six troubles, and are there not six arguments why He should not leaveyou in the seventh? You are growing gray-headed, and you have found Him faithful for 60 years! Ah, how few more you have tolive! Suppose you live tillseventy-there are but ten! He has been faithful to you in sixty, and can you not trust Him with ten? Surely you ought tosay, and you must say, I think, if you are actuated by a right spirit, "O God, I leave all things in Your hands. I will havedone with these cares. I will leaveeverything to You. I know that You love me and will not forsake Your own, but will surely deliver them out of all theirtemptations." You shall have my text fulfilled to you, I trust-"You shall see now whether My Word shall come to pass untoyou or not.

III. But to proceed-there is a third way by which this question might be very naturally suggested, and that is



I must confess here, with sorrow, that I have seasons of despondency and depression of spirit which I trust none of you arecalled to suffer. And at such times I have doubted my interest in Christ, my calling my election, my perseverance, my Savior'sblood, and my Father's love. I am sorry I evertold you that, but having done so on one occasion, I make now my humble apology as before God for it. I met with a sharprebuke this last week. A Brother who lives very near to God-I believe one of the holiest men living-told me he never had adoubt of his acceptance once hebelieved in Christ, and another Christian confirmed his testimony. I do not question the Truth of my Brothers, but I doenvy them. 'Tis a wondrous position to stand in! I know how it is. They, both of them, live by simple faith upon the Son ofGod, and one of them said to me, "WhenI speak to some of the Friends, and tell them they should not doubt and fear, they say, 'Yes, but our minister has doubtsand fears.'" When he said that, I felt how wrong I had been, because the pastor should be an example to the flock, and ifI have sinned in this respect, as Imust sorrowfully confess I have, at least there was no necessity that I should have said so, for now it gives cause to someof the weak of the flock to excuse themselves. My Brothers and Sisters, if I should stand here and say I occasionally stealmy neighbor's goods, you would beshocked! But when I said that I sometimes doubt my God, you were not shocked! There is as much guilt in the one as in theother. There is the highest degree of criminality in connection with doubting God and I feel it so. I do not see that we oughtto offer any excuse whatever forour doubting our God. He does not deserve it of us-He is a true and faithful God, and with so many instances of His loveand of His kindness as I have received, and daily receive at His hands-I feel I have no excuse to offer either to Him or toyou for having dared to doubt Him.

'Twas a wicked sin; 'twas a great and grievous offense! But I pray you, do not use that sin on my part as a cloak for yourselves!I pray that I may be delivered from it entirely, and with an unstaggering faith, like Abraham, know that what He has promised,He is able also to perform. And then Itrust I shall not have under my pastoral care a puny race of men who cannot trust their God, and who cannot, therefore,do anything-but a strong host of heroes who live by faith upon the Son of God-who loved them and gave Himself for them; whoshall be a thundering legion; whosemarch to battle shall be but a march to victory, and the drawing of whose swords shall be but the prelude and prophecy oftheir triumph! Take not me as an example further than I follow my Lord, but pray for me that my faith may be increased. Doubtnot, I pray you! Believe your God,and you shall prosper. The joy of the Lord is our strength, not the melancholy of our hearts. It does not say, "He who doubtsshall be saved," but, "He who believes shall be saved." I know some ministers preach up doubts and fears so much that youwould really think that doubtingwas the way to Heaven; and the more you could doubt and fear, the more proof there would be that you were a child of God!The fact is-the children of God do doubt and fear. I am sorry to say all of them, (no, not all of them-I question whetherall of them do not, but still myBrother says he does not, and I believe him. I fear, however, he will doubt one of these days. I hope he never may; butwhen he does, it will be very wrong and very wicked of him, indeed, just as it has been with me, and as it has been with you),for when we doubt, it is sin. Ohcursed sin of unbelief-most damnable of sins, because it so stains God's honor, and so makes the enemy to blaspheme! "There,"they say, "there is a man who cannot trust his God; a minister who cannot trust his God; a Christian who cannot repose uponthe promise of the Almighty!"We cannot measure the guilt of sins-all sins are all base and vile-but there are crimes which we set down as being veryheinous, which, I believe, are but little when compared with that which we think so trivial-the sin of doubting God and mistrustingHis promise! If unbeliefis like a thistle in the field, which proves that the soil is good, or it would not produce thistles-at any rate that isno reason why you and I should sow thistle seed! Let us cut the thistles up if there are any, and may the Holy Spirit plantthe evergreen fir of hope, thetowering pine of love, and the hardy boxwood of faith! Trust in the Lord! "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say,rejoice." Let your joy be full; be not cast down and troubled, but rejoice in Him evermore.

IV. I shall now pass on to a fourth point very briefly-"is the Lord's hand waxed short?" This is a question which I may wellask of any here present who are CONVICTED OF SIN, BUT ARE AFRAID TO TRUST THEIR SOUL, NOW, AT THIS VERY HOUR, IN THE HANDSOF A LOVING SAVIOR.

"Oh, He cannot save me, I am so guilty, so callous! Could I repent as I ought; could I but feel as I ought; then He couldsave me; but I am naked and poor, and miserable. How can He clothe, enrich, and bless me? I am cast out from His Presence;I have grieved away His Spirit; I have sinned againstlight and knowledge-against mercy-against constant Grace received. He cannot save me." "And the Lord said unto Moses, Isthe Lord's hand waxed short? You shall now see whether My Word shall come to pass unto you or not." Did He not save the chiefof sinners, Saul of Tarsus? Why,then, can He not save you? Is it not written, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanses us from all sin"? Has that bloodlost its efficacy? Have Christ's merits lost their savor? Are they no more an offering of a sweet smell before the Throneof God? Has His Sacrifice lost itsplea, and the plea its authority? Is He no longer prevalent before the Father's face? Soul! Soul! Soul! Would you add toyour sin? Then doubt Christ's power to save you! Would you seal your doom? Then through this mock humility, distrust Christ.But would you be saved? Then dare, Ipray you, in the teeth of all your sins, to trust my Master-

"He is able He is willing: doubt no more."

He is able, for He is God! What can He not perform? He is willing, for He was the slaughtered Man; and He who died, and hadHis heart pierced for us, cannot be unwilling! Do you wish to stab Him in the most tender point, and vex Him? Then indulgethat mean, ungenerous thought that He is unwillingto forgive! But would you wish to honor Him, and relieve yourself at the same time? Then step out of all appearances, allhopes and fears suggested by your own feelings! Come to the foot of His Cross, and looking up into those eyes, full of languidpity, and to those hands streamingwith precious blood, say, "Jesus, I believe! Help You my unbelief," and so you shall see whether He will not keep His Word!

If you should come to Him and He should refuse, then would He not have broken His promise? Did He not say, "Him who comesunto Me, I will in no wise cast out"? "But, O Sir, I am so black a sinner! I am one of Satan's castaways." But what if youare? Christ did not make any exception! He said, "Hmwho comes," and that means any, "him," in all the world who comes! If with weeping, and with supplication, mourning forpast sins, you will go to Him now, poor Sinner, you will find Him quite as good as His Word, and you shall wonder and be astonishedto find your own hardness ofheart suddenly taken away, and all your load of guilt removed! Oh, I would that I had words, that this heart had language,and needed not to employ dull flesh with which to utter its thoughts! Soul, Soul, my Lord is worthy of your faith! I trustedHim. This poor man cried, and theLord heard him! I looked unto Him and was lightened, and my face was not ashamed, and-

"Ever since by faith I saw the stream, His flowing wounds supply; Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die!"

Oh, if you knew my Savior; if you knew Him, you would trust Him! Surely if you will but think of the tens of thousands whoare around the Throne, today, singing the song of Divine Grace, each one of these would seem to say to you, "Sinner, trustHim. He was true to me." If God's people who are herethis morning could stand up and speak, I know their testimony would be, "Soul, trust Him-He has been good and true to me."Ah, my Lord, why have You not cast some of us away long ago? When we think of our unbelief, and our repeated backsliding,the wonder is that You have not tornup the marriage-bond and said, "He shall go-he shall go-he has rebelled against Me. He is as a backsliding heifer and asa bull unaccustomed to the yoke." But no! The strong love of God which first laid hold of us has never let go its grip; Hehas kept us when we have forsakenHim; pardoned all our shortcomings, and blotted out all our trespasses! And here we are to bear witness that He is a Godready to forgive, passing by iniquity, transgression and sin! Sinner, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I command you-believeon Christ and-"As though God didbeseech you by me, I pray you, in Christ's place, be reconciled to God." Think not that He is hard towards you; Jehovah'sheart yearns to clasp His Ephraims to His breast! Prodigal! Your Father sees you-come, He will meet you-He'll kiss you; He'llclothe you; He'll make abanquet for you. He will bring forth music and dancing; and His own heart will have the sweetest of the music in itself!Come, then, come, I pray you-trust Him and leaving all else behind, of good or bad which belongs to you-come empty to be filled!Come naked to be clothed!

V. I have but now one other point and I shall not detain you, probably two moments, while I dwell upon it. The subject wouldnot be complete without it. It has been said of some preachers of the Word, and especially of me, that we delight to preachdamnation and the fires of Hell. I think that allwho have heard me constantly know that a more unfounded libel was never uttered against any living man! I have preachedterrible sermons; they have been few and far between; but I have never preached them with tearless eyes! It has ever beento me a far greater misery to preach,than it has been to any to hear; and this last sentence or two, with which I conclude, is wrung from my very soul.

And you say, do you, that God will not avenge your sins upon you-that you may go on in your iniquities and yet meet with nopunishment; that you may reject Christ and do it safely; trample on His blood, and yet God is so calm that His anger willnever flame forth against you? Well Soul. WellSoul, "You shall see whether His Word shall come to pass or not." But let me tell you His hand is not waxed short! He isas strong to punish as when He bade the floods cover the earth; as powerful to avenge as when He rained hail out of Heavenupon the cities of the plain! He istoday as mighty to overtake and punish His enemies as when He sent the angel through the midst of Egypt, or afterwards smotethe hosts of Senacherib! You shall see whether He will keep His Word or not-go on in the neglect of His great salvation-goto your dying bed, and buoyyourself up with the false hope that there is no hereafter, no Hell to come! But, Sinner, you shall see. You shall see.This point in dispute shall not long be a matter of question to be laughed at on the one side, and to be taught with tearson the other. You shall see and we arewilling enough, ourselves, to wait that time; only, Soul, when you shall see, it will be too late to escape! When the firegets hold upon you; when the hail of God begins to dash you in pieces, and there shall be none to deliver, where will yourinfidelity be then? Where your hardsayings against God's earnest ministers, then? You will use another note, and sing another tune, and yell another cry! OGod, grant that none among us may ever dare to doubt You, and think that You cannot and will not punish us! By Your Gracemay we come to the Cross as sinners, andbe saved, lest unhappily in the world to come when You say, "Depart you cursed," we shall see whether Your Word shall cometo pass unto us or not! May God add His own blessing for Jesus' sake!-

"From where, then, shall doubts and fears arise? Why trickling sorrows drown our eyes? Slowly, alas, our mind receives The comfort that our Maker gives. Oh for a strong, a lasting faith, To credit what the Almighty says! To embrace the message of His Son, And call the joys of Heaven our own! Then should the earth's old pillars shake, And all the wheels of Nature break, Our steady souls should fear no more Than solid rocks when billows roar! Our everlasting hopes arise Above the venerable skies, Where the eternal Builder reigns, And His own courts His power sustains."