Sermon 647. Heart'S Ease
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 27, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."
THE last month has been a peculiarly gloomy season. Evil tidings have followed on one another's heels like Job's messengers.Epidemics have been rampant among our families and many are the early graves which have been filled by contagious diseases.It is greatly to be feared that the cholera isstretching its wings of death and hastening to find its prey in our crowded lanes and alleys. The disease among the cattleis cutting off the herd from the stall and polluting the most substantial food of man. And it is much to be feared that thecontinual showers must be spoilingmuch of the un-crated corn and causing serious loss to farmers in the more northern counties.
In the newspapers of the last few weeks there has been a constant succession of the most fearful crimes. Scarcely have weknown a period in which persons disposed to be melancholy might more thoroughly indulge their taste for the darkest apprehensionsand forebodings. Cheerful as I am, I could, insome degree, sympathize with a good old saint with whom I sat a few minutes the other night. He began to lament our nationalsins and tremble at the presence of what he conceived to be national judgments. Though I am very far from being troubled withuneasy forecasts, yet I freelyadmit that old age and long experience may justly suggest to us earnest searching of heart because of the ills of the presentperiod.
More terrible than rumor of plague or infectious disease of our cattle is the manifest fact that Popery is advancing amongus with giant strides. Turn which way we will, Popery-Romish or Anglican-reeks in our nostrils! It is no longer engaged insecretly undermining ourbulwarks-it has set its ladder to the wall and is scaling the ramparts! The Popish party in the Establishment, supportedby the undoubted superstition of the National Prayer Book, now seeks to regain its ancient prominence while its allies withoutare moving Heaven and earthto win this nation to the dominion of Antichrist.
Meanwhile, there are numerous causes for mourning in the Church of God itself-many defections, many departing from first principlesand fundamental doctrines-and some, who did run well, suddenly turning aside and proving that they had never run in the powerand energy of the Spirit ofGod. If one preferred the night side of life, one might sit down and readily gather congenial shades of cloud and mist aboutone's head and heart. But what good would this do? Despondency wins no victories! Let us pluck up courage and go to our kneesand to our God!
Those who have laid hold on Christ Jesus and are resting in the Father's love and power have no reason to be disquieted-shouldall Hell be unmuzzled and all earth be unhinged-they may rejoice with a joy undampened by carnal fear or earthly sorrow! Theyhave found a secret source ofsupply from which they can draw, if all earth's wells should suddenly run dry-for all their fresh springs are in their God!Of each Believer, when full of faith, it is true, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings-his heart is fixed, trusting inthe Lord."
I. To come directly to the text. EVIL TIDINGS MAY COME TO THE BEST OF MEN-to those whose hearts are fixed and are trustingin the Lord. It may be of great service to us to remember this dreary fact, for it may lead us to let go of earthly things.Let us chew this very bitter morsel for amoment or two-there is nothing very palatable or pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity,but it may humble us and prevent our boasting with the Psalmist, "My mountain stands firm: I shall never be moved." It maystay us from taking too deeproot in this soil from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the heavenly garden.
1. Let us remember the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies-how soon may evil tidings come concerning them!We rightly class our families first in our possessions. We look with delight into the faces of our children. We mark theirgrowing abilities. We are charmed withevidences of opening intelligence-yet they may never live to manhood-their sun may go down before it is yet noon. We are,perhaps, perplexed as to what we shall do with them when they shall be old enough to be apprenticed to a trade, or initiatedinto a profession. Butwe may never have that task to care for-long before they reach that period of life they may be slumbering in their graves.
We gaze with ever fresh delight upon those beloved ones with whom we are united in the ties of wedlock, but if we gaze wiselywe shall clearly see mortality written upon the fairest brow and glistening in the most loving eyes! How soon may these partnersof our heart's best affections be torn awayfrom us! We must beware of making idols of those who are nearest and dearest, for the objects of our idolatry may soon,like the golden calf, be dashed in pieces and we may have to drink the waters of bitterness because of our sin.
If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked with the woodman's axe, we should not be so ready to build ournests in them. We should love, but we should love with the love which expects death and which reckons upon separations. Ourdear relations are but loaned to us and the hourwhen we must return them to the Lender's hand may be even at the door. The same is certainly true of our worldly goods.Do not riches take to themselves wings and fly away? And though we have heard some almost profanely say that they have clippedthe wings of their riches so thatthey cannot fly away, yet the bird of prey may rend them where they are, and the rotting carcass of the wealth which theowners cannot enjoy may be a perpetual curse to them.
Full often gold and silver canker in the coffer and fret the soul of their claimant. God can do with us as with Israel- "Whilethe meat was yet in their mouths, the curse of God came upon them." What substance have we beneath the skies? Is not whatwe call substance a mere shadow soondeparting? Your good substantial ship has often returned from her voyage to enrich her owner and just now she flies beforea favoring gale. But there are storms and hurricanes and sunken reefs and quicksand-and who knows how soon your promisingventure and the vessel whichbears it may sink into the briny sea?
There stands your warehouse-it is full of merchandize upon which, with but a fair profit, great wealth may be obtained! Buta fire may come and there may happen to be no insurance, or by a change of market, profit may wither into loss. Your presentprosperity may soon be turned into distressby the failure of some larger warehouse, the dishonoring of large bills, a breach of credit, or an unexpected drain of capital.How often have enterprises high as the tower of Babel suddenly rocked and reeled and fallen in total ruin? This world, atbest, is but a sandy foundationand the wisest builder may well look for an end to the most substantial of its erections.
Evil tidings may also come to us in another respect-we may suddenly find our health decay. That strength which now enablesus to perform our daily business with delight may so fail us that the slightest exertion may cause us pain. Although unconsciousof so sad a fact, we may be, even now,fostering within our bodies the disease which is destined to stretch us upon the bed of sickness. We should be preparedfor the days of darkness, for they are many. The day of sickness would not overtake us as a thief if we were wise enough toremember that we are dust. Frailflowers of the field, we must not reckon upon blooming forever.
Spring lasts not all the year-the time of the sere and yellow leaf must come and the frosts of winter must nip our root. Whyshould I suppose that I am to enjoy an immunity from the common ills of mankind? Am I not among those who are born of woman?Is it not written that all such are "of fewdays and full of trouble"? Do not the "sparks fly upward" from my hearth? And why, then, should I suppose that I am not"born to trouble" like the rest of my race? It were well for us if we would remember that there is a time appointed for weaknessand sickness. Then we should bemore thankful for the privilege of going up to the Lord's House, since the day comes when we can no longer go up Zion'shill.
While we can serve God let us remember that the time may come when we shall rather have to fear than to do-when we can onlyglorify Him by suffering and not by earnest activity. Be it ours to live while we live and snatch the present moment out ofthe jaws of Time. And while the evil dayscome not, nor the days draw near in which we shall say we have no pleasure in them, let us serve God with both our handsand spend and be spent in His service! There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction.The fondest hope which you andI have cherished may yet drop like the fruit of the tree before it is ripe-destroyed at the core by a secret worm.
Set not your affections upon things of earth-set your whole heart upon things above, for here the rust corrupts and the mothdevours and the thief breaks through-but there all joys are perpetual and eternal! What is there here, after all, but cloudland? Why seek we to be lords of acresof mere mist? What are earth's treasures but vapor? Will you heap up for yourself haze and fog? Cloud and mist will passaway and if these are your riches, how poverty-stricken will you be when you can carry none of these airy riches into theland of solid wealth!
Christian, remember well the insecurity of all earthly things and be content to have it so! Certain expositors refer thispassage to slander and reproach, and they translate it, "He shall not be afraid of evil hearing." It is one of the sharpesttrials of the Christian's life to be misunderstood,misrepresented and belied. But any man who will serve his Master well must make up his mind to endure much of this affliction.The more prominent you are in Christ's service, the more certain are you to be the butt of jokes.
I have long ago said farewell to my character-I lost it in the earlier days of my ministry by being a little more zealousthan suited a slumbering age! And I have never been able to regain it except in the sight of Him who judges all the earth,and in the hearts of those who love me for mywork's sake. Beloved fellow-laborers in the vineyard of the Lord Jesus, you must all set your account upon being despisedand reproached for His dear sake! You weaker ones come to your minister and say, "So-and-So has spoken evil of me." What?Young Friend, is this a strange thing?Did this never happen to anybody before?
You sit down and cry, "It will break my heart! This cruel report will be the death of me!" Was no one else ever broken inheart by reproach? Did nobody else have his character besmeared by the fingers of envy and the tongue of talebearing? Whoare you, my fine Sir, that you should escape? GentleSister, who are you that you are never to be abused? Humble yourself and do not be so proud as to think a special escapeshould be made for you when your Lord and all His followers have had to endure much contradiction of sinners!
Woe unto you when all men speak well of you! It is a blessing to attain to such a state that you care no more than the rockcares for the raging billows what men may say, so long as you have a conscience void of offense both toward God and towardman! In all these things, we ought to expect eviltidings.
2. Evil tidings will also come to us concerning spiritual matters, and babes in Grace will be greatly alarmed. Every now andthen there comes a messenger with breathless haste who tells us that the sages have discovered that the Bible is a lie. Yearsago we were all astonished to find that peoplehad been digging down into the earth and had brought up loads of very hard stones with which Revelation was to be slain,like Stephen by the Jews. Revelation has lived on wonderfully well and flourished amazingly, notwithstanding all that!
Another very judicious naturalist afterwards discovered-and oh, what consternation there was-that we had all sprung from monkeysand that all living creatures were the result of successive developments from infusible atoms! Somehow or other the Gospelhas managed to survive even thistremendous blow! Not many months ago a learned quarryman dug up a jawbone and a bushel or two of pointed flints-the undoubtedproperty of primeval men who lived- according to report, ages before Adam!
Now this discovery was to silence forever the teachings of Inspiration. Those flints were invincible and deadly weapons! Butthe religion of Jesus is so full of life that her deadliest foes cannot make an end of her! Voltaire, you remember, had aprinting press at Geneva some years ago with whichhe printed a prophecy that Christianity would not survive the century of which he thought himself the bright and shininglight! That very press is now printing copies of the Bible in Geneva!
A few weeks ago we were informed ethnologically that Negroes were nearly allied to apes and that the Scripture statement thatGod has made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth was clearly contrary to fact. But, my Brethren,this grand old Book manages still to survive andI think the most of us who know its value can say we are not afraid of evil tidings which prophesy the overthrow of itsauthority-for it will see all its foes withered in the grass and yet not one of its jots or tittles shall pass away!
Our heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord! We can leave these gentlemen to the old women among us, whose experimental acquaintancewith the power of godliness will be as a two-edged sword to slay the enemies' sounding professions of superior intelligence.The blind and the lame in the Lord's armyshall laugh to scorn the champions of the Philistines, for the Lord of Hosts is with us as our Captain, and Jesus ridesforth conquering and to conquer!
Sadder tidings at times afflict us. We hear, dear Friends, that professors have fallen. What a thunderclap it seems when weare told that such-and- such a prominent member has forsaken the path of rectitude, or a minister has departed from sounddoctrine. Yes, and we must expect this. Judas andDemas will be represented over and over again and even
Simon Magus will not be wanting in the Church as long as it is here below. We shall, moreover, hear that success has vanishedwhere once it ruled. We may preach the Gospel and win thousands of souls-but suddenly there may be no conversions and thosewho are the warmest adherents of the Truthof God may gradually grow cold.
Be ready for these things! There have been ebbs and flows in the Church in all ages. And her progress has been like that ofthe ocean when it comes to its flood-it has been by a succession of in-rolling waves and waves that fall back again into thesea. So will it be till Christ comes. Weshall also hear evil tidings about ourselves. Satan will tell us that we are hypocrites and conscience will remind us ofsundry things which raise the suspicion that we are not soundly regenerated. It will be a blessed thing if then we can flyagain to the Cross of Jesus Christ!
If the Law thunders at us and gives us evil tidings of wrath to come, happy are we if we can fly to the great Law-Fulfillerand find a shelter from the Law's clamorous demands. But we must expect this. No saint gets to Heaven without being attackedby Satan. An old Divine said that the way toHeaven passed by the mouth of Hell. You must have spiritual conflicts. How could you be crowned if you did not fight andhow could you win the victory if you knew no battle?
3. Moreover, to conclude the list, the evil tidings of death will soon be brought to you by the appointed messenger. How evilare the solemn tidings of departure to the most of men! The message will be given to us, "The Master is come and calls foryou." We shall see the spirit-finger which beckonsdown to the cold flood of Jordan-but we shall not fear those evil tidings! No! Faith shall count them a blessed messageand we shall march cheerfully onward where Jesus leads the way!
In eternity there shall be the evil tidings of the angelic trumpet, evil to all but saints! "Arise, you dead and come to judgment."The general summons shall gather together all nations of men to stand before the dread tribunal, but truly in that case ourheart shall be sofixed-no-flooded with Divine delights! With joy shall we receive the resurrection and with transport stand to be acquittedat the Judgment Seat!
I have thus marshaled before you a line of grim-visaged messengers-any one of whom may, within a moment-rush into your chamber,crying, "Tidings! Man of God! Tidings!"
II. Now for a second and more cheerful thought. A CHRISTIAN AT NO TIME OUGHT TO FEAR EITHER AN EXPECTATION OF EVIL TIDINGSOR WHEN THE TIDINGS ACTUALLY ARRIVE. Under no conceivable circumstances ought you, Christian, to be afraid. And why? Because,if you are troubled and distressed and distracted,what do you more than other men?
Other men have not your God to fly to! They are not favorites of Heaven as you are! They have never proved the faithfulnessof God as you have done and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear-but as for you-you professto be of another spirit! You testifyto the world that God dwells in you, and you in Him! You say that you have been begotten again unto a lively hope! You testifythat your heart lives in Heaven and not on earthly things!
Now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that Divine Grace which you profess to have received?Where is the dignity of that new Nature which you claim to possess? Surely, dear Brothers and Sisters, unless you would besuspected of having boasted beyond your measure,you must not be afraid of evil tidings! Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless,be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances.
The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God. They murmur and think that God deals harshly withthem. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do? If you are the subject of the same distraction,you will, probably, fall into the same murmuring.Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means, to evil shifts in order to escape from difficulties. And you will besure to do the same, saint as you are, if your mind yields too far to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord and wait patientlyfor Him! Your wisest course is todo as Moses did at the Red Sea-"Stand still and see the salvation of God."
But if your heart is troubled. If the water gets to leaking into your ship and the vessel, itself, is filled with the boilingflood-why, you will be plotting this and plotting the other-and before long you will be putting forth your hand unto iniquityand so piercing yourself throughwith many sorrows! But if the Holy Spirit enables you, in patience, to possess your souls-then, if you suffer, you willnot sin and, with all your temptations-you will not suffer, by His Grace, from the regret of having departed from the livingGod.
Further, you must not give way to these doubts and alarms and fears, for if you do you will be unfit to meet the trouble.In storms landsmen are all in alarm and fear and they are fit for nothing. Just put them under the hatches and keep them downbelow, or else they will be in the sailors' way.But the old sailor has seen a storm before and the captain has had many a nor'wester blowing upon him-so he looks aroundhim just as if all were calm and gives his orders to the pilot and the first mate with perfect composure.
And when they have to reef all sail and lie under bare poles, or, worse still, if the mast goes by the board, the captainis very serious, but still quiet and hopeful. He has weathered other tempests and he shall outlive this, also! But you flurriedpeople who are all in a fluster at every piece ofevil tidings, what will you do? Why, you will cut your own fingers in seeking to carve your own deliverance! You will pushdown your house about your head when you meant to have propped it up! You will be quite unable to meet the difficulty if yourheart is not "fixed, trusting inthe Lord."
Let me ask you another and very important question. If you give way to fright and fear when you hear of evil tidings, howcan you glorify God? Saints can sing God's high praises in the fires and bless His name on beds of sickness! But you cannotif you fall into distractions. Why, Man, can yourmurmuring praise God? Your doubts and fears, as if you had none to help you-will these magnify the Most High? Come, I prayyou, if you would honor God, be brave!
A certain good man was much troubled under a loss in business. His wife tried to comfort him but failed. But being a verywise woman she gave it up till the morning. In the morning when she came downstairs her face looked so sad that her husbandsaid, "What is the matter with you?" She, stillpreserving a mournful countenance, said that a dream had troubled her. "What was it, my Dear?" he said, "you ought not tobe troubled with dreams."
"Oh," she said, "I dreamed that God was dead and it was such reason for trouble that all the angels were weeping in Heavenand all the saints on earth were ready to break their hearts." Her husband said, "You must not be foolish! You know it wasonly a dream." "Oh but," she said, "to think of God'sbeing dead!" He replied, "You must not even think of such a thing, for God cannot die! He ever lives to comfort His people."
Instantly her face brightened up and she said, "I thought I would bring you thus to rebuke yourself, for you have been dreamingthat God had forsaken you and now you see how groundless is your sorrow. While God lives, His people are safe." So, Christian,I think I could give you many reasons whyyou should praise God and take courage even when evil tidings come! For the sake of blessing others. For your own spiritualhealth and profit, that you may get fatness out of famine, safety out of danger, gain out of loss-pray that your heart maybe fixed in sure confidenceupon the faithfulness of your covenant God!
III. But now somebody will say, "I do not know how I am to keep from these fears. My mind is like that of another man andI am readily disturbed." Dear Brother, the text tells you, in the third place, that FIXEDNESS OF HEART IS THE TRUE CURE FORBEING ALARMED AT EVIL TIDINGS. "Fixedness of heart."The translators somewhat differ as to what this passage means. And some think it means preparedness of heart-"my heart isfixed," or, "my heart is prepared." Let it mean both and then we shall have the whole truth, for he whose heart is fixed isprepared!
Now in what respect is a Christian's heart fixed? I think in many. First, the Christian's heart is fixed as to duty. He sayswithin himself, "It is my business to walk as Christ walked-it can never be right for me to do contrary to God's will. I haveset the Lord always before me and inintegrity of heart will I walk all my way, wherever that way may lead." Such a man is prepared for anything! Whatever trialcomes he is prepared to meet it because his soul is resolved that come gain, come loss, he will not be dishonest to make himselfrich.
He will not tell a lie to win a kingdom. He will not give up a principle to save his life. He has not to go, as some of youhave, to the next neighbor to say, "What am I to do? What is the best policy?" The Christian has no policy! He does rightand leaves consequences to God. I know that if theskies wanted propping with sin, it is no business of mine to prop them and if they could only be sustained by my speakingfalsely, they should fall.
The Truth of God is our business! Integrity is our line of duty and results remain with the Most High. In this respect theman who, by Grace, is fixed for the strait and narrow road is prepared, come what may. But, more comfortable than this, theChristian's heart is fixed as to knowledge and soprepared. There are some things which a Believer knows and is quite fixed about. He knows, for instance, that God sits inthe stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller andthat wherever Providence may drift,Jehovah steers it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything.
"It is my Father's will," says he. He looks over the raging waters and he sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows andhe hears a voice which says, "It is I, be not afraid." He knows, too, that God is always wise and, knowing this, he is preparedfor all events. They cannot come amiss, sayshe. There can be no accidents, no mistakes, nothing can occur which ought not to occur. If I should lose all I have, itis better that I should lose than have, if God so wills-the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that couldoccur to me if God ordains it.
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory-heknows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as of yet. The poisonous drugs that have been mixed in the compoundhave, nevertheless, worked the cure.The sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has workedout the most divinely blessed results. And so, believing this, that God rules it, that God rules wisely, that God brings goodout of evil-the Believer'sheart is fixed and he is well prepared.
Bring me which cup you will, my Father fills them all and I will drink them as He sends them-not merely with res-ignation-butwith sanctified delight! Send me what You will, my God, so long as it comes from You! Never was that a bad portion which camefrom Your table to any one of Yourchildren. My Father, write what You will concerning Your child-I will not, by Your Grace, seek to pry between the foldedleaves-but I will patiently hope and quietly wait as leaf by leaf is unfolded, knowing You are too wise to err and too goodto be unkind. Now see whata preparation this is for evil tidings-this having the heart fixed in a knowledge of God!
Further, there is another kind of fixedness, namely, the fixedness of resignation. There is a verse we sing in one of thehymns, that I hardly think at times some of us ought to sing, for it is not at all times true-
"O You gracious, wise and just, In Your hands my life I trust, Have I somewhat dearer still? I resign it to Your will."
It is very easy to say that, but very difficult to carry it out. To take Isaac, our only son, up to the altar and unsheathethe knife at God's command needs an Abrahamic faith and that kind of faith is not so common as it should be among Christians.
Beloved, when we gave ourselves to Christ we gave Him our person, our estate, our friends and everything-we made a full surrenderand the only way to be right when affliction comes is to stand to that surrender-in fact, to renew it every day. It is a goodthing every morning to give allup to God and then to live through the day and thank Him for renewing the daily lease. If you think you have mercies ona fifty years' lease you will become discontented if turned out of the tenancy. But if you feel you are only, as it were,a daily tenant, you will feel gratefulthat the great Landlord has given you a new lease!
The eyes of your body-are they given forever? Their light may never know tomorrow's sun. Those lips which you today give toGod's service may soon chill in silence. So is it with all you have. Then resign all to God, for if you give it all up toHim every day, it will not be hard to give itup when He takes it away at last. If you have resigned it a thousand times before, it will only be a repetition of whatyou have rehearsed to yourself before and, therefore, are well taught in. Stand to your resignation! Be fixed about that andyou will be prepared for the most eviltidings.
Better still, let me remind you of one form of fixedness which will make you outride every storm, namely, fixedness as toeternal things. "I cannot lose," the Christian may say-"I cannot lose my best things." When a carrier has many parcels tocarry, if he has gold and silver or preciousstones, he is sure to put them near himself. Perhaps he has some common goods and these he ties on behind-some thief, itis possible, steals from the cart some of the common goods which were outside. "Oh, well," says the man when he gets home,"I am sorry to lose anything, butmy precious things are all right. I have them all safe. I thank God the thief could not run away with them."
Now our earthly goods, and even our dearest friends, are only the common mercies of God-but our Savior, our God, our eternalinterest in the Covenant, our Heaven which we are soon to inherit-these are kept where they cannot be lost! A friend of mineonce went up to the bank with athousand pounds in his pocket. I do not think he was very wise, for after putting that large sum in his pocket, he put hishandkerchief over it and somewhere or other down in the Borough, or over London Bridge, a thief stole his handkerchief!
He said to me, "I never thought at all about that! I was so full of joy at finding that the money was not gone." The anecdoteis instructive, for our earthly comforts compared with our eternal interests are but as the handkerchief compared to the thousandpounds-no-they do not bear sohigh a relation! If adversity should come and take everything else away, yet, Christian, your heart is still fixed becauseyou have a grasp of eternal things. And neither life nor death, nor time, nor eternity can make you let go of your hold ofthe Glory which is to be revealed inyou! Thus you are prepared, come what may.
I will only add one other thought on this point. I believe that holy gratitude is one blessed way of fixing the soul on Godand preparing it for trouble. You have a friend who gave you a very hard word the other day. You felt very grieved, but aftera few minutes you said, "There, now, if he wereto kick me, I should always love him for the great kindness that he did to me years ago when I was in great straits." Now,when I think of what our God has done for us, how He saved us from going down into the pit and found a ransom in His own dearSon! When we remember how He hasplucked us out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay-let Him do to me what seems good to Him!
The Lord gave us Christ! Then let Him take away what He will-we cannot think harshly of Him-after such a proof of love weare bound to Him by such ties of gratitude that let Him take away one mercy after the other till there is hardly one left,we will yet bless His name. "Though Heslay me, yet will I trust Him." Let every saint of God feel himself so fixed and bound by ties of gratitude that he is prepared,whatever may come, still to bless his God!
IV. The last point is this-THE GREAT INSTRUMENT OF FIXEDNESS OF HEART IS FAITH IN GOD. "His heart is fixed, trusting in theLord." You see that we have come here by progressive steps. Evil tidings may come to an heir of Heaven-he ought not to beafraid of them. The way to be preparedfor them is to have your heart fixed and prepared. And the method of having the heart fixed is confident trustfulness inthe Lord.
The Christian is not prepared for trial by trusting in his fellow men, or by relying upon his own wisdom and experience. Welean on a better prop than an arm of flesh! The Christian relies only upon his God. Every attribute engages this confidence.The heir of Heaven rests in the love of God. "Oh,"says he, "my Father loves me too well to suffer any evil thing to damage me. I know by that very Spirit which He has given,by which I cry, 'Abba, Father'-I know the tenderness of His heart forbids that I should ever perish, or that anything shouldhappen to me which shall dome serious damage."
When there was a fire many years ago in the little town of Delft, in Holland, it occurred in a house upon the top of whicha stork's nest had been built. Now the storks are very affectionate to their young and it was observed that as the flameswent up, the storks tried first of all to carry offtheir young, but when that could not be done, both parents kept flapping their nests with their wings, as though to coolthe young ones. And when the flames drew nearer, both parents set themselves down over the top of the nest and there diedwith their young ones.
Can it be possible that our God could have less affection for His own children than these poor birds had for the offspringof their nest? Impossible! He will cover us with His feathers and under His wings will we trust! His Truth shall be our shieldand buckler. Come famine, come pestilence, comedisease, come death, come judgment-
"He that has loved us bears us through, And makes us more than conquerors, too." The Believer, thus dependent upon God's love,is also trusting in God's power. He knows that none ever did resist the Lord with success. That mighty arm breaks the enemyin pieces! When he goes forth to war, it is aswhen the potter breaks earthen vessels with a rod of iron. The Christian feels that the Omnipotence of God is more to betrusted than the power of the devil is to be dreaded.
"More is He that is for us than all they that are against us." The Christian perceives the enemy round about, but his eyeshave been touched with heavenly ointment and he can also see the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire! And thereforehe trusts in the power of his God and his soul isnot disturbed. He relies also, as we have said, upon the wisdom of God, for indeed, every attribute of the Most High becomesa subject of the Believer's joy. I am afraid, dear Friends, we forget our God too often. I am sure that at the bottom we donot believe Him to be wise, orelse we do not believe Him to be gracious. For if we did know and feel and realize that He is God and just such a God asScripture says He is, we should lean back upon Him and leave trouble, adversity, loss and crosses with Him-casting all ourcare on Him because He cares forus.
Get, I pray you, to be assured of His sympathy with you. Do not think He is indifferent to the griefs that vex you. You arein the furnace, but He sits at the mouth of it watching you as the dross melts in the flame. God is never away from any ofHis children, but He is nearest to those who are themost sad and sick and troubled. If there is one sheep in the fold that is more watched over than the rest, it is the weakestsheep. "He carries the lambs in His bosom and gently leads those that are with young." You cannot imagine how dear you areto His heart! And He is sodetermined to bring you safely home that He has sworn it with an oath. By two immutable things, wherein it was impossiblefor God to lie, He has given you strong consolation.
Will you reject the consolation when He brings it? Is not the Comforter Himself able to comfort you? Christ has gone to Heaventhat you might have that precious gift of the Comforter within you! Why will you grieve the Holy Spirit of God and bring thistrouble upon your own spirit by theseanxieties, these doubts, and fears? "Trust in the Lord Jehovah, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Go withjoy and draw water out of the well of salvation and praise Him all the days of your life.
When Dr. Payson was getting near his end he reminded his friends that God is enough for His people. He said, "In years goneby I often dreaded the taking away of certain earthly comforts. But when they have been withdrawn, I have had so much moreof the Grace and Presence of God that I have had tobe thankful for the apparent loss, for it was a real gain. And now," he said, "that I am a cripple and confined to my house,I am far happier than I ever expected to be, and am as happy as a man well could be out of Heaven." We can sing that versetogether-
"And if our dearest comforts fall Before His Sovereign will, He never takes away our all. Himself He gives us still."
Since you have your God left, Christian, let the text be true of you, "He is not afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed,trusting in the Lord." I have not time to say anything about the contrast to all this, but it is a contrast which would bearvery hard upon those of you who have not lookedto Jesus Christ. You have need to be afraid of everything. The stones of the earth are not in league with you, nor are thebeasts of the earth at peace with you. There is no Providence working your good. There is no special eye upon your benefit.You are orphan children.
The stars in Heaven fought against Sisera, remember, and they fight against you. The sweet influence of the Pleiades you cannotknow, and heavenly blessings you can claim no share. Oh, that you could hide yourself beneath the wings of God! Do you desireit? Then remember who it was that said, "Howoften would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings."
Fly to the Savior! There are His wounds. They will afford you shelter. He died to save the lost! For the rebellious He hasobtained mercies. Give Him your soul to save! Trust Him to work a good work in you and for you and you shall never die, but,with holy joy and confidence shall live in thelight of His Countenance forevermore! The Lord bless this sermon to the staying of His people's hearts upon Himself andHis shall be the praise. Amen.