Sermon 459. A Sermon For Men Of Taste
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 6, 1862, BY REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Therefore laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisies, and envies and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desirethe sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby. If, indeed, you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." 1 Peter 2:1-3.
"IF, indeed, you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." "If" If, then, is not a thing to be taken for granted concerningall of the human race. "IP-then there is a possibility, and a probability, that some may not have tasted that the Lord isgracious. "If, if-then this is not ageneral but a special mercy. And it becomes our business to enquire whether we are in that company, who know the Grace ofGod by inward experience.
There is no spiritual favor which may not be a matter for heart-searching. At the very summit of holy delight, we meet thechallenge of sentinel "IP-"Ifyou, then, are risen with Christ," and at the very bottom, even at Repentance Gate itself, hemeets us with a warrant of arrest until he seeswhether our sorrow is the godly sorrow that needs not to be repented of. "Ifyou are the Son of God," is not always a temptationof the devil but often a very healthy enquiry most fittingly suggested by holy anxiety to men who would build securely uponthe Rock of Ages.
If at the Lord's Table, itself, it is proper for us to say, "Lord, is it I?" when there is a Judas in the company, and ifafter the most intimate fellowship, Christ exclaimed, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?"-let no enjoyment of ordinances,let no high and rapt fellowship which we mayhave known, exempt us from the great duty of proving ourselves whether we are in the faith.
But, Beloved, albeit this should be a matter of heart-searching, I take it that no man ought to be content while there isany such thing as an "if about his having tasted that the Lord is gracious. I can understand Believers saying-
"It is a point I long to know, Often it causes anxious thought. Do I love the Lord or no? Am I His, or am I not?"
But I do not understand their being comfortable while their souls are under such suspense. I can comprehend the doubts whicharise from jealousy and holy distrust, but I cannot understand the continuance of those doubts, without a desperate struggleto clasp the Savior with the hands of faith, andsay, "I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him."
Do not rest, O Believer, till you have a full assurance of your interest in Christ. Let nothing satisfy you till, by the infalliblewitness of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with your spirit, you are certified that you are a child of God. Oh, trifle nothere. Let no "perhaps," and "if," and"maybe," satisfy your soul. Build on eternal verities and verily build upon them. Get the sure mercies of David and surelyget them. Let your anchor be cast into that which is within the vein and see to it that your soul is linked to the anchorby a cable that will not break.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus, I exhort and stir you up to get beyond these dreary "ifs." Abide no more in the howlingwilderness of doubts and fears. Cross the Jordan of distrust and enter the Canaan of peace, where the Canaanite still lingersbut which ceases not to flow with milk and honey.
Our text mentions a taste-"If, indeed, you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." And the Apostle speaks of the duty of thosemen of taste who have received this special favor. These two things shall take up our time this morning-the taste and theduties arising out of it And before weconclude, we shall go back to the Psalm with which we commenced this morning, and address those who as yet have never tastedthat the Lord is gracious, in the words of David-"O taste and see that the Lord is good!"
I. First, then, TASTE is prominent in the text. I scarcely need observe, that in Scripture, the Holy Spirit uses natural thingsas figures by which to set forth spiritual mysteries. Inasmuch as our language was ordained to speak the thoughts of the mindand to describe the things of the body, it isnot fitted, in itself, for the utterance of the things of the spirit. As much as the soul is higher than the body, so muchsuperior is the spirit (that is, the new principle implanted in regeneration) to the mere soul which every man possesses.And, as you will clearly see, if ourspeech had only been made for the body and had not been adapted for a being that had a soul, we should have been strangelyembarrassed for the expression of our mental emotions.
And now, as our speech only reaches unto the natural soul, if we would speak of the higher thoughts and impulses of the innerand newborn spirit, we can only do so by using the words we employ concerning natural objects. In this way we do not so muchdescribe spiritual things as they are inthemselves, but bring them down to our comprehension. When we shall become pure spirits, we may have a spiritual language.When we are caught up to the third Heaven, we shall use those words which now are not lawful for a man to utter-spiritualwordsfitted forspiritual'things.
1. The taste here meant is doubtless faith. Faith, in the Scripture, is all the senses. It is sight. "Look unto Me and beyou saved, all you ends of the earth." "They looked unto Him and were lightened and their faces were not ashamed." It is hearing-"Hearand your soul shall live. And I willmake an Everlasting Covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Faith hears the voice of the Spirit in effectualcalling-for the dead hear the voice of God, and "they that hear shall live." Faith is also smelling. "All your garments smellof myrrh and aloes andcassia." "Your name is as ointment poured forth." "A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto Me."
Faith is also touch. By this faith the woman came behind and touched the hem of Christ's garment and by this we handle thethings of the good word of life. Faith is equally the spirit's taste. "How sweet are Your Words to my taste! Yes, sweeterthan honey to my lips." "Except a man eat My flesh,"says Christ, "and drink My blood, there is no life in him." We shall have an inward and spiritual apprehension of the sweetnessand preciousness of Christ, as the result of living faith.
2. The taste here meant is faith in one of its highest operations. One of the first performances of faith is hearing. We hearthe voice of God, not with the outward ear alone but with the inward ear. We hear it as God's Word, and we believe it to beso. That is the hearing of faith. Then our mindlooks upon the Truth of God as it is presented to us. That is to say, we understand it, we see what it means-that is theseeingof faith. Then we perceive its preciousness to others, if not to ourselves. We begin to admire it and find how fragrantit is. That is faith in itssmell. Then comes the appropriating act by which we lay hold of the mercies that are offered us in Christ. That is faithin its touch.
Then come enjoyments, peace, delight, communion-which are faith in its taste. Any one of these acts of faith is saving. Tohear Christ's voice as the very voice of God in the soul will save us. But that which gives the true enjoyment is the aspectof faith wherein Christ, by holy taste,becomes assimilated to us. We feed on Him. He comes into us and becomes part of us. His living word sustains us and Hisprecious blood cheers us as generous wine. Do you ask, "In what respect does faith taste that the Lord is gracious?" It isfaith operating by experience.
Dear Christian Friends, you remember the time, when laden with guilt and full of fears, you looked to Jesus Christ-it wasthe eye of faith which looked. After a while Christ's sweet love assured you that your sins were forgiven and you felt a calmin your soul, such as you had never knownbefore. That was tasting Christ. You knew His sweetness, you knew the power there was in Him to take the bitterness outof your mouth and to put in sweetness instead. Since that time you have been in trouble but you have tasted Christ, for Hehas comforted you and lifted up thelight of His countenance upon you.
You have been often greatly tried but He has sustained you and you have experienced that He is a very present help in timeof trouble. Temptation has assailed you but you have been able to meet it by, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." And perhapseven today your soul is as full as it can be, ofdelightful contemplations of the loveliness, the faithfulness, the affection, the power and the glory of your precious LordJesus Christ. Now, this is what is meant by tasting. It is enjoying Christ by an act of faith and finding Him to be the altogetherlovely, sweet, and preciousOne.
It is something more than believing Christ to be precious. It is perceiving His worth, appreciating His sweetness, enjoyingHis loveliness. It is lying with His left hand under our head, while His right hand does embrace us. Thrice happy is the manwho has thus tasted that the Lord is gracious.Follow me, while by a figure I make this point clear as noonday.
There is a rumor running through the camp of Israel, that God on the morrow, at the rising of the sun, will feed His people.The rumor is believed. That is faith as hearing. Israel has heard that God will feed and Israel believes. See now- beforedaybreak the hosts of Israel hasten to theborders of the camp and they see lying upon the ground certain grains like coriander seed.
"This, this," they say, "is the food that God has sent to us." That is faith as seeing. They take it up in their hands. Theyexamine it, and feel of what sort it is. That is faith as the touch. They put it to their nostrils. They ascertain somewhatof its character by the very smell. This is faithjudging and discerning as smell. But lo! They place it in their mouths, and one of them says, "It tastes like wafers madewith honey." And another says "It is as fresh oil." This is faith enjoying, for now they have come, not to hear of, nor see,nor smell, nor touch, alone, but asmen to eat angel's food and are fed even to the full. Here you see faith in its progressive works ending by the high degreeof tasting.
3. Faith as exhibited to us under the aspect of tasting, is a sure and certain mark of Divine Grace in the heart It is a suresign of vitality. Man, by nature, is dead in trespasses and sins. See if the dead can taste. Bring the most pungent drugs-dothese arouse the palate? Give them a fouldraught and see if nausea can be produced. Now, put sweets to the dead man's tongue-do the eyes glisten? It is long sincethat corpse has fed-does it show any satisfaction in the presence of food? No. It is dead and taste has fled with the oncesentient soul. Verily,Brethren, no man can taste of Christ in his natural estate, and if you or I know Christ to be precious, we may be sure thatwe are alive through the Holy Spirit.
We may not be able to say when the Spirit of God came into us-perhaps this may be a trouble to us-that we do not know theday when we were quickened from our death in sin. But dear Friend, the life itself is there. Do you enjoy Christ? Is His namesweet music to you? Oh, can you rollthe doctrine of His atonement under your tongue as a sweet morsel? Say, is His flesh food to you? Do you rejoice in Hisredemption? Then you are alive, for no dead soul ever could taste heavenly things. To taste that the Lord is good is a certainevidence that the quickening Spiritabides in you. Or, to put it in another light. If men have a taste of Christ, it is certain evidence of a Divine change,for men by nature find no delight in Jesus.
Books of surgery tell us of a few persons without taste but the cure for such unfortunates is unknown. Their infirmity isbeyond the reach of drugs or surgery. If a man should be without hearing, the surgeon might, perhaps, effectually operate.Or if blind, the film might be removed from the visualorb. But if without taste, the defect is beyond the range of mortal power. So, if any man has a taste for Christ, inasmuchas he had it not by nature, and he could not have obtained it of himself, his is a case out of the pale of human ability.That same Christ who raised the dead,must have given this holy taste to the tasteless palate and tongue of the sinner.
I do not enquire what your experience may have been, or may not have been. If Christ is precious to you, there has been awork of Divine Grace in your heart. If you love Him, if His Presence is your joy, if His blood is your hope, if His gloryis your object and aim, and if His Person is theconstant love of your soul, you could not have had this taste by nature-for you were dead. You could not have acquired thistaste by learning-for this is a miracle which none but the God who is supreme over nature could have worked in you. Let everytried and troubledChristian, who nevertheless does taste that the Lord is good, take consolation from this simple remark.
4. In the next place. This taste, where it has been bestowed by Divine Grace, is a discerning faculty. There have been instancesof persons who could not discern between the various flavors. A man was well known to a certain surgeon, who could just detectthe distinction between the smell of garlicand the fragrance of a rose, but was quite incapable of knowing any difference between the perfume of a rose and of a lily.And the same person in feeding could never distinguish between different meats or drinks, except between the more pungentand rancid and the more exquisitelysweet.
Now, there are some Christians of that kind, who have some taste for Christ, but their taste is not very discerning. You maypreach to them a doctrine of "ifs," and "ands," and "buts," and if it is warmly delivered and well disguised, they will hardlyknow what they are taking. Then, on anotheroccasion, you may give them the sure mercies of David- "shalls," and "wills," and everlasting verities, and oaths, and covenants,and they like that, too. For they have not yet, by reason of use, become able to discern between the Truth of God and error.
Yet, mark you, there was never yet a Christian who did not know the difference between the Rose of Sharon and the garlic ofEgypt. There was never yet a man renewed by Divine Grace who did not soon discover the difference between works and Gospel,between Law and Grace. Between the dead efforts ofthe flesh and the living power of the quickening
Spirit of the living God. I have noticed that some Christians in these modern times have but little taste, and do you knowto what I have ascribed it? I think they have taken a cold and have thus lost very much of their power of taste. Oh, how manyBelievers there are who sit in the draught ofworldliness till they get stiff-necks of carnal pride and lose their taste for heavenly things! Besides, if a man will ruinhis palate with the high-spiced food of earth, it is little marvel that when he comes back to his natural food, Christ Jesus,he should have lost some of hisdelight in Divine things!
Now, I know there are some professors who have such a taste for worldly joys, that it is no marvel that they cannot so welldiscern the Divine and exquisite pleasure that is in Christ Jesus, when they are fed upon by the Holy Spirit. Yet again, Isay, though the degree of discernment may vary,there is a discerning power in faith as taste. If you can feed on a religion which gives you ceremonies to trust to, youhave never tasted that the Lord is gracious. If, my Hearer, you can live upon a Gospel which leads you to depend upon yourself,you have no spiritual taste, orelse you would loathe, as much as any Egyptian loathed to drink of the waters of the Nile when turned into blood.
You would only drink of the cool stream of the river of life which rises at the foot of the Throne of God and flows aroundthe base of Calvary, where Jesus shed His blood. Say, Soul, do you love Jesus only? Is He all your salvation and all yourdesire, and do you trust and repose wholly and solelyin Him? For if not, then you have no spiritual taste-and you have no reason to believe that you belong to Jesus Christ atall.
5. But, again, to pass on, having sufficiently enlarged upon that point. Faith as a taste is not simply a discerning but adelighting faculty Men derive much satisfaction from the organs of taste. We ought not to be as the glutton, whose only reasonfor living is that he may eat. But everyone of usmay be thankful that God has not made the repairing of our frame to be an obnoxious operation and that He has given us acapacity for enjoying the flavors of food. Certain critics have a faith which is very good for discerning but never for enjoying.
They have a fine nose for heresy. The moment it comes anywhere near them they discover it. And if there is half a word ina sermon they do not like, how sure they will be to take it home. One bad fish in our basket and it will be cried all roundthe town before tomorrow. But let us offer ever somuch that is good, we can scarce win a notice. Dear Friends, I would have God's people discern, but the discerning propensityought not to destroy the enjoyingfaculty. I bless God I love the Doctrines of Grace but I never considered the Doctrines ofGrace to be like drawn swordswith which to fight every man living.
I know it is a good thing to be like the armed men about the bed of Solomon, each with his sword upon his thigh because offear in the night. But for my part, to recline upon that royal bed and sleep with Jesus' bosom for a pillow, is better still.I pray you, dear Friends, delight yourselves inChrist! Let your faith so taste Jesus as to make you glad. Let your joy be as the joy of harvest and sing with Zechariah,"How great is His goodness and how great is His beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful and new wine the maids." Betteris Christ to you than all earth'sharvests. He is the cluster of Eshcol, so heavy that one man can never carry all of Christ! He is not one grape. But a clusterof sweetness is our Beloved unto us!
Feed to the full! Eat, yes, drink abundantly, O Beloved! Be satiated with delight, and let your soul rejoice as with marrowand fatness-so shall you understand in the fullest degree what this taste is which so delights the soul of man! King Solomon,during his lifetime, sat at a feast. Thefirst rich course was one which he had asked for himself. It was wisdom. He tasted all its dainty morsels and he cried,"In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow." Then an attendant, all bedecked with goldand silver, brought in the lordly dishof riches and Solomon ate thereof till he cried out, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit, there is no profit under thesun."
Then there came in one who looked most bewitching, bearing the dish of carnal and fleshly pleasure and Solomon greedily satdown to eat-for this time, he thought-he had full sure obtained the honey that would enlighten his eyes. So Solomon feastedto the very full, and at the last hesaid, "vanity of vanities. All is vanity!" But he never would have said this concerning the true wisdom. For at the last,when the old man ceased to be a hunter of pleasure, he bore his willing testimony to the perfection of that love which isbetter than wine.
Dearly Beloved, you who know what it is to taste Christ can witness that Immanuel's love makes you like Jonathan in the woods,who did but dip the end of his spear into the honey and his eyes were enlightened. Oh, what enlightenment, what joy, whatconsolation, what leaping of heart is there tothat man who has learned to feed on Jesus, and on Jesus Christ alone!
6. We must remark, dear Friends, that this taste of ours is in this life imperfect. As old master Durham says, "It is buta taste!" You have tasted that the Lord is gracious, but you do not know how good and how gracious He is. I am sure my soulwas hot within me when you were singing that versejust now-
"But when I see You as You are, I'll praise You as I ought"
There is another verse, too, which I may aptly quote-
"When I have tasted of the grapes, I sometimes long to go Where my dear Lord the vineyard keeps, And all the clusters grow."
We have not yet rested beneath the vines of Canaan. We have only enjoyed the first fruits of the Spirit and they have setus hungering and thirsting for the fullness of the heavenly heritage. We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption.We are like David. We have had a draught of water fromthe well of Bethlehem that is within the gate, brought to us through the valor of Christ Jesus. But we have not yet drankthe clear, cool stream, in all its perfection, at the fountain head.
We are but beginners in spiritual education. We have learned the first letters of the alphabet. We cannot read words yet,much less can we read sentences-we are but infants. We have not come to the stature of perfect men in Christ Jesus. As onesays, "He that has been in Heaven but fiveminutes, knows more than all the general assembly on earth, though they were all learned divines." We shall know more ofChrist by one glimpse of Him in Heaven, than we shall know by all our learning here. It is but a taste here, and if a tasteis so ravishing, what must it be tosit at the table and eat bread in the kingdom of God?
And here I must again remark that this imperfection of taste is in some Christians far more conspicuous than in others. Thereare some Believers who seem to have no appreciating taste for Christ-they hardly know the savor of His blessed name. I declareto you all, if Christ were not betterthan the visible Church, we might be weary of Him. His Church, alas, is but the blurred and blotted portrait of Himself-lovelyshe is. But sometimes those blots and blurs are so conspicuous to our anxious eyes that we rather mourn her uncomeliness thanrejoice over her beauty.Oh, how many there are among you, professors of Christ, that are none of His!
What said the Apostle? "For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemiesof the Cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly and whose glory is in their shame." Dear Brethren,let us purge ourselves from the corruptions ofthese pretenders. Frivolity, pleasure, gain, worldliness, covetousness-what have these things to do with us? Get away fromus! Get away from us! Be gone, you Fiends! But how many open their hearts and say, "Come, hide here, you unclean spirits.Come and dwell with us!"
Surely, surely, surely, you have but little taste, if any, for the manna of Christ, or you would never eat the dust whichis the serpent's meat. God quicken His people! Wash their mouths out, if necessary, even with bitter medicine, till they desireChrist anew and cleave to Him with full purposeof heart.
7. Though ours is an imperfect, we thank God it is a growing taste. Old Barzillai told David that he was too old a man toenjoy dainties. Said he, "Can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink?" We know that sometimes in the decline of life,the taste, like the other powers of manhood, decays.But glory be to God, a taste for Christ will never decay. The good bishop, when he was dying, was asked by his wife whetherhe knew her. But he shook his head, for memory had failed. His dearest friends and children, after repeating their names,asked whether their dear friend andfather had not some recollection of them. But again he shook his head. "Do you remember Jesus?" said one. And oh, how heclasped his hands together, for that was a name he never could forget!
Our venerable friends who are present with us this morning, find-I hope they do-that they have a loosened grip for the worldand a tighter grasp for Christ. While your eyes grow dim and you need your glasses, I hope you can see Christ more clearlythan ever. God grant that some of youmay be called up to the top of Pisgah and may have a view of the landscape. And there may you see your Master's love inall the length and breadth of its fullness and richness, before yet you are raised up to Heaven by the kiss of the Most High.In dying moments, the Christian'staste gets quickened.
And whereas before he thought Christ sweet, now he knows He is! Where he once compared Him to honey, now He declares thathoney from the honeycomb is sour compared with Christ.
And he can cry out with Rutherford, "Black heavens, black moon, black sun! But fair, fair, incomparably fair Lord Jesus!"He can now tread everything beneath his feet as he would a dead and corrupt thing. But his soul cries, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!You are brighter, fairer and more lovely to me thanever You were before!" God give us Grace that we may understand and know-experimentally--what it is to taste that the Lordis gracious.
II. MEN WHO HAVE THUS TASTED OF CHRIST HAVE SPECIAL SINS TO AVOID AND OBJECTS TO DESIRE.
We first dwell upon evils to be avoided. Malice. "Revenge is sweet," is the proverb of the Italians and many an Englishmanhas half learned it, if not wholly. "Revenge is sweet." But not to the man who has tasted Christ, for he says, "How can Ihave vengeance upon my fellow, when Christ has putaway my sin?" Now, forgiveness is sweet and he loathes malice and turns aside from it as from venom itself.
Guile-that is craftiness whereby men rob their fellow creatures. Some men think guile a very fine thing. "That's a sharp fellow,"says one. And sage fathers pat their boys on the back and say, "If you become a sharp fellow you will be an alderman yet."See yonder trader, you must keep allyour eyes open or he will take you in. He does not exactly tell lies but-well, he shaves very closely to the truth. It isguile-low craftiness and cunning. A man of God hates that thing. "What? I, I the servant of the God of Truth, crouch, bend,fawn, do anything butwhat is upright, to gain wealth?" As surely as the Lord says concerning the Laodicean Church, "I will spew you out of Mymouth," so the Believer says concerning anything that is not true and straightforward, "I am sick of it. I loathe it, I abhorit. I turn from it."
The next thing is hypocrisy, whereby men are not so much robbed and injured as deceived. A Christian can be no hypocrite.Hypocrisy, like all other sins, lurks in man till the very last. But a Believer hates to pretend to be what he is not. A manwho has once tasted that the Lord is gracious, is atrue and transparent man in his profession. If any suppose him to be better than he is, he does not wish to wear feathersthat are not his own. He would not be glorified by another man's labors, nor build upon another man's foundation. Hypocrisyhe utterly detests and would soonerdie a pauper than live a pretender. Any man among you who has tasted that the Lord is gracious, will, I am sure, withoutmy exhortation this morning, loathe all malice, guile and hypocrisy.
Once more, put away all evil speaking. I am sorry to say that there are some, who I hope are Christians, who do not hate evilspeaking. "Have you heard about Mrs. So-and-So?" I shall not mention names but there are fifty, perhaps a hundred, here, towhom it will apply. There is a little mischief inthe village about Miss A, or Mr. B. And Mrs. Tittle-Tattle is up as early as possible and calls on Mrs. Scandal and says,"Have you heard the sad news? I hope it is not true." "No, I have not heard it." "Well, don't mention it to anybody else,I hope it is not correct. But I haveheard such-and-such."
And the two sit down and they make such a breakfast over it. And they both say they hope it is not true, while all the timethey are as glad of it in their hearts as ever they can be. They go on telling others they hope it is not true-and tellingthem not to mention it to anybodyelse-until they do all the mischief before they have stopped to enquire whether or not they are telling lies. Then thereare the men. They like a bit of scandal in the newspapers every now and then. Public men have often to feel that evil speakingmust be very sweet to thepeople, or surely it would never pay to print such barefaced lies.
A Christian should have nothing to do with scandal but should say in a company, "Stop! I cannot sit by and hear you say thatof an absent person. If he were here, you might say what you liked, but as he is not, please hold your tongue, for I am hereas a defender of those who are back-bitten."Every absent man should have an advocate in a Christian. More especially should this be true when the rumor injures a Brotheror Sister in Christ. "It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest." And he is an ill Believer who tells tales about his fellowChristians.
If you, as a Church member, have anything against a Brother, tell him alone. And then, if it should be some public and cryingsin, tell it in an orderly manner to the Church officers. But for you to go chattering about things you do not know to betrue is such an offense against Church order, thatif you are expelled from Church communion for it, the ejection will be justifiable. You certainly cannot expect to havefellowship with Christ if you mar the fellowship of Christ's Church by talking the one against the other.
See, now, among our different denominations, how pleased some ministers are if they can get a bone to pick against a Brotherin another denomination. If there is a fresh hitch in the machinery of the Church of England, how often the Dissenter feelsdevoutly glad that there is likely to be anupsetting of the Episcopal communion. And I know that some Episcopalians, when they hear that in a Dissenting Church thereis something wrong, say, "Well, it is a great pity." But they think to themselves, "Well, they will eat one another up andwill be all the less trouble to us."Rinse your mouths! Rinse your mouths, all of you, who have said anything against your Brethren up to now and from this timeforth. "If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious," eschew all evil speaking against your fellow men.
The Apostle, having told us what to avoid, tells us what to eat and drink. "As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of theWord." A most unfortunate translation, for who ever heard of "sincere milk?" "Unadulterated milk" is a more sensible translation.The Christian man should desire puredoctrine. He should desire to hear the Gospel plainly and truthfully preached. Not in the words which man's wisdom teaches,but in the words which the Holy Spirit teaches. It is a sign of declining health in a Christian when he does not love themeans of Divine Grace. "But how, Sir,if I cannot get on with my minister?" Well, it may be your sin that makes him such a poor minister as you think him to be.
No doubt, while the pew is to be supplied by the pulpit, the pulpit is acted upon very greatly by the chilliness and hardnessof the pew. If you prayed more for your minister you would feed better under him. But in London you have not this excuse,for there is such a choice of preachers of the Wordhere, that if you had a desire for the pure milk, you might obtain it somewhere or other. Oh, what a good thing it is tohave spiritual hunger and thirst! When people are not hungry, you may set a fine meal before them, but they will turn up theirnoses at it. But let a man comefresh from the field, hungry-down he sits-no matter how rough the fare. He only wants it to be sweet, wholesome and nutritious,and he cuts huge slices for himself and feeds to the full.
Give me a congregation of hungry hearers, such as I usually see here on Sunday, with eyes that seldom turn from the preacherand with ears that catch every word! I think any man could preach to my congregation, for you come up here hungry. A ministerwould wish to be like the mother bird whichcomes back with the worm to the nest and finds all the mouths open, everyone desiring to be fed. Now, this is just, I think,what the Apostle meant-"As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word." You know babes do not have set times for desiringtheir food. When theywant it they will have it and will cry till they get it.
So should it be with Believers. They should have such unceremonious longings to be fed from the breasts of Heaven's consolation,that they will cry till they get the heavenly food from God their Father-that living food by which they grow and are madestrong in Christ. I have thus enlargedupon the first part of the text. And now, two or three minutes only, upon the next. "O taste and see that the Lord is good!"
Dear Christian Friends, I have spoken to you of this taste. But among us this morning, in the galleries and down below here,there is a goodly sprinkle of men who do not know Christ. They have come up to this House of Prayer, not that they might knowChrist, but that they might see a vastcongregation and amuse themselves by novelty. Ah, how many come with this miserable object. Well, let them come for whateverthey like, we are glad to see them, for being in the way, God may meet with them.
Now, to such of you who are not Believers in Christ and have never tasted that He is gracious, we say this- "O taste and see."By which we mean, experience is necessary. Taste and see. You cannot see without tasting. If you would know whether religionis a good and happy thing, try it. It isnot rubbing the bread upon the cheek. It is tasting. You must have an inward sense of the things of God. "My son, give Meyour heart." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Let your heart believe in Jesus. Be not content withceremonies. Rest not satisfied withoutward morality. Only that which reaches the core will really affect the fruit of the tree. We must make the fountain pure,or else our filtering the stream is all in vain. "Taste and see."
Dear Hearers, I cannot insist too earnestly upon this. Get an inward religion-vital godliness-which goes into the secret partsof the heart and dwells in the inner man. Nothing but tasting can save your souls. And then we say, "Taste and see." We arequite sure that if you will tasteyou shall see that the Lord is good. I bear my willing witness that Christ makes a man blessed, that religion is a happything, and that "her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace." But you do not believe me. Then taste andsee for yourselves. "Seek the Lordwhile He may be found: call upon Him while He is near."
May the Spirit of God lead you to give your heart to Jesus, and you will find that the true religion of Jesus is a good thingfor you. A good thing for you, young woman. A good thing for you, young man. Good for the trader; good for the gentleman.Good for the artisan-good for everyone ofyou. We feel very earnest that you should do this and therefore we say, "O taste and see that the Lord is good!" Do notdespise our invitation! We beseech you, by the mercies of God, to give your hearts to Jesus. From our very souls, as thoughwe pleaded for our own lives, we wouldbeseech you. Give the things of God a patient consideration. Believe in Jesus. This is to taste. Trust Christ. This is to"taste and see that the Lord is good."
Yes, I know you will turn on your heels and say that religion is a good thing for Sundays but you do not see anything in itfor everyday life. Ah, Sirs, it is for want of knowing better. If you would but taste and see, you would regret that you hadnot tasted before-and you would rejoice andbless the Lord that you were brought to taste at last. But you say, "May I taste?" Oh, yes! Divine Grace is free! Christis free! If you will come, poor Sinner, there is none to push you back. If God has made you willing to take Christ, dependupon it, Christ was always willing totake you-for where God puts a renewed will into man, it is the image of His own eternal will. If you desire Christ, trustHim this morning. This is the way to escape from Hell and fly to Heaven.
Are you black with sin? The fountain is open-wash. Are you hungry? The door is not shut. It stands open all day- come, then,and eat. "Ho, everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters and he that has no money, come you, buy and eat. Yes, come, buywine and milk without money andwithout price." If any of you should ever regret of trusting Christ, come and blame me. Find my Master in your hearts andif He is not a good and precious Savior to you, if He does not feed your soul with gladness, keep you from sin and bring youat last to Heaven-come andtell me I am found a false witness unto Christ! From the depths of my soul I say it, I would sooner be a Christian thanan emperor; sooner have Christ than a crown. And sooner bear His Cross than sit upon the throne of a Caesar.
Soul, taste and see that He is good. "But I am not fit to taste," says one. Well but who is fit to eat? A hungry man? Areyou hungry? Eat. "Oh but my hands are black with sin." Never mind. It is not hand work here, it is mouth work. "Oh but I amafraid I have no taste and that if I did receiveChrist into my heart, I should not taste His sweetness." Mark, the taste is in Him and not in your mouth. Come and takeHim as he is. A little child, however weak, can be fed. Put up your mouth, you weak and foolish Sinner, weary and heavy ladenas you are, and by receiving Christinto your soul's mouth, you shall find Him good, and you shall go your way rejoicing.
Hearken diligently unto the Lord and eat that which is good and let your soul delight itself in fatness. It will be an awfulthing to feed on the wind forever and roll the morsels of Hell beneath your tongue to all eternity-but this will be your portionunless you taste of Christ. May He addHis own blessing to His own glory. Amen.