Sermon 577. Let Us Go Forth
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JUNE 26, 1864, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Let us go forth therefore unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach."
MODERN professors have discovered a very easy way of religion. There is a method by which a man may attain to great reputationas a Christian and yet avoid all the trials of the Believer's estate. He may go through the world finding his path as smoothlyturfed as the flesh could desire. Blessedwith the smiles of friendly formalists and with the admiration of the ungodly, he may pass from his first entrance intothe Church to his grave without experiencing so much as a single shower to dampen his happiness. The sun may smile sweetlyupon him all the way, the birds maysing-not a raven may dare to croak, not a single owl may hoot-his road to glory and immortality shall be all that ease couldwish!
Let him adopt the modern theory of universal love. Let him believe that a lie is a truth and that whether it is a lie or atruth is of no consequence at all. Let him be complacent towards every man, and with a smooth and oily tongue chime in withevery other man's principles, having none of his ownworth mentioning. Let him trim his sails whenever the wind changes. Let him in all things do in Rome as Rome does. Let himyield at all times to the current and float gently with the stream and he shall come to the haven-though I fear not the desiredone-he shall come tosome sort of haven at last, without any storm or tempest by the way.
But a daring thought comes across one's mind. Is this the kind of religion which we read of in the Bible? Is this the wayin which Scriptural saints went to Heaven? It would be a very pleasant thing if we could please men and please God, too-ifwe could make the best of both worlds and havethe sweets of this and of the next also! But a warning cry arises from the pages of Holy Scripture, for the Word of Godtalks very differently from this. It talks about a straight and narrow way and about few that find it. It speaks of persecution,suffering, reproach, contendingeven unto blood, and striving against sin! It talks about wrestling and fighting, struggling and witnessing. I hear theSavior say not, "I send you forth as sheep into the midst of green pastures," but, "as sheep in the midst of wolves."
I hear him prophesy that we should be hated of all men for His name's sake. Truly these things are enough to startle thosegood easy souls who go so delicately onward! Surely they may at once enquire, "Can it be that this smooth-faced godliness-thisvery delightful way of getting toHeaven-is the right one?" Is it not all a delusion? Are we not buoyed up with a false hope, if that hope is never assailedby trouble and persecution? All is not gold that glitters-may not the glittering religion of the many be, after all, onlya pretense and a sham?
O you lovers of carnal ease, woe unto you! Inasmuch as you take not up the Cross, you shall never win the crown! The disciplesof Christ must expect to follow their Master not merely in obedience to His doctrines, but also in the reproach which gathersabout His Cross. I do not find Christ carriedon flowery beds of ease to His Throne. I do not find Him applauded with universal acclamations! On the contrary, whereverHe goes He is a protestor against things established by human wisdom. And in return, the things established vow His destructionand are not satisfied until atlast they gloat their cruel eyes with His martyrdom upon the Cross.
Jesus Christ has no life of pleasure and of ease! He is despised and rejected of men-a Man of Sorrows and acquainted withgrief! And let us rest assured that if we bear faithfully our testimony we shall discover that the servant is not above hisMaster, nor the disciple above hisLord-if they have called the Master of the house "Beelzebub," much more shall they call them of His household by titlesas ignominious and shameful. We must expect, if the Christian soldier is really a soldier and not a mere pretender to theart of war, that he will have tofight until he joins the Host triumphant. If the Church is properly imaged by a ship, she must expect to have storms. Andevery man on board her must look to bear his share.
From the first day, when Cain and Abel divided the first family into two camps, even until now, the flesh lusts against theSpirit. The evil contends with the good and the good wrestles with the evil. Wherever the true and the good have pitched theirtents, there the enemy have gathered to attackthem. Righteousness courts no peace or truce with sin-our peaceful Savior came not to form an alliance so unhallowed. HearHis own words-"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to seta man at varianceagainst his father and the daughter against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in- law. And a man's foesshall be they of his own household."
Turning to Scripture, then, I find nothing about this pretty by-path meadow and its quiet, respectable walk to Heaven. I findnothing about riding in the gilded chariots of ease or walking in silver slippers. But I do find contention and strife, andrebuke and suffering, and cross-bearing and ifneed be, resistance unto blood striving against sin! Our text seems to convey that thought to us most powerfully. Let ustake it up, and may the Holy Spirit lead us to its true meaning. We have before us, first of all, the Believer's path. Secondlyhis Leader. Thirdly, his burden.And fourthly, his reason for following that path.
I. We have, first of all, THE BELIEVER'S PATH. The Believer's path is, "Let us go forth outside the camp." The Divine Commandis not, "Let us stop in the camp and try to reform it-things are not anywhere quite perfect-let us, therefore, stop and makematters right." No, the Christian'swatch cry is, "Let us go forth." Luther caught this note. Many there were who said, "The Church of Rome has in it good andtrue men-let us try and reform her. Her cloisters are not without piety, her priests are not without sanctified lives-letus try and restore herpurity." But Luther heard the voice of God, "Come you out from among her, lest you be partakers of her plagues," and thereforehe led the van, taking for his watchword, "Let us go forth outside the camp."
To this day the Christian's place is not to tarry in the camp of worldly conformity, hoping, "Perhaps I may aid the movementfor reform." It is not the Believer's duty to conform to the world and to the world's ways and say, "Perhaps by so doing Imay gain a foothold and men's hearts may be themore ready to receive the Truth of God." No, from the first to the last day of the Church of God, the place of witness isnot inside, but outside the camp. And the true position of the Christian is to go forth outside the camp bearing Christ'sreproach.
In this respect Abraham becomes an example to us. The Lord's first word to Abraham is that he should leave his father, hiskinsfolk and the idolatrous house in which he lived and go to a land which God would show him. Away he must go-Faith mustbe his guide-Providence his provision andthe living God his only keeper! The separate life of Abraham, in the midst of the sons of Canaan, is a type of the separatedwalk of the Church of God.
Again, when Israel had gone down to Egypt they were not commanded to stay there and subdue their oppressors by force of arms,or petition the legislature that they might obtain gentler usage-no, but with a high hand and an outstretched arm, the Lordbrought forth His people out of Egypt!Egypt was no place for the seed of Israel. And while they wandered in the wilderness and afterwards when they settled inisolation in the midst of the promised land, God's Word was fulfilled, "The people shall dwell alone: they shall not be numberedamong the nations."
As if to keep up the type, the Jewish people at this very period, though mingled with all the nations of the world, are asdistinct as men can be. And you cannot pass by a Jew without remarking at once in his face that he is distinct and separatefrom all mankind. This, I say, is but a type of theChurch of God-the Church of God is to be distinct and separate from all other corporations or communities! Her laws comefrom no human legislator! Her officers claim no royal appointment! Her endowments are not from the coffers of the State! Hersubjects are a peculiar peopleand her spirit is not of this world!
What is meant then, dear Friends, by this "going forth without the camp"? I understand it to mean, first of all, that everyChristian is to go forth by an open profession of his faith. You that love the Lord are to say so. You must come out and avowyourselves on His side. You may be Christians andmake no profession, but I cannot be sure that you are a Believer, nor can any other man. While you make no profession, wemust, to a great extent, judge you by the non-profession. And since you do not acknowledge yourselves to be a part of Christ'sChurch we are compelled to adjudgeyou as not a part of that Church! We cannot suppose you to be better than you profess to be for the most of men are nothalf so good as their professions.
Usually, as a rule, no man is as good as his religion and certainly no man is ever better than his religion. If you do notprofess to be on Christ's side-with all charity we are forced to accept your own confession of having no interest in Jesus.Come out, Christians! Your Master commands youand warns you that if you are ashamed of Him in this generation, He will be ashamed of you in the day of His Glory! He bidsyou acknowledge Him, for if you confess Him before men He will confess you when He comes in the Glory of His holy angels.I pray you, then, come out from amongthem by taking up the name of a Christian!
Why, what is there to shudder at? Are you a soldier and will you not wear your Captain's livery? What? Do you love Christand blush to admit it? You ought to be glad to plead guilty to the blessed impeachment. Why do you stand back? Let not fearor shame restrain you. If you are Christians there isreally nothing discreditable in it. Up! Stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of God and say, "I will go with you becausethe Lord is with you." This done, the Christian is to be separate from the world as to his company. He must buy and sell andtrade like other men in theworld, but he is not to find his bosom friends in it.
He is not to go out of society and shut himself up in a monastery-he is to be in the world, but not of it. And his choicecompany is not to be among the loose, the immoral, the profane! No, not even among the merely moral-his choice company isto be the saints of God. He is to selectfor his associates those who shall be his companions in the world to come. As birds of a feather flock together, so thebirds of paradise are gregarious. Like the speckled birds they are peeked at by the common flock. As idle boys were wont tomock at foreigners in the streets, sodo worldlings jeer at Christians. Therefore the Believer flies away to his own company when he wants good fellowship. TheChristian must come out of the world as to his company.
I know that this rule will break many a fond connection, but be not unequally yoked with unbelievers. I know it will snapties which are almost as dear as life, but it must be done. We must not be overruled even by our own brother when the thingsof God and conscience are concerned. You must followChrist, whatever may be the enmity you excite- remembering that unless you love Christ better than husband, or father, ormother, yes and your own life also-you cannot be His disciple. If these are hard terms, turn your backs and perish in yoursins! Count the cost. Andif you cannot bear such a cost as this, do not undertake to be a follower of Christ!
The follower of Jesus goes without the camp as to his pleasures. He is not without his joys nor his recreations. But he doesnot seek them where the wicked find them. The mirth which cheers the worldly makes the Christian sad-the carrion which delightsthe crow would disgust the dove. And sothose things which are delightful and full of pleasure to un-renewed men shock and grieve the hearts of the regenerate.If you have no separation from the world as to your pleas-ures-since your heart is generally in your pleasures-your heart,therefore, is with thewicked and with them shall your doom be when God comes to judge mankind!
Furthermore, the true follower of Christ is divided from the world as to his maxims. He does not subscribe to the laws whichrule most men in their families and their business. Men generally say, "Everyone for himself and God for us all." That isnot the Christian's maxim. "Look not every man onhis own things, but every man also on the things of others," is the Christian's rule. Some men will sail very near the wind.They would not absolutely cheat, but still they use very sharp practices. They would not lie, but their puffs and recommendationsare not quite the truth. TheChristian scorns all this questionable dealing and in all matters keeps to the rule of uprightness.
If the Believer is true to his Master and goes outside the camp to follow Him, his actions are as clear as the noonday. Hisword is his bond and in his trade he would as soon think of becoming absolutely a thief as to condescend to the common tricksof trade. From my soul I loathe those men, who,under the pretense and profession of religion, use the very respectability of their position to gain credit among othersthat they may defraud by obtaining credit which they do not deserve! Such persons are the greatest possible disgrace to theChristian Church.
The bankruptcy courts may whitewash them but the devil has blackened them beyond all power of bankruptcy to cleanse them.Their black deceitfulness shows through! Men may escape censure when standing at the easy bar of the commissioner and geta certificate, but they will find it very difficult toget a certificate when God comes to judge them in the Last Great Day. Our laws in England really seem to me to be made onpurpose that men may thieve and rob with impunity, so long as they do it under color of commerce. Well, if man's law willnot touch such men, God's Law shall!And the Church should see that she cleanses herself as much as possible from them. If we are followers of Christ, we mustgo forth without this camp of discrepancy and thieving! Ours must be a downright and honest religion that will not let usswerve a hair's breadth from thestraight line of integrity and uprightness.
Once more, and here is a very difficult part of the Christian's course-the Christian is to come out not only from the world'spleasures and sins and irreligion-but there are times when the true followers of Christ must come out from the world's religionas well as irreligion. Everynation has a religion. In the days of Abraham the little nationalities round him all had their god. In the days of Christthere was am established religion in Judea-and I suppose that out of its synagogues our Lord Jesus Christ was thrust withfury. There was an establishedreligion with its priests and its proud Pharisaic professors-but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ boldly proclaimed Hisprotest against its distortions of Scripture, its want of true spirituality, its worldliness, its pomp and pride.
In His day Jesus Christ was as true a Dissenter as any of us and separated Himself and His little company from the authorizedand established ecclesiastical camp. Judaism was not the religion of Abraham, neither were the Pharisees the true exponentsand successors of Moses. Therefore Christ, withburning words, though full of charity and with a loving heart-but with a thundering tongue-bore an awful witness againstthe religion of His own age! He knew how the multitude respected it and how the great ones lived upon it, but for all this,though His life must beshed for His protest, Christ led His disciples away from the national religion to something better, nobler and more sublime.And you and I, too, Brethren, must see that we never fall in with the religion of the times because it happens to be fashionableand because the multitudefollow it, or the law of the land patronizes it!
If there exists anywhere on earth a Church which teaches for doctrine the commandments of men, come out of her and bear yourwitness for the Truth of God. I see before me now a Church which tolerates evangelical truth in her communion, but at thesame time lovingly embraces Puseyism and finds roomfor infidels and for men who deny the authenticity of Scripture. This is no time for us to talk about friendship with socorrupt a corporation. The godly in her midst are deceived if they think to mold her to a more gracious form. Her bishopswill not touch the Burial Service,although four thousand clergymen petition for a little ease for their consciences.
Nor will they give up reading in God's own worship the filthy story of "Susannah and the Elders," nor the nursery tale of"Bell and the Dragon"-though one of their priests asserts that he would quite as soon read "Jack and the Beanstalk." We havewaited long enough-her space forrepentance has been already too long! Flee out of her, all of you who love your souls! Come out from among her! Be you separate-touchnot the unclean thing lest you be partakers of her plagues, for her plagues are many. Often have I read works in which thePuseyites call theChurch of Rome their sister Church! Well, if it is so let the two harlots make a league together, but let good and honestmen come out of both apostate churches! And those who love the Lord Jesus, whether clergy or laity, must leave them to theirdoom.
I know it is hard work. It calls upon many to be poor and give up their livings, but they must do it. Scotland witnessed,a few years ago, one of the noblest spectacles the world ever beheld. My heart would break with joy for England if I shouldlive to see such a day and such a deed ofheroism-but there is not spirit enough left in us. There is not Divine Grace enough left in us. I fear we have fallen upona degenerate age.
The "land of brown heath and shaggy wood, land of the mountain and the flood," has nurtured a noble race of brave, bold menand these could give up house and home and living for the Truth and for God's sake. But it is not so in England. No, theywill sell their consciences. They will cower down andmutter a lie at the command of the State. They will bury adulterers and seducers in sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection.They will teach a catechism which their conscience tells them is not true, for riches, for station! For the sake of the loavesand fishes, the men ofGod (and many of them we hope are such) will hold still to the false Church. Our protest is lifted up against her and ourfoot stands altogether without her camp. Come you out from among her! Be you separate! Touch her not! Have no communion withher false doctrines!
As for each of us who knows the Truth, our place is with Christ outside the camp, bearing His reproach. I am sure my textcontains all this and more. And I would to God that His Church would take up her true position now and be separate in allthings from anything that defiles and makes a lie.
II. But now, secondly, we have in the text, THE CHRISTIAN'S LEADER. It does not say, "Let us go forth outside the camp" merely,but, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him." Here is the heart of the text-"unto Him." Beloved, we might leave society-we mightforsake all its conventionalitiesand become Nonconformists in the widest sense and yet not carry out the text-for the text is, "Let us go forth unto Him."O Beloved, it is this point that I would urge upon you! I am no politician! I care not one whit what Church has the State-pay,or what has not. I care notfor political dissent-but I do care for religiously following my Master's Word and, by His Grace, I will.
And when I read this text, "Let us go forth therefore unto Him," I set myself to learn what the Word means. It means, first,let us have fellowship with Him. He was despised. He had no credit for charity. He was mocked in the streets. He was hissedat. He was hounded from among society. If I take asmooth part, I can have no fellowship with Him-fellowship requires a like experience. Come, then, my Soul, put on the Savior'sgarb-walk through the mire with Him! Off with your silver slippers-go barefoot within Christ! Be you, yourself, like the bushwhich burnsbut is not consumed. Be content that your shoulders should be raw with His rough Cross-He carried it-do not shirk the labor!Expect not to wear the crown where Christ carried the Cross, but, for fellowship's sake, follow Him.
Again, if I am to follow Him, I am to follow His example. What Christ did I am to do. I am to go forth unto Him. It is neverto be a rule unto me that Mr. So-and-So did such-and-such a thing, or Mrs. So-and-So-what Christ did is to be my rule. Somemen are for hanging on what Luther did, orwhat Calvin did-that is nothing to the Christian-he says, "I am to go forth unto Jesus." Follow Jesus Christ and none butJesus Christ and then you will be separate, indeed, from the rest of men. I am to go forth unto Him-that is, I am to go forthto His Truth.Wherever I see His Truth, I am to espouse it-wherever I see error I am to denounce it without hesitation.
I am to take His Word to be my only standard. And just where His Word leads me, there I am to go, no matter where. I may havebeen educated in one way but I am to bend my education to this Book. I may have conceived prejudices but they must give waybefore His Truth. I may know that such-and-such abelief is profitable to me but my profit shall go for nothing in comparison with the Word of God. And then I can to go forthto Christ's witness-bearing. The present age does not believe in witness-bearing but the whole Bible is full of it. The dutyof every Christian is to bearwitness for the Truth of God. Christ says, "For this purpose was I born and came into the world." He who knows the Truthbut lays the finger of silence on his lips, saying, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace," is a sorry Christian!
If you have been washed in Jesus' blood and saved by His righteousness, I do implore you, take your position with Christ aswitness-bearers for the Truth as it is in Jesus. My Master wants today a band of men and women who are prepared to be singular,so long as to be singular is to be right. Hewants men and women of bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts who love Christ first and His Truth next-and Christ and His Truthbeyond all the world! Men and women, too, whose holy lives and consistent conversation are not to be perverted by the bribesof this world and whosetestimony is neither to be distorted nor silenced by frowns or by smiles.
Happy souls shall they be who dare to take their stand with Christ today! The struggles of the Covenanters of old need tobe renewed at this moment. The strife of the Puritan age needs to return once more to the Church. And what if the stakes ofSmithfield come again? And what if the times ofpersecution return to us? The good old vessel which outrode the blood-red storm, will outride it still and with all herpassengers and crew safe on board, be received by the King and honored with His gracious smile!
We are to take care, however, that it is to Christ we go! Not to party, not to denomination-not to anything but Christ andHis Truth! Out with denominationalism or anything else which savors not of Christ Jesus! Whether it is the Baptist Church,or the Episcopalian, or the Presbyterian Churchwhich errs from Christ's way, it is nothing to any one of us which it may be. It is CHRIST we are to care for and Christ'sTruth. And this we are to follow over all the hedges and ditches of men's making-straight away to Christ, clinging to Christ'smantle, fighting a waystraight through where He Himself fought and opened the path to His Crown. Thus have we spoken of the Christian's Leader.
III. Now, in the third place, we have THE CHRISTIAN'S BURDEN. He is to bear the Lord's reproach. The reproach of Christ, inthese days, takes this shape. "Oh," they say, "the man is too precise." "He is right. But still, Truth is not always to bespoken. The thing is wrong, no doubt, which hedenounces, but still, the time has not come yet-we must be lenient towards these things. The man is right in what he says,but we must not be too precise nowadays. We must give and take a little-there must be charity." God's Word, in this age, isa small affair. Some donot even believe it to be Inspired. And those who profess to revere it set up other books in a sort of rivalry with it.
Why, there are great Church dignitaries nowadays who write against the Bible and yet find bishops to defend them! "Do not,for a moment, think of condemning their books or them. They are our dear Brethren and must not be fettered in thought." Howmany days ago is it since a bishop talked in thisway in convocation? Some believe in Popery. But here, again, the plea will be, "They are our dear Brethren." Some believein nothing at all-but they are still all safely housed in one Church, like the beasts, clean and unclean, in Noah's ark.
Those who come out with Christ, get this reproach-they are too precise-in fact, they are "bigots." That is how the world bringsit out at last-"bigots"-a set of "bigots!" I have heard say that the word, "bigot," took its rise from this-that a certainProtestantnobleman being commanded, in order to gain his lands, to kneel down and in some way or other commit the act of idolatrytowards the host, said, when he came at last to the point, "By God, I will not!" And they called him henceforth a "By-God."If this is the meaning of the word"bigot," we cheerfully adopt the title! And were it right to swear, we would declare, "By Him that lives! By Heaven! Wecannot speak a lie and we cannot bend our knee to the shrine of Baal, bigots or no bigots." The Truth of God is first andour reputation next.
Then they say, "Ah, these people are behind their time. The world has made such advances. We are in the nineteenth century-youought to know better! The discoveries of science put your narrow views out of court." Very well, Christian, be content tobe behind the times for the times aregetting nearer to judgment and the last plagues. "Ah, but," they say, "these people seem to us to be so self-righteous.They think themselves right and nobody else." Very well, Christian, if you are right, think yourself right! And if everybodyelse should call you self-righteous,that does not mistake you so. The Lord knows how we cling to the Cross and as poor sinners, look up to Christ and JesusChrist alone. Our conscience is void of offense in this matter.
"Ah," they say, "they are not worth noticing. They are all a pack of fools." It is very remarkable that in the judgment oftheir own age good men always have been fools. Fools have been they who have turned the world upside down. Luther and Calvin,Wesley and Whitfield were all fools. But somehowor other God managed, by these fools, to get to Himself a glorious victory. And then they turn round and say, "It is onlythe poor-only the lower orders. Have they any of the nobility and gentry with then?" Well, this reproach we can pretty wellbear because it is the oldstandard of Christ that the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. And it has ever been a sweet reflection that many whohave been poor in this world have been made rich in faith!
Brethren, you must expect, if you follow Christ, to endure reproach of some sort or another. Let me just remind you what reproachyour Master had to bear. The world's Church said of Christ, "He is a deceiver! He deceives the people." Incarnate Truth ofGod and yet a deceiver! Then they said, "Hestirs up the people! He promotes rebellion. He is no friend of good order. He incites anarchy! He is a mere demagogue."That was the world's cry against Christ and, as that was not enough, they went further and said, "He is a blasphemer!" Theyput Him to death on the charge that Hewas a blasphemer! They whispered to one another, "Did you hear? He said such-and-such last Sunday in His sermon. What ashocking thing he did in such a place! He is a blasphemer!"
Then came the climax. They all said He had a devil and was mad. Surely they could go no further than this! But they supplementedit by saying when He cast out devils that He did it through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils! A sorry life your Masterhad, you see. All the filth in earth's kennelswas thrown at Him by sacrilegious hands. No epithet was thought coarse enough! No terms hard enough-He was the song of thedrunkard and they that sat in the gate spoke against Him. This was the reproach of Christ. And we are not to marvel if webear as much. "Well," says one,"I will not be a Christian if I am to bear that." Skulk back, then, you Coward, to your own damnation! But oh, men and womenthat love God and who seek after the eternal reward, I pray you do not shrink from this Cross! You must bear it!
I know you may live without it if you will fawn and cringe and keep back part of the price. But do not do this-it is unworthyof your manhood-much more is it unworthy of your Christianity! God and for Christ are so holy and so truthful that you compelthe world to give its bestacknowledgment of your goodness by railing at you-it can do no more, it will do no less. Be content to take this shame forthere is no Heaven for you if you will not-no crown without the Cross-no jewels without the mire. You must stand in the pilloryif you wouldsit in Glory! You must be spit upon and be treated with shame if you would receive eternal honor! And if you reject theone you reject the other.
IV. We close by noticing THE CHRISTIAN'S REASON FOR BEARING HIS REPROACH AND GOING WITHOUT THE CAMP. It is in the text, "Letus go forth therefore"-there is the reason. Why then? First, because Jesus did. Jesus Christ came into the world pure andholy. His life and His testimony were awitness against sin. Jesus Christ would not conform. If He would but have done so He might have been King of the Jews. Butno, the most loving spirit that ever lived was also the most firm. Nobody shall say that Christ was either self-willed orharsh, or that He hated othermen- nothing of the kind! Never was there such pure generosity, such overflowing affection for men as you find in Christ.
But yield the truth, yield holiness? No, never! Not a grain of it! Be silent? No, He rebukes the Pharisees. And when the lawyerpulls His coat and says, "Master, in so doing, you rebuke us," then Jesus Christ begins, "Woe unto you lawyers!" All classeshave their portion from His mouth. TheHerodians come to Him. Does He for a moment yield to them? Or when the opposite party tempts does He side with them? DoesHe side with either the Sadducee or with the Pharisee? No, Christ's course was ever an independent one-He committed himselfunto no man-for He knewwhat was in man. The whole of His life through you cannot mistake Him for a Pharisee, or a Sadducee, or any one of the otherteachers. He stands out like a lone mount of light, separate and apart from the chain of dark mountains. And so must the Christian.Christ was separate. Andso must you be! Christ was pure, holy, truthful. So must you be! I pray you either renounce your profession or else seekGrace to carry it out.
Moreover, the connection of the text tells us that Christ set apart His people by going outside the camp, that He might sanctifyHis people. He suffered outside the camp. Christ's separation was in order that His People might be separated. The Head isnot of the world and shall the members be ofit? The Head is despised and rejected-shall the members be honored? "If any man loves the world, the love of the Fatheris not in him." The world rejects Christ-shall the world receive us? No, if we are truly one with Him, we must expect to berejected, too. Christ'sseparation is the type and symbol of the separateness of all the elect.
Again, Christ would have His people separate for their own sanctification. You cannot grow in Grace to any high degree whileyou are conformed to the world. The path of separation may be a path of sorrow, but it is the path of safety. And though itmay cost you many pangs and make your life like along martyrdom and every day a battle, yet it is a happy life after all. There is no such life as that which the soldierof Christ leads-for though men frown upon him- Christ so sweetly smiles upon him that he cares for no man! Christ revealsHimself as a sweetrefreshment to the warrior after the battle and so blessed is the vision that the warrior feels more calm and peace in theday of strife than in his hours of rest.
Believe me, the highway of holiness is the highway of communion! A blot on your conscience will certainly separate Christfrom you as to communion. Be pure, be clear, be chaste as before the Lord and you may walk as on the mountaintops-having Christfor your Companion-enjoying with Hima Heaven on earth! The Covenanters and martyrs tell us in their diaries that they were never so happy as when they werein the dungeon alone with Christ for company! Their best days were often their days of burning-they called them their weddingdays and went to Heaven singingand chanting the triumphal Psalm as they mounted in their chariots of fire!
Let us close with this last thought and reason. Thus we shall hope to win the crown if we are enabled, by Divine Grace, faithfullyto follow Christ in all respects. Oh, the crown! The crown! The crown! Come, let me hold it up to you! Is not this a treasure?Eternal life! Likeness to Christ! Sittingat His right hand! Do you not hear them-the harps of angels-the songs of the redeemed? Do you not hear them, I say, as inone perpetual Psalm of joyfulness they salute the Lord their God with thanksgiving?
It is but a flea-bite here-and then an eternity of bliss! A moment's shame and then an eternal honor! A little while of witness-bearing,a little while of suffering, a little while to be rebuked and then "forever with the Lord"! This reward is so great that ittranscends the light afflictionwhich is but for a moment. I will not put so little shame in contrast with it all. Why, in this age we suffer nothing-afew hard words, a jeer, a sneer-now and then a friend who leaves us because we speak the Truth. But what is that? O Brethren,we are denied the honorof those favored saints who died for Jesus! Our weak spirits love these softer times! The real days of honor were the daysof persecution. The times when saints won brightest crowns were when they suffered most.
I fear the Church of Christ is growing sleepy. Men of God have lost muscle and nerve. Our fathers died for half a Truth andwe will not bear rebuke for a whole one. Two women were tied to the stake at Wigton and drowned in the rising tide-do youknow what for? Simply because they would notsay, "God save the king." You say, "What does that matter?" Well, it was comparatively a theological trifle. They held acertain theory concerning the bearing of the Headship of Christ upon the political position of the king. Because they thoughtthe thing was wrong-though I,for my part, would say, "God save the king" a thousand times-yet they would not say it once and died in constancy to theirbelief.
The two women were actually tied to stakes by the seaside. The tide came up and when the elder woman of the two was drownedthey asked the younger whether she would say it now. But no, she would not. She believed it to be a Truth concerning Christand His kingdom. And though it only touched one ofthe smallest jewels of His crown, yet she would not do it and therefore the gurgling waters came up to her chin and at lastrolled over one who had faithfully borne witness to a portion of Truth which seems very trifling to us nowadays, but whichto her seemed to be worth dying for!
Nowadays, I say, we would not die for the whole Bible though in other ages saints would have died for the dot of an i, orthe cross of a t. We turn tail and are frightened because somebody has said a hard thing to us for defending the Truth whichconcerns Jesus and has the salvation of man wrappedin it. I say we will not fight for the great and they would fight for the little. O may God restore to us, dear Friends,more Grace, more piety, more love for souls, more care for the kingdom of Christ-a sterner prizing of the Truth of God anda determination solemnly avowedbefore the Lord of hosts, that come what may, we will contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints!
We stand upon the Rock of Ages confident that God will defend the right and that right in the end shall come off victorious!God give you Grace-especially you members of my charge-to, from this day, more than ever you have done, take your place outsidethe camp and cheerfully andjoyfully to bear Christ's reproach! Some of you cannot do this. You cannot bear His reproach. You cannot go outside thecamp for you have no vital faith-you have not believed in Jesus. O Sinner, you are not to carry Christ's Cross first-but lookto that Cross forsalvation! And when He has saved you, as He will if you trust in Him, then take up your cross and carry it and praise thename of God from this time forth, even forever!