Sermon 634. Christians Kept In Time And Glorified In Eternity
A SERMON PREACHED BY C. H. SPURGEON AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceedingjoy, to the only wise God our Savor, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
OMITTING all preface it will be well to observe in what state of mind Jude was when he penned this doxology, what had beenhis previous meditations, and when we have done so we will endeavor to come directly to the text and observe what mercieshe sums up in it and what praise is due from us to Himof whom he thus speaks.
I. Then, UNDER WHAT INFLUENCE WAS JUDE'S MIND WHEN HE PENNED THIS DOXOLOGY. Our first observation is that in writing thisvery short but very full Epistle, he had been led to consider the grievous falls of many others and in contemplating thosefailures he could not resist the impulse of penningthese words, "Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling." You observe in reading that he mentions the Israeliteswho came out of Egypt. That was a glorious day in which the whole host met at Succoth, having just escaped from the thralldomof Egypt and now found themselvesdelivered from the whips and the lashes of the taskmasters and were no longer compelled to make bricks without straw andto build up palaces and tombs for the oppressors.
That was, if possible, a more glorious day than when God divided the Red Sea to make a way for His people. The depths stoodupright in a heap when the elect multitude walked through. Do you not see them, as with songs and praises they are led allthat night through the deep as on dry ground? Theyare all landed on the other side, and then their leader lifts up his rod and immediately there comes a wind and the watersreturn to their place. The infatuated Egyptian king, who with his hosts had followed them into the depths of the sea is utterlydestroyed. The depths havecovered them.
They sank as lead in the mighty waters! There is not one of them left. Then sang Moses and the children of Israel, saying,"I will sing unto the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea." Is it credible,is it not too sadly incredible that this verypeople who stood by the Red Sea and marked the overthrow of God's enemies, within a few days were clamoring to go back intoEgypt? And before many months had passed were for taking to themselves a leader that they might force their way back intothe place of their bondage? Yes, andthey who saw Jehovah's work and all His plagues in Zoan made to themselves a calf and bowed down before it and said, "Theseare YOUR gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt."
With tears in your eyes, look at the many griefs which studded the pathway of their forty years' wandering, and with manyfears reflect that out of all that multitude which came out of Egypt, there were but two who lived to cross the Jordan! Aaronmust put off the breastplate, for he has sinnedagainst God. And even Moses, the meekest of men, must go to the top of Nebo and is only permitted to gaze upon the prospectof that land which he must never actually enjoy! Except for Caleb and Joshua there were none found faithful among all thetribes-and these alone shallenter into the goodly land which flows with milk and honey.
Now when Jude thought of this, I do not wonder that he began to consider the case of himself and of his fellow Believers unitedwith him in Church fellowship at Jerusalem and elsewhere. And knowing that all of them who were truly brought up out of Egyptby Jesus shall surely enter into the promisedrest, he cannot, he does not desire to resist the impulse of singing, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from fallingand to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be gloryand majesty, dominion and power, bothnow and ever."
If YOU read on to the next verse, you perceive that Jude had another example in his mind's eye-the angels that kept not theirfirst estate. We do not know much of angels, but from what we gather in Holy Scripture-perhaps tinged in our reading withsome of the half-inspired ideas ofMilton-we believe that angels are spirits vastly superior to ourselves. In intelligence they may well be so, even if theyhad been created upon a par-for they have had many years in which to learn and gather experience-whereas man's existence isbut a handbreadth.We regard an angel with intense respect and while never paying any worship to those noble beings, we cannot but feel howlittle we are when compared with them.
One of these angels appears to have been named Lucifer, son of the morning. Perhaps he was a leader in the heavenly host andfirst among the princes of Heaven. He, together with multitudes of others, fell from their allegiance to God. We know nothow. We have no idea if they were tempted, unlessone of them tempted the other-but they kept not their first estate-they were driven out of Heaven. They were expelled fromtheir starry thrones and therefore they are reserved in chains of darkness until the great day of account.
Now, my Brethren, can you think of the fall of angels without trembling? Can you think of the morning stars put out in blackness?Of the cherub, whose head did wear a crown, cast into the mire and his crown rolled into the dust? Can you think of thesebright spirits transformed into the hideousfiends that devils are? Their hearts, once temples for God, now become the haunt of every unclean thing-themselves the mostunclean? Can you think of that without feeling a tremor of fear lest you, too, should fall from your first estate? And withoutanother, and a higherthrill ofjoy, when you think of Him who is, "able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presenceof His glory with exceeding joy"?-
" When any turn from Zion's way (Alas, what numbers do), I think I hear my Savior say, ' Will you forsake Me too? Ah, Lord! With such a heart as mine, Unless You hold me fast, I feel I must, I shall decline, Andprove like them at last."
But we can also sing right joyously-"The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, he will not, he will not, desert to itsfoes. That soul, though all Hell should endeavor to shake, He'll never, no never, no never, forsake." We might continue tofollow Jude, but we will not do so. We preferto add something which Jude has not put in his Epistle. Our first parent, Adam, lived in the midst of happiness and peacein the garden. Unlike ourselves he had no depravity-no bias towards evil. God made him upright. He was perfectly pure andit was in his own will whether heshould sin or not. The balance hung evenly in his hands.
But you have not forgotten how on that sad day he took of the forbidden fruit and ate and thereby cursed himself and all ofus! My Brethren, as you think of Adam, driven out of the Garden of Eden-sent out to till the ground from where he was taken-compelledin the sweat of his face toeat bread. When you recollect the paradise he left, the happiness and peace that have forever passed away through his sin,do you not hear the voice that says to you, as a depraved and fallen creature, "Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lesthe fall"? Conscious of your ownweakness as compared with your parent, Adam, you are ready to cry out, "O God, how can I stand where Adam falls?"
But here comes the joyous thought-Christ, who has begun with you, will never cease till He has perfected you! Can you helpsinging with Jude, "Now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling"? It strikes me that every time we mark an apostate andsee the fall of a sinner or of a fellowprofessor, we should go down on our knees and cry, "Hold You me up and I shall be safe," and then rise up and sing-
"To our Redeemer God Eternal power belongs, Immortal crowns of majesty, And everlasting songs. He will present our souls Unblemished and complete Before the Glory of His face, With joys divinely great."
This partly accounts for the text before us. But on a further reference to the Epistle we get another part of the thoughtswhich had exercised the Apostle's mind. Observe, dear Friends, that the Apostle had a very vivid and distinct sense of thenature of the place into which those fell and oftheir utter ruin and destruction. Notice, concerning the children of Israel he says that, "God destroyed them that believednot." What is it to be destroyed? Destroyed! This does not end with the white skeleton and the bleached bones which lay inthe wilderness-a horror to thepasserby! He means something more than even that!
Brought out of Egypt and yet destroyed! Take heed, professor! You may be brought into something like Gospel liberty and yetmay perish! Take heed, you carnal professor, I say! You may fancy you have escaped the bondage of the Law, but yet you shallnever enter into the rest which remains for thepeople of God-you shall be destroyed/Let that word "destroyed" ring in your ears and it will make you bless God, who isable to keep you from falling, if it shall lead you to flee to Him for help!
Next he says of the fallen angels that they are, "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the greatday." What that may be, we can but roughly guess. Satan is allowed to go about the world. Still he wears his chains and hehas a tether and the Lord knows how to pull himin, both by Providence and direct acts of power. We believe that these spirits are under darkness-a gloom-a thick darknessthat may be felt hangs perpetually over their minds. Wherever they may be they are waiting till Christ shall come to summonthem as rebelliouscreatures before His bar that they may receive their sentence and begin afresh their dreadful Hell.
And remember, dear Brothers and Sisters, unless eternal love shall prevent it, this case must be ours! We, too, must enterinto places reserved in darkness, wearing everlasting chains, to endure eternal fire. We should do so, we must do so, if itwere not for Him, "who is able to keep us fromfalling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." Nor is this all, for if you willpatiently read the next verse, you will see that Jude has, if possible, introduced a more graphic picture.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are bright as the sun goes down. The inhabitants are merry with boisterous laughter. Thereis plenty in the barn. There is luxury in the hall, for the plain of Sodom was well watered and lacked for nothing. Down wentthat sun upon a disastrous evening-never torise upon the most of those who were in that doomed city. At daybreak, just as the sun is beginning to shine upon the earth,angels had hastened Lot and his family out of the city-and no sooner had they reached the little city of Zoar than straightwaythe Heaven is red withsupernatural flame and down descends a terrific rain-as if God had poured Hell out of Heaven! He rained fire and brimstoneupon the cities and the smoke of their torment went up so that Abraham, far away to the west, could see the rolling cloudand the terrible brightness ofthe fire, even at midday.
And as men go to the "Lacus Asphaltites," or the Dead Sea, they see to this day where death has reigned. There are massesof asphalt still floating upon the surface of that sea where there is nothing that lives. No fish swim in its turbid streams.There are indubitable evidences there of some dreadjudgment of God. And as Jude thought of this, he seemed to say, "Oh God, preserve us from such a doom, for this is the doomof all apostates, either in this world, or in that which is to come, thus to be consumed with fire." And as he rememberedthat God would keep His people, heblessed that protecting hand which covers every saint and he wrote down, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling."
I have a thought in my mind. I cannot, of course, tell whether it is right or not, but it strikes me just now-the author'sname is Jude-Judas. Did he recollect Judas, his namesake that was called Iscariot, as he penned these words? He had knownhim, probably had respected him as theothers had done. He had marked him that night when he sat at the table and like others said, "Is it I?" Probably Jude wasvery surprised when he saw Iscariot take the sop and dip in the dish with the Savior. And when he went out he could scarcelybelieve his own ears when the Saviorsaid that he that betrayed Him had gone forth!
He must have known how Judas kissed the Son of Man and sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. He could not but be aware howin remorse he hanged himself and how his bowels gushed out. And I think the shadow of the doom of Judas fell upon this betterJudas while he penned these words-and heseems to say with greater emphasis-"Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, unto Him be glory forever and ever."Thus you see, dear Friends, we are getting into the track, I think, of Jude's thoughts-he thought about the failures of othersand the terrible way inwhich they had fallen.
Yet again, by your leave, Jude had a very clear view of the greatness of the sins into which apostates fall. Probably thereis not in the whole compass of Holy Writ a more fearful picture of the sin of backsliders and apostates than in the Epistleof Jude. I remember preaching to you one eveningfrom that text, "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars to whom is reserved the blacknessof darkness forever."
I remember how you trembled-myself trembling most with such a terrible message to deliver! Where could such a text or similebe found but in the book of Jude? The sins of apostates are tremendous. They are usually not content with the average of humanguilt. They must make themselves giantsin iniquity. None make such devils as those that were once angels and none make such reprobates as those who once seemedto bid fair for the kingdom of Heaven! These go into filthy dreams, into sensuality-"they give themselves over to fornicationand go after strange flesh,"as he has put it.
In fact, where can we set the bounds to which a man will go, when he crucifies the Lord that bought him and puts Him to anopen shame? Oh, Beloved, as I think of the sin into which these apostates have gone, I cannot but feel that you must blessGod with Jude, that there is One "who is able to keepyou from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."
II. I might continue in this strain, but perhaps I had better not. I would rather turn to THE BLESSINGS OF WHICH JUDE SPEAKS.He seems to ascribe in this doxology three blessings, at least, to the power of the Lord Jesus. The first is ability to keepyou from falling and for this, I am sure, thehighest praise is due when you consider for a moment the dangerous way. In some respects the path to Heaven is very safe.It is so as God made it. But in other respects there is no road so dangerous as the road to eternal life. It is beset withdifficulties.
In some of our mountain climbing we have gone along narrow pathways where there was but a step between us and death-for deepdown beneath us was a gaping precipice-perhaps a mile in perpendicular descent. One's brain reels at the thought of it nowand yet we passed along quite safely.The road to Heaven is much like that. One false step, (and how easy it is to take that, if Divine Grace is absent), anddown we go!
What a slippery path is that which some of us have to tread. You know that there are a million opportunities in a single weekfor your foot to slip and for your soul to be ruined. There are some spots, I believe, upon some of the more difficult Swissmountains where no man ought to go at all, andwhere, if any must go, they should be only such as have become most accomplished mountaineers through years of practice-forone has to cling to the side of the rock-to hold on, perhaps, by bushes or stones that may be there, with nothing for thefeet to rest upon except,perhaps, an inch of projecting crag!
And so we go creeping on with our backs to the danger, for to look down upon it would be to make the brain reel and causeus to fall. And the result of falling, of course, would be the end of life-the body would be dashed into a thousand pieces.Such is truly the way to Heaven. You must allhave passed some such difficult places, and, in looking back, I can only, myself, say, "Unto Him that has kept me from falling,when my feet had well near gone and my steps had almost slipped. Unto Him be glory forever and ever!"
But next you have to think of the weakness of the person. Some men may travel roads which would not be safe for others andwhat are you, my brother pilgrim, but a little babe? It is unsafe to trust you along the pathway to Glory. In the best roadsyou are soon tripped up. Those feeble knees ofyours can scarcely support your tottering weight. A straw might throw you and a pebble could wound you. Oh, if you shallbe kept, how must you bless the patient power which watches over you day by day! Reflect upon your tendency to sin. The giddinessof that poor brain, thesilliness of that deceitful heart. Think how apt you are to choose danger-how the tendency is to cast yourselves down-howyou rather are inclined to fall than to stand, and I am sure you will sing more sweetly than you have ever done, "Glory beto Him who is able to keepme from falling."
Then you have to notice further the many foes who try to push you down. The road is rough enough. The child is weak enough.But here and there is an enemy who is in ambush who comes out when we least expect him and labors to trip us up, or hurl usdown a precipice. I suppose you never did see a manfall from a precipice. Some of you may have been fools enough to go and see a man walk on a rope, in which case, I believe,you have incurred the guilt of murder. Because if the man does not kill himself, you encourage him to put himself where heprobably might do so. But if youhave ever really seen a man fall over a precipice, your hair must surely have stood on end-your flesh creeping on your bonesas you saw the poor human form falling off the edge-never to stand in mortal life again! Surely as you left the place whereyou stood and fledaway from the edge of the precipice, you cried, "O bless Him that made me stand and kept my feet from falling!"
How alarmed you would be if you were in such a position and had seen one fall and that same monster who had pushed him overshould come to hurl you over, also! And especially if you felt that you were as weak as water and could not resist the giganticdemon! Now just such is your case! You cannotstand against Satan! A little maid made Peter deny his Master and a little maid may make the strongest among us tremblesometimes. Oh, if we are preserved in spite of such mighty enemies who are ever waiting to destroy us, we shall have greatcause to sing praises "unto Him that isable to keep us from falling." Only Christ has the power to take us into Heaven.
You may keep a man from starving, but you cannot take him into the king's palace and present him at court. Suppose that aman had been a rebel. You might hide him from the pursuers and aid in his escape but you could not take him into the presenceof the king and cause him to live in the royalcastle of the land. But you see that Christ preserves His people though they have offended God and daily provoke His justice.And He does more, for He presents them to the King of kings in the high court of Heaven itself! This it is which makes theother blessing so great. We arenot anxious to always live in this world. We find ourselves in a strange land here and would be glad to fly away and beat rest. This is to us a wilderness state and we rejoice to know that Canaan lies beyond.
Our heavenly Joshua can lead us into it! He can fight for us against Amalek and slay all our foes and preserve us from falling.But better still He can and He will take us into the Promised Land and give us to see the "better country, even the heavenly,"and to there will He conduct all the host sothat not one shall perish or be left behind! Christ gives preservation, but He adds glorification-and that is better still!Here then, my Brothers and Sisters, is a thought of incomparable sweetness! We are safe while in this world-
"More happy, but not more secure are The glorified spirits in Heaven." And we, too, shall be, before long, as happy as theyare because He will present us with them before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!
We cannot, however, enlarge on this point, though there is much, very much, that ought to be said. We proceed to notice thecondition in which the saints are to be when presented-they are to be "faultless"-for our Lord never stops short of perfectionin His work of love. That Savior whomeans to keep His people to the end will not present them at last just alive, all black and foul as when He helped themout of the miry places. He will not bring them in, as sometimes gallant men have to bring those whom they have rescued fromdrowning, with just the vital sparkwithin them. No, our Savior will carry His people safe from falling through this life and He will present them, how?-faultless!
Oh, that is a wondrous word, "faultless"! We are a long way off from it now. Faulty, yes. We are now faulty through and through-butJesus Christ will never be content till we are faultless. And this He will make us in three ways-He will wash us till thereis not a spot left, for thechief of sinners shall be as white and fair as God's purest angel. The eyes of justice will look and God will say, "No spotof sin remains in you."
You may have been a drunkard, a thief, an adulterer and what not-but if Christ, in mercy, undertakes your case, He will washyou in His blood so thoroughly that you shall be faultless at last! You will be without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.Now we are defiled and covered with sin asif we had "lay among the pots." We have reveled in unclean-ness till we are as if we had been "plunged in the ditch." Ourown flesh must abhor us if we could but see how defiled we are by nature and by practice.
Now all this shall be completely removed and we shall be whiter than snow! You remember that when the disciples looked atJesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, they saw that His garments were white and glistening-whiter than any fuller could makethem! And so shall we behereafter-whiter and fairer than any earthly art can attain to. The sea of glass, clear as crystal, will not be whiter norpurer than we shall be when washed in the blood of the Lamb. But that is only one way.
If a man had no faults it would still be necessary for him to have some virtues. A man cannot enter Heaven simply becausetransgression is put away. The Law must be kept! There must be a positive obedience to Divine precepts. Religion is no negation,an absence of things merely evil. It is thepresence of the good, the true, the pure. But since even when we do our best we shall be unprofitable servants, we needsomething higher than we can ever produce by these, our feeble and sinful powers! Therefore the Lord our God imputes to usthe perfect righteousness of His SonChrist Jesus, for-
"Lest the shadow of a spot Should on my soul be found, He took the robe the Savior worked, And cast it all around."
The righteousness of Jesus Christ will make the saint who wears it so fair that he will be positively faultless! Yes, perfectin the sight of God! There is a fullness in this which it delights my soul to dwell upon. A man may be faultless in my sight,but not in the sight of those who know himintimately. A Christian may be so holy as to escape the censure of all just men. But ministering spirits, who read the heartand deal with the inner man, can speak of evil which has not come to light before human eyes. And we know that God sees evenmore clearly than angelicspirits, for He charges them with folly.
Now, God is to see no iniquity in us, no shortcoming. We shall be tried in His scales and set in the light of His Countenanceand be pronounced "faultless." God's Law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us and honoredby us. We shall have imputed to us thatrighteousness which belongs to Him who has done all this for us that He might "present us faultless before the presenceof His glory."
Fourthly and best, perhaps, the Spirit of God will make new creatures of us. He has begun the work and He will finish it.He will make us so perfectly holy that we shall have no tendency to sin any more. The day will come when we shall feel thatAdam in the garden was not more pure than we are. Youshall have no taint of evil in you. Judgment, memory, will-every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thralldomof evil. You shall be holy even as God is holy and in His Presence you shall dwell forever!
How altered we shall be! Look within and see if your experience is not like the Apostle Paul's who found a potent law in hismembers so that when he would do good, evil was present with him-and when he desired to escape some evil, he did at timesthe very thing he allowed not but would mostheartily condemn! So is it with us-we would be holy, but we are like a ball that has a bias in it-we cannot go in a straightand direct line. We try to hit the mark but we are prone to start on one side like a deceitful bow. There is a black dropin our hearts whichtaints all the streams and none of them can be pure.
But it will be all changed one day-we shall be re-made and all the evil gone, gone forever! How joyous must have been theentrance of Naaman, the Assyrian, into his house after he had washed in Jordan's stream and found his flesh restored to himas the flesh of a little child! I think I seehim as the watchman on the tower has given notice of his approach in the distance. The whole household is at the gate tomeet him and to see if he comes back in health. His wife, if eastern customs would not permit her going forth in public, wouldlook from her easement to catch aglimpse of his face-to see if the dread spots were gone.
How joyful the shout-"He is cured and clean!" But this is nothing compared with the rapture of that hour when the everlastingdoors will be lifted up and we, made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, shall enter into the joy of our Lord!Or take another illustration from Scriptureand try and realize the happiness which reigned in the family of the maniac out of whom the legion of devils had departed.Perhaps he had been home before when under the evil influence of the foul fiends-how terrified they doubtless were with themad frenzy of the poor unhappywretch as he cut himself with stones and broke all bonds put on him in tenderness and love in order to restrain his self-imposedmisery and wounds.
And now, as he comes once more to his house, they see him approach and the old terror seizes them because they know not thathe is a changed man, but suppose him still to be the demented being of days gone by. But he enters the door as calm and composedas if he had returned from a long journey andwas only anxious to relate the incidents of the pilgrimage and greet loved friends once more! With no fierce frenzy rollingin his eyes, no loud discordant shrieks rending the air, all is the demeanor of a well-regulated, joyful, yet chastened mind!As all this is realized by hisfriends and they hear what great things the Lord has done for him! What joy must have been in that family circle! I shouldlike to have seen it. I am sure it was a choice exhibition of real human bliss such as earth only witnesses now and then.
It must have been a beam of purest radiance lighting up the scene, like the splendor which Saul of Tarsus saw on the roadto Damascus as it lit up the day when he was made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Here, also, we can most truthfully say thatthe joy, though great, was not comparable to thejoy which shall be ours when we are changed into new creatures-when we shall be clothed and in our right mind-no longerprone to wander among the black mountains of iniquity and no more tempted to abide among those dead in trespasses and sins.Then we shall be ever holyand always living unto God and made like He! Oh this is joy indeed! Not only will He keep us from falling, but He will presentus faultless!
My Brothers and Sisters, at the thought of this I think you must join with Jude and say, "Now unto Him that is able to doall this, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever." I cannot speak to you as I would wish upon such atheme as this-who could? But when we get toHeaven our song shall be more sweet, more loud, because we shall understand better the dangers from which we have escapedand how very much we owe to Him who has kept us and brought us safely through all the vicissitudes of life, unto the placeHe has prepared for us. Meanwhile,never let us be forgetful of that mighty goodness which holds us fast and will not let us go.
III. Still I have not done with the text. I have already forestalled my next thought, but I think it requires a special notice.Observe, the Apostle adds, "To present us faultless before His presence, WITH EXCEEDING GREAT JOY." Who will have the joy?My Brothers and Sisters, you will have it! Haveyou ever mused upon the parable of the Prodigal Son? I know you have! No one can have diligently read the Bible withoutstaying to think over, again and again, of that most tender and instructive of our Lord's parables.
Now, I ask, Who was happy at that feast? Don't you think it was the prodigal? What was the character of those thoughts fillinghis heart and making it heave as if it would burst? How overjoyed he must have been! How utterly crushed down with his father'slove and all the unexpected marks ofkindness and affection! He had had his days of feasting and sinful merriment, but no songs could ever have been so sweetas those which rung round the old roof-tree to welcome him home! No viands had ever tasted so delicious as that fatted calf!And no voice of any companion orwitching charmer at his guilty feasts had ever sounded such melodious notes in his ears as those words ofhis father, "Letus eat and be merry."
So will it be with us when we have been restored to ourselves-when wearied of the world and hungering and thirsting afterrighteousness we shall have been led to the Father's house by the cords of love which the Spirit shall cast around us. Whensafely brought through all the weary pilgrimagefrom the far-off country, we shall tread the golden streets and be safe inside the pearly gates and have the past all goneforever among the things we never shall meet again. What rapture will be ours! This will be Heaven, indeed, when sin shallbe gone, Satan shut out, temptationgone forever! You shall have a joy of which you cannot now conceive. Rivers of pleasure shall flow into your soul! You shalldrink such draughts of bliss as your soul has never known this side the grave.
Oh, be joyful now with a respite of the joy which is to be revealed! And afterwards you shall have the fullness of Divinebliss forever and ever! Who shall be happy? Why, the minister will be happy! What pleasure was there in the heart of the shepherdyouth, David, the son of Jesse, when he hadgone forth to do battle with the lion and bear in order to rescue the lamb out of their jaws when God had delivered himand made him successful in his attempt! How gladly he must have watched the little lamb run to the side of its dam and inthe mutual pleasure of these poor dumbanimals I am sure he found a joy.
And so all the shepherds in Heaven-all who have been faithful pastors who have cared for and tended their flocks-shall finda bliss unspeakable in welcoming to Glory those darling ones preserved from the power of the devil, "who goes about as a roaringlion seeking whom he may devour."Yes, ministers will be sharers in this happiness! I think we shall have a special joy in bringing our sheaves with us. Ifit may please God to keep me from falling-if I just get inside the door of Heaven with some of the many thousands that Godhas given to me as my spiritualchildren-I will fall prostrate before His feet the greatest debtor to His mercy that ever lived and one that has more causethan any other of His creatures to thank Him and ascribe to Him glory and honor, dominion and power, forever and ever!
Here I am, and the children whom You have given me! Unto You be praise! And what will be the joy of angels, too? How exceedinglygreat their bliss will be! If there is joy among the angels over one sinner that repents, what will there be over ten thousandstimes ten thousands, not of repenting, butof perfected sinners, cleansed from every stain, set free from every flaw? Oh, you cherubim and seraphim, how loud willbe your music! How you will tune your harps anew! How shall every string wake up to the sweetest music in praise of God. "Letthe sea roar and the fullnessthereof" at the thought of the glorious joy at God's right hand!
Who will have joy, I ask again? Why Christ will have the most joy of all! Angels and ministers and you, yourselves, will scarcelyknow such joy as He will have-all His sheep safely folded-every stone of the building placed in its proper position. All theblood-bought and blood-washedones-all whom the Father gave Him-delivered out of the jaw of the lion! All whom He covenanted to redeem effectually saved-Hiscounsel all fulfilled, His stipulations all carried out-the Covenant not only ratified, but fulfilled in all its jots andtittles!Verily, none will be so happy as the great Surety in that day!
As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall Christ rejoice over you. You know it is written that, "for the joy setbefore Him He endured the Cross, despising the shame." And also, "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be abundantlysatisfied." Now this satisfaction and joy willbe our Lord's when the whole Church is faultless and complete in the presence of His Glory-but not till then. In that hour,when all His jewels are reckoned up and none found missing, He shall rejoice anew in spirit and shall thank God with yet moreof joy than He did whenhere on earth and thought of this day in prospect and by that thought nerved Himself for cruel suffering and a death ofshame. Yes, Christ will be glad!
Our Head will have His share of joy with all the members! And happily He will be able to bear more, as He most certainly deserves,and will have more. Who will have joy? Why, God Himself will have joy! It is no blasphemy to say that the joy of God on thatoccasion will be infinite. It is alwaysinfinite! But it will be then infinitely displayed before His creatures' gaze. Listen to these words-you cannot fathom them,but you may look at them. It is written, "The Lord your God will rejoice over you with joy. He will joy over you with singing"(Zeph. 3:17). As I havesaid on this platform before, I think that is the most wonderful text in the Bible in some respects-God Himself singing!
I can imagine, when the world was made, the morning stars shouting for joy. But God did not sing. He said it was "very good,"and that was all. There was no song. But oh, to think of it, that when all the chosen race shall meet around the Throne, thejoy of the Eternal Father shall swell so highthat God, who fills all in all, shall burst out into an infinite, godlike song! I will only put in this one more thought,that all this, Beloved, is about YOU. All this you have a share in, the least in the Church, the poorest in the family, thehumblest Believer-this is alltrue of you-He will keep you from falling and present you spotless before His Presence with exceedingly great joy.
Oh, cannot you join the song and sing with me, "To the only wise God and Savior be glory and honor, dominion and majesty forever.Amen"? For my part I feel like that good old saint who said that if she got to Heaven, Jesus Christ should never hear thelast of it. Truly He never shall-
"I'll praise my Savior with my breath; And when my voice is at last in death, Praise shall employ my nobler powers- My days of praise shall ne'er be past, While life and thought and being last, Or immortality endures."
I want you to go away with a sense of your own weakness and yet a belief in your own safety. I want you to know that you cannotstand a minute-that you will be damned within another second unless Divine Grace keep you out of Hell. But I want you to feelthat since you are in the hands ofChrist you cannot perish-neither can any pluck you out of His hands! And, poor sinners, my heart' s desire is that you maybe put into the hands of Christ tonight! That you may have done with trusting yourselves. You can ruin, but you cannot saveyourselves.
"Oh Israel, you have destroyed yourself, but in Me is your help found." Christ alone can save you! Oh look out of self toChrist! Trust yourselves in His hands! He is "able to keep you from falling." You cannot even stand upright yourselves andif He should set you upright you cannot keep so for aminute without His protecting care. If saints need to be kept, how much more need have you to seek the shelter of the Savior'swounded side? Flee there as the dove to the cleft of the rock! If holy men of God cry daily for pardon and profess to haveno right of themselves to Heaven,how much more urgent is your case? You must perish if you die as you are! You can never make yourself faultless, but Christcan.
He wants to do it-He has opened a fountain for sin and for uncleanness-wash and be clean! Again, I say, look to Jesus! Awaywith self and cling to Christ! Down with self-confidence and up with simple faith in Christ Jesus! I shall not let you go,dear Friends, without singing one versewhich I think will express the feeling of each one of us-
"Let me among Your saints be found Whenever the Archangel's trump shall sound, To see your smiling face. Then loudest of thecrowd I'll sing, While Heaven's resounding mansions ring With shouts of Sovereign Grace."