Sermon 505. The Root Of The Matter
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY EVENING, APRIL 12, 1863, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON. AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"The root of the matter is found in me." Job 19:28.
FOR the last three or four Lord's Day evenings I have been trying to fish with a net of small meshes. It has been my anxiousdesire to gather in and draw to shore the Much-Afraids, the Fearings, the Despondencies, and those of Little-Faith who seemto think it scarcely possible that they could belong to the people of God at all. I hope those sermons which have taken thelowest evidences of Christian life, and have been adapted rather to babes in Divine Grace than to those who are strong menin our Israel, will furnish comfort to many who beforetime had been bowed down with distress. In pursuance of the same purpose this evening, I take up the expressive figure of our text to address myself to those whoevidently have the Grace of God embedded in their hearts, though they put forth little blossom and bear little fruit. I praythat they may be consoled, if there is clear evidence that at least the root of the matter is found in them incidentally.However, the same truth may be profitable, not only to the saplings in the garden of the Lord, but to the most goodly trees.For there are times and seasons when their branches do not put out much luxuriant foliage, and the hidden life furnishes theonly true argument of their vitality. I. Our first aim, then, will be TO SPEAK OF THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ESSENTIAL TO TRUE GODLINESS IN CONTRAST, OR, I mightbetter say, IN COMPARISON WITH OTHER THINGS WHICH ARE TO BE REGARDED AS SHOOTS RATHER THAN AS ROOT AND GROUNDWORK. The tree can do without some of its branches, though the loss of them might be an injury. But it cannot live at all withoutits roots-the roots are essential-take those away, and the plant must wither. And thus, my dear Friends, there are thingsessential in the Christian religion. There are essential doctrines, essential experiences, and there is essential practice.With regard to essential doctrines, it is very desirable for us to be established in the faith. A very happy thing it is tohave been taught from one's youth up the sound and solid doctrines which comforted the Puritans-which made blessed the heartof Luther and of Calvin, fired the zeal of Chrysostom and Augustine-and flashed like lightning from the lips of Paul. By such judicious training we are, no doubt, delivered from many doubts and difficulties which an evil system of theologywould be sure to encourage. The man who is sound in the faith, and who understands the higher and more sublime doctrines ofDivine Revelation, will have wells of consolation which the less instructed cannot know. But we always believe, and are everready to confess, that there are many doctrines which, though exceedingly precious, are not so essential. We believe a personmay be in a state of Divine Grace, and yet not receive them. For instance-God forbid that we should regard a belief in the doctrine of election as an absolute test of a man's salvation-forno doubt there are many precious sons of God who have not been able to receive that precious Truth of God. Of course the doctrineis essential to the great scheme of Grace, as the foundation of God's eternal purpose-but it is not, therefore, necessarilythe root of faith in the sinner's reception of the Gospel. And, perhaps, too, I may put the doctrine of the final perseveranceof the saints in the same list. There are many who, no doubt, will persevere to the end, but who cannot accept the possibilityof being assured of the fact. They are so occupied with the thoughts of their probation that they come not to the mature knowledge of their full salvation.They are securely kept while they credit not their security, just as there are thousands of the elect who cannot believe inelection. Though Calvinistic doctrine is so dear to us-we feel ready to die in its defense-yet we would by no means set itup as being a test of a man's spiritual state. We wish all our Brothers and Sisters agreed with us, but a man may be almostblind, and yet he may live. A man with weak eyesight and imperfect vision may be able to enter into the kingdom of Heaven-indeed,it is better to enter there having but one eye, than, having two eyes and being orthodox in doctrine-to be cast into Hellfire. But there are some distinct truths of Revelation that are essential in such a sense that those who have not accepted themcannot be called Christians. And those who willfully reject them are exposed to the fearful anathemas which are hurled againstapostasy. I shall not go into a detailed list. Let it suffice that I give you a few striking illustrations. The doctrine ofthe Trinity we must ever look upon as being one of the roots of the matter. When men go unsound here, we suspect that, beforelong, they will be wrong everywhere. The moment you get any suspicion of a man's wavering about the Divinity of Christ, youhave not long to wait before you discover that on all other points he has gone wrong. Well did John Newton express it- "What think you of Christ is the test To try both your state and your scheme. You cannot be right in the rest, Unless youthink rightly of Him."
Almost all the forms of error that have sprung up since the days of Dr. Doddridge, when sundry gentlemen began to talk againstthe proper Deity of the Son of God-all the forms of error, I say, whatever department of the Christian system they may havebeen supposed to attack-have reallystabbed at the Deity of our Redeemer. That is the one thing that they are angry at, as if their mother-wit taught them itwas the true line of demarcation between natural and revealed religion. They cannot bear that the glorious Lord should beunto us a place of broad rivers andstreams, and so they fly to do without Him.
But their tacklings are loosed, they cannot well strengthen their mast, they cannot spread the sail. A Gospel without beliefin the living and true God-Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity-is a rope of sand. As well hope to make a pyramid standupon its apex as to make a substantialGospel when the real and Personal Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is left as a moot or disputed point.But I ought to mention the strange incoherency of that discourse which sets forth the influences of the Spirit without a dueregard to His Personal agency. Oh,how little is the Holy Spirit known! We get beyond the mere exercise of opinions when we believe in Christ, know the Father,and receive the Holy Spirit. This is to have a knowledge of the true God and eternal life.
Likewise essential is the doctrine of the vicarious sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any bell that does not ring soundon that point had better be melted down at once. I do not think we have many in our denomination-we do have some who are notvery clear-still, I think we have butfew that are unsound in the doctrine of the real Substitution of Christ. But there are plenty elsewhere. Perhaps I neednot indicate the locality, for in the denomination where they seem to be tolerably prolific, they have one earnest tongue,and one ready pen that is always willingat all times to expose the miscreants who thus do damage to the cause of Christ by giving up the precious blood of Jesusas the sole cause of the remission of sins, and the only means of access to God.
Why, my Brothers and Sisters, we have nothing else left after we have given up this choice seal of the Everlasting Covenant,on which all our hopes depend! Renounce the doctrine of Jesus dying in our place? Better for us all to be offered as one greatslaughter, one mighty sacrifice to God on onefire, than to tolerate for a moment any doubts about that which is the world's hope, Heaven's joy, Hell's terror, and eternity'ssong! I marvel how men are permitted to stand in the pulpit and preach at all, who dare to say anything against the atonementof Christ! I find in theDutch Church, in the French Church, and in the German Churches, that men are accepted as Christian ministers who will yetspeak hard things against the Atonement, itself, and even against the Deity of Him by whom the Atonement was made!
There is no other religion in the world that has been false to its own doctrines in the way that Christianity has been. Imaginea Mohammedan allowed to come forward in the pulpit and preach against Mohammed! Would it be tolerated for a single moment?Suppose a Brahmin, fed and paid to stand up in atemple, and speak against Brahma! Would it be allowed? Surely not! Nor is there an Infidel lecturer in this country butwould find his pay stopped at once, if, while pretending to be in the service of Atheism, he declaimed the sentiments he wassworn to advocate. How is it? Why isit? In the name of everything that is reasonable and instinctively consistent, where can it be that men can be called Christianministers after the last vestige of Christianity has been treacherously repudiated by them?
How is it that they can be tolerated to minister in holy things to people who profess and call themselves sincere followersof Jesus, when they tread under foot the precious blood of Christ, and, "reduce the mystery of godliness to a sys- tem ofethics"? To use the words of a Divine of the lastcentury: "Degrade the Christian Church into a school of philosophy. Deny the expiation made by our Redeemer's Sacrifice.Obscure the brightest manifestation of Divine mercy, and undermine the principal pillar of practical religion. And to makea desperate shipwreck of oureverlasting interests, they dash themselves to death on the very rock of salvation."
No. We must have the Atonement, and that not tacitly acknowledged, but openly set forth. Charity can go a good way, but charitycannot remove the altar from the door of the Tabernacle, or admit the worshipper into the most Holy Place without the bloodof propitiation. So, again, the doctrineofjustification by faith is one of the roots of the matter. You know Luther's saying. I need not repeat it. It is the articleof a standing, or falling Church, "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.Not of works lest any man shouldboast." Do you preach that doctrine? My hand and my heart are stretched out to you!
Do you deny it? Do you stutter over it? Are you half-afraid of it? My back must be turned against you. I know nothing of you.You are none of the Lord's! What says the Apostle Paul to you? Would he have communed with you? He lifts his hand to Heavenand he says-"If any man preach any otherGospel than that you have received, let him be accursed!" That is Paul's saintly greeting. That is Paul's Apostolic malediction-an"Anathema Maranatha" upon the man that preaches not the Lord Jesus, and who does not vindicate the great doctrine of salvationby Grace and not byworks.
Well now, Friend, you may have come in here to listen to our doctrine, and to judge whether you can hold fellowship with us.We have been talking about the root of the matter. Permit me to say that if you are sound on these three points, the One Godin Trinity, the glorious doctrine of theSubstitution of Christ in the place of sinners, and the plan of salvation by simple faith in Jesus, then inasmuch as theseroots of the matter are in you, God forbid that we should exclude you as heretical. If you are in other points unenlightenedand groping about in uncertainty,doubtless the Lord will teach you-but we believe the root of the matter is in you so far as doctrine is concerned.
Turning to another department of my subject. There are certain root matters in reference to experience. It is a very happything to have a deep experience of one's own depravity. It may seem strange, but so it is. A man will scarcely ever have highviews of the preciousness of the Savior who hasnot also had deep views of the evil of his own heart. High houses, you know, need deep foundations. And when God digs deep,and throws out the mire of self-sufficiency. Then He puts in the great stone of Christ's all-sufficiency, and builds us uphigh in union and fellowship withHim.
To read the guilt of sin in the lurid glare of Mount Sinai, to hear the thunder, and shrink back in wild dismay at the utterhopelessness of approach to God by the Law is a most profitable lesson. Yes, and to see the guilt of sin in the mellow lightof Mount Calvary, and to feel that contrition,which a view of Christ Crucified alone can produce-this is to prepare the heart for such an ecstasy of joy in God, throughwhom we have now received the Atonement-as surpasses, I verily believe, the common experience of Christians. Still I darenot make a criterion ofthe profound depths of anguish with which some of us have had the sentence of death in ourselves.
But it is absolutely essential that you should be brought to the end of all perfection in the flesh-that all your hopes oflegal righteousness should expire-that you should be dead to the Law, in order that you may live unto God. This death maybe with painful struggles, or it may betranquil as a sleep. You may be smitten suddenly, as though an arrow from the Almighty were transfixed in your heart. Oryou may pine away by a slow and tedious consumption. Yet die you must, before you can be made partaker of resurrection.
This much, however, I will venture to say-you may be really a child of God and yet the plague of your own heart may be butvery little understood. You must know something of it, for no man ever did or ever will come to Christ unless he has firstlearned to loathe himself and to see that inhim, that is in his flesh, there dwells no good thing. You may not be able to talk, as some do, of conflicts within, andof the fountain of the great deep of your natural sin-and yet you may be, for all that-a true child of God.
It is a happy thing, too, to have an experience which keeps close to Christ Jesus. To know what the word, "communion," means,without needing to take down another man's biography-to understand Solomon's Song without a commentary. To read it throughand through, and say, "Precious Book! Youdid express just what I have felt, but what I never could have expressed." But, dear Friends, though all this is well, remember,it is not essential. It is not a sign that you are not converted because you cannot understand what it is to sit under Hisshadow with great delight. Youmay have been converted, and yet hardly have come so far as that. Always distinguish between the branches of the matterand the root of the matter. It is well to have branches like the cedars and to send up your shoots towards Heaven-but it isthe root that is theall-important thing-the root of the matter.
Now what is the root of the matter experimentally? Well, I think the real root of it is what Job has been talking about inthe verses preceding the text-"I know," he says, "that my Redeemer lives." We talked of that this morning. The root of thematter in Christian experience is to know thatJesus Christ, the Son of God, is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. And to know this by apersonal appropriation of His power to save by a simple act of faith. In other words, dear Friend, you have the root of thematter in you if your soul cansay-
"My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly leanon Jesus' name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand."
There must be in connection with this the repentance of sin, but this repentance may be far from perfect, and your faith inChrist may be far from strong. But, oh, if you hate sin, if you desire to be rid of it, if it is your plague, your burden,your grief. If Christ Jesus is your only comfort,your help, your hope, your trust-then understand-this is the root of the matter. I wish there were more than the root, butinasmuch as that is there, it is enough-you are accepted before God-for the root of the matter is in you. A living faith ina livingSavior, and a real death to all creature merit and to all hope in creature strength-this, I take it, is that which is theroot of the matter in spiritual experience.
Did I not say that there was a root of the matter practically? Yes, and I would to God that we all practically had the branchesand the fruits. These will come in their season, and they must come, if we are Christ's disciples. But nobody expects to seefruit on a tree a week after it has beenplanted. You know there are some trees that do not bring forth any great fruit till they have been in the ground some twoor three years. And then at last, when the favorable season comes, they are white with blossoms and by-and-by are bowed tothe earth with luscious fruit.
It is very desirable that all Christians should be full of zeal, should be vehemently earnest, should go about doing good,should minister to the poor, should teach the ignorant, and comfort the distressed. Yet these things cannot be called thereal root of the matter. The real root of the matterpractically is this-"One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see. The things I once loved I now hate, the things Ionce hated I love. Now it is no more the world, but God. No more the flesh, but Christ, no more pleasure, but obedience. Nomore what I will, but what Jesuswills." If any of you can, from your souls, say that you desire the tenor of your life to be, "Lord, not as I will, butas You will," you have got the root of the matter practically.
Let me guard this part of my subject with one further remark. There are those who do certain duties with a conscientious motive,in order to make themselves Christians-such as observing the Sabbath, holding daily worship of God with their families, andattending the public services of theLord's House with regularity. But they do not distinguish between these external acts-which may be but the ornaments thatclothe a graceless life, and those fruits of good living that grow out of a holy constitution, which is the root of genuineobedience. Some habits andpractices of godly men may be easily counterfeited.
Yet I think that there are certain virtues of God's children which defy imitation. "To bear reproach for Christ, and to sufferwrong patiently," is, to my mind, very much like the root in practical godliness. Perhaps there is a timid girl now presentwho has braved for many a month the persecutionof her father and mother to serve that Savior whom her parents never knew. Nobody knows what rough words and harsh treatmentshe has had to encounter-all because she will come to Chapel. And she will steal away into her own room, sometimes, alwayswith her Bible in her handwhen she goes in. And she generally looks as if she had been crying when she comes out. Ah, poor Soul! I doubt not the rootof the matter is in you!
Or, see there a young man who has risked losing his employment because he will not conceal his attachment to Christ. Suchas these, are sometimes brought into great straits. They do not see any precept that plainly says "You shall do this," or,"You shall not do that." But they find they must beone thing or the other. They make their choice, and it is against their worldly interests-it is done for the love they bearto the Savior's name. Their gentle courage I admire.
Their little faith takes a strong grip. Oh, I cannot doubt the root of the matter is found in them! There is practical evidenceof it.
Let me pause here for a moment before leaving this first point to notice that you may generally ascertain whether you havegot the root of the matter by its characteristic properties. You know a root is a fixing thing. Plants without roots may bethrown over the wall. They may be passed from handto hand. But a root is a fixed thing. How firmly the oaks are rooted in the ground! You may think of those old oaks in theearth-ever so far off you have seen the roots coming out of the ground and then they go in again and you have said-"Why, whatdo these thick fibersbelong to?"
Surely they belong to one of those old oaks ever so far away. They had sent that root there to act a good hold, so that whenthe March winds comes through the forest and other trees are torn up-fir trees, perhaps-trees that have outgrown their strengthat the top, while they have toolittle hold at bottom-the old oaks bow to the tempest, curtsey to the storm, and later they lift up their branches againin calm dignity. They cannot be blown down. Well now., if you have got the root of the matter, you are fixed. You are fixedto God, fixed to Christ, fixedto things Divine. If you are tempted, you are not soon carried away. Oh, how many professors there are that have no roots!Get them into godly company and they are such saints.
But get them with other company and what if I say that they are devils? There you have them. Their mother is come up fromthe country, and she asked them to come tonight to hear Spurgeon. Here they are. Mother does not know but what John is oneof the best lads anywhere while she is in town. Ah,but if it happens to be uncle William that comes up to London in a month's time, and he should ask John to go to a theater!O yes, he will go there, too! And you would never know that John had any religion, for he will put that by until mother comesback again.
He has no roots. Give me the man that is bound hard and fast to Christ-lashed to the Cross by cords that even the knives ofHell cannot sever-lashed to the Cross forever! You have no roots unless you can say, "O God, my heart is fixed, my heart isfixed! By stern resolve and by firmcovenant Yours I am! Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." Again, a root is not only a fixingthing, but a quickening thing. What is it that first sets the sap flowing in the spring? Why, it is the root. Down below,beneath the earth, it begins to feelthe genial influence of the coming spring, and it talks to the trunk and says, "It is time to set the sap flowing." So thesap begins to flow and the buds begin to burst.
Ah, and you must have a vital principle. You must have a living principle. Some Christians are like those toys they importfrom France, which have sand in them. The sand runs down, and some little invention turns and works them as long as the sandis running. But when the sand is all out it stops.So on Sunday morning these people are just turned right, and the sand runs and they work all the Sunday. But the sand runsdown by Sunday night and then they stand still, or else go on with the world's work just as they did before. Oh, this willnever do! There must be a livingprinciple- something that shall be a mainspring within-a wheel that cannot help running on, and that does not depend uponexternal resources.
A root, too, is a receiving thing. The botanists tell us a great many things about the ends of the roots. They can penetrateinto the soil hunting after the particular food upon which the tree is fed. Ah, and if you have got the root of the matterin you, when you come to hear a sermon you will besending out your root to look after the particular food which your soul wants. You will send those roots into the pagesof Scripture-sometimes into a hymn book-often into the sermon. Even into a Brother's experience, and into God's Providence-seekingthat somethingupon which your soul can feed.
Therefore it follows that the root becomes a supplying thing, because it is a receiving thing. We must have a religion thatlives upon God, and that supplies us with strength to live for God. Oh, how divinely blessed are those men in whom the rootof the matter is found!
II. Let me briefly notice, in the second place, that WHEREVER THERE IS THE ROOT OF THE MATTER,
THERE IS VERY MUCH GROUND FOR COMFORT.
Sounds there in my ears the sigh, the groan, the sad complaint?-"I do not grow as I could wish. I am not so holy as I wantto be. I cannot praise and bless the Lord as I could desire. I am afraid I am not a fruitful bough whose branches run overthe wall"? Yes, but is the root of the matterin you? If so, cheer up, you have cause for gratitude. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and mostfull-grown Christian. You are as much bought with blood, O little
Saints, as are the holy Brotherhood. He that bought the sheep, bought the lambs, too. You are as much an adopted child ofGod as any other Christian.
A babe of a span long is as true a child of its parents as is the full-grown man. You are as truly justified, for your justificationis not a thing of degrees. Your little faith has made you clean every whit. It could have done no more had it been the strongestfaith in the world. You have as muchright to the precious things of the Covenant as the most advanced Believers, for your right to Covenant mercies lies notin your growth, but in the Covenant itself. And your faith in Jesus may not assay to measure the extent of your inheritancein Him. So then, you are as rich asthe richest, if not in enjoyment, yet in real possession.
You are as dear to your Father's heart as the greatest among us. If there is a weakling in a family, the father often lovesit the most, or at least indulges it with the most caresses. And when there is a child that has lost one of its senses, beit sight or hearing, you will notice with whatassiduous care the parents watch over that one! You are possibly such a tender one, and Christ is very tender over you.You are like the smoking flax-anybody else would say, "Put out that smoking flax. What a smell! How it fills the room witha foul and offensive odor!" "Butthe smoking flax He will not quench."
You are just like a bruised reed. There used to be some music in you, but now the reed is broken, and there is no tunefulnote at all to be brought out from the poor, bruised, crooked and broken reed. Anyone else but the Chief Musician would pullyou out and throw you away. You might think He wouldbe sure to say, "I do not want a bruised reed. It is of no use at all among the pipes." But He will not break the bruisedreed, nor quench the smoking flax. Instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should begin to triumph in Christ.
Am I but little in Israel? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places! Am I poor in faith? Still in Christ I am heirof all things! Do I sometimes wander? Yet Jesus Christ comes after me, and brings me back. Though, "less than nothing, I canboast and vanity confess." If the root of thematter is in me, I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation!
III. This brings me to the third and closing part-WHEREVER THE ROOT OF THE MATTER IS, THERE WE
SHOULD TAKE CARE THAT WE WATCH IT WITH TENDERNESS AND WITH LOVE.
Some of you may have the notion that you are advanced in knowledge, that you have much skill in interpreting the Word of God,and that you understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven. It is highly possible that your notion is correct. You goout into the world, and you meet with people who donot know quite as much as you do, and who have not yet learned all the doctrines of Grace as they are threaded togetherin the Divine plan of salvation. May I persuade you not to get into controversy, not to be continually fighting and quarrellingwith people who do not hold to justyour sentiments?
If you discover the root of the matter in any man, say at once-"Why should I persecute you? Why should we fall to quarrellingwith each other, seeing that the root of the matter is in us both?" Save your swords for Christ's real enemies. The way tomake men learn the Truth of God is not toabuse them. We shall never make a Brother see a doctrine by smiting him in the eye. Hold your lantern up and let him see.I remember, when in my boyhood, I sometimes held a candle at night for a man sawing who was a worldling. He used to say tome-"Now, my lad, hold the candleso that you can see yourself, and you may depend upon it that I can see, too."
And I have generally found that if you hold up the doctrines in such a way that you can see them yourselves, and just tellto others the way in which you have been led, by His Grace, to see them-and how you see them now-you will often give a lightto other men, if they have the root ofthe matter in them. Quarrel not-fight not with them-but be friends and especially show yourself friendly.
Then, again, if you meet with young professors who have the root of the matter in them, do not begin condemning them for lackof knowledge. I have heard of some old Believers, yes, and of some not very old, too, who had read a great deal and had, perhaps,more in the head than in the heart. Andwhen young enquirers came to see them, they began to ask them-"Which theory do you hold, sublapsarian or supralapsarian?"I do not mean that they exactly said those very words, but they suggested some knotty points or something of that sort. Andthe young people havesaid-"I am sure I do not know, Sir."
It has sometimes been the case that these young enquirers have been dealt very harshly with. I remember one case where a certainBrother-a good man, too, in his way, said-"Well, now, I am sorry to tell you that you are no child of God. If you die as youare, you will be lost"-onlybecause the poor child did not exactly know the difference between two things that are amazingly alike after all. I do notthink we ought to do this. It is not for us to go about killing all the lambs. For if we do this, where will the sheep comefrom? If we are always condemningthose who have only begun as yet to learn their letters, we shall never have any readers.
People must begin to say, "Two times two are four," before they can ever come to be very learned in mathematics. Should westop them at once, and say-"You are no child of God, because you do not know how to compute the logarithms of Divine"? Why,then at once we have put out of the synagoguethose who might have been its best ornaments! Remember, my dear Friends, that wherever we see the root of the matter, Christhas accepted the person, and therefore we ought to accept him. This is why I love to think that when we break bread at thistable we always receive among us,as far as we know, all those who have got the root of the matter in them.
I have heard a story of the late good Dr. Stedman, when he was tutor of Bradford College. It appears he was a very strict-communionBaptist, and carried it out conscientiously. One day he preached for some Independents, and in the afternoon, after the service,there was to be Communion. Now Mr.Stedman prayed most earnestly that the Lord would be pleased graciously to vouchsafe His Presence to the dear Brothers andSisters when they met around His Table. After the service was over he was going to the vestry to put on his great coat, intendingto go home.
One of the deacons said-"Doctor, you will stop with us, will you not, to Communion?" "Well, my dear Brother," he said, "itis no want of love, but, you see, it would compromise my principles. I am a strict-communion Baptist, and I could not wellstop and commune with you who have not beenbaptized. Do not think it is any want of love, now, but it is only out of respect to my principles." "Oh," said the deacon,"but it is not your principles, because what did you pray for, Doctor? You prayed your Master, the Lord Jesus, to come toHis Table. And if according to yourprinciples it is wrong for you to go there, you should not ask your Master to come where you must not go yourself. But ifyou believe that your Lord and Master will come to the table, surely where the Master is, it cannot be wrong for the servantto be."
The deacon's reasoning appears to me very sound. And it is in the same spirit I say of any, or to any whose sincere faithI have no reason to doubt-if they have got the root of the matter in them, "Come and welcome!" We are sorry that when ourfriends ought to keep the feast of tabernacleswith great branches of trees they only pull small twigs, and so do not get the benefit of the broader shadow. We are sorrythat when Christ tells them to be immersed they go and sprinkle-but that is their own business and not ours. To their ownMaster they must stand or fall.But if the root of the matter is there, why persecute them? Seeing that the root of the matter is found in them, let themcome. God has received them, and let us do the same.
That matter about encouraging young Believers and not putting stumbling blocks in their path may seem to some of you decidedlyunimportant. But I am persuaded that there are many young Christians who have been made to suffer for years through the roughnessof some more advanced Believers.Christian! You that are strong-be very tender towards the weak-for the day may come when you will be weaker than they. Neverdid bullock push with side and shoulder the lean cattle of the herd when they came to drink. The Lord took away the gloryfrom the fat bull ofBashan, and made him willing to associate with the very least of the herd.
You cannot intimidate a child of God without making his Father angry. And though you are a child of God your-self-if you dealharshly with one of your Brothers and Sisters-you shall smart for it. The Master's rod is always ready, even for His own belovedchildren, when they are nottender with the sons and daughters of Zion, who are kept as the apple of God's eye. Remember, too, Brothers and Sisters,that the day may come when you will want consolation from the very friend whom you have treated so roughly. I have known somegreat people-some very greatpeople-that have at last been made to sit at the feet of those whom before they called all sorts of ill names.
God has His ways of taking the wind out of men's sails. While their sails were full, and the wind blew, they said, "No, no.We do not care about that little port over yonder. We do not care to put in there. It is only a miserable little fishing village."But when the wind came howling on, and thedeep rolled heavily, and it seemed as if the dread artillery of God were all mustering for the battle, ah, how with thereef sail they have tried to fly, as best they could, into the little harbor! Do not speak ill of the little harbor. Do notbe ashamed of little Christians. Standup for the weaklings of the flock, and let this be your motto, you strong Christians-
"There's not a lamb amidst the flock I would disdain to feed. There's not a foe before whose face I'd fear Your cause to plead."
Now I ask you, by way of solemn searching investigation: Have you the root of the matter in you? I have spoken for your encouragement,in case you have the root of the matter in you. If you have not, there awaits you nothing but destruction-but, by His Grace,you are not hopelessly lost! Theroot of the matter is still to be had. The Holy Spirit can yet give you a new heart and a right spirit. Jesus Christ isstill able and willing to save.
Oh, look there! I see His five wounds. They flow with rivers of blood! Look there, Sinner! And as you look, by His Grace,you shall live! Whoever you may be, though you are the worst sinner out of Hell, yet-
"While the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return."
Look there, Sinner, look, look and live! I think I have closed my sermon each night lately with those words, and I will doso again tonight. There is life in a look at a crucified Savior. There is life at this moment for you. Oh, look to Him, andyou shall find that life for yourself. God blessyou, for Jesus' sake.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with allwho love Jesus, now and eternally. Amen. Amen.