Sermon 639. Zealots
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 16, 1865, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
Simon called the Zealot." Luke 6:15.
SIMON called the Zealot has apparently two surnames in Scripture but they mean the same thing. He is called Simon the Canaanitein Hebrew-not because he was an inhabitant of Cana or a Canaanite, but that word, when interpreted, means precisely the sameas the Greek word, Zelotes. He wascalled Simon the Zealot. I suppose that he had this name before his conversion. It is thought by some that he was a memberof that very fierce and fanatical political sect of the Jews called the Zealots, by whose means the siege of Jerusalem wasrendered so much more bloody than itwould have been.
But this does not seem very probable, for the sect of the Zealots had scarcely arisen in the time of the Savior. And thereforewe are inclined to think with Hackett in his exposition of the Acts, that he was so called because of his zealous attachmentto his religion as a Jew. There were some inthe different classes of Jewish society who were so excessively full of zeal as to gain the name of zealot. But it strikesme that he must have been a zealot after conversion, too, for within that sacred circle which surrounded our Lord, every wordwas truth and the Master would nothave allowed any of His disciples to have worn a surname which was not expressive or truthful.
He was Simon the Zealot while in the darkness and blindness of his mind he knew not the Messiah. He surely could not havebeen less Simon the Zealot when, gifted with the Holy Spirit, he went forth to cast out devils, heal the sick and to proclaimthat the kingdom of Heaven was at hand. I should beglad if many among us would earn the same title by so living that men would call us zealots, or even "fanatics," for thisis so sleepy an age concerning religious things, that to be called fanatic, nowadays, is one of the highest honors a man canhave conferred upon him! May we soact and live that we might truthfully wear the title of Christian zealots.
We shall occupy your time, this morning first of all by some like description of the unconverted zealot and then, secondly,by some few remarks upon the Christian zealot.
I. LET US PORTRAY THE UNCONVERTED ZEALOT. Zeal frequently expends itself on other things than religion. You will find manyzealots not religious in any sense of the word. We have seen lately a few political zealots. The one important matter of theirlives is the defense of the Whig or the Toryinterest. It appears as if they would sacrifice their business, no, in their furor they think everything a trifle so longas they can but vindicate some favorite opinion. Such was Saul, the king of Israel. He was such a zealot for Israel and forJudah that in his zeal he slew theGibeonites.
He was politically a zealot. He thought that the Gibeonites, being in the land, ate the bread which belonged to the sons ofIsrael and occupied the cities which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. Therefore, violating all covenants and solemn oaths-andbringing upon the nation a greatjudgment-he slew the Gibeonites. Many are scientific zealots. They will sacrifice health in sitting over mixtures of deleteriousdrugs to examine chemical combinations. Or they will pass through feverish countries among savage men to discover the sourceof a river, or measurethe height of a mountain.
We can readily find business zealots-their shop windows scarcely need shutters, for business is never over. Sunday itselfis not enclosed for worship. They steal that day for keeping their books. They make haste to be rich and they are not innocent.They plunge into this speculation and theother. They often bring their bodies to sickness and their minds to madness in their zeal for riches. You do not find thatthe world cries out against zeal in business and in science and in politics!
No, men can admire it there, but the moment you bring it into the court of the Lord's House, then straightway they hold uptheir hands with astonishment, or open their mouths with blasphemy! Men cannot endure that we should make eternal things realand spend our strength for them. They would haveus reserve our energies for the matters in which they take so deep an interest. Brethren, we would not condemn the use ofzeal in the common affairs of life, for zeal is essential to success. We only wish that Christians would copy worldly menand be half as earnest and half asambitions to maintain and increase the kingdom of their Lord and Master as some men are after petty trifles or selfish aggrandizements.
Understand, then, that a man may be a zealot and yet there may not be a trace of religion in him for his zeal may run in quitea different channel. The unconverted zealot, should his zeal expend itself upon religion, is generally exceedingly boastful.Look at Jehu, as he bids Jehonadab, the son ofRechab, ride with him in his chariot vain-gloriously exclaiming, "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord." He cannotkill the worshippers of Baal without someone standing by to admire how he devotes himself entirely to Jehovah. Unconvertedmen, when full of zeal, are almost allJehus. They must have some admiring eyes. The clap of approbation is essential to the life and vigor of their earnestness.
Not so the true Christian! He is as zealous for his Master when he stands alone or in the midst of derision as in the timewhen religion is honorable. Let us take care to ever avoid all boastfulness! Let us serve our Master as Jehu did and betterthan he, but let us never say, "Come, see my zealfor the Lord."
As you travel over the mountains and become thirsty you look for the cooling stream. But the traveler who has often passedthe hills never stoops to drink of the little streamlets which run uncovered down the mountain side-he knows that their exposureto the heat of the sun has warmed thewater and taken away its grateful freshness and coolness! He looks for the trickling rill which gushes fresh from the rockor bubbles up as a spring, or has found its way under the moss and great stones all hidden from the light. He loves to satisfyhimself there!
It is thus with our gifts and graces. If we expose them to public view they lose their acceptability with the Most High God.But if we keep ourselves as much as possible from all ostentation and seek to serve God humbly and quietly, Jehovah Himselffinds delight in the gracious works of His ownbeloved people. May the Lord keep us, then, from being boastful zealots! The unconverted zealot is generally an ignorantzealot. "I bear them witness," says Paul, "that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."
The Pharisees were very fanatical. They were ignorant of God's righteousness and they went about to establish their own. Theyhad not learned the feebleness of the principle of the Law, and therefore they struggled on and on to attain eternal lifeby it. They did not know the force and strength ofthe great principle of Divine Grace working through faith and therefore they neglected it-and with all their strugglingthey came short of the kingdom of Heaven. Let us beware of an ignorant zeal. How much there is of it nowadays. Probably thereis more zeal to be found amongthe professors of false doctrine than among the followers of the Truth!
How they will garnish their churches as of old the Pharisees garnished their sepulchers! How diligently will they bedeck theiraltars and load them with ornaments and millinery! To what an extent of effort do they go! What asceticism will they practice!What infamy, what abuse are they not willingto endure in defending the cause of their idols and bringing back again the old superstitions of Rome! If those who areorthodox had as much zeal as the Papist and the Puseyite, it would be well for England. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, shun anignorant zeal! And at the same time laborto blend zeal with your knowledge lest your knowledge, lacking force, should cease to be operative in the land!
Let it be forever remembered that if we are ever so zealous in a wrong faith, that zeal does not make the false true nor makeus right in its prosecution. I may drink poison, devoutly believing it will do me good, but it will poison me, no matter whatI believe! And so I may believe a lie ever soearnestly, but it will be a lie nevertheless and the poison of the lie will work my soul's ruin just as surely as if I hadnot been so fervent in its belief.
Do not believe in the idea that every man who is sincere in his religion will be right at last. Not so. If a man is sincereand travels due North he will not reach a town in the South-and if he spurs his horse ever so much towards the East, he willnot arrive at his destination, if thatdestination is a city in the West. Seek to be right. Get an understanding of the Truth as God has revealed it-otherwiseall your zeal will be but wildfire which will do mischief rather than good. The zeal of unconverted men is generally partial.It may be a zeal for somethinggood, but not for everything that is good.
How zealous the Pharisee was for frequent ablutions-he would not eat bread, if ever so hungry-till he had washed his hands.How excessively zealous he was to tithe the mint-it did not come to three farthings in a year-and the anise and the cummin-allthese littlematters must be attended to! I think I see the man looking earnestly while he strains at the gnat! How he shudders lestby any means that horrid and monstrous insect should get into his wine! If it should possibly go down his throat, what pollutionhe would incur!
But mark the hypocrite as he turns his head the other way and he swallows a camel in the twinkling of an eye! While he canpay his mint and his anise and his cummin in full tithe, he can at the same time devour a widow's house and cry out againstthe Lord of Life and Glory and plot and plan againstthe Savior till he has dragged Him to the Cross! This is the unconverted zealot! Zealous he is for sect and party when thewhole that the sect may hold is not of more value than the gnat and yet great fundamental doctrinal Truths of God are forgotten,as though they were of no valuewhatever. Brethren, may we be earnest men of God, but I pray that we may be zealous for all the Truth of God!
We must count no Truth of God to be despicable, but take the whole Word of God as far as the Spirit of God shall reveal itunto us and stand up for it in its entirety and completeness-and not be willing that the very least of Christ's Commandmentsshould be neglected or despised. The zealot,again, while unconverted, is generally, (if it is in his power), a persecutor. "Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church."Paul verily thought that he was doing God a service when he drove men and women to prison and to death. And I doubt not thereare many in this age most sincerezealots, who, if they would not quite delight in the sweet sacrifices of Smithfield, would, at any rate, like to pass afew repressive laws to put down "those wicked Dissenters" and ordain one or two salutary penalties by which "those quarrelsomeBaptists" might have their tonguesclipped a little shorter-that they might not speak out quite so plainly concerning the infamies of the State Church!
Doubtless there is a tendency with us all to wish to impose our own opinions upon others by all available means. The exaggerationof anxiety for our fellow men would lead us to adopt wrong means to make them of a right opinion! We forget that men's consciencesand judgments are never touched bysuch rude or vulgar means as threats or penalties. We should always feel that consciences and hearts are under the jurisdictionof the Most High and in no sense whatever are they to be brought under the jurisdiction of Pope or potentate, or of any ofus, no matter how orthodox wemay conceive ourselves to be. Strive earnestly for your faith, but strive lawfully. Contend zealously for the Truth, butlet the only fire you use be love and the only sword the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
But zealots without Grace are generally persecutors. Without Divine Grace zealots are very bitter towards their professedBrethren. We read in the Epistle of the Apostle James of some who were full of strife and envy and were yet members of theChurch. From such zeal may the Lord of Hosts deliverus! Our Brethren in the fellowship with us are not to be convinced of their errors by being knocked on the head, but byhaving the candle held to their eyes. If we can teach them the Truth as it is in Jesus, it shall be well. But as for carnalcontention and persecution-let itbe far from us.
This picture of the zealot without Christ is not complete unless we remark that often his aims are sinister. We read of somein the Epistle to the Corinthians who did zealously affect the Corinthians, but not well, for they slandered the Apostle Paul.They denied his Apostleship. They said that hisbodily presence was weak and his speech was contemptible. And yet they appeared very zealous, indeed-far more zealous thanPaul-because they wanted to alienate the mind of the Corinthian Church from the Apostle and get themselves to be made mastersin God's heritage. Letus beware of a zeal for lifting up ourselves.
Brethren, if we preach Christ with a view to get ourselves honored by it we prostitute the sacred things of God and are guiltyof that very sin which was accursed in Belshazzar, when he took the golden cups of the sanctuary to drink in them to his owndelight. Zeal must be pure. It may be fire, butit must be fire from off the altar or else if we minister with any other fire, like Nadab and Abihu, we may be slain beforethe Lord. O that we would search our heart so as to be quite sure that we have no aim in all the world but Christ-"God forbidthat I should glory save inthe Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
You may shoot well, you brave archers, but if you aim at the wrong target you will not win the prize. If you aim at anythingbut your Lord's honor you shall never hear it said, "Well done, good and faithful servant." To close this very sorry accountof the unconverted zealot-he is generallybut temporary in his zeal. If the zeal is good, it dies out before long. The Apostle Paul says, "It is good to be zealouslyaffected always in a good thing." Some of you are mightily zealous at a Prayer Meeting and grow intensely warm-hearted aftera season of revival-you areconsecrated to God most marvelously for a month or two! You live consistently for a few weeks-you are diligent in the useof the means of Grace for a short time.
And then-well, you have had enough of it, I suppose, and you think enough to be as good as a feast and so you would have donewith heavenly things-the wind blows from another quarter and therefore, like the weathercock, you are turned by it in anotherway. Some of you would go toHeaven, but you get plucked by the sleeve Hell-wards and cannot bear a hard pull-and so you turn away from Christ. One wouldthink when you are sick that you were ripe for Heaven, but when you get well, ah, how different! "When he was sick," saysan old legend, "the devil amonk would be," but when he got well you know how he gave up his fine intentions.
There are many now of the same sort. For a time they threaten to take the kingdom by storm! They censoriously rebuke the coldnessof others. They vow to conquer Hell and enter Heaven, pushing the world before them and dragging the Church after them! Butin a short time where are they? They haverelapsed into their former lethargy, or perhaps they have taken their zeal with them into the camp of the adversary. Suchis the unconverted zealot.
Suffer two or three more words before we leave him. There is much about him to imitate. Unconverted as he is, mischievousas his zeal may be-if we could pluck that sword out of his hand-of how great a use might it be to us! If sinners are zealousin their sins, should not saints bezealous for their God? If the things of time can stir the human passions, should not the realities of eternity have a greaterand more tremendously moving force? If these men will spend and be spent, and stretch every nerve and run the race merelyfor the crown of politics or ofambition, where are we? What idlers, what laggards we are that we pursue the things of God with but half a heart!-
"Dear Lord and shall we always live At this poor dying rate?"
Bear this other word, also, namely that we ought to look upon these zealots with hopefulness. When a man serves Baal thoroughly,it is a great pity and a thing to be deplored. But I think he is a man worth catching and to be sought after. We know a sortof people who will never make much atanything. They are not very forward in sin. The devil himself cannot respect them much, they are such poor servants to him.If they ever become Christians, into the rear rank they must go. They need to be pressed forward and receive from the strengthof the Church, for they cannever impart power to it.
But when you get a man who is vigorous in the cause of Satan and when Sovereign Grace brings him down-what a trophy he becomesof its power and how gloriously he contends for the Gospel of Christ! Look at Saul of Tarsus! No man more zealous againstthe Gospel than he, and he is second to nonewhen he becomes a preacher of the Word! Look at John Bunyan on the village green-never second, always the leader! Whetherit was the game of cat on Sunday, or ringing the Church bells, or blasphemy-he was a prince in the devil's camp! And whenhe became a Christian therewas none like John Bunyan in thundering out the Law, or preaching-fearless of pains and penalties-the Gospel of our LordJesus Christ.
Master Bunyan says in his "Grace Abounding" that he was very hopeful for England because the young men of his age were sovery bad, since if God would convert them, they would make such good Christians by-and-by. And I feel a little of his mind-whenI see a man come in here who is known to bea down-right sinner, I hope he may make an upright saint. Some have come in here who have been ringleaders and have exceededothers in their sin, but instead of saying, "Their case is hopeless," I have thought-now let us pray with might and main thatSovereign Grace mayovercome his sin-who knows what he may be able to accomplish for the Church if he is converted?
II. Now for a more pleasing picture, namely, THE TRUE CHRISTIAN ZEALOT-how his zeal manifests itself, how it is kept up, andwhat is to be said in commendation of it. The Christian zealot-how his zeal manifests itself! First, it manifests itself inhis private dealings with God. Theunconverted zealot is a hypocrite-he does not come to God in private. He may use a form of private prayer, but he has notrue communion with God alone. The unconverted zealot has a religion on the surface, but there is no Divine Grace within.
How different is it with the Christian! That is a remarkable passage in the Revelation where zeal is coupled with repentance."Be zealous, therefore, and repent." I may take this as an indication that when a true Christian is zealous he is zealousin repentance-his tears come welling up fromhis heart! Sin is not a little distasteful, but is exceedingly disgusting to him. His faith, too, is not merely a tremblingrecognition of the Truth of God, but it is a firm grasp of everlasting verities. The Christian zealot, when he is alone withGod, throws his whole heart intohis service. Whatever may be the Grace which is in exercise, he seeks to have it thoroughly and actively at work.
If his heart is given to God, it is a heart full of holy fire, like a sacred censer. If he devotes himself in private to anyhallowed deed of fellowship or communion with God, his heart wanders not-or if it wanders, he contends with it until he hasbound it with cords-even with cords tothe horns of the altar! Brothers and Sisters, I wish you and I were more zealous! Alas, I have to complain of myself thatwhen I try to pray, full often I cannot. When I would do good in the closet, evil is present with me. I wish I had power towalk with God as Enoch did, but thecares of the Church, let alone the vanities of life, will creep in and the soul comes out of the closet unrefreshed, verymuch because it has had no zeal in its closet exercises.
The true Christian zealot seeks, above all things, to make his private religion intensely energetic, knowing that it is thevital point of godliness. The Christian zealot may be recognized very manifestly by his prayers. Hear his utterances in thePrayer Meeting. It is no repetition of a set ofsacred phrases, no going over the metaphors which have become time-worn and tedious-he prays like a man who means it-hecomes up to Heaven's gate, grasps the knocker and knocks and knocks and knocks again, waiting until the door is opened! Hegets hold of the gates ofHeaven and labors to shake them to and fro as though he would pull them up-bolts and bars and all, as Samson did the gatesof Gaza-rather than not prevail with God.
These men, like Elijah, have power to shut up Heaven or to open its gates. Oh, that we had more of such in our midst! We havea few who, as soon as they stand up to pray, fire our hearts by their earnestness-may they be multiplied! The like is true,of course, of the private prayers of theChristian as well as of his public ones. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, we need more resolve when we go before God that we willhave the blessing! We need more determination that we are asking what is according to His mind and we will take no denial,but will say to the angel, "I willnot let You go except You bless me." Christians, seek to be zealots in prayer-pouring out your hearts like water beforethe Lord and crying out with sighs and tears till, like your Master, you have been heard in that which you have petitioned.
But the zealot does not stop here. The Christian zealot is manifested in his jealousy for God's honor. The word jealous inits sound and sense is akin to the word zealous. Hear how Elijah uses it. He says, "I have been very jealous for the LordGod of Hosts." He saw Baal worshipped everywherethroughout Israel and his heart was ready to break. So the stern old man said, "Let me die-I am no better than my fathers."How sternly he slew Baal's priests! What a spectacle was that when, after having mocked them because no fire came on theirsacrifice, he stretched outhis hands and cried, "Let it be known who is God"! And when the flame had come and his own sacrifice had been consumed,he said with a rough voice, "Take the Prophets of Baal. Let not one of them escape."
Here was zeal for the Lord of Hosts springing from an awful overwhelming jealousy for God's honor and a hatred of the idolswhich usurped His Throne. See the same in Moses. With holy jealousy he dashes the tablets of stone upon the ground, takesthe golden calf, grinds it to powder and makes arebellious people drink of the bitter draught. Look at Phineas, again, when he saw the people committing adultery as a partof the unclean rites with which they worshipped the gods of Moab! He seized a javelin and ran them through-and so it is saidthe zeal of Phineas made anatonement before the Lord.
We want something of that kind-a zeal for God which will smite all error with a ruthless hand! The iconoclastic zeal whichwill break to pieces images of silver and of gold, however prettily they may be cast or engraved-which will tear down thetoys of Popery and tread the whole in themire as things worse than worthless because they come in the way of the Lord God of Hosts. Away with the softness whichwill not let some of my brethren denounce an error lest they should violate charity! The velvet in their mouths prevents theirdealing with Antichrist as it oughtto be dealt with. The day is come in which the Romish and Anglican Antichrists are to have no tender words used towardsthem!
It must be war to the knife for God and for His Truth against the lie which in modern times has impudence enough to show itsface again-I mean the lie that the sacrament can save-that Baptism can regenerate, or that the Lord's Supper is a channelof salvation! Up with Divine Grace anddown with Sacramentarianism! Up with the Truths of God forever and down with falsehood! A man is no zealot and cannot becalled Zelotes unless he has a holy jealousy for the honor of Christ and His crown and His Truth!
Nor is this all. True zeal will show itself in the abundance of a man's labors and gifts. Paul commends the zeal of the Corinthiansbecause they were always ready to minister to his necessities. He says, "Concerning the ministering of the saints, you haveno need that I speak unto you." Zeal laborsfor Christ. My Brethren, if you want a picture of zeal, take the Apostle. How he compasses sea and land! Storms cannot stophim! Mountains cannot impede his progress! He is beaten with rods, he is stoned-he is cast into prison-but the invinciblehero of the Cross presseson in the holy war until he is taken up to receive a crown of glory! We do little or nothing, the most of us-we fritteraway our time. O that we could live while we live!
But our existence-that is all we can call it-our existence, what a poor thing it is! We run like shallow streams- we havenot force enough to turn the mill of industry and have not depth enough to bear the vessel of progress! We have not floodenough to cheer the mends of poverty.We are dry too often in the summer's drought and we are frozen in the winter's cold. O that we might become broad and deeplike the mighty stream that bears a navy and gladdens a nation! O that we may become inexhaustible and permanent rivers ofusefulness through the abundantsprings from where our supply comes-even the Spirit of the living God!
The Christian zealot may be known by the anguish which his soul feels when his labors for Christ are not success-ful-the tearsthat channel his cheeks when sinners are not saved! Do not tell me of zeal that only moves the tongue, or the foot, or thehand! We must have a zeal which moves thewhole heart! We cannot advance so far as the Savior's bloody sweat-but to something like it the Christian ought to attainwhen he sees the tremendous clouds of sin and the tempest of God's gathering wrath! How can I see souls damned, without emotion?How can I hear Christ'sname blasphemed, without a shudder? How can I think of the multitudes who prefer ruin to salvation, without a pang?
Believe me, Brothers and Sisters, if you never have sleepless hours, if you never have weeping eyes, if your hearts neverswell as if they would burst, you need not anticipate that you will be called zealous! You do not know the beginning of truezeal, for the foundation of Christian zeal lies inthe heart. The heart must be heavy with grief and yet must beat high with holy ardor! The heart must be vehement in desire,panting continually for God's Glory, or else we shall never attain to anything like the zeal which God would have us know.
And to close this point of how zeal manifests itself, let me say that it is always seen, where it is genuine, in a vehementlove and attachment to the Person of the Savior. This is why we have not more zeal-because often the Christ preached is nota personal Christ. Have not I frequently saidin this pulpit that nothing can make a man zealous like attachment to a person? When Napoleon's soldiers won so many victories,and especially in the earlier part of his career, when against such deadly odds they earned such splendid triumphs, what wasthe reason?
The "little corporal" was there, and whenever it came to a desperate rush he was the first to cross the bridge or charge theenemy, always exposing himself to danger. And their attachment to his person and their love and admiration of his valor madethem follow at his heels, swift to victory! Havenot we heard of those who threw themselves in the way of the cannon ball to save his life? There could not have been suchtriumphs if there had not been a man who knew how to govern men by attaching them to himself.
And oh, the Person of the Savior! What attachment can there be equal to that which binds a Christian to his Lord? What personcan there ever be out of whose lips come such golden chains to bind all hearts? When we see Him our hearts glow with sacredfervor! When we think of Him our soul is all onfire! What can we not do in His Presence? What will we not suffer when He cheers us? There are no impossibilities-no, evendifficulties have ceased to be when Jesus Christ shall come and our hearts are full of love to Him! It is a constant and unfailingsign of a true zealotthat his attachment to his Master's Person is deep and fervent and he cannot forget Him who redeemed him by blood.
This brings us now, in the next place, to think awhile of how this zeal is maintained and kept up. To keep up a good fireof zeal we must have much fuel. The fire will partake of the quality of the fuel so that it must be good firing to make holyzeal. If I understand aright, zeal is the fruit ofthe Holy Spirit and genuine zeal draws its life and vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Spirit in thesoul. Next to this, zeal feeds upon truths like these-it is stirred by the ruin of sinners. The very sight of sinners makesa right-hearted man zealous fortheir conversion.
Ride mile after mile through our streets. Turn down the narrower streets, enter the courts, go down the alleys-do not be disgustedwith those tumbling houses-go in and go upstairs! See how many there are in one room. Mark what poverty, what squalor, whatfilth! Go into certain quartersand see what ignorance, what crime! I think the city missionary has constantly before him enough to keep his zeal at feverheat and if we, ourselves, went more often into some of the lowest dens of this huge city we should go back to our closets,crying, "Gracious God! I have notthought of these people as I ought to do, for instead of being up and doing with all my might, I have been trifling andwasting my time."
Well, but what is London? This nation of London-what is it? It is only a drop in the bucket compared with the millions thatare still in darkness. Let any man think upon Hindustan. Let him reflect, if he will, upon China. Let him take any one countryand consider that there is not amissionary to a million in many of those places and that the missionaries who are there might, many of them, as well havebeen at home-for they are missionaries who Christianize people by baptizing them and know little about the Spirit's work uponthe soul!
What is said about many of the converts made by mere ritual preaching and by baptismal ceremonies? Why it is well known thatin some parts of heathendom the worst scoundrels are the nominal Christians-the reason being because they were not made Christiansby being converted-but by beingbaptized and so an indelible dishonor is put upon Christ by carrying on missionary operations on the principle of baptizingpeople who are not Christians and labeling them the people of Christ while in their hearts they are more deceitful than theheathen themselves! We must thinkonly of the need there is for a sound, honest preaching of the Gospel-the preaching of the doctrines which really do changethe soul- and the coming down of the Holy Spirit to deal personally with individuals.
All wholesale conversion of tribes and nations by calling them Christians when they are merely civilized is an evil and anabomination! The needs of the age are enough, if a man has any sense of what eternal realities are, to make us zealous-zealousto the highest pitch. And next, Christianzeal feeds itself upon a sense of gratitude-
"Loved of my God, for Him again, With love intense I burn, Chosen of Him before time began, I choose Him in return."
Look to the hole of the pit from where you were dug and you will see abundant reason why you should spend and be spent forGod! Zeal for God feeds itself upon the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of Helland it cannot slumber-it looks up withanxious gaze to the glories of Heaven and it cannot but bestir itself. Zeal for God thinks of death and hears the hoofsof the white horse with the skeleton rider close behind. Zeal for God feels that all it can do is little compared with whatis needed, and that time is shortcompared with the work to be done-and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord.
Above all, zeal for God feeds itself on love to Christ. Lady Powerscourt says somewhere, "If we want to be thoroughly hotwith zeal, we must go near to the furnace of the Savior's love." Get to know how Christ loved you and you cannot but loveHim! Do but know how He was spit upon and despised andhow He bled and died for us and we cannot but feel that we can do and bear all things for His name's sake. Above all, Christianzeal must be sustained by a vigorous inner life. If we let our inner life dwindle, if it begins to be dwarfish-if our heartbeats slowly beforeGod-we shall not know zeal! But if all is strong and vigorous within, then we cannot but feel a loving anxiety to see thekingdom of Christ come and His will done on earth, even as it is in Heaven.
I have to close by commending zeal. Let my words be few, but let them be weighty here. In commending zeal, let me say I thinkit should commend itself to every Christian man and woman without a word of mine. But if you must have it, remember that GodHimself is zealous. We read that when Christcomes as the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, then the governmentis to be upon His shoulders and of His kingdom there is to be no end. But Scripture adds, "The zeal of the Lord of Hosts willperform this."
God has been zealous in judgment. Ezekiel tells us that God was zealous when He came forth to destroy His foes, but oh, howzealous He is in Divine Grace! It is a wonderful thing that we should use such language, but the Scripture is our warrant!When God puts His hands to the work of saving theelect He is filled with zeal! There is no slumber, no lack of diligence with God in the work of conversion and saving! ForZion's sake He never rests! Nor will He rest till Christ shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. Godis earnest, God is zealous! Childrenof God, be imitators of Him!
Christ was zealous. We read of Him that the zeal of God's House had eaten Him up and when He took the scourge of small cordsand purged the temple, John tells us that it was written of Him, "The zeal of Your House has eaten Me up." A Prophet tellsus that He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak.He had not zeal over a part of Him, but was clothed with it as with some great cloak covering Him from head to foot. Christwas all zeal. "Do you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" is one of His utterances, while yet a Child. Andfrom the very first to the last itwas His meat and His drink to do His Father's will.
At what a rate He drove! How swift the chariot wheels of duty went with Him till the axles grew hot with speed! Brethren,you have Christ for an example. Does not this suffice you? Surely I can only descend in argument, but not ascend-see the holyangels who are to be your blessedcompanions-are they not flames of fire? Are they not called ser- aphs because they fly like flames upon their Master's errands?Be not slow where angels are like flashes of lightning if we would see any success come to the Church-and I know that is dearto us! If wewould see souls converted-and I know it is the object of our daily prayers! If we would hear the cry that "the kingdomsof this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ"-and I know that this is our passionate desire!
If you would see crowns put upon the head of the Savior and His Throne lifted high-and I know this is your great ambition!If you would see Jehovah, your Father, glorified even to the ends of the earth-then be filled with zeal! Under God, the wayof the world's conversion must be by thezeal of the Church. Simon the Zealot must lead the van. The rest may follow in their places-knowledge, patience, courage,prudence, every grace shall do exploits-but this shall be first, this shall bear the standard high! Zeal for God, zeal forHis Truth-this shallbe in the van, and may you stand side by side with the most zealous in the day of conflict, that you may be there in thehour of victory.
I cannot, this morning, address you as I would desire, for I cannot feel my own zeal to be what I would have it be. O forthe zeal of Wesley and Whitfield! The zeal of men who were always preaching or praying, men who seemed as if they knew noweariness, or shook it off as dust from off their feet!Oh, to have the zeal of apostolic times again, when the very least among you should be ready to be martyrs for Christ ifneed be! And when all of you should testify of Him, wherever you were called to go. Oh for more zeal in the household, thatyou might seek more anxiously theconversion of your children! More zeal in the workshop, that you might communicate to your fellow workmen the spirit whichactuates and moves you!
Oh for more zeal in the Church and Church Meetings and Prayer Meetings, that everything might be done with spirit! Above all,oh, for more zeal in the pulpit! Holy fire come down! We have the wood, we have the altar, we have the sacrifice- but we needthe fire! Have you not remarked, Brothersand Sisters, how much a man may do who is clothed with zeal? Some of our Brethren in the ministry to whom we have listenedhave stirred our passions, have made our blood boil after a sacred fashion and yet their talents have been very few and wefelt while they were speaking thatthey made better use of one talent than some have made of ten.
Believe me, it is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful. It is not the extent of your talent or tact, thoughthese have their place. It is your zeal-your ZEAL that shall perform God's work! May I entreat you, as members of this Church,not to let your zeal die out. WhatPrayer Meetings we have had! Shall we ever forget Park Street-those Prayer Meetings when I felt compelled to let you gowithout a word from my lips because the Spirit of God was so awfully present that we felt bowed to the dust-and any languageof mine would have been amere impertinence?
What zeal you have had! Some of you have sought for the conversion of souls. When I look upon some of you I know you are spiritualmothers and fathers in Israel-not to ones or twos, but scores! Shall your zeal relax? We have, by God's Grace, lived to seemany of our enemies clothed withshame. We have preached the Word till that Word begins to tell and make the solid rocks of error shake. Will you draw back?Will you lose your force? Will you slacken in prayer? Will you refuse to receive the blessing which awaits you? Will you takeyour heads from the crown when itis ready to descend? I pray you do not so! Let us be banded together as one man! Let us contend earnestly for the faithonce delivered to the saints! Let us pray with fervor! Let us live in holiness! Let us preach constantly and preach with fire!And let us so live that we mayimpress our age and leave our footprints on the sands of time.
As for some of you who never were zealous-who are the fathers of no spiritual children. As for some of you-whose religiongets into a very narrow compass and is good for very little when it gets there-I pray you bestir yourselves. If your religionis a lie, do not profess it! Ifit is a farce, do not enslave yourselves to it!
But if there is anything in religion, it is worth everything! It cannot sit second at the table-it must have the first place.The Christian man is to be, first of all, a Christian man! Next to that a tradesman or what you will-but first of all a Christianman. The first thing with theBeliever is his Lord. Christ will be nowhere if He is not first and chief and that religion is vain and void which doesnot fill the soul and take up the throne of the heart.
May God allow us, then, to wear the character, if not the name of Simon the Zealot, and then we will wait at His footstooland serve Him after such sort as He shall help us to do and His shall be all the praise. But, ah, we must be converted first!So let the sinner remember that his first businessis with this text-"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved"-that is, trust Jesus, for it is written, "Hethat believes and is baptized shall be saved. He that believes not shall be damned." God grant you Divine Grace to trust Christand then to be zealousfor Him. Amen.