Sermon 436. A Sermon For Spring
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 23, 1862, BY REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"My Beloved spoke and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one and come way. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is overand gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come and the voice of the turtle is heard inour land. The fig tree puts forth her green figsand the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one and come away." Song of Solomon 2:10-13.
THE things which are seen are types of the things which are not seen. The works of creation are pictures to the children ofGod of the secret mysteries of Divine Grace. God's Truths are the apples of gold and the visible creatures are the basketsof silver. The very seasons of the year find theirparallel in the little world of man within. We have our winter- dreary howling winter-when the north wind of the Law rushesforth against us, when every hope is nipped, when all the seeds of joy lie buried beneath the dark clods of despair, whenour soul is fast fetteredlike a river bound with ice, without waves ofjoy, or flowings of thanksgiving.
Thanks be unto God, the soft south wind breathes upon our soul and at once the waters of desire are set free, the spring oflove comes on, flowers of hope appear in our hearts, the trees of faith put forth their young shoots, the tone of the singingof birds comes in our hearts, and we have joy andpeace in believing through the Lord Jesus Christ. That happy springtide is followed in the Believer by a rich summer, whenhis Graces, like fragrant flowers, are in full bloom, loading the air with perfume. And fruits of the Spirit like citronsand pomegranates swell into their fullproportion in the genial warmth of the Sun of Righteousness.
Then comes the Believer's autumn, when his fruits grow ripe and his fields are ready for the harvest. The time has come whenhis Lord shall gather together his "pleasant fruits," and store them in Heaven. The feast of ingathering is at hand-the timewhen the year shall begin anew, anunchanging year, like the years of the right hand of the Most High in Heaven. Now, Beloved, each particular season has itsduty. The husbandman finds that there is a time to plow, a time to sow, a time to reap. There is a season for vintage anda period for the pruning of the vine.There is a month for the planting of herbs and for the ingathering of seeds.
To everything there is a time and a purpose, and every season has its special labor. It seems, from the text, that wheneverit is springtide in our hearts, then Christ's voice may be heard saying, "Arise, My love, My fair one and come away." Wheneverwe have been delivered from a dreary winter oftemptation or affliction, or tribulation-whenever the fair spring of hope comes upon us and our joys begin to multiply,then we should hear the Master bidding us seek after something higher and better. And we should go forth in His strength tolove Him more and serve Him morediligently than ever before.
This I take to be the Truth of God taught in the text, and it shall be the subject of this morning's discourse. And to anywith whom the time of the singing of birds is come, in whom the flowers appear-to any such I hope the Master may speak tilltheir souls shall say, "My Beloved spoke andsaid unto me, rise up, My love, My fair one and come away." I shall use the general principle in illustration of four orfive different cases.
I. First, with regard to THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF CHRIST. In looking upon her history, with only half an eye, you can plainlyperceive that she has had her ebbs and flows. Often it seemed as if her tide retired-ungodliness, heresy, error prevailed.But she has had her flood tide when onceagain the glorious waves have rolled in, covering with their triumphant righteousness the sands of ignorance and evil. Thehistory of Christ's Church is a varied year of many seasons. She has had her high and noble processions of victory. She hashad her sorrowful congregations ofmourners during times of disaster and apparent defeat.
Commencing with the life of Christ, what a smiling spring it was for the world when the Holy Spirit was poured out in Pentecost.Then might the saints sing with sweet accord-
"The Jewish wintry state is gone, The mists are fled, the spring comes on. The sacred turtle dove we hear, Proclaim the new,the joyful year. The immortal vine of heavenly root, Blossoms and buds and gives her fruit; Lo, we are come to taste the wine,Our souls rejoice and bless the vine." Thewinter was over and past-that long season in which the Jewish state lay dead, when the frosts of Phariseeism had bound upall spiritual life. The rain was over and gone, the black clouds of wrath had emptied themselves upon the Savior's head. Thunderand tempest andstorm-all dark and terrible things-were gone forever.
The flowers appeared on the earth-three thousand in one day blossomed forth, baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.Fair promises created for beauty and delight sprang up and with their blessed fulfillment, clothed the earth in a royal garmentof many colors. The time of the singingbirds was come, for they praised God day and night, eating their bread with joy and singleness of heart. The voice of theturtle was heard, for the Spirit-that hallowed dove from Heaven-descended with tongues of fire upon the Apostles and the Gospelwas preached in everyland.
Then had earth one of her joyous Sabbaths. The fig tree put forth her green figs. In every land there were some converts.The dwellers in Mesopotamia, Medes, Parthians, Elamites-some of all-were converted to God, and the tender grapes of newbornpiety and zeal gave forth a sweet smellbefore God. Then it was that Christ spoke in words which made the heart of His Church burn like coals of juniper-My Fellow,My Friend, My Beautiful, arise and come your way."
The bride arose, charmed by the heavenly voice of her Spouse. She girt on her beautiful garments and for some hundred yearsor more, she did come away. She came away from her narrowness of spirit and she preached to the Gentiles the unsearchableriches of Christ-she came away from herattachment to the State and she dared to confess that Christ's kingdom was not of this world. She came away from her earthlyhopes and comforts, for, "they counted not their lives dear unto them that they might win Christ and be found in Him."
She came away from all ease and rest of body, for they labored more and more abundantly, making herself sacrifices for Christ.Her Apostles landed on every shore. Her confessors were found among people of every tongue. Her martyrs kindled a light inthe midst of lands afflicted with the midnight ofheathen darkness. No place trod by foot of man was left unvisited by the heralds of God, the heroic sons of the Church."Go forth into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature," was ringing in their ears like a clarion sounding thewar charge. And they obeyed it likesoldiers who had been men of war from their youth.
Those were brave days of old, when with a word, the saints of God could overcome a thousand foes-that word the faithful promiseof a gracious God. Alas, alas, that season passed away! The Church grew dull and sleepy. She left her Lord. She turned aside.She leaned upon an arm of flesh,courting the endowments of earthly kingdoms. Then there came a long and dreary winter, the dark ages of the world, the darkerages of the Church. At last the time of love returned, when God again visited His people and raised up for them new Apostles,new martyrs, new confessors.
Switzerland, France, Germany, Bohemia, the Low Countries, England, and Scotland had all their men of God who spoke with tonguesas the Spirit gave them utterance. The time of Luther and Calvin and Melancthon and of Knox was come-Heaven's sunny days-whenonce again the frost should giveway to approaching summer. Then it was that men could say once again, "The winter is passed, priest-craft has lost its power,the rain is over and gone. False doctrines shall no more be as tempests to the Church. The flowers appear on the earth-littleChurches-plants ofGod's right hand planting, are springing up everywhere."
The time of the singing of birds was come. Luther's hymns were sung by plowmen in every field. The Psalms translated werescattered among all people-carried on the wings of angels, and the Church sang aloud unto God, her strength-and entered intoHis courts with the voice ofthanksgiving, in such sort as she had not hoped for during her long and weary winter's night. In every cottage and underevery roof, from the peasant's hut, to the prince's palace, the singing of birds was come. Then peace came to the people andjoy in the Lord, for the voice of theturtle was heard delighting hill and valley, grove and field, with the love-notes of Gospel Grace.
Then fruits of righteousness were brought forth, the Church was "an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits," camphirewith spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense. Myrrh and aloes, with all thechief spices. And a sweet savor of faith and lovewent up to Heaven and God rejoiced therein. Then the Master sweetly cried-
"Rise up, My love, My fair one; come away, Soar on the wings of your victorious faith Above the realms of darkness and sin!"
But she did not hear the voice, or she heard it but partially. Satan and his wiles prevailed. The little foxes spoiled thevines and devoured the tender grapes. Corruption, like a strong man armed, held the spouse and she came not forth at her Beloved'scall. In England she would not comeaway-she hugged the arm of flesh. She laid hold upon the protection of the State-she would not venture upon the bare promiseof her Lord. O that she had left dignities, and endowments, and laws to worldly corporations-and had rested on her Husband'slove alone!
Alas for our divisions at this time! What are they but the bitter result of the departure of our fathers from the chastityof simple dependence such as Jesus loves? In other lands she confined herself too much within her own limits, sent forth fewmissionaries, labored not for the conversion of theoutcasts of Israel. She would not come away, and so the Reformation never took place. It commenced, but it ceased-and theChurches, many of them-remain to this day half reformed, in a transition state, somewhere between truth and error.
As the Lutheran Church and the Established Church of England at the present day-too good to be rejected, too evil to be whollyreceived. Having such a savor of godliness that they are Christ's but having such a mixture of Popery that their garmentsare not clean. Oh, would to God that theChurch could then have heard her Master's voice, "Rise up My love, My fair one and come away."
And now, Brethren, in these days we have had another season of refreshing. God has been pleased to pour out His Spirit uponmen again. Perhaps the late revivals have almost rivaled Pentecost-certainly in the number of souls ingath-ered they may bearrigid comparison with that feast of firstfruits. I suppose that in the north of Ireland, in Wales, in America, and in many parts of our own country, there have beenworked more conversions than took place at the descent of the Holy Spirit. The Lord's people are alive, and in earnest, andall our agencies are quickened withnew energy.
The time of the singing of birds is come, though there are some harsh, croaking ravens still left. The flowers appear on theearth, though much unmelted snow still covers the pastures. Thank God, the winter is over and passed to a great extent, thoughthere are some pulpits and Churches asfrost-bound as ever. We thank God that the rain is over and gone, though there are still some who laugh at the people ofGod and would destroy all true doctrine. We live in happier days than those which have passed. We may speak of these timesas the good old times wherein time isolder than ever it was and, I think, better than it has been for many a day.
And what now? Why, Jesus says, "Rise up My love, My fair one and come away." To each denomination of His Church He sends thismessage, "Come away." He seems to speak to Episcopacy and say, "Come away. Cut out of the liturgy that which is not accordingto My mind, leave the State, be free." Hespeaks to the Calvinist and says, "Come away-be no more dead and cold as you have been. Let not your sons hold the Truthof God in unrighteousness." He speaks to each denomination according to its need, but to the same command, "Rise up and comeaway. Leave deadness, andcoldness, and wrong-doing, and hardness, and harshness, and bitterness of spirit. Leave idleness, and slothfulness and lukewarmness-riseup and come away.
"Come away to preach the Gospel among the heathen. Come away to reform the masses of this wicked city. Come away from yourlittle heartedness, from your coldness of spirit. Come away-the land is before you-go up and possess it." Come away, yourMaster waits to aid you-strike! Hewill strike with you. Build! He will be the great master Builder-plow! He Himself shall break the clods! Arise and threshthe mountains, for He shall make you a sharp threshing instrument, having ties, and the mountains shall be beaten small untilthe wind shall scatter themlike chaff, and you shall rejoice in the Lord. Rise up, people of God, in this season of revival and come away! Why do yousleep? Arise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.
II. Methinks the text has a very SPECIAL VOICE TO US AS A CHURCH. We must use the Scripture widely but yet personally. Whilewe know its reference to the universal Church, we must not forget its special application to ourselves. We, too, have hada season of refreshing from the presence of theLord. The day was with this Church in the olden times, when we were diminished and brought low through oppression, affliction,and sorrow.
We could not meet more than twenty in a place and sometimes not more than five, without fine and persecution. Then the Churchhad its elders, who could meet the few in private houses-and cheer their hearts, bidding them abide in patience, waiting tillbetter times might come. Then God sentthem a pastor after his own heart, Benjamin Rider, who fed them with knowledge and understanding, and gathered togetherthe scattered sheep during the times of peace.
Then there followed him a man worthy to be pastor of this Church-one who had sat in the stocks at Aylesbury, had seen hisbooks burned by the common hangman before his face, and who counted not even his life dear unto him that he might win Christ.That man was Benjamin Keach, the opener ofthe parables and expositor of metaphors. On old Horselydown, then a great common, a large house was built where he preachedthe Word and his hearers were very many.
The flowers then appeared on the earth and the time of the singing of birds was come to this Church. He passed away and sleptwith his fathers and was followed by Dr. Gill, the laborious commentator. And for some time during his sound and solid ministryit was a good and profitable season, and theChurch was multiplied and built up. But again, even under his ministry the ranks were thinned and the host grew small. Therewas doctrine in perfection but more power from on High was needed.
After a space of fifty years or more of Dr. Gill's ministry, God sent Dr. Rippon and once more the flowers appeared upon theearth, and the Church multiplied exceedingly, bringing forth fruit unto God. And out of her there went many preachers whotestified of the Truth of God that was in Jesus andwere the parents of Churches which still flourish. Then the good old man, full of years and of good works, was carried tohis Home-and there came others who taught the Church and ingathered many souls-but they were not to the full extent successorsof the men who wentbefore them, for they tarried but a little season.
They did much good, but were not such builders as those were who had gone before. Then came a time of utter dead-ness. Theofficers mourned. There was strife and division. There became empty pews where once there had been full congregations. Theylooked about them to find one who might fill theplace and bring together the scattered multitude. But they looked, and looked in vain, and despondency and despair fellupon some hearts with regard to this Church. But the Lord had mercy on them and in a very short space, through His Providenceand Grace, the winter was passed andthe rain was over and gone.
The time of singing of birds was come again. There were multitudes to sing God's praises. The voice of the turtle was heardin our land. All was peace and unity and affection and love. Then came the first ripe fruits. Many were added to the Church.Then the vines gave forth a sweet smell. Convertscame, till we have often said, "Who are these that fly as a cloud and as doves to their windows?" Often has this Churchasked the question, "Who has begotten me these?" And now these eight years, by God's Grace, we have had a season, not of spasmodicrevival, but of constantprogress.
We have had a glad period of abundant increase in which there has been as many converts as we could receive. Every officerof the Church has had his hands full in seeing enquirers, and we have only had time to stop, now and then, and take breathand say, "What has God worked?" The time came when weerected this house, because no other place was large enough for us. And still God continues with us, till our Church meetingsare not sufficient for the reception of converts. And we know not how large a proportion of this assembly are Believers inChrist, because time fails to hearthe cases of conversion.
Well, what ought we to do? I hear the Master saying, "Rise up, My love, My fair one and come away." I hear Jesus speakingto this Church, and saying, "Where much is given, there much shall be required." Serve not the Lord as other Churches, butyet more abundantly. As He has given you showers oflove, so give Him your fertile fields. Let us rejoice with thanksgiving. Let this Church feel that she ought to be morededicated to Christ than others. That her members should be more holy, loving, living nearer to God. That they should be moredevoted, filled with more zeal, morefervency, doing more for Christ, praying more for sinners, laboring more for the conversion of the world.
And let us be asking ourselves what can we do, as a Church, that shall be more than we have ever thought of doing- inasmuchas He feeds us with the bread of Heaven, multiplies our numbers, keeps us in perfect concord, and makes us a happy people?Let us be a peculiar people, zealous for goodworks, showing forth His glory among the sons of men. It is a solemn responsibility to rest on any man's mind to be thepastor of such a Church as this, numbering very nearly two thousand in Church fellowship.
I suppose such a Baptist Church has never existed before. If we are found to be cowards in this day of battle, woe unto us!If we are unfaithful to our charge and trust, woe unto us! If we sleep when we might do so much, surely will the Master say,"I will take the candlestick out of its place andquench their light in darkness. Laodicea is neither cold nor hot but lukewarm, I will spew her out of my mouth."
And there shall come a dark day for us, with Ichabod on the forefront of our House of Prayer, and darkness in our souls, andbitterness and remorse in our spirits, because we served not Christ while we might. I will cry aloud to you and spare notto admonish and encourage you, my Brethren andcomrades, in the conflict for Truth. Men, Brethren and fathers. Young men, maidens and mothers in Israel, shall any of usdraw back now? O Lord, after You have so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent towards Your goodcause and work?
Who knows but You, O God, have brought us to the kingdom for such a time as this? Oh, we beseech You, send down Your holyfire on every heart, and the tongue of flame on every head, that everyone of us may be missionaries for Christ, earnest teachersof the Truth as it is in Jesus!
I leave these thoughts with you. You can feel them better than I can express them. And I can better feel their might thanI can make you feel it. O God! Teach us what our responsibility is, and give us Divine Grace that we may discharge our dutyin Your sight.
III. WHEN THE TIME OF THE BRIDAL OF THE SOUL HAS ARRIVED TO EACH CONVICTED SINNER,
THEN ALSO THERE ARE SPECIAL DUTIES.
Can you not remember, dearly Beloved, that day of days, that best and brightest of hours, when first you saw the Lord, lostyour burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on your way in peace? My soul can never forgetthat day. Dying, all but dead, diseased, pained,chained, scourged, bound in fetters of iron, in darkness and the shadow of death, Jesus appeared unto me.
My eyes looked to Him. The disease was healed, the pains removed, chains were snapped, prison doors were opened, darknessgave place to light. What delight filled my soul! What mirth, what ecstasy, what sound of music and dancing, what soaringtowards Heaven, what height and depths of ineffabledelight! Scarce since then have we known joys which surpassed the rapture of that first hour.
Oh, do you not remember it, dear Brothers and Sisters? And was it not a spring time to you? The winter was passed. It hadbeen so long, so dreary-those months of unanswered prayer, those nights of weeping, those days of watching. The rain was overand gone. The mutterings of Sinai's thunderswere hushed. The flashings of its lightning were no more perceived. God was beheld as reconciled unto you. The Law threatenedno vengeance. Justice demanded no punishment.
Then the flowers appeared in our hearts. Hope, love, peace, patience, sprung up from the sod. The snow drop of pure holiness,the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil lily of love all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing birds wascome, all that is within us magnified the holyname of our forgiving God. Our soul's exclamation was-
"I will praise You every day, Now Your anger's turned away; Comfortable thoughts arise, From the bleeding Sacrifice. Jesusis become at length, My salvation and my strength; And His praises shall prolong, While I live my pleasant song." Every mealseemed now to be a sacrament. Our clothes werevestments. The common utensils of our trade were "holiness to the Lord." We went out abroad into the world to see everywheretokens for good. We went forth with joy and were led forth with praise. The mountains and the hills broke forth before usinto singing, and all the trees ofthe fields did clap their hands. It was, indeed, a happy, a bright, and a glorious season!
Do I speak to some who are passing through that spring-tide now? Young Convert, young Believer, in the dawn of your piety,Jesus says, "Rise up, My love, My fair one and come away." He asks you to come out from the world and make a profession ofyour faith in Him now-do not put it off. It isthe best time to profess your faith while you are young, while as yet to you the days come not, nor the days draw near,when you shall say, "I have no pleasure in them."
Make haste and delay not to keep His commandments. Arise and be baptized. Come out from among the world, be separate and touchnot the unclean thing. Follow Christ in this perverse generation, that you may hear Him say at the last, "Of you I am notashamed, for you were not ashamed of Me in the daywhen I was despised and rejected of men." In this, your early time, dedicate yourselves to God. If you do not draw up aform and subscribe it with your hand, yet draw it up in your heart and subscribe it with your soul-"Lord, I am wholly Yours-allI am and all I have, Iwould devote to You. You have bought me with Your blood. Lord, take me into Your service-You have put away all Your wrathand given my spirit rest. Let me spend myself and be spent-in life and in death let me be consecrated to You."
Make no reserves. Come altogether away from selfishness-from anything which would divide your chaste and pure love to Christ-yoursoul's Husband. Rise up and come away. In this, the beginning of your spiritual life, the young dawn of marvelous light, comeaway from your old habits.Avoid the very appearance of evil. Come away from old friendships which may tempt you back to the flesh pots of Egypt. Leaveall these things. Come away to higher flights of spirituality than your fathers as yet have known. Come away to private communion.Be much alone in prayer.
Come away-be diligent in the study of God's Word. Come away, shut the doors of your chamber and talk with your Lord Jesusand have close and intimate dealing with Him. I know I speak to some young babes in Divine Grace, beginners in our Israel.Oh, take care that you begin aright by comingright away from the world, by being strictly obedient to every Divine command, by making your dedication perfect, complete,unreserved, sincere, spotless-
"While from your newly-sprouted vines Whose grapes are young and tender, choice and rich, The fa vor comes forth-Belo vedone, rise! Rise from this visible engrossing scene, And with affections linked to things above, Where Christ, your treasureis, be soaring still!" IV. But in the nextplace our text deserves to be used in another light. It may be that you and I have had winters of dark trouble, succeededby soft springs of deliverance.
We will not enlarge much on our sorrows, but some of us have been to the gates of death and, as we thought then, into thevery jaws of Hell. We have had our Gethesmanes, when our souls have been exceedingly sorrowful-nothing could comfort us, wewere like the fool who abhorred all manner ofmeat. Nothing came with any consolation to our aching hearts. At last the Comforter came to us and all our troubles weredissipated. A new season came, the time of the singing of birds was once more in our hearts.
We did not chatter any more like the swallow or the crane, but we began to sing as the nightingale, even with the thorn inour breast. We learned to mount to Heaven as the lark, singing all the way. The great temporal affliction which had crushedus was suddenly removed and the strong temptation ofSatan was taken off from us. The deep depression of spirit which had threatened to drive us to insanity was all of a suddenlifted and we became elastic in heart and once again as David, danced before the Ark, singing songs of deliverance!
I address some who this morning are looking back to such seasons. You have just reached the realm of sunlight, and you canlook back upon long leagues of shadow and cloud through which you have had to march. The valley of the shadow of death youhave just traversed-you can well remember thehorrible pit and the miry clay. We can still hear the rushing as of the wings and feet of crowded miseries. We can stillremember the terrible shadow of confusion. But we have come through it-through it all, by God's Grace-the winter is past,the rain is over and gone,and we can rejoice now in Covenant faithfulness and renewed loving kindness.
Now we have our assurance back again. And Christ is near us and we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, JesusChrist. Well, then, what are we to do? Why, the Master says to us, "Rise up and come away." Now is the time when we shouldmount up to be nearer to Him. Now that the day dawns,and the shadows flee away, let us seek our Beloved amid the beds of spices and by the lilies where He feeds. I would wehad more in the Church-more in this Church, like Madame Guyon, who loved the Lord as that woman did-who had much forgiven.Or like Mrs. Rowe, who inEngland was what Madame Guyon was in France.
Or like Dr. Hawker, or like Samuel Rutherford, who could pant and long and sigh for nearer fellowship with Christ. If thereis ever a season when we ought to follow hard after the Lord and not be content until we have embraced Him, it is when wehave come up from the wilderness, leaning upon ourBeloved. Then should the chaste virgins sing with joyous heart concerning Him to whom they are espoused-
"What is this vain, this visionary scene Of mortal things to me? My thoughts aspire Beyond the narrow bounds of rolling spheres.The world is crucified and dead to me, And I am dead to all its empty shows. But, oh, for YOU unbounded wishes warm My pantingsoul and call forth all her powers.Whatever can raise desire or give delight, Or with full joy replenish every wish, Is found in You, You infinite abyss ofecstasy and life!" Each Believer should be thirsting for God, for the living God-and longing to put his lip to the Wellheadof eternal life-to followthe Savior and say, "Oh, that You were as my Brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother, when I should find You without,I would kiss you, yes, I should not be despised. I would lead You and bring You into my mother's house, who would instructme: I would cause You to drink ofspiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head and His right hand should embrace me.
"I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor awaken my love, until He pleases. Who is this that comesup from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved? I raised you up under the apple tree: there your mother brought you forth.There she brought you forth that bore you."
Oh, that the Believer would never be content with having drops and sips of love, but long for the full feast. O my soul thirststo drink deep of that cup which never can be drained and to eat of all the dainties of that table which boundless love hasfurnished. I am persuaded that you and I arecontent to live on pence when we might live on pounds. That we eat dry crusts when we might taste the ambrosial meat ofangels. That we are content to wear rags when we might put on kings' robes. That we go out with tears upon our faces whenwe might anoint them with fresh oil.
I am convinced that many a Believer lives in the cottage of doubt when he might live in the mansion of faith. We are poorstarving things when we might be fed. We are weak when we might be mighty, feeble when we might be as the giants before God-andall because we will not hear the Mastersay, "Rise up My love, My fair one and come away."
Now, Brethren, is the time with you after your season of trouble, to renew your dedication vow to God. Now, Beloved, you shouldrise up from worldliness and come away from sloth, from the love of this world, from unbelief. What enchants you to make yousit still where you are? What delights you tomake you as you now are? Come away! There is a higher life! There are better things to live for and better ways of seekingthem. Aspire! Let your high ambition be unsatisfied with what you have already learned and know. Not as though you had alreadyattained, either were alreadyperfect.
This one thing do-press forward to the things that are before. Rise, Soul, greatly Beloved, and enter into your Master's rest.I cannot get my words this morning as I would have them. But if these lips had language, I would seek by every motive of gratitudefor the mercies you are enjoying,by every sensation of thankfulness which your heart can experience for Divine Grace received, to make you now say, "Jesus,I give myself up to You this day, to be filled with Your love. And I renounce all other desires but the desire to be usedin Your service, that I may glorifyYou."
Then, methinks there may go out of this place this morning many young men, and old men, too. Many youths and maidens, determinedto be doing something for Christ. I well remember preaching a sermon one Sunday morning which stirred up some Brethren tothe midnight meeting movement and much good wasdone, by God's Grace. What if some new thought should pass through some newly quickened spirit and you should think of somefresh invention for glorifying Christ at this good hour? Is there no Mary here who has an alabaster box at home unbroken?Will she not today break it over theMaster's head?
Is there no Zaccheus here who will today receive Christ into his house, constrained by Divine love? Oh, by the darkness thathas gone, and by the brightness that has come, live lovingly towards Christ! Oh, by the fears that have been hushed, by thepains that have been removed, by the joy you nowexperience, and by the delights which He has promised you, I beseech you, cling to Him and seek to serve Him! Go into theworld to bring in His lost sheep, to look after His hidden ones, to restore to Him that lost piece of money for which He haslit the candle and desires you tosweep the house.
O Christian Brothers and Sisters, it is an angel's work I have attempted now, and mortal lips fail. But I beg you, if thereis any heart of mercy, if there is any consolation in Christ Jesus, "if you then be risen with Christ, seek those things whichare above, where Christ sits at the right handof God." Lay not up your treasure upon earth where thieves break through and steal. But lay up your treasure in Heaven-forwhere your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.
If you love my Master, serve Him-if you do not, if you owe Him nothing, oh, if you owe Him nothing and have had no favor fromHim-then I beg you to seek mercy. But if you have found it. If you know it-oh, for His love's sake love Him! This dying worldneeds Your help, my Lord!This wicked sinful world needs Your aid. Up and be doing! The battle is raging furiously. Multitudes, multitudes in thevalley of decision! Guards up, and at them! Do you sleep, Sirs? Sleep when now the shots are flying thick as hail and thefoemen are rallying for the last chargein the world's mighty Armageddon?
Up! For the defiant standard of Hell waves proudly in the breeze. Do you say you are feeble? He is your strength. Do you sayyou are few? It is not by many nor by few that God works. Do you say, "I am obscure?" God wants not the notoriety and fameof men. Up, men, women, and children in Christ! Up!Be no more at ease in Zion, but serve God while it is called today, for the war needs every hand, and the conflict callsfor every heart. And night comes, when no man can fight or work.
V. And now, last of all, the time is coming to us all when we shall die upon our beds. Oh, long-expected day, hasten and come!The best thing a Christian can do is to die and be with Christ which is far better.
Well, when we shall lie upon our deathbeds, panting out our life, we shall remember that then the winter is past forever.No more of this world's trials and troubles. "The rain is over and gone." No more stormy doubts, no more dark days of affliction."The flowers appear on the earth." Christ isgiving to the dying saints some of the foretastes of Heaven. The angels are throwing over the walls some of the flowersof Paradise. We have come to the land Beulah. We sit down in beds of spices and can almost see the Celestial City on the hilltops,on the other side of the narrowstream of death.
"The time of the singing of the birds is come." Angelic songs are heard in the sick chamber. The heart sings, too, and midnightmelodies cheer the quiet entrance of the grave. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil,for You are with me." Those are sweet birdswhich sing in the groves by the side of the river Jordan. Now it is that "the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."Calm, peaceful and quiet, the soul rests in the consciousness that there is no condemnation to him that is in Christ Jesus.Now does "the fig tree put forth hergreen figs."
The first fruits of Heaven are plucked and eaten while we are on earth. Now do the very vines of Heaven give forth a smellthat can be perceived by love. Look forward to your death, you that are Believers in Christ, with great joy! Expect it asyour spring tide of life, the time when your realsummer shall come and your winter shall be over forever-
"One distant glimpse my eager passion fires! Jesus! To You my longing soul aspires! When shall I hear Your voice divinelysay, Rise up My love, My fair one come away? Come meet your Savior bright and glorious Over sin and death and Hell victorious."May God grant that the people who fear His namemay be stirred up this morning, if not by my words, yet by the Words of my text and by the influences of God's Spirit. Andmay you who have never had sweet seasons from the presence of God, seek Christ and He will be found of you. And by His Grace,may we all meet in the land wherewinters of sin and sorrow shall be all unknown. Amen.